Miriam Yegane Arani: NS racism as a visual ideology


Jahrgang 7, Nr. 2, Art. 1, ISSN 2363-6513, Dezember 2020

NS racism as a visual ideology

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A presentation by Miriam Yegane Arani

Background: This presentation by Miriam Yegane Arani of an introductory iconographic analysis of National Socialist racism, provides a good entry point to Yegane’s basic research on sociological and photo-historical methodology of analyzing visual materials, in particular photographic sources, from the Nazi era. It is striking that the images published under the Nazi regime followed a certain program that polarized between idealized body norms and deviations from them. The Ministry of Propaganda presumably controlled the photo-publication to ensure that only photographs that conformed to the racial ideology were published. It can be assumed that under the Nazi regime there was an increasingly rigid polarization between the guiding and enemy images within the government-controlled image program. During the pre-war period, the focus seems to have been on propagating the “Nordic” model, whose visual counterpart is expressed in the “racially” pejorative enemy images of the war years. Particularly noticeable is the practice of distinguishing between people according to their outward appearance in pairs of pictures typical of the period, which were intended to illustrate “racial” antagonisms.

Tags: NS racism, National Socialism, propaganda, sociology of images

TIERAUTONOMIE, Jg. 7 (2020), Heft 2.

NS racism as a visual ideology

Contextual infos

The pagenumbers in the brackets all relate to: Miriam Y. Arani: Fotografische Selbst- und Fremdbilder von Deutschen und Polen im Reichsgau Wartheland 1939–45 (2008).

After 1945

Race-ideology did not disappear after 1945, partly because of personal continuities that were possible to remain in German society after the Second World War and partly because of the long-term effects this thinking-model had in the everyday conceptions of the vast majority. (426)

From a strictly scientific point of view, race theory had already longer been considered untenable. (426)

Soon after the Second World War, the physical anthropologist Juan Comas clarified on behalf of the newly founded UNO in a paper entitled “Race as a Myth”, that the National Socialist racial teachings were factually incorrect. Human heredity has nothing to do with the blood. (426) Furthermore, the findings of physical anthropology in no way lead to the conclusion that “racial purity” causes cultural development while “race mixture” would cause cultural decay. (427) The results of international anthropological, social and historical research allow much more to conclude that not it’s not different body shapes, skin colors, etc. that are causes of conflicts, but rather conflicts of interest between different social groups, through which visible variedness (body, clothing, religious customs etc.) first become significant as signs of difference. (427)

In particular in biology, the classification of human races is scientifically obsolete, since it’s not a suitable concept for describing the variability of Homo Sapiens. Human populations can’t be adequately classified with the category “race”. A correct biological classification as a “breed” [in German the term race and breed are the same: ‘Rasse’] is not even applicable to natural populations of animals, since an exclusive allocation to a single “race/breed” would be necessary, which is not possible in the case of humans. The only area in biology where “races/breeds” are spoken of now, is in the breeding procedures that affect domesticated nonhuman animals. Only in context with nonhuman animals domesticated by humans the ‘biologically correct’ zoological forms of “breeds” exists. (427)

Racism as a visual ideology

It is noticeable that the pictures published under the NS-regime are subject to a certain program that polarizes between idealized body norms and deviations from them.

The Ministry of Propaganda most likely controlled photojournalism to that effect, that only photographs were published that corresponded to the racial ideology. (430)

I suspect that under the NS regime there was an increasingly rigid polarization between the guiding- and enemy images of the government-controlled image program. During the pre-war period, the propagation of the “Nordic” model seems to be in the foreground, whose visual counterpart becomes expressed as the “racially” pejorative enemy images in the years of war.

Especially striking is the practice of differentiating between people according to their external appearance in pairs of pictures typical of the time, which sought to demonstrate a racial antagonism. To narrow down the high relevance of these “contrast images” more precisely it is helpful to remember that Adolf Hitler, in his time in Vienna became acquainted to the Ostara booklets of Adolf Lanz that contained a Christian religious racial doctrine which described a “racial conflict” between blond-blue-eyed “Ario-Heroicists” and dark “Sodom monkey-likes”. (408)

The NS-ideologist Alfred Rosenberg claimed that the creative power of Europe was to be traced back alone to the Germanic tribes and that their greatest threat were the “mudflows of Mongrel from Asia, Africa, the entire Mediterranean basin and its foothills”. (408)

The precursors of the NS race ideology

The racial ideology was not a new creation of the NSDAP, which merely brought together the already existing racisms in the human sciences and then put it with an incredible radicalism into practical politics. (381, 382)

Since the 18th century and throughout the 19th century, the people of the world have been classified by European anthropologists predominantly on the basis of external, visible characteristics such as skin color, body type, shape of skull, hair color and texture, eye shape, nose shape, etc. On the basis of visible characteristics scholars formed “race-types” and interpreted their outward appearances as signs of moral, emotional and intellectual qualities. (381f., 394)

In the 19th and early 20th century, scientific anthropology was for large parts racial anthropology. (395) At the end of the 19th century racial theory achieved the rank of a scientifically legitimized dogma, that tried to justify political domination with “scientific” arguments. European Scholars mainly used visible characteristics, which usually only change over a long-term (behavior patterns, clothing, traces of specific living conditions), as indicators for the construction of different “races”. (382) The characteristics ascribed to other races usually corresponded to the social prejudices of the involved researchers towards the foreign peoples. (382) The European anthropologists routinely ignored empirical facts in favor of the norms of their own socio-cultural milieu, and the characteristics attributed to the other “races” legitimized above all the claim to leadership of their own “white race”. (395)

Until the end of the 19th century, the racial anthropological model of order was based on a selection of externally visible characteristics (skin color, physique, shape of skull, etc.). With the beginnings of modern genetics at the turn of the 20th century the biological theories about humans detached themselves from the visible exterior. The visible appearance was now called “phenotype” and was attributed to the interaction of hereditary factors and environmental influences. The hereditary factors that are not directly perceptible were called “genotype”. This also meant that human-biological race theory became largely detached from the concrete appearance in favor of abstract considerations, that could no longer be traced by the general public. (395)

Since the middle of the 18th century, European scholars have classified and hierarchized humans as “races” within an anthropology that was understood in terms of natural history, and they interpreted the physical appearance of a person as an exterior indicator of certain mental and spiritual characteristics, which were considered to be hereditary and unchangeable. (391) “Race” became a political term of struggle in the context with the aristocratic counter-revolution at the end of the 18th century in the conflict of the “two races”, in which the “purity” of “race” was first used to serve as a basis of legitimacy for the aristocracy’s claim to power. (391)

Race theory had become an elite ideology already in the German Empire. (390) Around the beginning of the 20th century, race theory developed into the elite ideology of the German academic middle classes. Among their most important supporters were biologists, anthropologists and physicians. In the period between the wars, the number of the followers of ideas of “racial hygiene” (eugenics) increased. ( ) Race theory was a thinking model represented by renowned German scientists during the Nazi dictatorship, from which by no means all of them moved away after 1945. This is also related to the fact that this thinking model was also established in other Western societies. (426)

In the Nazi state, eugenic ideology was propagated as “hereditary and racial hygiene”. (430) In addition, the argumentation of racial ideology was connected with the theorems of the eugenic movement, bringing forth a fearsome horror scenario of the imminent extinction of the “nordic race”. (430)

Content of the NS race ideology

According to the NS racial ideology, based on their outward appearance people could be divided into “races”, which would bequeath not only physical characteristics to their descendants but also a “racial soul”. (380)

Within the Nazi racial ideology, it was assumed that there was a direct relationship between certain physical and psychological characteristics and that a person’s physical appearance could be used to draw conclusions about the individual’s soul and behavior. (381)

The racial theory referred not only to the visible body, but also to the visible behavior. (430)

The Nazi race ideology amounts to a complete biologization of the socially and culturally acquired characteristics of a human. Characteristic is the representation of social conflicts of interest as a violation of a “naturally given” social order. The biologistic view of humans negates the historical, cultural and social influences on human existence. (380)

Racial theory reduced the diversity of humans to a few, statically conceived “racial types”, so that very large numbers of people could be thought of as summarizable and international political conflicts could be rationally explained with supposed biological tendencies of the “races” involved. (382) “Races”, as an absolutized supra-individual structure, became the presumed subject of history (382).

The “Nordic race”

The Nazi dictatorship elevated the “Nordic race” to the physical and mental ideal for the entire German people. The characteristics ascribed to the “Nordic race” were propagated as exemplary: a slender and strong body, a long narrow skull, blond hair and blue eyes. The rosy-white skin was considered the lightest of all the “races” and therefore only it should be called “white”. (405)

According to Nazi race theory, the “German people” consisted of 6 races, whereby the “Nordic” portion was to be increased to 50% by “racial care”. For this purpose, the most valuable “racial” components were to be collected from the population and brought into dominant positions. (380)

Already at the beginning of the 20th century, parts of German society perceived Northern Europe as an untouched counter-world to the modernizing society in their own country. Northern Europe became a projection screen for a racial-biological utopia: the peoples of Northern Europe were declared “Germanic blood relatives” and “noble people”. (405)

The glorification of the “northern race” did not only refer to the physique type of a human being, but also to its allegedly directly connected “racial soul”. (406) The racial theorist Hans F. K. Günther described the following mental “leader-qualities” of the “northern race”: the “ability to judge, truthfulness and energy (‘Tatkraft’)” were outstanding. The “Nordic” human controls him/herself and shows “an objective, prudent attitude that often makes him appear cool and stiff”, his “sense of reality” in combination with his “energy” drives him to great undertakings. He unfolds “objective passion, while passionality (…) is far from him”. In social interaction he/she showed “little inclination to empathize with the nature of other people”. (406) Günther thus described a contemporary bourgeois German habitus and placed it in direct relation to a certain type of physique, which was judged to be exemplary. (407)

The equation of “Nordic” and “Aryan”

The Nazi ideology combined the visual idea of the “Nordic race” with the race-theoretical view of history in the tradition of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, which interpreted both the culture of Greek antiquity, which was regarded as exemplary by the German elites, as well as the “Aryans”, which had been suspected even longer ago, as “Nordic”.

Although the origins of the Aryan language are undoubtedly to be found in the Middle East, the term “Aryan” had already been a synonym for “Christian-German” since the imperial period and was explicitly limited to Nordic-Germanic racial types in the encyclopedias of the Nazi era. (407)

During the Nazi dictatorship, a distinction was made between superior and inferior human races and it was claimed that only “Nordic” people had intellectual and creative cultural potential. The other “human races” were more or less clearly denied a cultural capability. (380)

Hitler attributed the majority of progress in art and science to the “Aryans” as the only culturally creative race; he considered all other races to be uncultured and culturally destructive. Like the race-theoretical ‘pioneers’, he claimed that the culture-creating potency of the “Aryans” was threatened by “racial crossbreeding” and “blood mixing”, because this lead to degeneration and cultural disintegration. (407)

The NSDAP ideology explained more precisely that ancient Greece as a “Nordic” high culture had disintegrated due to the “racial mixture” between Greeks and Turks. (408)

Hitler believed that German “blood” must be kept “pure” because “blood mixing” would lead to a “lowering of the racial niveau”. (407)

Race mixture

In the middle of the 19th century, the French Count Arthur de Gobineau, in his essay “On the Inequality of the Races of Man”, took the view that people in the world were divisible into three main races and the “white Aryan race” was the crowning glory of creation. “Race mixture” would lead to cultural decay, because a “mixed race” was not capable of higher cultural achievements. He thought the “Germanic peoples” were the last “purely preserved branch” of the “Aryans” and threatened by “mixing” with foreign peoples. (391f.) The German Gobineau Society, founded by Richard Wagner, supplemented these assertions with the idea of being able to counter the supposed decline of the “Aryan race” by “breeding”. (392)

Following on from Gobineau, Houston Stewart Chamberlain claimed in “The Foundations of the 19th Century” (1899) that the “Aryans” were “pure-bred” cultural carriers and had been in a “racial struggle” with the “Jews” as a “mixed race” since antiquity. His racial-theoretical historical misrepresentation became widely effective in the German Empire, and Kaiser Wilhelm II made Chamberlain’s publication mandatory reading in the training of German senior teachers. (392) At this time, racial ideology was also a constitutive element of the German Emperor’s worldview. (392)

Finally, under the Nazi dictatorship, schoolchildren were taught that the culture of a people depended on its “race” and that German culture was in the tradition of the Germanic peoples, to whom the “Jews” were completely foreign in nature. (358)

The German-Germanic “People’s Face”

In the public visual world of the Nazi dictatorship – as in the associated politics – the focus of attention was not the individual, but rather the supposedly typical physical and psychological characteristics of large groups. (430)

Erna Lendvai-Dircksen’s books on the “German People’s Face” connected with the agrarian-romantic and anti-metropolis ideas, that became known under the slogan “blood and soil”, that were supported by the “völkischen” [Editor’s Note: a homogenous concept of “people” and “state” as an organic unity] groups of the Weimar Republic and the agricultural political apparatus of the NSDAP. Behind this was the idea of a social and biological unity of the Germans an based on a “piece of agrarian homeland” that was threatened by ”deracination”. (358)

Already in the last third of the 19th century, the “völkische” understanding of the German nation became the dominant ideology in the Prussian-dominated German Empire. (359)

The “völkischen” groups in the Weimar Republic also clung to the idea of a “racial hierarchy” associated with the “Volksgemeinschaft”-ideology [Editor’s Note:: unity of the ethnically homogenous ‘own’ people]. (379)

The “völkische” understanding of the German nation contradicts the democratic republican concept of nation, according to which “nation” is a political and “people” an ethnic category, so that from a democratic republican perspective a nation can also be composed of several peoples. (359)

The “average image” as a precursor of the “people’s face” (“Volksgesicht”)

The iconological roots of the German “people’s face” propagated in the Nazi era are to be found in the imperial era and the at that time still elitist racial anthropological-eugenic world of ideas. (430) Lendvai-Dircksen’s “people’s face” was preceded by the “average pictures”. (386)

The Prussian government established a non-democratic state in 1871 in the form of an empire. Now the elites involved in the rule “from above” made a supposed “essence” of the German people the nexus of national identity formation, and sought this in Christian, Aryan-Germanic and biological terms. (396)

Since the end of the 19th century, “illustrations” of a new way of thinking of the Western elites have been found in the form of “average pictures” or “composite photographs”. They were discussed within a transnational network of scholars around 1890-1920. What has come down to us is, among other things, an average image of Saxon soldiers, which belongs to the legacy of the first professor of photography at the TH Dresden (Robert Luther) at the beginning of the 20th century. He had received the picture from the art historian Georg Treu, who tried to prove that Classical Greek art had the purest ideal of beauty that was valid regardless of time and place. (385) For his research he also used average pictures, which he had become aware of through publications by Henry Pickering Bowditch of the Harvard Medical School. In the 1890s, Bowditch had been given with Saxon soldiers as photo objects by General von Funcke in Dresden. From numerous photographs of different individual heads, an average photo of the soldiers was finally produced by multiple exposures of these photographs on one and the same surface. (386) The average photograph of Saxon soldiers was to be compared with an “average face” of Slavic soldiers produced in the same way. Treu and Bowditch claimed that the “Germanic” head was rounder and the “Slavic” head was more angular. (386)

In the second half of the 19th century it became more common in Prussia to assume that the Germans were superior to the Poles. At the end of the 19th century, especially the Poles in Poznan became objects of an increasingly colonial self-image of the German Empire. (396) The continuing migration from divided Poland westwards into the German Empire and beyond became a political issue, which racial-theory-arguing-Germans portrayed as a “flooding” of the Germans by “the Slavs”. (398) The German Empire strived for an imperial world status and pursued a colonial policy both internally and externally. (399) The polarization between “Germans” and “Slavs” that began in anti-Polish journalism during the imperial era was a mental abstraction and imagination that did not do justice to the political realities on the ground. The “average photographs” of Saxon and Wendish soldiers were not only a synthesis of “scientific” images of humans with aesthetic values. They also represent an abstracting pictorial conception of the imperial elites of their “people” in a racial-ideological-eugenic context. (402)

The inventor of the average picture method was Sir Francis Galton, who also came up with the hypothesis, adopted by the previously mentioned two, that average pictures would lead to conclusions about the nationality, the “race” and the intelligence of the group in question. (386)

Galton is considered the founder of “eugenics”. He wanted to use quantitative methods to create the basis for the social selection of people in order to improve the quality of the “British race”. With his publications on the heredity of intelligence and talent, he laid the scientific foundations for a concept for the “ennoblement” of society, which he called eugenics from 1883 onwards: the allegedly too high birth rates of the weak, sick and poor were to be reduced and the allegedly too low birth rates of the intelligent, healthy and rich were to be increased. (386f.) Eugenics gained in importance above all because of the new, “biological” perspective on human beings. (387) It completed the arsenal of arguments put forward by the Social Darwinists who sought to apply Darwin’s theory of evolution to social life and who held the view that human beings were biologically determined to occupy certain positions in society. (387) Towards the end of the 19th century the eugenic movement also established itself among the economic and political elites of the German Empire and was institutionalized at German universities under the term of “racial hygiene”. (390)

The defining power of a minority of scientists became an instrument of power to control a majority. (388)

Visual enemy images

Physiognomics provided in particular explanations for the internal structure of the Germans, who were outwardly quite different. (361) Race theory, on the other hand, served primarily to scientifically rationalize the exclusion and devaluation of “Jews” and “foreigners” („Fremdvölkischen”). (361)

Enemy images of “the degenerated”

Since Darwin’s theory of evolution, the line between “human” and “nonhuman animal” seemed to become more fluid. European racial anthropologists took up this idea, arguing that the non-European “races” had not yet completed the process of becoming human and that Europeans too could “degenerate” and sink back to “animal” life forms. The “mentally ill” were now settled at a level of development between ‘humans’ and ‘animals’. (387f.)

The National Socialist “hereditary and racial hygiene” amounted to a breeding concept affecting German society. Initially, “hereditary patients” (“erbkrank”), “asocial” and “Jews” were to be excluded. The corresponding laws to legalize state exclusion measures were passed in the mid-1930s (Law against Habitual Criminals 1934, Inheritance Health Law 1935, Blood Protection Law/Nuremberg Laws 1935). (428)

During the Nazi dictatorship, the process of visual exclusion even became part of the state health care system. In the context of state-“hereditary and racial care”, the “foreign” and “sick” were excluded by aesthetic taste judgements in the guise of medical expertise. “Aryanised” German doctors judged the people entrusted to them in relation to a model of the “inherited healthy” (“erbgesunden”), supra-individual German “people’s body” (“Volkskörper”) with a “Nordic race ideal”. In the medical field, the aesthetic taste judgement about the body of a person became a medical judgement about the “racial” inheritance-value (“Erbwert”) of a person for the “people’s body” (“Volkskörper”) and a right to life based solely on this. (409) These processes are also reflected in visual communication: under the Nazi regime, visual representations of “abnormal” or “degenerated” human bodies were repeatedly used to evoke fear, disgust and contempt in viewers. The “abnormal” body was considered a sign of a “sick” mind. (409)

The iconography of the “abnormal” human being, popularized under the Nazi regime, was in line with the view held by the Italian doctor Cesare Lombroso as early as 1876 that there were “born criminals” who differed from other people in their physical build. His student Hans Kurella declared in 1893 that people “born to crime” had typical physical characteristics: a skull that was too small or too large, thick and dark hair, an asymmetrical face, deformed ears, large and wide or long and thin noses. (409)

Under the Nazi regime, aesthetic taste judgement, “racial hygiene” and criminal anthropology merged seamlessly. (409) Accordingly, the prisoners of Dachau concentration camp were presented in the NSDAP party magazine “Illustrierter Beobachter” as “deformities” (“Missgestalten”) with deep-set eyes, hollow cheeks, crooked mouths, protruding ears, scars etc. (410).

Enemy images of “foreign peoples” and “foreign races”

Of significance for the intended iconography of the “völkische” portrait photography is the exclusion of “un-German” physiognomies, which was also intended by the manufacturer. (364) In 1933 Erna Lendvai-Dircksen expressly advocated the exclusion of aesthetic figures of “foreign style” from the German pictorial world, because this would “not allow a national community”.

