Culture in Nazi Germany

Culture in Nazi Germany

By Michael H. Kater

Yale University Press – £11.99

[…] black shirts, shotguns, and wide-hipped maternal fecundity.

The flag-waving poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti combined political and cultural aspirations on the platform of the Futurist movement, which became part of Mussolini’s evolving ideology. A formative element of this movement was a vision of modernity, symbolized by the interaction of machine-age inventions such as the airplane with day-to-day politics, which together signified youth, dynamics, violence, and a crass rejection of the Liberal age prior to World War I.

(‘Conclusion – Culture in Three Tyrannies’).

As we well know, culture subliminally seeps into society in such a way as can be both breathtaking and horribly frightening. Fraught and indebted with an influence as to beguile a populace into the most rigged, yet random of behavioural patterns, culture may well stand at the very vanguard of politics.

Whether it’s a modern day red bus with blatant lies scrawled along its side, a media veritably anchored in an ideology of scapegoatism, or indeed, the inexorable current coverage of the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The latter of which is surely the most perfect diversionary tactic to draw everyone’s lucid thinking away from unfolding events in Northern Ireland.

All three examples of which are an equally perfect reflection of what the author, Michael H. Kater, has written in this wholly superlative book. Apart from enlightening the reader as to how Adolf Hitler managed to truly manipulate Nazi Germany into an intolerable regime – intent on nothing other than division and death – its six chapters shed a most thorough light on the degree to which the choreography of culture can have a profoundly destructive influence over a population.

Such was definitely the case in Germany during the thirties, and such invariably appears to (unfortunately) be the case with regards what is currently taking place throughout the United Kingdom: ‘’[…] nominal correctness rendered them not less, but more dangerous, because they could do much evil under the guise of legality’’ (‘Deconstructing Modernism’).

To refer to Culture in Nazi Germany as unbelievably well researched, thoroughly well written and idiosyncratically ironic, would be a vast understatement.

What’s more, it almost beggars belief as to just how relative its subject matter is.

Even populism is adhered to in the second chapter, ‘Pre-War Nazi Culture’ where Kater writes: ‘’’’Hitler’s personalized form of rule invited radical initiatives from below and offered such initiatives backing, so long as they were in line with his broadly defined goals. This promoted ferocious competition at all levels of the regime, among competing agencies, and among individuals within those agencies. In the Darwinist jungle of the Third Reich, the way to power and advancement was through anticipating the ‘Fuhrer will,’ and, without waiting for directives, taking initiatives to promote what were presumed to be Hitler’s aims and wishes.’’ In such a personalized system of governance geared teleologically to Hitler, the one who had the most guaranteed and most direct access to the Fuhrer would succeed most with his goals.’’

Hmm, who does this remind one of?

These 340 pages (excluding Preface, Notes, Archival Sources, Bibliography and Index) make for an altogether astonishing read in relation to its depth and clarity.

Even if it is a stark reminder that: ‘’In the end, what the Nazis viewed as a winning situation for the Third Reich turned out to be, by all accounts, a deplorable loss for the civilized world.’’

David Marx

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