Martyr Construction and the Politics of Death in National Socialism

Politics is practiced by the living, but sometimes also built upon the dead. This is the case with National Socialism and other religions of the fatherland. They are vehicles for a politics of memory and mobilisation in the public sphere, fostered by a specific movement or regime around the death of...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Totalitarian movements and political religions
Main Author: Casquete, Jesús
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: Taylor & Francis 2009
In: Totalitarian movements and political religions
Online Access: Volltext (lizenzpflichtig)
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Summary:Politics is practiced by the living, but sometimes also built upon the dead. This is the case with National Socialism and other religions of the fatherland. They are vehicles for a politics of memory and mobilisation in the public sphere, fostered by a specific movement or regime around the death of some members of its community in whom they see condensed the values they aspire to universalise among all citizens. The Nazis concocted a sophisticated liturgy in which those who fell for the ‘Idea’ became a cause of ritual celebration and objects of worship. The social construction of martyrs by the Nazi leadership, with Goebbels shaping the mould and Horst Wessel as the most complete example, evolves around three discursive pillars: (1) the presentation of the (male) candidate as someone who has died for the sake of the community; (2) a rhetoric of the few, carriers of Truth and Good, facing a sea of enemies who cannot be engaged in dialogue but must instead be hated to the point of death; and (3) the martyr is embellished, their virtues are exaggerated while features or facts that are potentially dysfunctional are hidden.
ISSN:1743-9647
Contains:Enthalten in: Totalitarian movements and political religions
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1080/14690760903495740