The Green Reich

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

“We recognize that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction and to the death of nations. Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger. That is the fundamental point of the biological tasks of our age. Humankind alone is no longer the focus of thought, but rather life as a whole.

This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought.”

Professor Ernst Lehmann


Germany is not only the birthplace of the science of ecology and the place where ecological politics’ rose to prominence; it has also been home to a peculiar synthesis of naturalism and nationalism forged under the influence of the Romantic tradition’s anti-Enlightenment philosophy.
Two nineteenth century figures exemplify this conjunction: Ernst Moritz Arndt and Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl

Ernst Moritz Arndt 


Ernst Moritz Arndt (26 December 1769 – 29 January 1860) was a German patriotic author and poet. Early in his life, he fought for the abolition of serfdom, later against Napoleonic dominance over Germany, and had to flee to Sweden for some time due to his anti-French positions. He is one of the main founders of German nationalism and the movement for German unification. After the Carlsbad Decrees, the forces of the restoration counted him as a demagogue and he was only rehabilitated in 1840.
Arndt played an important role for the early national and liberal Burschenschaft movement and for the unification movement, and his song “Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland?” acted as an unofficial German national anthem.

Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl

Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl (6 May 1823 – 16 November 1897) was a German journalist, novelist and folklorist.
Riehl was born in Biebrich in the Duchy of Nassau and died in Munich.
Riehl’s writings became normative for a large body of Volkish thought. He constructed a more completely integrated Volkish view of man and society as they related to nature, history, and landscape. He was the writer of the famous ‘Land und Leute’ (Places and People), written in 1857-63, which discussed the organic nature of a Volk which he claimed could only be attained if it fused with the native landscape.
He rejected all artificiality and defined modernity as a nature contrived by man and thus devoid of that genuineness to which living nature alone gives meaning. Riehl pointed to the newly developing urban centres as the cause of social unrest. For many Volkish thinkers, only nature was genuine. He desired a hierarchical society that patterned after the medieval estates. In ‘Die bürgerliche Gesellschaft’ (Bourgeois Society) he accused those of Capitalist interest of disturbing ancient customs and thus destroying the historicity of the Volk. Animosity towards the city was an integral part of the rise of Volkish thought. At times it was expressed in the slogan “Berlin is the domain of the Jews” or in the remark by another writer that “cities are the tombs of Germanism” Such ideas secured a place for Riehl in the history of Volkish thought. 
Riehl, born into a settled middle-class background, was a professor at the University of Munich.

Sterbender Hirsch
Wilhelm Diefenbach

Riehl’s 1853 essay ‘Feld und Wald’ (Field and Forest) ended with a call to fight for “the rights of wilderness.” 

But even here nationalist pathos set the tone: “We must save the forest, not only so that our ovens do not become cold in winter, but also so that the pulse of life of the people continues to beat warm and joyfully, so that Germany remains German.”
Riehl was an implacable opponent of the rise of industrialism and urbanization; his overtly anti-semitic glorification of rural peasant values, and undifferentiated condemnation of modernity established him as the “founder of agrarian romanticism and anti-urbanism.

‘Nature Mysticism’

These latter two fixations matured in the second half of the nineteenth century in the context of the völkisch movement, a powerful cultural disposition and social tendency which united ethnocentric populism with ‘nature mysticism‘.

At the heart of the völkisch weltanschauung was a negative response to modernity.
In the face of the very real dislocations brought on by the triumph of industrial capitalism and national unification, völkisch thinkers preached a return to the land, to the simplicity and wholeness of a life attuned to nature’s purity.
The movement aspired to reconstruct the society that was sanctioned by history, rooted in nature, and in communion with the cosmic life spirit.
The emergence of modern ecology forged the final link in the chain which bound together nationalism, mystically charged racism, and environmentalist predilections.
Ernst Haeckel 

In 1867 the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel coined the term ‘ecology’ and began to establish it as a scientific discipline dedicated to studying the interactions between organism and environment.

Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (February 16, 1834 – August 9, 1919), was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many terms in biology, including anthropogeny, ecology, phylum, phylogeny, stem cell, and the kingdom Protista. Haeckel promoted and popularized Charles Darwin’s work in Germany and developed the controversial recapitulation theory (“ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny“) claiming that an individual organism’s biological development, or ontogeny, parallels and summarizes its species’ evolutionary development, or phylogeny.

The published artwork of Haeckel includes over 100 detailed, multi-colour illustrations of animals and sea creatures (Kunstformen der Natur, “Art Forms of Nature”). As a philosopher, Ernst Haeckel wrote ‘Die Welträtsel’ (1895–1899, in English, The Riddle of the Universe, 1901), the genesis for the term “world riddle” (Welträtsel); and ‘Freedom in Science and Teaching’ to support teaching evolution.

Haeckel developed a philosophy he called ‘monism.’
The ‘German Monist League’ he founded combined scientifically based ecological holism with völkisch social views.
Haeckel believed in nordic racial superiority, strenuously opposed race mixing and enthusiastically supported racial eugenics.
Bayerische Räterepublik – Munich

His nationalism became more fervent with the onset of World War I, and he fulminated in anti-semitic tones against the post-war Jewish/Soviet Republic in Bavaria.
In this way Haeckel contributed to that special variety of German thought which served as the seed bed for National Socialism.
The pioneer of scientific ecology, along with his disciples Willibald Hentschel, Wilhelm Bölsche and Bruno Wille, profoundly shaped the thinking of subsequent generations of environmentalists by embedding concern for the natural world in a tightly woven web of Völkisch social themes.
Thus, for the Monists, perhaps the most pernicious feature of European bourgeois civilization was the inflated importance which it attached to the idea of man in general, to his existence and to his talents.

Raoul Francé

The biologist Raoul Francé, founding member of the ‘Monist League’, elaborated so-called ‘Lebensgesetze’, ‘laws of life’ through which the natural order determines the social order.
He opposed racial mixing, for example, as “unnatural.”
The chief vehicle for carrying this ideological constellation to prominence was the German youth.

The world’s first self-conscious “youth” movement sprang up in response to, and as a rejection of, urban life and the cold, impersonal mechanics of modernity.
It’s members wanted to reunite themselves with nature.
They went vegetarian, sometimes favoured nudism, hiked and even camped out in the wilderness, creating alternative societies to the mainstream.
It was a romantic, spiritual movement.
Many saw themselves as pagans, worshipping the sun, conceived of as an ancient Teutonic deity.
The young men sang songs and played guitars around campfires in a movement that was closely involved with Lebensreform (“life reform”).

Lebensreform

Lebensreform (“life reform”) was a social movement in late 19th-century and early 20th-century Germany, Austria and Switzerland that propagated a back-to-nature lifestyle, emphasizing among others health food/raw food/organic food, nudism, sexual liberation, alternative medicine, and religious reform and at the same time abstention from alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and vaccines.

‘Gebet zum Licht’
Fidus (Hugo Höppener)
Fidus (Hugo Höppener)

Important Lebensreform proponents were Sebastian Kneipp, Louis Kuhne, Rudolf Steiner, Karl Wilhelm 
Diefenbach, Fidus (Hugo Höppener), Gusto Graeser, and Adolf Just.
Hugo Höppener (1868-1948), who used the pseudonym Fidus was one of the most significant artists of the movement.
Depicting nude figures among the natural landscape, not sexualized, but in harmony with nature, and working in cooperation with each other, Fidus gained wide recognition.
Several of his works show a male-female couple embracing, not out of lust, but in a kind of Tantric reaching for Deity.
His most famous work (of which he made several versions), ‘Gebet zum Licht’ (Prayer to the Light), shows a man standing on a rock mound, with his arms outstretched to the sky.
In 1932, Fidus joined the NSDAP.. Fidus was probably impressed by the National Socialist’s environmentalism and romantic portrayals of the German people.

Ideology in Germany

The Lebensreform movement in Germany originally was a politically diverse movement.
There were hundreds of groups across Germany dedicated to some of all of the concepts associated with Lebensreform: ecology and organic farming, vegetarianism, naturalism (Nacktkultur), and abstinence from alcohol and tobacco.
Dozens of magazines, books, and pamphlets were published on these topics.
Some groups were made of socialists, some were apolitical, and some were right-wing and nationalist in outlook.
One outstanding prophet of Lebensreform was the painter Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach (1861-1913), pacifist and tolstoyan anarchist who founded the community Himmelhof near Vienna.

 Geige spielender Knabe
Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach
Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach

Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach (February 21, 1851, Hadamar, Duchy of Nassau – December 15, 1913, Capri) was a German painter and social reformer.
Diefenbach was a pioneer of nudism and the peace movement. His country commune in Vienna (1897–1899) was one of the models for the reform settlement Monte Verità in Ascona. His ideas included life in harmony with nature and rejection of monogamy, turning away from any religion (although he was a follower of theosophy, and a vegetarian diet. One of his students was the artist Konstantinos Parthenis.
As a painter he was an independent representative of Art Nouveau and Symbolism.

Among his disciples were three painters: Fidus, Frantischek Kupka and Gusto Graeser.
In 1900 Graeser became the co-founder and inspiring pioneer of the community Monte Verità near Ascona, Switzerland. Monte Verità attracted lots of artists from all of Europe, during World War I conscientious objectors from Germany and France.

Hermann Hesse

Gusto Graeser, thinker and poet, greatly influenced the German Youth Movement, and such writers as Hermann Hesse and Gerhart Hauptmann.
He was the model for the master figures in the books of Hermann Hesse.
An important influence on Völkisch ideology was Ludwig Fahrenkrog (20 October 1867 – 27 October 1952) who was a German writer, playwright and artist.
He was born in Rendsburg, Prussia, in 1867.
He started his career as an artist in his youth, and attended the Berlin Royal Art Academy before being appointed a professor in 1913.
He taught at the School of Arts and Crafts in Bremen from 1898 to 1931.
He was also involved in the founding of a series of Völkisch groups in the early 20th century.
The first group started by Fahrenkrog was the ‘Deutscher Bund für Persönlichkeitskultur’ (German League for the Culture of the Personality), which also supported a publication called Mehr Licht! (“More Light!”, the famous last words of Goethe).

Ludwig Fahrenkrog
Ludwig Fahrenkrog – The Holy Hour (Die heilige Stunde), 1918

He was also involved with the ‘Deutsche Religionsgemeinschaft’ (German Religious Community [DRG]), which would later change its name several times, first in 1912 to Germanische-Deutsche Religionsgemeinschaft (Germanic-German Religious Community [GDRG]), then in 1915, following a split in the membership, to the Deutschgläubige Gemeinschaft (Association of the German Faithful [DGG]).

Earth and the Sun Heaven and Earth, Baldur and Gerda
(Erde und Sonne, Himmel und Erde, Baldur und Gerda), 1921
Ludwig Fahrenkrog

Other groups which emerged from völkisch Romanticism gradually became part of National Socialist ideology by the 1930s, known as ‘Blut und Boden’ (blood and soil).
As early as 1907, Richard Ungewitter published a pamphlet called ‘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 diabolical Jews, who were intent on injecting putrefying agents into the nation’s blood and soil“.
The most significant of these Lebensreform movements was the Wandervogel.

Wandervogel
  

Wandervogel

Wandervogel is the name adopted by a popular movement of German youth groups from 1896 onward.
The name can be translated as rambling, hiking or wandering bird (differing in meaning from “Zugvogel” or migratory bird) and the ethos is to shake off the restrictions of society and get back to nature and freedom.
Soon the groups split and there originated ever more organisations, which still all called themselves Wandervogel, but were organisationally independent, nonetheless the feeling was still of being a common movement, but split into several branches.
The Wandervogel movement was officially established on 4 November 1901 by Herman Hoffmann Fölkersamb, who in 1895 had formed a study circle at the boys’ Berlin-Steglitz grammar school where he was teaching.

The Wandervogel soon became the pre-eminent German youth movement.
It was a back-to-nature youth organization emphasizing freedom, self-responsibility, and the spirit of adventure, and took a Völkish approach, stressing Germany’s mystical Teutonic roots.
After World War I, many of the leaders returned disillusioned from the war.
The same was true for leaders of German Scouting, so both movements started to influence each other heavily in Germany.

Nacktkultur

From the Wandervogel came a stronger culture of hiking, nacktkultur, (see below) – German naturism was part of the Lebensreform movement and the Wandervogel youth movement, which promoted ideas of fitness and vigour.
At the same time doctors of the Natural Healing Movement were using heliotherapy to treat diseases such as TB, rheumatism and scrofula with exposure to sunlight
During the National Socialist Gleichschaltung period, after Adolf Hitler came to power, nudism benefited from official recognition and sponsorship for its health benefits.
Nevertheless, all naturism clubs had to register with Kraft durch Freude.
The Wandervogel movement also encouraged adventure, Völkish mysticism, romanticism and a younger leadership structure.
Scouting brought uniforms, flags, more organization, more camps and a clearer ideology.
There was also an educationalist influence from Gustav Wyneken.
Together this led to the emergence of the Bündische Jugend.
The Wandervogel, German Scouting and the Bündische Jugend together are referred to as the German Youth Movement.

