Friday, May 26, 2023

Dressing the Reich: The Fear and Elegance in Nazi Uniforms  |  The omission of clothing from historians’ discussion of the effect of Nazi propaganda is not by accident. It was Joseph Goebbels, the Nazis’ Reich Minister of Propaganda, who famously said, “Propaganda becomes ineffective the moment we become aware of it.” The power in the uniform therein lies in its silence. The uniform is not a poster, a film, or a speech, but a silent, omnipresent actor that, like these media, is a piece of the Nazi propaganda machine. Goebbels’ quote perfectly encapsulates the propagandistic impact of the uniforms worn during the time of the Third Reich. Consequently, Nazi dress and regalia are not the most talked about aspects of the Nazis’ propaganda machine, but more than likely, the least touched upon.

Regardless of silence and scarcity in conversation however, Nazi uniforms may have been the most effective for the very reason that Goebbels outlined: German citizens, enemies of the Nazi regime and foreigners alike were unaware that the Nazis they viewed were walking advertisements for the Reich. These uniforms may have been mute, but they constantly operated in service of the regime through their utilisation of both style and menace.

Uniforms, which have come to be known as one of the most visually-striking elements of Nazi aesthetics, served as one of the principal vectors of propaganda in the Third Reich. In biology, a vector is an organism, typically of the biting sort, that transfers a disease from one being to another– Nazi uniforms did just that. However, instead of fleas transferring the plague, the Nazis used clothing to present propaganda that conveyed their message of racial dominance and militarism without uttering a word. Uniforms operated as an arm of the Nazi ideals of Volksgemeinschaft, in English, a people’s community and Gleichschaltung, the idea of bringing everything in line with the values of national socialism. The Nazi uniform aided in the destruction of personal identity and smoothed out the differences between German citizens thereby constructing both an egalitarian and passive society.

The main question of this paper is: how did the Nazi Party use its uniforms to exude elegance whilst eliciting fear in order to further its ideology into the minds of wearers, viewers and enemies? In other words, how was the uniform a piece of propaganda? I will argue that the  Nazis used uniforms to produce a fashionable aesthetic to serve as another arm of the Third Reich’s propaganda machine– specifically, through the stark uniform that so occupies our memory of the image of the Nazis. I will look at the structure and implementation of the Nazi uniform and how it pertained to the promotion of the ideals of the Reich. By then using primary sources from vantage points, the perception and effect of these uniforms can be analysed and their propagandistic effect better understood.

This paper arises out of my own interests in the ability fashion to speak. A natural reaction of impressedness from seeing images of Nazi men clad in strong and svelte clothing forced me to recognise this regalia as different from ordinary uniforms. In other words these were the propagandistic impacts of Nazi fashion, generated from viewing images of Nazi elites and soldiers, felt decades after their design to have just that effect. I was interested in separating the crimes of the Third Reich and understanding how the regime’s look could be evil, investigating whether the fear we associate with the Nazi uniform was an intention in design, or a function of the crimes committed by the Nazis. Did the Nazi uniform have a unique look for its time? Would an allied uniform look ‘evil’ if it was placed into the context of crimes such as the Holocaust? This question can be answered through the juxtaposition of the uniform against those of concurrent, non-German armies and peoples. Isolating an intention to create a uniform that functioned in such a multifaceted way spurred an interest within me to explore the possible depth of the Nazi uniform.

What I believe makes this paper special is that it explores an important and relevant topic: the usage of inanimate and non-vocal (through sound, text or image) techniques to disseminate information. My hope is that this paper will enlighten the reader to look more critically at the ability of potential actors at play in the political sphere. When it comes to gaining and maintaining power, anything can be in service of a regime– including fashion.


Chuck - Don't Let Turtle McConnell And His Pwned Bitch Boys Destroy Your Last Gasp At Manhood!!!

Today, I sent my colleagues my plan for the final work period of the first session of the 118th Congress—including negotiations on long-term...