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dangerous conditions of the twentieth century.
However, the Nazis did not vigilantly identify Old Men who had to be
suppressed or eliminated as was the case in the Soviet Union. They stressed
the basic good working material of Aryan Germans. Although Nazi of¬cials
sometimes noted that as many as 20 or 30 percent of the German population
were biologically de¬cient in some way, reclamation rather than elimination
was the primary goal of Nazi eugenic policy for the population as a whole.
Mass murder was reserved for those Germans unable to be productive “ the
mentally or physically impaired “ and for the Jews.
The task ahead was to make Germans into Aryans. Although this was a dif¬-
cult task, and one that was never fully realized, the racial project should not be
seen exclusively in terms of prescription and compulsion. It rested on the grow-
ing credibility of the Nazi worldview and on the efforts of millions of Germans
to recognize themselves as Aryans and to nurture their newly recognized racial
selves. That this labor of self-transformation was widespread does not mean
that ordinary Germans fully accepted or even completely understood the racial
tenets of the regime. But they proved willing to try and over time increasingly
shifted the conduct of their lives to accord with the racial future. The degree
of self-mobilization into the Nazi sphere is impressive. In each of the last years
before the war, over 1 million volunteers participated in the annual Winterhilfe
charity drive, several million more young people were happily recruited into the
Hitler Youth, more than 2 million workers enrolled in German Labor Front
apprenticeship programs, as many as 8 million Germans joined local civil-
defense leagues, and an astonishing 54 million had, in the single year 1938,
participated in some sort of Kraft durch Freude activity.60 Wartime service
only strengthened the role of National Socialist institutions and the validity of
its pitiless racialized worldview in daily life.61 Without relinquishing familiar
ties to family, work mates, and neighbors, Germans moved relatively easily
from one to the other world, adopting as they did the vocabulary of national
integration, racial exclusiveness, and the terms of constant racial struggle.62
That the National Socialist world crumbled so quickly in 1945, even to the

Ronald Smelser, Robert Ley: Hitler™s Labor Front Leader (New York: St Martin™s Press, 1988),

191“216; Herwart Vorlander, Die NSV: Darstellung und Dokumentation einer nationalsozial-
istischen Organisation (Boppard am Main: H. Boldt, 1988).
Omer Bartov, Hitler™s Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich (New York: Oxford

University Press, 1991).
Smelser, 302“3; Ian Kershaw, The “Hitler Myth”: Image and Reality in the Third Reich (Oxford:

Oxford University Press, 1987); Detlev Peukert, Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition
Peter Fritzsche and Jochen Hellbeck

point where the 1949 elections appeared to revive the electoral parochialisms
of the Weimar era, surely revealed the limits to the fascist dream world.63 But
it would be a mistake to assume that the Nazi world was super¬cial because it
was incomplete: the alacrity with which Germans assumed identities as Aryans
and then shed them indicates that neither liberal nor illiberal subjectivity was
stronger than the other and suggests as well that the experiences of both per-
sisted as an unof¬cial half-life even when one or the other was no longer
of¬cially sanctioned.
“It is not a party badge or a brown shirt that makes you a National Socialist,
but rather your character and the conduct of your life,” announced the eugenic
journal Neues Volk in July 1933.64 A “spiritual revolution” had to follow the
accomplishments of the political revolution, insisted Walter Gross, director of
the Rassenpolitisches Amt of the Nazi Party, in 1934: it will “fundamentally
remodel and reform” “ “even all those things that seem today completely
solid,” he added.65 What was necessary was to “recognize yourself” (Erkenne
dich selbst), which meant following the tenets of hereditary biology to ¬nd a
suitable partner for marriage and marry only for love, to provide the Volk with
healthy children, and to accept “the limits of empathy” as a revitalized Germany
weeded out racial undesirables.66 Both the projects of racial reclamation and of
racial extermination are hinted at here. Not only would the Aryan body have
to be protected through vigorous eugenic measures, but the Aryan self had to
be strengthened by public recognition of the individual™s responsibility to the
collective racial whole. Since the German people were a mixture of various
races, Nazi biopoliticians pointed out, the lessons of racial hygiene had to be
learned quickly and thoroughly, lest the contamination of the whole run out
of control. This put the emphasis on the efforts of ordinary, racially desirable
Germans to practice what may be called racial grooming.
The Nazi regime undertook a massive campaign to propose the new lan-
guage of race. Beginning in August 1933, the Illustrierter Beobachter, the party
publication with the highest circulation (840,000 in December 1933, up from
302,000 in January), began the regular series “Was ist Rasse?” that ran for the
rest of the year. Images of racial health and degeneration became part of the
aural and visual space of the new Germany, circulating in calendars, school
books, newspapers, and the hundreds of thousands of pamphlets distributed
by the Rassenpolitisches Amt of the NSDAP. By 1938, Neues Volk, the jour-
nal directed at biopolitical professionals, attained an astonishing circulation of

and Racism in Everyday Life, trans. Richard Deveson (New Haven, CT, and London: Yale
University Press, 1987), 125“55; and Bartov, Hitler™s Army, esp. 144“78.
Jurgen Falter, “Kontinuitat und Neubeginn: Die Bundestagswahl 1949 zwischen Weimar und

Bonn,” Politische Vierteljahresschrift 22, no. 3 (1981): 236“63.
Introductory editorial in the ¬rst issue of the journal Neues Volk 1 (July 1933).