They had been around for more than a quarter of a century before National Socialists began to see an opportunity to adopt some methods and symbols of the German Youth Movement to use it in the Hitler-Jugend – (Hitler Youth).
This movement was very influential at that time.
Its members were romantic and prepared to sacrifice a lot for their ideals.
The philosopher Ludwig Klages profoundly influenced the youth movement, and particularly shaped their ecological consciousness.
He authored a tremendously important essay titled ‘Mensch und die Erde’ (Man and Earth) for the legendary Meissner gathering of the Wandervögel in 1913.
An extraordinarily poignant text and the best known of all Klages’ work, it is one of the very greatest manifestos of the radical ecology movement in Germany.
‘Mensch und die Erde’ anticipated just about all of the themes of the contemporary ecology movement.
It decried the accelerating extinction of species, disturbance of global ecosystemic balance, deforestation, destruction of wild habitats, urban sprawl, and the increasing alienation of people from nature.
In emphatic terms it disparaged Christianity, capitalism, economic utilitarianism, hyper-consumption and the ideology of ‘progress.’

Martin Heidegger

Another philosopher and stern critic of the ‘Enlightenment’, who helped bridge Völkisch ideology and environmentalism was Martin Heidegger.
A much more renowned thinker than Klages, Heidegger preached “authentic Being”, and harshly criticized modern technology, and is therefore often celebrated as a precursor of ecological thinking.
Heidegger’s critique of anthropocentric humanism, his call for humanity to learn to “let things be,” his notion that humanity is involved in a “play” or “dance” with earth, sky, and gods, his meditation on the possibility of an authentic mode of “dwelling” on the earth, his complaint that industrial technology is laying waste to the earth, his emphasis on the importance of local place and Heimat (homeland) his claim that humanity should guard and preserve things, instead of dominating them – all these aspects of Heidegger’s thought help to support the claim that he was a major ecological theorist.
Heidegger was an active member of the NSDAP party, and enthusiastically supported the Führer.
His mystical panegyrics to Heimat (homeland) were complemented by a deep anti-semitism, and his metaphysically phrased broadsides against technology and modernity converged neatly with populist thought.
Although he lived and taught for thirty years after the fall of the Third Reich, Heidegger never once publicly regretted, much less renounced, his involvement with National Socialism.

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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

The nationalist youth movements, promoting right wing ideology, eventually became popular with the NSDAP and their supporters, including Heinrich Himmler, who belonged to the right-wing farming organization the ‘Artaman League’.

Artamanen Gesellschaft 

The Artamanen-Gesellschaft (Artaman League) was a German agrarian and völkisch movement dedicated to a ‘Blood and Soil’ inspired ruralism.
Active during the inter-war period, the League became closely linked to, and eventually absorbed by, the NSDAP
The term Artamanen had been coined before the First World War by Dr. Willibald Hentschel, a believer in racial purity, who had founded his own group, the ‘Mittgart Society’, in 1906.

Rastinderheide
Georg von Sluyterman Langeweyde

The term was a portmanteau word of art and manen, Middle High German words meaning ‘agriculture man’ and indicating Hentschell’s desire to see Germans retreat from the decadence of the city in order to return to an idyllic rural past.
The society itself was not formed until 1923, even though Willibald’s ideas were somewhat older.
The Artamans were part of the German Youth Movement, representing its more right-wing back-to-the-land elements.
Under the leadership of Georg Kenstler they advocated blood and soil policies with a strong undercurrent of Anti-Slavism.
This völkisch movement believed that the decline of the Aryan race could only be halted by encouraging people to abandon city life in favour of settling in the rural areas in the east.
Whilst members wished to perform agricultural labour as an alternative to military service they also saw it as part of their duty to violently oppose Slavs and to drive them out of Germany.

Adolf Wissel – Bauernfamilie

The concepts were combined in the figure of the Wehrbauer, or soldier-peasant.
As such the League sent German youth to work on the land in Saxony and East Prussia, in an attempt to prevent these areas being settled by Poles.
To this end 2000 settlers were sent to Saxony in 1924, to both work on farms and serve as an anti-Slav militia.
They also gave classes on importance of racial purity and the Nordic race, and the corrupting influence of city living and Jews.
Like many similar right-wing youth movements in Germany the Artaman League lost impetus as the NSDAP grew. By 1927, 80% of its membership had become National Socialists.
As such the League had disappeared by the early 1930s with most of its membership having switched to the NSDAP.
In the late 1920s, some of the Artamans were drawn deeper into politics, and engaged in a holy war against their enemies: liberals, democrats, Free-Masons and Jews.

Heinrich Himmler

Eventually many members of the Artaman League turned to National Socialism.
Heinrich Himmler was an early member and held the position of Gauführer in Bavaria.

 Richard Walther Darré 

Whilst a member of the League Himmler met Richard Walther Darré and the two struck up a close friendship, based largely on Darré’s highly developed ideological notions of ‘blood and soil’ to which Himmler was attracted.

Richard Walther Darré (born Ricardo Walther Oscar Darré; 14 July 1895 – 5 September 1953) was an SS-Obergruppenführer and one of the leading Nazi “blood and soil” (German: Blut und Boden) ideologists. He was appointed by Hitler as Reich Minister of Food and Agriculture. He served in that position from 1933 to 1942. Darré’s works were primarily concerned with the ancient and present Nordic peasantry (the ideology of ‘Blood and Soil’): within this context, he made an explicit attack against Christianity. In his two main works (Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der Nordischen Rasse, Munich, 1927 and Neuadel aus Blut und Boden, Munich, 1930), Darré accused Christianity, with its “teaching of the equality of men before God,” of having “deprived the Teutonic nobility of its moral foundations”, the “innate sense of superiority over the nomadic tribes”.
Darré’s writings are an early example of “Green” or Conservationist thinking: he advocated more natural methods of land management, placing emphasis on the conservation of forests, and demanded more open-space and air in the raising of farm animals

Darré’s most important innovation was the introduction on a large scale of organic farming methods, significantly labeled “lebensgesetzliche Landbauweise” or farming according to the laws of life.
The impetus for these unprecedented measures came from Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy and its techniques of bio-dynamic cultivation.
The campaign to institutionalize organic farming encompassed tens of thousands of smallholdings and estates across Germany.
It was largely Darré’s influence in the Third Reich which yielded, in practice, a level of government support for ecologically sound farming methods and land use planning unmatched by any state before or since.
The Artaman vision would continue to have a profound effect on Himmler who, throughout his time as Reichsführer-SS, retained his early dreams of a racially pure peasantry.
The league was eventually dismantled, and incorporated into the Hitler Jugend in October 1934 as the Nationalist Socialist youth movement gained strength.

Later Developments

When other groups were being banned or disbanded due to political conflict during the 1930s, the nationalist ideology became connected with National Socialism.
The ‘German Life Reform League’ broke apart into political factions during this time.
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 ‘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.

Freikörperkultur

In many parts of central Europe up until the 18th century, people bathed naked in rivers and lakes, although often separately by sex.
Beginning in the late 18th century, public nudity became increasingly taboo, though this never penetrated into sparsely-populated Scandinavia.
At the same time, Lord Monboddo (1714-1779) practiced and preached nude bathing as a revival of Ancient Greek attitudes toward nudity.
This found literary reference in Georg Christoph Lichtenberg’s (1742-1799) book ‘Das Luftbad’.
In 1898 the first FKK club was founded in Essen.
In 1900 more and more Swedish baths arose in rooms in Berlin and on the North and Baltic seas.
A few years before there were mixed sex baths in many places, which, although requiring contemporary, modest bath clothes, were either forbidden or regarded as immoral.

Freikörperkultur – FKK

Behind the FKK movement lay an attitude towards life in which the naked body is not shameful. 
The nudity of FKK should not involve sexuality.
In this light, the need to be nude in the shower or sauna does not belong with Freikörperkultur, since it’s practically necessary.
In FKK, nudity has prior group consensus, and therefore demands no reserved zones, such as separate beaches or club areas.

Freikörperkultur – FKK

A while later, after the political liberalization, conservative circles tried to challenge the increasingly popular (especially among urban intellectuals) nude baths as a corruption of morality.
The first nude beach in Germany was established in 1920 on the island of Sylt.
In 1933 after the National Socialists came to power, nudist organizations were integrated into the NSDAP.
The first dissertation about the FKK movement was written in the 1930s.
Himmler and the SS supported Naturism.
The ‘Kampfring für völkische Freikörperkultur’, established in May 1933, was a National Socialist völkisch umbrella body for German Freikörperkultur nudist groups, which excluded Jews and communist nudist groups.

National Socialist Ecology

The National Socialist “religion of nature,” was a mixture of primeval teutonic nature mysticism, ecological ideology, anti-Enlightenment, and a philosophy of racial salvation through a return to the land.
Its predominant themes were ‘natural order,’ organicist holism and denigration of post industrial Humanism.
Throughout the writings, not only of Hitler, but of most Völkisch ideologues, one can discern a fundamental deprecation of humans vis-à-vis nature, and, as a logical corollary to this, an attack upon human efforts to over-master nature.
Many anthropocentric views in general had to be rejected.
They would be valid only ‘if it is assumed that nature has been created only for man. We decisively reject this attitude. According to our conception of nature, man is a link in the living chain of nature just as any other organism’.

Adolf Hitler

According to Hitler is was essential to ascertain “the eternal laws of nature’s processes” and organizing society to correspond to them.
In the National Socialist world view ecological themes were linked with traditional agrarian romanticism, and hostility to urban civilization, all revolving around the idea of rootedness in nature.
Hitler discussed, in detail, various renewable energy sources (including environmentally appropriate hydro-power and producing natural gas from sludge) as alternatives to coal, and declaring “water, winds and tides” as the energy path of the future.



Organisation Todt
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Fritz Todt

The two men principally responsible for sustaining this environmentalist commitment in the midst of intensive industrialization were Reichsminister Fritz Todt and his aide, the high-level planner and engineer Alwin Seifert, whom Todt had called a “fanatical ecologist.”
Todt was “one of the most influential National Socialists,” directly responsible for questions of technological and industrial policy.
At his death in 1942 he headed three different cabinet-level ministries in addition to the enormous quasi-official ‘Organisation Todt’, and had “gathered the major technical tasks of the Reich into his own hands.

Albert Speer

According to his successor, Albert Speer, Todt “loved Nature” and “repeatedly had serious run-ins with Bormann, protesting against his despoiling the landscape around Obersalzberg.” 
Another source calls him simply “an ecologist.”

Reichsautobahn

This reputation is based chiefly on Todt’s efforts to make Autobahn construction – one of the largest building enterprises undertaken in this century – as environmentally sensitive as possible.
Todt demanded of the completed work of technology a harmony with Nature and with the landscape, thereby fulfilling modern ecological principles of engineering as well as the ‘organological’ principles of his own era along with their roots in völkisch ideology.

Reichsautobahn

The ecological aspects of this approach to construction went well beyond an emphasis on harmonious adaptation to the natural surroundings for aesthetic reasons; Todt also established strict criteria for respecting wetlands, forests and ecologically sensitive areas.
But just as with Arndt, Riehl and Darré, these environmentalist concerns were inseparably bound to a völkisch-nationalist outlook.
Todt himself expressed this connection succinctly:
The fulfillment of mere transportation purposes is not the final aim of German highway construction. The German highway must be an expression of its surrounding landscape and an expression of the German essence.
Seifert, Todt’s aide, bore the official title of ‘Reich Fürsprecher für die Landschaft’.
The appellation was deserved; Seifert dreamed of a “total conversion from technology to nature,” and would often wax lyrical about the wonders of German nature, and the tragedy of “humankind’s” carelessness.
As early as 1934 he wrote to Heß demanding attention to water issues, and invoking “work methods that are more attuned to nature.”

Farming, ‘Independent of Capital’.

In discharging his official duties Seifert stressed the importance of wilderness, and energetically opposed monoculture, wetlands drainage and chemicalized agriculture.
He also “called for an agricultural revolution towards ‘a more peasant-like, natural, simple’ method of farming, ‘independent of capital’.
With the Third Reich’s technological policy entrusted to figures such as these, even the National Socialists’ massive industrial build-up took on a distinctively ecological quality.
The prominence of Nature in the party’s philosophical background helped ensure that more radical initiatives often received a sympathetic hearing in the highest offices of the National Socialist state.
In the mid-thirties Todt and Seifert vigorously pushed for an all-encompassing Reich Law for the protection of ‘die Erde’ “in order to stem the steady loss of this irreplaceable basis of all life.” Seifert reports that all of the ministries were prepared to co-operate save one; only the minister of the economy opposed the bill because of its impact on mining.

