Background: In this interesting article, Goebbels presents himself
as the defender of the common people against prudish moralists. I’m not
sure where it was originally published, but probably in the Nazi Party’s
daily newspaper the Völkischer Beobachter. The article is
dated 27 January 1934.
The source: Joseph Goebbels, “Mehr Moral, aber weniger Moralin!” Wetterleuchten
(Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1939), pp. 382-385.
More Morality, Less Moralism!
Every revolution has its mistakes, ours too. That is not in
itself bad, since they mostly disappear on their own or with
time. The important thing is that those in charge keep their
eyes open and do not remain silent when they ought to speak
out of fear of the public. Obviously, an historic revolution
of vast extent brings a mass of nonsense to light along with
its enormous benefits.
It becomes dangerous only when the nonsense is left to grow,
thus hemming in and strangling the healthy, organic development
of the revolution.
It is time today to expose some of this nonsense that has
accompanied the National Socialist revolution to the full light
of day, to examine it without pity.
That is even more necessary, since otherwise some of this
nonsense over time may gradually corrupt the style and nature
of our revolution, leaving to posterity an image of our nature
and goals that in no way corresponds to National Socialist convictions
Certainly there is need for public regulation of the great
moral foundations of our national life. However, some nonsense
is also spreading that attempts to reach beyond that to establish
a code for the purely personal conduct of individuals.
That leads eventually to a moralism that is everything other
than National Socialist.
Peculiar people whose life is either behind them, or have
no right to have one ahead of them, preach moralism in the name
of our revolution. This moralism often has nothing in common
with true morality. They proclaim ethical laws that might be
appropriate for a nunnery, but are entirely out of place in a
modern cultural state.
An example. In a major central German city an advertising poster for
a soap company showed a fresh, attractive girl holding the soap package
in her hands. A moral knight who unfortunately had the right to determine
the fate of this poster forbade its distribution on the ground that it
offended the moral sensibilities of the population, since the woman in
the poster was holding the soap in a place “that for moral reasons
cannot be described more precisely.”
What is moral about this? The person announcing the ban, who
presumes that other people share his dirty fantasies, or the
German people and the National Socialist movement, that are rightly
upset and in opposition to such a ridiculous action?
Investigating the matter, we find that this wonderful citizen
discovered his attraction for National Socialism three months
after we took power, which however did not stop him from issuing
the ban in the name of National Socialism.
Things have gone so far that this company of moralists does not stop
at the borders of private life. They would love to establish purity committees
in cities and the countryside that would keep on eye on Müller’s
and Schulze’s love and marriage life. It is true that they do not want
to go so far as to ban kissing altogehter, as in the familiar operetta,
since it is too popular a pastime. If it were up to them, however, they
would turn National Socialist Germany into a wasteland of muttering and
complaining, a place where denunciation, spying, and extortion were the
order of the day.
These same moralists often turn to government offices with the request
to ban films, plays, operas, and operettas, since the dancers, stars,
etc., apparently represent a grave danger to public decency. If we gave
in to their demands, we should soon see only old ladies and men on the
screen or the stage. The theaters would be empty, since the public generally
does not attend them to see the same people they see in church or old
Save us from these hypocritical creatures who have no genuine strong
conception of life, and who in reality preach no honest morality. They
generally are life’s losers, protesting life itself. Eternal life and
its laws will hardly make way for them; at most, they will hide behind
a screen of contemptible hypocrisy and dishonest prudery.
They think that the German woman should not go out alone, she should
not sit alone in a restaurant, she should not go out with a boy or even
an S.A. man without a chaperone for a Sunday afternoon excursion, she
should not smoke, she should not drink, she should not wash up and make
herself pretty, in short she should do everything to keep the evil interest
of a man away from her. That is, at least, is how these midget moralists
think a German woman should behave. And woe to the poor womanly creature
who has the misfortune to transgress against one of these laws. Of course,
no German woman will have bobbed hair, since only Jewesses and other contemptible
creatures do that.
Have these moral trumpeters any idea how they slander and
demoralize millions of German women with their preaching, women
who bravely and honestly do their duty in life and on the job,
who are good comrades to their men and sacrificing mothers for
Don’t they realize that they embarrass National Socialism throughout
the world, that they are thirty years too late, or that one must take
them to task because they are beginning to be annoying? There are good
and bad women, decent and less decent women, some with bobbed hair, some
without. Whether or not they powder their noses is not a sign of their
inner worth, and if they occasionally smoke a cigarette at home or in
society, they do not need to feel rejected or cast out.
In any event, these moralists should not sit in judgment over women,
whether they are enemies or even if like all real men they wish women
happiness, relaxation, and domestic peace, though their stuffy superiority
would keep women from it.
They think it is not National Socialist to enjoy life, but rather one
should only look at the dark side of human existence. Pessimism and
suspicion are the best teachers in our earthly vale of sorrows. A true
National Socialist has no cause to protect these miserable creatures.
Primitiveness and absolute rejection of pleasure are the only character
values to these people. If one has a clean and a dirty collar, one puts
the dirty one on to give evidence of his hatred of bourgeois values.
A man with a good and a bad suit wears the bad one, particularly for
festive occasions, for it shows the astonished world how revolutionary
his outlook is. He dislikes joy and laughter; people should have nothing
to laugh about.
Are we living in a pietistic state, or in the age of life-affirming
No one can suspect us of wanting to live lives of ostentation or luxury.
The Führer and many of his close comrades neither smoke nor drink
nor enjoy sumptuous living. Those, however, who want to rob a nation of
sixty million of every pleasure and all traces of optimism are contemptible,
entirely aside from the fact that their foolish desires would drive countless
people into poverty and misery.
Every banned activity makes more people unemployed; if no
one can drive a car, the automobile factories will shut down,
if no one wears a new suit, the looms and tailors will have nothing
more to do; if people no longer attend movies or the theater,
hundreds of thousands of stage and film employees will depend
on public assistance.
To take joy and pleasure from a people means to make it
unfit for its struggle for its daily bread.
He who does that sins against our reconstruction efforts and
embarrasses the National Socialist state before the whole world.
The result would be a dreary impoverishment of our public
life. That we will not accept.
We do not want to abolish pleasure, but rather to let as many as possible
share in it. That is why we encourage people to attend the theater, that
is why we give workers the opportunity to dress well for festive occasions.
That is the reason behind Kraft durch Freude. That is why we shake
off the agents of a prudish hypocrisy, why we do not allow decent, hard-working
people who have every reason to need relief from their hard daily labors,
who need to reaffirm life, to recover from the weariness, cares, and burdens
of every day, to have their necessary pleasures ruined by the eternal
chicanery of these pedants.
We need more affirmation of life and less complaining! More
morality, but less moralism!
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