<<

. 70
( 115 .)



>>

being a German implied the effort of archiving the racial self. The process of
documentation had become so familiar that it served as the raw material for
everyday humor. Legion were the whispered stories of faithful party members
offended by pastors who had provided them with literal transcriptions of the
old-fashioned and often moralistic entries in the church books that described


Oscar Robert Achenbach, “Eine Viertelstunde Familienforschung,” Illustrierter Beobachter 9
77

(19 May 1934): 812, 814.
Udo R. Fischer, “Familienforschung; ein Gebot der Stunde,” Neues Volk 1 (July 1933): 20“1.
78

Herbert Fuhst to Reichsstelle fur Sippenforschung, 8 Jan. 1937, in BA-B, Reichssippenamt, R
¨
79

1509/565a.
Peter Fritzsche and Jochen Hellbeck
332

the illegitimate birth of a beloved grandmother.80 Of course, jokes mocked the
high seriousness of the genealogical enterprise, but they also made “Aryan”
identities more homespun. “I am of agrarian background,” began the inquiry
of one petitioner. Another insisted: “I looked up Aryan in the encyclopedia.
They live in Asia. We don™t have family there, we™re from Prenzlau.” “Thank
God Grandma is illegitimate,” commented a relieved genealogist, “now I don™t
have to look for a marriage certi¬cate.”81
Beginning in 1936, anyone getting married also assumed an “Aryan” iden-
tity. Prospective husbands and wives needed to document their own Aryan
racial status with notarized citations of the registrations of the birth, marriage,
and death of each of their parents and grandparents. Moreover, prospective
newlyweds had to certify their genetic health, which often meant a visit to
the local public health of¬ce and the acquisition of additional documents. In
addition to handing out Mein Kampf, the registrar™s of¬ce provided couples
with pamphlets on maintaining and reproducing good racial stock, “Germans,
Think of Your and Your Children™s Health, Handbook for the German Fam-
ily, and Advice for Mothers,” and instructions on how to maintain proper
genealogical records. Finally, German newlyweds received a coupon for a
one-month trial subscription to a newspaper, preferably the Nazi Party daily,
¨
Volkischer Beobachter.82 All this added up to a broad effort to push Germans
to document and comport themselves as Aryans. Piece by piece, even ordinary
Germans assembled their own private archives, and as they did they invari-
ably became more recognizable as Aryans in Hitler™s eyes and in their own.
Considerable attention was paid to the racial responsibilities of women, who
oversaw child rearing, family health, and domestic expenses. Between 1934
and 1937, 1,139,945 women took part in the Mutterschulungskurse offered
by the NS-Frauenschaft.83
The creation of a new Aryan elite by the SS was a gigantic enterprise. The
SS self-consciously thought of itself as a new breed of leaders who were polit-
ically and morally more advanced and more racially pure than the German
population as a whole, although it should not be isolated from the general
effort, on the part of the regime and the public, to achieve an Aryan subjec-
tivity. The SS put great emphasis on the training of ruthless political soldiers
whose primary responsibility was to the realization of the racial community. In
particular, the SS hoped to break more traditional af¬nities to religious com-
munities and the conventional principles of Christian love and mercy which

See the articles in Schwarzes Korps, 3 Mar. 1939 and 16 Feb. 1939, in BA-B, Reichssippenamt,
80

R 1509/565.
“Anfragen beim Kusteramt,” Neues Volk 4 (July 1936): 47.
81

Reichsministerium des Innern, “Dienstleistungen fur die Standesbeamten und ihre Aufsichts-
¨
82

behorden (1938),” BA-B, R1501/127452.
¨
Stefan Schnurr, “Die nationalsozialistische Funktionalisierung sozialer Arbeit: Zur Kontinuitat
¨
83

und Diskontinuitat der Praxis sozialer Berufe,” in Politische Formierung und soziale Erziehung
¨
im Nationalsozialismus, eds. Hans-Uwe Otto and Heinz Sunker (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1991),
¨
121“2.
The New Man in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany 333

