Nazi Germany – Cultural Perspective
Nazi Germany relied heavily on control of the mass media of communications and expression and the mighty propaganda machine played a vital role in the Nazi party. In 1933 Hitler commented that (Lee, 30) “the art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding a way to the heart of the broad masses. ” Propaganda was a means to gain and keep the support of the masses and the crude and over simplified weltanschaung (psychology) projected by Nazi propaganda inspired and overwhelmed millions of Germans, promoting the ideological goals of the regime and the creation of the ‘Fuhrer myth’.
Passive acceptance of the new regime was converted into active support and used to encourage Germans to pursue national socialistic goals. Through deliberate attempts to create a new social ritual, the Heil Hitler salute, Horst Wessel song and the supremacy of Militaristic uniforms were fabricated to strengthen the individuals identity with the regime. Music was carefully scrutinized and Jewish musicians such as Mendelson were removed from the list of composers, whilst special places were given to Opera’s of men such as Richard Wagner as they dealt with heroic German Legends from the past.
Modern art was condemned as degenerate and any war and anti nazi ideology literature were burned in the ‘burning of the books’ on the 10th May 1933. Control of expression and communication is vital for a totalitarian state to be upheld and the Nazi’s were successful in indoctrinating its peoples and controlling both their expression and communication. According to Kershaw a totalitarian state requires passive and isolated population who are unable to respond however Gobbels turned passive Germans into active Germans. Propaganda during the Nazi regime was totalitarian in intent, however did not fulfill a totalitarian outcome.
From a cultural perspective, Nazi Germany does not fit the social attributes of a totalitarian state whereby the people of the state are a passive population. Germans were encouraged to become part of the greater Volksgemeinschat (peoples community), and this is demonstrated in the Nuremberg rallies, where over one million Germans pledged their support to the Nazi Party through their presence. “Strength of Joy” a creation company that organised concerts where people would flock together, all in support of the Nazi Regime. The emphasis on group participation in social activities infiltrated all sections of society especially the youth.
Young girls form the age of fourteen joined the Bund Deutscher Madel (League of German matrons and boys were encouraged to join the “Hitler Jugend. ” Hitler youth had a membership of 3 500 000 14-18 year olds, a level of voluntary participation before it became law in 1936. Social activities and education for the youth were extremely well coordinated and schools were used for the purpose of indoctrination. All subjects particularly History and Biology were influenced by both the Nazi’s determinations to shape the minds of the younger generation as well as trying to achieve an Aryan Herronvolk (master race).
Physical education (compromising 15% of school time), was important to encourage competition, enforce discipline and keep them young and healthy- in short pre-war training. Special schools – National Political Institute of Education- were provided for the most gifted and talented who were considered to be the future leaders of the third Reich. Despite the indoctrination of student, minority youth resistance groups still existed within the period of 1933-1942.
White Rose, amongst the most effective condemned the killing of Jews as well as the ‘Swing; resistance group who opposed Hitler’s beliefs that Jazz and swing music were degenerate. Both groups however were ineffective and exposing led to imprisonment or death. Despite these splinter groups, all sections of society succumbed to the Nazi’s party direction for participation in both social activities and active support for the regime. The majority of the people embraced Hitler and Nazism with enthusiasm and willingness to support all of their endeavors.