Nationalsozialismus und die Welt von Morgen - National Socialism and the World of Tomorrow

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
“To be modern only means to fill new forms with eternal truths.”
Joseph Goebbels


National Socialism, while taking much from the occult traditions of the past, was avowedly totally committed to the future.
Hence its constant concern with youth, and its remarkable attempts to recreate technology in terms of ancient knowledge combined with the most recent discoveries.
While many see in the occultism of National Socialism evidence of a 'late Romantic' throwback to 19th Century values, or even as a return to medieval or tribal, 'Germanic' animism and magic, this is in some ways a misreading of the facts, and possibly the result of giving too much weight to some of the propaganda that was couched in deliberately 'archaic' terms, in order to try to forge a link between the aggressively modernistic basis of National Socialist ideology, and a popular, idealistic conception of a 'romanticized' past.

Archaic Propaganda

That authentic National Socialism espoused a form of 'Occult Romanticism' is undoubtedly true, but that 'Romanticism', despite having its roots in the occult, was usually termed 'Stählerne Romantik' – and is, in reality, a form of 'Occult Modernism'.
To explain this, it should be noted that National Socialism is often wrongly considered to be the creation of Adolph Hitler, but he was far from being alone in that endeavor.

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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

German Trenches in the Great War
Der Grosse Krieg
Almost all the men who played a significant part in the creation of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) had been directly involved in what they would have termed the Grosse Krieg (the Great War), and which we now know as the First World War.
That war was undoubtedly the crucial event of the age – the 'watershed of the epoch'.
While the concept of 'modernism' had already begun to evolve from the technical and social changes engendered by the industrial revolution, there was not a direct link between industrialism and 'modernism'.

The Children's Maypole 1903
Helen Allingham
Water Lily Pond - 1918
Claude Monet
Highly industrialized countries, leading the industrial revolution, such as England, could not be said to be culturally 'modern' – and, in fact, England was backward looking, and a backwater culturally, as the new century dawned.
France, a backwater in terms of industrialization, however, was decidedly 'modern' in terms of culture. 
Germany was neither as backward as England, or as advanced as France. 
In Germany, however, all this changed after 1918.
Whereas England and France retained their traditions in forms of government and economic and social organisation, Germany was thrown into political, social and cultural turmoil by the rapid collapse of the Second Reich at the conclusion of the war.

 Großstadt (Metropolis) (1927-28)
Otto Dix
Weimar Constitution
'Modernism', of course, was the watchword of the newly created Weimar Republic, which arose, unsteadily, from the ruins of the defunct Reich.
For many, however, it was a spurious 'modernism'.
It was a 'modernism' that was content to sneer at the recently wrecked values of the Kaiserreich, and produce works that were at best 'unfinished', and at worst downright incompetent and ugly.
Terrified at only having won the last war (1939-1945) by a whisker, and equally terrified by the sheer dynamism of the Third Reich, most contemporary critics now consider the pathetic works of Weimar to be the apogee of 'modernist' culture, and the culture of the twenty-first century is now, sadly, poisoned by the continuing aesthetic of Weimar.

The Roman House - Weimar
Schiller and Goethe
Weimar, of course, had had a previous incarnation as the city of 'Weimarer Klassik'.
'Weimarer Klassik' is a cultural and literary movement of Europe. Followers attempted to establish a new humanism by synthesizing Romantic, classical and Enlightenment ideas. The movement, from 1772 until 1805, involved Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Schiller and Christoph Martin Wieland, and often concentrated on Goethe and Schiller during the period 1788–1805. Because of its associations with 'classicism', and with a high point in European and German culture, the National Socialists, rightly, always 'bent a knee' towards the beautiful city of Weimar, despite its associations with the detested 'Republic'.

Adolf Hitler with  Frau Förster-Nietzsche
at the Nietzsche Archiv - Weimar
The other reason for the members of the NDSAP to revere Weimar was the fact that it was the home of the Nietzsche Archiv. The Nietzsche-Archiv, was the first organization that dedicated itself to archive and document the life and work of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The Nietzsche Archive was founded in 1894 in Naumburg, Germany, and found a permanent location at Weimar. Its history until the middle of the 20th century was closely tied to its founder and chief for many years, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, the philosopher's sister. Hitler was a regular visitor  and was always recieved by Frau Förster-Nietzsche.

The emerging national Socialists, however, saw the post 1918 Weimar Culture for what it was, and rejected much of it out of hand, quite rightly.

'Stählerne Romantik'
original painting by Peter Crawford
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
Those aspects of Weimar Culture that were legitimately modern, though, the National Socialists held on to, and subsequently they absorbed those aspects into their concept of 'Stählerne Romantik'.

Returning German Soldiers
Brandenburg Gate - Berlin
The returning 'front line' soldiers, who formed the bulk of the newly created National Socialist Workers Party had seen the effects of one aspect of 'modernism'.
That aspect was the industrialization of warfare, which they realized could make conquest rapid and efficient, if used with insight, but if handled without due thought, could result in the appalling slaughter of the trenches.

