The Making of a Nazi Hero : The Murder and Myth of Horst Wessel
by Daniel Siemens
Editor: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
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On 14 January 1930, Horst Wessel, a young and ambitious member of the A. A., was shot dead at close range at his home in Berlin.Although the crime never completely solved, the murder was probably committed by a group of communists with close gangland ties to the city.Wessel later succumbed to his injuriesJoseph Goebbels, whose attention had already been drawn to Wessel as a possible future Nazi leader, was the first to recognise the potential of the propaganda of the case.”A young martyr of the Third Reich,” he wrote in his diary on February 23,1930 immediately after receiving news of Wessel’s death.This was the beginning of myth-making that transformed an ordinary individual into a male role model for a whole generation.Two months later, lined with thousands of people on the streets for the funeral parade of Wessel and Goebbels gave a eulogy to the funeral ceremony.In the years that followed – and as Nazi increased power – Horst Wessel became the hero of the Nazi movement – with his Memorial quickly developed into a place of pilgrimage.The song Die Fahne Hoch for which Wessel wrote the lyrics (and which later became popularly known as the Horst Wessel song) became the anthem of the official Nazi party and the Friedrichshain district of Berlin, where Wessel was murdered was renamed Horst-Wessel-Stadt in his honour.Followed many films and biographiesUsing unpublished documents, Daniel Siemens provides a fascinating and captivating account of the context of Horst Wessel’s murder and reveals how and why the Nazis made him a political hero.It looks at the Horst Wessel’s “sect” that emerged following Wessel’s death and the vengeance murders, particularly against the Communists, committed by the SA and the Gestapo after 1933.At the same time, Horst Wessel’s story paints a portrait of the most effective and terrifying Nazi propaganda machine in the world.
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