Village Life in Nazi Germany

In the early 1930s, when National Socialism became a mass movement, it drew strong support from the Protestant rural population. The emergence of the Third Reich and the advent of the Second World War saw a gradual shift in attitudes to the Nazi movement and regime. Gerhard Wilke looks at a rural community in northern Hesse.

The village of Korle in northern Hesse is situated in hilly countryside along the Fulda River, about 20 kilometres south of the town of Kassel (not far from the former East-West Germany border). Built on the main historical trade route of the region – the Nurnberger Landstrasse – the village had early links with the regional market centres of Melsungen, Kassel, Rotenburg and Hersfeld; and communications were greatly improved by the building of a railway through the village in 1848 and the opening of a local station in 1892. Largely because the railway made it possible for people to live in Korle and work in Kassel, the village did not suffer the decline which affected many other rural communities as people left for the city: in 1864 Korle had 595 inhabitants; by 1895 its population stood at 619; and by 1939 it had risen to 1,039, all Protestant.

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