The manipulation of WWI

Feb 2010
82
CANADA
In what ways and using what logic did the Nazis manipulate the memory of WWI to their advantage. This, interwar period is a time when educators and leaders are listened to with little apprehension. What memories did the Nazis use to manipulate regular into believing in Nationalism and Nazism? Undoubtedly their authoritarian control of the educational system was a huge factor. The young are the future and are of course, their ideologies not yet developed or solidified. What were they telling young people that they would be fighting for? What were the Nazis saying they were doing for the country? For young people? What did the Nazis say and do that caused so such overwhelming support in coming generations? Most importantly, what memories from WWI had they taken and used to in still national pride and a sense of loyalty to the nation in the minds of the young?

All this bleeds into a specific result in WWII. The German unified army, the Wehrmacht, fight a long and hard war. They fight ferociously and till the bitter end because the people that made up that army were young people from the interwar period, who were taught that Germany was the best place ever and that the Nazis were a fantastic government.

Basically I'm asking: what did the Nazis do to manipulate the German memory of WWI in order to ensure their young soldiers fought with conviction?
 
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Black Dog

Ad Honorem
Mar 2008
9,990
Damned England
Well, the biggest falsehood the Nazis (and plenty of others) told was that Germany did not lose WW1 by military means, but because of the "stab in the back" by her leaders, and this leader, according to the Nazis, was a German Jew. This acted as a salve to German military pride, whilst reinforcing Nazi anti-semitism and its racial message: a Jew cannot be a German. Most Germans wanted to hear that Germany had not actually lost WW1: and, indeed, the Allies were nowhere near the German border when peace broke out.

The other great falsehood was that of continuity. Of course, Germany was only recently unified into one state, but the Nazi message was one of continuous German struggle for freedom, self protection, and Germany's due (an Empire and hence "Lebensraum"). This was a victim mentality: "we did not lose because they were too strong, but because alien cultures in our midst connived with foreign dittoes and cheated".

Many Nazi propaganda posters, even in the early days, showed WW1 German soldiers stood next to their "natural successor", the Freikorps and SA member.

The Nazis made WW1 a symptom of an age-old struggle of the "racial elite" to find their "rightful" place in the world. This had the side effect (desired by Hitler) to make believe that Germany had no real friends, and hence all opposing ideologies would be dismissed as "Foreign" and "Jewish": Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism, as well as Democracy were all seen as "Jewish" inflictions on the world: Nazism, by contrast, was deemed not just purely German, but traditionally German.
 

beorna

Ad Honoris
Jan 2010
17,473
-
Yes, I agree here, allthough a lot of these ideas where not originally Nazistic but just conservative and anti-semitism was widespread all over the western world. So what made the Nazis succesful was an result of many minor components, like at a fluid bomb, every part is not dangerous or not very dangerous, but if you mix it.....
It was not only anti-semitism, not the lost war, not the annexion of land or the occupation of the ruhr area by France and Belgium, not the Versailles treaty, not the inflation, not the big unemployment and all the other, but all together. The Nazis gave them back pride, they organized vacations for them and for their children, they behaved like young pioneers, sport, fun a common feeling like the YMCA, just to win them for their criminal interests.
 
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Feb 2010
82
CANADA
Have you guys seen Triumph of the Will? A nazi propaganda film that is very much directed towards young German men. There is no anti-semitic but my teacher said it exemplified the message Nazis were trying to convey to young people, what they were doing for Germany, for young people and what they'd be fighting for.
 
Feb 2010
82
CANADA
Well, the biggest falsehood the Nazis (and plenty of others) told was that Germany did not lose WW1 by military means, but because of the "stab in the back" by her leaders, and this leader, according to the Nazis, was a German Jew. This acted as a salve to German military pride, whilst reinforcing Nazi anti-semitism and its racial message: a Jew cannot be a German. Most Germans wanted to hear that Germany had not actually lost WW1: and, indeed, the Allies were nowhere near the German border when peace broke out.

The other great falsehood was that of continuity. Of course, Germany was only recently unified into one state, but the Nazi message was one of continuous German struggle for freedom, self protection, and Germany's due (an Empire and hence "Lebensraum"). This was a victim mentality: "we did not lose because they were too strong, but because alien cultures in our midst connived with foreign dittoes and cheated".

