Results 1 to 8 of 8

Third Reich iconography in the DDR

Article about: This may be a stupid question, but does anyone know why so much of the symbolism and iconography of the hated Third Reich was kept in place during the DDR years in East Germany? For example,

  1. #1
    ?

    Default Third Reich iconography in the DDR

    This may be a stupid question, but does anyone know why so much of the symbolism and iconography of the hated Third Reich was kept in place during the DDR years in East Germany? For example, the uniforms and some of the badges were almost identical to their Third Reich counterparts, except with the swastikas removed. It seems to me that the Soviet government would have ordered the designs of these things changed to avoid all association with the Nazi government, but they were kept very similar for many years.

  2. #2

    Default

    Although not an answer to the direct question, the DDR was a "satellite state" of the USSR but the communist DDR government was German not Soviet. Governmental administrative responsibility was handed over to German communist leaders by Soviet occupation forces in 1948.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  3. #3

    Default

    One simple explanation could be the TR era uniforms had some of the best looking uniforms imagined...lol
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  4. #4

    Default

    It would be interesting to see a few comparative examples to illustrate the question posed.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote by Erno View Post
    This may be a stupid question, but does anyone know why so much of the symbolism and iconography of the hated Third Reich was kept in place during the DDR years in East Germany? For example, the uniforms and some of the badges were almost identical to their Third Reich counterparts, except with the swastikas removed. It seems to me that the Soviet government would have ordered the designs of these things changed to avoid all association with the Nazi government, but they were kept very similar for many years.
    Offhand, I honestly can't think of any examples of Third Reich symbolism and iconography used in the GDR.

    As for the uniforms and insignia: It is worth noting that the earliest uniforms worn by the GDR's armed forces (i.e. the KVP as the forerunner of the NVA) were heavily influenced by Soviet style and had hardly any German design elements. The Soviet leadership was not universally enthusiastic about this; in fact, there is a famous anecdote illustrating the opposite: When attending the signing of the Warsaw Pact treaty in 1955 in his khaki uniform, the then-head of the KVP and later NVA Armeegeneral and government minister Heinz Hoffmann was taken aside by the Soviet Chairman of the Council of Minisiters and former Secretary of Defense Nikolai Bulganin, who asked him, in a clearly disapproving tone: "You are Germans, aren't you? Why don't you wear German uniforms, then?"

    With the dawn of the NVA came new and very much German uniforms. The reason, in the words of the then-Generaloberst and subsequent Secretary of Defense Willi Stoph:

    "With the National People's Army, a new uniform shall now be instituted as well; one that meets with the old German traditions of the national liberation armies. There can be no doubt that the West German mercenary formations, who are under American command, who have American uniforms, who are equipped with American weapons and are trained according to American methods, shall never be able to represent the intererests of the German people."

    The service- and dress uniforms worn by the NVA may have seemed "Third Reich style" to the casual observer, but in fact, the models for all key design elements of these uniforms and insignia (the cut of the tunics, style and system of shoulder boards and collar patches, the dress aigullettes, the brocade belts, the high boots etc.) as well as the military ceremonial (including the goosestep) had been in existence long before the Nazi seizure of power in 1933.

    The NVA very much understood itself as the keeper of old Germany military traditions and customs and - for all their Communist ideological background - embraced this role with pride and enthusiasm.

    It was not for nothing that the NVA's highest military decoration, the Scharnhorst-Orden was named after one of the great Prussian military reformers and -thinkers, Gerhard von Scharnhorst, whereas its (never awarded) bravery decoration, the Blücher-Orden, was named in honor of legendary Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher.

    (Amusingly, the only genuinely "Nazi" item of NVA kit was one that most members of the general public would not have suspected of being one: The NVA's steel helmet was essentially the final model of steel helmet developed for the Wehrmacht in WW2!)
    Last edited by HPL2008; 05-10-2014 at 10:08 AM.

  6. #6

    Default

    The Polish communist regime also looked back to earlier Polish military traditions although ignoring the military symbols created by the Polish forces fighting under the exiled government. After the collapse of the communist regime in the early 1990s rmany of the miltary traditions and symbols used by the former exiled forces in the west were integrated into the post-communist armed forces.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  7. #7
    ?

    Default

    Quote by HPL2008 View Post
    Offhand, I honestly can't think of any examples of Third Reich symbolism and iconography used in the GDR.

    As for the uniforms and insignia: It is worth noting that the earliest uniforms worn by the GDR's armed forces (i.e. the KVP as the forerunner of the NVA) were heavily influenced by Soviet style and had hardly any German design elements. The Soviet leadership was not universally enthusiastic about this; in fact, there is a famous anecdote illustrating the opposite: When attending the signing of the Warsaw Pact treaty in 1955 in his khaki uniform, the then-head of the KVP and later NVA Armeegeneral and government minister Heinz Hoffmann was taken aside by the Soviet Chairman of the Council of Minisiters and former Secretary of Defense Nikolai Bulganin, who asked him, in a clearly disapproving tone: "You are Germans, aren't you? Why don't you wear German uniforms, then?"

