The fundamental objective of transforming an “ordinary human” into an Übermensch is to radically increase the efficiency of the individual in question. In other words, to make this individual to utilize (realize) his or her potential to the maximum extent possible.
To achieve this (quite noble, actually) objective, Nazis used the following tools and methods:
- Omnipresent and powerful Nazi propaganda – radio, movies, newspapers, magazines, posters, etc.
- Emotional motivation – which is different from propaganda. The latter is universal while the former is specific to an individual (or a small group of individuals)
- Highly efficient system of education, training and indoctrination – in Hitler Youth, BDM, NSDAP, SS, Wehrmacht, etc.
However, these tools and methods were mostly short-term. The long-term solution to the “Übermenschen problem” (i.e. to the problem of transforming the “regular folk” into Übermenschen) was to be based on eugenics.
Nazis religiously believed (in this aspect national-socialism was, indeed, a religion) that the “Übermensch transformation” was not a daring quantum leap into the future, but a return to the glorious past.
They believed that initially, the German (Nordic/Aryan) race was a 100% Übermenschen; however, the Aryans committed the ultimate sin by interbreeding with members of “inferior races”. Which polluted their blood, minds and souls and resulted in gradual loss of superhuman abilities (thus transforming Übermenschen into “ordinary humans”).
Nazis (incorrectly) believed that to restore these capabilities (and thus to transform “ordinary folks” back into Übermenschen) they must restore the “purity of Aryan blood” via creative eugenics (“selective breeding”) process and ruthless “racial hygiene”.
Which was fundamentally scientifically wrong.
Nazi obsession with Lebensraum was based to a very significant extent on their firm commitment to make sure that the horrors of the Blockade of Germany and of the hunger of 1917-19 never happen again. However, it was their short-term objective (and drive).
And there was also a long-term objective and drive. Nazi viewed German women as essentially breeding machines. Which would have inevitably resulted in an explosive – and permanent – population growth (that fulfilled God’s commandment stated in Genesis 1:28 – “be fruitful and multiply”).
Which – in turn – will sooner or later require physical expansion of German territories via military conquest and colonization (with inevitable cleansing of these territories of the native population).
Successful military conquest obviously required a military victory over not-always-weak opponent. And to achieve this victory in every war (and permanent territorial expansion meant essentially permanent war), Nazi Germany needed an “absolute weapon” (i.e. a weapon that will give the German Wehrmacht a decisive advantage over every opponent).
Wehrmacht did have one such weapon. The blitzkrieg – a revolutionary method of land warfare that allowed Nazi Germany to defeat and conquer Poland, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Albania, Yugoslavia, Greece, Denmark and Norway.
And – had Adolf Hitler not committed catastrophic strategic blunders – would have led to the defeat of the Soviet Union (i.e., to a successful execution of Operation Barbarossa).
However, the blitzkrieg was totally useless against the enemy protected by a wide stretch of water (i.e. Great Britain, the USA, Canada, etc.). Or even colonial British troops in North Africa as it turned out.
War with these enemies (and with the Soviet Union on the Eastern front after the failure of blitzkrieg) was inevitably a war of attrition. To win this war, totally different weapons were needed.
The purely military weapons that Nazi Germany needed to win the war on attrition and achieve world supremacy were obvious: a nuclear bomb; its carriers (intercontinental high-altitude jet bombers and later nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles) and a mighty surface-to-air missile (e.g. Enzian-class).
However, to win this war and to achieve world supremacy (and quite possibly to develop the abovementioned weapons), the Third Reich needed another powerful weapon – the Übermensch himself.
It is well-known that just about all human beings (“Menschen”) discover and realize 10% or even less of their potential – thus falling far short of self-actualization (let alone self-transcendence). And thus do not achieve genuine happiness.
An Übermensch – by definition – discovers and realizes 80-90% (i.e. just about all) of his or her productive and creative potential. Which allows him (or her) to make far better decisions and implement them in a far more efficient way than the “regular folks” can ever do.
Thus all but guaranteeing both the victory in every possible kind of war with every possible kind of component and a highly efficient management of conquered and colonized territories.
The only question is how to transform “regular Germans” into Übermenschen.
One of the most spectacular (if not the most spectacular) Nazi rituals were, obviously, their nighttime torch marches. Thousands of SA and SS members were marching at night in choreographed formation carrying lit torches, sometimes forming a massive human swastika and always creating a mesmerizing spectacle.
Like the swastika symbol itself, torchlight parades were used by the Nazis to project their power (and the personal power of Adolf Hitler), provide Germans with vital emotional and spiritual nutrition, instill in them loyalty and obedience to the Nazi regime and its Führer and inspire them to make the maximum possible contribution to the victory in the existential war.
Only this time they added to the power of the swastika symbol the immense mystical and magical power of the flame unleashed by torchlight marches. This power allowed Nazis (or so they thought) to establish a mystical spiritual connection with their ancestors – an ancient German race (and even pre-historical Aryan race).
Hitler himself was infatuated with the torch – he described racial purity as ‘the fuel for the torch of human culture’. Which in reality was not the case at all – the human culture was created by a mixture of races, not by a “racially pure” nation.
Interestingly enough, the most famous contemporary torch event – the Olympic torch relay used to literally spark the Opening Games – was a modern reinvention from the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. The Nazi reinvention.
The Nuremberg Rally was a periodic massive Nazi Party congresses held in 1923, 1927, 1929 and annually from 1933 through 1938 in Nürnberg (Nuremberg) in Bavaria. For obvious reasons, no rallies were held after the outbreak of World War II in 1939. As rallies were held in September (near the time of the Autumnal equinox), the 1939 rally was canceled.
The rallies were primarily powerful (very powerful, actually) propaganda events, carefully staged to reinforce party enthusiasm and to showcase the power of National Socialism to the rest of Germany and the world.
