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"No fertile soil for pathogens": rayon, advertising, and biopolitics in late Weimar Germany.


When Kunstseide (artificial silk), or rayon, entered the consumer market following the First World War, it was nothing short of revolutionary. (1) The new fabric, which looked and felt like real silk for as little as half its price, was the first substitute for the natural material, and by 1925 it had exploded in popularity. (2) Although it was also widely used in other apparel (men's neckties, outerwear linings, and underwear) its first application was in ladies' clothing--blouses, dresses, and accessories such as stockings, and in the brassieres and lingerie that replaced the previous decades' restricting corsets. (3)

Contemporaries praised the way the new fabric made clothing available to the masses as never before. Fashion historian James Laver noted that rayon had done much "'to improve the appearance of working girls and to minimise the difference between them and the more moneyed classes.'" (4) In so doing, it obscured the visual social distinction between those who could afford to wear the real thing, and those who could not.

The first manufactured fiber had a democratizing impact on clothing, and a freeing effect on movement. Because it could be made inexpensively from abundant wood pulp, the attractive silk substitute occupied a niche all its own. (5) It was hailed as a "gift of the modern age" and a technological marvel. (6) Rayon fit perfectly info the interwar Zeitgeist with the belief in the endless social and economic possibilities of science and technology. (7)

During the 1920s, many in Europe and the United States were excited at the prospect of being released from the constraints of nature through the increasing ability of scientists to create substitutes for valuable commodities. (8) Newspapers such as the New York Times published articles enthusiastically proclaiming that technology and science heralded a new age in which "the world will be freed from the tyranny of raw materials." (9) The possibilities for science to overcome the dictates and vagaries of nature seemed "boundless." (10) It was also argued that the engineered products would prove to be better than the natural ones. (11) Reflecting on the impressive growth and development of the young rayon industry, chemists and economists alike predicted that "before long rayon would be superior to silk in every respect." (12) Implicit was the notion that virtually everything could be improved.

Following Michel Foucault, whose influential arguments changed ideas about the ways bodies are viewed, surveilled, and controlled, historians have increasingly paid attention to the discourse of biopolitics as it emerged in various settings in the twentieth century. (13) Studies of the history of eugenics, for example, have made evident the deep current of belief held during this time that living things, including human beings, could be scientifically engineered and manipulated, much as products and machines. Ideas such as these engaged some of the era's most progressive thinkers across Europe, Great Britain, and the U.S. and reached across a wide range of disciplines, including medicine, education, manufacturing, and government. (14)

At the same time, the expanding field of organic chemistry seemed to offer an especially promising method for correcting nature's shortcomings. Germany had long been the acknowledged leader in organic chemistry, therefore it is not surprising that there was a heightened sense of excitement at the potential for solving its economic and social problems, in this case, a shortage of raw materials for textiles and a consequent high cost of clothing, with what was already an area of national expertise. (15)

Indeed, there was every reason for optimism as rayon gained in popularity. Although rayon was being used in most, of western Europe and the United States, in Germany, it had particular resonance and was among those countries in which the demand outpaced the supply. (16) As early as 1923, Germany was the world's third largest producer of rayon. (17) Although the label "artificial" was a liability (implying an inferior replication of the real thing), innovations enhanced its appeal to consumers. German chemists, who in the nineteenth century had led the world in the "industrialization of invention," went on through the early twentieth century to make refinements in the tensile strength and tactile feel of rayon. As techniques in dyeing and weaving became more sophisticated, and as its durability and appearance improved, the product grew even more popular. (18) In order to meet the large and ever-increasing consumer demands, former German munitions factories were re-tooled as artificial silk mills. (19) 1928, the number of pounds produced worldwide had gone from 40,000,000 to 285,000,000. (20)

Foreign competitors acknowledged, if grudgingly, "the notoriously thriving condition of the artificial silk industry in Germany." (21) In patents held, the design and construction of machinery, the skill of workers, and the experience of organizing and managing a large-scale rayon plant, the Germans were far ahead of most of their competitors. (22) German rayon producer, the JP Bemberg Company, built one of the biggest rayon industries in the world and German science, business practices, and organization shaped the industry. (23)