Many Nazi propaganda posters, even in the early days, showed WW1 German soldiers stood next to their "natural successor", the Freikorps and SA member.

The Nazis made WW1 a symptom of an age-old struggle of the "racial elite" to find their "rightful" place in the world. This had the side effect (desired by Hitler) to make believe that Germany had no real friends, and hence all opposing ideologies would be dismissed as "Foreign" and "Jewish": Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism, as well as Democracy were all seen as "Jewish" inflictions on the world: Nazism, by contrast, was deemed not just purely German, but traditionally German.
Thank you for this. Very informative!
 
Jan 2008
18,733
Chile, Santiago
Yes, I agree here, allthough a lot of these ideas where not originally Nazistic but just conservative and anti-semitism was widespread all over the wesstern world.
True, according to the Vatican Jews were deicide (until pope John Paul II modified the church doctrine). What to think of the Paris police who round them up at the "Vél d'hiv". The french king known as Saint Louis (Louis IX) asked them to wear a distinctive mark (a blue ribbon).

Some land like Brandenburg had a tradition with anti-semitism : In 1510, the Jewish community was driven out from Brandenburg. For three centuries thereafter, until the Prussian emancipation law of 1812, no Jew was permitted to enter a city like Neuruppin (Source : Peter Paret, Clausewitz and the state).
 

Black Dog

Ad Honorem
Mar 2008
9,990
Damned England
No problem, HistoryBuffBenjamin.

Yes, Beorna, part of the "genius" of Nazism was that it appealed, in one way or another, to almost all Germans: for the working class, Nazism would be an alternative to communism, because Nazis were ant- capitalist, "Jewish" big finance and multinationals. The military caste of the Prussians liked the Nazis because they promised to restore the armed forces: the middle class like them because the Nazis vowed to combat multinationals, trade unions and communism, whilst filling order books for steel and munitions etc. Traditional "Volkists" and other right wingers would see a "return" to traditional German values, whilst all ant-semites would get what they wanted, too. The only losers were German Jews and die hard communists and those few with the foresight to see disaster looming.

Yes, I've seen "Triumph of the Will"- a masterpiece. Leni Riefenstahl, the (female, obviously) director did a fantastic job. She only died in 2003, aged 101 years. And this well before Kathryn Bigelow's nice bit of US propaganda. Its atmosphere reminds me of a cross between the old "epics" of Cecil B. De Mille and bonfire night when I was a kid. I remember watching it once in a lecture room with 120 people: when Hitler gave his speech, you could hear a pin drop. Yet, nobody could speak German.

As an anidote to "Triumph of the Will", I recommend watching "The Eternal Jew", if you haven't already. This is much more anti semitic, and much more simple minded, using pseudo scientific "reasoning" to compare Jews to rats. Much of it is laughable now, but like many (more subtle) films, it still had reasonable success.
 
Mar 2010
181
New York
Have you guys seen Triumph of the Will? A nazi propaganda film that is very much directed towards young German men. There is no anti-semitic but my teacher said it exemplified the message Nazis were trying to convey to young people, what they were doing for Germany, for young people and what they'd be fighting for.
What also helped the Nazis get younger followers was Hitler was in his 40's and some of his top Nazi officials were still in their 30's. This was very different from most politicians of the day who were 50+.
 
Feb 2010
502
Nazi propaganda was reinforced by the heavy reparations demanded by the Allies, making it easy for Hitler to blame the terrible economy on outside forces.

There was also a deep memory of thousands of Germans starving to death because of the Allied shipping blockade of WWI, again feeding easily into the Nazi propaganda machine.

Propaganda goes down best when it contains a kernel of truth.
 
Dec 2009
19,933
Basically I'm asking: what did the Nazis do to manipulate the German memory of WWI in order to ensure their young soldiers fought with conviction?
Basically I must concur with Orwell; far as I can tell, the vast majority of WW2 contenders were perfectly able to manipulate "their" history to ensure their young & old soldiers fought with conviction (Italy may have been an exception).