Fashion in the Third Reich
Fashion magazin, around 1939. Photo: TIM Augsburg.
Fashion in Nazi Germany is the subject of an exhibition of clothing under a totalitarian regime. It shows the way the ideology infiltrated into the lifes of all citizens, from childhood to private and professional life. Uniforms of the Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth) and the Bund Deutscher Mädel (female youth), police, postmen and other officials feature. The regime also produced fashion magazines, focusing on the German way a woman should dress. Outfits worn by women on the production line, in offices of the Reich, in daily life or at social events and ballroom gowns also feature in the exhibition. Fashion in a totalitarian regime is fascinating, because the official guidelines and propaganda always meet resistance of social, religious or ideological groups or individuals. This was also the case in Germany, by the Catholic Youth Organisation “ Bund Neudeutschland” , the Swing Youth “ Swingjugend”, the Edelweiss Pirates “ Eidelweisspiraten” and various other (in) formal organizations, that resisted the official doctrine and dresscode. This resistance was relatively safe until the outbreak of the war in 1939, but the regime brutally persecuted individuals and groups after the fortune of war had changed after 1942. By the end of the war, in 1945, fashion was fully controlled by the regime and opposition by dresscode had been wiped out. One of the most cruel excesses was the fate of inmates of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Around 15-20 prisoners died every day, because they were forced to walk on unfit shoes to try new models, materials and their life expectancy. Even fashion was a murderous business in the Reich.