Good Blood
Aristocracy of the Blood
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
They had also learned that the industrialization of warfare, and more particularly, the industrialization of society, would not be effective if the social divisions that crippled the Second Reich were maintained.
Their front line experience also showed them, however, that it would not be wise the completely eliminate the concept of aristocracy, so beloved of the Prussian junkers.
Aristocracy for these newly hardened men, though, would be an aristocracy of 'ability', but also an aristocracy of blood. 
Their experiences at the front had shown them that it was almost always men of 'good blood' who were the most suited to plan, organize and lead.
Of course, many would consider the concern with 'good blood' to be a throwback to past 'tribal' attitudes.
This, though, was not the case.
The National Socialists, and in particular Adolph Hitler and Heinrich Himmler were inspired by the then recent rise of the science of eugenics - and the occult ramifications that could be derived from such .

Francis Galton
Charles Darwin
Eugenics (from Greek εὐγενής eugenes "well-born" from εὖ eu, "good, well" and γένος genos, "race, stock, kin") is a science that aims at improving genetic quality. It is a social philosophy advocating the improvement of human genetic traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of people with desired traits (positive eugenics), or reduced reproduction of people with less-desired or undesired traits (negative eugenics), or both. The idea of eugenics to decrease the birth of inferior human beings has existed at least since William Goodell (1829-1894). However, the term "eugenics" to describe the 'modern' concept of improving the quality of human beings born into the world was originally developed by Francis Galton. Galton had read his half-cousin Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans. Galton believed that desirable traits were hereditary. In 1883, one year after Darwin's death, Galton gave his research a name: Eugenics. As a social movement, eugenics reached its greatest popularity in the early decades of the 20th century. At this point in time, eugenics was practiced around the world and was promoted by governments and influential individuals and institutions.

There was more to this new ideology, however, than the concern for 'good blood'.
Adolph Hitler was always intent on describing National Socialism as a 'Weltanschauung' (a world view) - an all embracing system, encompassing politics, economics, aesthetics and culture, science and technology, and all aspects of society - including the occult and biological basis of the nation state.

Liinz an der Donau
Ever since his adolescent days an Linz, and later, his days of relative poverty in Vienna, Hitler had envisioned, and planned, for a new future for the German people.
Richard Wagner

And while he was admittedly caught up in the enthralling world of Wagner's mythological operas, this did not prevent him from seeing that the future of the German people - and the future of Europe and Western civilization, rested with a thoroughgoing acceptance, and adoption, of the essential principles of 'modernism'.

That National Socialism is essentially a form of 'modernism' is best demonstrated by the remarkable rise to power of  the NSDAP.
In 12 years the National Socialist German Workers Party grew from a mere seven members in 1919, to the largest political party in Germany in 1932, when the NSDAP won more than one-third of the seats in the Reichstag, by competing against six established political parties, in free parliamentary elections.
Contrary to popular belief, National Socialism was not an ideology imposed on Germany.

Though the party never received majority support in free elections (no party achieved a majority during the Wiemar Republic) the NSDAP was legally appointed to power, just like its predecessors had been, and became, between 1933 and 1940, arguably the most popular political movement in the world.
It has been suggested that at the peak of its popularity nine Germans in ten were supporters of the NSDAP.
As A.J.P Taylor concedes, 'no political system has been so ardently desired or so firmly supported by so many people as Hitler's was in Germany'.
One of the causes of the popularity of the NSDAP was the fact that most of the more prominent leaders of the movement were relatively young men, particularly when compared to other political leaders in Germany, and political figures in other European countries.
This youthfulness of the leadership was seen as emblematic of the essential 'modernity' and dynamism of the party, and rather than betraying a lack of experience, it promoted the belief that the party as both 'thrusting' and 'forward looking'.

Rotfront - Communists
The other political parities in Germany - even those such as the Communists, (which were able to distance themselves from association with the discredited politics of the Kaiserreich) - were seen, in contrast, as being led by older men, who were mired in the past.

Wappen Deutsches Reich
Kaiserreich is the German term for a monarchical empire. Literally a Kaiser's Reich, an emperor's domain or realm. When the proper term is used without disambiguation, it is assumed in Germany to refer to the German Empire of 1871–1918, during which the large majority of historically independent German states (with the significant exception of Austria) were unified under a single Kaiser.

Of course the key individual was Hitler.
Hitler himself was seen as a modern, youthful and dynamic individual, exemplifying Weber's concept of the 'charismatic leader'. However, most observers at the time were unaware of the occult sources of Hitler's undoubted charisma.

"Max" Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber (German: 21 April 1864 – 14 June 1920) was a German sociologist, philosopher, jurist, and political economist whose ideas profoundly influenced social theory and social research. Weber is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as among the three founders of sociology. Weber's main intellectual concern was understanding the processes of rationalisation, secularisation, and "disenchantment" that he associated with the rise of capitalism and modernity, and which he saw as the result of a new way of thinking about the world.

The fact is, that Hitler was beloved by the German people, - by the average German who pledged to him an affection, a tenderness, and a fidelity that bordered on the irrational.
It was idolatry on national scale.

Ian Kershaw
As Kershaw states, 'Underpinning Hitler's unchallenged authority was the adulation of the masses.  Large sections of the population simply idolized him'.

David Lloyd George
And as David Lloyd George said, "I have never met a happier people than the Germans, and Hitler is one of the greatest men. The old trust him; the young idolize him. It is the worship of a national hero who has saved his country."
For Hitler, "National Socialism was natural socialism" and in his speeches he equated his concept of 'God' with "the dominion of natural laws throughout the entire universe."
This occult concept was attractive, and easily grasped by the German nation.
And even today it is a very 'modern' philosophy.

