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Title: The Remscheid Workers' Movement from 1914 to 1945
Author: Thompson, Charles David
ISNI:       0000 0001 3527 4878
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1983
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This dissertation attempts to close a substantial gap in local historiography and simultaneously offer for comparison a study of a radical workers' movement over a turbulent period of German history, which experienced severe political ruptures. So far, the Remscheid Workers' Movement has been largely ignored, despite its significant role in the course of regional and national politics at various conjunctures. To my knowledge this is the first attempt to trace the movement's development over this particular period. The dissertation is based on mainly unpublished material gleaned from files, newspaper articles and interviews, and research was carried out in archives in Remscheid, Solingen, Wuppertal-Elberfeld (city library), Düsseldorf and Berlin. The local workers' movement was already established as a radical force in local politics at the beginning of the period under scrutiny. This study, however, traces the movement's radical tradition, paying particular attention to the relationship between the institutions and the rank and file members in the working-class districts of the town. The social and economic situation of the local working class is explain, by way of Kocka's three-tier model of class conflict, how and why local workers repeatedly sought a radical solution to the question of political power. The dissertation comprises of six chapters. Chapter I reveals the radicalising experience of war which led to polarisation in a period of intense class hostility within local society. Chapter II deals with the years 1918 to 1924, which was a period of intense class hostility punctuated by overt class conflict. Despite temporary victories in 1918 and 1920, and despite holding a majority on the town council, the local workers' movement was not able to seize and hold power, owing to lack of unity of aims and action amongst the three workers' parties, the failure to resolve the question of the ownership of production in the workers' favour, and the close cooperation between the local authorities, the employers and external counter-revolutionary forces. Chapter III analyses the process of bolshevisation and stalinisation in the local KPD group which had emerged between 1920 and 1924 to take control of the Remscheid workers' movement. This chapter also shows by several examples how members were recruited into and integrated in the movement by way of important institutions. Chapter IV traces the development of the extreme right in the town, and a close analysis of the NSDAP and SA before 1933 demonstrates a very weak proletarian participation in the party and paramilitary group. Chapter V shows how during the period of depression from 1929 to 1933 the town was split into two opposing camps with the bulk of the workers supporting the KPD and the middle classes supporting the NSDAP. Chapter VI reveals the considerable complicity of the middle classes in the Nazi seizure of power and shows how the Nazis succeeded in suppressing the local workers' movement by a combination of terror, propaganda and concessions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor