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ior (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press 1988), 30“3; see also Bianka Pietrow-Ennker,
Russlands “neue Menschen”: Die Entwicklung der Frauenbewegung von den Anfangen bis zur
Oktoberrevolution (Frankfurt: Campus, 1999).
Ark. Lomakin, “Lenin o Chernyshevskom,” Revoliutsiia i kul™tura, no. 22 (1928): 5“12,

esp. 12.
Peter Fritzsche and Jochen Hellbeck

eventually displaced earlier views of the intelligentsia circle and the solitary uni-
versity student as molds for the New Man.7 Finally, Marxism complemented
an emotionally detached narrative of rationally minded individuals calmly pro-
gressing toward the ideal future with a story rich in historical drama, saturated
with notions of struggle and a mythical yearning for self-completion.8 While
the proletariat, according to Marx, led humanity™s struggle for freedom and
self-realization, it was not destined to incarnate the New Man of communist
society. The proletariat represented History™s negation, as it struggled toward
synthesis. The synthetic New Man was a transformed worker with rich intel-
lectual and artistic powers. Marx™s aesthetic utopia was markedly romantic
and idealist in spirit, betraying his early nineteenth-century in¬‚uences. Eco-
nomic activity would turn into an act of artistic creation, on a planetary scope.
Capitalist alienation and suffering would give way to “free conscious activ-
ity,” with mankind proceeding to remake the human species and the world “in
accordance with the laws of beauty”9 This romantic image would resurface in
strikingly literal fashion nearly a century later, in Stalin era representations of
the ideal New Soviet Man.
The Stalinist regime cited Chernyshevsky, Marx, and Lenin as intellectual
and political forefathers of the New Man. But it was the writer Maxim Gorky
who more than any other individual thinker contributed to the contours and the
meaning of the Stalinist New Man. If Chernyshevsky and Lenin emphasized
rationality and historicity, Gorky endowed the New Man with two further
traits: heroism and collectivism. Every individual was a potential hero, had an
inborn fullness of life, strength, and beauty, which were realized by mobilizing
the will and serving a larger, transindividual whole: society, humanity, or the
course of history. Life, conceived by Gorky in Nietzschean vitalist terms, was
realized in an expressive dynamic that propelled the individual “forward and
higher” and raised him to the level of a “MAN with capital letters.” Those
who did not strive toward this ideal did not truly live. Gorky expressed nothing
but disdain for “bourgeois” individualism, narrow-minded, property-seeking
“philistines,” who lived to the detriment of fellow humanity.10
Of the many competing visions of the New Man proposed before the Soviet
revolution, only those would later be amalgamated into Stalinist representa-
tions of ideal humanity which could present themselves as being historical in

The new focus on the proletariat imparted considerably more maleness to notions of the New

Man, who up to then had often been represented as a female individual. Still, the proletariat
was conceived of as a universal human type, expressing a universal human quest for liberation,
and thus comprising men as well as women.
Robert Tucker, Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx, rev. ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University

Press, 1972), Igal Hal¬n, From Darkness to Light: Class, Consciousness, and Salvation in
Revolutionary Russia (Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000).
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Historisch-Kritische Gesamtausgabe, erste Abteilung, vol. 3

(Frankfurt am Main: Marx-Engels-Archiv, Verl.-Ges, 1932), 88; Tucker, 158, 234, 236.
See especially Hans Gunther, Der sozialistische Ubermensch: M. Gor™kij und der sowjetische

Heldenmythos (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 1993).
The New Man in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany 309

nature and in accordance with History™s continued progression toward the
Communist future.11 Reason “ de¬ned as an understanding of the course of
history “ and will “ indispensable to implement revolutionary politics “ were
two inalienable qualities of the new Soviet Man. For reasons speci¬c to Russian
history in the nineteenth century, the demonstration of the laws of history was
a privileged domain of writers and critics, and it was these writers and critics
who became chief “engineers” of the New Man. The privileging of both his-
torical consciousness and the writer as its chief disseminator also explains why
the textual mode “ literature “ was so important, both as prescriptive mirror
and as working tool in the creation of the New Man. History, literature, and
textuality form an inextricable whole, central for the de¬nition of the New
Man in the Russian and Soviet contexts.
In Germany, the combination of the mass experience of total war and the
disaster of military defeat prompted an intensive scrutiny of new forms of war-
fare, new types of warriors, and, ultimately, new modes of civic responsibility.
More than anything, the war created entirely new zones of danger and made
urgent the design of new social, political, and psychological forti¬cations. It
was in the conditions of Carl Schmitt™s division of the world into friends and
foes and his demand that politics develop the capacities of the nation that
the New Man ¬‚ourished. Older genealogies of youth and Nietzschean vitality
were rearticulated, but it was the experience of the war that armed the imagi-
nation, made urgent the search innovation, and made available a scarred, but
politicized generation to carry out the task of national redesign. This was an
insistently German project. In this case, the New Man was not available as an
international model but rather regarded as a necessity for national survival.
Even before the war ended, observers identi¬ed a distinctive twentieth-century
soldier whose movements became more closely calibrated to the intensity of
technological battle. Increasingly, the harsh struggle on the front, rather than
the national cause, de¬ned the physical features of Germany™s ¬ghting men.
Hard, resolute, depersonalized faces correspond to the steel helmets that nearly
covered them: the man of steel.12 The unrelenting demands and unprecedented
horrors of the war fascinated observers who reported from the front on the
new elites of the twentieth century. Aviators, in particular, appeared as bold
explorers of a New World of danger and destruction, and they returned to
Earth fundamentally transformed with “iron nerves, steady eyes, [and] quick
decisiveness.” They were imagined as steeling and training their nerves, thereby
cultivating the virtues required in this brutal war of existence. As a new species

For early-twentieth-century Russian debates about the new man, see Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal,

New Myth, New World: From Nietzsche to Stalinism (University Park: Pennsylvania State
University Press, 2002); and Irina Gutkin, The Cultural Origins of the Socialist Realist Aesthetic,
1890“1934 (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1999); Derek Muller, Der Topos des
Neuen Menschen in der russischen und sowjetrussischen Geistesgeschichte (Bern: P. Lang,
Bernd Huppauf, “Langemarck, Verdun and the Myth of a New Man in Germany after the First

World War,” War and Society 6 (1988): 70“103.
Peter Fritzsche and Jochen Hellbeck

of machine men, aces fascinated because they adhered to the harsh injunctions
of modern war.13 These wartime sightings were elaborated by postwar writers
such as Ernst Junger, who announced the creation of a new breed of machine
men: “fearless and fabulous, unsparing of blood and sparing of pity “ a race
that builds machines and trusts to machines, to whom machines are not soulless
iron, but engines of might which it controls with cold reason and hot blood.
This puts a new face on the world.”14
In Junger™s accounts, the battle¬eld itself overshadows the national arenas
of Germany, France, and Britain, which are hardly named in Storm of Steel or
Copse 125 or later in Der Arbeiter. Rather, it was the mobilization of material,
physical, and psychological resources that fascinated Junger and convinced him
that Europeans had entered a new, more dangerous, and vastly more powerful
epoch. The war, he wrote, has “dug itself permanently into us”: “This hard and
pitiless landscape of the war . . . will brand those who are strong enough not
to be crushed beneath its impress with an imprint that will never be erased.”15
And it is a measure of the authority and credibility of the image of this “New
Man” that Junger™s books were best-sellers and translated into English already
in the 1920s, and that Junger himself, without any literary pedigree, emerged
as the most visible representative of the front generation. The technological
imperatives and the mass aspect to twentieth-century Europe remained clearly
in view for all the “new age” diagnosticians from Spengler to Ortega y Gasset.
The most popular contemporary history of the postwar period, H. G. Wells™s
The Outline of History (1920), left no doubt that Europe had entered a dra-
matically new time zone. He forecast a future con¬‚ict that would leave the
continent ravaged by air attacks, making the “bombing of those “˜prentice
days,” 1914“18, look like mere “child™s play.”16 It is often forgotten that
the fear of massive air attack rooted itself as deeply among Europeans in the
1920s and 1930s as did the terror of all-out nuclear war during the Cold War.
The horrible specter of air war led to a growing interest in the psychologi-
cal mobilization of the civilian population, which throughout this period was
imagined, in the pages of the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, for example, either as
an unstable, vulnerable mass or as a disciplined, gas-masked collective that had
learned to adapt to the remorseless demands of international warfare. Mod-
ern technology in the 1920s arguably served as a vast metonym for war itself.
The constant iterations of the “New Man” or the “new type,” the athlete,
the race-car driver, and the aviator to which popular magazines introduced
readers, can be seen as civilian projections of the new warrior. The circulation
of big-city traf¬c, the discipline of rationalization, and the ¬ne calibration of

See Peter Fritzsche, A Nation of Fliers: German Aviation and the Popular Imagination (Cam-

bridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992), 96“7.
Ernst Junger, Copse 125: A Chronicle from the Trench Warfare of 1918 (New York: Howard

Fertig, 1988), 21.
Ibid., viii, 58.