Rainer Zitelmann
With regard  to this 'modernity', the German historian Rainer Zitelmann, in a recent scholarly study established that Hitler's outlook, despite his roots in occultism, was "rational, self-consistent, and modern".
One of the main stumbling blocks to a true understanding of this, for us in the twenty-first century, is the fact that Hitler was born a long time ago - in fact on 20th April, 1889.
While Zitelmann may describe Hitler's outlook as "modern" - he does not mean 'contemporary'.
'Modernity', in this case, typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism (or agrarianism) toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance.

Charles Pierre Baudelaire
Charles Pierre Baudelaire is credited with coining the term "modernity" (modernité), to designate, initially, the 'fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and the responsibility art has to capture that experience'.
Conceptually, 'modernity' relates to the modern era, and to 'modernism', but forms a distinct concept.
Whereas the Enlightenment (ca. 1650–1800) invokes a specific movement in Western philosophy, modernity tends to refer only to the social relations associated with the rise of capitalism.
In art, however, 'Cubism' may be seen as a feature of 'modernity', and yet it began in the first decade of the twentieth century.

Cubism - Pablo Picasso
Cubism is an early-20th-century movement pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. The term is broadly used in association with a wide variety of works produced in Paris (Montmartre, Montparnasse and Puteaux) during the 1910s and extending through the 1920s. Variants such as Futurism and Constructivism developed in other countries. A primary influence that led to Cubism was the representation of three-dimensional form in the late works of Paul Cézanne, which were displayed in a retrospective at the 1907 Salon d'Automne. In Cubist artwork, objects are broken up and reassembled in an abstracted form.

Equally the world's first successful controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight took place on December 17, 1903 - a 'modern' event that stirred the imagination of the young, fourteen year old Adolf Hitler.

Kitty Hawk - 1903
The Wright Flyer is the first successful powered aircraft, designed and built by the Wright brothers. They flew it four times on December 17, 1903 near the Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, U.S. Today, the airplane is exhibited in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The U.S. Smithsonian Institution describes the aircraft as "...the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard." The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale described the 1903 flight during the 100th anniversary in 2003 as "the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight."

Hitler was born into a Europe dominated by Empires - some ancient, like the Hapsburg and Russian Empires, and some relatively new, although based on an ancient concept, like the German Empire (founded in 1871 - just 18 years before Hitler was born).

The Austro-Hungarian Empire - more formally known as 'the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen', was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in Central Europe, which operated from 1867 to October 1918, following the end of World War I. The union was a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, under which the House of Habsburg agreed to share power with the separate Hungarian government, dividing the territory of the former Austrian Empire between them. The Austrian and the Hungarian lands became independent entities enjoying equal status.

Das Deutsches Kaiserreich - the German Empire is the common name given to the state officially named Deutsches Reich (literally: "German Realm"), designating Germany from the unification of Germany, and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Kaiser (Emperor) on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II. The German Empire consisted of 27 constituent territories (most of them ruled by royal families). While the Kingdom of Prussia contained most of the population and most of the territory of the Reich, the Prussian leadership became supplanted by German leaders and Prussia itself played a lesser role.

When Hitler was a boy, what later became known as the Soviet Union didn't exist, and Russia was ruled by Tsar Nicholas II, the supreme autocrat of the Russian Empire, who had absolute control over all matters both secular and spiritual.

Nicholas II (18 May [O.S. 6 May] 1868 – 17 July 1918) was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Duke of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias. As with other Russian Emperors he is commonly known by the monarchical title 'Tsar' (though Russia formally ended the Tsardom in 1721). Nicholas II ruled from 1 November 1894 until his enforced abdication on 2 March 1917.

Europe then was a very different place to Europe today, or even the the Europe Hitler came back to after his time in the trenches.
Before he moved to Linz, Hitler grew up in a relatively rural, backward area of Austria.
The population was basically made up of farmers and peasants and, with the absence of mass communications, and relatively poor literacy, the area existed in a kind of 'time-warp', where life carried on much as it had done at the start of the nineteenth century.
Even after Hitler moved to Vienna, and then Munich, he was still living in a world in which only the very wealthy could afford such new inventions as the Gramophone (12" records only became available around 1910), and the wireless (radio).

HMV Gramaphone
From the mid-1890s until the early 1920s both phonograph cylinder and disc recordings, and machines to play them on were widely mass-marketed and sold.
The disc system (the gramophone gradually became more popular because of its cheaper price, and better marketing by disc record companies. Edison ceased cylinder manufacture in the autumn of 1929, and the history of disc and cylinder rivalry was concluded. Early disc recordings were produced in a variety of speeds ranging from 60 to 130 rpm, and a variety of sizes. As early as 1894, Emile Berliner's United States Gramophone Company was selling single-sided 7-inch discs with an advertised standard speed of "about 70 rpm". One standard audio recording handbook describes speed regulators or "governors" as being part of a wave of improvement introduced rapidly after 1897. History does not disclose why 78 rpm was chosen for the phonograph industry, apparently this just happened to be the speed created by one of the early machines and, for no other reason continued to be used.

Equally film, that great molder of popular culture, was black and white, silent, and short, around the turn of the century

On November 1, 1895 Max Skladanowsky and his brother Emil demonstrated their film projector the Bioscop at the Wintergarten music hall in Berlin. A 15-minute series of eight short films, it was the first screening of films to a paying audience in Europe.

