Excerpts from

"New Meanings for 'Inherited' Customs?"

by  Hannes Kremer

"Neuwertung 'überlieferter' Brauchformen?"

 in Die neue Gemeinschaft 3 (1937), pp. 3005 a-c.

Translated by Randall Bytwerk, Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan (USA). The entire article is available at  German Propaganda Archive

  Background Information:

"The Nazis set about establishing their own rituals and holidays immediately after taking power. This interesting article ... suggests that holidays such as Christmas can be given new content, turning them into Nazi holidays rather than religious ones."


"In our efforts to deepen National Socialist forms of behavior in the area of rituals and ceremonies, we have two main tasks. On the one hand, we must create new ideas and new customs, and on the other it is necessary to adjust those customs that have grown out of the people to the "new community of the Germans," which means giving these inherited customs a new content consistent with the people's community (Volksgemeinschaft )....

Here it is a question of creating new customs for the new political worldview and its ideals that will also enable later generations to be reminded of those strengths of instinct, feeling and spirit that have been recognized as so critical in our struggle for existence and for the security of the people's community. (A few examples: courage, bravery, affirmation of life, awareness of duty).

These new customs develop directly from the ideas, experiences and traditions of the party itself. ...  But there are also those holidays that have a long history with the people... but no longer have the significance in the popular mind they once did (solstices, Christmas, etc.).

"The significance of holidays and rituals — from the political standpoint — lies in the spiritual or emotional deepening of the experience of community. ...  If we are to attempt to make inherited customs politically useful, we must be clear that that is possible only if we give them a fundamentally new content. Even if religious fanatics object, this is justified because it deepens the sense of community of the people's community. Obviously, this is not done for religious reasons, rather because only in that way is it possible to bridge inherited religious fragmentation.

"It is thus necessary to give inherited customs a meaning that reaches each member of the community in the same way....

"When we conduct such a holiday or ceremony, we want — as in everything else — to mobilize the spiritual or emotional strengths of the community for National Socialism. For example, Christmas is an inherited holiday about a theoretical peace for all of humanity. There is no national or social necessity to believe in this. However, we can present it as a holiday of actual internal national peace... From this perspective, it fits clearly in the political and worldview arena....

"The ceremony should appeal not to the knowledge of the few, but to the spirit, the life feeling, of the many. ...we must seek to use effective and understandable methods that will reach the German person of our century with the National Socialist idea, and this in ever new and strengthening ways....

"A Christmas ceremony based on events and views that people do not understand today does no good, but harm. It arouses only a distrust of our goals, not confidence in our ability to lead the people spiritually (which is more than necessary!). In some places, festivals of lights" have been held. Naturally, representatives of various groups carry a candle for the "people's community.'...


"We do not want simply to touch the feelings...  rather to make people aware of their responsibility for the nation's fate. ... Conducting ceremonies is not another name for entertainment, rather a serious task affecting the worldview and political life forms of the community. ...  It becomes a symbol when we see in it the opportunity to make visible in a festive way those things which are taken for granted during the rest of the year, but which are the foundations of our national life and thinking."


[1]Hannes Kremer, "Neuwertung 'überlieferter' Brauchformen?", in Die neue Gemeinschaft 3 (1937), pp. 3005 a-c.