History of National Socialism in Kempten


In the 1930s, Kempten was one of the most important medium-sized towns in southern Bavaria, with a population of over 20,000. As in the entire German Reich, the transfer of power to the National Socialists in Kempten marked the beginning not only of the process of Gleichschaltung, but also of the National Socialist reorganization of society. It was aimed at realizing the national racial-biological utopia, which the bearers of local National Socialist rule began to implement in the visible space of everyday life, work and action from 1933 onward. In this way, they ensured that Nazi ideology and the Nazi regime became deeply embedded in society.

The project examines the mechanisms and consequences of National Socialist penetration of Kempten society, it analyzes the motives and scope of action of central actors and asks about the spaces in which National Socialist policies manifested themselves. Based on a broad and currently very active urban historical research on the Nazi regime, the project focuses its attention on three major topics: First, it concentrates on the actions of the local government under the leadership of Otto Merkt, the city's mayor for many years, and his successor. Second, the project focuses on the penetration of the city's society by the NSDAP and its organizations, but also by the civic associations and societies that subscribed to Nazi ideology. Third, the project addresses the victims of Nazi exclusion and violence. The interlocking and interdependent nature of these topics will be demonstrated through selected fields of local policy.

The time focus of the two-and-a-half-year project is on the years of Nazi rule between 1933 and 1945. When necessary for an understanding of the phenomena under investigation, it traces historical lines back to the turn of the century, World War I, and the Weimar Republic. This concerns the history of the NSDAP and its organizations, but also the biographies of individual actors or the political alliances between bourgeois parties and the extreme right. The study on the history of National Socialism in Kempten will elaborate the local and regional specifics of Kempten's development and discuss them in their broader contexts.

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