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Typography and nationalism: the past and modernism under Nazi rule

Waldeck Villas Boas, M. ORCID: (2020) Typography and nationalism: the past and modernism under Nazi rule. Journal of Visual Political Communication, 6 (1). pp. 37-80. ISSN 2633-3740

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1386/jvpc_00003_1


In 1941, the Nazi regime revoked the long-established convention of typesetting German texts in Fraktur styles. This study examines the significance of the messages conveyed by letterforms in Nazi propaganda and the extent to which the regime put into practice its professed typographic policies. Taking into account different audiences and channels, it focuses on books by the Ahnenerbe institute controlled by Heinrich Himmler, the women’s magazine NS-Frauen-Warte and the newspaper Völkischer Beobachter. Fraktur styles seem to have functioned as the main letterforms of the blood and soil ideology, but another strand of Nazi typography departed from Fraktur and probably translated the importance of the Oera Linda book and the Codex Aesinas in the image of a supposedly ‘Aryan’ past. Meanwhile, the Nazi propaganda incorporated forms and norms that it appropriated from modernist typography, a topic implicitly raised in the dispute between Max Bill and Jan Tschichold in 1946. Typography functioned as instrument for exclusion, racial discrimination and gender stereotyping and to mark the boundaries of the ‘Aryan’ community, challenging the notion of print-language as intrinsically inclusive expressed in Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Typography & Graphic Communication
ID Code:91676


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