As one of Germany's leading brands, Bemberg was widely considered, both domestically and abroad, to be the high mark for rayon underthings, and the one that "smart women" on the Continent asked for by name. (24) International celebrity Marlene Dietrich posed for promotions declaring that she "wove only Bemberg stockings." (25) The bestselling novel, The Artificial Silk Girl (Das kunstseidene Madchen) published in 1932, in which a Bemberg-wearing heroine narrates her downward journey through Weimar society, was both popular in Germany, and translated into English for British audiences. (26) The economic and social importance of rayon in the interwar period was so entrenched in the German imagination that a propaganda film, On a Silk Thread (Am seiden Faden), would later be produced by the Nazi film works, UFA. The movie dramatized what was a familiar event during the interwar years, that is, the revitalization of a war-devastated town by the establishment of an artificial silk mill. (27) That, rayon made a cultural impact on Germany more profound than in most other nations is evident. (28)

Much of the rhetoric that promoted this breakthrough new product intersected with practices and beliefs related to the social and the physical body. In Weimar Germany, biopolitical discourse was often expressed in the form of health and welfare initiatives. Concerns about the size and vigor of the population were reflected in pronatal measures and exercise enthusiasms. Observances such as Mother's Day further fostered a public dialogue on the importance of a robust national growth and fitness. (29) Cultural touchstones such as body-building and nudism, and alternative therapies such as sunbathing, were easily mixed with a newly-heightened awareness of the need to contain or eliminate harmful external factors through modern methods.

These concepts appeared not just in academic papers or in government mandates, but in spaces such as bestselling novels, in the feature articles produced by magazines and illustrated newspapers, and in the advertising aimed at a largely working-class group of would-be consumers. It was in mass-cultural discursive spaces such as these where ideas about the health of the individual and the community transcended high-minded ideologies and government policies, and became enmeshed with the buying and selling of newly created and seemingly abundant consumer items. In this way, ideas about hygiene, health, technology and modernity, and the individual's role in forwarding these trends--fulfilled in part through acts of consumption--were not merely dictated from on high, but became part of a common language spoken between classes in the dialogue of everyday life in Weimar Germany.

Historians may disagree regarding the extent to which Weimar Germany can be described as a "consumer society," but new products and new ways of selling them fed a growing appetite in the middle years of the Weimar Republic. While much of the analysis of consumer culture in the interwar years focuses on other media products such as radio and film, and the visual arts, advertising is often relegated to the sidelines, yet German print advertising of this period is rich with evidence about the ways in which the social and physical body were constructed before the Nazi takeover of power. (30) By late in the 1920s, a number of manufacturers were regularly promoting rayon products--yard goods, underwear, ready-made clothing--in the pages of Germany's largest newsweekly, the Berliner illustrirte Zeitung (BiZ). (31)

Rayon advertising thus offers an especially rich site of analysis. It was here, through the process of familiarizing consumers with a revolutionary new product, that advertisers exploited cultural currents and built on and enlarged a vocabulary that readily called biological and scientific references to mind. With their links to the nineteenth-century past and a cherished German Kultur, (32) and their fascination with technological advancements, advertisements both looked back to an earlier German "symbolic universe," and tapped into a new and exciting future. (33)

A Silk for the People

In the interwar period, advertising began to gain in importance and undertook a campaign of self-improvement and a level of self-awareness it had lacked before. (34) American advertising concerns arriving in Germany in the 1920s found German advertising to be, in their estimation, hopelessly bad, consisting of little but a graphic and the product's name. (35) These were typically in the form of broadsides or posters, which were displayed in railway stations and other outdoor spaces. (36) Though these posters remained in use, by this time a significant new form of communication, the illustrated press, was gaining ground as a vehicle for advertising space. (37)

This picture-oriented approach to journalism, which privileged the image over the text, imaginatively linked the press with the newly popular and highly visual cinema. (38) German advertisers believed that the visual aspect of advertising was particularly important in reaching women, the presumed purchaser. (39) As advertising expert Hanns Kropff observed in 1926: "Pure text ads, be they ever so clear and aesthetically pleasing, do not interest women. Mere text is too cold and structural for them." (40) In early German advertising, the image, with its appeal to emotion, remained primary, reinforced by the popularity of other visual media. (41)