Rudolf Heß

It was, however, Rudolf Heß provided the ecologists of the NSDAP with support from the very top of the party hierarchy.
Heß was not only the highest party leader and second in line (after Göring) to succeed Hitler; in addition, all legislation and every decree had to pass through his office before becoming law.
An inveterate nature lover as well as a devout Steinerite, Heß insisted on a strictly bio-dynamic diet – not even Hitler’s rigorous vegetarian standards were good enough for him – and accepted only homeopathic medicines.

Walter Darré

It was Heß who introduced Darré to Hitler, thus securing the ecologists its first power base, and he was an even more tenacious proponent of organic farming than Darré.
With Heß’s enthusiastic backing, the “green wing” was able to achieve its most notable successes.
As early as March 1933, a wide array of environmentalist legislation was approved and implemented at national, regional and local levels.
These measures included the creation of nature preserves, and championed sustainable forestry, ordered the protection of hedgerows and other wildlife habitats, and designed the autobahn highway network as a way of bringing Germans closer to nature.
Also in 1933, the concerns of the NSDAP were not only laid with the people, but with the animals native to Germany.
In 1934, a national hunting law was passed to regulate how many animals could be killed per year, and to establish proper ‘hunting seasons’.
These hunting laws have now been applied in most western countries
This law was known as ‘Das Reichsjagdgesetz’, (Reich Hunting Law).
The Reichstag also footed the bill for education on animal conservation at Primary, Secondary and College levels.
Additionally, in 1935, another law was passed, the Reichsnaturschutzgesetz (Reich Nature Protection Act).
This law placed several native species on a protection list including the wolf, and Eurasian lynx. Additions were added later as to afforestation and the humane slaughter of living fish
Without this law it is likely some species would have completely disappeared from Germany’s forests.

Beauty of Labour’
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Several nationwide programs were initiated to benefit the ordinary German worker.
The first, ‘Beauty of Labour’, was created in 1934 to enhance the concept of a comfortable and pleasant workspace for the German worker.
In the following year this ordinance was followed up by a ‘Reich Nature Protection Law’ to ensure the worker could walk through parks in complete safety.
Also, laws were enacted to control air pollution.
Nothing could be more wrong than to suppose that most of the leading National Socialist ideologues had cynically feigned an agrarian romanticism and hostility to urban culture, without any inner conviction, and for merely electoral and propaganda purposes, in order to hoodwink the public.
In reality, the majority of the leading National Socialist ideologists were without any doubt more or less inclined to agrarian romanticism and anti-urbanism, and convinced of the need for a relative re-agrarianization.
The ecologists of the NSDAP was not a group of innocents, confused and manipulated idealists, or reformers from within; they were conscious promoters and executors of a program dedicated to the conservation of nature in accordance with the eternal laws of nature’s processes.
It is frequently pointed out, however, that the agrarian and romantic currents in National Socialist ideology and policy were in supposed constant tension with, if not in flat contradiction to, the technocratic-industrialist thrust of the Third Reich’s rapid modernization.
What is not often remarked (what is, again intentionally suppressed) is that even these modernizing tendencies had a significant ecological component.
Industry was brought into balance with ‘natural law’.

click below for a full discussion and more images
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Hitler and Green Politics

Anti Smoking Poster

Adolf Hitler was so opposed to smoking in his later life that he couldn’t stand someone lighting up in the same room, and often felt obligated to object to it as a waste of money.
Thus, he began one of the most expensive and effective anti-tobacco movements in history.
While during the 1930s and 1940s, other anti-tobacco movements failed fantastically in other countries, it was taken seriously in the Third Reich
Smoking was banned in restaurants and public transportation systems, citing public health, and the government severely regulated the advertising of smoking and cigarettes.
There was also a high tobacco tax, and the supplies of cigarettes to the Wehrmacht were rationed.
Several health organizations in Nazi Germany even began claiming that smoking heightened the risks of miscarriages by pregnant women, now a commonly known fact
The statistics of annual cigarette consumption per capita as of 1940 had Germany at only 749, while Americans smoked over 3,000.
In 1939, the Nazi Party outlawed smoking in all of its offices premises, and Heinrich Himmler, the then chief of the Schutzstaffel (SS), restricted police personnel and SS officers from smoking while they were on duty.
Smoking was also outlawed in schools.
Hitler was convinced that Germany itself was overpopulated, over-industrialized, and running out of space and food, all of which was destroying the biological substance of the German people.

It would therefore be essential to push East in order to resolve this existential biological-environmental crisis., and this meant that, since the laws of Nature demanded the survival of the fittest species, there would have to be a massive displacement and de-population program.
Racial species, like the Aryans, must be protected from extinction, just as much as any animal, and a green, vegetarian diet was going to play a future role in this natural process.

Hitler and Blondi

As Hitler himself pointed out:

as regards the animals, the dog, who is carnivorous, cannot compare in performance with the horse, which is vegetarian. In the same way, the lion shows sign of fatigue after covering only two or three kilometers, while the camel marches for six and seven days before his tongue even begins to hang out.” 
.Not surprisingly perhaps, vegetarians and environmentalists have largely downplayed the historical record of the ‘green policies’ of the Third Reich.
Some have been quick to point out that Hitler supposedly cheated on occasion with ham, sausage, and seafood dishes.
Hitler was also occasionally inconsistent with regard to environmental preservationist values and practices, largely because of the need to place Germany on an all out war footing throughout the 1930’s in a vast arms build-up.
Hitler was also a fond of grand building projects, and was planning on exploiting the natural resources in the East as much as possible to win the war
Hitler, of course, attributed his vegetarianism to the famous German opera composer Richard Wagner, who provided a musical icon for the Third Reich.
Why, one might ask ?
Because Wagner preached a racist socialism (national socialism), based on vegetarianism that would cleanse Germany from the Jews.

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is primarily known for his operas (or, as some of his later works were later known, “music dramas”). Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Weber and Meyerbeer, Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk (“total work of art”), by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama, and which was announced in a series of essays between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ (The Ring of the Nibelung).

Richard Wagner
Parsifal
Fidus (Hugo Höppener)

Wagner was both a revolutionary, and an anti-Semite, who hated the Jews for commercializing art.
Wagner, like many intellectuals of his time, had been interested in the writings of Charles Darwin, whose books Wagner read during the 1870’s.
The underlying ideas of ‘Parsifal‘, Wagner’s last opera – and Hitler’s favourite opera,  were those of social Darwinism.

Parsifal’  is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner. It is loosely based on Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, a 13th-century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival (Percival) and his quest for the Holy Grail, and on Perceval, the Story of the Grail, by Chrétien de Troyes’ (12 с.).
Wagner first conceived the work in April 1857 but did not finish it until twenty-five years later. It was to be Wagner’s last completed opera and in composing it he took advantage of the particular acoustics of his Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Parsifal was first produced at the second Bayreuth Festival in 1882. The Bayreuth Festival maintained a monopoly on Parsifal productions until 1903, when the opera was performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Wagner preferred to describe Parsifal not as an opera, but as “ein Bühnenweihfestspiel” (“A Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage”).

In Parsifal, the embattled community of the Grail had been alarmed to observe natural selection working against its distinctive Aryanism … here was the decisive racial crisis that grew into an uncompromising struggle for power.

Monsalvat

The distress of Monsalvat that emerges during act one — and which has deepened by act three — of Wagner’s drama is a racial crisis.
So Hitler saw Parsifal in terms of racial crisis, homoeroticism and vegetarianism. 

Arthur Schopenhauer
More importantly is that Wagner was also an ardent student of the great German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.

Arthur Schopenhauer (22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his book, ‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung’ (The World as Will and Representation), in which he stated that our world is driven by a continually dissatisfied will, continually seeking satisfaction. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, ‘On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason’, which examined the four distinct aspects of experience in the phenomenal world; consequently, he has been influential in the history of phenomenology. He has influenced a long list of thinkers, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Otto Weininger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Otto Rank, Carl Jung, and Thomas Mann.

Schopenhauer blamed the Jews for animal cruelty, since Genesis 1 unabashedly teaches that man was made in God’s image, and hence commissioned to rule over nature,
the fault lies with the Jewish view that regards animals as something manufactured for man’s use.” Schopenhauer, perhaps the original animal rights guru of Europe, was appalled by the fact that John the Baptist wore animal skins.
And Schopenhauer was also Hitler’s favourite philosopher – with Nietzsche coming a close second.

Richard Wagner
Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach
Ernst Haeckel

Wagner was also an avid reader of Ernst Haeckel’s Social Darwinian ecology that was extremely popular in Germany in the latter half of the 1800’s.

Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (February 16, 1834 – August 9, 1919), was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many terms in biology, including anthropogeny, ecology, phylum, phylogeny, stem cell, and the kingdom Protista. Haeckel promoted and popularized Charles Darwin’s work in Germany and developed the controversial recapitulation theory (“ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”) claiming that an individual organism’s biological development, or ontogeny, parallels and summarizes its species’ evolutionary development, or phylogeny.

While Hitler eschewed some of Haeckel’s political views, his Germanic Social Darwinism would become the scientific foundation upon which National Socialist racial theory was built.

Dietrich Eckart
Moreover, Schopenhauer and Haeckel were also enthusiastically read by Hitler’s spiritual father, Dietrich Eckart.

Dietrich Eckart was a central figure in the early days of the Nazi Party. Eckart was a wealthy nationalistic poet who was frequently seen at the side of Adolf Hitler before his death in 1923. Hitler referred to Eckart as his “North Star” and that his value to the National Socialist cause was “inestimable”

Thus, Wagner’s strong interest in both of these avant-garde German scholars would all but guarantee that, in spite of Hitler’s occasional inconsistency on green socialist issues, environmental themes would still play an important role in National Socialism.
Hitler himself asserted that:
That the first noteworthy political accomplishment of National Socialism was the 1933 passage of an animal rights law should thus come as no surprise.
As a part of the law, Jewish ritual slaughter related to Passover was henceforth forbidden.
This was certainly the Romantic fruit of Schopenhauer’s prophetic thesis in the 1800’s that Europe owes: 

Shechita – שחיטה

the animals not mercy but justice, and the debt often remains unpaid in Europe, the continent that is permeated with the odor of the Jews … it is obviously high time in Europe that Jewish views on nature were brought to an end … the unconscionable treatment of the animal world must, on account of their immorality, be expelled from Europe !

And it is interesting to note how literally Hitler took this ‘prophecy’ to heart.

The Hebrew term shechita (שחיטה‎), also transliterated shehitah, shechitah, shehita, is the ritual slaughter of mammals and birds for food according to Jewish dietary laws (Deut. 12:21, Deut. 14:21, Num. 11:22) The animal must be killed by a shochet (שוחט‎, “ritual slaughterer”), a religious Jew. The act is performed by severing the trachea, esophagus, carotid arteries, jugular veins and vagus nerve in a swift action using an extremely sharp blade (“chalef”). This results in a rapid drop in blood pressure in the brain and loss of consciousness. According to Jewish religious sources, the animal is now insensible to pain and exsanguinates in a prompt and precise action. The animal can be in a number of positions; when the animal is lying on its back, this is referred to as shechita munachat; in a standing position it is known as shechita me’umedet. Before slaughtering, the animal must be healthy, uninjured, and viable.

‘Der ewige Jude’ – The Eternal Jew

In fact, in the documentary film “The Eternal Jew”, the Jewish ritual slaughter of cattle and sheep was graphically shown right at the climax of the film to heighten its effect.

Neither does it fail to mention that the Mosaic Law has “no love or respect for animals in the Germanic sense.
The documentary film then finally reveals Hitler for the first time, and lauds his efforts on the passage of Nazi animal rights legislation. 

‘Der ewige Jude’ The Eternal Jew (1940) is a German documentary film, presented. The film’s title is the German term for the character of the “Wandering Jew” in medieval folklore. The film was directed by Fritz Hippler. The screenplay is credited to Eberhard Taubert. The film consists of feature and documentary footage combined with materials filmed shortly after the Nazi occupation of Poland. The film was in production for over a year. Throughout the end of 1939 and the beginning of 1940, Goebbels devoted “constant attention” to the film.  The basic tenet of the film is that “the Jew is an oriental barbarian who has insinuated himself cleverly into European society, and now exploits it parasitically.
   
The public distribution and exhibition of the film is prohibited in Germany; the only exception is for use in college classrooms and other academic purposes; however, exhibitors must have formal education in “media science and the history of the Holocaust.” In addition, only a specially annotated version may be screened. Elsewhere, it is generally legal. It is free to view and download, and can be seen on YouTube in both subtitled and dubbed versions.

