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Drunk on GenocideAlcohol and Mass Murder in Nazi Germany$
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Edward B. Westermann

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781501754197

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501754197.001.0001

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Rituals of Humiliation

Rituals of Humiliation

(p.46) 2 Rituals of Humiliation
Drunk on Genocide

Edward B. Westermann

Cornell University Press

This chapter evaluates the significance of ritual and symbolism to the construction and manifestation of power under National Socialism. It underlines the importance of practices such as the mammoth party rallies at Nuremberg, the universal displays of the swastika on flags, pins, and armbands and the ubiquitous use of “Heil Hitler” as the standard greeting of the Third Reich under the Nazi regime. The chapter also contends that the creation of Nazi power was accomplished in no small measure by the use of ritual, and, in fact, ritual in the Third Reich served as an expression of “social power” that extended into virtually all aspects of German society. These celebratory events of Nazi power involved daily acts of verbal or physical humiliation of Jews, communists, and socialists, as well as organized and exemplary episodes of abusive behavior. Ultimately, the chapter studies the symbiotic relationship between violence, competition, and male comradeship and how it became manifest in the actions, rituals, and celebratory practices of Nazi paramilitary organizations through acts of humiliation by SS and policemen on the streets, in the concentration camps, and in the killing fields.

Keywords:   ritual, symbolism, National Socialism, Third Reich, Nazi regime, humiliation, violence, Nazi paramilitary organizations, Nazi power, male comradeship

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