Under the influence of American firms such as J. Walter Thompson, in the 1920s Germans began to sell products more in the American-style. Rather than relying primarily on visuals to promote their products, American advertisers created text-driven ads, which enumerated for consumers the "reasons why" they should choose one product over another. (42) German advertisers began to recognize, if reluctantly, the power not only of the image, but of the accompanying "editorializing" text and the eye-catching headline. (43) Although they continued to favor less text than that used by American advertisers, and maintained that the image would appeal to emotions and thus stimulate purchases, they did, however, begin to advertise products as symbols of a "way of life" or as items for the fulfillment of personal desires. (44)

The Berliner illustrirte Zeitung (BiZ) was a general interest illustrated newsmagazine with a circulation over 2,000,000, aimed at a wide readership of men and women. The newspaper was not intended for an audience of educated elites and technocrats, and in fact tended frequently toward the sensational or the novel. It carried a variety of political and cultural features as well as abundant advertisements for diverse consumer products such as shampoo, cigarettes, candy, and cars. It was an important source of political and cultural information for many Germans. (45)

The BiZ was a large-format tabloid, thus the ads take commanding visual space on many of the pages, and represent a considerable economic investment by the advertiser. (46) The size of the ads is significant as well; many of them are full or half-page. That so much advertising for what would he considered a female-gendered fashion product--clothing and fabric--would be found in a general interest periodical is somewhat surprising. It seems to indicate significance for the fabric that went beyond that which would usually be confined to the pages of women's magazines.

While there is no rayon advertising in BiZ in 1924, numerous ads from three primary rayon producers, Glanzstoff, Agfa, and Bemberg, ran regularly in the late twenties. (47) Bemberg advertisements were by far the most numerous, appearing on a regular basis through 1930 and employing various techniques and styles of illustration and copy. (48) In some ads studied here, true to the preferred German form, there is very little explanatory copy, and messages are conveyed via the illustrations and large logos. Often the same copy was used with different illustrations-letting the picture tell the story. In others, the text-driven model is used, with very little illustration. Advertisers understood that consumers were not a monolithic group and surmised that a multi-faceted approach would reach a broader audience. Thus, the ads here are analyzed for both their verbal and visual messages.

Then, as now, it was hard to know which consumers would respond to which specific messages. Advertisers put forth multiple messages that ranged from appeals to thrift and practicality, to beauty and fashion. Although cost and comfort were among rayon's chief assets, in many of the advertisements its versatility and variety of weaves were often highlighted, as was its wide range of colors. Other strategies spoke to class and gender tensions and anxieties. Some emphasized the power of science and Technology. While still others sought to reach consumers through a focus on exercise and fitness, or exploited fears of individual or national decline.

Dressing (and Undressing) the Ideal Body

Physical fitness and hygiene were increasingly important routes to social health, and scientific experts, with their ostensibly objective measures of analysis, carried significant authority. Advertisers believed that appealing to the importance of good health and fitness were powerful selling devices. Sport, including tennis and ice skating, was becoming an increasingly popular pastime for men and women. (49) Bemberg advertising picked up on this trend, and in one ad, a woman is shown, in separate frames, engaged in both activities. The text accompanying the images highlights the healthful and comfortable benefits of Bemberg. Unlike some other (cotton or woolen) unmentionables, it can keep her cool in summer and warm in winter. Cotton undergarments, once wet by' perspiration, remained damp for a long time; rayon would dry relatively quickly. (50) Aside from the issues of comfort and mobility, it was stressed that the proper underwear would help maintain the correct body temperature.

Attesting to how important this was, not only for comfort, but for health, Universitatsprofessor Dr. med. Erich Schilf appears to have signed or written the text. In what was a common advertising strategy, physicians were often pictured in the ad itself or served as signatories testifying to the benefits described. Medical doctors and scientists always lend an air of credibility and both were featured in Bemberg advertisements. The approval of medical doctors and other scientists strengthened manufacturers' claims that their product would deliver benefits beyond what one would ordinarily expect from undergarments.

