What kind of people are born leaders

The new man

Sabine A. Haring

To person

is a sociologist and historian and associate professor at the Institute for Sociology at the Karl-Franzens-University Graz. [email protected]

In lectures that he gave in Germany in 1932, the writer Franz Werfel sketched the image of a typical man from the street, a contemporary who was shaken by the World War and desperate for reason and science. This man has two sons who, striving from their ego, passionately submit to a higher order: one to communism and the other to national socialism. Both movements, sometimes referred to as "political religions", offered a worldview that was ultimately incompatible with other conceptions, including the existing religious traditions, and claimed the place that traditional religion had occupied in the past. In addition to adopting "religious content" (dogma, apocalypse and eschatology, messianism), both movements fulfilled certain functions of traditional religions for both society and the individual.

Last but not least, "political religions" took over the search from the Christian religions after this and the construction of New people. Based on Helmuth Plessner, Max Scheler and Arnold Gehlen, the German theologian, religious and cultural sociologist Gottfried Küenzlen points out that, as a decisive prerequisite for any form of religion, the anthropological concern for self-transcendence opens up the possibility for people to "after being new to ask himself ". [2] Among the various answers to questions about the reason for the "existence contingencies", the search for the New Man is a possible strategy for relieving the burden and finally releasing it from insecurity and powerlessness. The new life can only come after death - for example in a realm of the dead - or already in this world through new birth and rebirth - such as in reincarnation ideas or in the shamanistic experience of being born again. [3] In the course of the process of secularization, the concept of the New Man was transformed. Its realization is no longer postponed to the hereafter and attributed to the will and grace of God. The New Man, now constructed by humanity itself, should arise in this world as an earthly being. The longing for the New Man embedded in the "restless, passionate search for great, definitive ways out, solutions and world designs, carried by the most daring fantasies" was a "theme of the times" [4] around 1900 and "one of the great figures of thought", which "found itself among numerous representatives of the intellectual avant-garde of that time in Germany as well as in the tsarist empire". [5] The search for the New Man can be interpreted as a reaction to the crisis of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which many contemporaries felt as a deeply felt crisis.

The New Man in National Socialism

At the beginning of the 20th century, the longing for "true" community and holistic people, the search for direct, "authentic" experience and adventure as well as youthful autonomy and the desire to prove themselves and take on responsibility united many young people in Germany and separated it from the generation of the parents. [6] In the groupings that belong to the German youth movement and are very different in terms of motives as well as ideological and political orientations, a number of similarities can also be identified: Life, understood when the "impetuous" and "outbursts" were - not infrequently one referred to here Friedrich Nietzsche - on the central message that had to be defended against bourgeois conventions, usefulness and rationalism. [7] "Nature" was not only juxtaposed with the city as a place of escape and relaxation, but, as Küenzlen explains, became "a healing category in religious exaltation"; Youth, on the other hand, became the "hope category", which was ascribed the vitality and strength to create a new person. It is precisely the religious dimension of the various currents of the youth movement that is characteristic of them and is evident in their central content: in the "discovery of the body, the meaning of community, the group, the covenant, the people, the idea of ​​the 'leader', the Emphasis on moral principles (inner truthfulness, devotion, will to truth, sense of duty, etc.) ". [8] In the first phase, to which the movements of the wandering bird and free German are counted, ethnic tendencies were rather the exception, while in the second, in the Bundische phase from 1923, the social organization of the movements was more tightly and militarily reshaped: "The loose, more informal ties geared towards interpersonal relationships in the Wandervogelhorde are followed by more solid, more militaristic group forms. "[9] In some cases, the goals of the Bündische Jugend coincided with those of the Hitler Youth: Both thought" folkish "; "Leader", "Followers" and "Volksgemeinschaft" were their guiding concepts.

