Nazi Torch Marches

TorchOne 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 Rallies

RallyThe 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”.


The Nazi Holidays

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 Martyrs

München, Königsplatz, EhrentempelThe 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


The Nazi Martyrs: Horst Wessel

Horst WesselCult of martyrs and martyrdom is a very powerful propaganda tool. Christian philosopher, theologian and apologist wrote that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church”. Implying that the ultimate sacrifice made by Christian martyrs made a critical contribution to the ultimate triumph of Christianity (which was probably true).

Consequently, it is not surprising that the Nazis who had no shortage of martyrs due to violent (and often deadly) clashes with their political opponents, used their martyrs to the maximum possible propaganda extent.

More specifically, they used Nazi martyrs as powerful role models to inspire the Nazi Party members, soldiers and civilians to do everything possible (and even humanly impossible) to make the maximum contribution to winning the existential war that Germany (and the Nazis) were fighting. Including risking – and, if necessary, sacrificing – their very lives.

The most well-known (by far) Nazi martyr is, obviously, one Horst Wessel. A 22-year Berliner and a local SA leader (he was an SA company commander with a rank of Sturmführer – Second Lieutenant). He was also recognized as a highly effective public speaker so he undoubtedly had a stellar political career in front of him.

However, his promising career was cut short on January 14th, 1930 when he was shot in the head by two members of the Communist Party of Germany – who were no less violent than their Nazi enemies.

One of his murderers – one Albrecht “Ali” Höhler – was identified, arrested, charged with this murder and sentenced to mere six years in prison. Predictably, Nazis had other ideas about the proper punishment for him so after they came to power the SA comrades of Horst Wessel forcibly took Ali out of jail and shot him on the spot.

On 10 April 1935, five years after Wessel’s assassination, and two years after the SA murder of Höhler, two persons accused of being involved in Wessel’s killing were put on trial and subsequently beheaded in Berlin’s Plötzensee Prison.

In early 1929, Wessel wrote the lyrics for a new Nazi fight song Kampflied (“fight song”), which was first published in Goebbels’s newspaper Der Angriff in September, under the title Der Unbekannte SA-Mann (“The Unknown SA-Man”).

The song later became known as Die Fahne Hoch (“Raise the Flag”) and finally the “Horst-Wessel-Lied” (“Horst Wessel Song”). The Nazis made it their official anthem, and, after they came to power, the co-national anthem of Nazi Germany, along with the first stanza of the Deutschlandlied (“Deutschland, Deutschland über alles”).


The Blutfahne

BFNazis viewed Germany as one giant army engaged in an existential war with the “alien races”. And each organization (first and foremost, Nazi Party organization) as a military unit of this gigantic army. Consequently, it is no surprise that just about every major organization in Germany was supposed to have its own flag (banner) and even its own uniform.

The objective of each flag (emotionally and spiritually powerful symbol) was to unite the members of the organization in question (and the Germans in general), instill in them loyalty and obedience to this organization (and to the whole Nazi party, Nazi state and its Führer), genuine love for “all of the above” and inspire them to make the maximum contribution to the German victory in this existential war – by doing everything possible (and even humanly impossible).

Every flag was a sacred object, but the most sacred of these objects was undoubtedly the Blutfahne – the “Blood Flag”. This flag was carried during the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, Germany on 9 November 1923, during which it became soaked in the blood of one of the SA men who died.

The flag was that of the 5th SA Sturm (company), which was carried in the march towards the Feldherrnhalle. When the police fired on the Nazis, the flagbearer Heinrich Trambauer was hit and dropped the flag. Andreas Bauriedl, an SA man marching alongside the flag, was killed and fell onto it, staining it with his blood.

Not surprisingly, it subsequently became one of the most revered objects of the Nazi Party and of the whole Third Reich. The Blutfahne was used in ceremonies in which new flags for party organizations were consecrated by touching the Blood Flag. Given the fact that Nazis sincerely believed in essentially magical properties of the Aryan blood, it was essentially a deeply occult ceremony.

In 1926, at the second Nazi Party congress at Weimar, Hitler ceremonially bestowed the flag on Joseph Berchtold, the then head of the SS. The flag was thereafter treated as a sacred object by the Nazi Party and carried by SS-Sturmbannführer Jakob Grimminger at various Nazi Party ceremonies. When not in use, the Blutfahne was kept at the headquarters of the Nazi Party in Munich (the “Brown House”) with an SS guard of honor.