As Michael Hau has shown in his study of the cult of health and beauty, Germans held often contradictory ideas about the body at once. Not everyone agreed that sport was the proper pastime for women, and rather saw it as contributing to the feared masculinization of women. (51) Others allowed that as long as women were participating in sports in order to condition them for motherhood, it was, for the most part, acceptable. (52) The suggestion, therefore, is that the physician's seal of approval ensures that the sports undertaken were in the interest of physical, that is, maternal, health. So while sport may have been perceived as both a glamorous "American" pursuit, as well as a healthy one that could help rebuild the national body, it was also seen as a potentially negative influence on women which could masculinize them and take them away from their prescribed duties of wife and mother. (53) The Bemberg ad, though it featured a woman engaged in athletics, also sexualizes and feminizes her. The woman's shapely legs are exposed, and her uplifted skirt is the focal point in both vignettes. In this way, though she participates in the sports and has assumed some of the trappings of modernity and Americanism, she remains identifiably "female" and womanly.

The interest in sport was not influenced by recently imported Americanism alone. Discussion about improving the body had begun in the Wilhelmine period, (54) and the pursuit of the healthful, indeed, the ideal body--Korperbildung--first began in the late nineteenth century and continued to resonate in Germany during this (55) korperbildung afforded men of the lower classes the opportunity to elevate their social position in a way independent of birth or education. (56) Building on this idea, Bemberg set an ad for their popular men's underwear (57) in a gymnasium. In the background stands a classical figure in an athletic pose. In the foreground, a physician examines a well-muscled man dressed in shorts and undershirt. The imagery clearly evokes the Greek-based ideal that was reflected in Korperbildung (58) and suggests that Bemberg would help attain the ideal physical form. In discursively associating men in their rayon underclothing with the ideal form, the lower classes could share in rayon's democratizing powers and in the fitness of the nation. (59)

Although the majority of the ads presented women's apparel, and were directed to women, Bemberg ads such as this one exploited the--real or imagined--sartorial concerns of working men by featuring neckties, scarves, and suspenders all appealing to the "modern and elegant gentleman." (60) The ads also suggested that by wearing Bemberg, men on smaller budgets could avail themselves of the fabric's ability to help enhance (or finesse) status. While women could use rayon to cross class lines by wearing silk-like products that potentially elided the difference between the maid (or worse) and the lady, (61) men too could put it to service in attaining the outward appearance of the higher classes. (62) As was frequently observed, this '"most interesting offspring of chemistry and the loom'" (63) could both democratize and destabilize. Ads such as this reinforced the idea that artificial silk was a vehicle of class mobility, which, in the still heavily class-conscious society of Weimar Germany, was not always a desired one. Many found the prospect threatening. It was a short imaginative journey from the suggestion that the clothing itself was common and second-rate, to the belief that those dressed in it were also cheap and inauthentic. One contemporary disapprovingly observed, even the shops on the elegant Tauentzien Street had been transformed into "temples to the goddess of rayon." (64)

Despite its legacy as a "crucible of modernity," in many ways, interwar Germany remained a conservative society. (65) Critics of its rapid modernization foretold the destruction of traditional German ways of life. Among the most influential was Siegfried Kracauer, whose indelible characterizations of the "mass ornament" helped construct a Kulturkritik in which Americanization, rationalization, urbanization, and industrialization were not markers of progress, but signs of national decline and moral decay. (66) In response to these encroaching changes, even before the First World War, followers of Lebensreformbewegang (life reform movements) had searched for psychic and physical health and regeneration in a variety of alternative therapies and life-styles that sought to mitigate the degenerating effects of modernization. (67) It was in this context that Nacktkultur (nudism), somewhat improbably, enjoyed its day. Nudism gained adherents from across the political spectrum who shaped its tenets to fit their own ideological frame. It offered a solution for those seeking to come to terms with a society that seemed out-of-sync with the needs of humanity. Some who propounded nudism's beneficial aspects focused on the unity of the body and mind, naturalism, and pacifism, as well as the elimination of disease through healthful and joyful living. (68) They looked for a cure for physical and societal ills through the worship of sun, light, and air.

