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Power and TimeTemporalities in Conflict and the Making of History$
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Dan Edelstein, Stefanos Geroulanos, and Natasha Wheatley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226481623

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.001.0001

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The Temporal Assemblage of the Nazi New Man: The “Empty” Present, the Incipient Ruin, and the Apocalyptic Time of Lebensraum

The Temporal Assemblage of the Nazi New Man: The “Empty” Present, the Incipient Ruin, and the Apocalyptic Time of Lebensraum

Chapter:
(p.173) 6 The Temporal Assemblage of the Nazi New Man: The “Empty” Present, the Incipient Ruin, and the Apocalyptic Time of Lebensraum
Source:
Power and Time
Author(s):

Stefanos Geroulanos

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.003.0007

Historians and political theorists have long struggled with National Socialism’s temporal riddle: race, modernity, apocalypse, purity, novelty, acceleration—several temporal regimes competed in the Nazi period. This essay proposes a new approach to Nazi time, by studying the Europe-wide concept of the "New Man." In the 1930s, the National Socialists developed the most ideologically complex version of the New Man, all the while depicting the present time as empty, meaningless, conflict-ridden, dissolute. To overturn that presents through “awakening” and “building” would be the New Man’s first achievement, they proclaimed. Second, Hitler, Albert Speer, and others internalized a history of racial and physical ruin into their New German, to project into the future a vicious circle of triumph and collapse they identified in the past. This future replayed past destructions, and had to be postponed. Third, National Socialist thinkers compressed the ruinous future by worrying over an imminent catastrophe inflicted by Bolsheviks as new, mechanized “Asiatic hordes.” This argument extrapolated and radicalized insecurity about the “now” and legitimized the war and colonization of the East. Under the name of "Lebensraum," Germany's elite spatialized temporal anxieties and reimagined its "New Man" by way of genocide and apocalypse.

Keywords:   National Socialism, temporality, Adolf Hitler, Ernst Jünger, Albert Speer, ruin, New Man, antisemitism, colonization, present and future

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