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The “German” Retail Trade during the Nazi Era
By Uwe Spiekermann

During the 1930s, consumption in Germany became more and more ideological. This was not only the result of state regulation and pressure, but also the consequence of a specific national-socialistic ideology of German retailing, which is discussed in the first part of the paper. The new regime propagated order, a fair and strict competition at work, the ideal of “German” virtues like honor, character, and healthiness and motivated the retailer as an educator of consumers to work towards the Führer's aim. This was combined with the division between “healthy” and “unhealthy” retailers and shop forms. In a second part, this ideology is confronted with the reality of Nazi consumption. The examples of (1) shop window advertising, (2) efforts to increase fish consumption, (3) conflicts on shop closing and (4) retailing during World War II stress that there was a permanent discrepancy between ideology and concrete practice in everyday life. However, the ideal of a specific “German” retailing was at least strong enough to encourage German retailers to work until May 1945 for a murderous and racist regime.


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