Thursday, November 23, 2017

Daniel Siemens's "Stormtroopers"

Daniel Siemens is professor of European history at Newcastle University. His new book is Stormtroopers: A New History of Hitler's Brownshirts. He is author of three previous books and has published widely on European and U.S. history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Siemens applied the “Page 99 Test” to Stormtroopers and reported the following:
From page 99:
‘Only smoke your own brands. Do not spend money in other circles. To be a National Socialist means fighting and agitating until the last breath.’
This call is from an advertisement that ran in the early 1930s. It was directed at the rank and file Stormtroopers, or Brownshirts, the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party. Hitler and his followers had not yet taken power in Germany, but they were already a political force to reckon with. As I demonstrate in my book, the Nazis were not only skilled propagandists which since the late 1920s successfully reached out to a wide variety of German voters, they were also open to new business models. They centralized the sales of their uniform, of party badges and flags – similar to today’s sports clubs who make a fortune with cheaply produced shirts that bear the name of prominent athletes.
Stormtrooper cigarettes
The NSDAP also cooperated with a Dresden-based cigarette company that produced a variety of cigarettes exclusively marketed to appeal to Nazi supports.

It was a win-win situation: The party promised to order its quickly growing number of paramilitary supporters to smoke this particular brand of cigarettes, and in return the company employed Stormtroopers as salesmen and paid a share of its profits to the paramilitaries. What is more, such a cooperation fit with the Nazi propaganda of the pre-1933 era which accused big business and cartels to sell out the interests of the German workers.

After the ‘Night of the Long Knives’ in the summer of 1934 that cut the Stormtroopers of much of their previous influence, this business model quickly collapsed to the benefit of the traditional big players in the German cigarette business. Yet the idea that group identity and feelings of belonging can be stimulated by the consumption of specially tailored products has proven a great success ever since.
Learn more about Stormtroopers at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue