Nazi Fashion Wars:
The Evolian Revolt Against Aphroditism in the Third Reich, Part 2
Part 2 of 2
Jewish Views on Jewelry and Cosmetics as Aphrodisian, Jewish Involvement in the Fashion Industry, and the Reaction of Germany
There is much archeological evidence for cosmetics and other beauty treatments in the East, particularly in Egypt and Asia. In Arab cultures, cosmetic use is traced back to ancient times, and there are no prohibitions in Islamic law against cosmetics. Though a simple use of makeup or hair dye could not be evidence of an Aphrodisian belief system, if such use is intended to limit woman’s role to the sexual realm, then we can assume there are elements of the culture that are earth-based and opposed to the Aryan solar cults.
Judaism is not historically opposed to cosmetics and jewelry, although two stories can be interpreted as negative indictments on cosmetics and too much finery: Esther rejected beauty treatments before her presentation to the Persian king, indicating that the highest beauty is pure and natural; and Jezebel, who dressed in finery and eye makeup before her death, may the root of some associations between makeup and prostitutes.
In most cases, however, Jewish views on cosmetics and jewelry tend to be positive and indicate woman’s role as sexual: “In the rabbinic culture, ornamentation, attractive dress and cosmetics are considered entirely appropriate to the woman in her ordained role of sexual partner.” In addition to daily use, cosmetics also are allowed on holidays on which work (including painting, drawing, and other arts) are forbidden; the idea is that since it is pleasurable for women to fix themselves up, it does not fall into the prohibited category of work.
In addition to the historical distinctions between cultures on cosmetics, jewelry, and fashion, the modern era has demonstrated that certain races enter industries associated with the Aphrodisian worldview more than others. Overwhelmingly, Jews are overrepresented in all of these arenas. Following World War I, the beauty and fashion industries became dominated by huge corporations, many of the Jewish-owned. Of the four cosmetics pioneers — Helena Rubenstein, Elizabeth Arden, Estée Lauder (née Mentzer), and Charles Revson (founder of Revlon) — only Elizabeth Arden was not Jewish. In addition, more than 50 percent of department stores in America today were started or run by Jews. (Click here for information about Jewish department stores and jewelers, and here for Jewish fashion designers).
Hitler was not the only one who noticed Jewish influence in fashion and thought it harmful. Already in Germany, a belief existed that Jewish women were “prone to excess and extravagance in their clothing.” In addition, Jews were accused of purposefully denigrating women by designing immoral, trashy clothing for German women. There was an economic aspect to the opposition of Jews in fashion, as many Germans thought them responsible for driving smaller, German-owned clothiers out of business. In 1933, an organization was founded to remove Jews from the Germany fashion industry. Adefa “came about not because of any orders emanating from high within the state hierarchy. Rather, it was founded and membered by persons working in the fashion industry.” According to Adefa’s figures, Jewish participation was 35 percent in men’s outerwear, hats, and accessories; 40 percent in underclothing; 55 percent in the fur industry; and 70 percent in women’s outerwear.
Although many Germans disliked the Jewish influence in beauty and fashion, it was recognized that the problem was not so much what particular foreign race was impacting German women, but that any foreign influence was shaping their lives and altering their spirit. The Nazis obviously were aware of the power of dress and beauty regimes to impact the core of woman’s self-image and being. According to Agnes Gerlach, chairwoman for the Association for German Women’s Culture:
Not only is the beauty ideal of another race physically different, but the position of a woman in another country will be different in its inclination. It depends on the race if a woman is respected as a free person or as a kept female. These basic attitudes also influence the clothes of a woman. The southern ‘showtype’ will subordinate her clothes to presentation, the Nordic ‘achievement type’ to activity. The southern ideal is the young lover; the Nordic ideal is the motherly woman. Exhibitionism leads to the deformation of the body, while being active obligates caring for the body. These hints already show what falsifying and degenerating influences emanate from a fashion born of foreign law and a foreign race.
Gerlach’s statements echo descriptions of Aphrodisian cultures entirely: Some cultures view women as a sex object, and elements of promiscuity run through all areas of women’s dress and toilette; Aryan cultures have a broader understanding of the possibilities of the female being and celebrate woman’s natural beauty.
The Introduction of Aphrodisian Elements into Germany and the Beginning of the Fashion Battles
Long before the Third Reich, Germans battled the French on the field of fashion; it was a battle between the Aphrodisian culture that had made its way to France, and the Demetrian placement of woman as a wife and mother. As early as the 1600s, German satirical picture sheets were distributed that showed the “Latin morals, manners, customs, and vanity” of the French as threatening Nordic culture in Germany. In the twentieth century, Paris was the height of high fashion, and as tensions between the two countries increased, the French increased their derogatory characterizations of German women for not being stereotypically Aphrodisian. In 1914, a Parisian comic book presented Germans as “a nation of fat, unrefined, badly dressed clowns.” And in 1917, a French depiction of “Virtuous Germania” shows her as “a fat, large-breasted, mean-looking woman, with a severe scowl on her chubby face.”
Hitler saw the French fashion conglomerate as a manifestation of the Jewish spirit, and it was common to hear that Paris was controlled by Jews. Women were discouraged from wearing foreign modes of dress such as those in the Jewish and Parisian shops: “Sex appeal was considered to be ‘Jewish cosmopolitanism’, whilst slimming cures were frowned upon as counter to the birth drive.” Thus, the Nazis staunch stance against anything French was in part a reaction to the Latin qualities of French culture, which had migrated to the Mediterranean thousands of years earlier, and that set the highest image of woman as something German men did not want: “a frivolous play toy that superficially only thinks about pleasure, adorns herself with trinkets and spangles, and resembles a glittering vessel, the interior of which is hollow and desolate.” Such values had no place in National Socialism, which promoted autarky, frugalness, respect for the earth’s resources, natural beauty, a true religiosity (Christian at first, with the eventual goal to return to paganism), devotion to higher causes (such as to God and the state), service to one’s community, and the role of women as a wife and mother.
Opposition to the Aphrodisian Culture in the Third Reich
Most students of Third Reich history are familiar with the more popular efforts to shape women’s lives: the Lebensborn program for unwed mothers, interest-free loans for marriage and children, and propaganda posters that emphasized health and motherhood. But some of the largest battles in the fight for women occurred almost entirely within the sphere of fashion—in magazines, beauty salons, and women’s organizations.
The Nazis did not discount fashion, only its Aphrodisian manifestations. On the contrary, they understood fashion as a powerful political tool in shaping the mores of generations of women. Fashion and beauty also were recognized as important elements in the cultural revolution that is necessary for lasting political change. German author Stafan Zweig commented on fashion in the 1920s:
Today its dictatorship becomes universal in a heartbeat. No emperor, no khan in the history of the world ever experienced a similar power, no spiritual commandment a similar speed. Christianity and socialism required centuries and decades to win their followings, to enforce their commandments on as many people as a modern Parisian tailor enslaves in eight days.
Thus, Nazi Germany established a fashion bureau and numerous women’s organizations as active forces of cultural hegemony. Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, the national leader of the NS-Frauenschaft (NSF, or National Socialist Women’s League), said the organization’s aim was to show women how their small actions could impact the entire nation. Many of these “small actions” involved daily choices about dress, shopping, health, and hygiene.
The biggest enemies of women, according to the Nazi regime, were those un-German forces that worked to denigrate the German woman. These included Parisian high fashion and cosmetics, Jewish fashion, and the Hollywood image of the heavily made up, cigarette-smoking vamp—the archetype of the Aphrodisian. These forces not only impacted women’s clothing, personal care choices, and activities, but were dangerous since they touched the German woman’s very spirit.
Although the image of the dirndl-wearing woman working the fields was heavily promoted, Hitler was not anti-fashion and realized the value in beautiful dress and that in order to retain women’s support, he could not do away with their luxury items completely. Part of the reason he opposed Joseph Goebbels’ 1944 plans to close fashion houses and beauty parlors was not because he disagreed, but because he was “fearful that this would antagonize German women,” particular those of the middle classes who he relied on for support. Hitler showed his concern for tasteful clothing when he rejected the first design of girls’ uniforms for the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM, League of German Girls) as “old sacks” and said the look should not be “too primitive.” And in a conference with party leaders he said:
Clothing should not now suddenly return to the Stone Age; one should remain where we are now. I am of the opinion that when one wants a coat made, one can allow it to be made handsomely. It doesn’t become more expensive because of that. . . . Is it really something so horrible when [a woman] looks pretty? Let’s be honest, we all like to see it.
Though understanding the need for tasteful and beautiful dress, the Nazis were adamantly against elements foreign to the Nordic spirit. The list included foreign fashion, trousers, provocative clothing, cosmetics, perfumes, hair alterations (such as coloring and permanents), extensive eyebrow plucking, dieting, alcohol, and smoking. In February 1916, the government issued a list of “forbidden luxury items” that included foreign (i.e., French) cosmetics and perfumes. Permanents and hair coloring were strongly discouraged. Although the Nazis were against provocative clothing in everyday dress, they encouraged sportiness and were certainly not prudish about young girls wearing shorts to exercise. A parallel can be seen in the scanty dress worn by Spartan girls during their exercises, a civilization characterized by its Nordic spirit and solar-orientation.
Some have said that Hitler was opposed to cosmetics because of his vegetarian leanings, since cosmetics were made from animal byproducts. More likely, he retained the same views that kept women from wearing makeup for centuries in Western countries—the innate understanding that the Aphrodisian woman is opposed to Aryan culture. Nazi proponents said “red lips and painted cheeks suited the ‘Oriental’ or ‘Southern’ woman, but such artificial means only falsified the true beauty and femininity of the German woman.” Others said that any amount of makeup or jewelry was considered “sluttish.” Magazines in the Third Reich still carried advertisements for perfumes and cosmetics, but articles started advocating minimal, natural-looking makeup, for the truth was that most women were unable to pull off a fresh and healthy image without a little help from cosmetics.
