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Monday, August 22, 2016

Cross-Dressing in the Wehrmacht


Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com


The Wehrmacht is usually portrayed as this remorseless, robotic mass of unthinking and unfeeling automatons who salute before going off to be mowed down. However, this is not the case at all. Which brings us to that classic line from "The Dirty Dozen":
Major John Reisman: I owe you an apology, Colonel. I always thought that you were a cold, unimaginative, tight-lipped officer. But you're really quite emotional, aren't you?

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com


In fact, Wehrmacht soldiers had all sorts of unusual, how shall we put this, um, "traditions." One of these was cross-dressing in the Third Reich.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com

One of the more unusual of these "traditions" was to cross-dress with their girlfriends, or at least dress their girls in their uniforms.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Now, why or how this might have become a, er, tradition is probably lost in the murky recesses of deviant minds. The photographic record, however, just shows what was, not why it was.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com

I'm sure any Wehrmacht soldier reviewing these shots would instantly smile and say (in German), "Oh, it was just fun to do that." That's the kind of answer that doesn't answer anything, of course. I'm sure it was fun at the time, else they wouldn't have done it. There must have been some reason.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com

What's interesting is how much elaborate care they took. The ties are knotted, the pearls are worn, the buttons are secured... it wasn't as if they spent 30 seconds, put on each others' hats, and took a selfie while giggling about it.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com

No, they carefully knotted the scarfs, cocked the hats at just the right angle, and went all out to make it look right. And they did a great job!

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The fellow is wearing a BDM uniform - which looked kind of manly. However, it definitely would have been recognized as female attire at the time.

The amazing thing is that they don't look very self-conscious about it, either.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com


They put a lot of time and effort into it, those perfectly arranged skirts don't just get on those guys in a second. But some of them should have taken the time to shave their legs.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com


In fact, some of the pictures show how much work went into it.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Some of them look damn good doing it, too.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com

In fact, they often do it in groups, with other people around.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com


I don't think Halloween was really that big in Nazi Germany, so there must be some other reason.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Anyway, there probably was some obscure German or Nazi holiday that they were honoring with this cross-dressing practice. The Wehrmacht guy would just shake his head sadly and say (in German), "Dummkopf! That was the annual Schnitzersangungfreud Festival where the women asked the men out" or something like that.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com


That's always how it turns out when you notice something a bit out of place from the Nazi regime, "Oh, that was perfectly normal, and you are weird because you do not see how normal it was!"

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com


Right.
Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com


Anyway, let me be clear, I have no issue with cross-dressing if that is what they were into, and they could cross-dress all they liked while they were bombing London if that rocked their boats.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com
I know, I know, cheap shot. But you've got to be pretty darn powerful to get away with stuff like that.

Whatever the reason, today it makes for interesting viewing.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com


Okay, just to show that I'm not picking on the Germans - heaven forbid! - Here's one from a British POW camp. Why? Who knows. But it must get lonely in the camps.

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Third Reich cross-dressing worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Ah, the possibilities....





2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016

British Propaganda Posters


British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com


British propaganda posters of World War II tend to focus solely on providing information. They tell you what to do without mincing words. Whereas Soviet propaganda posters try to create an emotional feeling of hatred toward the enemy, and US propaganda posters rely on such Madison Avenue tricks as including only pretty women, British posters are much more prosaic.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Hi, Darth. This is from World War II. Somebody in Hollywood back in the '70s was a student of history.

"Shine your torch downwards when crossing the road," they will say, and you don't have to really guess what the intent of that particular poster is. They tend to be very neat, straightforward and strictly informational.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com



For some reason, the "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters such as the one at the top of this page are considered the ultimate World War II British propaganda message. Many old-timers may look at that and say to themselves, "Sure, I remember those posters, bloody hell what frightening times."

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

If so, they are completely mistaken. The "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters indeed have become iconic, but it isn't because of anything that happened during the war. In fact, those posters never even appeared during the war.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

The story goes that in 1939, upon the outbreak of the war, the Ministry of Information decided to stockpile propaganda posters. They came up with three more or less catchy phrases:
  • Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory;
  • Freedom is in Peril; and
  • Keep Calm and Carry On.
So, the Keep Calm and Carry On posters are not just a modern "imagination" of what British propaganda posters of the time might or should have said. There were actual posters made up with all three phrases, roughly a million of each.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Where you would be mistaken in remembering having seen them back then, however, is that they never actually appeared in public. They were sent to government offices, police stations and the like. However, the government wished them to be displayed only in a time of true crisis. One can only wonder what crisis might have been sufficient to whip them out of the stock room and hang them up. Perhaps an invasion?

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

What that unhappy event might have been, it never actually occurred. At the end of the war, they were no longer needed and all were collected and sent to the shredder. They never appeared in public.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

All were sent to the shredder, that is, save three. That is the number that have survived in one condition or another. The first to discover one was a bookseller, Stuart Marley, who found one in the bottom of a box of old books in 2000. It had lain there undisturbed apparently since the wartime days and thus had missed the shredder. Marley since has turned the poster into an iconic symbol by licensing its manufacture. They sell at a brisk pace.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Since then, two other copies have turned up. One was found at Princes Risborough police station, another in private hands (probably somebody's attic). Originals are now quite valuable.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

There were a few other uses of the "Carry On" phrase in British wartime propaganda - it's a bit of a common expression. However, no other poster used the "Keep Calm and Carry On" formulation that everyone seems to remember.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Other British posters are either extremely prosaic or depictions of dramatic moments of combat.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

The general thrust of most British propaganda posters generally lies in one of three directions:

  1. Telling people what to do;
  2. Encouraging people, especially women, to enlist (men being drafted anyway); or
  3. Encouraging them to work harder.

Generally, the third category on that list are most interesting.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

After all, how interesting is a poster that tells you to keep your flashlight lowered so that you don't attract Nazi bombers? Though one must admit they are quite colorful. Note the use of pink in the poster below, as women would be guilty of shining their flashlights just as much as men.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com


The posters sometimes touched on very touchy subjects. With the poster above, people are encouraged to fight incendiary bombs before they start massive conflagrations. This was extremely important, because incendiaries were easy to put out if caught early, but once the fires started, they could rage out of control. The incendiary bomb is portrayed in a comical anthropomorphic way in order to make them seem less intimidating and forbidding.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Unlike Soviet and American posters, British propaganda posters tend not to make fun of Hitler.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com


Instead, Hitler is portrayed as an ominous, malevolent force who is looking for any vulnerabilities.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Shipping was never as vital in British life as it was during the war. Many posters focus on making the shipping process more efficient. The sooner you can unload a ship, the less vulnerable both the ship and the cargo are to air attack.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

One area where there was a great need to recruit men was into the RAF. The mortality rate in the RAF skyrocketed during the Battle of Britain, especially among new pilots.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Coal production was a very sensitive issue during the war. The Coal miners were unionized, and they had a tendency not to let a little thing like a war get in the way of exercising their rights. Coal strikes were not in the national interest, so many posters focus on creating a sense of guilt amongst the workers to stay at their jobs.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Women were recruited as never before during the war. They are portrayed as ordinary women, not fantastically beautiful as in many American recruiting posters.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

The overarching theme, though, was the importance of giving the men at the front what they required to fight.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

As with all the other combatants, the British had posters of the "Loose lips sink ships" variety. As usual with British propaganda posters, they are not subtle.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com


Below are more posters along these general themes.

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

British propaganda posters worldwartwo.filminspector.com

2016