Let’s face it, most people really don’t know much history past the memory of their immediate parents. Yet so many, from social justice warriors to fundamentalist Christians, think they are experts on Hitler and the Third Reich. To a lot of ignorant people on the right, Hitler represents “collectivism” and “violence” of the left. To ignorant people on the left, everything on the right is a scary mean racist ‘Nazi.’
We’ve all heard it.
Most people still buy into the mainstream image of Hitler and “the Nazis” planted into our heads not only by a failed high-school education, but also by Anne Frank, Private Ryan, Schindler’s List and various other embellished tales.
When it comes to “Hitler,” everyone’s got an opinion, and everyone’s an armchair expert. If you’re a ‘Nazifur,’ (I try not to be, but since this has become the #1 ‘Nazi fur’ site I might as well be one) you’ve probably heard from people that Hitler would have killed all the furries, et al. I suppose all these people had that collective epiphany while meditating on Anne Frank.
The truth is, however, there actually was a fursuiting culture unique to early 20th century Germany. It’s nowhere near as varied as it is today, but then again nothing back then was. What I do know, and what we have found out, is that even during the Hitler eras German culture has always been friendly to anthropomorphization of animals. This truth has been uncovered to non-Germans thanks the the photographical work of Jean-Marie Donat.
Jean-Marie Donat was amazed by various pictures, from The Third Reich and earlier, showing many different Germans, from all walks of life, posing with a giant polar bear. In fact, the bear itself wasn’t a “mascot,” or a gimmick, but a piece of German culture. Back in the 1920s the Berlin Zoo bought two polar bears, and at the zoo everyone wanted to have their picture taken with various guys dressed up in fursuits. This meme spread from Berlin to all of Germany, and the trend persisted until about the 1960s.
The man in the polar bear costume is cutely tame, but potentially savage, and that is what made Germans so preoccupied with them in my opinion. After all, Germany is the land of The Brothers Grimm. The idea that “Nazi Germany” would be so ridged and violently intolerant to men dressing up in fursuits just isn’t so. Perhaps that might be the case in Puritan New England, but Germany is nowhere near that and never has been.
Was the Eisbaer craze in Germany anything equal to today’s Furry scene? Obviously not, but it does tell us that there was no aversion to wearing fursuits in The Third Reich, as long it is done so in a social way and within the norms of German culture. That, right there, would be the difference between then and today. Furries today have used this fandom as a crutch to deviate from the broader culture, which I have always believed to be a mistake. The result of that mistake is that Furries have a terrible perception in the general public, and that perception is getting worse every day.
I think this is also why Social Justice Warriors who have infected this fandom seem to hate ‘Nazi furs’ more than anything. The ‘Nazi furs’ are, or at least should be, a reminder that being a Furry does not have to mean being antisocial.
To a lot of people ‘Nazi furs’ mean a weird uniform fetish and possibly an ironic mask for their political inclinations. I think, instead, it should mean being a normal, well-rounded man who is grounded in his culture while using the Fursuit as a member of society, and not as a means to escape it. That was exactly what it meant in The Furred Reich back then.