continued to sway most Germans. Moreover, the SS quite resolutely demanded
of its members new, more racially self-conscious codes of private behavior.
Not only were unmarried SS men pressured to ¬nd appropriate love matches
and to bear children, and to remain faithful to their wives once married, but
all prospective wives had to go to considerable lengths to prove their Aryan
origins and German comportment. According to Himmler, “In the old days
it was often said: ˜you must marry so-and-so;™ we say: ˜you are permitted to
marry her and not her.™” In other words, “to fall in love, get engaged, and
then marry is no longer a personal matter.”84 Even after the start of the war
loosened racial prescriptions, hundreds, if not thousands of prospective brides
were deemed unsuitable. This rigorous process of selection conformed to a
highly gendered division of responsibilities in which the husband served the
racial community as political soldier and the wife as mother and helpmate,
but it also underscored the crucial role assigned to women in fashioning the
new race. As Gudrun Schwarz demonstrates, SS wives willingly accepted their
role as racial superiors, both before the war as privileged members of an elect
“community of lineage” and during the war as active enforcers of the racial
hierarchy, especially in the occupied territories.
Yet the boundaries between the SS Sippengemeinschaft and the German
population in general should not be drawn too sharply. Nearly 800,000 Ger-
man men, more than 1 percent of the total population of “Greater Germany,”
joined the SS between 1931 and 1945; over the same time, over 240,000 women
married SS men. SS members interacted with local German populations when
they resettled to run the concentration and work camps that were scattered
across German as well as German-occupied territory. More importantly, the
SS ethic of mercilessness corresponded to the much broader, if always less
resolute recognition of “the limits of empathy” that accompanied the regime™s
media campaigns in favor of sterilization and euthanasia. Images of supposedly
unproductive or worthless lives saturated popular culture, particularly movies,
schoolbooks, and prescriptive homemaking texts. Moreover, by 1936, all per-
sons classi¬ed as Germans needed to adjust their lives in order to adhere to
racial guidelines; SS expectations were more severe, but not fundamentally dif-
ferent. Finally, the majority of Germans participated in the rituals of the racial
community. It is estimated that nearly every German spent at least some time
in a work or education camp (Lager) between 1933 and 1945. Young people
had the most sustained and frequent camp experiences. With the introduction
of one half-year obligatory community service for all young between the ages
of eighteen and twenty-¬ve in June 1935 (Reichsarbeitsdienst) and the require-
ment that all adolescent boys join the Hitler Youth, the Nazis created a political
itinerary that structured the experiences of an entire generation. School year
upon school year was handed to the Hitler Youth, community service, and then
the Wehrmacht itself. Community service was extended in September 1939 to

Gudrun Schwarz, Eine Frauan seiner Seite: Ehefrauen in der “SS-Sippengemeinschaft” (Ham-
84

burg: Hamburg Edition, 1997), 26.
Peter Fritzsche and Jochen Hellbeck
334

include young women, who as adolescents were also encouraged to join the
Bund deutscher Madel. “What this produced was the structural coordination of
¨
the biographies of young people in Nazi Germany,” comments Klaus Latzel.85
The Lager experience was not limited to the young, although it is certainly
true that it was the generation born between 1925 and 1935 that most thor-
oughly identi¬ed with National Socialism. According to Adolf Mertens, who
pioneered the pedagogy of the camp, “a network of camps covers our coun-
try from the sea to the mountains, for the heaths and forests of the East to
the industrial regions of the West. Camps for party of¬cials, for SA, SS, and
HJ, for lawyers, artists, doctors, civil servants, corporate directors, for men
and for women, for young people and for those much older.”86 “There are
camps in tents and in houses, camps for thirty and for several hundred and
even one-thousand participants.” “When the sun sets,” concluded one aston-
ished observer, “camp crews all over Germany are standing at attention in ¬‚ag
parades.”87 Not surprisingly, “camp leader” and “Rural Service Educator”
became recognized careers in the Third Reich. The central experience of the
camp was the continuous rehearsal of the racial community. With the stress
on comradeship, soldierly discipline, and paramilitary uniformity, camps were
the sites where National Socialism could best be experienced. They promoted
Volkswerdung, or “becoming a people,” by substituting comradely for bour-
geois social relations. “Title and rank are put aside,” wrote a smitten camp
participant in retrospect: “Here we recognize only one form of address: Com-
rade and You!”88 The camps are quite rightly described as “total institutions,”
even if they did not all at once transform social relations or recreate German cit-
izens into racial comrades. They made credible the “second world” of National
Socialism and demanded and encouraged Germans to think and talk about and
to comport themselves as members of a vigilant racial community.
It was on the battle¬eld, rather than in the camps, that the “New Man” of
the Third Reich was most closely realized. The increasingly brutal ¬ghting on
the Eastern Front, in particular, made the world in view correspond more and
more closely to the Nazi worldview. The titanic race war between Germany
and Russia stylized in the propaganda the Nazis directed both to the home front
and to the ¬ghting lines was in fact what millions of soldiers thought they were
¬ghting. In the isolated and frightening circumstances of military engagement, it
is not always easy to disentangle what ordinary soldiers believed from what they
were ordered to do, but a recent generation of military historians emphasizes the
degree to which the racialization of combat morale came to regulate extremely

Klaus Latzel, Deutsche Soldaten“nationalsozialistischer Krieg? Kriegserlebnis“Kriegserfahrung
85

1939“1945 (Paderborn: Schoningh, 1998), 86.
Mertens quoted by Jurgen Schiedeck and Martin Stahlmann, “Die Inzenierung ˜totalen
¨
86