'The Student of Prague'
Other German film pioneers included the Berliners Oskar Messter and Max Gliewe, two of several individuals who independently in 1896 first used a Geneva drive (which allows the film to be advanced intermittently one frame at a time) in a projector, and the cinematographer Guido Seeber. In its earliest days, the cinematograph was restricted to upper class audiences, however, soon, trivial short films were being shown as fairground attractions aimed at the working and lower-middle class. Film-makers with an artistic bent attempted to counter this view of cinema with longer movies based on literary models, and the first German "artistic" films began to be produced from around 1910, an example being 'The Student of Prague' (1913) which was co-directed by Paul Wegener and Stellan Rye, photographed by Guido Seeber.  The first standalone, dedicated cinema in Germany was opened in Mannheim in 1906, and by 1910, there were over 1000 cinemas operating in Germany.

By thh 1920s, with the rise of the NSDAP, all these modern inventions were developing and becoming more widespread, with the result that society was changing, particularly in the cities.
The NSDAP, led by Hitler, was aware  of this, and used, wherever possible, the latest developments in modern technology to present themselves not only as a political group in harmony with the  times, but also a political movement of the future. 

Hitler - Portrait in his LateTeens
Hitler himself was at the  center of the thrust towards the future, and was often referred to as 'schöne Adolf' - 'handsome' or 'beautiful' Adolf.
To many people today, seeing photos and film of Hitler, that may seem incomprehensible, but then we are forgetting how time has changed our perception of beauty.
Take, for example, Charles Chaplin.
Chaplin and Hitler resembled one another, (enough for Chaplin to impersonate Hitler in 'The Great Dictator' in 1940), particularly with regard to the mustache they both favored - which today seems to many to be ridiculous - although it was a fashionable and modern style at the time.

Chaplin made 'The Great Dictator' in 1940 as a "satirical attack on fascism" (did he mean National Socialism ?), and is his "most overtly political film". There were strong parallels between Chaplin and Adolf Hitler, having been born four days apart, and raised in similar circumstances. It was widely noted that Hitler wore the same moustache as the 'Little Tramp', and it was this physical resemblance that formed the basis of Chaplin's story. Chaplin spent two years developing the script, and began filming in September 1939. Making a comedy about Hitler was seen as highly controversial, but Chaplin's financial independence allowed him to take the risk. The response from critics was not enthusiastic. Although most agreed that it was a brave and worthy film, many considered the ending inappropriate. Chaplin concluded the film with a six-minute speech in which he looked straight at the camera and professed his personal (left wing) beliefs. The monologue drew significant debate for its overt preaching, and continues to attract attention to this day. It has been identified as triggering Chaplin's decline in popularity.

Chaplin - The Little Tramp
We now think of Chaplin's 'little tramp' as equally ridiculous and pathetic in appearance, but that is not what people thought who saw the character at the turn of the century, (the 'tramp' was first seen in 1914 in the Keystone comedy, 'Kid Auto Races at Venice') - their perception of the 'tramp' was of a young man who was 'down on his luck' - but a 'good-looking', handsome, one may almost say 'cute' character.
And in the same way, Hitler, with a similar hairstyle and similar mustache was seen as 'good-looking' - hence 'schöne Adolf'.
So Hitler came form a world very different from our own, and yet in most respects his 'weltanschauung' appears to be 'modern' - almost contemporary - which is an obvious paradox.
One explanation for this derives from the fact that Hitler lived through what has been described as the 'Watershed of the Epoch' - which he would have remembered as 'der Große Krieg' - the Great War.
It was the Great War that effectively divided off the new, 'Modern' epoch of history from the previous 'Traditional' epoch - and it created a paradox in Hitler's thinking and, significantly, in the nature of National Socialism.
This paradox, of course, relates to the complex relationship between 'Tradition' and 'Modernity' which informs the fundamental nature of Völkisch thought and philosophy.
Far from being anti-modernist and anti-technological, National Socialism was dedicated to liberating technology from the “domination of money” and the “fetters” of Jewish materialism.

Orthodox Jews
“Jewish abstraction” was alien to the “autonomous life element of the German Volk,” whereas 'modernism' and technology was not only in tune with the Volk, but was something around which a whole world could and ought to be constructed - the world of tomorrow.
Technology, therefore, was more than a just material foundation of National Socialism.
It was an “independent factor” of a new, dynamic, post-liberal, post-materialist culture.
It was the generation that survived the 'Fronterlebnis' (life at the front) - the  generation of the NSDAP leadership -  that really grasped the idea of 'freedom' inherent in technology.
National Socialism was the product of this generation.
But the idea of 'freedom' - from physical labor, and for 'free time' - remained unrealized due to the “domination of a power alien to the essence of technology, that is, the power of money...the Jewish- materialist suffocating embrace [Umklammerung] of our life elements.”'
The really decisive contribution of National Socialism lay not only in recognizing the “major cause of our misfortune,” but also, and more importantly, in moving to the level of the “decisive deed. . .the act of liberation.
Only “blood” and action would prevail against “the titanic power of money.”
National Socialism was more than a collection of protests against materialism and the Jews.
Modernist technology as a natural force, was seen as at once as a  'dynamic' and 'passionate' force, which sought an occult victory of “spirit over matter.”
Whereas the Jews destroyed and misused technology, the Nordic race was ideally suited to it.
Technical 'Geist' (the occult concept of spirit) and the Völkisch racial 'myth' would form a common front against Jewish materialism.
National Socialism was dedicated to emancipating technology from capitalist exchange, a goal that bore striking similarities to German engineers own anti-capitalist language.
The protest of the NSDAP was against insufficient rather than excessive technological progress.
In this  way, Völkisch ideology amounts to an appeal to liberate a 'will' or 'telos', said to be inherent in the forces of production, from restrictions imposed by the existing bourgeois social relations of production.
Removal of the Socialist and Communist parties and the trade unions, dissolution of parliament, and breaking the Versailles restrictions on German rearmament were the practical meaning of such a program.
This conception of the “primacy of ideology” was simultaneously a plan for political action, and technological modernization presented as a cultural revolution from the Right.
Significantly, at no time did Hitler join in the hostility to technology found in some völkisch ideologies.

