It is often thought that National Socialist ideology was primarily focused on removing the influence of Jews from all aspects of German society, however, Völkisch ideas and attitudes towards race were far more complex.
|© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013|
Richard Scheibe – ‘Kneeling Warrior’ 1937
|Nationalsozialistischen ‘Neue Mensch’
‘Aryan Man’ – Arno Breker
Like other traditional right-wing movements the National Socialists subscribed to the idea of creating a ‘new man’ that would function as a symbol of the state.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
|Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter|
The Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter (Cross of Honour of the German Mother), referred to colloquially as the Mutterehrenkreuz (Mother’s Cross of Honour) was a state decoration and civil order of merit conferred by the government of the German Reich to honour a Reichsdeutsche (Imperial German) mother for exceptional merit to the German nation. Eligibility later extended to include Volksdeutsche (ethnic German) mothers from, for example, Austria and Sudetenland, that had earlier been incorporated into the German Reich.
The decoration was conferred from 1939 until 1945 in three classes of order, bronze, silver, and gold, to mothers who exhibited probity, exemplary motherhood, and who conceived and raised at least four or more children in the role of a parent.
It is estimated that up until September 1941 there were a total of 4.7 million recipient mothers honoured with the Mother’s Cross decoration.
|Deutsch Mutter und drei Kinder|
According to National Socialist doctrine, “…to be a wife and mother is the German woman’s highest essence and purpose of life.”
After his father died when he was only five, Nietzsche was left to be raised in a household solely occupied by women (his mother, his sister, and two maiden aunts).
How much of an affect this had on developing the young man’s lifelong attitudes towards women is impossible to tell, but it would be disingenuous to dismiss it as a triviality.
Throughout his life, Nietzsche had few companions (of either gender), and virtually no real romantic relationships
‘The sexes deceive themselves about each other – because at bottom they honor and love only themselves (or their own ideals, to put it more pleasantly).
Thus man likes woman peaceful – but woman is essentially un-peaceful, like a cat, however well she may have trained herself to seem peaceable.’
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Old and Young Women, Friedrich Nietzsche
Луиза Густавовна Саломе – (Lou Andreas-Salomé), who knew Nietzsche very well, and claimed that he had proposed to her (according to her, she refused him) claimed there was something feminine in Nietzsche’s “spiritual nature“, and that he had considered genius to be a feminine genius.
Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche was two years younger than her brother.
Both were children of a Lutheran pastor in the German village of Röcken bei Lützen.
The two children were close during their childhood and early adult years.
There has been speculation that the relationship between Elizabeth and Fritz was so close that it was almost ‘incestuous’.
Nietzsche himself only ever had one romantic relationship with a woman – Lou Andreas Salomé (see above), and it is significant that Elizabeth did everything in her power to bring the relationship to an end.
Nietzsche’s only other intense relationship (apart from that with Richard Wagner) – even to the extent of being described as ‘homoerotic’, was with ‘Peter Gast’ – Johann Heinrich Köselitz (10 January 1854–15 August 1918) was a German author and composer. He is known for his long-time friendship with Friedrich Nietzsche, who gave him the pseudonym ‘Peter Gast’.
In Basel, a friendship developed between Gast and Nietzsche.
Gast read for Nietzsche during the latter’s intermittent spells of near blindness, and also took dictation. Gast was instrumental in the preparation of all of Nietzsche’s works after 1876, reviewing the printer’s manuscript and sometimes intervening to finalize the text formatting.
Nietzsche’s break with Wagner and his search for a ‘southern’ aesthetic with which he could immunize himself from the gloomy German north led him to over-appreciate Gast as a musician.
Nietzsche states that a woman’s true source of power lies in her ability to bear children (essentially the power to grant life – which resonates with Völkisch and National Socialist theories), and that this trait serves as her underlying motivation for dealing with men (who are dependent on women for the propagation of their bloodline – their physical immortality, so to speak).
Because of man’s dependence on woman in this regard, the masculine gender will readily deify womanhood (i.e. motherhood), to a higher realm of existence, a sentiment women will shrewdly use to “raise themselves higher,” to a plane of virtue that is beyond reproach.
In the more general sphere, according to Nietzsche, willpower and healthy emotions should dominate over repression – even sexual repression.
In creating a ‘Uomo Nuovo Fascista’ (fascist ‘new man’), Mussolini was also influenced by the work of Italian publicist Giovanni Papini who stated that men were to rid themselves of bourgeois icons such as family and love.
