Szejnmann, Claus-Christian W. 1965–

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Szejnmann, Claus-Christian W. 1965–

PERSONAL: Born April 5, 1965, in Munich, West Germany (now Germany). Education: University of London, B.A., Ph.D.

ADDRESSES: Office—University of Leicester, University Rd., Leicester LE1 7RH, England. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Middlesex University, London, England, lecturer in modern European history, 1995–2000; University of Leicester, Midlands, England, lecturer in modern European history, 2000–.

WRITINGS:

Nazism in Central Germany: The Brownshirts in "Red Saxony," Berghahn Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Von Traum zum Alptraum: Sachsen Während der Weimarer Republik, Kiepenheuer Verlag (Leipzig, Germany), 2000.

Contributor to The Rise of National Socialism and the Working Classes in Weimer Germany, edited by Conan Fischer, Berghahn Books (Oxford, England), 1996, and Saxony in German History: Culture, Society, and Politics, 1830–1933, edited by J. Retallack, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 2000. Contributor to German History.

SIDELIGHTS: Claus-Christian W. Szejnmann's Nazism in Central Germany: The Brownshirts in "Red Saxony" "fills a major void in the literature on the rise of National Socialism in central Germany," according to History: Review of New Books contributor Johnpeter Horst Grill. As Szejnmann, a professor of history at Leicester University, stated on his faculty Web site, he tries in the book to answer specific questions: "Why did anyone from a comparatively modern society support such a radical and brutal movement as the Nazi movement?"; "How did Nazism gain mass support?" Szejnmann focuses his book on the German state of Saxony during the rise of Nazism. His interest in this area is based on the fact that Saxony was, as he explained, "one of the earliest strongholds of the movement," as well as being "the most industrialised and urbanised" area in Germany at that time and the "cradle of the labour movement."

The Weimar Republic, under which an attempt was made to shore up a debilitated Germany after its defeat in World War I, slowly disintegrated between 1919 and 1933. Szejnmann studies how the Nazis were able to capitalize on the weaknesses of the republic and bring various German factions together. He does this by analyzing the history of Saxony between the late nineteenth century and the Nazi's rise to power. During this time, there were significant conflicts between the country's social democrats, communists, and more affluent bourgeoisie. The republic was not strong enough to stop the polarization that developed between the working class and the bourgeoisie that controlled most of the land and all of the industry.

Interior pressures, Szejnmann shows, were not the only factor in the deterioration of Weimar power. There were the harsh realities of having lost the war and having to comply with Allied demands for monetary reparation. At the same time, between 1929 and 1933 Germany felt the effects of the Great Depression, which increased the number of unemployed to more than six million people. The economic depression also impacted the bourgeois, cutting into their economic stability and making them more inclined to look to someone who might lead them out of their financial difficulties. On July 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler took office, thus ending the Weimar Republic.

Szejnmann shows how the Nazis were able to gain popular support in both the working-class and nationalist bourgeois populations. On his Web site, he concluded: "Nazism in Central Germany demonstrates the ways in which deep-rooted local traditions determined the success or failure of Nazism among the local population." The rise of Nazism should be a lesson to everyone that "the survival of a peaceful, pluralistic and democratic system depends on the ability of all groups in society to enter a serious dialogue, to make compromises and to treat each other with respect," he added

As Grill noted, Szejnmann incorporates material from newly opened archives into his study, which the critic considered a "solid work" that "confirms much of what we know … from other regional studies of the party." Choice contributor R.V. Pierard found the book to be "an insightful, well-documented, and convincing study."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Book Watch, August, 1999, review of Nazism in Central Germany: The Brownshirts in "Red Saxony," p. 3.

Choice, January, 2000, R.V. Pierard, review of Nazism in Central Germany, p. 1004.

History: Reviews of New Books, fall, 1999, Johnpeter Horst Grill, review of Nazism in Central Germany, p. 22.

ONLINE

H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences, http://www.h-net.org/ (June, 2000), Michael C. Schneider, review of Nazism in Central Germany.

University of Leicester Web site, http://www.le.ac.uk/ (August 20, 2005).