Images of the enemy / Jews

The government-controlled visual self-image of the Germans under the Nazi regime is primarily revealed in relation to the visually expressed image of the enemy “Jew”. During the Second World War, Nazi press propaganda used Jews as a central enemy image, with which other enemy images were associated. For example, anti-Polish Nazi propaganda was repeatedly closely linked with anti-Semitic propaganda. (384)

Enemy images / Polish

In order to understand the visual representation of the Poles in the National Socialist imagery of the Second World War, it is useful to be aware that at the beginning of the Second World War the mental border between Europe and Asia was moved by the Nazi regime to the western border of the Soviet Union – and thus ran through the previously Polish territory. (420)

“Racial science” (“Rassenkunde”)

In the Nazi state, racial research scientifically underpinned the ideology and policies of the NSDAP. The Polish civilian population also became the subject of German-language race research. (420)

In the Reichsgau Wartheland in particular, a professionalising and radicalising centre of racial selection of people was established. Experts of the SS on race and folklore tried to put their “folklore” political (“volkstumspolitischen”) measures on a scientific basis, in cooperation with the German civil administration and the Reichs-University of Poznan. (422f.) With the introduction of the DVL-procedure (Deutsche Volksliste) in all “incorporated eastern territories” in 1941, a “racial patterning” of the inhabitants in accordance with the SS’s RuSHA (SS Race and Settlement Main Office) was enforced in the Warthegau, which was also applied in other German-occupied territories in Eastern Europe and came to a provisional conclusion in the Warthegau in 1943. (426) The anthropologists Egon von Eickstedt and Ilse Schwidetzky used “racial formulae” to calculate allegedly exact percentages of “racial proportions” of individuals in the incorporated eastern territories. (420f.)

At the “Reichs-University of Poznan”, application-oriented race research was conducted for the Nazi dictatorship. Here, for example, the “Völkerpsychologe” Rudolf Hippius and the biologist Konrad Lorenz carried out race-relevant studies on the civilian population in cooperation with SS functionaries. This included, in particular, “Mischlingsforschung” (“mixed-race-research”) as a special branch of research which would have had no right to exist without the race ideology. In 1942, Rudolf Hippius carried out a psychological study of German-Polish “half-breeds” in order to prove that the degree of “racial mixing” had an effect on the psychological structure of a person. He assumed that Germans and Poles had fundamentally different personality structures and that German rule over Poland was legitimate because they were only prepared to “use their forces regularly and in an orderly manner” under duress. He came to the easily predictable conclusion that “racial mixing” between Germans and Poles would lead to “character disharmonisation”. (421, 422)

Heinrich Himmler believed that “Nordic” children were more creative than “racial mongrels” and that the Poles had only joined Europe through “Nordic” Germans. He fantasized that “inferior foreign host peoples” such as the Poles would want to drain “Nordic blood” from the Germans, because all cultural and state-forming achievements would go back to the “Nordic race”. (421)

National Socialist racism as a visual ideology; picture panels

Table of nations, middle 18th century.

The term “racism” describes a specific relation of social oppression and violence in which the ruling groups differentiate a very large number of people according to physical and cultural characteristics. Allegedly typical character and behavioral traits are attributed to them, which imply an alleged “natural” hierarchy of people. The “racial” attributions of characteristics serve to justify unequal treatment of people in economic and political life.

From: Eugen Fischer, Grundlagen der Humangenetik und Rassenhygiene (1921/1923).

With regard to National Socialist racism in particular, there are certain communication problems due to the different perspectives on the facts. For most Germans under Nazi rule, racial ideology seemed to be insignificant, as people were not consciously aware of the resulting unequal treatment. From their perspective, the theory and practice of Nazi racial ideology seemed to diverge widely. Accordingly, a German whisper joke of the time said: “What does the ideal German look like? Blond like Hitler, tall like Goebbels, slim like Göring (…)”. The racial ideology in the Nazi state before the Second World War affected mainly minorities and marginal groups in German society. With the beginning of the war, however, racial ideology became more relevant for numerous people in German-occupied foreign countries, who were now declared “racially” inferior by the Nazi state. In occupied Poland in particular, it became apparent that it was directed not only against the Jewish minority but also against the Christian majority of the population. The racial ideology was of central importance for the moral legitimization of the NS crimes of murder against millions of people and formed the ideological core of the National Socialist policy of extermination.

Hitler Youth learning the definitions of “full Jew”, “half Jew” and “quarter Jew” (Nuremberg Laws), 1938.

Racial studies for school assistants, 1943.

[Plates 3, 4; Heredity and Racial Studies].

The concept of “race” is one of the core elements of Nazi ideology and was propagated linguistically, primarily in the guise of a scientific theory of heredity. In addition, the race ideology was also visually popularized to a considerable extent during the Nazi dictatorship. During this period, masses of widespread pictorial representations of so-called Nordic people and their supposed enemies, scientific racial anthropology and the “völkisch” utopia of a “racially pure” German nation merged into one another. The historian George Mosse described racism as a “visual ideology” and saw visuality in particular as one of its greatest strengths. However, the specifics of this visual ideology have not yet been sufficiently researched in relation to National Socialism.

Cover of the magazine “Neues Volk” with “Nordic” ideal types, 1938.

Poster of the exhibition “The Eternal Jew”, which was shown in several German cities in 1937/38.

[Plates 5, 6; “New People” and “The Eternal Jew”]

The Germans under the Nazi regime were educated in educational institutions and through the mass media controlled by the Ministry of Propaganda to a folkish-racial vision standard. They were to view their own nation in a “racial” way. They were continuously given a conventionalized visual idea of what Germans should look like by the government and the feeling that they should stay away from “foreign”, supposedly inferior “blood”.

Touring exhibition “Degenerate Art” (“Entartete Kunst”) – defamation of modern art with racist slogans.

Cover of the publication “Entartete Musik” 1938 on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition against “the penetration of brutal jazz rhythms into the German world of music”.

[Plates 7, 8; “degeneration” through “niggering” (“Verniggerung”)]

By means of Nazi pictorial propaganda and racial education, in which the use of pictorial material was common, an emotionally guided distinction between “Germans” and “foreigners” (“Fremdvölkischen”) was practiced, which further spread and consolidated the Nazi racial ideology.

From: Illustrierter Beobachter, July 1933, showing the scientists of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute Otmar von Verschuer (above) and Wolfgang Abel (below). [The title says: “The racial image in the family tree”.]

From: Märkischer Adler, 7 June 1936, comparison of antique and contemporary heads. At the top: Equating Augustus with the “Nordic race”. [The title says: “Race, unchanged throughout centuries”]

[Plates 9, 10; “Racial studies in the press”]

Looking at other people was broadly coupled with a process of distinguishing between “own” and “foreign” physiognomies, between norm and deviation, good and bad. The processes of exclusion initiated at the visual level related to easily recognizable external characteristics such as physical appearance, clothing and behaviour. On the basis of published photographs, aesthetic taste judgements about people of different cultural backgrounds were practiced, which were transferred to the social interaction with real people.

I would like to try to illustrate the self-image of the Germans propagated under National Socialism by means of Erna Lendvai-Dircksen’s “völkischen” portrait photographs. The photographer achieved a relatively high level of recognition under the Nazi regime through her photo albums on the “German” or also the “Germanic folk face” (“germanischen Volksgesicht”).

Erna Lendvai-Dircksen, photographs from the years 1933-1945.

[Plates 11, 12, 13; Lendvai-Dircksen]

Her “völkischen” portrait photographs have also been published since the 1930s in large mass magazines and racial-political journals in hundreds of thousands of copies. Lendvai-Dircksen’s portrait photographs usually follow a consistent concept: they show close-ups of faces, with all socio-cultural contextual information about the person in question being blanked out. Her photographic models were usually German farmers, initially older ones with faces marked by wind and weather, later younger ones with smoother faces. The photographer depicted the faces of the individual people like light, rigid masks against a dark background. Often they are photographed from a slight view from below, so that they appear slightly raised to the viewer. With her subject matter and stylistic features of the picture design, which were intended to remind of old German and folkloric-realistic paintings, the photographer underpinned the idea of a centuries-long “German” community of descent. Lendvai-Dircksen’s illustrated books, in which she summarized these portraits, served to illustrate a biologically and socio-culturally homogenous German or Germanic “Volkskörper”. The faces she presented met widespread ideas of the appearance of the Germans. At the same time, they were consistent with the National Socialist ideas of the “Nordic race”.


Winner of the competition for the best Nordic breed head of the magazine “Volk und Rasse” (1926).

[Plates 14, 15, 16, 17; winner of the competition for “Nordic heads”]

Lendvai-Dircksen’s portraits of German farmers and Nordic people [plates 11, 12, 13] corresponded to the preferences of the “völkischen” groups and the romantic agricultural and anti-government “blood and soil” ideology of the Weimar Republic. Under the Nazi dictatorship, the term “völkisch” denoted a “racially” understood national feeling, according to which Germans were a “blood and ‘species’ community” (“Bluts- und Artengemeinschaft”).

Lendvai-Dircksen’s photographs and illustrated books [plates 11, 12, 13] gave the public an aesthetic model of what a “German” physiognomy looks like and a visual sense of the so-called “German way”. According to the Physiognomy of the Zurich vicar Lavater, the head and face were the external expression of a person’s soul and morality. This idea from the 18th century was increasingly combined with the search for anthropological types in the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, therefore, pictorial representations of individual people often did not have the purpose of showing a particular individual, but were intended to represent an anthropological type. This led to the endeavor to identify a specifically “German” type of person. Erna Lendvai-Dircksen stylised a non-representative selection of German faces in the “völkisch” sense into a superordinate, de-individualised “folk face” (“Volksgesicht”). She illustrated physiognomies in the sense of a community that extended beyond Germany into northern Europe.

Legend of the race map (1925): pink “Nordic or white race”, brown “Westic or Mediterranean race”, orange: “Eastern Baltic race”, olive green “Ostic race”, yellow “Mongolian race”, light blue “Dinaric race”, violet “Armenian race”, dark blue “Arab or Oriental race”, at the bottom “Negro or Black race”.

[Picture plate 18; “race map” (“Rassenkarte”)]

The Nazi state saw itself as a “völkischer” state, whose basis was to be a “social unit” founded “in blood”. Hitler wrote in “Mein Kampf” that the “völkische Weltanschauung”, the “völkische” worldview, denied the equality of people and assumed the existence of higher and inferior human “races”. He interpreted world history as a “racial struggle”.

At that time, people with the same physical and psychological characteristics were considered a “race”. In the tradition of European racial anthropology and against the background of Gobineau’s and Chamberlain’s racial theories, the outward appearance of a “race” was directly inferred from a supposedly “racially” conditioned mental and spiritual state and a certain cultural status. The National Socialists elevated the so-called “Nordic race” to the physical and mental ideal for the entire German people. In the tradition of the racial theoreticians, the so-called “northern race”, the “Germanic” and the “Aryans” were equated, because the Germans, and before them the Germanic people, were said to have preserved the “blood” of the “Aryans” in the purest possible way.

Adolf Hitler: “The ‘völkische Staat’ must place race at the center of general life”

Information- and Worksheets for ‘Reichskunde’, Magdeburg 1941.

[Plates 19, 20; worksheets on “racial studies”, Hitler quote: ethnic national state – race]

Information- and Worksheets for ‘Reichskunde’, Magdeburg 1941.

[Plates 19, 20; worksheets on “racial studies”, Hitler quote: ethnic national state – race]

German children in the Nazi state were taught “racial studies” (“Rassenkunde”) from adolescence onwards, and the use of visual material was common practice. I show two pages here from the “Merk- und Arbeitsblätter für Reichskunde” (Information- and Worksheets for Reichs-Studies) from 1941, which were aimed at young vocational school pupils. Why lessons in racial studies were given is clear from the Hitler quotation in the first line: “The entire educational work of the ‘völkische’ state must find its crowning glory in the fact that it burns the sense of race and racial feeling instinctively and rationally into the heart and brain of the youth entrusted to it.”

The text of the worksheet stated that all European peoples would be made up of six races, with the proportions of “races” varying in each case. Peoples would be always made up of several “races”, with one or two “races” leading the way. In the case of the German people, the “Nordic” and “Faelic” (fälische”) races would be dominant and decisive. The proportion of “Nordic” people would be higher among the Germans than among other peoples: 10% of Germans were “pure Nordic” and the majority of Germans had “Nordic blood”.

A table on the worksheet is to represent the six European “races”. Each one of the so-called “races” is assigned a portrait. In the following rows of the table you find information on the physical appearance of the “races”. Remarkably, only the skin of the “Nordic” and the “Faelic race” is described as light and rosy and the eye colors as “blue to grey”. All other “races” are described as more colorless or darker. The worksheet contains no information about the alleged “mental characteristics” of these alleged “races”. However, they can be found, for example, in Hans F.K. Günther and a devaluation of all non-“Nordic” and “non-Faelic breeds”. The text for the pupils is limited to the statement that in Germany “pure-bred” representatives of other European breeds were rare.

The authors emphasize that people of the “Nordic race” have excellent qualities and are therefore particularly promoted by the Nazi state. They were “gifted with imagination”, had a “sharp mind”, had a “sense of responsibility” and were “born to be leaders”. They had a “matter-of-fact and sober view”, a “good organizational talent”, “drive to action” and “creative urge”. In conclusion, the authors emphasize that it is not only physical appearance that is decisive for the assessment of a person, but also the “attitude” and “sort of display of oneself”, which would indicate the “racial soul”. Thus, even a person who looks “Ostic” (“ostisch”) could be “Nordic” in thought and action.

This restriction was necessary in order to be able to relativize the appearance of the Nazi top officials by referring to their “racial soul”. At the same time, however, the relativization of the visible appearance of a “race” also meant the opening of infinite discretionary scope for the so-called race experts of the Nazi regime. For the assessment of the relevance of the visible exterior of a human being was ultimately withheld from these racial experts in individual cases, which the “völkisch” state produced. For in the case of people discriminated against and persecuted by the Nazi regime, the racial argumentation modules were used specifically against those affected. For example, Poles could look “Nordic”, but in cases of doubt, the “racial soul” attributed to them was always considered “foreign”.

Another worksheet presents “The three race circles” and is introduced with the Hitler quote: “The völkische state must place race at the center of general life.” The text that follows explains that the people of the earth could be divided into three “race circles” “purely outwardly”: “whites, yellows and blacks”. The subgroups of these “racial circles” would be called “races”. A “race” would be a group whose members display a large number of the same physical and mental characteristics that were equally present in their descendants.

The three “race circles” are presented in tabular form for comparison. They are distinguished according to the criteria: “important representatives of the race circle”, “physical characteristics” and “mental characteristics”. In the line “important representatives” the faces of a “White”, a “Yellow” and a “Black” are shown. The “White” is represented by a young man in a white shirt, tie and suit jacket; he looks – photographed from a slightly lower perspective – beyond the viewer into the distance. The “Yellow”, on the other hand, is depicted as a male child in nature-loving and poor-looking clothes, looking past the viewer at the side of the picture. The “Black” is presented as an adult man without clothing. His head is photographed from above, so that it appears that the man is looking up at the viewer. In the next lines the “race” subordinated to the “race circles” and their “residential areas” are listed: The “white race circle” is assigned the supposed six European “races”, the “yellow race circle” is assigned the Chinese and Japanese, Lapps, Eskimos and Indians, as well as Turks, Arabs and Iranians. The “black race circle” includes Africans and Afro-Americans, Australian natives and South Sea Islanders.

In the line on “physical characteristics”, there is surprisingly little information on the “white race circle”, which is only described as “fair-skinned”, and relatively much information on the other “race circles”. However, these only mention characteristics of individual sub-groups, which are then transferred to the entire “race circle”. Accordingly, “the Yellow” have a yellow to reddish skin color, a flat, broad face, “slit eyes”, a stocky figure and “short limbs”. According to this, “Blacks” have a “broad, flat nose”, “bulging lips”, curly hair, a “slender figure” and “long limbs”. The implied hierarchy of the “racial circles” among themselves is mainly based on the “mental characteristics” attributed to them. The “Whites” would be “spiritually” leading, “cultural creators” and “state-forming”; the “Yellows” were “empathetic”, “stuck on old cultural levels” but receptive, and the “Blacks” were “little capable of development” and had “low intellectual abilities”.

After confrontation with this table, students should apply what they have learned in an exercise and draw the distribution areas of the three “race circles” on a small map of the world. Those who do this will inevitably get the impression that the “yellow ones” pose a threat to the “white ones” because of their spatial extension and developmental capacity.

Anti-Semitic graphics in “Stürmer” style.

Jews in Poland, before 1939.

[Plates 21, 22, 23, 24; NS graphics “Jews” and photos of Polish Jews before 1939].

The doctrine of race offered a pattern of interpretation of apparently great explanatory power, as it provided a key of interpretation for the different manifestations of people in the world. Interestingly, the two sheets just presented do not contain any statements about Jews, who during the Nazi dictatorship were often classified “racially” as “Middle Eastern” types, although they had lived in Europe since Roman times at the latest. One reason for this is that the National Socialists propagated the principle of “racial purity” (“Rassereinheit”) and stylized Jews into a counter-principle of “racial mixing” (“Rassenmischung”). This figure of thought was not new, but already pre-formulated by Houston Stewart Chamberlain. On the visual level, the Nazi state produced various enemy images of Jews, some of which propagated the supposedly “Middle Eastern” (“vorderasiatisch-orientalische”) appearance, others the danger of “racial mixing” and others anti-Semitic fantasies. In addition to the very striking images of the enemy, relatively subtle photopublicistic depictions were also created, whose contemporary anti-Semitic significance is difficult to recognize for today’s viewers without knowledge of Nazi racial theory.

Photofreund-Yearbook 1939: “Work Break” (“Werkpause”).

Photofreund-Yearbook 1939: “Philosophers of doing nothing” (“Philosophen des Nichtstuns”).

[Plates 25, 26; picture pair “Photofreund” 1939]

An example of this are pairs of pictures consisting of an “Aryan” and a “Semitic” page, which appeared repeatedly in the yearbooks of the magazine “Photofreund” at that time.

As a generalization of the racial ideological Nazi image propaganda, it can be said that it linked an aesthetic judgement of taste about the appearance and visible behaviour of people very closely to political meanings.

Photofreund-Jahrbuch 1942: “Study” (“Studie”).

Photofreund-Yearbook 1942: “The Thoughtful One” (“Der Nachdenkliche”).

[Plates 27, 28; picture pair “Photofreund” 1942]

The conformity of a person’s appearance and behaviour with the “Nordic” racial ideal was considered “beautiful”, whereas the deviation from this ideal was considered “ugly”. All physique types and mental impulses considered “foreign” were to be intuitively and emotionally excluded by the German “Volksgenossen”. Under the Nazi dictatorship, the so-called “instinctive” recognition of the “foreign folk” (“des Fremdvölkischen”) was regarded as proof of the so-called “healthy folk soul” (“gesunde Volksseele”). The process of social exclusion under the Nazi regime, which was initiated on the basis of aesthetic taste judgements about the visual appearance of a person, can also be partially proven existent in the scientific-medical field. The biologist Konrad Lorenz, for example, wrote in 1940 that the so-called “species-specific (‘arteigene’) perception of beauty and ugliness” allows a correct distinction between valuable forms of life and so-called “degenerative mutations”. The term “degeneration” leads into the field of eugenics, which unfortunately cannot be dealt with further here for reasons of time. Eugenics, like racial ideology, attributed all violations of the normative concepts of the ruling elites to supposed biological deficiencies of the ruled, which were regarded as hereditary and unchangeable. Also in the context of National Socialist “hereditary and racial hygiene”, “the sick” and “the foreign” were excluded by aesthetic taste judgments in the guise of medical expertise. The overlap between the eugenic and racist dimensions of National Socialism is also reflected in the pictorial world.

Press photo of the propaganda companies of the German Wehrmacht, 14.8.1941. Caption: “The Soviets used such criminal types to fight German soldiers.”

“Scum of humanity” (“Abschaum der Menschheit”). Page from the report by Jürgen Stroop on the suppression of the 1943 uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto.

