The Iconography and Icons of the Nazi Religion – Antagonists to Family Values  1

Books and films. 4

Literature. 4

Sculpture. 5

Oratory. 7

Architecture. 9

The Iconography and Icons of the Nazi Religion – Antagonists to Family Values


“I do not want an intellectual education. I want young people who will grow up to frighten the world... violent, dominant, cruel youth who must be able to suffer pain. Nothing tender and weak must be left in them.” Adolf Hitler (the footage reproduced on the 2006 documentary DVD “The Hitler Youth.”)       


The regime sought to make ideas, such as this, part of the “National Socialist aesthetics,” art, theater, literature and film, and there was no lack of talent to be exploited, such as Leni Riefenstahl, the movie actress, director and film-maker who was given by the regime unlimited funding, and unlimited technical and human resources. Adolf Hitler was a great admirer of Riefenstahl and in 1933 appointed her the film executive of the Nazi Party. She made a series of films that reflected fascist ideology. This included Reichsparteitag 1935), a film of a party conference. In her documentary “Triumph of the Will” (1935) she used over 35 cameramen to glorify Hitler’s rise to power and document the Nazi Party 1934 rally at Nuremberg.


The film, in which Hitler acted as an executive director, received numerous accolades for its revolutionary approach to the use of music and cinematography, have earned recognition as one of the greatest propaganda films in history. Riefenstahl won several awards, not only in Germany but also in the United States, France, Sweden and other countries. In his final speech in the film, Hitler directly compares the Nazi party to a holy order, while Hitler himself is portrayed by the film in a messianic light, descending from the sky in an airplane with the cathedral in the background, then commanding the 800,000 of his torch-bearing storm-troopers assembled in Nurenberg in a show of a formidable force and absolute faithfulness to Hitler’s messianic power and vision. “Feminists would feel a pang at having to sacrifice the one woman who made films that everybody acknowledges to be first-rate,”[1] said Susan Sontag about the showing of the Triumph of the Will in Chicago in 1975 at a women’s film festival in Chicago, organized by feminists film-makers and critics, and financed by the Chicago Tribune. It must be noted that had such movie been shown in West Germany with its strict “Denazification” laws, the organizers would have been arrested and most likely spent some years in prison. In the US, in contrast to Germany, this Nazi film-maker is celebrated as another “brilliant” woman.


Leni Riefenstahl “Olympia” reflected the new Nazi aesthetics and Aryan body culture.  Interestingly, the post-war feminist “historians” put Riefenstahl on a pedestal as a woman genius, but somehow a “victim” of the very regime, of which she was an absolute darling and a whore. The reality does not matter to feminists, however, when it comes to an opportunity to make loud noises aggrandizing a fleuzy.  Riefenstahl’s brand of narcissistic Aryan aestheticism was even credited with discovering Nazi… eroticism, the latest fad in “progressive” S&M. You go, girrrl!  Truly, feminists say the darnest things!


Nazis provided Schools with motion picture projectors because the film media was regarded as the most effective form of propaganda for children.[2] Films created for schools were termed “military education.”[3]  Is it any wonder, then, that today’s parents whose children are baby-sat by television sets find their children brainwashed?  Is it any wonder then that the most contemporary concept of “green cars,” which defies the laws of physics by wasting energy on the fossil-mechanical-electrical-mechanical conversion, instead of direct fossil-mechanical, is embraced by the gullible American public? The brainwashed do not particularly care about laws of physics when it comes to tagging the party line. The fact remains that electrical energy consumed by the “green car” must be first produced, in most cases by burning fossil fuels. A lot of that energy is lost on the subsequent 2 extra steps of energy conversion. But who cares? America is always for the motherhood and apple strudel… err, pie, and for green energy, which creates a lot of green for the cadres of government bureaucrats. As for the laws of physics and energy conversion, “that theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true,” as Bertolt Brecht noted.


Books and films accurately depicting history, such as the events of WW-I were banned as soon as Nazis ascended to power in 1933. Thus, they banned the WW-I classic by Erich Maria Remarque, Im Westen nichts Neues (1929; All Quiet on the Western Front), and the American 1930 movie with the same title, both becoming international best-sellers as soon as they were released. The novel was the most-known and best-representative literary work dealing with World War I. In a terse style, the novel depicts the daily horrors of war and the casual amorality of survival, which was in shocking contrast to Nazi patriotic rhetoric.