Walter Gross, “Von der ausseren zur inneren Revolution,” Neues Volk 2 (August 1934).

Hans F. K. Gunther, “Was ist Rasse?” Illustrierter Beobachter 8 (12 Aug. 1933): 32; “Grenzen

des Mitleids,” Neues Volk 1 (July 1933).
The New Man in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany 329

three hundred thousand.67 The campaign to tell “who is who” “ “Who Is A
Jew? “ Who Is Mixed Race? “ Who Can Be a German Citizen and Who Can-
not?” “ intensi¬ed in November 1935, with the publication of the Nurnberg ¨
Laws. They regulated not only who could marry whom but how Germans

were to marry, thereby adding the expectation of proper conduct to the def-
inition of race. The signals for correct “Aryan” behavior became even more
explicit when, in fall 1941, the public suddenly unmistakably “saw” Jews who
had been required to wear a yellow star. “Who among us even had a clue
that the enemy stood so directly next to us . . . in the street, in the subways, in
line in front of the tobacco shop,” averred Goebbels in a front-page article in
Das Reich.69 The implication was obvious: racial vigilance had to be exercised
even in the most ordinary places and the most ordinary ways. Life more and
more resembled the “continual special news bulletin” that Christa Wolf™s Nelly
remembered.70 For Germany™s remaining Jews the result was “social death.”
To be a proper German meant representing the self as an ongoing biological
project, which means that there must have been a rather elaborate performa-
tive aspect to National Socialism, although this has scarcely been addressed
by scholars. It is worth contemplating the extent to which Nazi activists and
sympathizers groomed themselves in the years after 1933. The Nazi era “body
project” included guidelines on makeup, fashion, and hair styling; on calis-
thenics and exercise; and on a proper diet. It revealed a keen sense of style
in order to carry the presumption of racial superiority. And it embraced what
has become to us the familiar politics of lifestyle, as the Nazi war on can-
cer so well reveals.71 There are a few tantalizing clues as to how this worked
itself out. We know that Germans learned to coordinate their vocabulary to
the biological worldview. There is evidence that fashion expressed a more
deliberately work- or sports-oriented comportment as might be expected in
a more self-conscious Volksgemeinschaft. Did more girls wear “thick long
braids,” as Christa Wolf recalls? Fashion advertisements certainly celebrated
¨ ¨
blondes, “uberall die schonsten.”72 Advertising pages also reveal that paramil-
itary apparel became part of the everyday look for both men and boys.73 The
growing popularity of fedoras also suggested the appeal of more uniform, less
socially characteristic apparel; more and more men took the effort to include
themselves in a national public that was modern and socially undifferentiated.
In the home itself, there was often a “brown corner” (Braunecke), in which

Illustrierter Beobachter, no. 1 (6 Jan. 1934): 19; Walter Gross, “Drei Jahre rassenpolitische

Aufklarungsarbeit,” Volk und Rasse (1936), 331“7; Neues Volk 6 (Oct. 1938).
Berliner Morgenpost, 16 November 1935.

Goebbels, “Die Juden sind schuld!” Das Reich, 16 November 1941.

Wolf, 172.

Robert N. Proctor, The Nazi War on Cancer (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 1999).

Wolf, 98, and “Schwarzkopf Extra-Blond,” Illustrierter Beobachter, 8 July 1933; “Roberts

Nur-Blond,” Illustrierter Beobachter, 29 July 1933.
See, for example, Illustrierter Beobachter, 6 May 1933 (ad for Quaker oats); 20 May 1933

