Sunday, May 22, 2011

Research: Nazi armbands

As far as I know, the word Nazi appears only once in "A Picasso." Today I was talking to my husband about the play and he was surprised by the lack of the term's appearance.  

He asked if I was going to be wearing a Nazi armband. I told him I didn't think my character would be required to wear one because she is just part of the Ministry of Culture. He said I should research that, so I did. 

I relayed to him an early conversation Heather, Jag and I had about whether our set should contain a Nazi Party flag hanging in the background.  I was opposed to the idea since I thought it would make the show solely about Nazis and less about art. Manuel felt the flag should at least be in the Lobby or Hallway since the circumstances in the play would never exist without Nazis  This made me think: Am I wrong?  I really feel the more powerful approach would just to have stacks and stacks of paintings lining the set, and if possible the hallways and lobby to give the audience the feeling of walking into a warehouse and to set the somber mood. After watching "The Rape of Europa" I was struck by the images of paintings stacked against walls. I thought, who were these stolen from? What became of those pictures? 
The Jeu de Paume - The "hub" of Nazi-confiscated art.

However, I am willing to admit that I may have been wrong. Since Heather and Jag were leaning in the flag direction, and now Manuel is, maybe I'm the only one not on board.  Manuel thought the armband, at the very least would be a good idea, and I was thinking the Nazi party pins the antique stores have loads of would also work in its place. 

I'm having flashbacks to the terrible feeling I had when spouting off all those anti-semitic things to Jag in Merchant of Venice. I would have never thought that in my life I would find myself wearing Nazi paraphernalia. It makes me a little uneasy, but at least I'm not the one who would have to be staring at it the whole time. 

So here's my research:

Nazi Armband System

The "armband system" was instituted by the Nazi Party in 1939. The purpose of the armband system was to denote positional titles within the Nazi Party.

There were three groupings of armbands, classified as "operational", "administrative", and "command". The operational armbands were used by Nazi party political leaders on the local and county levels of the Party and were worn by those Party leaders directly engaged in implementing Party policies to the public. During World War II, this was most often associated with food rationing, war relief efforts, and civil defense.

The administrative armbands were worn by office staffs across all levels of the party, although mostly were used by the regional staffs of the Gauleiters.

I'm thinking that a woman working for the ministry of culture in 1941 would most likely have worn a Nazi armband, after all. Reproductions of them are only $10 online, so I'm wondering if we should get one. I'm not sure how much the Nazi pins are at the antique store.

Nazi Pins
The Golden Party Badge (above) was the basic Nazi Party Badge with the addition of a gold wreath completely encircling the badge. The badge was awarded in two sizes: 30.5 mm for uniforms and 24 mm for civilian jackets. It was worn by the first 100,000 members of the party (these were denoted by the party members' number stamped on the reverse)

Guess what number Hitler had stamped on the reverse of his pin?  Yup, number 1.


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