Normalized Letterheads

By 1936 the Nazis were firmly in place in all aspects of government, society and culture. Gleichschaltung was the term for standardizing or normalizing the Nazi aberration. It meant that every aspect of the Third Reich followed the dictates of the ideological wing of the state and party. These innocent-looking letterheads, void of political references, were examples of that Gleichschaltung imposed on the design and printing industries.

Sure, there is some gothic, Futura-styled lettering, but for a while that was the tail-end of the so-called Bolshevik style scripts, and black letter was used in a manner that rejected Bauhaus Modernism in favor of more conservative approaches.

Normalization of abnormal things is a type of human nature. People need to adapt to the status quo. In Nazi Germany it was felt in almost every walk of life. And ultimately it was normal to deport immigrants and later put them to death. You may think that letterheads had little to do with the final solution, but it’s a start. It’s the small things that make the large things possible and acceptable.
















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One thought on “Normalized Letterheads

  1. Susan

    Thanks, Steve, for this provocative and timely post. I’ve been collecting personal and commercial briefköpfe from the late 1930s for several years (for a class on branding totalitarianism), and many of the letterheads I have were used. I can’t describe the way I felt the first time I saw ‘Heil Hitler’ typed above
    the writer’s signature, and my horror hasn’t diminished with time…