“The Greek Spirit and German Technology.”
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
For Hitler, the decisive element remained the ideology of the occult concept of the 'will to power', and he went so far as to define Aryan culture as a synthesis of “the Greek spirit and Germanic technology.”
Hitler did not write extensively on the subject of technology.
Albert Speer reports listening to Hitler’s theory of “ruin value,” according to which the purpose of Nazi architecture and technological advance should be to create ruins that would last a thousand years and thereby overcome the transience of the market. (the juxtaposition of permanent technology and evanescent capitalism was an important theme of reactionary modernism.)

Die Ruinenwerttheorie - (Theory of Ruin Value) is the concept that a building be designed such that if it eventually collapsed, it would leave behind aesthetically pleasing ruins that would last far longer without any maintenance at all. The idea was pioneered by German architect Albert Speer while planning for the 1936 Summer Olympics, and published as "The Theory of Ruin Value" (Die Ruinenwerttheorie), although he was not its original inventor. The intention did not stretch only to the eventual collapse of the buildings, but rather assumed such buildings were inherently better designed and more imposing during their period of use.

Hitler accordingly approved Speer's recommendation that, in order to provide a "bridge to tradition" to future generations, "anonymous" materials such as steel girders and ferro-concrete should be avoided in the construction of monumental party buildings, since such materials would not produce aesthetically acceptable ruins like those wherever possible.
By this means, the values of the party would be  'projected' to an almost 'unlimited future'.
Hitler's concern with 'modernity' is also reflected in the fact that he was the first political leader of the twentieth century to use the air-plane extensively.
In addition, radio spread his voice, and fast cars sped him over the Reichautobahnen (motorways).
His conversations with associates, published as the “table talks,” reveal a man fascinated with the details of technology.
His embrace of modern technology as an expression of 'Aryan Will' was fully consonant with rejection of the Enlightenment and the social consequences of the French and industrial revolutions.
Given his outlook, Hitler never feared that a 'modern' Germany would be a soulless Germany.
Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, devoted a great deal of effort to convincing the Germans that their 'souls' were compatible with 'modernism' and technology.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels 
Heidelberg University
Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels (29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in the Third Reich from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous orations and antisemitism. Goebbels earned a PhD from Heidelberg University in 1921, writing his doctoral thesis on 19th century romantic drama - . he also wrote novels and plays. He became a member of the NSDAP in 1924. He was appointed Gauleiter (regional party leader) of Berlin. Goebbels despised capitalism, viewing it as having Jews at its core. Goebbels rose to power in 1933 and he was appointed Propaganda Minister. Goebbels exerted control over the media, arts and information in Germany.