In this context it should be remembered that 
To many National Socialists, the great sin of modern international civilization, which was characterized as Jewish Bolshevism in the East and Jewish Capitalism in the West, was its incessant concern in trying to overcome nature according to Judeo-Christian values
The fact of the matter is that Völkisch ideologues adopted a literal reading of the concept of ‘Nature’.
More than a few of these ideologues characterized National Socialism as “politically applied biology.”
Since biology is a part of ecology, what the Völkisch ideologues meant with regard to ‘politically applied biology’ was that nature was to have primacy over politics and the economy.
Biology and ecology were thus everywhere applied socially and politically.
To many National Socialists, the great sin of modern international civilization, which was characterized as Jewish Bolshevism in the East and Jewish Capitalism in the West, was its incessant concern in trying to overcome nature according to Judeo-Christian values.
Such an endeavour Hitler called “Jewish nonsense.”
In the eyes of the National Socialists, this self defeating effort would finally come to an end through National Socialism.
Indeed, Germany’s eugenic survival depended upon the success of the indigenous Aryan instinct to ‘authentically’ counteract the Judeo-Christian international rebellion against Nature and her Social Darwinian laws.
The National Socialists were thus determined to usher in a new world order based on the literal application of Nature’s Social Darwinian laws to social and political life.

Richard Walther Darré
SS Runes

Hence, in a similar, but significantly more profound manner that the Marxists, who envisaged a secular eschaton of a socialistic utopia at the end of history based on the literal socio-economic conditions on the ground, so the National Socialists countered with the much heralded 1,000 year Reich based on literal biology and ecology, which Himmler’s SS especially took to heart with their doctrine of “Blood and Soil”, derived form Richard Walther Darré.

German blood and German soil were principles that according to Nature’s Social Darwinian laws of life, must be adhered to if the Third Reich was to achieve the eschaton.
While the Marxists, however, viewed the eschaton as more open ended, National Socialists viewed the 1,000 year Reich as the perfect means of denying the idea of the 1,000 year Judeo-Christian Millennium predicted in the book of Revelation.
Both the Marxists and National Socialists thus extracted from the Judeo-Christian world-view its apocalyptic view of history, yet discarded its sacred and supernatural framework for the latest political and social-scientific-evolutionary discoveries of the times.
In short, the Marxists believed that the eschaton would be realized through the socio-economic dialectical conflict between the capitalists and the proletariat. 

The Soviet Eschaton is the ‘withering away of the state’ – a concept of Marxism, coined by Friedrich Engels, and referring to the idea that the social institution of a state will eventually become obsolete and disappear, as the society will be able to govern itself without the state and its coercive enforcement of the law. Although Engels first introduced the idea of the withering of the state, he attributed the underlying concept to Karl Marx; other Marxist theorists – including Vladimir Lenin – would later expand on it. According to this concept a communist society will eventually require no coercion to force individuals to behave in a way that benefits the society. Such a society would occur after a temporary period of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This scenario depended on Marx’s view of coercive power as a tool of those who own the means of production, i.e. certain social classes (the bourgeoisie) and the capitalist state. In a communist society the social classes would disappear and the means of production would have no single owner; hence, such a stateless society will no longer require law, and stateless communism, a communist utopia, will develop.

Herrenvolk

The National Socialists believed that the Aryan Millenium would come about through the application of proper biological eugenics.
The process would take an immense period of time, as the Master Race would slowly be  created as the pinnacle of biological evolution precisely because it was most in tune with the laws of Nature.
But this would not be the final result.
Although Hitler never spoke about the final process in detail, he indicated that the ‘herrenvolk’ would form the grundlagen for the coming Übermensch.

 Übermensch
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

‘It is my ultimate aim to perform an act of creation, a divine operation,
the goal of a biological mutation which will result in an unprecedented exaltation of the human race and the appearance of a new race of heroes, demi-gods and god-men.
My party comrades have no conception of the dreams that haunt my mind, or of the grandiose edifice of which the foundations, (grundlagen) at least, will have been laid before I die. 
The world has reached a turning point, and will undergo an upheaval which the uninitiated cannot understand.’

Adolf Hitler
.


The Sculpture of Arno Breker

ARNO BREKER
   
Sculptor

 
  
At the 1933 Nürnberg Reichsparteitag, the new Chancellor, Adolf Hitler proclaimed the dawn of an era of ‘New Art’ – and instituted the Reichskulturkammer (RKK – Reich Chamber of Culture) to oversee the cultural life of Das Dritte Reich, (the Third Reich).
The Reichskulturkammer was headed by Dr. Paul Joseph Göbbels.
The Reichskulturkammer was to control all aspects of culture, and this included the fine arts, applied arts,  industrial design, sculpture, architecture and film.
‘Germany wants again a “German Art,” and this art shall and will be of eternal value, as are all truly creative values of a people.
Should this art, however, again lack this eternal value for our people, then indeed it will mean that it also has no higher value today
When, therefore, the cornerstone of this building was laid, it was with the intention of constructing a temple, not for a so-called modern art, but for a true and everlasting German art, that is, better still, a House for the art of the German people.
It is therefore imperative for the artist to erect monuments, not so much to a period, but to his people.
For time is changeable, years come and go.
Anything born of and thriving on a certain epoch alone would perish with it.
And not only all which had been created before us would fall victim to this mortality, but also what is being created today or will be created in the future.
But the National-Socialists know of only one mortality, and that is the mortality of the people itself:
As long as a people exists, however, it is the fixed pole in the flight of fleeting appearances.
It is the quality of being and lasting permanence.
And, indeed, for this reason, art as an expression of the essence of this being, is an eternal monument.’
Adolf Hitler

  

S C U L P T O R   T O   T H E   F Ü H R E R

Arno Breker (July 19, 1900 – February 13, 1991) was a German sculptor, best known for his public works in Germany, which were endorsed by the authorities as the antithesis of “degenerate art”.
He was born in Elberfeld, now Wuppertal and died in Düsseldorf.
“I am often asked why I use 
athletes as models and whether 
this is not outmoded. My 
answer: That which is good 
never becomes obsolete. 
Athletes are the best models for 
sculpture. It is impossible for a 
sculptor like me, who loves the 
triad of beauty of the body, spirit 
and soul, to overlook either a 
male or a female athlete.”
                                                                           Professor Arnold Breker

Breker was born in Elberfeld, in the west of Germany, the son of a stonemason.
He began to study architecture, along with stone-carving and anatomy, and at age 20 was accepted to the Düsseldorf Academy of Arts where he concentrated on sculpture.
He first visited Paris in 1924, shortly before finishing his studies.
There he met with Jean Cocteau, Jean Renoir, Pablo Picasso, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, and Alfred Flechtheim.
In 1927 he moved to Paris, and was quickly accepted by the art dealer Alfred Flechtheim.
He also established close relationships with important figures in the art world, including Charles Despiau, Isamu Noguchi, Maurice de Vlaminck and André Dunoyer de Segonzac, all of whom he later portrayed.
He travelled to North Africa, producing lithographs which he published under the title “Tunisian Journey”.
He also visited Aristide Maillol, who was later to describe Breker as “Germany’s Michelangelo”.
In 1932, he was awarded a prize by the Prussian Ministry of Culture, which allowed him to stay in Rome for a year.

In 1934 he returned to Germany on the advice of Max Liebermann.

Breker was supported by many Nazi leaders, especially Adolf Hitler.

Even Rosenberg later hailed his sculptures as expressions of the “mighty momentum and will power” (“Wucht und Willenhaftigkeit”) of Nazi Germany.
He took commissions from the German Government from 1933 through 1942, for example participating in a show of his work in occupied Paris in 1942, where he met Jean Cocteau, who appreciated his work.
He maintained personal relationships with Albert Speer and with Hitler.

In 1936 he won the commission for two sculptures representing athletic prowess, intended for the 1936 Olympic games, one representing a Decathlete (“Zehnkämpfer”) and the other The Victress (“Die Siegerin”).
In 1937 he married Demetra Messala a Greek model.
The same year, Breker joined the Nazi Party and was made “official state sculptor” by Hitler, given a large property and provided a studio with thousand assistants.
Hitler also exempted him from military service.
His twin sculptures The Party and The Army held a prominent position at the entrance to Albert Speer’s new Reich Chancellery.

Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler & Arno Breker – Paris – June 1940

_____________________________________

THE NUDE IN THE ART OF THE THIRD REICH
Nudity in the shape of health and fitness was nothing new in Germany.
Organized social nudism started in Germany in the late nineteenth century.

By the 1930s nudist clubs (nacktkultur) developed into many different branches according to the political preferences of the membership.

Aryan health and vitality was especially promoted through the pages of Hans Suren’s “Sun cult” books.
Suren was a former German Army officer with colonial service in the tropics.
He strove to recreate the naked, carefree German tribes that existed before contact with Rome or Christianity.
His book ‘Man and the Sun’ (1924) sold over 235, 000 copies and it was reissued in 68 editions by 194.
‘Man and the Sun’ and ‘Gymnastik ‘were some of Hitler’s favourite books, and Nazi culture lovers often admired it.
Accordingly, approved, Aryan nudist organizations, some progressively stressing moderation of sun exposure, became integrated as National Socialist institutions.
Indeed, the very purpose of Gleichschaltung was to make the German people, the collective German Organism, feel as if they were part of a great, positive, movement.

To the Nazis nudism glorified the human body and made the individual, as part of the collective, become aware of the body’s inherent strength and beauty.

The removal of clothing also removed any evidence of rank or privilege among German Aryans, the primary goal of the Nazis.
Exercise in the nude, especially for young males, served to strengthen the body and build endurance for the ultimate goal of the Nazi State.
The cult of the Superman would grow ever more in importance as Hitler developed the political wing of the Thule Society.
The beauty of God’s creation of man, naked and unashamed became in Germany an outward symbol of the strength and superiority of the Aryan race.
Great emphasis was placed upon the glorification of the Aryan superman though the portrayal of the naked body.

WORSHIP OF THE BODY

‘WOUNDED HERO’
Arno Breker
‘ADOLF HITLER’
Arno Breker
‘RICHARD WAGNER’
Arno Breker
‘RICHARD WAGNER’
Arno Breker
Click below for all you want to know about 
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

WAGNER and his MUSIC


‘ADOLF HITLER’
Arno Breker
‘FREDERICH NIETSZCHE’
Arno Breker
‘Διόνυσος’ – ‘DIONYSUS’
Arno Breker
‘HEROIC HEAD’
Arno Breker
‘HEROIC HEAD’
Arno Breker
‘BEREITSCHAFT’
(Readiness)
Arno Breker
‘Προμηθεύς’
‘PROMETHEUS’
Arno Breker
‘Προμηθεύς’
‘PROMETHEUS’
Arno Breker
‘Προμηθεύς’
‘PROMETHEUS’
Arno Breker
Arno Breker working on Prometheus
‘MALE NUDE TORSO’
Arno Breker
‘GENIUS DES SIEGERS’
(Spirit of Victory)
Arno Breker
‘ARYAN MAN’
Arno Breker
‘MALE NUDE’
Arno Breker
‘PSYCHE’
Arno Breker
‘ANGEL OF DEATH’
Arno Breker
‘DYING WARRIOR’
Arno Breker
‘DYING WARRIOR’
(Bronze)
Arno Breker
‘MALE NUDE RELIEF’
Arno Breker
‘VICTORIOUS WARRIOR’
Arno Breker
‘DER RACHER’
(The Revenge – Warrior with a Serpent)
Arno Breker
‘KAMARADSCHAFT’
(Comradeship)
Arno Breker
‘KAMARADSCHAFT’
(Comradeship)
Arno Breker
‘DEPARTURE FOR BATTLE’
Arno Breker
‘DER RUFER’
Arno Breker
‘BEREITSCHAFT’
Arno Breker
‘DER BANNERTRAGER’
(Standard Bearer)
Arno Breker
‘EURIDICE & ORPHEUS’
Arno Breker
APOLLO & DAPHNE’
Arno Breker
‘YOU & ME’
Arno Breker
‘DER APFEL DES PARIS’
(The Apple of Paris)
Arno Breker
‘ST SEBASTIAN’
Arno Breker
‘OLYMPIA’
Arno Breker
‘OLYMPIA’
Arno Breker
‘TORSO DES ROSSBANDIGERS’
Arno Breker
‘ALEXANDER THE GREAT’
Arno Breker
‘ALEXANDER THE GREAT’
Arno Breker
‘ADLER DES ZEUS’
Arno Breker

_____________________________________________

Weimarer Kultur

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
W E I M A R E R   K U L T U R

Weimar culture refers to the arts and sciences that happened during the Weimar Republic (between Germany’s defeat at the end of World War I in 1918, and Hitler’s rise to power in 1933).
1920s Berlin was at the hectic center of the Weimar culture.
Although not part of the Weimar Republic, some authors also include the German speaking Austria – (the Ostmark), and particularly Vienna, as part of Weimar culture.

Brandenburger Tor – Berlin – 1920s

Germany, and Berlin in particular, were exceptionally fertile ground for intellectuals, artists, and innovators from many fields during the Weimar Republic years.