Giovanni Papini (January 9, 1881 – July 8, 1956) was an Italian journalist, essayist, literary critic, poet, and novelist.
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (29 July 1883 – 28 April 1945) was an Italian politician, journalist and leader of the National Fascist Party, ruling the country from 1922 to his ousting in 1943. In 1926 Mussolini seized total power as dictator and ruled Italy as Il Duce (“the leader”) from 1930 to 1943. Mussolini was one of the key figures in the creation of fascism.
|Uomo Nuovo Fascista|
Consequently, the concept of the ‘new man’ became a significant aspect of fascist ideology as a whole.
Many of the National Socialists’ concepts on war and masculinity were also garnered from the writings of Ernst Jünger.
|Kameradschaft – Arno Breker|
In In ‘Stahlgewittern’ (Storm of Steel), Jünger describes man as being “a compulsive sexual being who proves himself in war.”
|Wappen Deutsches Reich
National Socialist attitudes toward gender and gender roles were also affected by the Weimar Republic.
|Women Munitions Workers|
|The Threepenny Opera|
During the Weimar period, women were allowed to smoke, drink, and dance provocatively in public. Women also started to use cosmetics more regularly, cut their hair into styles such as the pageboy and the bob, and adopted male clothing into their wardrobes.
Consequently, the National Socialists promoted the idea that feminism would destroy the German race and lead to the introduction of Bolshevism.
|1920s Mercedes benz|
|German Birth Rate|
During the Weimar era, there was a considerable drop in birthrates, from 36 births per thousand inhabitants to 14.7 births per thousand.
|‘Du und Ich’ – Arno Breker|
Under National Socialist rule, the politicization of the body was incorporated in German societal discourses.
The goal of the National Socialists was to restore notions of beauty and nobility back to the body.
Karl Truppe (* February 9 1887 in Ebenthal,
† February 22 1959 in Viktring ) was an Austrian painter and university professor. He portrayed among others , Emperor Charles I of Austria and Adolf Hitler.
|‘Dianas Ruhe’ – Ivo Saliger|
Thus many state-commissioned paintings feature psychically attractive women lying naked in the sun or in the sea, such as in ‘Dianas Ruhe’ – Ivo Saliger
Ivo Saliger was known both for his original etchings and paintings. He moved to Vienna in 1908 at the same time as Adolf Hitler but unlike Hitler he was admiited and studied painting and etching techniques at the Academy of Vienna, under some of Austria’s finest artists such as Ferdinand Schmutzer. Saliger completed his studies at the Academie Moderne, in Paris. He returned to Vienna in 1920 to assume the post of professor of art at the Academy. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Ivo Saliger developed strong Art Deco elements within his art.
Degenerate art is the English translation of the German entartete Kunst, a term adopted by the National Socialist regime in Germany to describe virtually all modern art. Such art was banned on the grounds that it was un-German or Jewish Bolshevist in nature, and those identified as degenerate artists were subjected to sanctions. These included being dismissed from teaching positions, being forbidden to exhibit or to sell their art, and in some cases being forbidden to produce art entirely.
While modern styles of art were prohibited, the Nazis promoted paintings and sculptures that were traditional in manner and that exalted the “blood and soil” values of racial purity, militarism, and obedience.
|Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM)
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
While the National Socialists heavily advocated the idea of chastity, by 1934, members of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (Federation of German Girls) were instructed to engage in premarital relations
The Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) or the League of German Maidens was the girl’s wing of the overall Nazi party youth movement, the Hitler Youth. It was the only female youth organization in Nazi Germany.
The League consisted of:
– Jungmädelbund ages 10 to 14
– Jungmädelbund ages 14 to 18
– Werk Glaube und Schönheit (added in 1938) ages 17 to 21
Although this directive was originally classified as “top secret,” by 1935 the population was well aware of what went on during meetings between the BDM and the Hitlerjugend (HJ) or Hitler Youth.
|Heinrich Himmler Reich führer SS|
Moreover, during the war years, SS leader Heinrich Himmler even went as far as to endorse polygamy.
|Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM)|
In May 1933, revisions were made to the VD law, which was included in the Decree for the Protection of the Volk and State, and Clause 361 of the criminal code that allowed the Nazis to punish those “who publicly and conspicuously or in a manner likely to annoy the public incites immoral acts or offers immoral services.”
