Volk

From Academic Kids

For other uses, see Volk (disambiguation).

Volk is a German word meaning "people" or "folk." It is commonly used in words such as Volksmusik or Völkerbund (League of Nations), or the car manufacturer Volkswagen (literally, "people's car").

A number of völkisch movements were set up in Germany after World War I. Combining interest in folklore, ecology, occultism and romanticism with ethnic nationalism, their ideologies were a strong influence on the Nazi party, which itself was inspired by Adolf Hitler's membership of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei.

During the years of the Third Reich, this term and its adjective völkisch became heavily politicised, particular in slogans such as Volk ohne Raum — "(a) people without space" or Völkischer Beobachter ("popular observer"), an NSDAP party newspaper. Also the political slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer ("One people, one country, one leader"). Today, the term völkisch is largely restricted to historical contexts describing that era.

Volk also occurs in German socialist usage, as in the Volkspolizei (People's Police) or "Volkseigene Betriebe" (People's-Owned Business) of the former German Democratic Republic.

As is the often the case with literal translations, the English word folk does not do justice to the specific definition of the word Volk. It is meant to sustain an ideal or image that a single word cannot encapsulate (at least in the World War II-era meaning of the word). Many countries hold an ideal of their national image, even in a very trivial sense. "British humour," for example is used to describe very strong irony or understated mockery. The Nazi-era use of Volk could, depending on context, be interpreted as "race," "Germanic," or "European."


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