[Plates 29, 30; Soviet war prisoner of war / Hähle, and “degenerated” Jewish bodies / Stroop].

Under the Nazi regime, visual representations of “abnormal”” or “degenerated” human bodies were repeatedly used to evoke fear, disgust and contempt in the viewers.

The propagandistic success of the dissemination of the Nazi racial ideology is partly due to the fact that it was an elite ideology that was already widespread among many German and “Western” academics before 1933. The widespread effect of the racial ideology is – apart from the aforementioned school indoctrination of German youths – very probably due to the aggressive image propaganda of the Nazi regime. In the 1930s, the number of photographs published in newspapers, magazines and books increased in Germany.

Press photo of the SS propaganda company (“SS-Propagandakompanie”) of the German Wehrmacht, no date, caption: “On the Soviet front. The gaze of this Kradmelder, a young Dane who fights as a volunteer in the Waffen SS on the Eastern Front, is clear and certain.”

Press photo of the propaganda companies of the German Wehrmacht, 7.6.1944, caption: “The battle rudder man has a very important function to fulfil on the ship. He cannot and must not leave his place during an attack. (…).“

[Plates 31, 32; press photos of “Nordic” soldiers]

While the Germans and their supposed “Artverwandten” were stylized in the visual mass media of the Nazi state towards the so-called “North-Racial” (“nordrassischen”) ideal, Jews and Soviet Russians in particular were presented as unhuman-like enemies who seemed to be standing on a lower level of cultural development. The Germans, on the other hand, were portrayed in the photojournalism of the Nazi state as “sympathetic” as possible in the sense of the racial ideology.

Two German press photos of the propaganda companies of the German Wehrmacht, ca. 1941/42, caption:

„Figures from the ‘Sowjet-Paradise’. In the prison camps, the types of criminals we remember from the worst times of the ‘commune’ are now multiplying. Among the Jews in uniform of the Soviet Army there are also types who are seen to be capable of all kinds of murder, but who nevertheless fail as soldiers at the given moment. – On the right, a pockmarked Mongolian who fits worthily into the ranks of the Bolsheviks.”

[Plates 33, 34; press photos “Asians”]

German press photographs of Russians from 1941 onwards show them in a way that the German public was supposed to find “unsympathetic”. Very interesting and so far unexplored are the iconographic parallels between the anti-Soviet and anti-American Nazi image propaganda of the last years of the war. The Nazi regime accused both states of being a “mixture of races” (“Rassengemisch”).

Press photograph of the propaganda companies of the German Wehrmacht, 6.3.1944, caption: “As prisoners in Rome! Chicago and New York types in Rome as prisoners of German paratroopers and grenadiers.”

Press photograph of the propaganda companies of the German Wehrmacht, 5.7.1944, caption: “After a short fight in German captivity. The American soldiers in a collection camp are glad to have escaped from the ‘hell of the Atlantic Battle’ at least with their lives. (…)“

[Plates 35, 36; press photos “Americans”]

This accusation can only be understood if the Nazi ideal of “racial purity” is included in the analysis.

In the course of research for my dissertation I was able to prove in regard to Poles in the Reichsgau Wartheland, that German Nazi photojournalism did not produce a tangible visual image of the “Pole” in this area, which would have visualized deviating human physique types. If possible, the Poles in this area were not depicted at all. In this way, Nazi propaganda informed the Poles in the Gau non-verbally: you do not exist. What is interesting in this case is above all the political tactical use of National Socialist race research. For during the non-aggression pact with the Nazi state, the Poles were characterized by German race researchers as rather “Nordic”, whereas after the beginning of the war, German race research tended to judge the Poles as “instinctive” and “uncultured” and brought so-called “Ostic” and “Mongolian” race shares of the Poles to the foreground. During the war and occupation years, the tenor of German racial researchers was that no predominant “racial types” could be identified among the Poles, but only a high degree of “mixture” of many “races”, whereby the negative influence of “Asian races” was particularly emphasized.

Wolfgang Abel, picture panel on research into “mixed-race”/”hybrids” (allegedly physically and psychologically “degenerated” Moroccan-German and Vietnamese-German people), 1937.

Alphonse Bertillon (Paris Police Prefect), survey of physiognomic features, around 1895.

[Plates 37, 38; photos Mischlingsforschung / “mixed-race studies“]

The Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler believed that “Nordic” children were more creative than “racial hybrids”. In order to give this belief greater prominence, the Nazi regime produced numerous German contributions to “research into hybrids” (“Mischlingsforschung”), which would have had no right to exist without the racial ideology. Such research was carried out on various people from bi-national couples. In 1942, German-Polish “Mischlinge” amongst others, were psychologically researched in the Gauhauptstadt of the Wartheland Posen, to prove that “racial mixing” led to psychological instability. Empirical data were interpreted in such a way that the political cause of the discomfort of those people who were now classified as “half-breeds” was completely ignored. And this was due to the fact that the National Socialist occupying power subjected the multi-ethnic population of Poland to a radical segregation according to “völkisch-rassischen” criteria, thus constructing a supposed “mixed race” problem.

A large amount of research has shown that in the case of “racially” motivated discrimination, it is not the actual characteristics of the person discriminated against that are decisive, but rather those characteristics that are ascribed to him or her by the discriminator – depending on his or her self-image. From a scientific – and especially biological – perspective, racial theory is obsolete. It would be very desirable if the historiography of National Socialism would emphasize more strongly that racial theory does not say anything reliable about the people defamed by it, but primarily something about the political strategies and methods of legitimation of such elites who systematically mistreated and murdered other people.

About the author

Miriam Yegane Arani did her doctorate at the UDK in Berlin under the supervision of the photo historian Prof. Diethart Kerbs. Her work focuses on the survey and analysis of photo-historical materials from the NS period. Her dissertation dealt with the Reichsgau Wartheland, where the Nazis implemented “exemplary” oppressive measures against the native Polish population, which were soon to be used in the old Reich territories in further increased brutality against the antagonized parts of the German, especially the German Jewish population.


Publisher: www.simorgh.de – ‘Open Access in animal-, human- and the earth liberation’. Revised 12/2020. Published with the kind permission of the author and the Edition Farangis.


Yegane Arani, Miriam (2020). Presentation: NS racism as a visual ideology. TIERAUTONOMIE, 7(2), http://simorgh.de/tierautonomie/JG7_2020_2.pdf.

(Rev. 07.12.2020)



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Miriam Yegane Arani: Der NS-Rassismus als visuelle Ideologie


Jahrgang 7, Nr. 1, Art. 1, ISSN 2363-6513, Mai 2020

Der NS-Rassismus als visuelle Ideologie

Eine Präsentation von Miriam Yegane Arani

Dieser Text als PDF

Hintergrund: Diese Präsentation von Miriam Yegane Arani einer einleitenden ikonographischen Analyse des nationalsozialistischen Rassismus bildet einen guten Einstieg in Yeganes Grundlagenforschung zu einer sozialwissenschaftlichen und fotogeschichtlichen Methodik der Analyse von Bildmaterialien, und dabei insbesondere fotografischer Quellen, aus der NS-Zeit. Es ist auffällig, dass die unter dem NS-Regime publizierten Bilder einem gewissen Programm folgten, das zwischen idealisierten Körpernormen und Abweichungen davon polarisiert. Das Propagandaministerium kontrollierte die Fotopublizistik wahrscheinlich darauf hin, dass nur Fotografien veröffentlicht wurden, die der Rassenideologie entsprachen. Zu vermuten ist, dass es unter dem NS-Regime zu einer immer rigideren Polarisierung zwischen den Leit- und Feindbildern des von der Regierung gesteuerten Bildprogramms kam. Während der Vorkriegszeit scheint die Propagierung des „nordischen“ Leitbilds im Vordergrund gestanden zu haben, dessen visuelles Pendant in den „rassisch“ pejorativen Feindbildern der Kriegsjahre zum Ausdruck kommt. Besonders auffällig ist dabei die Einübung einer Unterscheidung von Menschen nach ihrem äußeren Erscheinungsbild in zeittypischen Bildpaaren, die einen rassischen Antagonismus veranschaulichen sollten.

Schlagworte: NS-Rassismus, Nationalsozialismus, Propaganda, Bildsoziologie

TIERAUTONOMIE, Jg. 7 (2020), Heft 1.

Miriam Yegane Arani: Der NS-Rassismus als visuelle Ideologie (für die komplette Fassung bitte diesem Link zur PDF Version folgen)


Die in den Klammern angegebenen Seitenzahlen beziehen sich sämtlich auf: Miriam Y. Arani: Fotografische Selbst- und Fremdbilder von Deutschen und Polen im Reichsgau Wartheland 1939–45 (2008).

Nach 1945

Nach 1945 verschwand die Rassenideologie nicht, einerseits wegen der personellen Kontinuitäten, die in den Nachkriegsgesellschaften möglich waren, und andererseits wegen dem längerfristigen Niederschlag dieses Denkmodells im Alltagswissen der breiten Bevölkerung. (426) Aus streng naturwissenschaftlicher Sicht gilt die Rassentheorie schon länger als nicht haltbar. (426)

Schon bald nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg stellte der physische Anthropologe Juan Comas im Auftrag der neu gegründeten UNO in einer Schrift mit dem Titel „Rasse als Mythos“ klar, dass die nationalsozialistische Rassenlehre sachlich falsch ist. Menschliche Vererbung hat nichts mit dem Blut zu tun. (426) Außerdem lassen die Erkenntnisse der physischen Anthropologie in keiner Weise den Schluss zu, dass „Rassereinheit“ zu Kulturentwicklung und „Rassenmischung“ zu Kulturverfall führe. (427) Die Ergebnisse der internationalen anthropologischen, sozial- und geschichtswissenschaftlichen Forschung lassen sehr viel mehr darauf schließen, dass nicht die verschiedenen Körperformen, Hautfarben usw. die Ursache von Konflikten sind, sondern vielmehr Interessenskonflikte verschiedener sozialer Gruppen, durch die sichtbare Unterschiede (Körper, Kleidung, religiöse Sitten usw.) erst als Zeichen von Differenz bedeutsam werden. (427)

Insbesondere innerhalb der Biologie ist die Klassifizierung von menschlichen Rassen wissenschaftlich obsolet, weil es sich um kein geeignetes Konzept zur Erfassung der Variabilität des Homo Sapiens handelt. Menschliche Populationen können mit der Kategorie „Rasse“ nicht angemessen erfasst werden. Eine korrekte biologische Klassifikation als „Rasse“ ist noch nicht einmal auf natürliche Populationen von Tieren anwendbar, weil eine exklusive Zuordnung zu einer einzigen „Rasse“ erforderlich wäre, die bei Menschen nicht möglich ist. Der einzige Bereich in der Biologie, in dem von „Rassen“ gesprochen werden kann, ist die Haus- und Nutztierzucht. Nur unter den von Menschen domestizierten Tieren gibt es ‚biologisch korrekt‘ als „Rassen“ bezeichenbare zoologische Formen. (427)

Rassismus als visuelle Ideologie

Es ist auffällig, dass die unter dem NS-Regime publizierten Bilder einem gewissen Programm folgen, das zwischen idealisierten Körpernormen und Abweichungen davon polarisiert. Das Propagandaministerium kontrollierte die Fotopublizistik sehr wahrscheinlich darauf hin, dass nur Fotografien veröffentlicht wurden, die der Rassenideologie entsprachen. (430) Ich vermute, dass es unter dem NS-Regime zu einer immer rigideren Polarisierung zwischen den Leit- und Feindbildern des von der Regierung gesteuerten Bildprogramms kam. Während der Vorkriegszeit scheint die Propagierung des „nordischen“ Leitbilds im Vordergrund gestanden zu haben, dessen visuelles Pendant in den „rassisch“ pejorativen Feindbildern der Kriegsjahre zum Ausdruck kommt.

Besonders auffällig ist die Einübung einer Unterscheidung von Menschen nach ihrem äußeren Erscheinungsbild in zeittypischen Bildpaaren, die einen rassischen Antagonismus veranschaulichen sollten. Um die hohe Relevanz dieser „Kontrastbilder“ genauer einzugrenzen, ist es hilfreich sich zu vergegenwärtigen, dass Adolf Hitler in seiner Wiener Zeit durch die Ostara-Hefte von Adolf Land eine christlich-religiöse Rassenlehre kennengelernt hatte, die als ein „Rassenkampf“ zwischen blond-blauäugigen „Ario-Heroikern“ und dunklen „Sodoms-Äfflingen“ dargestellt wurde. (408)

Der NS-Ideologe Alfred Rosenberg behauptete, die schöpferische Kraft Europas gehe allein auf die Germanen zurück und deren größte Bedrohung seien die „Schlammfluten der Mischlinge Asiens, Afrikas, des gesamten Mittelmeerbeckens und seiner Ausläufer“. (408)

Die Vorläufer der NS-Rassenideologie

Die Rassenideologie war keine Neuschöpfung der NSDAP, die lediglich bereits existierende Rassismen in den Humanwissenschaften zusammenfasste und sie dann mit unglaublicher Radikalität in praktische Politik umsetzte. (381, 382)

Seit dem 18. Jahrhundert und das 19. Jahrhundert über wurden die Menschen der Welt von europäischen Anthropologen vorwiegend anhand äußerer, sichtbarer Merkmale wie Hautfarbe, Körperbau, Schädelform, Haarfarbe und –beschaffenheit, Augenform, Nasenform usw. klassifiziert. Anhand der sichtbaren Merkmale bildeten die Gelehrten „Rassetypen“ und deuteten deren Äußerlichkeiten als Anzeichen für ihre moralischen, seelischen und intellektuellen Eigenschaften. (381f., 394)

Im 19. und im frühen 20. Jahrhundert war die wissenschaftliche Anthropologie in weiten Teilen Rassenanthropologie. (395) Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts erlangte die Rassenlehre den Rang eines wissenschaftlich legitimieren Dogmas, das politische Herrschaft mit „naturwissenschaftlichen“ Argumenten zu rechtfertigen suchte. Den europäischen Gelehrten dienten dabei hauptsächlich sichtbare Merkmale, die meist nur längerfristig veränderlich sind (Verhaltensmuster, Kleidung, Spuren spezifischer Lebensumstände), als Anhaltspunkte bei der Konstruktion unterschiedlicher „Rassen“. (382) Die anderen Rassen zugeschriebenen Eigenschaften entsprachen üblicherweise den sozialen Vorurteilen der involvierten Forscher über die fremden Völker. (382) Die europäischen Anthropologen setzten sich zugunsten der Normen ihres soziokulturellen Milieus wiederholt über empirische Fakten hinweg und die den anderen „Rassen“ zugeschriebenen Eigenschaften legitimierten vor allem den Führungsanspruch der eigenen, „weißen Rasse“. (395)

Das rassenanthropologische Ordnungsmodell hat bis zum Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts auf einer Auswahl äußerlich sichtbarer Merkmale aufgebaut (Hautfarbe, Körperbau, Schädelform usw.). Mit den Anfängen der modernen Genetik lösten sich die biologischen Theorien vom Menschen in der Wende zum 20. Jahrhundert vom sichtbaren Äußeren des Menschen. Die sichtbare Erscheinung wurde nun „Phänotypus“ genannt und auf das Zusammenwirken von Erbanlagen und Umwelteinflüssen zurückgeführt. Die nicht direkt wahrnehmbaren Erbanlagen dagegen wurden als „Genotypus“ bezeichnet. Damit löste sich auch die humanbiologische Rassentheorie großteils von der konkreten Erscheinung zugunsten abstrakter Überlegungen, die von der Öffentlichkeit nicht mehr nachvollzogen werden konnten. (395)

Seit Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts klassifizierten und hierarchisierten europäische Gelehrte innerhalb einer naturgeschichtlich verstandenen Anthropologie Menschen als „Rassen“ und interpretierten das körperliche Erscheinungsbild eines Menschen als Veräußerungsform von bestimmten geistig-seelischen Eigenschaften, die für erblich und unveränderlich gehalten wurden. (391) Zum politischen Kampfbegriff wurde die „Rasse“ im Kontext der aristokratischen Gegenrevolution Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts im „Streit der zwei Rassen“, in dem die „Reinheit“ der „Rasse“ erstmals als Legitimationsgrundlage für den Herrschaftsanspruch der Aristokratie dienen soll. (391)

Die Rassentheorie war bereits im deutschen Kaiserreich zu einer Eliten-Ideologie geworden. (390) Etwa seit Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts entwickelte sich die Rassentheorie zur Eliten-Ideologie der deutschen akademischen Mittelschichten. Zu ihren wichtigsten Trägern zählten Biologen, Anthropologen und Ärzte. In der Zwischenkriegszeit nahm insbesondere die Zahl der Anhänger „rassenhygienischer“ Ideen (Eugenik) zu. (    ) Die Rassentheorie war während der NS-Diktatur ein von renommierten deutschen Wissenschaftlern vertretenes Denkmodell, von dem keineswegs alle nach 1945 abrückten. Dies hängt auch damit zusammen, dass dieses Denkmodell auch in anderen westlichen Gesellschaften etabliert war. (426)

Im NS-Staat wurde die eugenische Ideologie als „Erb- und Rassenhygiene“ propagiert. (430) Darüber hinaus wurde die Rassenideologie argumentativ mit Theoremen der eugenischen Bewegung verbunden, woraus sich ein angsterregendes Schreckensszenario vom drohenden Aussterben der „nordischen Rasse“ ergab. (430)

Inhalt der NS-Rassenideologie

Der NS-Rassenideologie zufolge konnten Menschen aufgrund ihres äußeren Erscheinungsbildes in „Rassen“ aufgeteilt werden, die ihren Nachkommen nicht nur körperliche Eigenschaften, sondern auch eine „Rassenseele“ vererben würden. (380)

Innerhalb der NS-Rassenideologie wurde vorausgesetzt, dass eine direkte Beziehung zwischen bestimmten physischen und psychischen Eigenschaften besteht und dass vom körperlichen Erscheinungsbild eines Menschen auf seine Seele und sein Verhalten schließen könne. (381) Die Rassenlehre bezog sich nicht nur auf den sichtbaren Körper, sondern auch auf das sichtbare Verhalten. (430)

Die NS-Rassenideologie läuft auf eine vollständige Biologisierung sozial und kulturell erworbener Merkmale eines Menschen hinaus. Charakteristisch ist die Darstellung von sozialen Interessenkonflikten als Verstoß gegen eine „naturgegebene“ Gesellschaftsordnung. Das biologistische Menschenbild negiert historische, kulturelle und gesellschaftliche Einflüsse auf das menschliche Dasein. (380)

Die Vielfalt der Menschen wurde durch die Rassenlehre auf wenige, statisch gedachte „Rassetypen“ reduziert, so dass sehr große Zahlen von Menschen gedanklich zusammengefasst und internationale politische Konflikte mit vermeintlich biologischen Anlagen der betreffenden „Rassen“ rational erklärt werden konnten. (382) „Rassen“ wurden als verabsolutierte überindividuelle Struktur zum vermeintlichen Subjekt von Geschichte (382).