Between the period of September to October 1935, the regime introduced several laws that effectively eliminated the freedoms associated with marriage in Germany.
|Mutter und Kind|
In order to induce women to embrace motherhood and domestic life, propaganda materials, such as posters, often depicted women as mothers, basking in the joys of raising a family.
These magazines also included articles geared towards men, such as “The Happy SS Father.”
Adolf Wissel (19 April 1894 – 17 November 1973) was a German painter.
Wissel, who was born in Velber, was a painter in the genre of Völkisch Folk Art, the idea being that these paintings should show the simple, natural life of a farming family. The phrase ‘union with the soil’ best describes the subject of his art. Wissel idealised farming life for predominantly urban viewers. Exhibitions of paintings of this genre were meant to show the peasants and working class that they were just as good as the wealthy, and that they too deserved a pleasant life. These paintings were part of the Third Reich ‘Blut und Boden’ (Blood and Soil) campaign, designed to associate the ideas of health, family and motherhood with the country.
‘Blut und Boden’ refers to an ideology that focuses on ethnicity based on two factors, descent (blood) from the volk, and homeland/Heimat (Boeden). It celebrates the relationship of a people to the land they occupy and cultivate, and it places a high value on the virtues of rural living.
Wissel painted many pictures such as these, but his work contains subtle distortions and accentuations influenced by expressionism. He died in Velber in 1973.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
The Nationalsozialistische Frauenschaft, abbreviated “NS-Frauenschaft” (National Socialist Women’s League) was the women’s wing of the NSDAP. It was founded in October 1931 as a fusion of several nationalist and National Socialist women’s associations.
The Frauenschaft was subordinated to the national party leadership (Reichsleitung); girls and young women were the purview of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM). From February 1934 to the end of World War II in 1945, the NS-Frauenschaft was led by Reich’s Women’s Leader (Reichsfrauenführerin) Gertrud Scholtz-Klink (1902–1999). It put out a biweekly magazine, the NS-Frauen-Warte.
Its activities included instruction in the use of German-manufactured products, such as butter and rayon, in place of imported ones, as part of the self-sufficiency program, and classes for brides and schoolgirls. During wartime, it also provided refreshments at train stations, collected scrap metal and other materials, ran cookery and other classes, and allocated the domestics conscripted in the east to large families. Propaganda organizations depended on it as the primary spreader of propaganda to women.
The NS-Frauenschaft reached a total membership of 2 million by 1938, the equivalent of 40% of total party membership.
The German National Socialist Women’s League Children’s Group was known as “Kinderschar”.
In enrolling in this program, women over the age eighteen were taught about their duties as a wife and mother, as well as instructed on how to properly care for their home and family.
|Adolf Hitler and Child|
Völkisch ideology regarding gender and sexuality had a number of effects on the German population. Although the National Socialists considered the family the foundation of the nation, Völkisch attitudes towards gender and sexuality worked in some ways to undermine the family unit.
Karl-Maria Kertbeny or Károly Mária Kertbeny (born Karl-Maria Benkert) (Vienna, February 28, 1824 – Budapest, January 23, 1882) was an Austrian-born Hungarian journalist, memoirist, and human rights campaigner. He is best known for coining the words heterosexual and homosexual.
The Benkert family moved to Budapest when he was a child — he was equally at home in Austria, Germany and Hungary. He translated Hungarian poets’ and writers’ works into German, e.g., those of Sándor Petőfi, János Arany and Mór Jókai. Among his acquaintances were Heinrich Heine, George Sand, Alfred de Musset, Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm.
Even among the most revered German cultural idols support for ‘Hellenistic’ attitude towards male sexuality could be found.
|Hans Blüher (1888-1955)|
One of the most significant influences on the development of homoeroticism in Völkisch thinking was Hans Blüher (1888-1955).
|Nackt Wandervogel Jungs|
His history was published as a series of three pamphlets, the third of which was called ‘Die Deutsche Wandervogelbewegung Als Erotisches Phanomen’ (‘The German Wandervogel as an Erotic Phenomena’ – 1912).
Though largely neglected by historians, Blueher was enormously important to national Socialist Kulture. Blueher was adopted by the NSDAP as an apostle of social reform, and one of his disciples, Professor Alfred Bauemler became Director of the Political Institute at the University of Berlin.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Blueher’s teaching was systematically inculcated by the National Socialist Press, especially Himmler’s official organ, ‘Das Schwarze Korps’, and was adopted in practice as the basis of German social organization.