(Quaker oats), 16 Dec. 1933 (Saba radio).
Peter Fritzsche and Jochen Hellbeck

the photograph of the Fuhrer and other Nazi memorabilia were displayed, but
we do not know how common this was. Over 10 million copies of Hitler™s Mein
Kampf circulated by 1945, although again it is not clear how this dif¬cult “
for Grundel “unfortunately still unabridged” “ text was read and studied.74
Much of the evidence that Germans endeavored to become Aryans was in
fact deliberately destroyed, a fact that in itself is revealing. After twelve years,
scores of family photographs documented men in work camps, dressed in uni-
forms, and out¬tted with telltale swastikas and other clues of racial identity.
“When you have two military brothers and a like-minded brother-in-law, you
can imagine what sort of stuff has collected around the house,” wrote one
woman in besieged Gleiwitz in late January 1945 as she tore up incriminating
photographs before the arrival of the Russians.75 This record of destruction
provides a further glimpse of the knowing entanglement of individuals in the
racial categories of Nazism.
The perspective of the victim is perhaps the most useful to assess the degree
to which racial categories were adopted in everyday social exchanges. Victor
Klemperer™s diaries detail the ease with which Germans extracted themselves
from relations with Jews and comfortably inhabited their Aryan identity. Sebas-
tian Haffner, not a Jew, but a liberal, was astonished, after just a few weeks, at
how many people “now felt uninhibited and justi¬ed” to discuss the “Jewish
question,” “whereby the allegedly disproportionate percentage of Jewish doc-
tors, lawyers, journalists etc. was accepted by even formerly ˜educated™ people
as a valid argument.”76
With the Nuremberg Laws racial categories governed the most important
aspects of everyday life, particularly the permission to marry and the registra-
tion of births and deaths. Just how willingly the identity of German or Aryan
or Jew was accepted is not clear, but these certainly became part of ordi-
nary existence. Since vigorous public interest in genealogy went hand in hand
with legal requirements to prepare an Ahnenpass, or genealogical passport,
there seems to have been broad legitimacy of the idea of German kin and the
notion of racial insiders and outsiders. The popular Illustrierter Beobachter
imagined Germans searching through “attics” and “dusty chests”: “That is
where you will ¬nd old, faded letters . . . passports, residence certi¬cates, mar-
riage licenses . . . a large leather-bound album: its great-grandmother™s Poe-
siealbum!” And “soon enough contact is made with your ancestors.” In his
Genealogische Plauderei, Oscar Robert Achenbach went on to recommend a
trip to local Pfarramter, where before 1874 all births, marriages, and deaths
had been registered. Although most contemporaries were familiar with a “fam-
ily tree,” in which relatives are organized from the oldest ancestors, usually an

Grundel, 271.

Quoted in Walter Kempowski, Das Echolot: Fuga furiosa: Ein Kollektives Tagebuch, Winter

1945, vol. 2 (Munich: A. Knaus, 1999), 650.
Michael Wildt, Generation des Unbedingten: Das Fuhrungskorps des Reichssicherheitshaup-

tamtes (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2002), 156.
The New Man in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany 331

ancient husband and wife, down to the family clusters of the living generation,
Achenbach urged National Socialists to prepare something rather different, an
Ahnentafel that worked from the contemporary individual backward to include
all lineal relatives. “If the family tree is colorful and many-sided, depending
on the number of children and the structure of the family, the Ahnentafel,”
Achenbach wrote, “has an architectonic layout characterized by strict dis-
crimination and mathematical uniformity.” Beginning with the individual in
question, the Ahnentafel “reveals the direction of maternal and paternal blood-
lines” in order to serve as a certi¬cation of blood purity and thus the inclusion
of the individual in the Volksgemeinschaft.77 This was no easy task. Germans
needed the “nose of an accomplished detective” in order to gather up all the
data to track bloodlines into the past. “State archives and libraries have to be
trawled . . . and also ranking lists, muster roles, telephone books, bills of lading,
guild records. We also have to make our way to old cemeteries where tumble-
down graves might reveal yet another clue.”78 “Tumble-down graves” “ there
is an uneasy resemblance between the effort to document Aryan identity before
1945 and the recovery of traces of Jewish life in Germany and Poland after
All this busywork was a matter of life and death once the Nuremberg Laws
required all Germans to prove the “Aryan” identity of all four grandparents.
This demonstration entailed a huge effort, which individual Germans had to
undertake by themselves. Now it was not thousands of amateurs poking around
local archives, but millions of presumed “Aryans” who needed an of¬cial val-
¨ ¨
idation of Aryan births and marriages, which Pfarreramter and Standesamter
provided against a nominal fee of ten to sixty pfennigs, usually paid in postage
stamps. For those individuals who encountered dif¬culty locating all four
grandparents, the documentation could take longer and become rather expen-
sive. In one case, the local pastor did not recognize the last name, sending one
Herbert Fuhst on a chase that lasted one and one-half years and cost 150“
200 marks.79 Not surprisingly, among the new professions in the Third Reich
was that of genealogical researcher. What is noteworthy about this genealog-
ical effort is that almost every German had to undertake it individually. To
procure documentation for oneself, two parents, and four grandparents added
up and demanded that the individual create a permanent binder. After 1936,


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