The Blutfahne was last seen in public at the Volkssturm induction ceremony on 18 October 1944. This ceremony was conducted by Heinrich Himmler and attended by Wilhelm Keitel, Heinz Guderian, Hans Lammers, Martin Bormann, Karl Fiehler, Wilhelm Schepmann and Erwin Kraus.After this last public display, the Blutfahne vanished. Its current whereabouts are unknown.


The Sad Truth about Nazi Ideology

The genuinely sad truth is that the triumph of Nazi ideology (ersatz religion) and the Nazi party in Weimar republic was inevitable. More precisely, it became inevitable after the armed robbery at Versailles.

There is a very popular misconception that the Nazis were a bunch of diehard religious (neopagan) fanatics that wanted to impose their ridiculous and murderous beliefs on German population and use the latter to achieve their diabolical objective.

In reality, it was not the case. Adolf Hitler and other Nazis were national-sociopaths. They were sociopaths all right, no doubt about that, but they were also genuine patriots. Patriots who loved their country – the Greater Germany – and the German people.

Loved pragmatically; in other words, they strived to satisfy the needs of Germans (as they perceived them) and thus to make Germany a genuinely happy nation. And sincerely believed that only their ideology (ersatz religion, actually) was capable of achieving these objectives.

And they were right. After the Versailles Treaty, aggregate needs of Germans (financial, functional, emotional and spiritual) were plain and obvious. Right (and avenge) the wrongs of the Versailles Treaty; restore the power, glory and honor of Germany; transform the defeated, robbed, humiliated, depressed nation into political, economic and military superpower; radically increase the quality of life in Germany, making it the highest in the world; make sure that the horrors of the Blockade of Germany never happen again; save Germany from the existential Bolshevist threat and thus make the German people a genuinely happy nation – the happiest nation in the world.

To achieve these objectives, it was necessary to perform a radical reengineering of Weimar Republic. And to perform a radical reengineering, you have to have a dictator. The Führer. And a highly efficient dictatorship. You can have either a democracy – or a successful radical reengineering. Never both.

At that time, NSDAP was the only party that could provide a dictator capable of leading and managing the radical reengineering of Germany. Consequently, there was no alternative to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. None whatsoever.

It is well-known that in 1919 – even before Adolf Hitler joined the DAP – there were strong and widespread messianic expectations (both by “higher” and “lower” classes). Which were perfectly natural – it was obvious that to make this quantum leap and satisfy these needs, the Germans needed the Hero. The Savior. The Messiah. The Führer.

Russia in 1919 had very similar problems – and similar needs. That could be satisfied only by Bolsheviks and Joseph Stalin (who, unfortunately, for Russians, had their own – and very different – objectives). Still, in Russia was no alternative to Bolsheviks – and no alternative to Joseph Stalin.

To perform a successful reengineering (and thus make the needed quantum leap), it was necessary to get the most (in terms of aggregate value) out of every German. To get the most of an individual in the engineering project, you must, of course have highly competent leaders and managers and highly efficient reengineering infrastructure.

But you must also provide every participant in the project with a very powerful inner drive. In other words, with the ideology that will unite the nation around the reengineering project and provide every participant with a powerful emotional and spiritual fuel.

Nazi ideology was un-scientific (a bunch of bull, actually), racist, xenophobic, hateful and outright criminal – no doubt about that. But it was also the only one that could unite the German people and provide them with the drive they needed to perform this miraculous quantum leap, achieve genuinely miraculous military victories and make no less miraculous technological breakthroughs – in the horrible conditions of 1944-45.

Let us not deceive ourselves – Germans managed to perform these miracles before and during the war because they were led by the Nazis, managed by the Nazis, lived in the totalitarian Nazi state and driven by the Nazi ideology.

And the Soviets (there were many more nations in the Soviet Union than just the Russians) managed to perform genuine miracles before and during the war because they were led by the Bolsheviks, managed by the Bolsheviks, lived in the totalitarian Bolshevik state and driven by the Bolshevik ideology (which, however, played a less significant role than the Nazi one).

The key components of Nazi ideology that made it such a powerful drive were the doctrines of (1) Aryan (i.e. German) racial superiority which made Germans feel inherently superior to other nations and, therefore, emotionally comfortable – and provided a powerful spiritual unification tool; and (2) the existential racial war that made Germans feel sufficiently threatened (and scared) to do everything possible (and even humanly impossible) to win this war.

Obviously, all of that does not make Nazi ideology “good” or “morally right” – or even “legitimate” (it was a criminal ideology); it just means that it was a highly efficient tool (the only tool, actually) for achieving very specific political, economic, social and military objectives.