The National Socialist élite were brought up in segregated male communities called ‘Ordensburgen’. These are to replaced the family as the groundwork on which the state was to rest
The all-male societies of these ‘Ordensburgen’ (Order Castles) were fashioned after the Wandervoegel.
Second, the ‘Gemeinschaft der Eigenen’, founded officially by Adolf Brand in 1902 and which published its own magazine, ‘Der Eigene’, from 1899-1931.
Ludwig von Hofmann – 1894
Lebensreform (“life reform”) was a social movement in late 19th-century and early 20th-century Germany and Austria that propagated a back-to-nature lifestyle, emphasizing among others health food/raw food/organic food, nudism, sexual liberation, alternative medicine, and at the same time abstention from alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and vaccines
A significant member of the movement was Gusto Graeser, thinker and poet, who greatly influenced the German Youth Movement and such writers as Hermann Hesse and Gerhart Hauptmann.
Other groups which were inspired by völkisch Romanticism gradually became part of National Socialist ‘Blut und Boden’ ideology by the 1930s.
One of the most influential aspects of Lebensreform was Freikörperkultur or Nacktkultur (Nudism), and as early as 1907, Richard Ungewitter published a pamphlet called ‘Nacktheit und Kultur’ (Nudity and Culture) (which sold 100,000 copies), arguing that the practices he recommended would be “the means by which the German race would regenerate itself and ultimately prevail over its neighbours and the Jews, who were intent on injecting putrefying agents into the nation’s blood and soil“.
The Nationalist physician Artur Fedor Fuchs began the ‘League for Free Body Culture’ (FKK), giving public lectures on the healing powers of the sun in the “Nordic sky”, which “alone strengthened and healed the warrior nation“.
Ancient forest living, and habits presumed to have been followed by the ancient tribes of Germany, were beneficial to regenerating the Aryan people, according to Fuchs’ philosophy.
Han Sùren, a prominent former military officer, published ‘Der Mensch und Die Sonne’ (Man and the Sun) (1924), which sold 240,000 copies; by 1941 it was reissued in 68 editions.
Sùren promoted the Aryan ‘master race’ concept of physically strong, militarized men who would be the “salvation” of the German people.
Nudism was often associated with homosexuality, and this may have been the reason while it was initially banned by Hermann Göring in 1933.
Subsequently this ban was lifted, and Freikörperkultur and Nacktkultur was supported by Heinrich Himmler and the SS (who also controlled many aspects of Hitler-Jugend and the Napolas – Heinrich Himmler, second in power only to Hitler, was publicly opposed to homosexuality, but was probably a closet homosexual himself, and served Roehm – a known homosexual – faithfully and loyally until Roehm fell out of Hitler’s favor).
Hitler himself, while never, as far as is known, espousing nudism, had an ambivalent attitude towards homosexuality and homo-eroticism.
There is some evidence that the Vienna Police Authorities had records that indicated that Hitler may have been known as an active homosexual in his youth – and there are many aspect of his relationship with August Kubizek which indicate that the relationship between the two youths homoerotic and possibility homosexual.
Hitler was a dandy in his teens and had a dandified best friend (Kubizek).
Hitler wrote a petulant, jealous letter to Kubizek, in which Hitler wrote to his friend about how much it upset him to see Kubizek talking to others.
|Ernst Schmidt (Schmidl)|
In addition most of Hitler’s longer-term relationships – with Reinhold Hanisch, Rudolf Hausler, Ernst Schmidt (Schmidl), Emil Maurice and Rudolf Heß – were homosexual ‘love affairs’, and that as a youth Hitler was known as “Der Schoen Adolf” (“the handsome Adolf”).
Germany, of course, was the birthplace of homosexual movements, well prior to the rise of the National Socialism, and there were a number of homosexual activists and movements in Germany at the beginning of the new century, most notably “Hellenic revival” movements that regarded super-masculinity combined with pederasty to be an ideal.
|Ancient Greek Pederasty|
|Thomas Mann and the Staufenberg Boys|
Pederasty is a homosexual or homoerotic relationship between an adult male and a pubescent or adolescent male outside his immediate family. The word pederasty derives from Greek (paiderastia) “love of boys”, a compound derived from παῖς (pais) “child, boy” and ἐραστής (erastēs) “lover”.
Historically, pederasty has existed as a variety of customs and practices within different cultures. The status of pederasty has changed over the course of history, at times considered an ideal and at other times a crime. In the history of Europe, its most structured cultural manifestation was Athenian pederasty, and became most prominent in the 6th century BC. Greek pederasty’s various forms were the subject of philosophic debates in which the carnal type was unfavorably compared with erotic yet spiritual and moderate forms.
