Manufacturing German Identity in National Socialism


National Socialist society compulsively sought to establish Germanness as “non-Jewish.” Those who went along with National Socialism performed their “German” self-image publicly, not only through acts of physical and structural violence, but also through humiliation tactics that underscored the ascendent power of the non-Jewish self. Systematic shaming as a form of violence was routinely employed in the persecution of Jewish Germans during the Third Reich. This included ritualized forms of entertainment, such as carnival processions, or deliberate attacks on those persecuted at the front, which was also considered a form of “entertainment.” One victim, Julius Meyer, who had fought as a German soldier in World War I, recognized similarities between the violent tactics directed against him and those employed by German soldiers during the occupation of France after 1914. Some violent actors during the Nazi era explicitly identified themselves as German and National Socialist and lived up to their self-image by voluntarily participating in mass executions.


  1. < The Eastern Mirror: German Jews from Poland, German Jews on Poland
  2. Constructing Germans in Total War >