Nudism's most vigorous German proponent was Hans Suren, the author of Man and Sunlight. The book was enormously successful, with over 250,000 copies eventually printed. (69) Suren's treatise advanced the idea that nudism could create national unity. Suren linked the health of the nation to the health of the individual body, calling on Germans to strengthen their physical condition, and, by extension, the nation. He wrote: "If physical strength is allowed to decay, even the highest achievements of the spirit and the most profound scientific knowledge will not avert national decline and death." (70) An essential part of this reversal of decline and decay was the exposure to light and air--keywords in the nudist lexicon. (71)

As unlikely as it seems, Bemberg found in nudism conceptual ground for selling underwear. Attuned to cultural nuance, Bemberg exploited the interest in nudity and its accompanying sun, light, and air troika in an advertisement for rayon underwear. In the ad, a huge radiating sun takes up the top half of the page, and an apparently nude, sexually ambiguous figure, fleet of foot, runs side-by-side with a deer. The headline reads: "Light, Air, and Sun-Health and Beauty are brought by Bemherg Gesundheitswasche (healthy underwear)." Glossing over the obvious contradictions inherent in simultaneously promoting both nudism and underwear, it offers some distraction by enumerating the ways in which a certain Dr. Kraus--through continued outside evaluation and testing--found Bemberg to be the healthiest option for undergarments. The ad claims that not only is Bemberg aesthetically pleasing, but echoing the belief espoused by nudists, with it, "the body is made right through light and air." (72) A kind of "emperor's new clothes" effect is created by advertising underwear using a nude body. Perhaps it was meant to convey that Bemberg underwear was the next best thing to being nude. Or perhaps they hoped to avoid the contradiction entirely and simply associate their product in the minds of consumers with the rich subtext that the cult of nudity carried, with its health and restoration of national community sentiments. (73) The rayon advertisement is rife with imagery that unites the themes: hygiene, nudity, light, convergence with nature, physical beauty, and renewal. (74)

Paradoxically, those who believed most strongly in the ideals of the nudism movement located society's ills in the very forces that had created both rayon and the market for it--urbanization and industrialization. (75) Yet, despite whatever negative connotations rayon may have evoked, advertisers advanced the message that the healthful and restorative properties of the light and air were there for the taking, available to all, by way of Bemberg.

The healthful and restorative properties of the sun advocated by nudists shared roots with a cult of sun worship that had been part of a nineteenth-century quest for regeneration. (76) As can be seen in some Bemberg ads, the sun is envisaged as a particular source of good health and well-being. Claims were made for the special effects of ultra-violet rays. One ad maintains that the human organism can only thrive when it is stimulated by the suns energy. In this way, red blood cells would rally, and bone-strengthening vitamins would increase. For good measure, this finding was certified by Professor Hess of Columbia University. (77) Another Bemberg ad argued that it was in the best interest of the body to "stir it up," so to speak, through exposure to cleanliness, light, air, and sun. (78) The effective way to do this, according to the extensive research findings of independent experts from many different fields, was by wearing the "perfect medically hygienic apparel."

No Fertile Soil for Pathogens

New ideas about hygiene and physical attractiveness followed the post-war loosening of mores. Modernity also brought with it new conceptions of health and cleanliness and with it products designed to eliminate ordinary, if embarrassing, smells. How much thought had previously been given to various body odors is hard to gauge, but the explosion of deodorants, foot powders, mouthwash, laundry soap, chewing gum, and toothpaste point to a preoccupation, at the very least, with discussing in the open things that may have once been unmentionable or unexceptional. (79)

Faith in the improving powers of modern science was evidenced in advertisements for personal products. Here, too, could chemistry and technology be harnessed to combat intimate problems of everyday life. An ad for the deodorant Odo-ro-no assures women that they no longer have to he ashamed of perspiration odor or worry about it ruining their clothing. (80) An aesthetically striking series of full-page advertisements for the dentifrice producer Odol shows, in magnified close-up, an illustrated rendering of the millions of bacteria living in one's mouth. (81) In another fascinating example, a handsome working-class hero looms large over both a factory and a high-tech laboratory, while white-coated chemists pore over their test tubes. The imagery of the robust Proletarier, the industrial chemist, and the modern factory all combining to thwart a modern malady-bad breath--reveals a slew of contemporary concerns. (82)