After 1933, rallies were held at specially constructed Nazi party rally grounds that covered about 11 square kilometers in the southeast of Nuremberg. Many documentaries were made to commemorate them, the most famous of which is Leni Riefenstahl’s The Victory of Faith and Triumph of the Will (which became a very powerful propaganda tool in itself).
The Victory of Faith was the first propaganda documentary directed by Leni Riefenstahl. Her film recounts the Fifth Party Rally of the Nazi Party, which occurred in Nuremberg from 30 August to 3 September 1933.
The documentary showed Adolf Hitler and Ernst Röhm on close and intimate terms – something that after the latter was shot on the orders of the former, Adolf Hitler did not want to be reminded about. So all known copies of the film were destroyed, and it was considered lost until a copy turned up in the 1990s in the United Kingdom.
The elements that marked all rallies were powerful and imposing: blaring Wagnerian overtures, stirring martial songs, banners, goose-step marches, human swastika formations, torchlight processions, bonfires, and magnificent fireworks displays.
Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders delivered lengthy orations, which often announcements of new Nazi directions. For example, in 1935 the racist Nürnberg Laws were promulgated at the corresponding rallies.
Buildings were festooned with enormous flags and Nazi insignia. The climax of the rallies was the solemn consecration of the colors, in which new flags were touched by the Blutfahne (“Blood Flag”).
Nuremberg rallies were very efficient tools for energizing the entire nation, uniting it around the Nazi Party and its Führer, instilling loyalty and obedience to Nazi regime (and personally Adolf Hitler), admiration and adoration of The Führer and providing powerful inspiration to make the maximum possible contribution to the victory in existential war against the “alien races”.
You can tell a lot about the civilization by the holidays it celebrates. From this perspective, Nazi Germany was a highly eclectic civilization (to put it mildly).
Obviously, the Third Reich celebrated unique Nazi holidays that were used by its propaganda machine to instill in German citizens loyalty and obedience to the Nazi regime (and personally to Adolf Hitler), love and gratitude to “all of the above” and inspire Germans to make the maximum contribution to victory in the existential war.
Actually, Nazis tried (more or less successfully) use all holidays as tools for public indoctrination in the ideas of national-socialism. Thus, celebrations of major national holidays were supervised by Reich Propaganda Ministry, and were usually accompanied by mass meetings, parades, speeches and radio broadcasts.
Nazis celebrated Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor of Germany (January 30), the announcement of the Party program in 1920 (24 February), Hitler’s birthday (20 April) and the Memorial Day for the martyrs of the Nazi movement (9 November). As many Nazis (including Adolf Hitler) were Great War veterans, it is no surprise that they continued to celebrate Heroes’ Memorial Day (16 March or Sunday before 16 March).
Despite becoming the Nazi Germany, the country still remained heavily (and fundamentally) Christian. And Nazis have signed concordats with both Catholic and Protestant Churches. Consequently, they continued to celebrate Catholic holidays: Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Monday; Christmas; St. Stephen’s Day (next day after Christmas); Christ Ascension Day; Mothering Sunday; and the Pentecost Day.
Regions with predominantly Catholic population (Bavaria, Paderborn, etc.) celebrated the Corpus Christi holiday; regions with predominantly Protestant population celebrated Reformation Day and Day of Repentance and Prayer.
However, the Third Reich celebrated decidedly pagan holidays as well – Harvest Festival (Reich Harvest Thanksgiving Festival) – festival of German peasantry and farmers as well as Summer and Winter Solistices.
Nazi Germany was a national-socialist state so it is no surprise that the National Labour Day (1 May) was celebrated big time. And, of course, the long list of Nazi Holidays included the New Year.
The Beer Hall Putsch was the first (and unsuccessful) attempt by the Nazis to seize political power in Germany (in Bavaria, actually). About two thousand Nazis marched to the center of Munich, where they were confronted by the city police which promptly and unceremoniously opened fire.
The resulting brief gunfight resulted in the death of sixteen Nazis and four police officers (Nazis had guns, too and no less promptly returned fire). The subsequent trial transformed Adolf Hitler into a nationwide celebrity and became an important stepping stone on his road to an absolute power in Germany.
So he (and the whole Nazi Party) had every reason in the world to be grateful to his fallen comrades. Consequently, there is no surprise that he listed their names on the very first page of his Mein Kampf (that he wrote while serving the jail sentence for his role in the failed coup).
Shortly after he came to power, a memorial was placed at the south side of the Feldherrnhalle crowned with a swastika. The back of the memorial read Und ihr habt doch gesiegt! (And you triumphed nevertheless!). Which was, in fact, true.
Behind it flowers were laid, and either policemen or the SS stood guard in between a lower plaque. Passers-by were required to give the Hitler salute.
Der neunte Elfte (9/11, literally the Ninth of the Eleventh) became one of the most important dates on the Nazi calendar, especially following their seizure of power in 1933. Annually until the fall of Nazi Germany, the putsch would be commemorated nationwide, with the major events taking place in Munich.
On the night of 8 November, Hitler would address the Alte Kämpfer (Old Fighters) in the Bürgerbräukeller, followed the next day by a re-enactment of the march through the streets of Munich. The event would climax with a ceremony recalling the sixteen dead marchers (regarded as the first Nazi casualties in the existential war) on the Königsplatz.
Not surprisingly, the victorious allies destroyed the Nazi Feldherrnhalle memorial. In 1994, a very different commemorative plaque was placed on the pavement in front of the Feldherrnhalle.
It contains the names of the four Bavarian policemen who died in the fight against the Nazis. The plaque reads:
“To the members of the Bavarian Police, who gave their lives opposing the National Socialist coup on 9 November 1923”