German Propaganda Archive Calvin University

Background: In Goebbels’s February 1943 speech on total war he called for a reduction in unnecessary luxuries. One result, apparently was that some citizens eagerly criticized people who were well-dressed and apparently prosperous. This was hardly useful for the war effort, so this issue of the speaker information instructed speakers to address the matter.

The source: Redner-Schnellinformation, Lieferung 52, 17 March 1943.

Our Life Style Need Not Become Primitive

One occasionally sees an isolated, overeager, 150% people’s comrade taking offense at any better dressed woman he meets, who considers a well cared for appearance out of keeping with the time, and who insults or even abuses such people.

This behavior must be energetically opposed by our speakers by every means of oral propaganda. The measures for total war in no way call for a primitive life style. A German woman, whatever important war work that she does, is not to be condemned if during her free hours she takes care of herself and dresses well. The measures to intensify our war effort are not intended to reduce our whole people to the absolute basics of life. It is therefore right and proper to encourage our women to take care in their appearance, demonstrating that even in these hard times they have not given up an appropriate life style.

“Letting oneself go,” looking unkempt in outward appearance, is ultimately sloppiness that is unworthy of a German woman. Promoting such a level or tolerating it comes close to Bolshevist class struggle that wants to make everyone the same. That we want to oppose by every means.

Our speakers should address the meetings and factory gatherings of our people’s comrades in this spirit, thus helping to combat a false cult of simplicity, preventing a split in the community that could result from envious and critical sentiments. They could destroy the solidarity of the German working people’s comrades and therefore cause production difficulties that would above all harm the front. All productive Germans are working for victory in a cheerful, voluntary, and conscientious way. Outward appearances should separate us. He who spreads such ideas does not want a hard-working community, but rather wants to spread bitter views of class conflict, and thereby bring about a fragmentation and weakening that will stand in the way of Germany’s victory.

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