"New Meanings for 'Inherited' Customs?"
Die neue Gemeinschaft 3 (1937), pp. 3005 a-c.
Translated by Randall Bytwerk, Professor of
Communication Arts and Sciences at Calvin
College in Grand Rapids, Michigan (USA). The entire article is available at
"The Nazis set about establishing their own rituals and holidays
immediately after taking power. This interesting article ... suggests that holidays such as Christmas can
be given new content, turning them into Nazi holidays rather than religious ones."
"In our efforts to deepen
National Socialist forms of behavior in the area of rituals and ceremonies, we
have two main tasks. On the one hand, we must create new ideas and new customs,
and on the other it is necessary to adjust those customs that have grown out of
the people to the "new community of the Germans," which means giving these
inherited customs a new content consistent with the people's community (Volksgemeinschaft
Here it is a question of creating new customs for the new political worldview
and its ideals that will also enable later generations to be reminded of those
strengths of instinct, feeling and spirit that have been recognized as so
critical in our struggle for existence and for the security of the people's
community. (A few examples: courage, bravery, affirmation of life, awareness
These new customs develop directly from the ideas, experiences and traditions of
the party itself. ... But there are also those holidays that have a
long history with the people... but no longer have the significance in
the popular mind they once did (solstices, Christmas, etc.).
"The significance of holidays and rituals — from the political standpoint — lies
in the spiritual or emotional deepening of the experience of community.
... If we are to attempt to make inherited customs politically useful, we
must be clear that that is possible only if we give them a fundamentally new
content. Even if religious fanatics object, this is justified because it
deepens the sense of community of the people's community. Obviously, this is
not done for religious reasons, rather because only in that way is it possible
to bridge inherited religious fragmentation.
"It is thus necessary to give inherited customs a meaning that reaches each
member of the community in the same way....
"When we conduct such a holiday or ceremony, we want — as in everything else —
to mobilize the spiritual or emotional strengths of the community for National
Socialism. For example, Christmas is an inherited holiday about a theoretical
peace for all of humanity. There is no national or social necessity to believe
in this. However, we can present it as a holiday of actual internal national
peace... From this perspective, it fits clearly in the political and
"The ceremony should appeal not to the knowledge of the few, but to
the spirit, the life feeling, of the many. ...we must seek to use
effective and understandable methods that will reach the German person of
our century with the National Socialist idea, and this in ever new and
"A Christmas ceremony based on events and views that people do not understand
today does no good, but harm. It arouses only a distrust of our goals, not
confidence in our ability to lead the people spiritually (which is more than
necessary!). In some places, festivals of lights" have been held.
Naturally, representatives of various groups carry a candle for the "people's
"We do not want simply to
touch the feelings... rather to make people aware of their
responsibility for the nation's fate. ... Conducting ceremonies is not
another name for entertainment, rather a serious task affecting the worldview
and political life forms of the community. ... It becomes a symbol when we
see in it the opportunity to make visible in a festive way those things which
are taken for granted during the rest of the year, but which are the
foundations of our national life and thinking."