The social environment was chaotic, and politics were passionate.
A significant new development in Germany’s intellectual environment happened in 1918, when the faculties of German universities became fully opened to prominent Jewish scholars for the first time.
Leading Jewish intellectuals on university faculties included physicist Albert Einstein; sociologists Karl Mannheim, Erich Fromm, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse; philosophers Ernst Cassirer and Edmund Husserl; political theorists Arthur Rosenberg and Gustav Meyer; and many others.
Jewish intellectuals and creative professionals were among the leading figures in many areas of Weimar culture.
With the rise of National Socialism and the ascent to power of Adolf Hitler in 1933, many German intellectuals and cultural figures, both Jewish and non-Jewish, left Germany for the United States, the United Kingdom, and other parts of the world.
The culture of the Weimar year was later reprised by the left-wing intellectuals of the 1960s, especially in France.
Deleuze, Guattari and Foucault reprised Wilhelm Reich; Derrida reprised Husserl and Heidegger; Guy Debord and the Situationist International reprised the subversive-revolutionary culture.
Social Environment
By 1919, an “influx” of labor had migrated to Berlin turning it into a fertile ground for the modern arts and sciences.
This caused “a boom in trade, communications and construction.”

Old Berlin

In response to the shortage of pre-war accommodation and housing, tenements were constructed not very far from the Kaiser’s Stadtschloss and all the other majestic structures. People used their backyards and basements to run small shops, restaurants, workshops and haulage carts.

This led to the establishment of bigger and better commerce in Berlin, including its first department stores, prior to World War I.
An “urban petty bourgeoisie” along with the middle class colonized and flourished the wholesale commerce, retail trade, factories and crafts.
Types of employment were becoming more modern, shifting gradually, but noticeably, towards industry and services.
Before World War I, in 1907, 54.9% of German workers were manual labourers.
This dropped to 50.1% by 1925.
Berlin – 1920s

Office workers, managers, and bureaucrats increased their share of the labour market from 10.3% to 17% over the same period. Germany was slowly becoming more urban and middle class.

By 1925, only a third of Germans lived in large cities; the other two-thirds of the population lived in the smaller towns or in rural areas.
The total population of Germany rose from 62.4 million in 1920 to 65.2 million in 1933.
The Wilheminian values were further discredited as consequence of World War I and the subsequent inflation, since the new youth generation saw no point in saving for marriage in such conditions, and preferred instead to spend and enjoy.
The Fritz Lang movie ‘Dr. Mabuse the Gambler’ (1922) captures Berlin’s postwar mood very well.
The film moves from the world of the slums to the world of the stock exchange and then to the cabarets and nightclubs, and everywhere chaos reigns, authority is discredited, power is mad and uncontrollable, wealth inseparable from crime.
Politically and economically, the nation was struggling with the terms and reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles (1918) that ended World War I and endured punishing levels of inflation.
Sociology
Max Weber
Martin Hiedegger

During the era of the Weimar Republic, Germany became a center of intellectual thought at its universities, and most notably social and political theory (especially Marxism) was combined with Freudian psychoanalysis to form the highly influential discipline of Critical Theory – with its development at the Institute for Social Research (also known as the Frankfurt School) founded at the University of Frankfurt am Main.

Erich Fromm

The most prominent philosophers with which the so-called ‘Frankfurt School’ is associated were Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Jürgen Habermas and Max Horkheimer.

Among the prominent philosophers not associated with the Frankfurt School were Martin Heidegger and Max Weber.
The German philosophical anthropology movement also emerged at this time.

Science
Many foundational contributions to quantum mechanics were made in Weimar Germany or by German scientists during the Weimar period.

Das Kätzchen von Schrödinger
© Peter Crawford 2012
Werner Heisenberg
Prominent German physicists included Erwin Schrödinger, and Werner Heisenberg, who formulated his famous ‘Uncertainty Principle’, and, with Max Born and Pascual Jordan, accomplished the first complete and correct definition of ‘quantum mechanics’, through the invention of Matrix mechanics.

Werner Karl Heisenberg (5 December 1901 – 1 February 1976) was a German theoretical physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1932 “for the creation of quantum mechanics”. Heisenberg, along with Max Born and Pascual Jordan, set forth the matrix formulation of quantum mechanics in 1925. In 1927 he published his uncertainty principle, upon which he built his philosophy and for which he is best known. He also made important contributions to the theories of the hydrodynamics of turbulent flows, the atomic nucleus, ferromagnetism, cosmic rays, and subatomic particles. Considerable controversy surrounds his work on atomic research during World War II.

Göttingen was the center of fluiddynamic and aerodynamic research in the early 20th century.

Ludwig Prandtl 

Mathematical aerodynamics was founded by Ludwig Prandtl before WW I (by understanding boundary layers and progressing calculation in the down stream direction).

It was there that compressability drag and its reduction in aircraft was first understood.
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe

A striking example of this is the Messerschmitt Me 262, which was designed in 1939, but resembles a modern jet transport more that it did other tactical aircraft of its time.

Albert Einstein rose to public prominence during his years in Berlin, being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921.
He was left Germany for America in 1933.

Magnus Hirschfeld

Physician Magnus Hirschfeld established the ‘Institut für Sexualwissenschaft’ (Institute for Sexology) in 1919, and it remained open until 1933.

Hirschfeld believed that an understanding of homosexuality could be arrived at through science.
Hirschfeld was a vocal advocate for homosexual, bisexual, and transgender legal rights for men and women, repeatedly petitioning parliament for legal changes. 
His Institute also included a museum.
If we also include the German speaking Vienna, during the Weimar years Mathematician Kurt Gödel published his ground-breaking ‘Incompleteness Theorem’.

The Arts
During the fourteen years of the Weimar era German artists made contributions in the fields of literature, art, architecture, music, dance, drama, and the new medium of the motion picture.
German visual art, music, and literature were all strongly influenced by German Expressionism at the start of the Weimar Republic.

The early twentieth century was a period of wrenching changes in the arts.
In the visual arts, such innovations as cubism, Dada and surrealism – following hot on the heels of symbolism, post-Impressionism and Fauvism – were not universally appreciated. The majority of people in Germany, as elsewhere, did not care for the new art which many resented as elitist, morally suspect, and too often incomprehensible.

By 1920, a sharp turn was taken towards the ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ (New Objectivity) outlook. Neue Sachlichkeit was not a strict movement in the sense of having a clear manifesto or set of rules.

Under the Weimar government of the 1920s, Germany emerged as a leading centre of the avant-garde – the birthplace of Expressionism in painting and sculpture, of the atonal musical compositions of Arnold Schoenberg, and the jazz-influenced work of Paul Hindemith and Kurt Weill.
Robert Wiene’s ‘Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari’ (1920), and F.W. Murnau’s ‘Nosferatu’ (1922), brought Expressionism to cinema.

Neue Sachlichkeit is a term used to characterize the attitude of public life in Weimar Germany as well as the art, literature, music, and architecture created to adapt to it. Rather than some goal of philosophical objectivity, it was meant to imply a turn towards practical engagement with the world—an all-business attitude, understood by Germans as intrinsically American: “The Neue Sachlichkeit is Americanism, cult of the objective, the hard fact, the predilection for functional work, professional conscientiousness, and usefulness.”
The term was originally the title of an art exhibition staged by Gustav Friedrich Hartlaub, the director of the Kunsthalle in Mannheim, to showcase artists who were working in a post-expressionist spirit, but it took a life of its own, going beyond Hartlaub’s intentions. As these artists rejected the self-involvement and romantic longings of the expressionists, Weimar intellectuals in general made a call to arms for public collaboration, engagement, and rejection of romantic idealism.
The movement essentially ended in 1933 with the fall of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the NSDAP to power.

Entartete Kunst Exhibition
Entartete Kunst

Artists gravitating towards this aesthetic defined themselves by rejecting the themes of expressionism, romanticism, fantasy, subjectivity, raw emotion and impulse—and focused instead on precision, deliberateness, and depicting the factual and the ‘real’.

Much Weimar art was political – a questionable position for the arts – and was fiercely experimental, iconoclastic and left-leaning, spiritually hostile to business and bourgeois society.
Not surprisingly, the old autocratic German establishment saw it as ‘Entartete Kunst’ (decadent art), a view shared by Adolf Hitler who became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933.

The National Socialists viewed the culture of the Weimar period with disgust.
Their response stemmed partly from a conservative aesthetic taste, and partly from their determination to use culture as a propaganda tool.
For the National Socialists, the model for the arts was to be classical Greek and Roman art, seen by Hitler as an art whose exterior form embodied an inner racial ideal.

The Jewish and left wing nature of all art that was indecipherable, distorted, or that represented depraved subject matter was explained through the concept of degeneracy, which held that distorted and corrupted art was a symptom of an inferior race.
By propagating the theory of degeneracy, National Socialism combined their anti-Semitism with their drive to control the culture, thus consolidating public support for both campaigns.
Modern art was seen as an act of aesthetic violence by the Jews against the German spirit (Deutsch Geistes).

One of the first major events in the arts during the Weimar Republic was the founding of an organization, the ‘Novembergruppe’ (November Group) on December 3, 1918.

This group was established in the aftermath of the November beginning of the German Revolution of 1918–1919, when Communists, anarchists and pro-republic supporters had fought in the streets for control of the government.

In 1919, the Weimar Republic was established.
Around 100 artists of many genres who identified themselves as avant-garde joined the November Group.
They held 19 exhibitions in Berlin until the group was banned by the Third Reich in 1933.

Walter Gropius
Kurt Weill

The group also had chapters throughout Germany during its existence, and brought the German avant-garde art scene to world attention by holding exhibits in Rome, Moscow and Japan.

Its members also belonged to other art movements and groups during the Weimar Republic era, such as architect Walter Gropius (founder of Bauhaus), and Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht (agitprop theatre).
The artists of the ‘Novembergruppe’ kept the spirit of radicalism alive in German art and culture during the Weimar Republic.
Many of the painters, sculptors, music composers, architects, playwrights, and filmmakers who belonged to it, and still others associated with its members, were the same ones whose art would later be denounced as ‘entartete Kunst’ by Adolf Hitler.
Fine Arts
The Weimar Republic era began in the midst of several major movements in the fine arts that continued into the 1920s.
German Expressionism had begun before World War I and continued to have a strong influence throughout the 1920s, although artists were increasingly likely to position themselves in opposition to expressionist tendencies as the decade went on.
Dada had begun in Zurich during World War I, and became an international phenomenon. Dada artists met and reformed groups of like-minded artists in Paris, Berlin, Cologne, and New York City.

Richard Huelsenbeck

In Germany, Richard Huelsenbeck established the Berlin group, whose members included Jean Arp, John Heartfield, Wieland Hertzfelde, Johannes Baader, Raoul Hausmann, George Grosz and Hannah Höch.

Machines, technology, and a strong Cubism element were features of their work.
Jean Arp and Max Ernst formed a Cologne Dada group, and held a Dada Exhibition there that included a work by Ernst that had an axe “placed there for the convenience of anyone who wanted to attack the work”.
Kurt Schwitters

Kurt Schwitters established his own solitary one-man Dada “group” in Hanover, where he filled two stories of a house (the Merzbau) with sculptures cobbled together with found objects and ephemera, each room dedicated to a notable artist friend of Schwitter’s.

The house was destroyed by Allied bombs in 1943.
The ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ artists did not belong to a formal group.
Various Weimar Republic artists were oriented towards the concepts associated with it, however.

George Grosz
Broadly speaking, artists linked with New Objectivity include Käthe Kollwitz, Otto Dix, Max Beckmann, George Grosz, John Heartfield, Conrad Felixmüller, Christian Schad, and Rudolf Schlichter, who all worked in different styles, but shared many themes: the horrors of war, social hypocrisy and moral decadence, the plight of the poor.
Otto Dix and George Grosz referred to their own movement as Verism, a reference to the Roman classical Verism approach called verus, meaning “truth”, warts and all.
While their art is recognizable as a bitter, cynical criticism of life in Weimar Germany, they were striving to portray a sense of realism that they saw missing from expressionist works.
‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ became a major undercurrent in all of the arts during the Weimar Republic.
Design
The design field during the Weimar Republic witnessed some radical departures from styles that had come before it.

Marcel Breuer
Wassily Chair – Bauhaus

Bauhaus-style designs are distinctive, and synonymous with modern design.

Designers from these movements turned their energy towards a variety of objects, from furniture, to typography, to buildings.

