Nazi Volksgemeinschaft was the party-sponsored program designed to unify and streamline German culture among the general population. Many of the Volksgemeinschaft programs focused specifically on the German workers, who had not previously supported the Nazi platform. Volksgemeinschaft reflected certain aspects of Burgfrieden, but also varied in scope. Like Burgfrieden, Volksgemeinschaft attempted to unify the German workers with the goals of the elites and align the workers’ aims with those of the government in preparation for war. Volksgemeinschaft emphasized self-sufficiency for the German nation in terms of raw materials for weapons of war and necessitated the cooperation and complete dedication of the workers to effectively transform these materials into desired products. Efficiency and sacrifice were integral elements needed from the workers to transform Germany into a military and economic power under Volksgemeinschaft, just as the workers were necessary to successfully wage war under Burgfrieden.
However, unlike Burgfrieden, Volksgemeinschaft extended beyond just the workplace. Through various programs such as the Strength in Joy movement and sponsored leisure activities, the Nazis attempted to align not only the workers’ political and workplace agendas along party lines, but also their culture and personal time. Formally organized activities, such as hiking clubs, and state-sponsored products, like the Volkswagen and international vacations, attempted to unify workers both with each other and with the Nazi party ideals for a more traditional, yet efficient, society. The Volkswagen program attempted to make a vehicle affordable for German workers, although many scoffed at the program or realized the economic impossibility of maintaining and utilizing the car, even once they could afford to purchase one. Vacations and cruises were subsidized by the government and employers, but the conditions abroad such trips were meager at best and often were letdowns compared to their advertisements. Additionally, although these trips were more affordable and realistic for a working class family than in decades previously, they were still too expensive for many people.
A major flaw of the Strength through Joy movement and its leisure programs is that attempts to bring luxury items and experiences to the working class is only successful if the working class has a sufficient day-to-day life first. A family will not be able to afford vacation or a car if they cannot put food on the table on a consistent and regular basis. Necessities must come first, which is why many of the German workers found these Nazi efforts humorous and did not take the programs seriously. The Nazis did not understand the working class well as they tried to satisfy wants before the workers’ needs had been addressed. Volksgemeinschaft shared many elements with the earlier agreement Burgfreiden between the government and the working class, but Volksgemeinschaft attempted to alter the personal lives and leisure time of the people as well.