In the social imaginaries that sustained Nazi ideology from the 1920s through the 1930s, Arbeitertum, translated here as “workerdom,” played a key role in integrating socialist positions into the discourse of the Volksgemeinschaft. Workerdom proved essential for translating the class-based identifications associated with the proletariat into the race-based categories that redefined the people, and hence the workers, in line with antisemitic thought. The writings of the prolific but largely forgotten August Winnig (1878–1956) can be used to reconstruct how workerdom came to provide an emotional blueprint, an identificatory model, and a compensatory fantasy in the reimagining of class, folk, and nation. The influential Vom Proletariat zum Arbeitertum (1930), as well as select autobiographical and fictional works by Winnig, are used to uncover these continuities through the political emotions, dispositions, and identifications that can properly be called populist. In the larger context of worker’s literature, conservative revolution, and völkisch thought, the Nazi discourse of workerdom not only confirms the close connection between political emotion and populist (un)reason but also opens up new ways to understand the continued attractions of populism as a particular kind of politics of emotion based on the dream of the people.

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