Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Who Put Hitler in Power?


I am currently in the midst of the Dark Night of the Comps. My exams will be at the end of May, so my life between now and then feels like the finals week that does not end. But it's not as bad as all that...

In reading up on the Sonderweg debate and German history more generally, I was reminded of a couple maps which were posted to the comments section of a post last July. In light of my current studies, I think they are worth posting front and center.

On this first map you can see which regions of Germany voted for the National Socialist German Worker's Party (NSDAP or Nazi).

Put broadly, the northeastern portions of the country voted Hitler into office, with some support from the central areas. The regions of the country which most opposed the Nazis were in the south and west.

Now notice the distribution of Protestants and Catholics in German:

(Yes, the maps are from slightly different periods, the election returns from 1933, the religious map before 1918. But they're close enough.) The juxtaposition is startling. Which regions of Germany were most solidly Protestant? The northeast. And where were the highest concentrations of Catholics? In the south and west. Put baldly: Protestants voted Hitler into office.

This is not to say, of course, that all Protestants supported Hitler. Far from it. Some, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer were heroic in their resistance. Nor did all Catholics oppose the Nazis. But the electoral data is quite striking (and begins to push back some of the Hitler's Pope nonsense about the Church being in bed with the National Socialists).
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