Although jewelry and cosmetics were not banned, many areas of the Third Reich were impossible to enter unless conforming to Nazi ideals. In 1933, “painted” women were banned from Kreisleitung party meetings in Breslau. Women in the Lebensborn program were not allowed to use lipstick, pluck their eyebrows, or paint their nails. When in uniform, women were forbidden to wear conspicuous jewelry, brightly colored gloves, bright purses, and obvious makeup. The BDM also was influential in shaping fashion in the regime, with young girls taking up the use of clever pejoratives to reinforce the regime’s message that unnatural beauty was not Aryan. The Reich Youth Leader said:
The BDM does not subscribe to the untruthful ideal of a painted and external beauty, but rather strives for an honest beauty, which is situated in the harmonious training of the body and in the noble triad of body, soul, and mind. Staunch BDM members whole-heartedly embraced the message, and called those women who cosmetically tried to attain the Aryan female ideal ‘n2 (nordic ninnies)’ or ‘b3 (blue-eyed, blonde blithering idiots).’
The Nazis offered many alternatives to Aphrodisian values: beauty would be derived from good character, exercise outdoors, a good diet, healthy skin free of the harsh chemicals in makeup, comfortable (yet still stylish and flattering) clothing, and from the love for her husband, children, home, and country. The most encouraged hairstyles were in buns or plaits—styles that saved money on trips to the beauty salon and were seen as more wholesome and befitting of the German character. In fact, Tracht (traditional German dress) was viewed as not merely clothing, but also as “the expression of a spiritual demeanor and a feeling of worth . . . Outwardly, it conveys the expression of the steadfastness and solid unity of the rural community.” Foreign clothing designs, according to Gerlach, led to physical and “psychological distortion and damage, and thereby to national and racial deterioration.”
* * *
Some people may be inclined to interpret Aphrodisian culture as positive for the sexes—it puts the emphasis for women not on careers but on their existence as sexual beings. Men often encourage such behavior by their dating choices and by complimenting an Aphrodisian “look” in women. But Aphrodisian culture is not only damaging to women, as Bachofen relates, by reducing them to the status of sex slave of multiple men. It also is degrading for men, at the level of personality and at the deepest levels of being. As Evola writes about the degeneration into Aphroditism:
The chthonic and infernal nature penetrates the virile principle and lowers it to a phallic level. The woman now dominates man as he becomes enslaved to the senses and a mere instrument of procreation. Vis-à-vis the Aphrodistic goddess, the divine male is subjected to the magic of the feminine principle and is reduced to the likes of an earthly demon or a god of the fecundating waters—in other words, to an insufficient and dark power.
Aphroditism also contributes to the loss of wonder that is essential to a transcendent-based worldview, since many now find it hard to be moved by the ordinary. Josef Pieper discusses the importance of being able to see the divine in the natural:
If someone needs the ‘unusual’ to be moved to astonishment, that person has lost the ability to respond rightly to the wondrous, the mirandum, of being. The hunger for the sensational . . . is an unmistakable sign of the loss of the true power of wonder, for a bourgeois-ized humanity.
A society that promotes so much unnatural beauty will no doubt lose the ability to experience the wondrous in the natural. It is essential that people retain the ability to love and be moved by the pure and natural, in order to once again return to a civilization centered in a Traditional Aryan worldview.
1. Daniel Boyarin, “Sex,” Jewish Women’s Archive.
2. Irene Guenther, Nazi ‘Chic’?: Fashioning Women in the Third Reich (Oxford: Berg, 2004), 50–51.
3. Guenther, 16.
4. Guenther, 159.
5. Agnes Gerlach, quoted in Guenther, 146.
6. Guenther, 21–22.
7. Guenther, 26.
8. Matthew Stibbe, “Women and the Nazi state,” History Today, vol. 43, November 1993.
9. Guenther, 93.
10. Stefan Zweig, quoted in Guenther, 9.
11. Jill Stephenson, Women in Nazi Germany (Essex, UK: Pearson, 2001), 88.
12. Stephenson, 133.
13. Guenther, 120.
14. Adolf Hitler, quoted in Guenther, 141.
15. Guenther, 32.
16. Guenther, 100.
17. Guido Knopp, Hitler’s Women (New York: Routledge, 2003), 231.
18. Guenther, 99.
19. Guenther, 129.
20. Guenther, 121.
21. Guenther, 111.
22. Gerlach, quoted in Guenther, 145.
23. Evola, Revolt, 223.
24. Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture, trans. Gerald Malsbary (South Bend, Ind.: St. Augustine’s Press, 1998), 102.
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