The "Seaside Resort of the 20000": Fordism, Mass Tourism and the Third Reich

The "Seaside Resort of the 20000":
Fordism, Mass Tourism and the
Third Reich*

Hasso Spode


 Today, sociologists and economists tell us that we live in a „post“ society: postmodern, post-Fordist, postindustrial. If 'industrial' means coal mines and steel mills, this is not entirely wrong, but if it means the basic principles that govern our world, it is a fallacy, mixing the ever changing surface with the hidden structure. This structure is known under terms such as division of labor, efficiency or rationality. Many elements of this structure can be traced back to the Early Modern Period, some even to the Middle Ages and to Antiquity; its concrete shape, however, emerged step by step since late 18th century, and its victory can be dated - metaphorically, if not literally – as having taken place in just one year: 1936. In 1936, the structure finally exceeded the boundaries of the sphere of production and started to invade the whole rest of the world - the computer was born. One might think that the history of the computer does not have much to do with the history of tourism. In fact, there are strong links. Although tourism is regarded (and sold to us) as a counterpart to our frantic, efficient everyday life, as a realm of relaxation, of playful values and practices - as a mass phenomenon, as everybody knows, tourism and tourists are inevitably part of the very same machinery which they try to elude. The flight from efficiency is organized by efficient means. Let us have a look at these means.

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The "Seaside Resort of the 20000":
Fordism, Mass Tourism and the Third Reich

* A revised and enlarged version of this text is printed under the title "Fordism, Mass Tourism and the Third Reich: the Strength through Joy Seaside Resort as an Index Fossil" In: Journal of Social History 38(2004), pp.127-155. A German version with more details of the history of computers had been printed under the title "Ein Seebad für zwanzigtausend Volksgenossen. Zur Grammatik und Geschichte des fordistischen Urlaubs" In: Peter J. Brenner (ed.): Reisekultur in Deutschland: Von der Weimarer Republik zum Dritten Reich, Tübingen: Max Niemeyer 1997, pp.7-48.

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