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Why does the Third Reich attract so many collectors?

Article about: mauser9: You are right on target with that comment. and I agree completely with, "Also you have to respect the fantastic fighting qualities and the ability to inflict horrendous casulti

  1. #1

    Default Why does the Third Reich attract so many collectors?

    As a historian I have long wondered why the Third Reich is such an attraction not only to collectors, but to historians. I would like to hear your views, so I will start by posting my own. The period 1933-1945 was to some degree an abberation in Europen history in which a highly advanced, industrial society, recognized for ts contributions to the arts, science, and culture plunged into the abyss of depravity and violence. This radical deviation from the accepted path of political/social process created a government/military entity that was completely outside the accepted social pale. In a sense, the Third Reich became a unique experience, utterly different from previous western experience. At least, that was/is the popular perception. It's uniqueness--the uniforms, titles, and apparent solidarity, created an attractive veering from the ordinary. The Third Reich projected power and authority, determination and resolution, and the unstoppable ability to see it's programs carried through. I once had a District Attorney say to me about the Mafia in the US, "You gotta admire the power." And he was right. This is a much too short exlanation, but it embodies the crux of my opinion on the subject. What is yours? Dwight

  2. #2

    Default Re: Why does the Third Reich attract so many collectors?

    Abetted by masterful propagandists, drawing upon evocative traditions, and employing a roster of accomplished artists and designers of all kinds, the architects of the Third Reich seduced a nation. While the vast majority of today's collectors eschew the fundamental ideas associated with the Nazism, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the finely crafted military and political artifacts produced in Hitler's Germany and the culture to which they belong continue to seduce.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Why does the Third Reich attract so many collectors?

    Uncle Paul: That is well put and I agree completely. I am sure that there are many sound reasons for the enduring attraction of the Third Reich that have nothing to do with favoring naziism. It is those aspects of the fascination and attraction that interest me here, especially when I see the volume of interest in the Third Reich section of the Forum in contrast to all the others individually. The volume of interest in the Third Reich is also illustrated by the fact that an entire industry exists for the manufacturing and sales of ersatz Third Reich items. Thanks for the post. Dwight

  4. #4

    Default Re: Why does the Third Reich attract so many collectors?

    There are many obvious reaons to me the first which partially pulled my intrest into the subject is my Germanic heritage. As a historian I also agree that it is interesting due to the vast industrialization, but more so globalization of the world. Then there is the group of people whom are interested in the TR for the wrong reasons ie. death, extremists, and racists. I also think many military collectors just start collecting it due to its scarsity / value, but then become hooked.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Why does the Third Reich attract so many collectors?

    A difficult question to answer, as there will be different reasons for different collectors. I no longer collect TR items, though I still have a number of them in my collection, mostly tropical items which is where my Father served with the allies against them and it seemed appropriate to collect items from his opponents.

    I am in my 50's and as I posted above I am the son of a WWII veteran and that is part of the reason why I collect, but also as a child there was a lot of WWII related mass media programs about on the war, on the TV and in the cinema and that engenders an interest in the period in general and as a youngster you do not really take in the significance of what the Germans were about and only see them as the underdogs and that is something that appeals to the British, even when the underdogs were morally incorrect. Also in my youth, airfix was a big thing and making the models was another factor and for some unknown reason the German stuff always seemed cooler, both vehicles and uniforms.

    Sorry if this is a bit rambling and incoherent, but it is a difficult question to answer.


    Whatever its just an opinion.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Why does the Third Reich attract so many collectors?

    I think it is something different!!, As in the sense of looking at something then researching it, buying it if you can find & afford it!!, Im quite new to collecting TR & I like how their awards were dished out.When you look from the outside in you only see the famous Iron Cross!! but when you dig deeper you find there was a vast amount of awards issued for all different things.. & I like now looking at war footage & pinging medals,awards..badges etc..Also it is better than spending all your money on beer!!!!!.& the Missus says it keeps me out of trouble..providing I dont wear it down the pub!!! Cheers Terry.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Why does the Third Reich attract so many collectors?