    With the dawn of the NVA came new and very much German uniforms. The reason, in the words of the then-Generaloberst and subsequent Secretary of Defense Willi Stoph:

    "With the National People's Army, a new uniform shall now be instituted as well; one that meets with the old German traditions of the national liberation armies. There can be no doubt that the West Germany mercenary formations, who are under American command, who have American uniforms, who are equipped with American weapons and are trained according to American methods, shall never be able to represent the intererests of the German people."

    The service- and dress uniforms worn by the NVA may have seemed "Third Reich style" to the casual observer, but in fact, the models for all key design elements of these uniforms and insignia (the cut of the tunics, style and system of shoulder boards and collar patches, the dress aigullettes, the brocade belts, the high boots etc.) as well as the military ceremonial (including the goosestep) had been in existence long before the Nazi seizure of power in 1933.

    The NVA very much understood itself as the keeper of old Germany military traditions and customs and - for all their Communist ideological background - embraced this role with pride and enthusiasm.

    It was not for nothing that the NVA's highest military decoration, the Scharnhorst-Orden was named after one of the great Prussian military reformers and -thinkers, Gerhard von Scharnhorst, whereas its (never awarded) bravery decoration, the Blücher-Orden, was named in honor of legendary Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher.

    (Amusingly, the only genuinely "Nazi" item of NVA kit was one that most members of the general public would not have suspected of being one: The NVA's steel helmet was essentially the final model of steel helmet developed for the Wehrmacht in WW2!)
    Very well done!

  8. #8
    ?

    Default

    Quote by HPL2008 View Post
    Offhand, I honestly can't think of any examples of Third Reich symbolism and iconography used in the GDR.

    As for the uniforms and insignia: It is worth noting that the earliest uniforms worn by the GDR's armed forces (i.e. the KVP as the forerunner of the NVA) were heavily influenced by Soviet style and had hardly any German design elements. The Soviet leadership was not universally enthusiastic about this; in fact, there is a famous anecdote illustrating the opposite: When attending the signing of the Warsaw Pact treaty in 1955 in his khaki uniform, the then-head of the KVP and later NVA Armeegeneral and government minister Heinz Hoffmann was taken aside by the Soviet Chairman of the Council of Minisiters and former Secretary of Defense Nikolai Bulganin, who asked him, in a clearly disapproving tone: "You are Germans, aren't you? Why don't you wear German uniforms, then?"

    With the dawn of the NVA came new and very much German uniforms. The reason, in the words of the then-Generaloberst and subsequent Secretary of Defense Willi Stoph:

    "With the National People's Army, a new uniform shall now be instituted as well; one that meets with the old German traditions of the national liberation armies. There can be no doubt that the West Germany mercenary formations, who are under American command, who have American uniforms, who are equipped with American weapons and are trained according to American methods, shall never be able to represent the intererests of the German people."

    The service- and dress uniforms worn by the NVA may have seemed "Third Reich style" to the casual observer, but in fact, the models for all key design elements of these uniforms and insignia (the cut of the tunics, style and system of shoulder boards and collar patches, the dress aigullettes, the brocade belts, the high boots etc.) as well as the military ceremonial (including the goosestep) had been in existence long before the Nazi seizure of power in 1933.

    The NVA very much understood itself as the keeper of old Germany military traditions and customs and - for all their Communist ideological background - embraced this role with pride and enthusiasm.

    It was not for nothing that the NVA's highest military decoration, the Scharnhorst-Orden was named after one of the great Prussian military reformers and -thinkers, Gerhard von Scharnhorst, whereas its (never awarded) bravery decoration, the Blücher-Orden, was named in honor of legendary Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher.

    (Amusingly, the only genuinely "Nazi" item of NVA kit was one that most members of the general public would not have suspected of being one: The NVA's steel helmet was essentially the final model of steel helmet developed for the Wehrmacht in WW2!)
    An excellent post indeed! I made a mistake when I mentioned the badges; actually, I was thinking of some of the Bundeswehr badges (like the Fallschirmjäger one) rather than the NVA insignia, so that was my mistake. The anecdote about the early uniforms was especially interesting and I appreciate your adding it and all the other information to the thread. It makes a lot of sense that they would try to do the opposite of what was seen (or what they wanted to be seen) as American imperialism by allowing the Germans to use their own uniforms.

    Regarding the helmet, I once saw a photograph of a WWII-era blueprint or patent for the helmet of that type, and it was a bit jarring to see what I always recognized as an NVA helmet drawing with approval stamps depicting the 'Reichsadler.'

Similar Threads

  1. 11-10-2013, 07:00 PM
  2. 10-13-2013, 07:10 PM
  3. 01-20-2013, 11:45 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •