What The Nazis Gave Us
By N Mark Castro
Being a recovering brand whore, I’m always on the lookout for the origins of popular brands, particularly, the history behind them. So it was rather interesting to come across an article on the Third Reich to Fortune 500: Five Popular Brands the Nazis Gave Us.
Never in the recent history of mankind has there been anyone as influential as Adolf Hitler, not since Jesus the Christ or the Prophet Mohammed. True, what Hitler has done has wreaked misery and pain to those touched by his ambition, but he has also unified the leaders of other nations at the time to fight the very purpose he so violently pursued … solidifying even the union of the United Nations.
Adolf Hitler, an avowed Christian, sowed terror and grief to his perceived enemies, particularly the Jews, yet he also instilled great inspiration among his followers. Memories of his horrific camps in Auschwitz, to name a few, still bring fear to those who have lived it, and to those who wish to avoid it.
The Gas Chambers. The Concentration Camps.
Perhaps Adolf Hitler knew God would never come near such a place. And so did the Nazis.
Perhaps that was what made them so hilarious and unafraid. And that was their strength.
They understood God better than anyone.
They knew how to make Him stay away.
And even in our modern lifestyle, Adolf Hitler — together with the rest of the Nazis — also contributed much to what we have now, including in fashion.
Take, for instance, Adolf “Adi” Dassler.
Adi and his brother Rudolph owned their own shoe company in Germany during the 1920s and 30s.
Their products were so popular, many of the German competitors in the 1928 Olympics wore Dassler Brothers shoes. But during WWII the brothers had a falling out. While both joined the Nazi party, Rudolph was more fanatical and went off to fight, leaving Adi to make shoes for the military.
After the war ended, Rudolph left and formed his own company, Puma. Adi then renamed the original company after himself, and Adidas was born.
NOT SANTA KLAUS BUT KLAUS MARTENS
Although Doc Martens, indeed, is considered a UK brand now that exploded in the US and elsewhere in the world, its origin can be traced back to, well, the Nazis.
The Nazis were apparently very good at footwear. Like Adidas, Doc Martens were designed during WWII by Dr Klaus Martens while he was on leave from the German army due to an ankle injury.
He experimented with making better boots for himself, and when the war was ending and Germans started looting from their own cities, he managed to get his hands on a bunch of leather. When the war officially ended, he pilfered more from disused Luftwaffe air fields. He was surprised to find when he opened his shops that 40% of the people who purchased his comfortable, durable boots were housewives.
When his shoes became popular enough, an English company bought the rights to distribute them in the UK. Since it was only 1959 and feelings towards Germany were still negative, the name was Anglicized to Doc Martens.
Over 100 million shoes have been sold since then, even becoming a symbol of hip-hop while retaining the original specifications of the old boots that Klaus Martens had designed. It’s one of those brands that had endured its history.
WHO’S THE BOSS?
The story goes that Hugo Ferdinand Boss manufactured the sleek all-black uniforms for the Schultzstaffel, better known as the SS. According to conflicting statements given, Hugo Boss said that he supported the Nazis to save his company while other studies have shown that he was an active member of the Nazis. The fashion firm has admitted that there was another reason: He was a big fan of the Nazis. Boss—who was Hitler’s favorite tailor and supplied the Nazis with uniforms from the party’s early days onward—”did not only join the party because it led to contracts for uniform production, but also because he was a follower of National Socialism”.
A formal apology has been issued by the company thereafter, although Hugo Boss was tried, convicted, and fined for his involvement and support with the Nazis.
- The Hugo Boss factory used 140 Polish and 40 French forced workers during the Nazi occupation of Europe where, according to a book authored by Roman Koester, an economic historian at the Bundeswehr University, said, “hygiene levels and food supplies were extremely uncertain at times”.
- The company “derived demonstrable economic benefit” from National Socialism.
- Founder Hugo Boss tried to argue that he joined the Nazi party to save the company, but Koester’s book finds that he was a loyal Nazi. Boss was tried and fined for his involvement with the Nazi party after the war. He died in 1948.
That they took a proactive approach towards the issue shows how adept they are in Issues / Crisis Management, which isn’t surprising for a company that has presence in over 100 countries. Most brands, after all, have some dark origins from which they come … in the same way that …
Posted on December 28, 2012, in General and tagged adidas, adolf hitler, brands, doc martens, fashion designers, hugo boss, nazis, origin of popular brands, puma, what nazis gave us. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.