Background: Nazism claimed to be a worldview, a system that applied to every aspect of life. This article from the party monthly for its leaders explains that interior decoration and the celebration of holidays and festivals should also be guided by the party. One should be able to know someone was Nazi by how he lived his personal life, the writer suggests. Another page translates a Nazi discussion of what a house should like.
The source: Wolfgang Schultz, “Auch an seinem Heim erkennt man den Nationalsozialisten!” Der Hoheitsträger 3 (August 1939), pp. 16-18. I’m not entirely sure of the month -— the copy I am working from is in a bound volume with the cover missing.
One Recognizes a National Socialist by His Home!
Each party leader, just as any party member, has an unspoken duty to live his personal life in ways consistent with the National Socialist idea. It is one of the finest tasks, worth every effort.
One’s surroundings are a central part of personal life, the things we ourselves make and form: our family, our home, our festivals. The strength we draw from them enables us to do many other things with greater joy, energy, and conviction. We spread our faith best when we set an example ourselves rather than just telling others what to do.
It is not surprising that the home is often so uneven and inadequate, since the examples of the last decades were poor and not everyone can make his own furniture, pictures, and other items — and in an exemplary manner. The path has to be shown, and it is obvious that the party’s political leaders must be the models.
In these things, too, National Socialism wants to reach the entire people, and lead it to what is consistent with its deepest nature. Family festivals, too, are not what they should be, which leaves a gap and dissatisfaction. We are not quite sure what to do, and cannot figure it out just by thinking about it; we lack the proper customs.
Jewish-Talmudic sayings should not hang from our walls, but rather the Führer’s words.
In many areas, we are just getting started, and sometimes — and this is not a reproach — one cannot avoid the impression that something is too artificial and intellectual. We need time and patience until something valuable results and customs take root.
A large number of our political leaders want to gain a foundation here, and will cheerfully get to work. The church, for example, has taken on many things that involve the family. In our people’s life, a variety of short-term solutions and wrong turns, even major errors, have affected good customs or made them unpleasant.
Here, we want to consider family festivals and the arrangement of one’s home from several aspects. They are matters that have been worked out over the years and can now be presented to a larger audience. There are works of art that are not handmade or unique, but do show a sure sense of our people, customs, and knowledge. I begin with the three festivals of human life.
The cradle festival, the celebration of the birth of a child conducted within a small family circle, is something new for many people. We are convinced that this is something fathers must take on once again. We do not want to imitate a church ritual, although we realize that the church did not hesitate in the past to imitate the customs of our ancestors. It was an old custom to light a fire for the new born child. It grew out of the idea that life is like a fire. The Norns, for example, kept a fire burning as long as life lasted. In our case, we no longer burn a whole log, and a candle does not last very long, so we burn the candle on a “life candelabra,” which will be the child’s own.
In place of the child in the illustration to the right, the ancient life rune stands, with an arc on both sides that surround it, just as parents surround and protect a child.
Another gift is a cabinet for certificates, mementoes, and family art.
A plaque on the wall with the name of the child carved on it will always be a happy reminder for the parents. The young mother receive a piece of necklace with the child’s name on it, to which the names of future children could be added later.
Other meaningful gifts a beautiful cradle with a tree of life and a few animals carved or painted on it, cloth, or jewelry.
A wedding is the next important life festival. Two people join their lives, surrounded by their loved ones and friends. The room is appropriately decorated. A candlestick the light of life that they will preserve and pass on. A family cabinet for documents, jewelry, valuable clothing, a family candelabra, with room above for the name and candles for each of the children, with the man and wife below, with their ancestors to either side. This illustrates our conception of a people and a family. The bridal pair enters their new home through a carved door; bowls and bread plates express their duties in life.
The end of life is marked by a funeral. We light the life candle for the last time, or candles on the family tree. May a child soon replace the light that has gone out and carry on. A memorial stone or wood carving is placed on the grave. We want to be sure that our ideas and nature also come to expression here.
Then there are annual festivals: some are festivals of the whole people’s community, others of a family. Easter and Christmas stand out. Easter has already been moved outdoors, but large wooden eggs are filled with candy as presents both for children and adults.
Christmas, however, is entirely tied to the home, and we want to transform it from a children’s festival to a family festival. The winter solstice celebrations of party affiliates continue. The green tree itself is a symbol of life, emphasized by the apples and nuts hanging from it.
And once again, instead of hanging junk on the tree, we hang shaped cookies, the forms of which are still preserved in our customs. They are cut from dough and sprinkled with sugar, taking the form of deer, swans, eagles, squirrels, horses, fish, branches, etc. (He who cannot prepare these himself can order a variety from the Oehmel Bakery in Vienna, Kohlmarkt.)
The tree’s stand was given little attention in the past, but it can be set in a nicely done frame, a cross, or a beautifully carved tree stand. Such a tree stand changes the festival, since it is a family heirloom that, however simple it may be, makes an impression. The wreaths symbolize the closed circle of our lives and of time, of the year and the months; the spokes symbolize the seasons. Most Christmas tree stands are elegantly carved. It is possible, however, to make them simpler without losing any of their meaning or significance.
Several more things about arranging a home.
We reject anything showy, cold, falsely elegant, or extravagant. Household items should be simple and genuine, yet still have personality. The lights are very important. If they are cold and mass produced, they impact the whole room. Dusty lampshades recall old-fashioned bourgeois styles.
Here, too, wood is the noblest and warmest, reflecting our nature and desires. It is no more expensive to buy wooden ceiling, wall, table, or standing lamps than to buy mass produced items. The same is true of many pieces of furniture, frames, pictures, porcelain, ceramics, and metal (particularly well-made wrought iron).
When enough political leaders arrange their homes in this manner, other party members and people’s comrades will follow their example and our worldview in these areas will take deeper root. Little things are often decisive; their very simplicity has something compelling about it.
On birthdays or other festivals, the candles of all those still living burn.
I provide several examples of my own work as examples. The larger circle that will see them here will certainly find then stimulating.
Editorial note: The housewares industry is gradually beginning to make major changes. More than ever, we must make every effort to bring worthy German craftsmanship to expression. We see the craftsmen who are again expressing a German sense of form as important leaders and bearers of German interior decoration. Let us therefore let worthy German craftsmen make our household items. We thereby encourage them in the important task of making the spiritual attitudes of the Germanic person visible.
A family candelabra
Go to the 1933-1945 Page.
Go to the German Propaganda Archive Home Page.