Erlebens™: Lagererziehung im Nationalsozialismus,” in Politische Formierung und soziale
Erziehung im Nationalsozialismus, eds. Hans-Uwe Otto and Heinz Sunker (Frankfurt:
¨
Suhrkamp, 1991), 173.
Gunther quoted by Schiedeck and Stahlmann, 173.
¨
87

Schiedeck and Stahlmann, 194, 172.
88
The New Man in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany 335

brutal conduct toward the uniformed enemy; toward Polish, Russian, and
Ukrainian civilians; and, of course, toward Europe™s Jews. The gestures of
racial superiority were more obvious among SS men and their wives, but also
present in the behavior of Wehrmacht soldiers and of¬cers. What is noteworthy
is not only the overall effect of race war, which from the perspective of victims
appeared quite seamless, yet from the perspective of the soldiers was perhaps
more threadbare, but also the general effort to assume the racial identity of an
Aryan combatant.
In the Soviet Union, too, the war marked a threshold in the making of the
New Man. The relentless calls for human transformation and self-sacri¬ce in
struggle, which pervaded the political culture of the 1930s and shaped the
personal lives of thousands of Communists, assumed an even greater momen-
tum in the context of wartime mobilization. The injunction to prove one™s
moral worth in combat now extended to large segments of the population who
served in the Red Army or worked at the “home front.” Before the war, the
feverish campaign to build the new world had relied on elusive images of “ene-
mies” “ the “old bourgeoisie,” “counterrevolutionary wreckers,” and “foreign
spies” “ who allegedly obstructed the building of the Communist paradise.
These images did not always convince individuals to join in the battle.89 With
the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the mythical struggle between the
“dying old world order” and the emerging new world came to life for count-
less Soviet citizens in urgent and existentially relevant ways.90 Unlike in Nazi
Germany, however, the physical act of warfare itself was not the principal site
of the New Man™s creation. What happened instead was that practices of Soviet
political and moral education, established before the war, were carried to the
battleground and put to work in a wartime environment.
Many of those who oversaw the Soviet war effort “ political of¬cers attached
to Red Army units, NKVD surveillance stationed behind the front, military
correspondents, and individual of¬cers and soldiers themselves “ evaluated the
performance of Soviet ¬ghters during the war in terms of their personal moral
growth under ¬re. NKVD of¬cials read soldiers™ mail, grouping it according to
a given author™s moral strength or weakness. Political of¬cers lectured their sol-
diers on desired personality traits, and they applied disciplinary sanctions with
soldiers™ moral transformation in view.91 Military historians have remarked on
the ruthless culture of violence that reigned inside the Red Army during the
war, but they have paid less attention to the moral framework in which the dis-
ciplinary measures were rooted. The standard against which Red Army soldiers


Veronique Garros, Natalia Korenevskaya, and Thomas Lahusen, eds., Intimacy and Terror:
89

Soviet Diaries of the 1930s.
Amir Weiner, Making Sense of War: The Second World War and the Fate of the Bolshevik
90

Revolution (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001).
Ia. F. Pogonii et al., eds., Stalingradskaia epopeia: Vpervye publikuemye dokumenty, rassekre-
91

chennye FSB RF (Moscow: “Zvonnitsa-MG,” 2000); Vasilii Chekalov, Voennyi dnevnik: 1941,
1942, 1943 (Moscow: Rossiiskoe gumanisticheskoe ob-vo, 2003).
Peter Fritzsche and Jochen Hellbeck
336

were measured and punished was that of a Stakhanovite worker at war, an indi-
vidual fueled by inexhaustible willpower, who burned with a desire to sacri¬ce
himself for the larger cause. Professional writers and critics, who for decades
had played an enormous role in the propagation of the new socialist world and
the New Man, took this mission into the war years. Many of them volunteered
to serve as military correspondents. Their portrayals of heroic Soviet soldiers
were intensely received by Red Army soldiers and assimilated into their per-
sonal experience of the war. The writer and critic Ilya Ehrenburg wrote daily
columns in the Red Army newspaper, lecturing Soviet soldiers about who they
were, what kind of battle they were engaged in, and what sort of beastly enemy
they were ¬ghting. At the front Ehrenburg™s articles proved so popular that
there were decrees forbidding the paper on which they were printed to be used
for rolling tobacco; his articles had to be cut out and preserved for others to
read.92 As he covered the war, Ehrenburg was interested above all in gauging
the transformative effect it had on Soviet men and women. “While we have
gone through great losses during the war,” he noted in 1943, “we have gained
from it the new man, a superior human type. The war has been imposed on us
by a cruel and immoral enemy. This is a heavy burden. We have never idealized
the war and we are not idealizing it. We are not fascists for whom war is the
apex of civilization.”93 War, especially a war waged against an enemy who
denounced the universal values of Western humanity, could act as a powerful
moral agent. At the same time, Ehrenburg distanced himself from the pursuit of

<<

. 70
( 115 .)



>>