There was some seduction by Hitler in Germany.
Average Germans benefited from the persecution of the nation’s Jewish population:
Public auctioning of Jewish goods in Hamburg began during 1941 – between three and four thousand giant containers of furniture and clothes abandoned by those Jews lucky enough to emigrate …. Public auctions of Jewish goods were held on every working day between February 1941 an April 1945. Forty-five car ships full of belongings stolen from deported Dutch Jews provided rich pickings for the bidders who soon extended well beyond the original qualifying groups …. The contents of 72,000 apartments in the East – Jews sent to Auscwitz – were loaded onto trains and sent to central collection points in German cities ….. Frank Bajohr, who has researched the “Aryanization” of Hamburg, calculates that more than a hundred thousand people in the city alone, “ordinary Germans,” directly profited from the Holocaust.
For workers in Germany the Nazis skilfully used the twin tactics of terror and seduction. The Gestapo arrested enough workers, including some family members, and used small scale camps adjacent to 165 industrial complexes to create an edge of uncertainty among German labourers. At the same time the Beauty of Work and Strength Through Joy organizations were the seduction. Many factories were improved in appearance though not often in working conditions. More important were the mass holidays available from Strength Through Joy. Many average Germans had their first travel holidays. While it may have been no more than 1% of the work force a large number of working Germans were able to go on cruises to Norway or the Canary Islands or the Mediterranean.
The elites benefited the most under the Third Reich. German generals were lavished with honours that included payments of hundreds of thousands of marks. The gifts were not limited to money. General Heinz Guderian was given a 2,340 acre estate in the area of Poland incorporated into Germany.
The Nazis were very conscious of style:
From the carefully choreographed Nuremberg rallies to the sharply-pressed black uniforms of the SS, the Nazis place great emphasis on presentation and a well-groomed appearance ….. While not every German wore a uniform, it was seen as a patriotic duty to look well-presented; it was part of the country’s national rebirth.
While in far less detail than Hitler's Empire - How the Nazis Ruled Europe the authors looked at how the Nazis treated the countries they conquered.
There was little seduction by the Nazis in Western Europe and none East of Germany.
Some bureaucrats in the West were allowed greater freedom to pursue their administrative dreams. In the Netherlands a civil servant, J.J. Lentz, was allowed to fulfill his dream of a national system of ID cards. The authors comment:
Instead of being appalled at the all-embracing reach of their Nazi overlords, Dutch civil servants such as Lentz were relieved to be working for an administration that would appreciate perfection, order and organization.
In Denmark the Nazis, because Denmark had not resisted its occupation, played a lesser role in the governance of the country for much of the occupation.
A few West European workers profited greatly. Farmers in northern Norway were paid far more than before the war as they were a part of the Nazi effort at self-sufficiency.
There were no major efforts to entice average Western Europeans into becoming fascists.
A greater part of the book than I expected related to the actions of Germans and Occupied Europeans with regard to the Holocaust. The authors were as interested in choices with regard to evil as choices with regard to enticements. Probably because of past reading in these areas I found these sections of the book less interesting.
The authors are very convincing on the strenuous efforts of the Nazis to influence and control every aspect of life in Germany. I have usually thought of propaganda in the context of politics. The Nazis effectively used propaganda to advance their policies and ideologies in all areas.
Written in 2000 the book is easy to read and filled with striking examples of lives and decisions in the Third Reich.
Much as a newspaper headline often does not reflect the story most Germans were not seduced by Hitler. The authors do make clear that only a small minority of Germans rejected and resisted the advances of the Nazis.