Quotes from Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age

Modris Eksteins ·  396 pages

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“Early on, to arouse a sense of belonging, of “community,” the party began to emphasize the importance, above everything else, of ritual and propaganda—the flags, the insignia, the uniforms, the pageantry, the standard greetings, the declarations of loyalty, and the endless repetition of slogans. Nazism was a cult. The appeal was strictly to emotion.”
― Modris Eksteins, quote from Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age

“The beautiful lie is, however, also the essence of kitsch. Kitsch is a form of make-believe, a form of deception. It is an alternative to a daily reality that would otherwise be a spiritual vacuum. . . . Kitsch replaces ethics with aesthetics. . . . Nazism was the ultimate expression of kitsch, of its mind-numbing, death-dealing portent. Nazism, like kitsch, masqueraded as life; the reality of both was death. The Third Reich was the creation of “kitsch men,” people who confused the relationship between life and art, reality and myth, and who regarded the goal of existence as mere affirmation, devoid of criticism, difficulty, insight.”
― Modris Eksteins, quote from Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age

“Myth took the place of objectively conceived history. Myth, Michel Tournier has said, is “history everyone already knows.”2 As such, history becomes nothing but a tool of the present, with no integrity whatsoever of its own.”
― Modris Eksteins, quote from Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age

“It was Hitler’s style, his oratorical talents and his remarkable ability to transmit emotions and feelings in his speeches, that took him to the leadership of the ragtag party of misfits and adventurers that he joined in Munich in 1919 and that called itself the German Workers’ Party. The ideas he and the party spouted were all tattered; they were nothing but jargon inherited from the paranoid Austro-German border politics of the pre-1914 era, which saw “Germanness” threatened with inundation by “subject nationalities.” Even the combination “national socialist,” which Hitler added to the party’s name when he became leader in 1920, was borrowed from the same era and same sources. It was not the substance—there was no substance to the frantic neurotic tirades—that allowed the party to survive and later to grow. It was the style and the mood. It was above all the theater, the vulgar “art,” the grand guignol productions of the beer halls and the street.”
― Modris Eksteins, quote from Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age

“Nazi kitsch may bear a blood relationship to the highbrow religion of art proclaimed by many moderns.”
― Modris Eksteins, quote from Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age

About the author

Modris Eksteins
Born place: in Riga, Latvia
Born date December 13, 1943
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