„Nordische Rasse“

Die NS-Diktatur erhob die „nordische Rasse“ zum körperlich-seelischen Ideal für das gesamte deutsche Volk. Die der „Nordrasse“ zugeschriebenen Eigenschaften wurden als vorbildlich propagiert: ein schlanker und kräftiger Körper, ein langer, schmaler Schädel, blonde Haare und blaue Augen. Die rosig-weiße Haut galt als hellste aller „Rassen“ und deshalb sollte nur sie als „weiß“ bezeichnet werden. (405)

Der NS-Rassenlehre nach setzte sich das „deutsche Volk“ aus 6 Rassen zusammen, wobei der „nordische“ Anteil durch „Rassenpflege“ auf 50% gesteigert werden sollte. Zu diesem Zweck sollten die wertvollsten „rassischen“ Bestandteile in der Bevölkerung gesammelt und in beherrschende Stellungen gebracht werden. (380)

Schon zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts nahmen Teile der deutschen Gesellschaft den Norden Europas als unberührte Gegenwelt zu der sich modernisierenden Gesellschaft im eigenen Land wahr. Nordeuropa wurde zur Projektionsfläche für eine rassenbiologistische Utopie: die nordeuropäischen Völker wurden zu „germanischen Blutsverwandten“ erklärt und zu „Edelmenschen“. (405)

Die Verherrlichung der „Nordrasse“ bezog sich nicht allein auf den Körperbautypus eines Menschen, sondern auch auf seine vermeintlich direkt damit verbundene „Rassenseele“. (406) Der Rassekundler Hans F. K. Günther führte folgende seelische „Führereigenschaften“ der „nordischen Rasse“ an: herausragend seien die „Urteilsfähigkeit, Wahrhaftigkeit und Tatkraft“. Der „nordische“ Mensch beherrsche sich und zeige „eine sachliche, abwägende Haltung, die ihn oft als kühl und steif erscheinen lässt“, sein „Wirklichkeitssinn“ treibe ihn in Verbindung mit seiner „Tatkraft“ zu großen Unternehmungen an. Er entfalte „sachliche Leidenschaft, während ihm Leidenschaftlichkeit (…) fern liegt“. Im sozialen Umgang zeige er „wenig Neigung zur Einfühlung in das Wesen anderer Menschen“. (406) Günther beschrieb damit einen zeitgenössischen bürgerlichen deutschen Habitus und setzte diesen in direkte Beziehung zu einem bestimmten Körperbautyp, der als vorbildlich beurteilt wurde. (407)

Gleichsetzung von „Nordisch“ und „Arisch“

Die NS-Ideologie verband die visuelle Vorstellung von der „nordischen Rasse“ mit dem rassentheoretischen Geschichtsbild in Tradition von Houston Stewart Chamberlain, dass sowohl die von den deutschen Eliten als vorbildhafte Kultur der griechischen Antike als auch die vor noch längerer Zeit vermuteten „Arier“ als „nordisch“ interpretierte.

Obwohl die Ursprünge des Arischen zweifellos im Mittleren Osten zu suchen sind, fungierte der Begriff „Arier“ bereits seit der Kaiserzeit als ein Synonym für „christlich-deutsch“ und wurde in den Lexika der NS-Zeit ausdrücklich nur auf nordisch-germanische Rassetypen beschränkt. (407)

In der NS-Diktatur wurde zwischen höher- und minderwertigen Menschenrassen unterschieden und behauptet, nur „nordische“ Menschen würden über ein geistiges und schöpferisches Kulturpotential verfügen. Den anderen Menschenrassen wurde eine Kulturfähigkeit mehr oder weniger deutlich abgesprochen. (380)

Hitler führte die Mehrzahl der Fortschritte in Kunst und Wissenschaft auf die „Arier“ als einzig kulturschöpferische Rasse zurück, alle anderen Rassen hielt er für kulturlos und kulturzerstörerisch. Er behauptete wie die rassentheoretischen Vordenker, die kulturschöpfende Potenz der „Arier“ sei durch „Rassenkreuzung“ und „Blutsvermischung“ bedroht, denn dies führe zu Degeneration und Kulturzerfall. (407)

Der NSDAP-Ideologe erklärte genauer, das antike Griechenland als „nordische“ Hochkultur sei durch die „Rassenmischung“ zwischen Griechen und Türken zerfallen. (408) Hitler meinte, das deutsche „Blut“ müsse „rein“ gehalten werden, weil „Blutsvermischung“ zur „Senkung des Rasseniveaus“ führen würde. (407)


Der französische Graf Arthur de Gobinau vertrat Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts in seinem Essai „Über die Ungleichheit der Menschenrassen“ die Auffassung, die Menschen auf der Welt seien in drei Hauptrassen aufteilbar und die „weiße arische Rasse“ sei die Krönung der Schöpfung. „Rassenmischung“ führe zum Kulturverfall, weil eine „Mischrasse“ zu keinen höheren Kulturleistungen fähig sei. Er meinte, die „Germanen“ seien der letzte „rein erhaltene Zweig“ der „Arier“ und durch „Vermischung“ mit fremden Völkern bedroht. (391f.) Die von Richard Wagner ins Leben gerufene deutsche Gobineau-Gesellschaft ergänzte diese Behauptungen um die Idee, den vermeintlichen Verfall der „arischen Rasse“ durch „Züchtung“ entgegen treten zu können. (392)

An Gobineau anknüpfend behauptete Houston Stewart Chamberlain in „Die Grundlagen des 19. Jahrhunderts“ (1899), die „Arier“ seien „reinrassige“ Kulturträger und stünden seit der Antike in einem „Rassenkampf“ mit den „Juden“ als „Mischlingsrasse“. Seine rassentheoretische Geschichtsklitterung wurde im Deutschen Reich breitenwirksam, das Kaiser Wilhelm II. Chamberlains Veröffentlichung zur Pflichtlektüre in der Ausbildung deutscher Oberlehrer machte. (392) In dieser Zeit war die Rassenideologie auch ein konstitutives Element der Weltanschauung des deutschen Kaisers. (392)

In der NS-Diktatur schließlich wurde schon den Schulkindern beigebracht, die Kultur eines Volkes sei abhängig von seiner „Rasse“ und die deutsche Kultur stehe in der Tradition der Germanen, denen die „Juden“ völlig wesensfremd seien. (358)

Das deutsch-germanische „Volksgesicht“

In der öffentlichen Bildwelt der NS-Diktatur stand – wie in der dazugehörigen Politik – nicht das Individuum im Zentrum der Aufmerksamkeit, sondern das vermeintlich körperlich und seelisch Typische großer Gruppen. (430)

Erna Lendvai-Dircksen schloss mit ihren Büchern zum „deutschen Volksgesicht“ an die agrarromantische und großstadtfeindliche Ideenwelt an, die unter der Parole „Blut und Boden“ bekannt wurde und von den „völkischen“ Gruppierungen der Weimarer Republik und dem agrarpolitischen Apparat der NSDAP getragen wurde. Dahinter stand die Vorstellung von einer auf eine „heimatliche Scholle“ bezogenen sozialen und biologischen Einheit der Deutschen, die durch „Entwurzelung“ bedroht werde. (358)

Das „völkische“ Verständnis von der deutschen Nation wurde schon im letzten Drittel des 19. Jahrhunderts zur vorherrschenden Ideologie im preußisch dominierten deutschen Kaiserreich. (359)

Die „völkischen“ Gruppen in der Weimarer Republik hingen auch der Vorstellung von einer „rassischen Hierarchie“ an, die mit der „Volksgemeinschafts“-Ideologie verbunden war. (379)

Das völkische Verständnis von der deutschen Nation widerspricht dem demokratisch-republikanischen Nationsbegriff, demzufolge „Nation“ eine politische und „Volk“ eine ethnische Kategorie ist, so dass sich eine Nation aus demokratisch-republikanischer Perspektive auch aus mehreren Völkern zusammensetzen kann. (359)

Das „Durchschnittsbild“ als Vorläufer des „Volksgesichts“

Die ikonologischen Wurzeln des im NS propagierten deutschen „Volksgesichts“ liegen in der Kaiserzeit und der zu diesem Zeitpunkt noch elitären rassenanthropologisch-eugenischen Ideenwelt. (430) Lendvai-Dircksens „Volksgesicht“ gingen die „Durchschnittsbilder“ voraus. (386)

Die preußische Regierung errichtete 1871 einen nicht-demokratischen Staat in Gestalt eines Kaiserreichs. Nun machten die an der Herrschaft beteiligten Eliten „von oben“ ein vermeintliches „Wesen“ des deutschen Volkes zum Knotenpunkt der nationalen Identitätsbildung und suchten dies im Christlichen, im Arisch-Germanischen und im Biologischen. (396)

Seit Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts finden sich „Veranschaulichungen“ eines neuen Denkstils der westlichen Eliten in Gestalt von „Durchschnittsbildern“ oder „composite photographs“. Sie wurden innerhalb eines länderübergreifenden Netzwerks von Gelehrten etwa 1890-1920 diskutiert. Überliefert ist u.a. ein Durchschnittsbild sächsischer Soldaten, das aus den Hinterlassenschaften des ersten Professors für Fotografie an der TH Dresden (Robert Luther) zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts zählt. Er hatte das Bild von dem Kunstwissenschaftler Georg Treu erhalten, der nachzuweisen versuchte, dass die klassische griechische Kunst das reinste Schönheitsideal aufweise, das zeit- und ortsunabhängig gültig sei. (385) Für seine Forschungen nutze er auch Durchschnittsbilder, auf die er durch Veröffentlichungen von Henry Pickering Bowditch von der Harvard Medical School aufmerksam geworden war. Bowditch hatte in den 1890er Jahren von General von Funcke in Dresden sächsische Soldaten als Foto-Objekte zur Verfügung gestellt bekommen. Aus zahlreichen Aufnahmen von unterschiedlichen einzelnen Köpfen wurde schließlich durch Mehrfachbelichtung dieser Aufnahmen auf ein- und dieselbe Fläche ein Durchschnittsfoto der Soldaten hergestellt. (386) Die Durchschnittsfotografie sächsischer Soldaten sollte mit einem auf gleiche Weise hergestellten „Durchschnittsgesicht“ slawischer Soldaten verglichen werden. Treu und Bowditch behaupteten, der „germanische“ Kopf sei runder und der „slawische“ eckiger. (386)

In der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts wurde es in Preußen üblicher, von einer Überlegenheit der Deutschen den Polen gegenüber auszugehen. Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts wurden insbesondere die Polen in Posen zu Objekten eines zunehmend kolonialen Selbstverständnisses des deutschen Kaiserreichs. (396) Die anhaltende Migration aus dem geteilten Polen nach Westen in das Deutsche Reich hinein und darüber hinaus wurde zu einem Politikum, das rassentheoretisch argumentierende Deutschnationale als „Überschwemmung“ der Deutschen durch „die Slawen“ darstellten. (398) Das deutsche Kaiserreich strebte imperiale Weltgeltung an und betrieb nach innen und außen Kolonialpolitik. (399) Die in der antipolnischen Publizistik der Kaiserzeit einsetzende Polarisierung zwischen „Germanen“ und „Slawen“ war eine gedankliche Abstraktion und Imagination, die den politischen Wirklichkeiten vor Ort nicht gerecht wurde. Die „Durchschnitsfotografien“ sächsischer und wendischer Soldaten waren nicht nur eine Synthese „naturwissenschaftlicher“ Menschenbilder mit ästhetischen Wertvorstellungen. Sie repräsentieren auch eine abstrahierende bildliche Vorstellung der kaiserzeitlichen Eliten von ihrem „Volk“ in einem rassenideologisch-eugenischen Kontext. (402)

Der Erfinder der Durchschnittsbild-Methode war Sir Francis Galton, von ihm stammte auch die von den beiden zuvor genannten übernommene Hypothese, die Durchschnittsbilder würden Schlussfolgerungen über die Nationalität, Rasse und Intelligenz der betreffenden Gruppe gezogen werden. (386)

Galton gilt als Begründer der „Eugenik“ (engl. Eugenics). Er wollte mit quantitativen Methoden die Grundlage für die soziale Selektion von Menschen schaffen, um die Qualität der „britischen Rasse“ zu verbessern. Mit seinen Publikationen zur Erblichkeit von Intelligenz und Begabung legte er die wissenschaftlichen Grundlagen für ein Konzept zur „Veredelung“ der Gesellschaft, das er seit 1883 als Eugenik bezeichnete: die vermeintlich zu hohen Geburtenzahlen von Schwachen, Kranken und Armen sollten reduziert und die angeblich zu niedrigen Geburtenzahlen von Intelligenten, Gesunden und Reichen sollten gesteigert werden. (386f.) Die Eugenik gewann vor allem durch die neue, „biologische“ Perspektive auf den Menschen an Bedeutung. (387) Sie komplettierte das Arsenal der Argumentationsfiguren der Sozialdarwinisten, die Darwins Evolutionstheorie auf das gesellschaftliche Leben zu übertragen trachteten und die Auffassung vertraten, Menschen seien biologisch zu bestimmten Positionen in der Gesellschaft determiniert. (387) Die eugenische Bewegung etablierte sich gegen Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts auch in den wirtschaftlichen und politischen Eliten des deutschen Kaiserreichs und wurde an den deutschen Universitäten unter dem Begriff „Rassenhygiene“ institutionalisiert. (390)

Die Definitionsmacht einer Minderheit von Wissenschaftlern wurde zu einem Machtinstrument zur Beherrschung einer Mehrheit. (388)

Visuelle Feindbilder

Die Physiognomik lieferte v. a. Erklärungen zur Binnenstrukturierung der äußerlich durchaus verschiedenen Deutschen. (361) Die Rassenlehre diente dagegen primär zur wissenschaftlich rationalisierten Ausgrenzung und Abwertung von „Juden“ und „Fremdvölkischen“. (361)

Feindbilder „Degenerierte“

Seit Darwins Evolutionstheorie erschien die Grenze zwischen „Mensch“ und „nichtmenschlichem Tier“ fließender zu werden. Europäische Rassenanthropologen knüpften daran an und meinten, die außereuropäischen „Rassen“ hätten den Prozess der Menschwerdung noch nicht abgeschlossen und auch die Europäer könnten „degenerieren“ und auf „tierische“ Lebensformen zurücksinken. „Geisteskranke“ wurden nun auf einer Entwicklungsstufe zwischen Mensch und Tier angesiedelt. (387f.)

Die nationalsozialistische „Erb- und Rassenhygiene“ lief auf einen die deutsche Gesellschaft betreffenden Zuchtgedanken hinaus. Ausgegrenzt werden sollten zunächst „Erbkranke“, „Asoziale“ und „Juden“. Die entsprechenden Gesetze zur Legalisierung entsprechender staatlicher Ausgrenzungsmaßnahmen werden Mitte der 1930er Jahre verabschiedet (Gesetz gegen Gewohnheitsverbrecher 1934, Erbgesundheitsgesetz 1935, Blutschutzgesetz/Nürnberger Gesetze 1935). (428)

Der visuelle Ausgrenzungsprozess wurde in der NS-Diktatur sogar zu einem Bestandteil des staatlichen Gesundheitswesens. Im Kontext der staatlichen „Erb- und Rassenpflege“ wurde das „Fremde“ und „Kranke“ durch ästhetische Geschmacksurteile im Gewand der medizinischen Expertise ausgeschlossen. „Arisierte“ deutsche Ärzte beurteilten die ihnen anvertrauten Menschen bezogen auf ein Leitbild vom „erbgesunden“, überindividuellen deutschen „Volkskörper“ mit „nordischem Rasseideal“. Das ästhetische Geschmacksurteil über den Körper eines Menschen wurde im medizinischen Bereich zu einem ärztlichen Urteil über den „rassischen“ Erbwert eines Menschen für den „Volkskörper“ und einem nur darauf aufbauenden Lebensrecht. (409) Diese Vorgänge schlagen sich auch in der visuellen Kommunikation nieder: Unter dem NS-Regime wurden wiederholt visuelle Darstellungen „abnormer“ oder „degenerierter“ menschlicher Körper dazu eingesetzt, um bei den Betrachtern Ängste, Ekel und Verachtung hervorzurufen. Der „abnorme“ Körper galt als ein Anzeichen für einen „kranken“ Geist. (409)

Die unter dem NS-Regime popularisierte Ikonografie des „abnormen“ Menschen schloß an die schon 1876 von dem italienischen Arzt Cesare Lombroso Auffassung an, es gebe „geborene Verbrecher“, die sich in ihrem Körperbau von anderen Menschen unterscheiden. Sein Schüler Hans Kurella erklärte 1893, „zum Verbrechen geborene“ Menschen würden typische körperliche Merkmale aufweisen: einen zu kleinen oder zu großen Schädel, dichtes und dunkles Haar, ein asymmetrisches Gesicht, deformierte Ohren, große und breite oder lange und dünne Nasen. (409)

Unter dem NS-Regime gingen das ästhetische Geschmacksurteil, die „Rassenhygiene“ und die Kriminalanthropologie fließend ineinander über. (409) Dementsprechend wurden die Häftlinge des KZ Dachau in der NSDAP-Parteizeitschrift „Illustrierter Beobachter“ präsentiert als „Missgestalten“ mit tiefliegenden Augen, hohlen Wangen, schiefen Mündern, abstehenden Ohren, Narben usw. (410).

Feindbilder „Fremdvölkische“ und „Fremdrassige“

Von Bedeutung für die beabsichtigte Ikonografie der „völkischen“ Porträtfotografie ist die von der Herstellerin mitbeabsichtigte Ausgrenzung „undeutscher“ Physiognomien. (364) Erna Lendvai-Dircksen sprach sich 1933 ganz ausdrücklich für eine Ausgrenzung von ästhetischen Gestalten „fremden Stils“ aus der deutschen Bildwelt aus, weil damit „keine Volksgemeinschaft möglich“ sei.

Feindbilder / Juden

Das regierungsamtlich gesteuerte visuelle Selbstbild der Deutschen unter dem NS-Regime erschließt sich primär in Bezug auf das auch visuell zum Ausdruck gebrachte Feindbild „Jude“. Die NS-Pressepropaganda benutzte während des Zweiten Weltkriegs Juden als zentrales Feindbild, mit dem weitere Feindbilder assoziiert wurden. Beispielsweise wurde auch die antipolnische NS-Propaganda wiederholt eng mit antisemitischer Propaganda verknüpft. (384)

Feindbilder / Polen

Um die visuelle Darstellung der Polen in der nationalsozialistischen Bildwelt des Zweiten Weltkriegs zu verstehen, ist es sinnvoll, sich bewusst zu machen, dass die gedankliche Grenze zwischen Europa und Asien zu Beginn des Zweiten Weltkriegs vom NS-Regime an die Westgrenze der Sowjetunion verlegt wurde – und damit durch das zuvor polnische Staatsgebiet verlief. (420)

Rassekundliche Forschung

Im NS-Staat untermauerte die rassenkundliche Forschung die Ideologie und Politik der NSDAP wissenschaftlich. Auch die polnische Zivilbevölkerung wurde zum Gegenstand der deutschsprachigen Rasseforschung. (420)

Insbesondere im Reichsgau Wartheland entstand ein sich professionalisierendes und radikalisierendes Zentrum rassekundlicher Selektion von Menschen. Rasse- und Volkstumsexperten der SS versuchten hier in Zusammenarbeit mit der deutschen Zivilverwaltung und der Reichsuniversität Posen ihre „volkstumspolitischen“ Maßnahmen auf eine wissenschaftliche Grundlage zu stellen. (422f.) Mit der Einführung des DVL-Verfahrens in allen „eingegliederten Ostgebieten“ 1941 wurde im Warthegau eine „rassische Musterung“ der Einwohner nach Maßgabe des RuSHA der SS durchgesetzt, die auch in anderen deutsch besetzten Gebieten Osteuropas angewandt wurde und im Warthegau 1943 zu einem vorläufigen Abschluss kam. (426) Die Anthropologen Egon von Eickstedt und Ilse Schwidetzky rechneten mit „Rasseformeln“ vermeintlich prozentgenaue „Rasseanteile“ einzelner Menschen in den eingegliederten Ostgebieten aus. (420f.)

