Sunday, 22 April 2007

Nazi silliness

Bryan Ferry has brought trouble on himself by commenting on the presentation skills of the Nazis.

"My God, the Nazis knew how to put themselves in the limelight and present themselves," he gushed to the German magazine Welt am Sonntag. "I'm talking about Leni Riefenstahl's movies and Albert Speer's buildings and the mass parades and the flags - just amazing. Really beautiful."

Predictable that the press jumped all over him, with various people calling for an end to the deal he has with M&S to promote their 'Signature' range of clothes.


As far as I know, he didn't praise the Nazi's actions or their philiosophy. He simply said that they were good at presenting themselves. I totally agree with him. They had superb iconography - their swastika (borrowed from hindu and other cultures), the death's head logo of the SS, the Nuremburg rallies, their marching music, Hitler's 'Eagle's Nest' villa in the mountains, all great examples of powerful and enduring icons, desired by military and art collectors worldwide.

That doesn't mean that Bryan Ferry or I are political supporters of the Nazis, however it seems that if you even mention the word Nazi (apart from unconditionally and absolutely condemning them) then you are accused of being one yourself, that you must be an anti-semite. No, it doesn't mean that at all. All intelligent people, and I presumptiously include myself in that, unhesitatingly acknowledge that their utilitarian philosophy was odious and their actions criminal.

However, we must acknowledge the appeal they had for the German people, if only so that we can recognise current and future politicians using the same tactics to appeal to their peoples.

They did have some appeal, otherwise the vast majority of Germans wouldn't have supported them, and I believe presentation had at least something to do with it. I'm also a fan of intellectual honesty. If their uniforms, architecture, flags, rallies, etc, were artistically done, then it must be ok to admit that.

Having said that, Bryan Ferry has been in the public eye for a couple of generations now, and he should know how the press operate. I think he has been silly, but not necessarily evil.

(By the way, just in case you have a sneaking suspicion that I have Nazi sympathies, I must let you know that I am a veteran of the ANL (Anti-Nazi League) marches in the late 70s/early 80s. One of my small claims to fame is that I have personally kicked Martin Webster (the ex-leader of the National Front) at a march-turned-disturbance in Leeds. Beat that!)

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