Goebbels’s speeches on the subject are interesting because they were directed to the general public as well as to engineers and scientists, and thus combined elements of the conservative revolution, romanticism  ('Stählerne Romantik'), and völkisch occult ideology with an ideology of technological 'modernism'.
For example, in a speech in 1932, Goebbels echoed Hitler’s view that the true politician was an artist whose task was to give form to the “raw material” of the masses.
In the century of mass politics, the political leader must avail himself of the most 'modern' means of propaganda, such as the radio, to encourage “spiritual mobilization” (geistige Mobilmachung).
In March 1933, he assured his audience that he was not “an un-modern man who is inwardly opposed to the radio. . . but a passionate lover of the press. . . theater. . . radio.
In his view, the radio should not be used to create an 'illusory objectivity', but to assist in the spiritual mobilization the National Socialist regime was fostering.
The Germans, he argued, must learn the primary lesson of World War I: Germany was defeated by deficiencies of the spirit rather than by material deficiencies.
We did not lose the war because our cannons failed, but rather because our spiritual weapons didn't  fire.”
The radio gave National Socialism unprecedented means for reaching the masses with this message of spiritual revolution.
From his earliest broadcasts to his last, Goebbels returned to a theme that reflected 'reactionary modernism'.
In November 1933, he first celebrated a “steely romanticism” (stählerne Romantik) that had “made German life worth living again.”
This new 'romanticism' did not hide from the “hardness of being”, or dream of escape into the past.
Instead it “heroically” faced up to the problems of modern times, and moved toward the world of  the future.
Goebbels often discussed the meaning of 'stählernde Romantik', and his speeches were reprinted in 'Deutsche Technik' (German Technology), a monthly journal published from 1933 to 1942.
One particularly graphic example appeared in the February 1939 issue of this journal. 
The cover shows Goebbels delivering a speech, a Volkswagen on one side, Hitler on the other.
The following passage indicates Goebbels’s skill at administering a cultural tradition - what was later referred to as the bureaucratic dispensation of the revolt of nature: 
"We live in an era of technology.
The racing tempo of our century affects all areas of our life.
There is scarcely an endeavor that can escape its powerful influence.
Therefore, the danger unquestionably arises that modern technology will make men soulless.
National Socialism never rejected or struggled against technology.
Rather, one of its main tasks was to consciously affirm it, to fill it inwardly with soul, to discipline it and to place it in the service of our people and their cultural level. 
National Socialist public statements used to refer to the steely romanticism of our century.
Today this phrase has attained its full meaning.
We live in an age that is both romantic and steel-like, that has not lost its depth of feeling.
On the contrary, it has discovered a new romanticism in the results of modern inventions and technology.
While bourgeois reaction was alien to and filled with incomprehension, if not outright hostility to technology, and while modern skeptics believed the deepest roots of the collapse of European culture lay in it, National Socialism understood how to take the soulless framework of technology and fill it with the rhythm and hot impulses of our time.
This is a remarkable condensation of 'reactionary modernist' themes.
Over and over again, Goebbels claimed that the cultural crisis German conservatism had feared had been “overcome” by National Socialism.
Filling technology with 'soul' was a practical matter as well.
The Volkswagen meant that now modern technology was accessible to the masses, and accessible in a way that spread the “rhythm and hot impulses of our time.
Hitler was an enthusiast of modernism and technical advance.
The reception of National Socialism among German members of the legal and medical professions and engineers also appears to have been enthusiastic, as indicated by the results of student elections at German technical universities in 1933. 
About 41 percent of the 10,000 students at the technical universities voted for the Nazis in student elections compared 48 percent of the 37,000 students at the non-technical universities.
Beyond the campuses, approximately 300,000 people were classified as engineers in 1933, including Germany’s 36,000 architects and 31,000 chemists.
Of this total, around 7,000 belonged to the NSDAP.
In January 1933, party membership stood at 720,000 (of a population of 32 million). 
Hence, about the same proportion of German engineers was drawn to membership in the NSDAP as German citizens generally, but less so than white-collar workers and independent professionals.
After 1933, the number of engineers in the NSDAP doubled, but the increase in the other middle-class professions was even greater (about 230 percent).
Only 13.1 percent of the leadership positions in the mid-1930s were held by engineers, compared to 56 percent for lawyers, and 15.5 percent for doctors.
Since their inception, the national engineering associations in Germany had bemoaned their lack of political influence and social prestige relative to the non-technical middle-class professions.
Both the Verein Deutscher Ingenieure(Association of German Engineers, VDI) and the cultural politicians publishing 'Technik und und Kultur' (Technology and Culture) called for a national office of planning for technical development, a 'Staatstechnik', which would coordinate state, industry, and engineering in the interests of the national community.
The overall leadership of the new regime’s efforts at “coordination” (Gleichschaltung) lay with Robert Ley, the director of the  Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF - (German Labor Front), whereas Feder directed the activities of the Reichsbund deutscher Techniker(RDT).

Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF
Robert Ley
Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF - (German Labour Front) was the National Socialist trade union organization which replaced the various trade unions of the Weimar Republic after Adolf Hitler's rise to power. Its leader was Robert Ley, who stated its aim as 'to create a true social and productive community' (Smelster, 1988). The DAF existed to act as a medium through which workers and owners could mutually represent their interests. Wages were set by the 12 DAF trustees. The employees were given relatively high set wages, security of work, dismissal was increasingly made difficult, social security programmes were made mandatory by the Arbeitsfront, leisure programmes were instituted, canteens, pauses and regular working times were established, and therefore generally the German workers were satisfied by what the DAF gave them in repaying for their absolute loyalty.
Employment contracts created under the Weimar Republic were abolished and renewed under new circumstances in the DAF. Employers could demand more of their workers, while at the same time workers were given increased security of work and increasingly enrolled into social security programmes for workers. The organisation, by its own definition, combated capitalism and liberalism, The DAF prefered to have large companies nationalised by the German state, instead of privately owned companies.

Fritz Lang
Interestingly, the conclusion of Fritz Lang's film 'Metropolis' can be seen as a precursor one of the main concepts underlying the activity of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront with regard to the reconciliation of the interests of the employers and the workers in the German economy. 

The main themes of 'Metropolis' culminate in the final scene on the cathedral steps, where Freder fulfills his role as mediator ("heart"), linking the hands of Fredersen (the city's "head") and Grot (its "hands"), to bring them together.
In this way Hitler, through the Deutsche Arbeitsfront can be seen as bringing all social classes together in a united purpose as part of the Völksgemeinschaft (community of the people).

Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang (December 5, 1890 – August 2, 1976) was a Austrian filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. His most famous films include the groundbreaking 'Metropolis' and 'Die Nibelungen'. Lang was born in Vienna as the second son of Anton Lang(1860–1940),[9] an architect and construction company manager, and his wife Pauline "Paula" Lang née Schlesinger (1864–1920). After finishing school, Lang briefly attended the Technical University of Vienna, where he studied civil engineering and eventually switched to art. In 1910 he left Vienna, traveling throughout Europe and Africa and later Asia and the Pacific area. In 1913, he studied painting in Paris, France. At the outbreak of World War I, Lang returned to Vienna and volunteered for military service in the Austrian army and fought in Russia and Romania, where he was wounded three times. While recovering from his injuries and shell shock in 1916, he wrote some scenarios and ideas for films.