An der „Reichsuniversität Posen“ wurde anwendungsorientierte Rasseforschung für die NS-Diktatur betrieben. Hier führten beispielsweise der „Völkerpsychologe“ Rudolf Hippius und der Biologe Konrad Lorenz in Kooperation mit SS-Funktionären rasse-relevante Untersuchungen an der Zivilbevölkerung durch. Hierzu zählte insbesondere auch die „Mischlingsforschung“ als ein spezieller Forschungszweig, der ohne die Rassenideologie keinerlei Existenzberechtigung gehabt hätte. Rudolf Hippius untersuchte 1942 deutsch-polnische „Mischlinge“ psychologisch, um nachzuweisen, dass die der Grad der „Rassenmischung“ auf die psychische Struktur eines Menschen auswirke. Er setzte voraus, das Deutsche und Polen grundsätzlich verschiedene Persönlichkeitsstrukturen aufweisen und dass eine deutsche Herrschaft über Polen legitim sei, weil diese nur unter Zwang zu „einem regelmäßigen und geordneten Kräfteeinsatz bereit“ seien. Er gelangte zu dem leicht voraussehbaren Ergebnis, dass „Rassenmischung“ zwischen Deutschen und Polen zu „charakterlicher Entharmonisierung“ führe. (421, 422)

Heinrich Himmler glaubte, „nordische“ Kinder seien schöpferischer als „Rassemischlinge“ und die Polen hätten nur durch „nordische“ Deutsche Anschluss an Europa gefunden. Er fantasierte, „minderwertige fremde Wirtsvölker“ wie die Polen würden den Deutschen „nordisches Blut“ abringen wollen, weil alle kulturellen und staatenbildenden Leistungen auf die „nordische Rasse“ zurückgehen würden. (421)

Link zum Weiterlesen der kompletten Präsentation:

Mit dem Begriff „Rassismus“ wird ein bestimmtes gesellschaftliches Macht- und Gewaltverhältnis bezeichnet, in dem die herrschenden Gruppen eine sehr große Zahl von Menschen nach körperlichen und kulturellen Merkmalen unterscheiden. Ihnen werden vermeintlich typische Charakter- und Verhaltensmerkmale zugeschrieben, die eine angeblich „natürliche“ Hierarchie der Menschen implizieren. Die „rassischen“ Eigenschaftszuschreibungen dienen dabei dazu, eine Ungleichbehandlung der Menschen im wirtschaftlichen und politischen Leben zu rechtfertigen … weiterlesen als PDF


Tierhass und Ökologie

Die Theriozide geschehen, während man die Klimaneutralität als großes Handlungsziel verfolgt.
Der tierliche Lebensraum > ‚Natur‘ > wird pausenlos als unumstreitbar menschliche Domäne veranschlagt, während die Erdgeschichte beweist, dass die Meister der Schaffung und des Erhalts eines holistischen ökologischen Gleichgewichts unbezweifelbar und beinahe ausschließlich die nichtmenschlichen Lebewesen sind.
Theriocides are happening unquestioned, while climate neutrality is being envisioned.
Animality’s habitat > ‘nature’ > is continuously being appropriated as being the indisputable space of human domain, while earth’s history has proven that the masters of fostering and retaining a holistic ecological balance are undeniably and almost exclusively the nonhuman ones.

An Interview with Andy Martin (Apostles, Unit)


Jahrgang 4, Nr. 1, Art. 1, ISSN 2363-6513, Oktober 2017

A listen-and-read interview with Andy Martin
Singer and songwriter of the anarcho-punk band The Apostles, writer and with the band Unit today.

This text as a PDF

Background: Andy Martin is the former singer of The Apostles, the band initially formed as a punk band, but they took a special role within specifically the very insider anarcho-punk scene. As Andy describes in the interview he has never understood himself as a punk though. We however know The Apostles from their involvement in the early 1980ies stream of the punk movement that was intensely political and critical of social mechanisms of almost all segments of society. This fraction occurring within (or alongside) punk also brought forth a diverse range of Animal Rights / Liberation music of protest culture, which, as impactful as it has been in this subculture over the due course, is still being neglected by the cultural reception about the Animal Rights / Liberation movement’s history. The independent voicing of criticism of a speciesist society in this music scene is unique and hardcore bands have been continuing the thus paved paths, whereby of course contextualities of time have changed effects and they always differ in how to such expressive impacts can be culturally located. Andy Martin’s work is continuously critical and does not stick to patterns of mainstream, but stays outstandingly original, he does not sell out his own originality like many artists did by taking up underground mainstreamism. The form of independent expression by the Apostles and Unit inspire the recipient for individual thought and expression, one of the rare artforms that can bolster critical thinking, inclusively for the Animal Rights / Liberation ( Autonomy protest culture.

Tags: Interview, Andy Martin, Unit, The Apostles, political and anarcho-punk history, music as art, social justice and individualism.

A listen-and-read interview with Andy Martin

Please note: Andy prefers the uploads of all tracks on the Unit channel, for time limitation reasons we uploaded onto our server some recordings with a slightly poorer sound quality. For the optimum versions please use Andy’s music file collection.

Transcending subversiveness

Andy Martin: Preface: it was my original intention to type most of my replies in German but I discovered (to my shame) my grasp of the language is inadequate for the task so – regrettably – I must restrict myself to English. I am obliged to state this because it disturbs me that well over 50% of the world wide web is written in English (even by people for whom English is not their first language) yet far less than 50% of the world speaks and writes English. This, therefore, is an example of cultural dominance that is not acceptable. The worst example of this is pop music – how many European and even Japanese pop and rock groups sing in English? This is daft! After all, how many British and American groups sing in, say, French, Italian, German…or Japanese? This is why I respect the German group Rammstein – they proudly sing in their own language – although their music is horrible! It is also why I enjoy the Japanese pop group Shocking Lemon (who sing in Japanese) even though their CD titles and the names of their tracks are printed in English…a provocative fact. This is partly why UNIT include numbers in German. However, my predilection for Latin titles is pure self indulgence on my behalf – I love Latin!

Tierautonomie: Where do you personally locate subversive change in our current Zeitgeist?

Andy Martin: When Guy Debord wrote his interminably tedious book Society Of The Spectacle, many of his descriptions apply to much of the devices (and the concomitant behaviour patterns they generate among the twittering mutter line of humanity addicted to its brightly flashing lights) that we call ‘social media’. I am reluctant to use the term because ‘social media’ implies a form of technology that involves people engaged in communication whereas the reality is rather different. Indeed, communication is not the appropriate word – deception and empty gestures are much more accurate descriptions. People are encouraged to create avatars for themselves in which they can appear as personalities re-invited (Frankenstein monsters for the digital age) on their websites and Face Book sites. We may give ourselves new names, new faces and even new personalities (on-line) in order to create a false impression of who we are. This deception is able to function because we are also encouraged (indeed often obliged) to spend most of our time staring at computer screens, smart phone screens, tablets, i-pads and whatever other high faluting device they’ll invent next month, rather than engage in genuine social communication where we talk to each other without the intercession of electronic hardware. As much of our communication is now filtered through digital technology, it seems to me we talk more yet actually say less.

Where, then, do I locate subversive change in our current zeitgeist? Es ist furchtbar schwierige! When a person refuses to be connected to the internet at home (so advertising companies and multinational corporations do not have instant access to that individual) then they create a tiny bubble of uncertainty, a discontinuity in the mutter line. This is not merely the desperate bleating of a man unable to utilise or even comprehend most modern digital technology (although that, too, may be a contributing factor); it is a plea for sanity. Yes, that is how crucial I perceive the issue to be. Walk along a street – any street – in any industrial nation. How many people do you see staring at mobile devices, thumbs twitching back and forth? Sit on a bus or a train and count how many people stare at these same mobile devices while the war, the countryside – real life – whisks by the windows outside. I see a group of people with laptop computers, smart-phones and i-pads staring at a digital recreation of a glorious sunrise above a waterfall (look how skilfully the computer generated images replicate cascading water droplets) while outside is an actual glorious sunrise above a waterfall…completely unseen by any of those same people.

Fringe theatre, alternative radio and grime (the non-commercial, counter-cultural response to rap and hip hop) are the 2 areas where I have seen and heard genuine subversion. Punk (in Britain anyway) was never subversive because its exponents sought to attain fame and celebrity status: one bunch of miserable white middle class bastards sought to impress another bunch of miserable white middle class bastards. This is why the punk movement here was tolerated – even encouraged – by our society: it never posed a threat to anyone anywhere because its members, being white and middle class, had a stake in that society. They had too much to lose in the event of genuine revolutionary change. Punks in Britain merely wanted to shock mummy and daddy for a couple of years before they discarded their silly costumes, returned to college and joined the regime after their brief flirtation with the appearance of rebellion. This is why you never saw punks involved in Class War. In a genuine revolution, their parents might lose their social status and that would be intolerable, especially if daddy lost his job and couldn’t provide the family with all those lovely trinkets to which they had become accustomed.

Class War was a genuinely revolutionary movement, an angry political group scattered across the nation. It remains the only political organisation to which I was ever affiliated because it was the only such group who spoke on behalf of people like me. It actually represented me and my peers. What did punk represent for me? Boredom, idiocy and excess – a lot of noise, waving and shouting that signified absolutely nothing. The music was horrible, too! Indeed, it was ridiculous – a punk band makes a racket that is enjoyed only by other punks who already agree with the sentiments expressed in the music. Where, then, is the ability to proliferate subversive content? The phrase ‘preaching to the converted’ comes instantly to mind. Mein Gott, there is more genuinely revolutionary content in a single bar of Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman or Gil Scott Heron than any number of puerile pox ridden punk bands. I despise these white middle class clothes hangers with their wretched slogans and tedious cacophony bereft of any hint of individuality or originality. Punk rock is merely ineptly played rock and roll with swear words and safety pins.

What can even be subversive, when subversiveness functions more like a label, a superficial claim where no question marks are set that would reach beyond the small and big boulders of society’s-continuously-kept status-quos? Does our ‘seemingly continuous enlightenment’ – a society where everything and nothing is subversive – seem to overlook some odd mechanisms that undermine self-critical debate and thought?

Here I return to fringe theatre, alternative radio and grime. Note: I do not include allegedly anti-establishment political groups in this. Marxists are profoundly offensive to me, their inanely messianic utopianism reserved only for people who kneel at the altar of tenets and injunctions which insist everyone must possess the same beliefs. Their notion of an alternative society to the one we have now is a nation where everyone is forced to adopt the same set of social behaviour patterns and political beliefs. It is the source responsible for ‘political correctness’ which I utterly despise. The only reason I never joined the British National Party is because I don’t see any advantage in hating a person purely because their skin colour happens to be different to my own. That said, the BNP speaks for more working class people than any number of Marxists. Do you require proof of this statement? Look at any march by the BNP or their Rottweilers, the English Defence League – there you can see almost exclusively working class people in their ranks. What kind of people comprise the crowds who attend loony left marches? Middle class geeks who, being innately insecure, want everyone else in the world to be just like them.

There is a radio station in London called Resonance. (I invite people to go to https://www.resonancefm.com/.) This is the voice of genuine subversion…which is why it is a local radio station not allowed to broadcast to the wider population. The government are (at the moment anyway) able to tolerate its presence because they can claim they defend freedom of expression…but if Resonance was given a massive financial grant by an eccentric millionaire and suddenly able to broadcast nationwide, we would soon see just how far the government was prepared to sanction freedom of expression. In 2012 and early 2013 it hosted a weekly programme called Sick Notes, presented by Michael Colville, a 17 year old working class lad who invited his friends into the studio to play various examples of rap, hip hop and grime interspersed with social commentary that included fiercely critical diatribes against the police, the British legal system, the British education system, American foreign policy and the rise of far right political groups in Europe. For the first time in many years I found myself able to listen every week (indeed I never missed a single programme) to a programme I realised was genuinely subversive.

I admit I had virtually no interest in the music. True, I’d much rather listen to 60 minutes of grime than 60 seconds of punk rock but it still did not appeal to me. Remember, of my approximately 200 CDs, nearly 160 of them are of classical works (baroque and 20th century mainly), the others comprising progressive rock plus a few discs of selected tracks by The Pop Group and Wire. These latter 2 groups are as close to punk rock as I am ever liable to go. I turn to J S Bach, Henry Purcell, Marc Antoine Charpentier and Jean Philippe Rameau for inspiration, not some dreary old pop group. Punk rock is utterly irrelevant to me – it always has been and probably always will be. Anyway, this mention of my passion for classical music provides me with more than merely an excuse to place a social signifier on the world wobbly web. Passaggio by Luciano Berio (1925 – 2003) composed in 1962 assaults the social conventions that govern opera. The text (by Umberto Eco) upset, irritated and annoyed many people involved in the realms of classical music, especially opera – how dare one of their own composers attack such a sacred cow? This is what I consider a genuinely subversive act. There are plenty of others – turn to Luigi Nono, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Hans Werner Henze or even Iannis Xenakis if you feel particularly adventurous. These are all 20th century composers who utilised their privileged position in society to attack elements of it they considered profoundly offensive even though it generated hostility and suspicion with a concomitant absence of recordings and performances of their works, at least for a while.

The great American free jazz pianist Sun Ra provides another superb example of a man able to commit subversive acts even in the absence of blatantly obvious texts. At a time in America when (in certain States) racially mixed music groups and theatre troupes were not allowed – or at least publically vilified – Sun Ra took his group (The Arkestra) which included black, Hispanic and white musicians into regions where the police and the senators were either members of the ku klux klan or supporters of it. This has no equivalent in punk rock, of course – they’d never have the courage!

I am not convinced by your assertion that these days everything / nothing is subversive. Perhaps it is different in Germany but in Britain it is now considered subversive to criticise (for example) multi-culturalism and multi-racialism. Anyone who calls for an end to immigration is castigated as a Nazi sympathiser. There are even people who used to write to me who have since severed all communication with me as a consequence of their interpretation of what they perceive to be my right wing political views. Well, I find this incredible. I have never made any attempt to disguise or deny my political beliefs. In 1991 we released Europe Awake, an audio cassette, which includes statements of these beliefs. I am not obliged to defend a single one of them. If other people are allowed to be communists, socialists, anarchists, liberals or fascists then I, too, am allowed to be…whatever it is I am. In fact I find it impossible to describe my beliefs by any label because there does not appear to be a verbal category in existence yet which accurately describes them. To be honest, I think the difficulty (for other people, not for me) arises because I really don’t consider politics at all important. There are far more interesting reasons to indulge in arguments and debates!

Tierautonomie: Do crowd and group dynamics (i.e. facebook popularity / ”likes”) hinder individual expression because other people (and the more people the better) have to approve of someone’s message? If someone doesn’t get ‘likes’ she/he either self-censors or stays out/shuts up in that network. Does ‘the crowd’ define ‘the individual’ as the individual is immediately measured by group dynamics, still like we had it in the past within actual physical groups in which tendencies for social hierarchies existed?

Andy Martin: Ah yes, here we go! I sent a series of emails to various people on our mail list earlier this year to celebrate a dubious achievement: our You Tube site gained its 100th subscriber. Well, let me modify that: the achievement itself is not dubious – it was my desire to celebrate the event which is dubious. You see how pernicious this can be – even I began to be sucked into the swirling vortex of yapping morons on the mutter line. Now we have 103 subscribers, by the way…but so what? Does that make me superior in some manner to you or to some other group or individual with only, say 30 subscribers? Of course not!

I think it is advisable to enter into a difficult discussion here because I mentioned various classical composers earlier with reference to their assaults on bourgeois culture and I am aware critics could complain I have no right to be so abusive to punk bands on the one hand yet appear to defend the purveyors of bourgeois culture on the other. I accept this is a legitimate criticism. In fact, the German composer Hans Werner Henze addressed this issue in his work Der Langwierige Weg In Die Wohnung Der Natascha Ungeheuer (1971) in which he set to challenging but infinitely rewarding music a magnificent prose poem by the Chilean born German political poet Gaston Salvatore. This text (which really has to be read in the original German as even a good quality English translation simply fails to do it justice) has formed the basis for numerous musical settings by me since 1992 onwards.

What does a middle class person do if he / she originates from a wealthy family whose parents occupy a position of privilege in society yet the person concerned genuinely cares (or appears to care) about the plight of poverty stricken people in their nation? How do they express their concern without appearing to be patronising and condescending? I notice how often Marxists shout loudly about the injustices done to poor people in third world countries yet ignore the same concerns that afflict working class people in their own countries. If you are poor and homeless in Germany, what possible relevance to you is the misfortune of a man or woman in, say, Colombia or Ethiopia who happens to endure even worse depredations? Their woeful plight is not your business and you are not to blame for it – knowledge of their struggle is scarcely liable to assist your own problem. Mein Gott, I despise Marxists so vehemently I wouldn’t even piss on them to put them out if they were on fire.

Consider this: traditional Jews observe the Sabbath – Saturday – in which, for 25 hours, they do no work. This proscribes the use of mobile phones, i-pads, televisions and even the cooker. Driving cars is prohibited. To me this sounds severe and yet consider what could happen to a family who elected to observe the Sabbath seriously: with no work and, more crucially, no distractions, they will have to spend time together and communicate, perhaps on a more meaningful level than at any other time of the week. I am not a Jew (heaven forbid) but I suggest this simple if strict religious practise has something useful to teach us in an age where the majority of people wander around in a dopey daze as they gaze at little electronic screens, stupefied by the mutter line.

Face Book is a big, fat nothing. It merely provides multinational corporations with an opportunity to advertise their garbage on a global scale. I never use Face Book. Why should I? We have a website and en email site so we have absolutely no use for twitter, Face Book or any of these other ‘social media’ contrivances which I assert are designed to maintain us in a state of alienation. We sit at home and stare at computer screens rather go out on the streets to express our dissent in demonstrations – stuff that! It is a fact of physics that the Sun is a slightly variable star. It endures a cycle of maxima and minima every 22 years. During a time of extreme excitement (in a maxima) it may emit many millions of tons of excited electrons in a solar storm. If a particularly vociferous wave of charged (ionised) particles hit us, it would disable 90% of the artificial satellites that orbit the Earth and annihilate our digital communications networks in a matter of seconds. Mobile phones and the entire internet would crumble into obsolescence. Imagine that! How would most people in industrial nations survive bereft of mobile phones, i-pads and the internet? Well, I say: bring it on!

Meanwhile, before that happens, I urge people, in all seriousness, to ignore and forget The Apostles and concentrate on what we do NOW. We have to think ahead! All 664 of the works recorded by UNIT (so far) are now available free of charge on our You Tube site. Type ‘UNIT Andy Martin’ into Google and it will take you to our site. I recommend Eagle, 1985, Who, Ming Hai, Orders of The General, Grange Hill, Osaka Boy, Hup Soon Heng and New Order as decent starting points. Almost every track recorded (ineptly) by The Apostles was recorded again (properly) by UNIT so if you wish to hear the proper, definitive renditions of these works then listen to those by UNIT rather than the vastly inferior attempts by The Apostles.

Tierautonomie: Can we change something ‘from beneath’ meaning without being popular, without catering to standards and status quo, finally also without the help of the cultural industrial complex (i.e. Kulturindustrie) and its consumers-of-content, or should we just ‘go with the flow’ if it happens to run under the right flag and label, and let others who have some ‘public support’ speak for us; can the individual otherwise have a valid, distinct voice? Sound, No Sound, breaking and creating codices.

Andy Martin: The most depressing answer, briefly, is: no. Sorry – and I mean I am genuinely sorry – but I do not believe independent groups (drama troupes, artists, musicians) are able to effect change in society. Writers (possibly) may be more successful but only in the age of the internet where it is now easier (and cheaper) to disseminate subversive literature. You see, with (to take the most familiar example) music, it is generally limited in its appeal by whatever idiomatic language it adopts. Folk music will usually appeal only to people who like folk music, jazz to jazz hats, punk rock to punks (or morons) and so on. Literature is able to proliferate its contents across a wider range of people – William Burroughs and Anthony Burgess are read by hippies, punks (those who can actually read), students and intellectuals. The only people not affected by this literature are skinheads, obviously, because their only purpose on the planet is to provide animated punch-bags for niggers who wish to advance their training as boxers. Do skinheads serve any other useful functions? I suppose you might use them as door-stops and draught excluders.

Digression: in Britain, skinheads are as extinct as the Dodo. In the mid 1980s, a group of Asians in Bradford decided they would no longer tolerate racially motivated assaults by gangs of skinheads in their area: they fought back – hard! The effect of this upon the rest of the nation was utterly incredible. Within 2 years, skinheads simply vanished from our streets. Skinheads never attacked niggers (unless the odds were 5 to 1 in their favour) because niggers are usually big, burly and able to fight back. Wogs and Pakis were considered safe targets…until Bradford 1985. After this initial fracas, groups of Asian youths (including mixtures of Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, itself a highly unusual occurrence) patrolled Bradford, Leeds and other areas of the country where they simply hunted down skinheads and battered them – splendid! Suddenly Pakis were no longer fun to punch. The words ‘coward’ and ‘skinhead’ are mutually interchangeable.