H. G. Wells, The Outline of History: Being a Plain History of Life and Mankind (New York:

Macmillan, 1920), 1084“5, quoting the Royal United Service Institution™s Sir Louis Jackson.
The New Man in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany 311

larger and more powerful machines retold the storyline of wartime innovation
and wartime necessity again and again. That women or androgynous ¬gures
frequently represented the new type dramatizes how the imagined imperatives
of the technological present revised even familiar categories of gender and
smudged the boundaries between the public and the private and the domestic
and the political.17 Although much of the armor of the New Man and the New
Woman was no different from that of their counterparts in the Russian imag-
ination “ steely nerves, sophisticated circuitry, sheer durability “ the German
project was primarily biological or biotechnological and was pursued in order
to build a new warrior type. The site of the production of the New Man was
the body, and the collective it was to serve was the imperiled nation.
By the early 1930s, the characteristics of the individualized “Man of Steel”
were projected onto the Volk itself. In the new collective practices of sports,
mass entertainment, and political mobilization, the Volk appeared as a subject
available for national transformation. It was this collective ideal that Ernst
Junger celebrated in Der Arbeiter and that the Nazis eventually racialized.
“The survival strategies of those who escaped the war existed as a ¬‚ight into
fantasies of coldness and body armor,” as Junger described, and then “into
the daydream of the nation,” which was animated in the political labor and
collective dreams of thousands of Germans in the years before Hitler™s seizure
of power.18 The New Man became the means to realize the New Volk.
If Russian ideologues of the New Man worked on their souls, their Ger-
man counterparts worked on their bodies to serve the nation. Yet both types
strained to leave behind familiar practices and familiar precincts. The New
Men in the Soviet Union and in Germany conceived their work in epochal
historical terms. The movement from the secure and knowable con¬nes of the
family onto the still inde¬nite terrain of the nation was accelerated by the
sense of having been cut off from the past: Junger™s “peasant boys” tumble
into “world history.” In this respect, the autobiographical statements of old
Nazi ¬ghters assembled by the American sociologist Theodor Abel in 1936 are
quite revealing. Activists remembered straining to discern historical itineraries
in the years after 1918 and described the profound unsettlement of their indi-
vidual lives in the light of new social relations and new collective commitments.
They indicate considerable self-re¬‚ection about the disjunction between past
and present and the transitory nature of the present day. To account for his
journey to National Socialism, an East Prussian farmer began his memoirs
with the day “exactly twenty years ago, when I was only ¬ve years old. I ¬rst
saw ¬eld-grey-clad soldiers with sabres and guns, and my own father dressed
the same way. My mother watched, serious and worried. War! I heard this

Lynne-Marie Hoskins Frame, “Forming and Reforming the New Woman in Weimar Germany”

(Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1997).
Hannes Heer and Klaus Naumann, “Introduction,” in War of Extermination: The German

Military in World War II, 1941“44, eds. H. Heer and K. Naumann (New York: Berghahn
Books, 2000), 4.
Peter Fritzsche and Jochen Hellbeck

word then for the ¬rst time, but I soon understood it.”19 A sense that an older
world had been left behind shaped these narratives: “My old world broke asun-
der in my experiences” in the war, recalled one Catholic National Socialist.20
Future party members remembered themselves as ravenous readers, fascinated
with history already in school, and later browsing among newspapers until
they reported ¬nally picking up a Nazi edition or visiting all sorts of political
meetings until they found themselves in agreement with one or another Nazi
orator. “Learning, reading, comparing” was the way one future Nazi, a teacher
from Vorsfelde, explained his task; in the 1920s two books stood on his desk:
“Adolf Hitler™s Mein Kampf and Karl Marx. Jawohl Karl Marx!” Eventually,
he admitted, “Karl Marx disappeared”; Hitler did not.21 This stock taking,
which echoes throughout autobiographies in this period “ from Mein Kampf
to Ernst von Salomon™s ¬ctionalized memoir, Die Geachteten “ is remarkable
evidence for the visualization of the indeterminate, but sensible forces of a
historical new time.
Nazi activists, who are the only ones for whom we have a large set of auto-
biographies, recalled as well the sheer strain of discovering the nation. “Almost
daily I cycled ¬ve miles of bad road into town to listen to a Nazi speech, and
then home again alone,” recalled one old ¬ghter.22 “Night after night, Sunday
after Sunday, in wind and rain,” activists spread the Nazi word on bicycles and
trucks in the late 1920s and early 1930s.23 Hiking, bicycling, and motoring to
the next village, and eventually on to the regional center for larger rallies and to
big cities for national events are references that recur repeatedly in Nazi autobi-
ographies and indicate just how nonlocal the identi¬cations of the new political
self had become. The Abel respondents also testi¬ed to their explorations of
unfamiliar social precincts: “I walked through the city. I wandered through the


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