In one ad for odor and stain-resistant Bemberg, a stylish couple, she with a short Bubikopf (pageboy) hairdo, and he in elegant evening attire, dance a Tango while a black jazz hand plays in the background. Although they seem to be enjoying the dancing, the copy indicates that the woman is concerned about perspiration odor. (83) This one ad deftly combines several cultural preoccupations in one half-page of advertising. First, the couple at hand is clearly modern with their slim physiques and fashionable coiffures. Their pastimes include performing the most modern dances to American music, and the problems on their mind have all to do with the maintenance of their personal hygiene. Fears of the consequences of had hygiene intrude even--or especially--on glamorous and modern activities. The modern products were also meant to combat the more dangerous germs suddenly discovered to be lurking everywhere. (84) Beneath the surface concerns about socially unacceptable odors, deeper ones dwelled. (85)

Interspersed with ads for remedies for the newly troublesome problems such as bad breath and body odor, rayon sales pitches pointed out that the fabric was notable for its other modern hygienic qualities. No longer must people be subjected to unhealthful, unclean underwear, since there was now a modern answer to an old problem: Bemberg Gesundheitswasche (healthy underwear). The ads asserted that it was "the underwear of the times you've been waiting for!"

In the example cited above set in the gymnasium, the headline reads: "kein Nahrboden fur Krankheitserreger!" That is, undergarments made of Bemberg offer "no fertile soil for pathogens!" That fertile soil was presumably to be found in one's cotton or woolen undergarments. According to the ad, many fell ill each year from bacteria hosted by their clothing. Along with the alarming news that thousands of Germans had suffered and died on account of the germs in their own underpants, the ad, as noted above, was endorsed by Universitatsprofessor Dr. med. Schilf and carried an official-looking medical seal of approval.

This ad claimed that natural fibers harbored disease, unlike Bemberg, which had been proven to be sterile. (86) The idea that sources of degeneration and contamination could be identified and contained, controlled, or eliminated, is reflected in the ads for healthy underwear. (87) It added that it was not in Bemberg's "nature" to give breeding ground to bacteria.

An ambivalent relationship to nature is also revealed here, as rayon, a manufactured product, is held to be better than natural ones at keeping ill health at bay. Claims for nature's superiority might be made in some cases; its inferiority in others. Eschewing natural fibers-wool, cotton, and silk-in favor of the much more hygienic Bemberg-meant embracing a modern, engineered, home-grown product at the expense of a traditional, and most often, foreign one. As shown in these advertisements, contradictory ideas about what was natural or unnatural--and its relative desirability--could be held at the same time. Aside from the attention directed at keeping bodies clean and healthy, the concept of hygiene was also bound up with the social meanings it conveyed. Hygiene was associated with health of the individual body but also with class, race, and nation. Calling itself the "hygienic artificial silk," the Bemberg Gesundheitsiwasche logo was presented in a bold Gothic typeface, visually reminding consumers of its place of origin.

Comparative Aspects

In her study of French fashion marketing during the interwar years, Mary Lynn Stewart notes that the main selling point for rayon in that country highlighted the fact that limited wardrobes were effectively extended when inexpensive clothing could be easily obtained and frequently washed. (88) The focus there was on increasing the size of the wardrobe in the interest of variety and style. While fashion and economy are certainly mentioned in some of the German advertisements, the issues of health and hygiene seem to be of more concern than the benefits of having plentiful chic wash-and-wear undergarments at hand.

