The Nazi Volksgemeinschaft, antisemitic violence and Eigensinn

The work and ideas of Alf Lüdtke
By Michael Wildt

Starting from a photograph showing a Jewish citizen being humiliated by Nazi stormtroopers in the small German town of Marburg in August 1933, Michael Wildt delivers a reflection on each citizen’s involvement in Nazi violence. Using Alf Lüdtke’s notion of Eigensinn, he reflects on how individuals were passive or active accomplices in the marginalisation and degradation of their Jewish fellow citizens. He questions the possible continuities between these complicities and the extreme forms of violence perpetrated by German soldiers against the Jewish populations on the Eastern fronts. He underlines how the Nazi Volksgemeinschaft (“People’s Community”) was built on the brutal exclusion of part of the population, and later, on the daily spectacle of the misery and exploitation of forced labourers on German soil.

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