Marcel Lajos Breuer (22 May 1902 Pécs, Hungary – 1 July 1981 New York City), was a Hungarian-born modernist, architect and furniture designer of Jewish descent. One of the masters of Modernism, Breuer  displayed interest in modular construction and simple forms.
Known to his friends and associates as Lajkó, Breuer studied and taught at the Bauhaus in the 1920s. The Bauhaus curriculum stressed the simultaneous education of its students in elements of visual art, craft and the technology of industrial production. Breuer was eventually appointed to a teaching position as head of the school’s carpentry workshop. He later practiced in Berlin, designing houses and commercial spaces. In the 1920s and 1930s, Breuer pioneered the design of tubular steel furniture. Later in his career he would also turn his attention to the creation of innovative and experimental wooden furniture.

Dada’s goal of critically rethinking design was similar to Bauhaus, but whereas the earlier Dada movement was an aesthetic approach, the Bauhaus was literally a school, an institution that combined a former school of industrial design with a school of arts and crafts.
Wilhelm Wagenfeld
Wagenfeld Lamp WG25
Bauhaus 
The founders intended to fuse the arts and crafts with the practical demands of industrial design, to create works reflecting the ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ aesthetic in Weimar Germany.

Wilhelm Wagenfeld (* 15 April 1900, Bremen, Germany — † 28 May 1990, Stuttgart, Germany) was an important German industrial designer of the 20th Century, disciple of Bauhaus. He designed glass and metal works for the Jenaer Glaswerk Schott & Gen., the Vereinigte Lausitzer Glaswerke in Weißwasser, Rosenthal, Braun GmbH and WMF. Some of his designs are still produced until these days. One of his classics is a table lamp, known as Wagenfeld Lampe, 1924, which he designed together with Karl J. Jucker. In cooperation with Charles Crodel his works found their way in exhibitions and museums.

Adolf Loos – Villa Karma 1906
Precursor to Albert Speer ?
Adolf  Loos

The origins of Weimar design and architecture are to be found in the works and writings of Adolf Franz Karl Viktor Maria Loos (10 December 1870 – 23 August 1933), who was an Austrian architect.
He was influential in European Modern architecture, and in his essay ‘Ornament and Crime’ he repudiated the florid style of the ‘Vienna Secession’, with the Austrian version of Art Nouveau.

Adolf Loos
Decorative Console

In this and many other essays he contributed to the elaboration of a body of theory and criticism of Modernism in architecture.
Ornament and Crime in no way reflects his architectural style.

Adolf Loos – Table

Loos authored several polemical works.
‘In Spoken into the Void’, published in 1900, Loos attacked the Vienna Secession, at a time when the movement was at its height.
In his essays, Loos used provocative catchphrases and has become noted for one particular essay/manifesto entitled ‘Ornament and Crime’, spoken first in 1910.
In this essay, he explored the idea that the progress of culture is associated with the deletion of ornament from everyday objects (?), and that it was therefore a crime to force craftsmen or builders to waste their time on ornamentation that served to hasten the time when an object would become obsolete.
Loos’ stripped-down buildings influenced the minimal massing of modern architecture, and stirred controversy.

Adolf Loos – Villa Karma 1906
Pendant Light – Adolf Loos

Perhaps surprisingly, some of Loos’s own architectural work was elaborately decorated, although more often inside than outside, and the ornamented interiors frequently featured abstract planes and shapes composed of richly figured materials, such as marble and exotic woods.
The visual distinction is not between complicated and simple, but between “organic” and superfluous decoration.
Loos was also interested in the decorative arts, collecting sterling silver and high quality leather goods, which he noted for their plain yet luxurious appeal.
He also enjoyed fashion and men’s clothing, designing the famed Kníže of Vienna, a haberdashery.
His admiration for the fashion and culture of England and America can be seen his short-lived publication ‘Das Andere’, which ran for just two issues in 1903 and included advertisements for ‘English’ clothing.

____________________________________________
Bauhaus Building – Model
Walter Gropius, a founder of the Bauhaus school, stated “we want an architecture adapted to our world of machines, radios and fast cars.

Walter Adolph Georg Gropius (May 18, 1883 – July 5, 1969) was a German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School, who, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture.

Gropius is remembered not only by his various buildings but also by the district of Gropiusstadt in Berlin. In the early 1990s, a series of books entitled The Walter Gropius Archive was published covering his entire architectural career. 

Berlin and other parts of Germany still have many surviving landmarks of the architectural style at the Bauhaus.
The mass housing projects of Ernst May and Bruno Taut are evidence of markedly creative designs being incorporated as a major feature of new planned communities.
Glass Pavilion – Cologne Werkbund

Bruno Julius Florian Taut (4 May 1880, Königsberg, Germany – 24 December 1938, Istanbul), was a prolific German architect, urban planner and author active during the Weimar period.
Taut is known best for his theoretical work, speculative writings and the buildings he designed. Taut’s best-known single building is the prismatic dome of the Glass Pavilion for the Cologne Werkbund Exhibition (1914). His sketches for the publication “Alpine Architecture” (1917) are the work of an unabashed Utopian visionary, and he is classified as a Modernist. Much of Taut’s literary work in German remains untranslated into English.

Erich Mendelsohn and Hans Poelzig are other prominent Bauhaus architects.
Kaufhaus Schocken – Department Store – Chemnitz
Einsteinturm

Erich Mendelsohn (21 March 1887 – 15 September 1953) was a Jewish German architect, known for his expressionist architecture in the 1920s, as well as for developing a dynamic functionalism in his projects for department stores and cinemas. Erich Mendelsohn was born in Allenstein (Olsztyn), East Prussia. He was the fifth of six children; his mother was a hatmaker and his father a shopkeeper. He attended a humanist Gymnasium in Allenstein and continued with commercial training in Berlin. At the end of 1918, upon his return from World War I, he settled his practice in Berlin. The Einsteinturm (Einstein Tower),  Potsdam, Berlin established his reputation. In 1924, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, he was one of the founders of the progressive architectural group known as Der Ring. His practice employed as many as forty people, among them, as a trainee, Julius Posener, later an architectural historian. Mendelsohn’s work encapsulated the consumerism of the Weimar Republic, most particularly in his shops: most famously the Schocken Department Store

Mies van der Rohe
Barcelona Pavilion
Mies van der Rohe is undoubtedly the greatest architect to emerge from the Weimar design movement.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (born as Maria Ludwig Michael Mies; March 27, 1886, Aachen – August 17, 1969, Chicago) was a German-American architect.
He is commonly referred to, and was addressed, as Mies, his surname.





Mies van der Rohe
Mies van der Rohe – Barcelona Pavilion

Mies, like many of his post-World War I contemporaries, sought to establish a new architectural style that could represent modern times just as Classical and Gothic did for their own eras. He created an influential twentieth century architectural style, stated with extreme clarity and simplicity. His mature buildings made use of modern materials such as industrial steel and plate glass to define interior spaces. He strived towards an architecture with a minimal framework of structural order balanced against the implied freedom of free-flowing open space. 


He called his buildings “skin and bones” architecture. He sought a rational approach that would guide the creative process of architectural design. He is often associated with the aphorisms “less is more” and “God is in the details”.
The architecture of Mies is in fact a continuation, using modern materials, of the neo-classical revival of the late nineteenth century.

Fritz Mayer  – The Hall of Honour – 1929 – Nuremberg





During the Weimar Republic (1919–1933), the City of Nuremberg had a monument erected, to commemorate the 9,855 Nuremberg soldiers killed in World War I.
The design was by architect Fritz Mayer. A rectangular yard is adjacent to the arcaded hall, with a row of pillars carrying fire bowls on either side. Lord Mayor Hermann Luppe officially opened the hall in 1930.


Painter Paul Klee was a faculty member of Bauhaus.
Bruno Taut and Adolf Behne founded the ‘Arbeitsrat für Kunst’ (Workers’ Council for Art) in 1919.
Their aim was to assert pressure for political change on the Weimar Republic government, that would benefit the management of architecture and arts management, similar to Germany’s large councils for workers and soldiers.
This Berlin organization had around 50 members.
Still another influential affiliation of architects was the group ‘Der Ring’ (The Ring)  (see above) established by ten architects in Berlin in 1923-24, including: Otto Bartning, Peter Behrens, Hugo Häring, Erich Mendelsohn, Mies van der Rohe, Bruno Taut and Max Taut.
The group promoted the progress of modernism in architecture.
Hans Poelzig

Hans Poelzig (30 April 1869 Berlin – 14 June 1936 Berlin) was a German Jewish Left-Wing architect, painter and set designer.
In 1903 he became a teacher and director at the Breslau Academy of Art and Design (Kunst- und Gewerbeschule Breslau; today Wrocław, Poland).
From 1920-1935 he taught at the Technical University of Berlin (Technische Hochschule Berlin).
After finishing his architectural education around the turn of the century, Poelzig designed many industrial buildings. He designed the 51.2 m tall Upper Silesia Tower in Posen (today Poznań) for an industrial fair in 1911. It later became a water tower. He was appointed city architect of Dresden in 1916.
He was an influential member of the Deutscher Werkbund.

Poelzig was also known for his distinctive 1919 interior redesign of the Berlin Grosses Schauspielhaus for Weimar impresario Max Reinhardt
He was also renowned for his vast architectural set designs for the 1920 UFA film production of ‘The Golem: How He Came Into the World’.

‘The Golem: How He Came Into the World’

(Poelzig mentored Edgar Ulmer on that film; when Ulmer directed the 1934 film noir Universal Studios production of ‘The Black Cat’, he returned the favor by naming the architect-Satanic-high-priest villain character “Hjalmar Poelzig”, played by Boris Karloff.)
With his Weimar architect contemporaries like Bruno Taut and Ernst May, Poelzig’s work developed through Expressionism and the New Objectivity in the mid-1920s before arriving at a more conventional, economical style.

I.G. Farben Building

In 1927 he was one of the exhibitors in the first International Style project, the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart.
Poelzig’s single best-known building is the enormous and legendary I.G. Farben Building, completed in 1931 as the administration building for IG Farben in Frankfurt am Main.
In 1933 Poelzig served as the interim director of the Vereinigte Staatsschulen für freie und angewandete Kunst (United State School for Fine and Applied Art), after the expulsion of founding director Bruno Paul by the National Socialists. Poelzig died in Berlin in June 1936.


Literature
Tadzio
Thomas Mann 

Writers such as Alfred Döblin, Erich Maria Remarque and the brothers Heinrich and Thomas Mann presented a bleak look at the world, and the failure of politics and society through literature.

Mann’s diaries, unsealed in 1975, tell of his struggles with his homosexuality, which found reflection in his works, most prominently through the obsession of the elderly Aschenbach for the 14-year-old Polish boy Tadzio in the novella ‘Der Tod in Venedig’ (Death in Venice – 1912).



Der Zauberberg

His works also present other sexual themes, such as incest in ‘Wälsungenblut’ (The Blood of the Walsungs) and ‘Der Erwählte’ (The Holy Sinner).
Balancing his humanism and appreciation of Western culture, was his belief in the power of sickness and decay to destroy the ossifying effects of tradition and civilisation. Hence the “heightening” of which Mann speaks in his introduction to ‘Der Zauberberg’ (The Magic Mountain).
‘Der Zauberberg’ was first published in November 1924. It is widely considered to be one of the most influential works of 20th century German literature.

Foreign writers also travelled to Berlin, lured by the city’s dynamic, freer culture.
The decadent cabaret scene of Berlin was documented by Britain’s Christopher Isherwood, such as in his novel ‘Goodbye to Berlin’ which was later transposed to the musical film ‘Cabaret’.
Cabaret – Tomorrow Belongs to Me
‘The Berlin Stories’ (Die Berliner Geschichten) is a book consisting of two short novels by Christopher Isherwood: ‘Goodbye to Berlin’ and ‘Mr Norris Changes Trains’. It was published in 1945.
‘The Berlin Stories’ was chosen as a ‘Time 100 Best English-Language Novels of the 20th Century’.

The two novellas are set in Berlin in 1931, just as Adolf Hitler was moving into power. Berlin is portrayed by Isherwood during this transition period of cafes and quaint avenues, grotesque night-life and dreamers, and powerful mobs and millionaires.
‘The Berlin Stories’ was the starting point for the John Van Druten play ‘I Am a Camera’, which in turn went on to inspire the film ‘I Am a Camera’, as well as the stage musical and film versions of ‘Cabaret’.
The character Sally Bowles is probably the best-known character from ‘The Berlin Storie’s because of her later starring role in the ‘Cabaret’ musical and film, although in ‘The Berlin Stories’, she is only the main character of one short story in ‘Goodbye to Berlin’.

Poetry


Probably the most significant poet of the Weimar period was Stefan George.

Stefan George
George was born in Bingen in Prussia in 1868.
He spent time in Paris and began to publish poetry in the 1890s, while in his twenties. George founded and edited an important literary magazine called ‘Blätter für die Kunst’ (Magazine for the Arts).


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.

Maximilian Kronberger
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).
Maximin came to the attention of Stefan George in Munich in 1903 –  he died unexpectedly of meningitis the following year, on the day after his 16th birthday. He was idealized by George to the point of proclaiming him a god, following his death… the cult of ‘Maximin’ became an integral part of the George circle’s practice.