The idea that outward appearance was the prime mover in France is supported by articles such as one written by the Paris correspondent for The Times. In it, the author argues, "since change is the first element in modern fashions, the economically minded are inclined to buy artificial silk in place of real silk." Shopping not for quality, but quantity, the Frenchwoman realizes that although "the life of the cheaper dress" is shorter, it is nonetheless "effective and in fashion and that is all she asks of it." In France, it seems that a main attraction was that rayon fulfilled "mote than a material purpose, since it feeds the aesthetic desires of democracy to look passing rich on the modern equivalent of [pounds sterling]40 a year." (89) Style and economy were the overriding concerns. (90)

Although they may have been more pronounced in that nation, beliefs about physical health and well-being were not restricted to Germany. (91) British (and American) advertisers also constructed a strategy centered on science and technology to sell their products. As early as 1926, the dominant British Celanese Company promoted its fabric as having "scientific properties peculiar" to it alone. In fact, it was said to be so similar to real silk, that only through a "chemical test" could a distinction be made between them. The manufacturer stressed that it maintained a "safe, even temperature" and "freely admits the health-giving ultra violet rays." (92) These points--the regularly maintained temperature, the benefits of the sun's rays, and the reliance on scientific tests to ascertain authenticity, were themes similarly found in the German discourse.

By 1928, the British discourse had not changed much, but had taken on additional facets. In some ads, it was noted that "medical opinion has acclaimed Celanese the perfect form of attire because of its hygienic qualities." (93) Other advertisers also used hygiene as a way to the consumers' pocketbook. A product named LenaLastik guaranteed that it had passed the "Standard Test of the Institute of Hygiene," although no further details are provided. (94) Like Bemberg's seal of approval and medical stamp, British rayon advertisers relied on the power of the professional health expert to ensure the high quality and personal benefits of its products.

Of course, in all these ads we should he alert to the over-determined use of national stereotypes. It was expected that the French would care more for style and luxury, the British for understatement and practicality, and the Germans for cleanliness and fitness. That the advertisers themselves believed that this was good marketing strategy can be seen in this comparison of rhetoric. The reception of messages is always difficult to gauge, and it has become commonplace in cultural studies to observe that relying on prescriptive texts, such as advertising, carries risks. The chief one is that it is difficult to tease out the motives and desires of consumers. As texts, advertisements represent the negotiation between marketers' perceptions about their consumers' actions and behaviors, and actual experience. Marketers put forth idealized or fantasized constructions of their product and its use. Consumers in turn negotiate images of themselves as they are envisaged and as they perhaps wish to he. It is never a one-sided conversation. (95)


Writing in a trade publication in 1929, another expert, Dr. L. Kirberger maintained that rayon
  is smoother than any other fiber and consequently dirt does not cling
  to it very readily and penetrates only with difficulty into the
  thread. "Everyone who has worn artificial silk tricot unterwear, laid
  especially of pure artificial silk, will himself have observed and
  praised this pleasant, unique property of artificial silk." (96)

Rayon underwear was demonstrably more comfortable, more versatile, and easier to clean than other fabrics. It was also less expensive, widely available, and bestowed some of the benefits--both culturally and physically--to those who could not afford real silk.

The continuities between Weimar and National Socialism have been well rehearsed in the literature, and the dark side of science and technology has become part of the master narrative of Germany's history in the first half of the twentieth century. (97) Although Bemberg's BiZ ads all but disappeared after 1932, rayon would be pressed into service under National Socialism as a means to its autarkic ends. The advertising would take on a different tone and carry different messages as Nazism prepared the country for war. Investigation past 1933 is beyond the scope at this project, but the continuities laid down in the 1920s, establishing rayon and its use as a nationalistic or community gesture, are present in even these early ads. (98)

To be sure, it is difficult not to read these advertisements in view of the catastrophe that followed. In all of these ads it is indeed possible to see the groundwork being laid for the "biopolitical nightmare" that was Nazism. (99) The fear of pathogens from within, the openness to quasi-scientific explanations, a complicated and contradictory rhetoric about nature, an emphasis on "fitness"--social, physical and mental, point down an ominously twisted path. In The Nazi Conscience, historian Claudia Koonz writes that racial thinking based on "what was believed to he the most advanced biological knowledge of the day" had already taken hold before 1933. (100)