    Americankraut: You're right that many collectors are of German descent, and unfortunately it is true that some people are attracted to the dark side of the period. My interest in the Third Reich is the apparent dichotomy it represents. However, some historians insist that no dichotomy exists and the Third Reich was nothing more nor less than the release of latent forces that exist in all societies. Either way, the 1933-45 period was and is a major deviation from what preceeded and followed it. For that reason I am fascinated with it and the regalia it produced. Thanks for posting. Dwight

  8. #8

    Default Re: Why does the Third Reich attract so many collectors?

    Bond: That's an interesting slant on the topic from the perspective of someone born after the war. I was born before the war and experienced the wartime propaganda that painted the Japanese and Germans as brutes. It was a bit of a problem for me since we had relatives on both sides of the lines. An uncle who was an Oberstleutnant and a cousin who was a Gefreiter on the Easten Front, as well as another cousin who was an American in the RAF and another cousin who was a US naval aviator in the pacific. My real interest in the Third Reich started when I was a grad student studying modern German history, and it peaked when I was assigned to the Berlin Garrison in the mid-50's. Thanks for the post. Dwight

    Terry: You are 100% correct that researching an artifact and obtaining it for your own is hugely rewarding. It is apparent that the process of researching and collecting has produced several very knowledgeable people, as is evidenced on this Forum. Thanks for the post. Dwight

  9. #9

    Default Re: Why does the Third Reich attract so many collectors?

    Dwight, my father thought the Italians were nice but useless, respected the Germans and hated the Japanese until the day he died and that might partly explain my interest in collecting German items and to a lesser extent Italian items and a complete lack of WWII Japanese items in my collection, though a Samurai sword does have an appeal.

    I did not stop collecting TR items because of any moral issues, more financial and also a desire to balance my collection with items from the Allies, especially the British & commonwealth forces. There are still plenty of German tropical items I would like to add to my collection, but mostly they are expensive and it is difficult for me to justify the cost for what is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby.


    Whatever its just an opinion.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Why does the Third Reich attract so many collectors?

    I have always had an interest in the TR, running parallel to an on going interest in Imperial Rome. This really started when I was a teen and living in West Germany. My father served in the US Army and in the 1970s we were based in Hanau (not far from the Roman Limes) and Bad Kissingen. Most of the US installations were former Wehrmacht kasernes. I grew up in the Cold War, which was a direct result of the Second World War. Third Reich architecture was all around me, from the motorpool buildings my dad worked in to the big 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt. We did tours of the General Walker ARFC hotel underground bunkers in Berchtesgaden, saw the Nazi era buildings in Munich, drove past the old Wurzburg Radar foundations on our way to the Rhon hills. I visited Dachau, also German military cemetaries in Bavaria. A AFRC postcard I bought in Berchtesgaden had a photo of Hitler's house on it; I also saw the foundations of that same house that remained. So from an early age I was aware of the TR and its history, after all that was the reason that we were based in Germany. But I also met real Germans, they were our neighbors while we lived on the economy. I learned the language and admit that I liked all things German. We had a sneeky admiration for the Germans. Though we read the Sgt. Rock and Haunted Tank comics, we knew that they weren't a push over. The US military admired, and respected, their West German counterparts. As kids we would cheer when a US military convoy went by, but we thought that seeing a Bundeswehr convoy was WAY TOO COOL! I now collect small Roman and Third Reich items. While I am aware of the terror and horror that these two civilisations produced, I still respect them. To hold a 'Nazi' item is to hold a piece of history. To me it means that those people are not forgotten. I am glad that I wasn't around when WWII happened, that I wasn't Jewish in a ghetto in Poland, or a allied prisoner of the Japanese. I am not a 'Nazi' or fascist. I don't collect SS stuff or such like. But coming from a military family, I respect the ordinary German Landser and the ordinary German man or woman. For me the Third Reich, especially its end, was a tragic time, a great tragedy for the world. But, for me, it was also a old fashioned Romantic time, a volk fighting for its existance against the whole world. I am glad that they lost, but I respect the suffering they went thru while not blinded to the suffering they caused themselves. The Romance of a lost cause, maybe. But when I look at my M40 helmet, I don't see Adolf Hitler or the death camps, I don't see the SS or the smart uniforms. I see a little German soldier in a fox hole somewhere, his world collapsing around him as the T34s rush past.

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