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HIST3025 Hitler and the National Socialist Ideology

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					            HIST3025
Hitler and the National Socialist
            Ideology



            Lecture 5:
       Language and Politics

         28 February 2013
                ‘Spirit of 1914’
• Nationalist myths of unity (Aug 1914)
→ German men of all classes march together to
     defend common home

• First Battle of Ypres → ‘Langemarck’ myth
→ Young German regiments allegedly sing
      Deutschland, Deutschland über alles when
      charging

= Patriotic fervor & its subsequent mythologization
      reflected in Mein Kampf
        First Battle of Ypres (Oct-Nov 1914)
→ “Race to the sea”

► G attacks in coastal plain of B Flanders around Ypres

• Battle of Langemarck (10 Nov): Hundreds of poorly-trained G
       students as enthusiastic war volunteers presumably
       singing Deutschlandlied ≠ BEF with machine-guns

= Each side unable to break through enemy lines

• † 80,000 G troops † BEF almost wiped out: † GB 96,000

= Scale of loss unimaginable before War

= Transformation into almost immobile trench warfare
   → 800 km trench system resistant to any frontal attack
         ‘Socialism of the trenches’
• Constant presence of death
• Celebration of masculine hardness & determination
      → Glorification of trench experience

→ Spirit of community created in trenches
              ↓
→ Real ‘socialism’ forged in blood of trenches vs. false
      ‘socialism’ of Leftists & Jews

 Widespread feature in popular literature of 1920s
      (e. g.  Ernst Jünger, Storm of Steel (1920)
                     ≠
 Fascist glorification of violence of war itself
              A Fascist political style
 ‘Fight of man against man’ in war:

• Ennobling qualities in itself
• Cleansing effect on decadent & rotten national life

→ Violence + glorification of violence

= Revolutionary new form of activism

• Hitler more than German nationalist
                 ↓
 Hitler with new, specifically fascist mentality
      Military language in Mein Kampf
•   Political life of ‘attacks’ & ‘defenses’
•   Political parties ‘attacking and seizing the enemy position’
•   Political opponents (Leftists, Jews, etc.) as ‘enemies’ & ‘foes’
•   Urban poor/working class as ‘menacing army’
•   Need ‘to combat poison with poison gas’
•   Flying beer mugs in beer hall ‘like howitzer shells’
•   Democracy as ‘cowardice’ / Republicans as ‘November criminals’

→ Militarized ways of Hitler’s seeing & thinking
→ Evidence of militarization of certain forms of German political rhetoric

= Widespread cultural legacy: uniforms, banners, parades, military
      songs/symbols/heroes/imagery in 1920s

= World War I experience:
 Profound influence on Hitler’s & general political imagination
      in inter-war Germany
[My] position is that there is no use in hanging
petty thieves in order to let big ones go free; but
that some day a German national court must
judge and execute some ten thousand of the
organizing and hence responsible criminals of the
November betrayal and everything that goes with
it.

(A. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 496)
                   Consequences
Militaristic language of extreme violence:

• Symptomatic of post-war political culture

• Programmatic for Hitler’s future politics:
      Clear threat of extreme brutality towards alleged ‘enemies’
      Aggressively advocating murder

      But: Genocidal / mass murder implications too simplistic +
            resting too much on hindsight

				
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