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I just found this site today and when I read the site's name I couldn't help but cringe, "Nazi Dieselpunk"  My initial concern was that it was a neo-Nazi site that had tried to hook onto Dieselpunk. After spending some time there I concluded that instead it's a site that's primarily interested in some of the the bizarre tech that the Germans developed during the war as well as the alternative history stories of World War II.

However, it sparked a question that I have and which I would like feedback on from members of the forum. Because World War II played such a major role in the Diesel Era does that open us up to at risk overlooking the evil of Nazism? For example, what should we make of some of the art that shows fantasy German military? What about pin-up art consisting of women dressed in Nazi uniforms? And concerning German uniforms, should Dieselpunks wear WWII era German uniforms for conventions such as cosplay? If so, is there a line where it becomes inappropriate? For example, is it okay to wear a German army uniform but not an SS?

I would love to read the thoughts of the members of the forum.

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I think that the German (Nazi) Dieselpunk 1933 - 45 years should be considered in the framework of the "dark Teutonic genius". Logic driven to the point of absurdity. Dieselpunk also has its dark side. Powerful promotion of certain ideas together with a thorough filtration of the news created what in his novel "1984" was called "Ministry of Truth". Many of the events that we are shocking today, at the time were perceived as natural. I think, that the use of Nazi symbols is possible only in the form of archival documents for creation of the atmosphere of that time. The uniform is not valid only symbols of the SS. Buchenwald, Khatyn, Oradour, Lidice - the list is long... But in itself German uniform convenient and practical. The uniform of the National people's Army of the GDR by 60-70% was created on the basis of the uniforms of the Wehrmacht. I hope I have not bored.

I've come pretty late to this, so there isn't much I can add to the discussion.

I'm always amazed in debates such as these, that many people attempt comparisons of the Nazis to other unrelated organisations or events. This has the effect of producing a virtual sliding scale of barbarity, in which, according to their understanding or beliefs, the Nazis are slotted somewhere within that scale. Is there an acceptable level of barbarity somewhere where we can say "It's okay to dress like Y, but not like X"? If you are going to consider whether dressing like a Nazi is okay, consider it on its own merits, not by beginning an "It's not as bad as..." train of argument.

There is also the concept of perception. I can dress like a Nazi and hold whatever political, racial or religious views I choose while doing so. I will however be perceived and judged by my appearance and not by whatever internal thought processes I hold. If we as a movement, allow the concept of Dieselpunk to be associated with Nazism, to any extent, then no comments, thoughts or other factors will prevent the wider world from making a negative association. In an ideal world it shouldn't be a problem. We do not live in an ideal world.

Such a negative association will drive away those who we might wish to attract and attract those we would wish to drive away.

We are all aware (I hope) of brand awareness. The Nazis were very much into that and almost every aspect of their regime promoted it. You can take any red flag with a white circle in the centre and put any black object, shape or character in the centre and millions around much of the world will make a mental association. To a lesser extent this is also true of the black SS uniform, even stripped of any insignia. Other objects also share this facet, hence why the K-Pot was immediately dubbed the 'Fritz' helmet when it was introduced and part of the notoriety of motorcycle gangs in the 60s and 70s was tied up with the wearing of 'Nazi' insignia and helmets. The distinction between SS and Army etc., or even between German and Nazi, at this time, is mostly lost on Joe Public.  

I don't know how things are in the States, but in Europe it's still a big deal. Prince Harry is almost unique as a Royal who was ever required to make a public apology for anything he did (he wore Nazi 'fancy dress' at a party) and of course the usual symbols are banned in many European countries. Germany's laws regarding symbolism are copious and strictly adhered to and even extend to things which might only be mildly associated with the regime. Other than 'art' (films etc) and 'historical presentation' (which has to be almost state sanctioned, as opposed to just 'stated' by the person concerned), there is no leeway on this.  

I suspect that this is because Europe as a whole and to an extent Britain, experienced Nazism first hand. While millions of Americans came and fought, US society as a whole wasn't affected by it in the same way, as say Poland or France. I suspect the opposite is mostly true in relation to Japan.

I couldn't begin to suggest how you could get around any of this, but I do agree that Dieselpunk shouldn't shy away from acknowledging Nazism within their world either. Acknowledging and promoting are not the same however. Maybe we should take a leaf out of the book of contemporaries in the pre-war period and refer to 'the enemy' or 'Germany' and not use the 'N word' at all?

Excellent comments both Andrew and Arlequin.

Good statement and if any of you has seen Triumph of the Will you can see that it is a must see propaganda film of the time filled with Nazi brand awareness

Arlequín said:

We are all aware (I hope) of brand awareness. The Nazis were very much into that and almost every aspect of their regime promoted it. 

I think this is the statement by Alequin that I was trying to make but just couldn't seem to get across. It's the primary reason that I repeatedly said that I would publicly condemn the proposed site if she attached the term dieselpunk to it:

There is also the concept of perception. I can dress like a Nazi and hold whatever political, racial or religious views I choose while doing so. I will however be perceived and judged by my appearance and not by whatever internal thought processes I hold. If we as a movement, allow the concept of Dieselpunk to be associated with Nazism, to any extent, then no comments, thoughts or other factors will prevent the wider world from making a negative association. In an ideal world it shouldn't be a problem. We do not live in an ideal world.