Actually, black people seem to be more adept at the creation of subversive acts within the arts than any other racial group. This observation may be a consequence of living in Britain – perhaps if I lived in South America or Africa I might be obliged to alter or modify my assertion. I think primarily of the Black Panthers (naturally – all power to them and peace be upon their name) but also Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Gil Scott Heron, The Last Poets and, in more recent times, Ice T, NWA and The Bad Brains, all of whom were genuinely subversive. Can white people be subversive then? Well, yes, of course they can…but it has to be what I call genuine subversion and not merely a desire to emulate some miserable Marxist clique or socially acceptable form of dissent like the campaign for nuclear disarmament, for example. The State is remarkably proficient at taking subversives and recuperating them into its paradigm. Animal rights campaigners in the 1980s were initially subversive but by the end of the decade we had Boy George and other media celebrities claiming to support animal rights…although I wonder how many of Boy George’s cosmetics were tested on animals?

No, I don’t believe it is advisable to allow media spokespeople to represent us. It was tried in the early 1980s in Britain when a pop group called The Jam appeared to win a major battle: suddenly the national pop charts contained songs which included political sentiments critical of the government und kulturindustrie…or did they? How revolutionary was that pop group? I argue: not at all. This is not a criticism of Paul Weller (the man who wrote 90% of the group’s works) rather an observation on the ability of their record company (Polydor) to market rebellion successfully, just as another major record company (CBS) marketed rebellion when they released records by The Clash, a band whom I absolutely despise, by the way. Ugh! Give me The Jam any day – at least their songs were decent. Polydor tried to capitalise on this again when they signed The Wall to their label but they found The Wall too much to handle. They could not recuperate The Wall and turn them into pop idols, despite the obvious strength of their lyrics and music. This is why Polydor decided not to promote the group but use them as a means by which to obviate their tax returns.

Note: a national socialist (Nazi) party in Germany recently managed to acquire 13% of the national vote in a general election. The Freedom Party of Austria is still immensely popular. Does this mean lots of Germans and Austrians are secret Nazis? Honestly, no, I don’t believe it does. Fair enough, a tiny minority of those voters will be morons and cretins who still worship Herr Hitler but I am convinced the majority vote for these parties not so much because they support their policies but because the more conventional parties have failed to represent their concerns – mass immigration being the most pertinent. To be opposed to immigration (as I am) does not mean you are automatically a Nazi. Anyway, the only people able to represent us is ourselves.

Tierautonomie: I want to ask you about the inspiring quality of some of your tunes.

Andy Martin: Ah, the secret of my success – well, this is not going to please the punk punters out there but my ability to write unusual works with interesting harmonies and memorable melodies is a direct consequence of my musical environment. Until late 1979 the only music to which I listened was classical – baroque and 20th century mainly. I raised myself on Bach, Purcell, Charpentier, Rameau and their peers. To me, contemporary music meant Berio, Nono, Henze, Xenakis, Penderecki and Messiaen, not the pop pish peddled in the pop charts everyone at school enjoyed. 2 school pals (Eric Cooper and his girlfriend Susan Wilkins, peace be upon their names) managed to introduce me to the group Wire (the album 154 and its free EP). Until then, I literally took no notice of pop music. It was irrelevant to me. Thus in 1982 when I began to write music for The Apostles, I had no idea how one was supposed to construct pop songs. I applied my lessons (self taught) in harmony and counterpoint to pop songs which is presumably why they sounded so odd. In fact, they were wrong! I really didn’t understand improvisation, repeated riffs and pop song structures.

Other bands were influenced by which ever pop groups they listened to during their formative years…which is perhaps why so many pop groups sound so similar (to my ears anyway). My influences were Bach or Xenakis…which meant my pop music was inevitably destined to sound rather weird. It may also explain why The Apostles sold records by the tens while other groups sold records by the thousands. Most people did not like my music – I can appreciate now why this should be but at the time it perplexed me. Why did so many people detest my music? What was wrong with it? After a while I learned simply to accept I was not going to rival The Jam or Wham for popularity and continued to sit in my room and contrive increasingly strange pieces destined to appeal to only the most adventurous listeners or those with unusual musical tastes. C’est la vie.

You see, I was not able to emulate other pop groups because I simply had no idea what they sounded like…with the corollary that my own works sounded highly individual. It allowed me to cultivate a distinctive style (albeit a most unpopular style) that did not sound like anyone else…well…usually. However, there are 2 embarrassing exceptions: Wire and Joy Division. I can’t remember now who introduced me to the work of Joy Division but for a mercifully brief period, their music had an effect on me and I am ashamed to admit this becomes apparent in some of the pieces I wrote during the mid 1980s. (The primary offenders are The Victim, The Sword, New Face In EH4 and, of course, Walking Away which – as someone revealed to me a couple of years ago – is basically Day Of The Lords with slightly different chords.) Paradigm and The Shadow Out Of Space both sound like cover versions of obscure songs by Wire although I do not find this a source of shame or embarrassment.

However, later in the decade when I became acquainted (although not through choice) with other pop music (even, occasionally, the odd punk band) when various band members of The Apostles tried (with a spectacular lack of success) to interest me in their music or, at any rate, forms of music other than those genres I favoured, I realised how lamentably limited and conservative it all sounded. I made no distinction between The Exploited, Metallica, Crass, Spandau Ballet or Soft Cell – it was all rigid, fixed, old fashioned and tediously predictable. It made me more determined than ever to write music that was nothing remotely similar to their dreary old tat. My harmonic language is derived from a study of scores by J S Bach (Der Kunste Der Fuge) and the Austrian 19th century composer Anton Bruckner (Symphony No.9) although I never actually quote from these works.

I have included actual quotes from classical works in my pieces: The Land Of The Mountain & The Flood by Scottish composer Hamish McCunn (The Loch & The Glen), the Nocturne In Eb by Frederick Chopin (the bass guitar melody in Pale Blue Eyes) and the Symphony No.6 by Franz Schubert (Danny Wentworth) are the most celebrated examples. Look, take a track by a pop group,  any pop group. You hear them play a riff. Can you predict what will happen next? I can do so without even hearing it – they’ll repeat the riff another 3 times then – if you’re lucky – they’ll change into a different key and play another riff 4 times. When I hear a piece of pop music, I usually predict what the next chord will be, too. People in pop groups are generally bereft of imagination as well as talent and skill. Mind you, presumably they know what they’re doing since most pop groups sell more CDs than we do!

The Apostles – The Cripple: Audio link (mp3)
Unit version of The Cripple: Video link

Tierautonomie: Our interpretation: In this song you were discussing social isolation within a questionable society, the rules of how someone is supposed to look to count as lovable by society, physical abled-ness as the standard, the subtle ways of sorting someone with a ‘disability’ out, and even if you don’t want to belong to this majority group (or the defining majority) you are being humiliated, devalued on the basis that you would stand outside of that majority group. This is how I understand the message of the song. What were / are the main ideas behind this song? Do you think anything has changed about the perception of disability in society?

Andy Martin: My initial motivation behind this ballad is selfish. I was born with severe dyspraxia (although I did not know its name until many years later) which meant, in theory, I would never be able to participate in any sports that involved hand to eye co-ordination nor play any musical instrument. I knew I was different to almost everyone else in school but I didn’t comprehend why. Everyone else could play football, tennis, cricket and rugby so why couldn’t I? Nobody else was anywhere near as clumsy as was I. It soon became apparent to me that I was also abnormally ugly; the other boys and girls subjected me to ridicule without mercy, day after day, week after week, month after month, for being a spastic and for being a troll. During my final year in school I also realised what I felt toward 3 particular boys (Wayne Johnson, Danny Wentworth and, most of all, Paul Novak) was what other boys felt toward girls. This detestable aspect of my character proved more than I could tolerate and it is the reason I tried to commit suicide in late 1980 which resulted in my incarceration in Springfield Psychiatric Hospital. I could accept being ugly and partially disabled; I could not accept being queer. Anyway, with reference to the first two problems, I describe this attitude of pupils and teachers in my 3rd book, Faded Fragments Of Distant Dreams, the 1st of my 3 autobiographies. The book is important because it is one of the rare examples of a narrative that describes, in detail, how children (pupils) were actually treated by adults (teachers) in secondary schools in Britain during the 1970s. That I am involved in the accounts is not a reason for its importance, of course.

What concerned me (which found its expression in this ballad) was a factor with regard to disability which nobody wished to mention or discuss: sexuality, almost as if spastics and cripples are not supposed to possess sexual passions. Stuff that! Why should a boy with motor neurone disease not be allowed to have sex with a girl he finds physically attractive? There is (or was) in Britain an organisation of prostitutes who specialised in the provision of sexual services for disabled people. Various newspapers and media commentators heaped odium on this group, citing moral outrage as justification for their consternation…so do they really believe disabled people should be denied sexual encounters? I do have a slight problem with this ballad: my disability is minor and certainly does not merit much sympathy compared to someone with cystic fibrosis, motor neurone disease or polio, to provide just 3 examples. The text could give the impression (erroneously) I ask for sympathy or pity – this is absolutely not the case.

Actually, a far superior piece (at least in terms of the technical aspects of both the text and the music) is Thalidomide because it successfully addresses a topic that is not motivated from purely selfish concerns.

The Apostles – Anarchy, Peace & Freedom: Audio link (mp3)

Tierautonomie: In this song you formulate a critique of the anarchist pacifist counterculture on the 80ies, you pick up intersecting power-and-oppression-cornerpoints, like the oppressive structures of the state, racism, animal torture (speciesism), how nazis have pacifists on their death lists and communists wish to enslave them, that it’s inadequate to react to oppression with a pattern of being stoned (escapism maybe), being into Crass (some ‘cool band with a cool message’), how everything is drowned in the idea of being a pacifist while criticising any form of defensive violence. Is this rightly understood more or less? Does the ideal of pacifism mute controversy and tend to overlook the quality of conflicts which can’t be easily solved?

Andy Martin: All 3 members of the original version of The Apostles (Pete Bynghall, Julian Portinari and Dan MacKintyre) tried to convince me Crass had a viable message for British youth and for dispossessed working class people. The more they described what Crass believed, the more horrified and disgusted I became. The proliferation of totalitarian regimes in the 20th century is not a single phenomenon with a general character. Distinction must be made between (for example) Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Nazism is a tumour generated by monopoly capitalism, a form of barbarism produced by capitalism at the end of its tether. Soviet rule is a species of tyranny, the domination of populations by unassailable elites, a natural consequence of Marxism partly exacerbated by a global struggle with capitalist powers. Both represent a perversion of traditional socialist aspirations for revolutionary change through the agency of a politicised working class.

British colonialism found its expression in the late 20th century through its treatment of Irish prisoners. I am old enough to remember the hunger strikes in which Irish member of parliament Bobby Sands literally starved himself to death while held in detention in the establishment at Long Kesh (the infamous H Blocks) along with dozens of other Irish prisoners. Did we emerge victorious against the Nazi regime through pacifism, group hugs and tofu burgers? My utter fury expressed in this anthem is a consequence of my disgust for the sentiments expressed by typically middle class spoiled brats terrified of genuine revolutionary change, the kind of scum I mentioned earlier. These were teenagers from safe, often privileged families who sought to dictate to me how I should express my dissent against the British government of the time. What monumental arrogance! Who the hell did these buggers think they were? To whom did they think they were speaking and writing? I can answer that: they thought they had a right to adopt an officious attitude toward me because, being accustomed to giving orders (just like their parents) and being obeyed by their inferiors, they assumed I (a working class rat bag) ought to shut up and behave.

Every bleating pacifist platitude is an insult to the slaughtered masses of the holocaust, the Jewish victims at Katyn in Poland (murdered by Russian troops in 1943) and every Irish prisoner tortured and murdered by occupation forces in Ireland. What increased my rage was the audacity of these punks who dared to try to dictate to me what my response should be to the gross injustices committed by regimes around the world when a) I was not a punk, b) I was not directly involved in the punk scene, c) The Apostles was not a punk band and d) these people (I’ll call them ‘people’ in a token attempt to be polite) so obsessively worshipped their pop heroes (Crass in this case but the name of the band is immaterial) they insisted everyone else in the world ought to be the same as them…which is an attitude typical of socialists and one shared by religious zealots such as Jehova Witnesses.

Ethical praxis

The Apostles – The Sword: Audio link (mp3)

Tierautonomie: This is a very unique song to me, because you refer directly to the ‘moral’ proverb of ‘he who lives by the sword will die by the sword’ and contextualize this with the situation of being bullied. This song seems ‘empowering’ because it gives a sort of motivating idea by making use of an ‘experiential wisdom’ type of phrase. This is something that would have probably not occurred in pop / charts / commercial music which prefers to represent a current Zeitgeist and fashion most of all and not old sayings. The solution to the problem described in this song is kind of brought about by something described in a ‘moral’ phrase, and morals and wisdom had a difficult position in the 1980ies already too? Is this song in itself a moral song in some way, as it does not leave the problem with the affected person or victim alone but postulates an entire structure of ‘moral fallacy’ concerning the oppressive agent / the bully?

Andy Martin: In 1986 I met a young man who called himself Animal. He was (I think) 2 or 3 years younger than I. He attended Amery Hill School which is where I spent my teenage years. It was the first (and remains so far the only) occasion on which I met anyone else who attended that wretched establishment. When he realised I also used to go there, he spoke about the teachers and the prefects with particular emphasis on their behaviour. The vile practises I witnessed there during the 1970s evidently continued after I returned to London and it so disgusted me I felt motivated to write a ballad about it…but the trauma I experienced in that place formed part of the reason I was incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital and the emotional turmoil proved beyond my ability to endure so I had to express my reaction to the school in an oblique manner…which is how The Sword came to be written.

This number is indirectly (or perhaps directly) related to Anarchy, Peace & Freedom because it defends the right of the victims of bullies to use violence – brutal, glorious violence – against bullies. Here’s a lesson for weak, liberal pacifists who, being from pampered middle class families, speak and write from a position of ignorance: during my 1st, 2nd and 3rd years in Amery Hill School, I was consistently bullied, mainly by other pupils but also by prefects and teachers; during my 4th and 5th years in Amery Hill School, nobody ever tried to bully me again. Why? What changed? I changed! My pal Eric Cooper and his magnificent older sister Karen (who taught unarmed combat in a local airforce base) gave me regular self defence lessons every Saturday morning. They taught me how to fight and how to inflict maximum damage against assailants who were bigger and stronger than I. These lessons were extremely effective…as the bullies discovered to their cost. It is an unfortunate fact there are occasions when the only effective means with which to combat and beat fascism is by the use of fascist methods.

I am aware there may be readers who think it wrong to physically fight bullies – people who believe ‘violence only leads to more violence’. Christ but I’m so sick and tired of this dreary old debate…but let’s do it anyway. The New Testament teaches us to ‘turn the other cheek’ and forgive our enemies. Right then, so this brainless 4th year thug at school batters 1st year girls and swipes their dinner money. He tells them to give him 50 pence each Monday morning if they want to avoid a bashing. This behaviour will continue until someone physically stops it. A girl tells him she understands his emotional turmoil and she forgives him. ‘Great,’ the bully thinks, ‘an easy conquest’. Then this other girl – let’s call her Sandra – she’s from the 4th year and decides she really doesn’t want to tolerate this abusive behaviour. She grabs the boy during break-time, knees him in the crotch, head butts his nose and punches him on the jaw. He collapses to the ground so she delivers three hefty kicks to his body. ‘Every girl you bash from now on results in a bashing from me in return – it’s your choice’ she says. Suddenly his former activity is no longer fun – no fun at all. Who benefits from this new reality? Every girl in the 1st year who would otherwise have to give their dinner money to this odious 4th year boy. This is not a fantasy concocted to support my argument – it is a description of an event that actually happened in my school. I witnessed it.

Now take the argument onto the streets of Colombia in the 1990s where death squads hunted down homeless children for fun and shot them dead. Does this vile practise still continue today? I sincerely hope not. However, suppose a group of homeless children encounter one of these gun toting gangs. One of the boys – perhaps he’s a Christian – tell the gang he forgives them and pleads for his life and the lives of his pals. What is liable to be the reaction of that gang? Well, obviously, they’re going to shoot every one of those children, saving that boy until last probably…but only after they’ve stopped laughing. If you forgive a transgressor, what you actually do is allow their antisocial behaviour to continue. Worse – you imply that behaviour is acceptable. No, this simply cannot continue. Let’s adopt my method now. The death squad enter a cul-de-sac and there are those homeless children. Instead of some weak, wimpy Christian boy, there’s a sneering feral child armed with a spray can and a Stanley knife. The children erupt into action, tearing at the faces of those gang members. Yes, some of them are quick enough to fire their guns and yes, some of the children die…but those who survive pick up the guns of the fallen gang members and blast to fragments the faces of every remaining death squad member. This begins to happen in other cul-de-sacs, on other streets. See what I mean?

The history of the human race is one of wars, battles, riots, putsches, pogroms and internecine squabbles. Thugs and bullies don’t understand kindness, decency and intelligence. You might just as effectively communicate with them in ancient Greek. However, such people do understand violence – the only language in which they are fluent – so that is how to address the issue. Any other solution is mere madness or, at best, fatuous fol-de-rol.

The Apostles – Proletarian Autonomy: Audio link (mp3)

Tierautonomie: This song covers a basic political approach in a very concentrated form, phrased in political punk terms: how self-organisation within a community can be brought about by the individual/s; implying that political concepts and utopias seem to overlook this factor (i.e. individuality) in its potentiality. Is the individual maybe the one who is continuously silenced and deconstructed in cultures and societies, and only the person of the crowd taken as the entitled ‘citizen’? (The term individualism though has been of course hijacked by neoliberalism pretty much, as a denominator of social-darwinist egotism, but this is referring to the actual real individual in the ‘strict’ sense of basically being one living entity.)

Andy Martin: No! Absolutely not. With respect to you, this anthem is not phrased in ‘political punk terms’. It has absolutely no relation to punk rock at all. There is nothing ‘punk’ in the text of this number. I noticed many pop and punk numbers that addressed political topics only ever moaned, whined and complained about this or that aspect of society. Nobody ever sat down and thought about writing a song, ballad or anthem which featured a possible solution…so I did!

In fact the lyric was inspired by a lecture I heard on BBC Radio 3 on two 20th century philosophers, Herbert Marcuse and Hannah Arendt, 2 Germans who emigrated to America to escape from the 3rd Reich. Modern society is not simply aggressive, exploitative and dominated by an overwhelmingly powerful ruling class; it has also acquired the capacity to absorb into itself the forces which might seek to oppose it. This is true not only of the industrial working class which entered into a collusive relationship with elements of capitalism that claimed to administer to its needs. This also applies to aspects of ideas, science and the arts. The bland mediocrity of modern existence informed by a detergent uniformity imposed by the corporate media is a consequence of this absorption. Modern reality is oppressive because it denies the power of dissent. Only given ‘facts’ possess reality and ideas, claims or fantasies which cannot be accommodated by (and assimilated into) the pragmatic requirements of the ruling elite are either dismissed or given a positive (but sanitised) function within the prevailing paradigm.

However, I must admit this anthem is not completely honest as an expression of my beliefs. Aware my right wing political beliefs might cause trouble for my fellow band members, I attempted to concoct a mechanism by which a pseudo-anarchist form of self government might conceivably function – thus was the text to Proletarian Autonomy created. I genuinely wanted to believe this could be utilised as a blueprint for society but I had to admit (secretly, to myself) most people simply could not be trusted to behave themselves if such an attempt was made…which is why I believe a strong form of government essential, primarily to keep the rabble under control.

The popularity of radical protest culture

The Apostles – Mob Violence cover by Burnt Cross: Video link

Tierautonomie: This rather dynamic song is one of these hardcore anthems that you created. It seems to me that Burnt Cross have taken up this song giving an idea into today’s somewhat different punk-related social manifestations of resistance. The original sounds harsher, rougher.