Literature was to be chosen with the “German spirit” and even classics like Hamlet were denounced for “flabbiness of soul.”[4] Even fairy tales were put to propagandistic use, with Cinderella being presented as a tale of how the prince's healthy racial instincts lead him to reject the stepmother's alien blood and chose Cinderella, a racially pure maiden[5]. Biology text-books presented “scientific” eugenics and racial theories, not surprisingly many of them originated in America, “the land of the free.” Nuremberg Laws of racial and anti-Semitic segregation and prohibitions on practicing professions by Jews were presented as the cat’s meow in the development of legal thought and international jurisprudence. Nuremberg, Nurnberg and Nürnberg is the same old city, just spelled differently, the “most German of German cities.” As Nürnberg was a city rich in Germanic and imperial history and tradition, the Nazis capitalized on its reputation,  turning it into the site of a week-long Nazi September-fest, a folk festival with Party rallies, a huge week-long gathering that brought hundreds of thousands of people to the city to view the nationalistic and militaristic extravaganza, put on by the NSDAP in a show of force.


Sculpture was used, as exemplified by the works of Arno Breker, often together with architecture, as an expression of Nazi racial theories, the most common image being that of a nude male, conveying mythical athletic “proportions” of the Aryan Race on steroids, which Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Austrian-born “governator” of California would not measure up to, even in his body-building heyday.


One of Breker’s iconic “masterpieces” was, of course, “The Party and The Army,” both male figures begging to be crushed, they are so ugly (ultimately, both entities they represented were crushed, and deservedly so.) All the prerequisite Nazi imagery is here: the torch (representing the culture), the short sword of a Roman Ligonier, and the kind of an undersized pecker that a self-respecting female would never consider for sexual ful---fillment. It was decisively women voters who brought Nazis to power in 1932-33. What the hell were they thinking? As bad as the Soviet art ever got, it never fell that low, and retained its essentially humanistic nature even through the worst of Stalin’s totalitarianism. Maybe it was because “Bolshevism is a bastard-child of Christianity,” and Christianity was “proto-Bolshevism,” as Hitler keenly observed.


The incestuous relationship between the artist and the state, and how Nazis incentivized the cooperating artist is well illustrated by the following excerpt from the “Faustian Bargain: the Art in Nazi Germany”:


<<       The sums of money that poured into the Arno Breker Works were remarkable—unprecedented for a German artist. One scholar noted that the “commitments to honoraria by the GBI considering the circumstances of the time was the truly astronomical sum of RM 27,396,000”; in fact, even though this was the extent of the commissions and the accompanying budgetary allocations, the GBI paid Breker and his firm “only” about RM 9 million prior to 1945. While much of this went toward expenditures for supplies and labor, Breker took a commission of between 50 and 70 percent, according to the calculations of the GBI. Speer was known to allocate additional sums for Breker personally. One document from March 1945, which showed payments from the GBI to Breker, included RM 60,000 listed as “Gift of Reichsminister Speer.” Hitler noted in one of his late night conversations with his inner circle that Breker should have an income of at least a million marks per year, and that he would look into special tax breaks (reductions would be kept below 15 percent) so as to avoid cutting into his income. While it is not certain that Breker ever received the exemptions under consideration, extant documents show large cash payments from the dictator to the artist. Martin Bormann, for example, signed over a tax-free honorarium of RM 250,000 in April 1942. In short, there is no doubt about the wealth the artist amassed during the war. To give some perspective to these figures, an average worker earned RM 1,800 per year, a curator just over RM 4,000, and a museum director about RM 14,000.96 Breker’s grand lifestyle was reflected by his residences, which were numerous and lavish.>>[6]


Oratory: A very special place in the roster of art forms, which were especially nourished by the Third Reich was given to the oratory. In Mein Kampf, Hitler posited that it was not written matter but the spoken word that brought about changes; people would not read anything with which they disagree, but they would linger to hear a speaker, especially if eloquent.[7] Furthermore, speakers could see the reaction from the audience and could adjust accordingly, ultimately to persuade their audience. Every politician is a hypnotist; Hitler studied mass-hypnosis in his carefully rehearsed oratory. Hitler’s oratory was a major factor in his rise to power, and he despised speakers who came to read their pre-written speeches.[8] – The lesson to learn from our experience with Hitler is quite simple: Beware charismatic speakers. As Bertolt Brecht noted, “The defeats and victories of the fellows at the top often do not translate to defeats and victories for the fellows at the bottom.”


Hitler’s childhood friend August Kubizek recalled Hitler’s ability, even in his early youth, to convince his listeners to “take everything [in Hitler’s oratory] for gospel”:


<<        There is no doubt that my friend Adolf had shown a gift for oratory from his earliest youth. And he knew it. He liked to talk, and talked without pause. Sometimes when he soared too high in his fantasies I couldn't help suspecting that all this was nothing but an exercise in oratory. Then again I thought otherwise. Did I not take everything for gospel that he said? Sometimes Adolf would try out his powers of oratory on me or on others. It always stuck in my memory how, when not yet eighteen, he convinced my father that he should release me from his workshop and send me to Vienna to the Conservatory. In view of the awkward and unforthcoming nature of my father this was a considerable achievement. From the moment I had this proof of his talent ― for me so decisive ― I considered that there was nothing that Hitler could not achieve by a convincing speech.       >>


The Goebbel’s Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda would train inspirational public speakers, coaching them how to spin problems on the Eastern front, or convince people that cuts in food rations would bring about a decisive military victory for Faterland.


