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Radicalism and Moderation Within German Social Democracy in Underground and Exile, 1933-1936

Abstract : More than fifty years after the definitive end of the national socialist regime, there still exists not a single comprehensive survey of the fate of German social democracy under Hitler. This ‘white spot’ in German historiography stands in stark contrast to local and regional studies of the general resistance movement. One of the consequences of this lacuna is the belief in the relative continuity of social democratic politics and practice from Weimar through the Nazi years, with the SPD exile leadership in unchallenged control, so that in 1945 German social democracy could literally pick up its pieces and continue where it had left off before. And, indeed, by and large, the SPD of the immediate post-Second World War era did present a picture of harmonious continuity with the pre-Nazi era SPD. Yet what this image overlooks is the fact that for at least three important years, from 1933 to 1936, a crucial break occurred in SPD theory and practice, a break, however, which was barely discernible at the leadership level. A close look at the daily practice of the rank and file under- ground circles and the deliberations of exile groupings of the SPD strongly suggests that, instead of a steady slide towards moderation from the 1920s to the 1950s, from 1933 to 1936 a seemingly inexplicable-and thus far largely overlooked-wave of radicalization affected the surviving structures of the SPD.(Editor's presentation)
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Gerd-Rainer Horn. Radicalism and Moderation Within German Social Democracy in Underground and Exile, 1933-1936. German History, Oxford University Press (OUP), 1997, 15 (2), pp.200 - 220. ⟨hal-03596551⟩

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