The link between Nazi Germany and the Art Deco period (which is so popular these days), has long made me uncomfortable. 

First I learned about the Neiger Brothers of Gablonz, Bohemia and their assassination at the hands of the Nazi’s.  These brothers were glass artisans from Bohemia, only just enjoying the fruits of their labour when killed by the Nazi war machine in Auschwitz.

It is interesting to read how the two – the ‘Third Reich’ and the global Art Deco style movement interacted.  The text which follows owes its origins to the narrative provided by Ilonka Wenk in the hardback reference book “Art Deco Schmuck” by Christianne Weber in German.

The book is a revelation to me and one wonders, if the general population knew of the background of Art Deco and the casualties inflicted by the Third Reich, would they be quite so keen to embrace everything Art Deco?  

With the North Americans, there would be an unequivocal ‘Yes!’.  With other perhaps more thoughtful Europeans there may at the very least be a huge question mark.   

But when there is a quick buck to be made in hard times, who can ignore a sale purely on the grounds of moral ethics?  I suspect there are very few indeed.

In the ‘Roaring Twenties’ lesbianism was embraced as ‘avant-garde’, during the 1930’s it was increasingly frowned upon following the play ‘Girls In Uniform’ where the heroin commits suicide after an unrequited infatuation with another female in uniform.

But many more women would soon be seen in uniform following the rise of Hitler in 1933, particularly the ‘BDM’ (the League of German Girls), who served in the Reich Works Corporation.  They carried out duties such as menial medical orderlies as well as lowly positions as tram conductors.

I suspect that the creation  (in 1933) of the German Fashion Office (Meutsches Modeamt) whose remit was to make all women’s’ clothing conform to the ethnic Nazi ideology, was doomed to failure from the very start.

The German Fashion Office was ordered to release propaganda of all kinds to ensure that only ‘pure blooded’ German fashion and accessories were made in accordance with  nationalist folklore which  should be accepted by all true Germans.  

They were also instructed by the Third Reich to ensure that they promoted fashion manufacture in order to keep up with international trends. 

This is surely a double whammy ordered by  the German Fashion Office (Meutsches Modeamt) – neither of which they could possibly deliver or enforce.

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