Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nazi Runes of Life and Death

Here are four more runes used by the Nazis.

The first, the Algiz (possibly "elk"), known also as the Leben or life rune, was adopted by the SS to symbolize protection for their Lebensborn Eingetragener Verein, or Fountain Of Life Society, which ran maternity homes. Germany's birthrate had been dropping, so in 1935 Himmler encouraged the SS and Wehrmacht officers to impregnate true Aryan women who would grow up to lead the Nazi-Aryan nation. The children born were then given to the SS to raise and educate.

The SS transformed these nurseries into meeting places for racially pure German women who wanted to meet and have children with the racially pure SS officers. Since these mothers were often unwed they needed to have a home and the means to bear their Nazi children in safety and comfort.
Read more about this disastrous Lebensborn program in the Jewish Virtual Library. The SS used this rune on documents and graves to show date of birth.

Upended this rune becomes the Toten or death rune, and was used on documents and graves to show date of death. The rune is really a crow's foot and was an ancient symbol of death and despair. This particular symbol, with a circle around it, is also called the peace symbol in some circles.

Two other runes, the Opfer and the Eif runes, mirror one another. The first symbolizes self-sacrifice. The second symbolizes zeal and enthusiasm. As an aside, Opfer der Vergangeheit (victims of the past), was a Nazi propaganda film made in 1937 to depict horrific images of the mentally ill and promote support for Hitler's euthanasia policy. This policy predated the Holocaust by approximately two years. It was an effort to restore racial "integrity" to the German nation and to eliminate "life unworthy of life." These were individuals with severe psychiatric, neurological or physical disabilities who represented both a genetic and a financial burden upon German society.

The Opfer rune was also used by Der Stahlhelm (steel helmet) war veterans' association, founded after WW I as a political combat group, as well as on a badge commemorating the Nazis who perished during the 1923 Munich Putsch. After 1933 the Stahlhelm was absorbed into the Nazi party.

It's opposite is the Eif rune, insignia of the specially chosen SS Adjutants assigned to guard Adolph Hitler. Prominent among them was Rudolf Hess, deputy Fuehrer and number three man in Hitler's Germany after Goering. In 1923 Hess took part in Hitler's failed Munich Putsch and was arrested and imprisoned along with Hitler in Landsberg. While in prison he took dictation for Hitler's infamous Mein Kampf and made some editorial suggestions about the Lebensraum (living space) program. Following Hitler's rise to power in 1933 the SS divided into two: the Waffen-SS, which comprised the military wing, and the Allgemeine-SS. The Allgemeine-SS had a wide-ranging effect on life. Allgemeine-SS had control of life in Nazi Germany, from enforcing Hitler’s racial policies to the running of over 500 factories in Germany and occupied Europe. While the more visible armed SS combat units, the Waffen-SS, naturally received all the publicity, especially during the war, it was the rather faceless Allgemeine-SS which wielded the real power.

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