Andy Martin: In 1984 I joined Class War, inspired by the noble presence of Ian Bone, a man for whom I have infinite respect, patience and admiration. It is most unfortunate this anthem is associated with punks because in fact the text (of which I am justifiably proud) is my first genuine attempt to engage with a form of radical politics not informed by my right wing past. The music is trite nonsense and frankly the text deserves a much better musical setting but I was under pressure to complete the piece in time for the record on which it is featured (Smash The Spectacle, our 5th EP) so I contrived this rather mediocre series of riffs which I consider a poor response to such a clever lyric. By the way, I really don’t care how conceited that sounds – it is a clever lyric! After a further attempt (on the album Kämpfbereit) we finally managed to record the definitive account of this anthem on our album Rock In Opposition: Phase 5 in 2014. The ‘original’ sounds harsher, rougher, because none of us could play it properly (apart from Chris Low whose drumming was always decent). I am pleased (and, let’s be honest, rather flattered) to find another group have recorded an account of one of my numbers.

Tierautonomie: You give some info about how this song came into existence in the description of the Unit 1996 version. What did you feel was missing in this song when you wrote it and you noticed it’s getting more popular than you maybe thought it ought to be?

Andy Martin: I realise I have already answered most of this in my response to your previous question. Actions speak louder than words: I invite readers to type ‘You Tube UNIT Mob Violence Andy Martin’ into Google and listen to the 2014 recording. They will realise (if they are familiar with the earlier versions from 1984 and 1996) why I was personally not satisfied with it. The lyric certainly deserves the popularity it acquired; the music – especially the poor performance by The Apostles – does not.

There is another, more important, problem with this number. It is a problem that afflicts any group who sings a number concerned with direct political action. If we were so concerned about taking direct political action against the State, we would not have time to march into a recording studio and sing songs about direct political action – we would instead march onto the streets and do it rather than sing about it. Without going into detail (for obvious reasons) it is true some of us (including myself) were involved in direct political action during the 1980s but does that make my anthem legitimate? Do I have the right to encourage other people to engage in direct political action when all I’m doing is standing in front of a microphone in a recording studio and bawling out a lot of words that could be conceived as merely an expression of the rhetoric of crisis? I admit I have no satisfactory answer to this.

The Apostles – Punk Squatters: Audio link (mp3)

Andy Martin: This allows me to provide a rare example of a brief, simple answer to one of your questions. I find nothing about the song to criticise in terms of its text, music or arrangement. My complaint is the extremely daft (and obviously fake) London accent I adopted in our works at this time which is especially prevalent on this number. In fact it could be longer – it is an expression of alienation (but humorous) since it describes my brief period living in 281 Victoria Park Road. I lived in the attic in splendid isolation while everyone else in the place belonged to what other people referred to as the Hackney Hell Crew. We had almost nothing in common. They never washed, they listened to heavy metal records and they were all unemployed. I dressed smartly, kept myself scrupulously clean, worked as a landscape gardener and listened to BBC Radio 3.

Tierautonomie: Shows that punk has not been a monolith, but rather a diverse mix of social backgrounds, denominators and positions and that it was only a peer group, fragmented, insofar as “others just would not care”, that society was ignorant of a lot of things. Can you give us more about the background of what made you write this track?

Andy Martin: I think I have already answered this in my response to your previous question. The track was a humorous (and unusually good natured) satire on the typical daily lives of punk squatters. I enjoyed being able to write a number about punks that, for once, did not have to insult and vilify them! That said, in my experience, ‘punk’ means ‘white white white as far as the eye can see’ (Ernest Hemmingway). There was never a diverse mix of social backgrounds – punks were always spoiled middle class brats. Perhaps it was different in Germany. I am given to understand it was certainly different in America…could that be why it is mainly Americans who visit our You Tube site and who purchase our CDs?

Animal Rights in the early 1980s punk movement: as for the Apostles

In The Name of Science, original Apostles version: Audio link (mp3)
Unit version of In The Name of Science: Video link

Tierautonomie: This song is a classic in hardcore animal rights history. It’s radical, metaphoric, dares to express that the emotional response to speciesism is a fundamental one. Hardcore punk brought Animal Rights into the protest culture of the second half of the 20th century [1] and an ongoing vivid trail of following lyricists and musicians in the related music scenes have knitted on this tradition. You were basically intersectional with the inclusion of Animal Rights into the discussion of social relevance.

Andy Martin: Most become vegetarians as a result of their disgust at the manner in which animals are maltreated in our societies. I became a vegetarian in 1982 for a daft reason: I met a 15 year old lad called Matthew Pond, the son of newspaper columnist Sheila Macleod and pop singer Paul Jones (real name Paul Pond). He was a) a spoiled middle class brat who thought everyone else in the world existed purely to serve his own requirements, b) a punk rocker, c) a Crass worshipping pacifist and d) one of the most odiously conceited, arrogant and profoundly selfish people it has ever been my misfortunate to encounter…4 reasons to absolutely despise him! He informed me he had become a vegetarian and thus was superior to me. Purely to spite him I, too, decided to become a vegetarian, determined to beat him. I was convinced he’d revert to carnivorous behaviour before I did…so imagine my delight when he did! To be fair – it was a chicken and mushroom pastie that did the damage so it could be argued he suffered intolerable provocation since how many other people in his situation would be able to resist such a repast?

Brief digression: I met Paul Jones (who used to sing for a group called Manfred Mann) when he visited my attic in 109 Foulden Road. He called to collect Matthew to take him to the west end or the zoo. I found Mr Jones to be pleasant, affable, honest and a genuinely decent person – even though he was a devout Christian. How could this splendid man generate such a foul and loathsome specimen for a son?

Now I faced a problem: how could I tell people the reason I was a vegetarian was purely because I sought to spite a middle class brat? It would sound silly – well, I suppose it was silly, just a bit. The issue intrigued me – why did people become vegetarians? I thought vegetarians were hippies and eccentric health food fanatics. Therefore I began to investigate the matter of animal rights. It took me about 3 days to digest (forgive the pun) the information I discovered courtesy of Little @ Printers where, a year later, I would be employed as a dark room assistant. Anyway, I have absolutely no memory of the sources of this information but I suspect they were pamphlets rather than books, perhaps those issued by the Hunt Saboteurs Association and the Animal Liberation Front. I could scarcely believe what I read – the texts included actual photographs for verisimilitude.

Let’s not trivialise the issue here: I loved to eat meat! I scoffed liver, bacon, sausages, kidneys, steak, chicken, duck and pork. The only meat I did not like (indeed have never liked) is beef and hearts. I loved chicken and mushroom pasties, Cornish pasties and pork pies. How the hell was a carnivore of my status ever going to remain a vegetarian? Well, the power of those ALF pamphlets proved sufficiently strong even when set in opposition to my carnivorous nature. I managed to remain a vegetarian and I even tried to be a vegan for a brief period. I managed it for barely 2 years. The problem here was tea. I am addicted to tea…yet it has to have milk in it (but not sugar – anyone who puts sugar in tea is a barbarian). I managed to survive on tea with soya milk but after nearly 2 years I could no longer tolerate it. Anyway, I have remained a strict vegetarian to this very day. I do have months where I refuse (almost) all dairy products except for milk in my tea.

However, I do not know many vegetarians. There is a reason for this: most people who claim to support animal rights (especially those below a certain age) adopt an attitude of insufferable superiority over others. I observe a similar attitude among Marxists and fundamental Christians. What these people seek to prove is this: ‘we are better than you; we are superior – only when you adopt our belief system and act like us will we accept you just might be acceptable to our social circle’. Well, I most definitely have no wish to be accepted into such a social circle…because if these kind of people did accept me then imagine what a tedious wretch that would make me! It is right for me to be an atheist, to espouse right wing libertarian politics, support animal rights and be a strict vegetarian – it may not be right for someone else. Who the hell am I to tell other people how to live their lives? I can tell them why I am not a Christian, why I despise Marxism and why I am a vegetarian – but it is not my business to try to change their lives unless (and only unless) their behaviour impinges upon my freedom and diminishes the quality of my own life. This is the problem with Marxists, Christians and a certain type of animal rights activist – they are crusaders who believe it is their duty to evangelise and convert everyone else in the world to adopt their own belief system.

Tierautonomie: I wonder about the problems faced momentarily and over the long run in terms of land possession and political entanglements with the inherited structures of the monarchy and aristocracy in the UK regarding hunting, the badger cull and other wildlife management, that are marked as a patriotic act almost, seen in front of this historical background. One notices that the hunt sab movement in the UK seem to stand for a form of fundamental resistance against traditional speciesism in ‘British hunting’ that is much associated with the aristocracy and those loyal to them.

When I joined the Hunt Saboteurs Association in the 1980s, the initial impetus was my hatred of the aristocracy rather than a love of animals. I was never impressed by those sickening little posters of cute and cuddly baby seals on ice floes that commanded us to take action against seal hunters. I thought instantly of eskimos who, if they turned vegetarian, would starve to death. Anyway, the landed gentry have always hunted victims – in the dark ages they took our land by brute force and created feudal societies where people like me were obliged to work for our lords and masters or starve…or face summary execution. When civilisation began to develop (during the 17th century) the aristocrats decided to find other methods to pass the time and relieve the tedious boredom experienced by excessively wealthy people…such as hunting and killing harmless animals.

Why do we have a royal family in Britain? Because King William The 1st of Normandy invaded England and quite literally stole land from our people. The British monarchy has consisted of foreigners from 1066 onwards – quite literally. King Harold was the last British monarch who was genuinely indigenous to this nation; all the others since are invaders. In the early 18th century we even imported parasites from Holland and Hanover (William Of Orange followed by George The 1st) in order to continue the tradition. How stupid is that? In 1914, the royal family changed their name from Sax-Coburg to Windsor as it didn’t seem politic for our monarch to have a German name when our young men were being slaughtered on the fields of France by German troops. What a shameful embarrassment that in 2017 there is still a royal family in Britain and, even worse, we still have aristocrats who live in castles and mansions built on land that once belonged to ordinary working people!

Acts of cruelty and brutality (be they against animals or human beings) are often legitimised by their perpetrators when those people are too cowardly to stand up like men and simply admit they perform such acts for enjoyment. When a gang of thugs roams the countryside to kill badgers, they never have the courage to admit they enjoy hunting and killing living beings – they concoct the most absurd and fantastic reasons to justify their abominations against nature – it’s our patriotic duty – it’s for the benefit of all the other animals – it’s to protect farmland – it’s part of our national heritage. If an aristocrat sat on his horse and, with a sneer of utter petulance common to such people, announced his intention to hunt stags and foxes because he enjoys the infliction of cruelty, I would have more respect – or perhaps less contempt – for him than for his peers who contrive all manner of bizarre reasons to account for their despicable behaviour.

Tierautonomie: Is this a right impression that the hunt sabs stand for a political ground against traditional land politics and classist forms of animal oppression? It seems like the UK has the strongest or at least most noticed hunt sab movement worldwide.

Andy Martin: Yes, I agree with you. Unless I am in error (which is quite possible) I believe Britain, more than any other European nation, specialises in the infliction of cruelty upon animals with zealous pride…which is ironic when you consider Britain is known as ‘a nation of animal lovers’. I wonder who invented that phrase…someone high on industrial amounts of LSD 25 probably. In China and other nations in south east Asia, cruelty to animals forms an integral facet of their national character. I expect Japs to hunt whales and eat dogs because they’re savages who don’t know any better. However, in their defence, the Chinese sincerely believe it is perfectly acceptable to maltreat cats and dogs – they never try to hide their vicious cruelty behind those absurd excuses contrived by English aristocrats. We are given to expect Europeans to be more civilised…but apparently we are not.

It is hardly a surprise Britain has such a strong tradition of hunt saboteurs given the demographic nature of what is essentially a class war. Working class people generally do not form gangs and hunt down stags, foxes and mink apart from those hired thugs who work for the gentry because they possess insufficient intelligence to perform more useful tasks for the nation. Wolverhampton football hooligans famously joined an association of northern hunt saboteurs in the late 1980s, not because they cared about the plight of the animals but because they simply wanted an excuse to batter the hell out of a few aristocrats…which is fine by me!

Tierautonomie: In context of this song, which is also my personal favourite, I would like to point out that your vocals are unique in hardcore punk by being somewhat melodic, really almost as in some type of folklore, however in a sense ‘aggressively melodic’. This is a vocal style somehow, or let’s say if we take it as that, what do you think of different singing styles, do vocal styles express something important in a sense, in whatever possible ways?

Andy Martin: I have no doubt my vocal style is ‘unique in hardcore punk’ but then is my vocal style actually unique? I doubt it. The vocal styles of Dolly Parton, Tom Waits and David Hasselhof would also be unique in hardcore punk…but then since none of those singers are hardcore (or any other variant) of punk, the question is scarcely relevant! As I am not (and have never been) a ‘punk’ nor a member of a punk band, my vocal style (or the style of instrumental playing of myself or of any other band member) is irrelevant to hardcore punk. Indeed it is related more to avant garde jazz or traditional Scottish folk music, if it is related to any genre at all (and it may not be, of course). Unfortunately one of the reasons my singing sounds unique is because most of the time I have the voice of a homosexual crow with influenza. I can sing in time and in tune but I have a crap voice and it frustrates me. When I sing double and treble tracked vocal harmonies, it doesn’t sound too abominable (as on Workers Autonomy, Blue Life and Hup Soon Heng) but really, I am not much of a singer…I wish I was but (sigh) I have to admit I am not.

Although I am not a fan of pop music, if I had to pick a favourite pop singer of recent times then it would be Liam Gallagher. Oasis are one of the few pop groups whose music I consider sufficiently impressive for me to include 3 discs of their selected tracks in my CD collection. By contrast, one of the worst singers I have ever heard is that git who whines interminably for Radiohead. Look, if you have lyrics you want people to hear and comprehend then you have a duty to sing them clearly and with precision.

Tierautonomie: Since we are mainly a blog dedicated to the concept of nonhuman autonomy I post these excellent lyrics of your song In The Name of Science here. Although I wished I had all mentioned songs’ lyrics in a written form. I hope they will be available sometime, is there any chance they’ll be accessible online some time?

In The Name of Science

They call it vivisection……………………..I use another name;
compulsory infections………………..is it some brutal game?
and lethal dose injections…………….Are animals to blame?

Ever since the fall they’ve practised bloody genocide
so hear the call – let’s pay them back with homicide.
We’ll have them all, no matter where they try to hide.
We won’t fake it anymore; we shall even up the score.
Pacifism is a bore, so let’s wage a bloody war.

We shall revenge every animal who has bled;
we’ll drag experimenters from their beds
and gouge the eyes from their heads
then mutilate their bodies till they’re dead.
Experiment on scientists instead.

In the name of science………………you justify your cause.
In a metal appliance……….you clamp a creatures’ claws.
You display defiance……………….to mother natures’ laws.

So we shall fight to free each creature tied and bound.
We have the right to burn laboratories to the ground.
Behold the sight of rescued animals safe and sound!
It’s often occurred to me mother nature had a plan
and it’s plain enough to see she made a mistake creating man,

for when I witness mankinds’ cruelty
I realise how repulsive he must be.
I despise the arrogance of humanity
and I’m ashamed to think that it’s a part of me,
when profit and murder join in an alliance in the name of science.

Text & Music – Andy Martin.

Andy Martin: I include (almost) all the lyrics for our works in my book Dare To Be Different which is available from Lulu.com. More recent lyrics are included in a short section of my book Fast – Clean – Cheap which is finished and should be available before the end of the year, also from Lulu.com. It is my intention to include all our lyrics in an entry on our website but Zhang Yao Min (UJ) is the young man in charge of that and he only has limited time at his disposal (he has a full time job teaching film students) so I am not certain when this will be completed.

Tierautonomie: which further reading that gets the reader into your work would you recommend? There are great texts on the Unit site, I especially fancy your thoughts about language on there.

Andy Martin: I know of only 3 – our website, our You Tube site and the on-line publisher responsible for my books.

There are currently 8 books available. I mention this because I realise our music – particularly those works composed by me – will not appeal to most people and it is not reasonable to expect such strange music to be popular. However, I am convinced most of my books are far more accessible (apart from The Workshop which is an exercise in avant garde literature that many readers will possibly find excessively tedious).

  1. Progressive Rock – The Music That Dare Not Speak Its Name
  2. Chinese Cinema 1905 – 2005
  3. Faded Fragments Of Distant Dreams (autobiography)
  4. The Essays (science, history, politics and the arts)
  5. The Workshop (dream diaries and cut-ups)
  6. I Wish I Was Dead (autobiography)
  7. Dare To Be Different (interviews and articles)
  8. Not In Front Of The Children (a study of Grange Hill 1978 – 1993) with photographs, episode synopses, cast lists and a contemporary debate on the programme with a group of teenagers from a local housing estate plus a historical survey of childrens’ television drama 1960 – 1990).

4 further volumes are in preparation

  1. Fast – Clean – Cheap (a collection of art, poetry, stories, essays and articles by various contributors including past and present members of UNIT)
  2. My Very Brief & Unsuccessful Career As A Human Being (autobiography including a history of The Apostles, Academy 23 and UNIT)
  3. Civil Disobedience (a collection of short stories for children)
  4. Behind The Bike Shed (a novel for children)

I am not familiar with the more arcane aspects of the internet and I have severe problems with modern technology so I really am not the best person to ask about this. However, I appeal to people to avoid any You Tube site that claims to include uploads of Apostles tracks – these are taken from cassettes and records with no effort made to improve the quality and no information included in the notes. By contrast Luc Tran and I have made almost every track by The Apostles available on our own You Tube site and it is this resource people are advised to use if they are eccentric enough to want to insult their ears by listening to such feeble trash.

There are just 2 studio tracks not currently available – not due to personal censorship (far from it) but because I do not possess copies of them. The tracks – Four Small Worlds and Imagine Think Dream – are by Dave Fanning, performed by the definitive version of the group (myself, Dave, Malcolm ‘Scruff’ Lewty and Chris Wiltshire) and originally intended for the 3rd album but omitted from it for reasons I cannot remember. Certainly they are vastly superior to many of the tracks that do appear on the original record. If anyone possesses a copy of these tracks, please contact me at unitunited@yahoo.com.

Finally, I must add this addendum: the opinions, assertions and statements made in this interview are mine and mine alone. They are not intended to represent those of Fabian Fritze and Colin Murrell, the other members of UNIT. It is essential people appreciate this as I am convinced they would both disagree strongly with some of my statements.

Tierautonomie: Thank you indeed Andy for this insightful interview and for your excellent work!


Andy Martin: Volente nonfit injuria – in my enthusiasm to address a set of questions of an intelligence and perception unusual in interviews, I managed (shamefully) to omit a couple of important commentaries. I present them here purely for your edification. Both issues are in fact related. In my intense haste to complete the interview I forgot to mention a crucial anomaly within the punk movement although, to be fair, it affects virtually every other youth subculture: the role of girls and women which is either subservient or absent entirely. In fact it could be stated (with generosity, true, but also not without a degree of accuracy) the punk movement has treated its female contingent with slightly less contempt than, say, skinheads or mods.

The pop groups offer proof of this. The Slits aside (for they are a supreme and notorious example who had the sense and decency to reject their association with punk fairly soon after their initial recordings) women can be found in plenty of other groups (or so it might seem) such as The Wall (Claire Bidwell, the bass guitarist), The Adverts (Gaye Advert, another bass guitarist), Girls At Our Best (2 men and 2 women), Liliput (4 women), The Banshees (Siouxsie Sue, the singer), X Ray Spex (the singer and the saxophonist), Pneumania (the singer), The Vice Squad (the singer) and so on. However, these form a distinct (and extremely small) minority within a subculture whose music was provided by otherwise male groups. Crass allowed their 2 women a few token rants of a pseudo-feminist nature but otherwise it was the men who did most of the work. What about their alleged enemies, the Oi bands? No, it’s all boys and men as far as the eyes can see…boring!

There is one glorious exception: Hagar The Womb. Mind you, I prefer not to regard them as a punk group because their lyrics are intelligent and manage often to combine anger with humour – generally a highly effective coalition in the promotion of social and political ideas. Added to this is their music which has more in common with bright and breezy pop than the tedious and thoroughly miserable dirges associated with punk dross. They quickly became associated with the fanzine Kill Your Pet Puppy which should come as no surprise. Hagar The Womb commenced life as a group of 4 girls and a temporary male drummer. They were also racially mixed – an extreme rarity in those days. Indeed, in London I think The Apostles were the only other group with an Asian member (John Soares, our guitarist for a year). The KYPP collective were also able to present a healthy mixture of men, women and racial groups. I believe they were probably unique in this respect…so they thus offered a far closer representation of the demographic constitution of London than any of their peers. Also, Kill Your Pet Puppy was not centred purely around punk bands or indeed bands at all. It featured a splendid mixture of political essays, social commentary, fashion, humour and colour. I mean this literally: theirs was the only publication which provided a splash of colour across the dreary monochrome mess of punk junk that otherwise infested our neighbourhoods with their turgid repetition of Crass quotes and tediously predictable slogans.

