Cohesion and Disintegration in the Wehrmacht in World War II

TitleCohesion and Disintegration in the Wehrmacht in World War II
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1948
AuthorsShils, Edward, and Morris Janowitz
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Start Page280

The title of this article may suggest to some that it is of interest only to the student of military affairs. But it is of a far wider scope. The public relations expert, the opinion analyst, the propagandist, the educator, and all those who are interested in relating attitudes to the psychology of the individual and the structure of the group will find it deserving of close attention. For the authors, in attempting to determine why the German Army in World War II fought so stubbornly to the end, have made an intensive study of the social structure of this army, of the symbols to which it responded, of the Nazi attempts to bolster its morale, and the Allied attempts to break it down. They have found a key to many of the behavior and attitude patterns of the individual infantryman in the interpersonal relationships within the company-is primary group. His relationship to this primary group goes far to explain why he responds to one apped and not to another, why he fights, and why he surrenders. This study thus provides an example of the sociological and psychological analysis which the propagandist must make if he is to obtain maximal response to his communications.

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doi: 10.1086/265951