Architecture: Another iconic example of a Nazi aesthete was architect Albert Speer, who became Hitler’s trusted friend and confidant, who designed and constructed a number of structures, including the Reich Chancellery and the Zeppelinfeld stadium in Nürnberg, where Party rallies were held. Hitler, in his youth an aspiring artist and lover (albeit a failure at both) had aspirations in architecture, as well, and made a number of sketches for Speer. Hitler’s personal style in architecture was unique only in one aspect – grandiosity. The Führer did not embrace or endorse any File:“Give me four years’ time”.jpgone particular style, except the neoclassical baseline that was enlarged, multiplied and exaggerated to the point of absurdity.


 <<Adolf Hitler was an admirer of imperial Rome and believed that some ancient Germans had, over time, become part of its social fabric and exerted influence on it. He considered the Romans an early Aryan empire, and emulated their architecture in an original style inspired by both neoclassicism and art deco, sometimes known as "severe" deco, erecting edifices as cult sites for the Nazi Party. He also ordered construction of a type of Altar of Victory, borrowed from the Greeks, who were, according to Nazi ideology, inseminated with the seed of the Aryan peoples. At the same time, because of his admiration for the Classical cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, he could not isolate and politicize German antiquity, as Benito Mussolini had done with respect to Roman antiquity. Therefore he had to import political symbols into Germany and justify their presence on the grounds of a spurious racial ancestry, the myth that ancient Greeks were among the ancestors of the Germans - linked to the same Aryan peoples[9]>> [10] a claim absurd on its face.


 Hitler’s architectural aspirations were reflected in the German joke circa 1945: “When two like-minded Berlin citizens met after a particularly devastating [air] raid, the gag of the moment was to make a sweeping gesture to take in the devastation and repeat a A fallen soldier on the streets of Berlin. Pinned to his uniform is the Iron Cross.previous appeal made by the Fuhrer himself: ‘Give me four years and I promise you, you won't recognize your towns.’[11] {See the poster, “Gebt Mir 4 Jahre Zeit” (Give me 4 years), and the photo of the Soviet artillery soldiers on the streets of Berlin in May 1945. Note the white sheets hanging from the windows of the apartment buildings still standing.}


Under Hitler’s direction, Speer made plans to reconstruct Berlin on a grand scale, with huge buildings, wide boulevards, and a reorganized transportation system. His own father called Albert Speer’s designs insane, which did not preclude his son from making an illustrious career – he became Hitler's confidant, and Minister of Armaments and War Production.


As a Minister of War production, Albert Speer was so successful that Germany's war production continued to increase despite massive and devastating Allied bombing that pulverized factories, ports and railroad stations. He was tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in using forced labor. Except for the grandiosity of his designs, his style was the same debased 18-th century neoclassicism, which has long been the universal language of political power from Moscow and Leningrad to Paris, Washington D.C., Berlin and London. The only difference was that his creations in Berlin, including Reich Chancellery, were pulverized by allied bombings and the Red Army’s all-out ground assault in April-May of 1945.




All rights reserved ● Copyright ©  2011, Eric Ross, Ph.D.


[1] The New York Times. Feminism and Fascism: An Exchange. March 20, 1975. By Adrienne Rich; See also Fascinating Fascism, by Susan Sontag, NYT Feb-6, 1975.

[2] Anthony Rhodes, Propaganda: The art of persuasion: World War II, p21 1976, Chelsea House Publishers, New York

[3] Anthony Rhodes, Propaganda: The art of persuasion: World War II, p32 1976, Chelsea House Publishers, New York

[4] Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-45 p193 1995 University of Chicago Press Chicago

[5]  Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web; p. 77-8 ISBN 0-679-77663-X

[6] The Faustian bargain: the art world in Nazi Germany By Jonathan Petropoulos; Oxford University Press, 2000; P. 230.

[7] Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, ISBN 0-674-01172-4; p. 17 

[8] Piers Brendon, The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s, p35 ISBN 0-375-40881-9

[9] Scobie, Alexander. Hitler's State Architecture: The Impact of Classical Antiquity. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990. ISBN 0-271-00691-9.

[10] Quoted from “Nazi architecture,” an essay par excellence on Wikipedia at



[11] THE BOMBING OF GERMANY, Hans Rumpf; Holt, Rinohart and Winston, 1963.