I am obliged to explain the name of their fanzine, of course, particularly since my responses to the questions appear in an internet forum called Tierautonomie! Britain is known as ‘a nation of animal lovers’. It was the first nation anywhere in the world to pass a government act that prohibited (albeit in a limited fashion) direct cruelty to animals in 1872. However, this was extended in the Protection Of Animals Act of 1911. Indeed, Section 1 specifically states ‘it is prohibited to wantonly or unnecessarily perform any act which causes unnecessary suffering to any animal’. I wonder what the landed gentry with their fox hunts and stag hunts thought of this piece of legislation…not very much, probably.

I urge people to go to the Kill Your Pet Puppy website (http://killyourpetpuppy.co.uk/) where their writers provide a detailed yet succinct explanation of their curious name but briefly I interpret it in this manner: concern for animals in Britain is often related to mawkish sentiment. We’re back with those wretched seal cubs again: ah, look at the cute and cuddly puppy – how could anyone be cruel to such a lovely fluffy animal? However, dolphins, sharks, whales, elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses are not cute and cuddly so they can all be hunted down and served up on plates. How many parents are aware that certain dogs (especially after they have licked excrement as canines are prone to do) can, if they lick the faces of small children, cause an infection of the eyes that results in blindness? When William Burroughs expresses his disdain for dogs, dismissing them as ‘ugly, fawning, shit eating beasts’ he seeks to attack and insult their owners rather than the creatures themselves. He stated in one of his university lectures in 1976 that he does not hate dogs – he hates what human beings have made of them.

I harbour a similar opinion with regard to horses. I despise horses! They are stupid, clumsy beasts who allow people to enslave them. Look, I cannot, indeed will not, respect any animal that allows a person to sit on its back and steer it around a track like a racing car. That does not mean I would ever be cruel to a horse – but as far as I am concerned, nobody who possesses a horse in order to ride it can claim to love horses. What they actually love is their animal slave…and I am vehemently opposed to slavery. In fact, if I want to be really radical I suppose I could suggest men have adopted women as their personal slaves for the past 3,000 years but perhaps I’m simply being awkward for the hell of it. Mind you, consider the first genuinely civilised people anywhere in the world: the ancient Greeks. I am a student of ancient Greece and classical Rome (my 2 favourite cultures – indeed my favourite historical hero is Alexander The Great) but I am forced to concede their treatment of women was vile. Women could not participate in assemblies in the polis and possessed no political power. Even that notorious race of savages, Great Britain, managed to produce a superb warrior in Queen Bodicea!

[1] Tierautonomie: No, it was not Peter Singer who phrased anything so radical at that times and obviously not on the level of grassroots and protest culture, although today’s AR people like to act as if Peter Singer initiated the modern AR movement with his book Animal Liberation. But here we go again talking about the efficacy of subversiveness and I should add in contrast to academic ivory towers and academic elitism (i.e. cite, quote, refer, otherwise not a valid point and no valid reasoning within academic discourse).

[2] Andy uses the N-word in context with discussing the ridicule of the skinhead movement which he somehow describes. Nevertheless using the N-word is problematic, though given Andy’s cultural background with seeing society overall critical and as highly oppressive, we assume that this is not to be categorized as racist, but probably a variation of white ignorance in some way – this would needed to be sorted out. We did not do that and we leave this question and problem open right now. We however are clearly and an anti-racist intersectionally oriented project and thus distance ourselves from the usage of discriminatory and historically painful and unjust vocabulary whoever would be affected by it – if it’s not a self-description, like Andy uses the word cripple referring to his own experience of physical disability or impairment and being discriminated against. We see a lot of ‘political correctness’ these days (and this is not said to lessen the problem of discriminatory language) that still nevertheless purports subtle and even more obvious forms of oppressive content. Given the vast range of social dilemmas that we face today, we let this stand now as it is, hoping that the reader can understand our partly dumbfounded position. We would however also be thankful for input / critique on our decision on how to handle double and triple standards, our own, left, right, inbetween and beyond today in better and perhaps more appropriate ways. Finally, Andy also writes in the interview above about subversiveness: “…I think primarily of the Black Panthers (naturally – all power to them and peace be upon their name)” and so forth.

Editor-in-chief: Gita Yegane Arani, www.simorgh.de – ‚Open Access in der Tier-, Menschen- und Erdbefreiung’. Revised 11/20147.

Martin, Andy (2017). Interview by Tierautonomie: A listen-and-read-interview with Andy Martin. TIERAUTONOMIE, 1(4), URL: http://simorgh.de/tierautonomie/JG4_2017_1.pdf.



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Der vegane Prototyp des 19. Jahrhunderts


Der vegane Prototyp des 19. Jahrhunderts

Palang LY

Dieser Text als PDF

Wir wissen, dass das Wort ‚vegan’ im Jahr 1944 von Donald Watson bei der Gründung der Vegan Society geprägt wurde (http://simorgh.de/niceswine/vegan-news-no-1), aber wem ist bekannt, dass eben diese Lebensweise und Ethik in Europa auch schon vorher praktiziert wurde?

Im Jahr 1815 schrieb William Lambe, Fellow des Royal College of Physicians ist seinem Buch: ‚Water and Vegetable Diet’: „Der Grund warum ich gegen den Gebrauch einer jeglichen Tierart zu Nahrungsmittelzwecken bin und warum ich als Lebensmittel nur die Früchte des Bodens anerkenne, liegt in der weitgreifenden Tatsache, dass nichts außer diesen für die menschlichen Organe geeignet sind. Im gleichem Maße wie Fleisch für die Ernährung ungeeignet ist, so sind es aber auch Eier, Milch, Käse und Fisch.“

Lambe begann im Jahr 1804 mit seiner neuen Ernährungsweise und schloss sich bald einer Gruppe Gleichgesinnter an. Zu dieser Gruppe zählte auch John Frank Newton (http://www.ivu.org/history/england19a/newton.html), der Autor von „Return to Nature, or a defence of the vegetable regimen“, das im Jahre 1811 in London publiziert wurde. Newtons Schwägerin, Harriet de Boinville, gehörte dieser Gruppe an. Ihr Haus, gelegen in der Gegend von Berkshire, und das Haus Newtons wurden zu den Treffpunkten des ersten uns bekannten Kreises protoveganer Freunde.

All das wäre vielleicht unbemerkt geblieben, wäre der damals 20-jährige Percy Bysshe Shelley nicht hinzu gestoßen. Der junge dichtende Shelley nahm bei einem Aufenthalt in Dublin im Jahr 1812 für sich eine Lebensweise an, die er als ‚das Pythagoräische System’ bezeichnete. Mit der klassischen Antike vertraut und das Lateiniische und Altgriechische beherrschend, muss er von dieser Art sich zu ernähren aus den alten Textquellen erfahren haben. Bei seiner Rückkehr nach London begegnete Shelley dem politischen Philosophen William Godwin der ihn mit Newton zusammenführte. Die jüngere Tochter Godwins, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, wurde später Shelleys zweite Frau. Vielen von uns ist sie auch bekannt als die Autorin des klassischen Romans ‚Frankenstein oder Der moderne Prometheus’.

Jahre später schrieb ein enger Freund Shelleys, Thomas Jefferson Hogg, der allerdings selbst Fleischesser geblieben war, über seine Erlebnisse bei den Shelleys:

„Ich passte mich an, nicht weil ich ihre Überzeugungen teilte, sondern nur aus Freundschaft. Ihre Gemüse-Diners waren natürlich wunderbar. Fleisch tauchte niemals auf, auch keine Eier als solche oder Butter in größeren Mengen. Eier und Butter wurde zwar beim Kochen zugelassen, aber so sparsam wie möglich und nur unter Protest, als kulinarische Hilfen denen man eingentlich nicht zusagte und die man bald aufgeben wolle. Käse war verboten. Milch und Sahne durften nur unter Vorbehalt gebraucht werden in Puddings oder im geringen Maße im Tee als Zugeständnis an die Schwäche Neu-Initiierter.“

Wir müssen uns natürlich bewusst machen, dass dies ja noch lange vor der Erfindung von Margarine war und noch lange bevor jemand im Westen etwas von Tofu oder Sojamilch gehört hätte. Die Veränderungen in der Ernährung waren zu der Zeit also ein noch größerer Schritt als heute, wo wir bereits eine pflanzliche Cuisine und die dazugehörigen Produkte vorfinden.

Es ging den Shelleys aber nicht bloß um das Essen oder um die Gesundheit. 1813 veröffentliche Shelley sein großes philosophisches Gedicht ‚Queen Mab’ (http://ia700803.us.archive.org/14/items/queenmabphilosop00shel/queenmabphilosop00shel.pdf), dem er als Vorwort seinen Text ‚A Vindication of Natural Diet’ (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/38727/38727-h/38727-h.htm, ‚Zur Verteidigung einer natürlichen Diät’) voranstellte. Im Gedicht ‚Königin Mab’ finden wir die folgenden Zeilen:

Nich länger nun schlachter er das Lamm, dass ihm in sein Gesicht schaut, nicht länger verschlingt er grauenhalft sein geschunden Fleisch; …

Die Gruppe blieb einige Jahre beisammen. Zwischenzeitlich heiratete William Lambes Tochter den Sohn von Mrs. de Boinville, doch bald löste sich alles auf und nur Mr. Lambe erscheint später wieder im Blickfeld.


Im Jahr 1817 wissen wir von James Pierrepont Greaves als einem der die pflanzliche Ernährungsweise für sich annahm, und soweit uns bekannt ist war das auch tatsächlich eine völlig pfanzlich-basierende Ernährung die er von Anfang an praktizierte. Über sein frühes Leben wissen wir nur, dass er irgendwann in London lebte als Nachbar des Herausgebers der Bücher die wir oben bereits erwähnten. Und so könnte es sein, dass er mit dem einen oder dem anderen dieser Veröffentlichungen inhaltlich vertraut gewesen ist. Greaves verbrachte mehrere Jahre in der Schweiz bei dem radikalen Pädagogen und sozialreformer Pestalozzi, und er plante bald eine eigene Schule in London zu eröffnen. Zuvor hatte er von einer Schule in Boston, USA, erfahren, zu deren Curriculum außer der Vermittlung der Gleichberechtigung zwischen Frauen und Männnern und antirassistischen abolutionistischen Gedanken auch eine ethisch motivierte Lebensweise zählte, die sich mit der Versklavung der Tiere befasste (http://www.vegsource.com/john-davis/bronson-alcott—american-pioneer-vegan.html); das war eine Lebensweise, die wir heute als eine vegane Lebensweise bezeichnen würden – den Begriff gab es damals aber selbstverständlich noch nicht. Die Schule in Boston, die Temple School, war von dem Lehrer und Philosophen Amos Bronson Alcott im Jahre 1834 gegründet worden.

Beeindruckt von dem erzieherischen Konzept der Bostoner Schule eröffnete Greaves nun seine eigene Schule in England und benante sie nach Alcott, so entstand ‚Alcott House’ im Jahr 1838 in Surrey. Heute wissen wir, dass es diese Gruppe gewesen ist, die sich zu allererst als „Vegetarier“ bezeichneten. Der erste gedruckte Gebrauch des Wortes ist uns aus dem Jahr 1842 aus einem Journal bekannt. Zu diesem Zeitpunk muss den Lesern der Begriff aber bereits geläufig gewesen sein. Inzwischen lässt sich auch zurückverfolgen, dass zu dem Zeitpunkt „vegetarisch“ noch eine 100%ig pflanzliche Ernährungsweise bedeutete. Man bemühte sich darum, das meiste der Früchte und des Gemüses selbst anzubauen und als Getränk wurde ausschließlich pures Wasser favorisiert – so wie das Dr. Lambe Jahre zuvor bereits empfohlen hatte. Lambe besuchte ‚Alcott House’ häufig und sah dort seine Ideen in die Praxis umgesetzt. Aus den überlieferten Dokumenten der Schule lässt sich ersehen, dass man die Zucht und Haltung von Tieren zum Zwecke ‚des Gebrauchs’ oder ‚der Unterhaltung’ strikt ablehnte, worin sich ebenso die ethische Begründung für ihre Lebensweise erkennen lässt.

Amos Bronson Alcott besuchte Alcott House vier Monate lang im Jahr 1842, und nahm zwei der dort Angestellen mit zurück auf seiner Heimreise in die USA, wo er mit ihnen eine weitere Gemeinschaft in der Nähe Harvards gründete, die er „Fruitlands“ nannte. Dieses Projekt war eher von kurzer Dauer. Auch dort wurde rein pflanzlich gegessen und der Einsatz vor Tierarbeit war verboten. Von der Tochter Alcotts, Louisa May Alcott (http://www.louisamayalcott.org/), wissen wir aus ihrem Buch ‚Little Women’, dass Alcott House 1848 schloss nach zehnjährigem bestehen.

Innerhalb dieser Zeit wurde im Jahr 1847 die Vegetarian Society gegründet. Zwei Angestelle von Alcott House arbeiteten anfangs als Schatzmeister und Sekretär für die Vegetarian Society. Doch hätte die Vegetarian Society bald aufegeben, wenn sie nicht den wohlhabenden James Simpson von der Bible Christian Church zu ihrem Präsidenten gewählt hätten. Leider brachte dieser Zug aber auch mit sich, dass die Version einer „vegetaliben Ernährungeseweise“ der Bible Christian Church übernommmen wurde, die nur bedeutete kein Fleisch zu essen. Die Vision der BCC speiste sich aus der bildichen Überlieferung ‚von Milch und Honig’ (und Eiern) die im gelobten Land flössen. Die darauf resultierende Verwirrung und Verwässerung des neu formierenten Gedankens einer ethischen Lebensweise die Tiere mit einbeschloss dauerte ein Jahrhundert lang an, bis eine Gruppe innerhalb der Vegetarian Society sich dazu entschied, eine klare Entscheidung zu treffen und so die Vegan Society 1944 gegründet wurde.


Auszug aus ‚Queen Mab’ von Shelley:


‘Here now the human being stands adorning

This loveliest earth with taintless body and mind;

Blest from his birth with all bland impulses,                     200

Which gently in his noble bosom wake

All kindly passions and all pure desires.

Him, still from hope to hope the bliss pursuing

Which from the exhaustless store of human weal

Draws on the virtuous mind, the thoughts that rise

In time-destroying infiniteness gift

With self-enshrined eternity, that mocks

The unprevailing hoariness of age;

And man, once fleeting o’er the transient scene

Swift as an unremembered vision, stands                           210

Immortal upon earth; no longer now

He slays the lamb that looks him in the face,

And horribly devours his mangled flesh,

Which, still avenging Nature’s broken law,

Kindled all putrid humors in his frame,

All evil passions and all vain belief,

Hatred, despair and loathing in his mind,

The germs of misery, death, disease and crime.

No longer now the wingèd habitants,

That in the woods their sweet lives sing away,                    220

Flee from the form of man; but gather round,

And prune their sunny feathers on the hands

Which little children stretch in friendly sport

Towards these dreadless partners of their play.

All things are void of terror; man has lost

His terrible prerogative, and stands

An equal amidst equals; happiness

And science dawn, though late, upon the earth;

Peace cheers the mind, health renovates the frame;

Disease and pleasure cease to mingle here,                        230

Reason and passion cease to combat there;

Whilst each unfettered o’er the earth extend

Their all-subduing energies, and wield

The sceptre of a vast dominion there;

Whilst every shape and mode of matter lends

Its force to the omnipotence of mind,

Which from its dark mine drags the gem of truth

To decorate its paradise of peace.’

Die Kommentierung Shelleys:

{17} VIII. 211, 212

No longer now

He slays the lamb that looks him in the face.

I hold that the depravity of the physical and moral nature of man originated in his unnatural habits of life. The origin of man, like that of the universe of which he is a part, is enveloped in impenetrable mystery. His generations either had a beginning, or they had not. The weight of evidence in favour of each of these suppositions seems tolerably equal; and it is perfectly unimportant to the present argument which is assumed. The language spoken, however, by the mythology of nearly all religions seems to prove that at some distant period man forsook the path of nature, and sacrificed the purity and happiness of his being to unnatural appetites. The date of this event seems to have also been that of some great change in the climates of the earth, with which it has an obvious correspondence. The allegory of Adam and Eve eating of the tree of evil, and entailing upon their posterity the wrath of God and the loss of everlasting life, admits of no other explanation than the disease and crime that have flowed from unnatural diet.Miltonwas so well aware of this that he makes Raphael thus exhibit to Adam the consequence of his disobedience […]


Zur Geschichte des Vegetarismus in Europa: http://www.ivu.org/history/vegetarian.html






Datum der letzten Zugriffe auf alle hier aufgeführten Links: 3. Mai 2013.

(Eventuelle typographische Korrekturen im Text werden noch vorgenommen.)


Ein rebellischer Dichter: der Syre Al-Ma’arri (973 – 1057 n. Chr.)

ancient_goat_syria_walters Relief einer Ziege oder eines Schafes aus Syrien, 10.-9. Jahrh. v. Chr.

Ein rebellischer Dichter: der Syre Al-Ma’arri (973 – 1057 n. Chr.)

Der blinde arabische Philosoph Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri plädierte in seinen Gedichten für die kritische Vernunft, insbesondere den religiösen Institutionen gegenüber, die gerade in seiner Zeit eine große Macht besaßen.

Was für uns so interessant ist, ist dass der Dichter Al-Ma’arri eine ethisch motivierte pflanzliche Lebensweise – sprich eine vegane Lebensweise – als Folgerung vernünftigen Denkens erkannte. Kein religiöses Dogma konnte es mit seiner Empathie für Tiere aufnehmen. Religionen besäßen keine „Wahrheit“. Al-Ma’arri suchte nach Wahrheit in dem was er selbst als richtig erkannte.

Die meisten in seiner Zeit sahen in Al-Ma’arri einen Atheisten oder bezeichneten ihn als Brahmanen und Deisten; als einen der nicht an das Prophetentum glaubt. Man sagt Al-Ma’arri habe 45 Jahre lang auf alles was Grausamheit gegen Tiere beinhaltet verzichtet. (1)

Nicht länger stehle ich von der Natur

Ihr seid erkrankt in Eurem Verständnis und Eurer Religion. Kommt zu mir,
dass Ihr etwas Wahrhaftiges vernehmt.
Esst nicht den Fisch, der das Wasser ausgespien, und hungert nicht
nach dem Fleisch geschlachteter Tiere als Nahrung,
nicht nach der weißen Milch von Müttern, die die pure Flüssigkeit
ihren Jungen und nicht noblen Damen gedachten.
Verärgert nicht die harmlosen Vögel indem Ihr ihnen die Eier stehlt;
denn Ungerechtigkeit ist das Schlimmte aller Vergehen.
Nehmt nicht den Honig, den die Bienen mit Mühe
von den Blumen und den duftenden Pflanzen sammeln;
sie trugen ihn nicht zusammen damit er für andere sei,
auch haben sie ihn nicht als Gabe und Geschenk gesammelt.
Ich habe meine Hände von all diesem reingewaschen; und wünschte, dass ich
meinen Weg erkannt hätte, bevor mein Haar nun ergraut ist! (2)

(1) Essays in Arabic Literary Biography 1350-1850, Hrsg. Joseph E. Lowry und Devin J. Stewart, 2009, S. 17.

(2) Studies in Islamic poetry. R.A. Nicholson, Cambridge, 1921. S. 134. Quelle bei Archive.org (Zugriff 24.03.13)

Links dazu:

1000 year old vegan poem: “I No Longer Steal From Nature” by EVOLVE! Campaigns

Ferbuary 2013: Syrian Minister of Culture says saboteurs not revolutionaries beheaded Al-Ma’arri’s statue