Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Strength through Joy

...from a review of Shelley Baranowski's Strength through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich:
.... the Nazis' popular leisure organization, "Strength through Joy" (_Kraft durch Freude_, or KdF) .... in many ways reinforcing the recent historiographic emphasis on popular consent to Nazi rule, yet also complicating the picture through its focus on a variety of deep-seated, overlapping tensions--between individual desires and collective welfare, between sacrifice and pleasure--that so strongly molded "racially valuable" Germans' experiences of the regime.... Rejecting both the Marxist vision of collective entitlement and the "Fordist" model of standardized production and high wages, the Nazis attempted to construct a distinctly "German" model of consumption free from the rampant individualism and shallow materialism associated with America, yet willing to reward individual talent and performance so long as it served the interests of the "racial community." ....As by far the most popular aspect of the Nazi regime, and as nothing less than its answer to the conundrum of "guns or butter," KdF mushroomed into a sprawling network of package tours, theater tickets, cruise ships and film discounts, gradually occupying the vast bureaucratic space that opened up between the concrete imperatives of rearmament and the overarching aim of reducing class conflict and the appeal of Marxism. Yet as the third chapter demonstrates, the development of KdF was not all fun and games. Its "Beauty of Labor" (_Schönheit der Arbeit_) program clearly reflected the Nazi adherence to a productivist vision of leisure as inseparable from work....Although the outbreak of the war in 1939 severely curtailed KdF's tourism offerings, the organization nonetheless served the war effort by providing entertainment for troops and civilians alike.... KdF contributed significantly, if indirectly, to the rapacious and racist mentality that so characterized the Nazi occupation of Europe, encouraging territorial expansionism, furnishing both motive and alibi for plunder, and eventually abetting mass murder.

...from Gravity's Rainbow, p. 419:
In a corporate State, a place must be made for innocence, and its many uses. In developing an official version of innocence, the culture of childhood has proven invaluable. Games, fairy-tales, legends from history, all the paraphernalia of make-believe can be adapted and even embodied in a physical place, such as at Zwolfkinder. [...] From Peenemunde they had come 280 kilometers, which was to be, coincidentally, the operational range of the A4.