The creation of a New Man was ultimately also a part of the National Socialist doctrine of the all-encompassing "renewal", [10] with the Führer symbolizing the New Man in its purest form as a "always present and at the same time remote example". The following elements relevant to the creation of the New Man can be derived from Hitler's basic racist assumptions: first the socio-biological differentiation of people according to their alleged "racial" origin and value into "valuable" and "inferior" people, each with a different claim to life; Secondly the fiction of a "pure-bred and hereditary biologically healthy national community" as the highest value and purpose of the state; third the idea of ​​a people's order based on the leader-allegiance principle; and fourth the claim of the "master people" to "living space". National Socialist educational principles and principles such as the "preservation, care and development of the best racial elements", their "breeding" into valuable members "for later reproduction" and the "reassessment of the relationship between mental, physical and character education" were based on this. 12]

Already in "Mein Kampf" Hitler laid down the principles for sports and history lessons and orientation towards the army as the "highest school of patriotic education". The inevitable prerequisite for "becoming new" was "racial health" or "blood purity". [13] Closely connected with this was physical health, which Hitler gave top priority in the context of education. Character education, on the other hand, was accorded a higher value than scientific education. The state after-school education was to culminate in military training for the male youth. [14] The "re-education" or "formation education" should primarily take place through "constant mobilization and reproduction of party and later regime-conform attitudes and their control. Hitler skillfully separated the necessary forms of expression and interaction (parades, demonstrations, rituals)." from different social areas (military, labor movement, church, advertising) from the content traditionally assigned to them 'and made them available' for agitation for the expected Third Reich and thus for the emotional consumption of feelings of longing and fantasies of omnipotence '. (...) This pattern later served as a model for all other organizations with a (re) education entitlement, in particular for the Hitler Youth (HJ), Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) and Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD), whereby (...) camps and columns represented the adequate means of the Nazification process . "[15]

For the purpose of creating the New Man, individual life should be organized from cradle to grave. The first step on this path was the "effective" socialization of the children and young people. In matters of education, the "Third Reich" claimed sole representation. The older children and adolescents were in the Association of the Young People (this included the 10 to 14 year olds, the so-called Pimpfe), in the Association of Young Girls (10 to 14 year olds), in the BDM and in the HJ with National Socialist content familiarized and educated for physical exercise, which was already of a paramilitary character among the young people: "The community of beliefs should become a 'formation'." [16]

In 1928 Baldur von Schirach was appointed Reich Leader of the NS Student Union, in 1931 Reich Youth Leader of the NSDAP and finally in 1933 "Youth Leader of the German Reich". Schirach's interest in young people, however, arose not only from a power-political calculation, but for the Reichsjugendführer the National Socialist movement symbolized a "new beginning" by sweeping away the old order. For Schirach, youth was a value in itself: for him, the vital youth becomes messianically the bearer of a mission, the decisive actors of the near future, who came "too late" for the last war, but are now in a " mystical fellowship with those who died in the World War ". [17]

In 1936, Schirach wanted to give Hitler an entire year for his birthday: all ten-year-olds were to join the Jungvolk or the Jungmädelbund on April 20. With the help of extensive advertising and propaganda activities on the radio, in cinemas, in schools and at sporting events, Schirach was able to win around 90 percent of the year for the youth organizations. In 1939 compulsory membership in the "State Youth" was finally introduced; Even before that, the Hitler Youth, which determined every free minute of the young people, had become the most important educational institution alongside school and home. Sports, singing, extended trips and tent camps, home evenings where the children were trained "ideologically", Reich sports competitions and much more took place within the framework of the Hitler Youth, the special units in early 1939 - for example the Navy Hitler Youth, the Motor Hitler Youth, the Airmen -HJ and the news-HJ - formed. The girls were also committed to the "training of body and mind" because they in particular were responsible for "keeping the blood clean as part of the national blood stock". Accordingly, they had to "develop their physical faculties in such a way that the genetic material they passed on would enrich the nation". The New Man should be "healthy, strong, strong, if possible blond (...) and of course Aryan". [18] The National Socialist youth were thus surrounded by a network of organizations that they should integrate into the collective, prevent the development of individual identities and ultimately "bring them into line".