The Nazis were neurotic. I was reading through a translation of their party handbook (great paintings of their uniforms), and was amazed at how much attention they devoted to where and how their uniforms were to be worn. This seems incongruous when juxtaposed on their other serious obsession-- hatred of Jews. History shows that this is nothing to joke about, and it should teach us a lesson about the danger of mob mentality.

It's naiive to think that Nazi Germany was just a historical aberration. A mob, when united under a common banner--perhaps by hatred, perhaps by lack of an economic opportunity-- assumes a very different character than that of its individual component members. Individual moral responsibility gives way to an amorphous group will which is capable of all sorts of atrocities. If you look around, you may be able to recognize this beast. You may even see the seeds of it in your everyday life.

Imagine it on a national scale.

11/19/97- Black leather, even fake black "leather", always looks authoritarian.

11/16/97- A Sturmabteilung (SA) outfit (sorry, his head's not completed). These "brownshirts" were Hitler's pre-war political enforcers.

It's hard to imagine the environment in which the Nazi party-- born in 1919 in a beer hall with only seven members -- grew to a membership of 70,000 by 1922. Hitler assumed control of Germany through political means- albeit with a bit of "strong-arming"- and with the consent of the majority of the German people. From my readings, I've come to the conclusion that he wasn't simply a sadistic madman-- he was an egotistical individual who possessed exceptional oratorial skills which gave him the means to pursue his quest for power. Whether he simply exploited or genuinely felt the nationalistic fervor, the result was the same.

To me, the scary thing is that personality types are univerally distributed. They're not unique to a particular nation or period of time. Given the desire to "win", moral concerns often take a back seat to our ego. The great American hero, General MacArthur advocated dropping 50 atomic bombs to "win" the Korean War. Clearly, it's imperative to keep catastrophic tools out of the hands of individuals or policy-makers who are driven by petty personal agendas. Unfortunately, it's easy to say, but it's really just a crap-shoot.

Many of the 25 Points of the Nazi party seem familiar: an end to nepotism in civil posts, equal rights and duties for all citizens, profit sharing in larger industries, adequate provision for old age, ruthless prosecution for serious criminals, reconstruction of the national education system, state assistance for motherhood...

Other points seem cautionary: non-German immigration to be stopped, newspapers to German-owned, non-citizens to be excluded from state's benefits if the state's resources be overstretched, citizenship to be determined by race... These were some of the "attractive" points which drew supporters to the Nazi party.

During this period, Germans reveled in uniform-wearing, practically from cradle to grave.

Uniforms convey membership in an unambiguous way. Uniforms can subjugate your individuality and promote a single set of group beliefs, above any other private beliefs that you may have.

Uniforms can unite and regiment people-- anyone not wearing your uniform is not one of you, and should be hated, feared, mistrusted or at least, kept at a distance.

Uniforms aren't always just made of cloth, either. They can be a hairstyle, body markings, ethnic features... anything that outwardly identifies you as a member of a group.

There's nothing inherently wrong with a uniform-- It's what you do in its name...

This isn't meant to detract from the spiffiness of the German's uniforms however. Here is an amalgam of images of a German officer's uniform. They had zillions of variations on these things. This one just looks like a generic one; not a specific one. For one thing, he's wearing Hasbro's Eisenhower trenchcoat, dyed dark green. Like most things I do, he's not finished yet, and still needs some insignia patches. However, he does have the cool leather belt. The buckles actually work, although it's a lot easier to work them with tweezers. The belt buckle's tines (or whatever they're called) are ganged together and glued to the hidden center post, which turns within the buckle's frame (made of plastic). If ya know what I mean. The imperfections from removing the coat's original loops and buttons were fortunately minimized as a result of the dyeing, but you can still see a few.

The brownshirt's uniform may be inaccurate. The shirt probably should be a richer yellow color, without the epaulets. I screwed up with the sewing, so they seemed a good way to cover up the boo-boo. I did the best I could with the pant pockets-- the reference photos were not clear, but I believe they had a small "change pocket" in the front. I used a painted eagle on the hat instead of sculpting a 'metal' one, and used slivers of wire insulation to simulate the air hole rivets. The belt is constructed in the same manner as the officer's belt. The tie pin and Knight's Cross are made of Promat, painted and lacquered to simulate an enamelled appearance.

Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:20 PM