Stefan George was also at the centre of an influential literary and academic circle known as the ‘George-Kreis’ (George Circle), which included many of the leading young writers of the day, (for example Friedrich Gundolf and Ludwig Klages).
In addition to sharing cultural interests, the circle reflected mystical and political themes.
Stefan George was a homosexual, yet exhorted his young friends to lead a celibate life, like his own.
In 1914 at the start of the war he foretold a sad end for Germany, and between then and 1916 wrote the pessimistic poem ‘Der Krieg’ (The War).
He died near Locarno in 1933.
George believed in the renewal of culture through the power of youth and beauty.
The strength of George’s belief in this cult of beauty is reflected not only in many of his later, quite monumental works, such as ‘Der Stern des Bündes’, and the prophetically titled ‘Das neue Reich’, but in the decisive `Maximin-Erlebnis,’ which provided the poet with inspiration and material for much of his later poetry.
Some of his most significant work includes ‘Algabal’, and the love poetry he devoted to a gifted adolescent of his acquaintance named Maximilian Kronberger, whom he called “Maximin”, and whom he identified as a manifestation of the divine.-
Maximilian Kronberger, known familiarly as Maximin (April 15, 1888 — April 16, 1904), was a German poet and a significant figure in the literary circle of Stefan George (the so‑called George‑Kreis).
In 1903 George, during one of his frequent stays in Munich, became acquainted with the 15-year old Maximilian Kronberger: after encountering him on the street several times, George simply approached the young boy and introduced himself. Maximilian became George’s close friend and companion over the next year, and was admired by many members of the George-Kreis not only for his youth and beauty, but for his poetic talent as well. Indeed, George saw in Maximilian such perfection that he considered the boy to be an incarnation of the godhead, and worthy of absolute devotion. In 1904, Maximilian died of meningitis, an event which shattered George’s stability and drove him to the brink of suicide. Soon afterwards, however, a new focus for George’s work emerged: the series of Maximin-Gedichte center on George’s belief in the transcendence of Maximin’s earthy life – his idealized figure becomes for George the Stern des Bündes, “one of the new awakened spirits who would one day form the new kingdom on earth.”
George thought of himself as a messiah of a new kingdom that would be led by intellectual or artistic elites, bonded by their faithfulness to a strong leader.
In his memoirs, Albert Speer claims to have seen George in the early 1920s and that his elder brother, Hermann, was a member of his inner circle: George “radiated dignity and pride and a kind of priestliness… there was something magnetic about him.”
George’s late works include ‘Geheimes Deutschland’ (“Secret Germany”) written in 1922, and ‘Das neue Reich’ (The New Empire), which was published in 1928, which outlines a new form of society ruled by hierarchical spiritual aristocracy.
|Claus von Stauffenberg|
‘Das neue Reich’ (1928) is the title of the last published collection of poems by Stefan George .
Compared to previous works his these poems are less coherent in form and content, and its architecture looser. In addition to the role as time judge, George becomes the prophetic herald new values.
Increasingly, Plato , and especially Friedrich Hölderlin become important influences..
The appreciation of irrational forces, and the ambiguous reference to the historical situation, led to George, to be seen as an ideological precursor of the Third Reich.
These poems have always been associated with the brothers Berthold and Claus von Stauffenberg, Members of George’s ‘circle’, and it was Claus von Stauffenberg’s disillusionment with the development of the Third Reich that led him to make an attempt on the life of Adolf Hitler.
and the Stauffenberg brothers
His poetry emphasized ‘self-sacrifice’, ‘heroism’ and ‘power’, and he thus gained popularity in National Socialist circles.
Along with the National Socialists, Stefan George had the ambition to revive a ‘Secret Germany’ that would sweep away the materialism of the Weimar Republic, and restore German life to its true spirituality.
Although many National Socialists claimed George as an important influence, George himself was aloof from such associations and did not get involved in politics. Although George was never a member of the NSDAP, his later works paved the way for the acceptance of National Socialist philosophy in upper class, intellectual circles, and his works were approved of by the hierarchy of the Third Reich, despite their obvious homoeroticism.
William Shirer says in his definitive “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” not only that Roehm was “important in the rise of Hitler,” but also “like so many of the early National Socialists, he was a homosexual.”