Not surprisingly, Dr Joseph Goebbels was impressed - and took the film's message to heart.
In a 1928 speech he declared that:
"the political bourgeoisie is about to leave the stage of history. In its place advance the oppressed producers of the head and hand, the forces of Labor, to begin their historical mission".


One of the most interesting examples of the amalgamation of 'Modernism' and 'Tradition' was created by the Hauptamt für Technik was the 'Reichsschule der deutschen Technik' (The Reich School of German Technology - NSBDT) on the Plassenburg in Kulmbach, in the Gau Bayerische Ostmark.
The institution was founded by Fritz Todt.
A key task of the Reichsschule der deutschen Technik' was to introduce various disciplines of engineering into the mindset of students so that major construction projects could be tackled 'holistically' - and extremely modern concept in itself.
Significantly, rather that construct a new, modernistic building to house the Reichsschule, the architect Siegfried Schmelcher extensively remodeled and refurbished the medieval castle of Plass.
In 1939, Todt was elected chairman of the VDI.
German engineers, including Todt, subordinated their knowledge of technical realities to the demands of National Socialist ideology.
In the first issue of Deutsche Technik, published in September 1933, Todt wrote that the new “technopolitical journal” would make “German technology into a pillar of the total state” and place technology’s “cultural and spiritual outlook on the foundation of a pure National Socialist world view.”
Todt was able to speak in terms similar to the aesthetic and philosophical themes of the engineers’ traditions.
For example, the construction of the national highway system would be based on a unified plan, in sharp contrast to the chaos of the Weimar system.
It flowed from a unified 'Geist' (spiirit), and represented an 'artistic' effort to give proper form to the German landscape.
Germany’s highways were to be far more than an engineering feat; they must be “an expression of the German essence.”
Todt argued that the “decisive” fact of the era for German engineers was that National Socialism was liberating technology from the “material bonds” that had restricted it for the last half century.
Here were both an opportunity and a necessity for “total engagement” by engineers in the nationalist revival.
Todt argued that now politics, not economics, was in command.
Aesthetic criteria were displacing the profit motive, and the National Socialists were demonstrating that technology did not consist of dead matter, but of “soulful cultural works” that grew organically from the Volk.
Todt also stated  that there was a specifically National Socialist conception of technology that elevated creativity over materialist considerations.
Building the “highways bound to the land” (landschaftsverbundene Strassen) and saving the German soul were mutually reinforcing projects.
Todt’s message was clear:
'The new highways posed no threat to the German Volk.
On the contrary, they promised to restore the nation’s lost unity'.
Among the accomplishments of the Third Reich regarding technology were a “victory over the elementary,” “overcoming” the threat of Americanization, balancing city and country, and bringing to the surface a uniquely German “surrender” to technology.
The National Socialist propagandists were administrators of already existing traditions.
But they were distinct within the panoply of German nationalism for the emphasis they placed on eugenics, and the 'biological foundations' they gave to German technological advance.
They wrote that the Nordic Race had peculiar technical and scientific abilities.
Had Germany only been a nation of poets, philosophers, and artists, it would be defenseless.
Fortunately for the Germans, the Nordic race had a distinctive urge to dominate nature.
Unlike the Americans, or the Jewish-Bolsheviks, the National Socialists was built on German 'racial'  foundations to ward off the threats from both capitalism and socialism.
For the National Socialists, flying in an airplane, driving in a car, the thunder of the elevated railway, the glowing stream of flowing iron in the ghostly night filled with steel ovens - all of these thing are incomparably more 'romantic' than anything previous romantics could imagine.
In this way, Goebbels’s 'steel-like romanticism' was directed against those elements of the romantic tradition that supported a reconciliation with or return to nature.
There were only two alternatives for the reactionary modernists: effeminate and cowardly escape into the non-Aryan or pastoral past, or masculine and courageous flight into the German world of the future.


There were other surprisingly 'modern' aspects to National Socialism that were displayed during its brief period in power during the 1930s and 1940s.
During this period one of the most expensive and effective tobacco movements in history.
While during the 1930s and 1940s, other anti-tobacco movements failed fantastically in other countries, it was taken very seriously in the Third Reich.
Smoking was banned in restaurants and public transportation systems, citing public health, and the government severely regulated the advertising of smoking and cigarettes.
There was also a high tobacco tax, and the supplies of cigarettes to the Wehrmacht were rationed.
Several health organizations in Nazi Germany even began claiming that smoking heightened the risks of miscarriages by pregnant women, now a commonly known fact.
The statistics of annual cigarette consumption per capita as of 1940 had Germany at only 749, while Americans smoked over 3,000.

Heinrich Himmler
In 1939, the NSDAP outlawed smoking in all of its offices premises, and Heinrich Himmler, the then Reichsführer-SS, restricted police personnel and SS officers from smoking while they were on duty.
Smoking was also outlawed in schools and the Hitler Youth (Hitler Jugend).
National Socialism was also a world leader in matters of ecology and, in fact, far ahead of any country even now, in the twenty-first century.
According to Hitler is was essential to ascertain “the eternal laws of nature’s processes” (which could only be achieved by occult means) and to organize society to correspond to them.
In the National Socialist world view ecological themes were linked with traditional agrarianism , and hostility to urban civilization, all revolving around the idea of rootedness in nature.
Hitler discussed, in detail, various renewable energy sources (including environmentally appropriate hydro-power and producing natural gas from sludge) as alternatives to coal, and declaring “water, winds and tides” as the energy path of the future.
The two men principally responsible for sustaining this environmentalist commitment in the midst of intensive industrialization were Reichsminister Fritz Todt and his aide, the high-level planner and engineer Alwin Seifert, whom Todt had called a “fanatical ecologist.”