Albert Speer
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.
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.

Theatre
One of the most influential works for the Weimar stage was ‘Die Dreigroschenoper’ (The Threepenny Opera) by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill (1928).

“Das Moritat von Mackie Messer”, (The Ballad of Mack the Knife) is a song composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for their music drama ‘Die Dreigroschenoper’. It premiered in Berlin in 1928 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. The song has become a popular standard.
A moritat (from mori meaning “deadly” and tat meaning “deed”) is a medieval version of the murder ballad performed by strolling minstrels.
In  ‘Die Dreigroschenoper’, the moritat singer, with his street organ, introduces and closes the drama with the tale of the deadly Mackie Messer, a character based on the dashing highwayman Macheath in John Gay’s ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ (who was in turn based on the historical thief Jack Sheppard). The Brecht-Weill version of the character was far more cruel and sinister, and has been transformed into a modern anti-hero.

‘Und der Haifisch, der hat Zähne,
Und die trägt er im Gesicht.
Und Macheath, der hat ein Messer,
Doch das Messer sieht man nicht’
The theatres of Berlin and Frankfurt am Main were graced with drama by Ernst Toller, Bertolt Brecht, cabaret, and stage direction by Max Reinhardt and Erwin Piscator.
Ernst Toller

Ernst Toller (1 December 1893 – 22 May 1939) was a German-Jewish, left-wing playwright, best known for his Expressionist plays, and serving as President of the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic, for six days.
The republic was short-lived and was defeated by right-wing forces. Toller was imprisoned for five years for his part in the revolution.
Toller committed suicide by hanging on May 22, 1939.

Many theatre works were sympathetic towards Marxist themes, or were overt experiments in propaganda, such as the agitprop theatre by Brecht and Weill.
Bertolt Brecht

Agitprop theatre is a named through a combination of the words “agitation” and “propaganda”.

Its aim was to add elements of left wing public protest (agitation) and persuasive politics (propaganda) to the theatre, in the hope of creating a more activist audience.
Toller was the leading German expressionist playwright of the era.
He later became one of the leading proponents of ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ in the theatre.
The avant-garde theater of Bertolt Brecht and Max Reinhardt in Berlin was the most advanced in Europe, being rivaled only by that of Paris.
Music
Concert halls and conservatories exhibited the atonal and modern music of Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg, and Kurt Weill.
Hanns Eisler and Paul Dessau were other modernist composers of the era.
Undoubtedly the two greatest German composers of the Wiemar period were Richard Strauss and Hans Pfitzner.

Richard Georg Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was undoubtedly the leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras.
His significant works of the Weimar period were:
‘Film music for Der Rosenkavalier’ (1925), and the operas ‘Die Frau ohne Schatten’ (1919), ‘Intermezzo’ (1923), ‘Die ägyptische Helena’ (1927), ‘Arabella’ (1932).
Strauss continued to compose into the era of the Third Reich and beyond (he died in 1949).

Hans Pfitzner


Hans Erich Pfitzner (5 May 1869 – 22 May 1949) is undeservedly less well known. He was a German composer and self-described anti-modernist.
His own music — including pieces in all the major genres except the symphonic poem — was respected by contemporaries such as Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. 
Pfitzner’s works combine Romantic and Late Romantic elements with extended thematic development, atmospheric music drama, and the intimacy of chamber music.
His greatest work of the period was the romantische Kantate ‘Von deutscher Seele’ (Of the German Soul) (1921).
During this period he also composed a ‘Sonata in e-minor for Violin and Piano’ Op. 27 (1918), and his ‘String Quartet [Nr. 3] in C-Sharp minor’ (1925).
Other Orchestral works composed during the Weimar period include the ‘Piano concerto in E-flat Major’ (1922), the ‘Violin Concerto in b-minor’ (1923) and the Symphony in C-sharp Minor (1932).

Cinema
At the beginning of the Weimar era, cinema meant silent films.
Some films from this period have remained among the most well known in all of German cinema, however, a testament to the creative power of the artists who made them using the most basic of early film technology.
Expressionist films featured plots exploring the dark side of human nature.
They had elaborate expressionist design sets, and the style was typically nightmarish in atmosphere.
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari

‘Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari’ (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) (1919), directed by Robert Wiene, is usually credited as the first, and one of the greatest German expressionist film.

The sets depict distorted, warped-looking buildings in a German town, while the plot centres around a mysterious, magical cabinet that has a clear association with a casket. F. W. Murnau’s vampire horror film ‘Nosferatu’ was released in 1922.
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari

‘Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari’ (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) is a 1920 German silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene from a screenplay by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. It is one of the most influential of German Expressionist films and is often considered one of the greatest horror movies of the silent era. The film used stylized sets, with abstract, jagged buildings painted on canvas backdrops and flats. These unique sets gave off somewhat of a theatrical sense. To add to this strange style, the actors used an unrealistic technique that exhibited jerky and dancelike movements. This movie is cited as having introduced the twist ending in cinema.

Dr. Mabuse der Spieler

Director Fritz Lang created perhaps the most globally well-known cinema examples of German Expressionism.

Lang’s ‘Dr. Mabuse der Spieler’ (Dr. Mabuse the Gambler) (1922) was a hugely popular film when it was released.
It is described as “a sinister tale” that portrays “the corruption and social chaos so much in evidence in Berlin and more generally, according to Lang, in Weimar Germany”.

Fritz Lang

‘Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler’ is the first film in the Dr. Mabuse series, about the character Doctor Mabuse who featured in the novels of Norbert Jacques. It was directed by Fritz Lang and released in 1922. The film is silent and filmed mostly 16 frames per second.
It is about four hours long and divided into two parts: Der große Spieler: Ein Bild der Zeit and Inferno: Ein Spiel um Menschen unserer Zeit. The title, Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler, is plurivalent. Der Spieler means the player in German, and can be translated as the gambler, the actor, or the puppeteer. Dr. Mabuse, who disguises, plays with emotions and tricks other people, is probably all of them in some sense.
The film is included in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, being the first of five Lang films to be entered.

Futurism is another favourite expressionist them, shown corrupted into a force of oppression in the dystopia in one of the greatest films ever produced – ‘Metropolis’ (1927).
Metropolis – the Workers
Metropolis – Rotwang

Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist science-fiction film directed by Fritz Lang. The film was written by Lang and his wife Thea Von Harbou, and starred Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel and Rudolf Klein-Rogge. A silent film, it was produced in the Babelsberg Studios by UFA.
Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia, and follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the city’s ruler, and Maria, whose background is not fully explained in the film, to overcome the vast gulf separating the class structured nature of their city.

Metropolis – ‘Head and Hand’
Metropolis

The significant theme of Metropolis is the conflict between intellectual and practical form of working – reflected in the modes of operation of the capitalist owners of production and the workers who bring the ideas of the owners into fruition and actuality.
In the climax to the film, Freder acts as the intermediary between his father, Joh Fredersen, and the leader of the workers – encouraging the two former adversaries to symbolically shake hands – and therefore uniting capital and labour.
This intermediary figure can be seen as a precursor of Adolf Hitler who, in 1933,  united capital and labour in the ‘Volksgemeinschaft’.

Dr. Joseph Goebbels

Reichsminister Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, was impressed, and took the film’s message to heart. In a 1928 speech he declared that “the political bourgeoisie is about to leave the stage of history. In its place advance the oppressed producers of the ‘head and hand’, the forces of Labour  to begin their historical mission
Metropolis was filmed in 1925, at a cost of approximately five million Reichsmarks.
The appearance of the city in Metropolis is strongly informed by the Art Deco movement; however it also incorporates elements from other traditions. The architecture featured in Metropolis is eclectic and represents both functionalist modernism and art deco, whilst also featuring the scientist’s archaic little house, with its high-powered laboratory, and the catacombs and the Gothic cathedral. The film’s use of art deco architecture was highly influential, and has been reported to have contributed to the style’s subsequent popularity in Europe and America.

The self-deluded lead characters in many expressionist films echo Goethe’s Faust, and Murnau indeed retold the tale in his film ‘Faust’.
German expressionist films represented a significant stylistic and thematic development in film that has had a lasting worldwide influence, however, they were not the dominant type of popular film in Weimar Germany, and were outnumbered by the production of costume dramas, often about folk legends, which were enormously popular with the public.
The Weimar era’s most groundbreaking film studio was the UFA studio.
Universum Film AG – UFA
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Universum Film AG, better known as UFA or Ufa, is a film company that was the principal film studio in Germany, home of the German film industry during the Weimar Republic and through World War II, and a major force in world cinema from 1917 to 1945. After World War II, UFA continued producing movies and television programmes to the present day, making it the longest standing film company in Germany.
UFA was created during November 1917 in Berlin as a government-owned producer of World War I propaganda and public service films.
It was created through the consolidation of most of Germany’s commercial film companies, including Nordisk and Decla.
Decla’s former owner, Erich Pommer, served as producer for the 1920 film ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’, which was not only the best example of German Expressionism and an enormously influential film, but also a commercial success.

UFA-Palast am Zoo

During the same year, UFA opened the UFA-Palast am Zoo theatre in Berlin.
During the Weimar years the studio produced and exported an enormous, accomplished, and inventive body of work. Only an estimated 10% of the studio’s output still exists. Famous directors based at UFA included Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau; under chief producer Erich Pommer the company created landmark films such as ‘Dr. Mabuse’ (1922), ‘Metropolis’ (1927), and Marlene Dietrich’s first talkie, ”Der blaue Engel’ (1930).
These films were produced at Filmstudio Babelsberg, located in Potsdam-Babelsberg, Berlin.

Silent films continued to be made throughout the 1920s, in parallel with the early years of sound films during the final years of the Weimar Republic.
Silent films had certain advantages for filmmakers, such as the ability to hire an international cast, since spoken accents were irrelevant, thus, American and British actors were easily able to collaborate with German directors and cast-members on films made in Germany (for example, the collaborations of Georg Pabst and Louise Brooks).
When sound films started being produced in Germany, some filmmakers experimented with versions in more than one language, filmed simultaneously.

‘The Threepenny Opera’ – 1931

When the popular musical ‘The Threepenny Opera’ was filmed by director Georg Pabst, he filmed the first version with a French-speaking cast (1930), then a second version with a German-speaking cast (1931).

An English version was planned but never materialized.
‘Der blaue Engel’ (The Blue Angel) (1930), directed by Josef von Sternberg with the leads played by Marlene Dietrich and Emil Jannings, was filmed simultaneously in English and German (a different supporting cast was used for each version).
Although it was based on a 1905 story written by Heinrich Mann, the film is often seen as topical in that it depicts the doomed romance between a Berlin professor and a cabaret dancer, reflecting the popular image of the city during the era.

Karl Vollmöller
Der Blaue Engel

‘Der blaue Engel’ is a 1930 film directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich and Kurt Gerron. Written by Carl Zuckmayer, Karl Vollmöller and Robert Liebmann – with uncredited contributions by von Sternberg – based on Heinrich Mann’s 1905 novel Professor Unrat (“Professor Garbage”), and set in Weimar Germany, ‘Der blaue Engel’ presents the tragic transformation of a man from a respectable professor to a cabaret clown, and his descent into madness. The film is considered to be the first major German sound film, and brought Dietrich international fame. In addition, it introduced her signature song, Friedrich Hollaender and Robert Liebmann’s ‘Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt’ (Falling in Love Again – Can’t Help It).
Karl Gustav Vollmöller, (May 7, 1878 – October 18, 1948) was a German playwright and screenwriter.
He is most famous for two works, the screenplay for the celebrated 1930 German film ‘Der Blaue Engel’ (The Blue Angel), which made a star of Marlene Dietrich, and ‘Das Mirakel’ (The Miracle), which he wrote in collaboration with Max Reinhardt.

Science Fiction in the Wiemar Republic

One fitting example of this is found in a German film that was thought lost forever.
Only recently a copy of this film, entitled ‘Wunder Der Schöpfung’ (The Miracle Of Creation), has been found.

‘Wunder Der Schöpfung’ – 1927

Wunder Der Schöpfung’ was to be, in the words of one critic, UFA’s greatest achievment.
UFA put itself more and more in the mind-frame necessary for its most ambitious project yet: Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’, that was relased in 1927, two years after ‘Wunder Der Schöpfung’. Contrary to ‘Metropolis’ that obtained only a lukewarm reception, ‘Wunder Der Schöpfung’ was a tremendous hit.
It still is a remarkable film with for that time highly ingenious and elaborate special effects.

