Book ID: CBB629160716

The anarchy of Nazi memorabilia : From things of tyranny to troubled treasure (2022)


Michael Hughes (Author)


Publication Date: 2022
Edition Details: Book Series: Material culture and modern conflict
Physical Details: 239
Language: English

Compared to the numerous books and articles on the Third Reich, few address its material culture, and fewer still discuss the phenomenon of Nazi memorabilia. This is all the more surprising given that Nazi symbols, so central to sustaining Hitler's movement, continue to live long after the collapse of his 12-year Reich. Neither did Nazi ideology die, far-right populists would like to see the swastika flown over the White House or Buckingham Palace. Against a backdrop of right-wing extremism, military re-enactors think nothing of dressing up in Waffen-SS uniforms and romanticising the Third Reich in the name of living history. Auctioneers are prepared to hammer down Nazi artefacts to the highest bidder, but who is buying them, and why do they do so? Should collectors be allowed to decorate their homes with Nazi flags? The Anarchy of Nazi Memorabilia begins by examining the creation and context of Nazi artefacts and symbols during the volatile Weimar Republic to their wider distribution during the Third Reich. There were few people in Nazi Germany who did not wear a badge or uniform of some sort. Whether it be mothers, soldiers or concentration camp inmates, they were all branded. The chapter on the Second World War even demonstrates that German soldiers were highly cynical about being given medals in exchange for freezing in Russia. They still continued to fight, however, for which more decorations were awarded. A large proportion of this book is therefore given to the meaning that Nazi symbols had before Nazi Germany was eventually defeated in May 1945. Equally important, however, and one of the characteristics of this book, is the analysis of the meaning and value of Nazi material culture over time. The interpreters of Nazi symbols that this book focuses on are internationally based private collectors and traders. Sustained attention is given in a chapter outlining the development of the collectors' market for Nazi memorabilia from 1945 onwards. No matter how much collectors go out of their way to paint the hobby in a positive light, their activities are not fully able to escape the troubled past of the material that they desire. So contested are Nazi symbols, that another chapter is devoted to the ethics and morals of destroying or preserving them. As part of this chapter the issues surrounding private versus public custody and ownership of Nazi artefacts are also discussed. So far, in this book, the examination of Nazi artefacts has been restricted to physical objects within societies that are generally aware of the consequences of Hitlerism. As we increasingly move into the digital age, however, and there are few survivors of the Second World War left to relay their horrific experiences, the final chapter contemplates the future of Nazi symbols both digitally and physically, fake or real. This book will appeal to all those interested in the Third Reich, Nazi Ideology, Neo-Nazism, perceptions of the Nazis post-1945, Modern European History and political symbolism. It will also hold particular appeal to those interested in the collecting and trading of contested and highly emotive artefacts. It considers aesthetics, authenticity, commodification, gift exchange, life histories of people and objects, materiality and value theory.

Reviewed By

Review Richard Overy (July 2022) Review of "The anarchy of Nazi memorabilia : From things of tyranny to troubled treasure". Technology and Culture (pp. 863-865). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Szöllösi-Janze, Margit
Riaud, Xavier
Paletschek, Sylvia
Rössle, Mechild
Trischler, Helmuth
Marschall, Luitgard
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Journal of Medical Biography
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Museum History Journal
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Arcade Publishing
Wallstein Verlag
Franz Steiner Verlag
National Socialism
World War II
Science and war; science and the military
Science and politics
Medicine and politics
Collectors and collecting
Heisenberg, Werner
Quastel, Judah Hirsch
Dale, Henry Hallett
Krayer, Otto
Loewi, Otto
Worm, Ole
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
20th century, early
17th century
18th century
Great Britain
United States
Berlin (Germany)
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften
Wilhelm-Institut für Hirnforschung
London Zoo

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