Reichsminister Fritz Todt
Fritz Todt was “one of the most influential National Socialists,” directly responsible for questions of technological and industrial policy.
At his death in 1942 he headed three different cabinet-level ministries in addition to the enormous quasi-official 'Organisation Todt', and had “gathered the major technical tasks of the Reich into his own hands.”

Albert Speer
According to his successor, Albert Speer, Todt “loved Nature”, and another source calls him simply “an ecologist.”
This reputation is based chiefly on Todt’s efforts to make Autobahn construction - one of the largest building enterprises undertaken in this century - as environmentally sensitive as possible.
Todt demanded of the completed work of technology a harmony with Nature and with the landscape, thereby fulfilling modern ecological principles of engineering as well as the ‘organological’ principles of his own era along with their roots in völkisch ideology.
The National Socialiists stressed the importance of wilderness, and energetically opposed mono-culture, wetlands drainage and chemicalized agriculture.
They also “called for an agricultural revolution towards ‘a more peasant-like, natural, simple’ method of farming, ‘independent of capital’.
With such a technological policy, the National Socialists’ massive and modern industrial build-up took on a distinctively ecological quality.
The prominence of Nature in the party’s philosophical background helped ensure that more radical initiatives often received a sympathetic hearing in the highest offices of the National Socialist state.

Dr Fritz Todt
In the mid-thirties Todt vigorously pushed for an all-encompassing Reich Law for the protection of 'die Erde' (the Earth) “in order to stem the steady loss of this irreplaceable basis of all life.” 
Also in 1933, the concerns of the NSDAP were not only laid with the people, but with the animals native to Germany.
In 1934, a national hunting law was passed to regulate how many animals could be killed per year, and to establish proper ‘hunting seasons’.
These hunting laws have now been applied in most western countries
This law was known as 'Das Reichsjagdgesetz', (Reich Hunting Law).
The Reichstag also footed the bill for education on animal conservation at Primary, Secondary and College levels
Additionally, in 1935, another law was passed, the Reichsnaturschutzgesetz (Reich Nature Protection Act).
This law placed several native species on a protection list including the wolf, and Eurasian lynx. Additions were added later as to afforestation, and the humane slaughter of living fish
Without this law it is likely some species would have completely disappeared from Germany’s forests.

Schönheit der Arbeit
Several nationwide programs were also initiated to benefit the ordinary German worker.
The first, Schönheit der Arbeit (Beauty of Labour), was created in 1934 to enhance the concept of a comfortable and pleasant work-space for the German worker.
In the following year this ordinance was followed up by a ‘Reich Nature Protection Law’ to ensure the worker could walk through parks in complete safety.
Also, laws were enacted to control air pollution.
Nothing could be more wrong than to suppose that most of the leading National Socialist ideologues had cynically feigned a hostility to urban culture, without any inner conviction, and for merely electoral and propaganda purposes, in order to hoodwink the public.
In reality, the majority of the leading National Socialist ideologists were without any doubt more or less inclined to agrarianism and anti-urbanism, and convinced of the need for a relative re-agrarianization.
The ecologists of the NSDAP was not a group of innocents, confused and manipulated idealists, or reformers from within; they were conscious promoters and executors of a program dedicated to the conservation of nature in accordance with “the eternal laws of nature’s processes.
It is frequently suggested, however, that the agrarian and ecological currents in National Socialist ideology and policy were in supposed constant tension with, if not in flat contradiction to, the technocratic-industrialist thrust of the Third Reich’s rapid modernization.
What is not often remarked (what is, again intentionally suppressed) is that even these modernizing tendencies had a significant ecological component.
Industry was brought into balance with 'natural law'
Here was National Socialist modernism at work.

For National Socialism the technical age was seen as a practical necessity, but was not celebrated in a 'technical style'; - people had to fulfill their function, but relaxation and distraction were granted; and certain aspects of culture were consciously employed as an escape from a certain aspects of material reality.
In this respect, the National Socialists arrived at a more sustainable lifestyle within 'modern' reality than the supposedly 'pure modernists'.
In their openness to compromise in all but their core beliefs National Socialists accepted that the demands of the modern functional age were only bearable if allowance was made for some traditional values and culture.
National Socialism was immensely popular and politically successful because it acknowledged and tolerated different forces and desires in human beings, thereby avoiding purist extremes.
The National Socialists' world-view (with their trust in the positive potential of a pure Nordic race), therefore, allowed them to absorb pragmatically a whole variety of impulses of the time, and thereby integrate different important social groups.
National Socialism cannot be understood as 'anti-modern', because it made full use of technology  an modernist insights.
It is simply not strange or paradoxical to reject certain aspects of 'modernism', and embrace other aspects of 'modernism', including technology at the same time, and it must be understood that National Socialism does not have just one cultural root.
It is in many ways an eclectic philosophy, drawing on many different traditions, and reacting pragmatically to the circumstances.
As its attitude towards technology is mainly pragmatic, and it could take many different forms.
Thus National Socialism can be seen as the optimum position with regard to the apparently antagonistic positions of 'modernity' and tradition.
As such it was able to make use of tradition, occultism and modernism, transforming these aspects in many ways, and eventually dynamically projecting this new synthesis into the future.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
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