Such a negative association will drive away those who we might wish to attract and attract those we would wish to drive away.

It really sounds like a site naming itself is doing a pre-emptive faceplant right in the middle of Godwin's Law, doesn't it?  But as a teacher whose students can't accurately place either Viet Nam or WWII on a timeline . . . maybe they're just young?

One thing that bears mention is how much Nazi iconography, like Russia's . . . Constuctivism, is it called? . . . intersects with a dieselpunk gestalt.  Not just the uniforms, but the general imagery of those regimes has that stylized period look to it. It's really hard to do something in a uniform that's both dieselpunk and NOT vaguely reminscent of Fascists.

*sigh* People forget what evil is.  But as the joke goes, if there's top hats it's steampunk, and if there's Nazis it's dieselpunk.

Excellent post, Sanglier.

Sure, totalitarianism, fascism, whatever, is as much a part of Dieselpunk, as cogs are to Steampunk. Both the Nazis and Italian Fascisti, and to a degree the Soviets, were 'modernists' - the architecture, motorbikes, chrome, all that leather and stuff, pretty much demonstrates this. Even some of the American 'pulp' heroes do Nazi chic with a norteno twist ('good, honest' brown leather and olive drab is typical).

My take on Dieselpunk is that it is both the presentation of an alternate present... but can also be used retrospectively to create an alternate past. You have the opportunity to write the holocaust and the gulags out of 'your' history if you choose. You can create fictitious cities, countries and realities, but you can't 'un-write' historical ones? 

Tome Wilson recently published art by Michal Suchanek on here, which depicted unmistakably 'fascist' style imagery, but not a swastika in sight. The 'threat' inherent in the pictures was present in the style of clothing and not in any form of obvious symbolism... those ladies look bad to the bone. You also know that the regime they represent are not 'the good guys' either. Other artists have done similar stuff, none of which has drawn on real world iconography. This to me is what we should all be aiming for, however we pursue our interests.

The point I'm attempting to make is that by using historical imagery and symbolism, you are merely recreating and not creating. I wouldn't impose my views on anyone, but if I wanted to dress up as a Nazi, WW2 re-enactment would be the way to go for me. I personally see Dieselpunk as something else.  

Hopefully this didn't come across as a Munich speech, I wasn't ranting honest!  

You make great points, Arlequin.  Dieselpunk is doing something new, not reinactment.  Part of the big problem lies in figuring out what's "Fascist", "Nazi", or just reflecting the zeitgeist. 

Take this photo from the 1930s.  Are these guys in the jackboots and peaked caps Gestapo? Luftwaffe? Gulag guards?

H. Murray Gibson Special Collection Photo

 Try Greyhound Bus Drivers.

There'll always be a misunderstanding in the public assuming anything vaguely militaristic with an interbellum cut is "Fascist", and I feel a need to educate people there.

I draw a personal line, however, at actual Nazi gear and symbology since, as you have pointed out, the Nazi "Brand" is inseperable in the public eye from the crimes. The fact that the Soviets and the Imperial Japanese have managed to avoid a similar public stigma despite their equally evil actions during the Diesel Era does not change this. There's a reason modern-day hatemongers adorn themselves with Nazi and Nazi-derivative uniforms and symbology: the brand says "we violently hate jews and non-whites" to any onlookers without a single placard needed.  The swastika, a symbol older than human civilization and one still considered a holy symbol across Asia, certainly doesn't deserve the stigma the Nazis gave to it, but fair or not that association is there and likely to remain there for years. If you wear a swastika, people will consider you a hatemonger and an antisemite, regardless of the fact that you're wearing it because it's a Buhddist holy symbol, which is why I will not wear the symbol despite knowing full well it's wholesome pre-Nazi past.

Thanks Cap'n... and I agree wholeheartedly with what you say. The era was heavy on 'authoritarian' uniforms, which if you do a search on 'New Jersey State Police', you'll find the tradition upheld into the present lol.

You can't please everyone unfortunately and even dressing as a civilian will get you tarred with the 'gangster' epithet by some folk, public perception being what it is. Personally I think it's enough just to not wear the obvious icons (swastika, SS runes etc), or 'similar' items, for the most part and I would love to respond to someone's enquiry with "I'm a greyhound bus driver", if they asked. 

I'm a hard sell on the idea that people don't wear Nazi regalia for the reasons you pointed out, or for their shock value (i.e. the Sex Pistols).There are of course a few other 'fascist' states, who don't get the attention the Nazis get, but you don't see people dressing up that way. Polish? Spanish? Argentinian? Portuguese? Even the Italians don't get a look in mostly. Due, I suspect, to the fact that they don't have that 'shock value', or the ability to cause offence (except in their countries of origin, or communities elsewhere).

I consider myself open-minded and while I won't bat an eye lid at a 'Fascist-style' outfit in itself, the second I see 'the brand', I've formed my opinion of the wearer. A character flaw on my part perhaps, but there it is. I can understand the sexuality evident in the image though and I agree with Hexidecima, evil is sexy... we all have things which float our boat.

Being part of a wider 'community' means conforming to the overarching values and norms of it though, even one as liberal as this one. 'The line' may be obscure and distant, but there is still one out there. If whatever you are looking for is beyond that, then unfortunately, you should go and pursue it elsewhere, or keep it separate.

Looks like somebody else objected.  The link is dead.

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