German and Soviet Mass Violence

Christian Gerlach and Nicolas Werth’s essay, “”State Violence-Violet Societies” discusses the use of mass violence in camp systems. Gerlach and Werth analyzed the methods of violence, the intensity of the violence, the role of the State in the violence, and the ideology behind the violence.1 Gerlach and Werth argued that in Germany the eradication policies were multicausal and that the archival revolution in Russia allowed historians to grasp the foundation of Soviet violence.2

The part of this article that caught my attention was the section on prisoners of war.… Read the rest here

New Man the Hero?

The composition and fate of the hero has been the subject of culture and literature since antiquity.  The idea of one individual, surpassing common constraints and achieving greatness has long held an important place in the human psyche.  The creation of the New Man, by both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, transformed the concept of a new , modern human being into their own unique ideal.  Peter Fritzsche and Jochen Hellbeck argued in Beyond Totalitarianism that the Nazi hero exemplified the optimal Aryan purity and perfection, while Soviet Russia allowed every individual to achieve greatness through self-reformation into the proletarian socialist.… Read the rest here

The “New Man”

Germany and the Soviet Union utilized the idea of the New Man in different ways, according to Fritzsche and Hellbeck in “The New Man in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany”. In Nazi Germany he was a tough figure, with no remorse and racial superiority was held above all. In the USSR, the New Man conformed to the new movements and was an example to others. All of this was achieved through propaganda, which Schivelbusch, in Three New Deals detailed through radio broadcasts and symbols.… Read the rest here

Frameworks of Social Engineering

How can we truly go about with categorizing populations? In the case of Stalin’s USSR and Nazi Germany, populations were categorized by class and race respectively. Chapter 6 of Beyond Totalitarianism, Christopher R. Browning and Lewis H. Siegelbaum examine the different “radical recategorizations” of the populations in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. <Christopher R. Browning and Lewis H. Siegelbaum, “Frameworks for Social Engineering: Stalinist Schema of Identification and the Nazi Volksgemeinschaft,” in Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared, ed.… Read the rest here

Totalitarianism: Can a definition be reached?

Friedrich and Brzezinski define totalitarianism in a way that is often disagreed upon by others. They state it is an autocracy that is adapted to an industrial society. The ruler has ultimate power and none can challenge his decrees or rulings. Also, that it is only with modern technology and mass democracy that these regimes were able to come about. Totalitarian regimes can undergo changes, but never disappears. The only instance that causes it to crumble is war with outside powers.… Read the rest here

Understanding Bauman’s “Civilized Nazis” Theory in the Context of Modernity

In the introduction to his most famous work, Modernity and the Holocaust, Zygmunt Bauman argues from a sociological perspective that the genocide of non-Aryans by the Nazis in an effort of ethical cleansing can only be strictly understood in the context of a modern and civilized society. His view is quite radical, especially to those raised in the West who have been ingrained with the ideology that developed cultures exclude those that practice all forms of brutal savagery, particularly a Holocaust.… Read the rest here

25 Points

Substantive Points:

The 25 Points demanded a widespread unification of all German citizens into one greater German race, of only German blood. It commanded its citizens to behave on the basis of self-determination by repudiating the treaties of Versailles and St. Germain as a stipulation for equality in Europe.

Every German citizen was bound by equal rights and obligations to work both spiritually and physically. This meant physical work was intended for the benefit of the whole state in light of the crippled economy.… Read the rest here

Women in Nazi Germany

In The Berlin Stories, Christopher Isherwood tells the story of Sally Bowles, a beautiful young woman who aspired to become an actress. Isherwood’s relationship with Bowles was first and foremost paternal, though near the end of the story his feelings for her grow stronger. Despite his romantic feelings for her, it is clear from the start that she is concerned with finding a man who will be able to support her lavish lifestyle.  Based on Isherwood’s descriptions of women in “Sally Bowles,” the majority of them are considered to be dependent, immature and incapable of making their own decisions. … Read the rest here

Triumph of the Will, Failure of the Imagination

As I watched Triumph of the Will (1935) I quickly began to experience a sensation of excruciating boredom not unlike those you might expect to feel at an award ceremony dedicated to an obvious fraud and criminal (e.g Henry Kissinger receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in what our descendants will either remember as a moment of comedic brilliance on the part of the Nobel committee or as an intellectual crime against humanity). Their every word sounds contrived and derivative at best, pornographic at worst.… Read the rest here

Communism, Nazism, and the Berlin Stories

In The Berlin Stories, author Christopher Isherwood characterizes the social and political climates in Germany during the rise of Nazism through a series of vignettes centered around William Bradshaw, “a young bourgeois intellectual,” and Arthur Arnold, an older Englishman with subversive Communist sympathies. (Isherwood, 64)  The first one hundred pages of the novel recount the pair’s activities and correspondence centered around the city of Berlin.  Each chapter puts forth several small fragments of interwar Germany with regard to everything from its nightlife (“‘Oh, you mean those whores on the corner there'”) to its foreign policy (“‘The workers demand assistance for the hundreds of thousands of Chinese peasants now rendered homeless'”), ultimately creating an anecdotal portrait of this dynamic period in European history.… Read the rest here