In the context of Germany’s Kulturfilm phenomenon, ‘Wunder der Schöpfung’ was among the greatest achievements of the 1920s.
The production was constructed, rehearsed, and shot over a period of two and a half years, under the supervision of Hanns Walter Kornblum.
The idea to describe the universe and man’s place in it well suited UFA’s Grossfilm mentality, one year before ‘Metropolis’.
Hundreds of skilled craftsmen participated in the project, building props and constructing scale models drawn by 15 special effects draughtsmen, while 9 cameramen in separate units worked on the historical, documentary, fiction, animation, and science-fiction sequences.
Without star roles or even protagonists, the film’s plot is crowded with meticulously structured and skillfully acted single scenes an artful mosaic of small vignettes.
No less than four credited university professors ensured the factual background behind the scientific and historical events portrayed.
The film’s symbol of progress and the new scientific era is a spacecraft, travelling through the Milky Way, making all the planets and their inspiring worlds familiar to us, with the extravaganza of their distinctive features.
There is also a general feeling amongst connoisseurs that certain scenes might have served as a template for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001.
In the film a German scientific team travels through the universe in a spacecraft that serves as the symbol of progress and an age of new technologies, explaining all that is to be seen. ‘Wunder Der Schöpfung’ was not meant as lighthearted science fiction
Instead, the film that was meant as an educational device begun in 1923.
‘Jetzt gehort und Deutschland, morgen das ganse Sonnensystem’ (Now Germany belongs to us, tomorrow the whole solar system), as thetrilogy coyly states, is the apt slogan.
One could, perhaps, remark that, since Germany had lost most of its colonies, space formed the final formidable frontier.
One author who envisioned the path to solar conquest in the dream-tanks of the Third Reich was Walter Heichen (1876 – 1970).
His ‘Jenseits der Stratosphäre. Erlebnisse zwischen Mond und Erde. Eine Erzählung für die Jugend’ (On the Other Side of the Stratosphere. Experiences between the Moon and the Earth. A Story for the Youths) was published in 1931 and was reprinted in 1939 as ‘Luftschiff im Weltenraum’ (Airship in Space).
Heichen, who lived in Berlin, already had published propaganda lecture to kindle pattriotic interest during the outbreak of the First World War.
During the Third Reich his pattriotism adhered to the National Socialist cause.
In Heichen’s book, the protagonists travel to the planet of Sigma, where they encounter highly developed humanoids.
Heichen died in Berlin in 1970.
In 1925, a chronically ill and impoverished engineer in Vienna devoted himself entirely to space travel.

‘Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums –
der Raketen-motor’

Herman Potočnik (1892 – 1929), published in 1928 his only book, ‘Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums – der Raketen-motor’ (The Problem of Space Travel, the Rocket Motor) was published.
The Verein für Raumschiffahrt also published a magazine titled ‘Die Rakete’ (The Rocket), from 1927 till 1929,
Gernsback, born in 1884 as Gernsbacher, at ten years of age was an insatiable reader.
At that time he found a translation of Percival Lowell’s ‘Mars as the Abode of Life’.
He devoured the book and went into a delirious phase that lasted two days, during which he rambled almost non-stop about the Martians and their technology, a theme to which he would return in later years.
This experience would prove a pivotal point in the life of young Gernsbacher.

‘Die Rakete’

In 1904, then still named Gernsbacher, he went to the United States and changed his name into Gernsback. There he would come to know inventors like Tesla, de Forrest, Fessenden and Grindell-Matthews.
Gernsback would also publish an impressive list of science fiction magazines and coin the very phrase ‘science fiction’.
As such, a case is to be made for Germany as the birthplace of 20th century weird and science fiction magazine publishing.
Recent years have seen the emergence of information about a crashed UFO in the Black Forrest in 1936, which was spirited away by the SS.
There it was to be dismantled and dilligently studied by members of the Vril Society.

 ‘Algol’ – 1920 – UFA

The possibility of alien technology that has fallen into the hands of a select group, was already the subject of a film in Germany in 1920.
Just two years after the defeat of Germany in the First World War, a little known silent film was released.
Entitled ‘Algol’, it tells the story of a superior extraterrestrial from the Dogstar, who donates incredible technology that enables a wealthy industrialist to enslave the world by this free energy device.
Lost for decades, copies of the film have surfaced in recent years.
The first image is of the alien being, poised far away in the eternal blackness of the universe. The second the industrialist poised over the weird extraterrestrial technology.
One wonders how a film like ‘Algol’ helped transform the ancient intelligences, the angelic beings and the demons of old, into alien entities from far away planets. All in the strange and feverish undercurrents of the German occult.

Health and Self-improvement
Germany had many innovators in health treatment, some more questionable than others, in the decades leading up to World War I.
Nackt Turnen

As a group, they were collectively known as part of the ‘Lebensreform’, (Life Reform), movement.

During the Weimar years, some of these found support with the German public, particularly in Berlin.
Some innovations had lasting influence.
Joseph Pilates developed much of his Pilates system of physical training during the 1920s. Expressionist dance teachers such as Rudolf Laban had an important impact on Pilates’ theories.
Nacktkultur

Nacktkultur, called naturalism or modern nudism in English, became popular in northern Germany in particular as part of the Lebensreform utopian projects.

Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach pioneered the concept in Vienna in the late 1890s.

German Nacktkultur, or Freikörperkultur (free body movement), refers to a network of clubs that promoted nudism as a way of linking the modern body more closely to nature, giving it a freer presence in the great outdoors. Heinrich Pudor (Heinrich Scham, 1865–1943) supposedly coined the term Nacktkultur around 1903. His book Nacktende Mensch (1893) and the three-volume Nacktkultur (1906) established an enduring, if not accurate, link between Nacktkultur, vegetarianism, social reform, and racial hygiene (including anti-Semitism).




Nackt Speerwerfer

However, Rothschuh claims that Nacktkultur first appeared in Germany in the 1870s, along with the animal protection, vegetarian, and natural healing movements. Nudity was an important feature of Freikörperkultur well before World War I, and the idea of nudity as a healthful activity apparently owed something to the medical profession’s efforts to combat such diseases as tuberculosis with what before the war was called ‘Luft und Licht Therapie’ (air and light therapy) or ‘Heliotherapie’. As late as 1922 a Munich film-maker  Robert Reinert, released a film (‘Nerven’) that concluded with scenes of nude bodies in the mountains finally cured of neurasthenic ailments contracted in a decadent urban environment.

Resorts for naturalists were established at a rapid pace along the northern coast of Germany during the 1920s, and by 1931, Berlin itself had 40 naturalists’ societies and clubs. A variety of periodicals on the topic were also regularly published.
Aufklärungsfilme (enlightenment films) supported the idea of teaching the public about important social problems, such as alcohol and drug addiction, venereal disease, homosexuality, prostitution, and prison reform.

Associated with Nacktkultur and Lebensreform was the Wandervogel.

Wandervogel auf dem Gipfel

Wandervogel is the name adopted by a popular movement of German youth groups from 1896 onward.
The name can be translated as ‘rambling, hiking or wandering bird’ (differing in meaning from “Zugvogel” or migratory bird), and the ethos is to shake off the restrictions of society and get back to nature and freedom.
Soon the groups split and there originated ever more organisations, which still all called themselves Wandervogel, but were organisationally independent.
Nonetheless the feeling was still of being a common movement, but split into several branches.

Wandervogel Jungen
Nacktkultur – Junge

The Wandervogel movement was officially established on 4 November 1901 by Herman Hoffmann Fölkersamb, who in 1895 had formed a study circle at the boys’ Berlin-Steglitz grammar school where he was teaching.
The Wandervogel soon became the pre-eminent German youth movement.
It was a ‘back-to-nature’ youth organization emphasizing freedom, self-responsibility, and the spirit of adventure, and took a nationalistic approach, stressing Germany’s Teutonic roots.
After World War I, the leaders returned disillusioned from the war.
The same was true for leaders of ‘German Scouting’.
So both movements started to influence each other heavily in Germany.
From the Wandervogel came a stronger culture of hiking, adventure, bigger tours to farther places, romanticism and a younger leadership structure.
Scouting brought uniforms, flags, more organization, more camps and a clearer ideology. There was also an educationalist influence from Gustav Wyneken.

Hitlerjugend auf Parade
Hitlerjugend Fahnenträger

Together this led to the emergence of the Bündische Jugend.
The ‘Wandervogel’, ‘German Scouting’ and the ‘Bündische Jugend’ together are referred to as the ‘German Youth Movement’.
They had been around for more than a quarter of a century before National Socialists began to see an opportunity to take over some methods and symbols of the German Youth Movement to use it in the ‘Hitler Youth’ to influence the young.
This movement was very influential at that time.
Its members were romantic and prepared to sacrifice a lot for their ideals.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013


Many groups within the movement were ‘anti-semitic’ or close to the government of the Third Reich.
From 1933 the German Government subsumed the ‘Wandervogel’, ‘German Scouting’, the ‘Jungenschaft’, and the ‘Bündische Jugend’, along with most youth groups independent into the Hitler Youth.

Hitler-Jugend (Hitler Youth – abbreviated HJ) was a paramilitary organization of the Third reich. It existed from 1922 to 1945.
The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary National Socialist group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung (SA). It was made up of the Hitlerjugend proper, for male youth ages 14–18; the younger boys’ section Deutsches Jungvolk for ages 10–14; and the girls’ section Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM, the League of German Girls).

Berlin’s Reputation for Decadence
Prostitution rose in Berlin and elsewhere in the areas of Europe left ravaged by the World War.
This means of survival for desperate women, and sometimes men, became normalized to a degree in the 1920s.
During the war, venereal diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea spread at a rate that warranted government attention.
Soldiers at the front contracted these diseases from prostitutes, so the German army responded by granting approval to certain brothels that were inspected by their own medical doctors, and soldiers were rationed coupon books for sexual services at these establishments.
Homosexual behaviour was also documented among soldiers at the front.
Soldiers returning to Berlin at the end of the War had a different attitude towards their own sexual behaviour than they had a few years previously.
Prostitution was frowned on by respectable Berliners, but it continued to the point of becoming entrenched in the city’s underground economy and culture.
First women with no other means of support turned to the trade, then youths of both genders.
A byproduct of the tolerance for prostitution appears to have been a more visible tolerance for diverse sexual behaviour, mainly with the growth of a large underground homosexual culture in the city among both men and women.
Sexual experimentation became less hidden, and the pornography, cabaret and prostitution entrepreneurs found their consumer niche.
Crime in general developed in parallel with prostitution in the city, beginning as petty thefts and other crimes linked to the need to survive in the war’s aftermath.
Berlin eventually acquired a reputation as a hub of drug dealing (cocaine, heroin, tranquilizers) and the black market.
The police identified 62 organized criminal gangs in Berlin, called Ringvereine.
The German public also became fascinated with reports of homicides, especially “lust murders” or Lustmord.
Publishers met this demand with inexpensive criminal novels called Krimi, which like the film noir of the era (such as the classic M), explored methods of scientific detection and psychosexual analysis.
Apart from the new tolerance for behaviour that was technically still illegal, and viewed by a large part of society as immoral, there were other developments in Berlin culture that shocked many visitors to the city.
Thrill-seekers came to the city in search of adventure, and booksellers sold many editions of guide books to Berlin’s erotic night entertainment venues.
There were an estimated 500 such establishments, that included a large number of homosexual venues for men and for lesbians; sometimes transvestites of one or both genders were admitted, otherwise there were at least 5 known establishments that were exclusively for a transvestite clientele.
There were also several nudist venues, and many other well-known venues where underground figures such as crime bosses gathered.
Berlin also had a museum of sexuality during the Weimar period, at Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexology.
These were nearly all closed when the National Socialist regime came to power in 1933.
Artists in Berlin became fused with the city’s underground culture as the borders between cabaret and legitimate theatre blurred.
Anita Berber, a dancer and actress, became notorious throughout the city and beyond for her erotic performances (as well as her cocaine addiction and erratic behaviour).
She was painted by Otto Dix, and socialized in the same circles as Klaus Mann.
Cinema in Weimar culture did not shy away from controversial topics, but dealt with them explicitly.
‘Diary of a Lost Girl’ (1929) directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst and starring Louise Brooks, deals with a young woman who is thrown out of her home after having an illegitimate child, and is then forced to become a prostitute to survive.
This trend of dealing frankly with provocative material in cinema began immediately after the end of the War.
In 1919, Richard Oswald directed and released two films, that met with press controversy and action from police vice investigators and government censors.
‘Prostitution’ dealt with women forced into “white slavery”, while ‘Different from the Others’ dealt with a homosexual man’s conflict between his sexuality and social expectations.
By the end of the decade, similar material met with little, if any opposition when it was released in Berlin theatres.
William Dieterle’s ‘Sex in Chains’ (1928), and Pabst’s ‘Pandora’s Box’ (1929) deal with homosexuality among men and women, respectively, and were not censored. Homosexuality was also present more tangentially in other films from the period.
In the light of such activities it is not difficult to see why the NSDAP received so much support in Germany towards the end of the 1920s.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013