At the outset I have to say that unlike Groucho Marx I'm in a club. It's a running club I'm in.
But I take Groucho's point and it is a serious one, for clubs have rules and uniforms often and meet on special days and special anniversaries and have special songs and traditions.
Being in a club means going along with the wishes of others. And these wishes may not always be desirable.
The 'Kölnische Illustrierte Zeitung' of 23rd March 1939 published a feelgood publicity write-up on Germany's Secret State Police.
The title and subtitle of the article contained seductive and familiar words which we are heard again today in other places.
'For the Protection of the State and the German Volk Community - The Secret State Police. In Accordance with the Führer's Intention, the Police is the People's Best Friend and the Most Ruthless Enemy of all Criminal Elements who Abuse the People.'
Hitler's bone crushing handshake in this official photo of NSDAP Member 555 handing control of the German Police to Heinrich Himmler NSDAP Member 14,303 is telling.
|The conspiratorial handshake of power?|
The need for secrecy was swiftly promulgated. Communism was an obvious enemy and Hitler was featured on the front cover of Time Magazine as their Man of the Year.
In the schools an Orwellian scenario unfolded as teachers were replaced by NSDAP instructors. Children were told to eavesdrop on their parents conversations and then report what they heard to their instructors. For school assignments the children composed poems and essays in praise of the Führer.