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“Labor's Way”: A Response to David Abraham

  • Dick Geary (a1)


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1. For a critique of Michels see Schorske, Carl E., German Social Democracy (Cambridge, Mass., 1955), ch. 5; Beier, GerhardGeschichte und Gewerkschaft (Cologne, 1981), 118–80; Breuilly, John, “The Labour Aristocracy in Britain and Germany” in Engelhardt, Ulrich ed., Handwerkerschaft und Industrialisierung in Deutschland (Stuttgart, 1984); Geary, Dick“The German Labour Movement” in European Studies Review (1976), 3, 297330; Geary, Dick, European Labour Protest (London, 1981), 117ff. Much recent work has shown that local SPD branches were far from dormant or quiescent. See, for example, Nolan, MarySocial Democracy and Society (Cambridge, 1981) on Düsseldorf Boll, Friedhelm, Massenbewegungen in Niedersachsen (Bonn, 1981) for Brunswick Tenfelde, Klaus, Proletarische Provinz (Munich, 1983), for Penzberg. Nor was the SPD “diluted” in its class composition before 1914, despite the arguments of the revisionists and the South Germans. Approximately 90 percent of the party members were manual workers in 1914, overwhelmingly concentrated in the large towns of Protestant Germany. That is precisely why pleas for a peasant program and revisionist arguments were thrown out at conference after conference.

2. Abraham, David, The Collapse of the Weimar Republic (Princeton, 1981).

3. For a summary of the debate see Geary, Dick “The Industrial Elite and the Nazis” in Stachura, Peter D., ed., The Nazi Machtergreifung (London, 1983), 85100.

4. See the cases collected in archives 15/140 and 15/142 in the Bergbauarchiv (Bochum).

5. RFB Gauführung Essen Faschismus im Ruhrgebiet (Essen, 1927), 8f.

6. See the figures in Bry, Gerhard, Wages in Germany (Princeton, 1960), 48. In Petzina, Dietmar, Die deutsche Wirtschaft in der Zwischenkriegszeit (Wiesbaden, 1977) hourly real wages in 1932 were only 75 percent of those in 1929, weekly real wages in 1932 only 85 percent of 1929. In Petzina, D. et al., Sozialgeschichtliches Arbeitsbuch, III, Munich, 1978), 98, the series for average weekly real wages is given as follows (1928 = 100): 1913–14, 93; 1925, 81; 1927, 89; 1928, 100; 1929, 102; 1930, 97; 1931, 94; 1932, 86.

7. Brady, Robert A.The Rationalization Movement in Germany (Berkeley, 1933); Schock, Eva CorneliaArbeitslosigkeit und Rationalisierung (Frankfurt, 1977); Stollberg, GunnarDie Rationalisierungsdebatte (Frankfurt, 1981).

8. Geary, Dick“Jugend, Arbeitslosigkeit und politischer Radikalismus am Ende der Weimarer Republik” in Gewerkschaftliche Monatshefte (05, 1983), 304–09; and Geary, , “Unemployment and Working Class Solidarity”, forthcoming in Evans, Richard J.Geary, Dick, eds., The German Unemployed (London, 1986).

9. Geary, Dick, “Radicalism and the German Worker” in Evans, Richard J., ed., Politics and Society in Wilhelmine Germany (London, 1978), 267–86; ibid., “Rhein, Ruhr und Revolution” in Mitteilungsblatt des Instituts zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung (Bochum, 1984), 7, 3036.

10. Schneider, MichaelUnternehmer und Demokratie (Bonn, 1975), 3742; Feldman, Gerald D., Iron and Steel in the German Inflation (Princeton, 1977), 319–45.

11. Abraham stresses Silverberg's willingness to cooperate, yet real caution needs to be exercised here. See Schneider, 55–59; Weisbrod, BerndSchwerindustrie in der Krise (Wuppertal, 1978), 246–72.Neebe, ReinhardGrossindustrie, Staat und NSDAP (Göttingen, 1981), sees Silverberg's career as that of an opportunist, who could make qualified advances to the unions in 1926 and to the Nazis six years later.

12. Schneider, 55–59;

13. Weisbrod, Schwerindustrie

14. Most accounts of Nazi Party memberships (see, for example Kater, MichaelThe Nazi Party [Oxford, 1983]) stress the overrepresentation of artisanal interests. The same seems to apply to Nazi voting nationally (Childers, TomThe Nazi Voter [Chapel Hill, 1983]) and at a local level, as in Franconia: see Eiber, LudwigArbeiter unter NS-Herrschaft (Munich, 1979), 13, 21, 58ff.

15. Weisbrod, Schwerindustrie, ch. 3

16. Ibid.

17. This is the central thesis of Schneider, Unternehmer.


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