As many historians have rightly suggested, it is possible to assess the Weimar period as something other than only (and always) a precursor to disaster. (101) They encourage a research agenda that would recuperate the positive ideas and measures lost or destroyed in 1933, but restored after 1945. Instead of mapping onto these ads the shadow of doom, perhaps we see in them, and in rayon and the discourses around it: a range of new options presented to a larger group of people than ever before; a means of attaining status and attractiveness outside of the traditional and class-based confines; an opportunity to avail oneself of the benefits of modern science and technology; and a burgeoning consumer culture that--despite its deep faults--would promise to fulfill the material needs and private longings of each citizen. It is then possible to discern in these ads the budding concern for the aspirations, agency, and well-being of the individual, that, although only briefly given life in the Weimar years, came to fruition in the cultural and political contours of the second half of the twentieth century.

The crucial question is then: how did this complicated relationship of biopolitics and consumerism prepare the way not only for the racial state, but also for the postwar democratic welfare state? Ideas about the limitless of science, rebuilding the national body, and "discourses of self-improvement" were not held by Germans alone. (102) The paradox is no less confounding when these ads are seen in the broader context of European history in the interwar period.

This analysis of rayon advertising reveals just one way in which the nascent forms of modern consumerism created and carried meaning. Rather than being the exclusive language of an educated elite or technocrats, these biopolitical discourses found expression and a mass audience in the mundane acts of reading the weekly newspaper and shopping for cheap underwear. Through these ads we see the ways in which collective desires and fears were expressed, reflected, and manipulated; the ideas and images that had cultural resonance and the power to move people to action. Rayon, a technological and economic marvel, represented a bold step into the modern world. The advertisements created to promote it lured consumers with the promise of opportunity for all and unlimited health for the future. That the future led instead to unconscionable crimes and destruction, was the tragic, but not inevitable, outcome.


The research and writing of this article were funded in part by Rutgers University Graduate School of Alts and Sciences, Rutgers University Department of History, and a Mellon Foundation Summer Research Grant. Earlier versions were presented at annual meetings of the Society for the History of Technology, the Barnes Club, and the Warren Susman Conference and in seminar, where it benefitted from the comments of audience and panelists, particularly Belinda Davis, Dina Fainberg, Bridget Gurtler, Jochen Hellbeck, Seth Koven, Dora Vargha, and Tal Zalmanovich. For their support in its development, the author is grateful to Katie Parkin and Chris DeRosa, and especially Fred McKitrick, all at Monmouth University, where this project began.

(1.) Artificial silk was renamed rayon in Anglophone countries in 1924. The German name was (and remains) Kunstseide. The terms rayon, artificial, silk, and Kunstseide will he used interchangeably. The term "artificial sills" is a misnomer. It is neither artificial, nor synthetic. It is produced from cellulose. In the Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present (Cambridge, 1969), David S. Landes offers a succinct overview of the history and production of manufactured fibers, 455-456.

As business historian D.C. Coleman later wrote, "the most overburdened word in the witting of economic and social history is 'revolution'." Coleman himself concedes that "it there is a 'man-made fibre revolution' in the textile industry [...] rayon began it." D.C. Coleman, Courtaulds: An Economic and Social History. Vol. II Rayon. (Oxford, UK, 1969), 198, 204. (Hereafter, Rayon.)

(2.) F.W. Taussig, and H.D. White, "Rayon and the Tariff: The Nurture of an Industrial Prodigy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics 45 (August 1931): 588-621. Susan Bowden and Avner Offer in "The Technological Resolution That Never Was: Gender, Class, and the Diffusion of Household Appliances in Interwar England," write that in England at the same time, artificial silk items were one-quarter to one-half the price of those made with natural silk. In The Sex of Things: Gender and Consumption in Historical Perspective, ed. Victoria de Grazia and Ellen Furlough (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1996): 244-274: here, 257.

(3.) D.C. Coleman, Rayon, 202-205.

(4.) James Laver, Fashion and Class Distinction (1945), 73. Quoted in Coleman, Rayon, 204.

(5.) Joyce A. Smith, "Rayon: The Multi-faceted Fiber" Ohio State University Fact Sheet HY:G5538, 4.

(6.) Bemberg Company promotional brochure. Das Ideal der Frau, circa 1927 German Hosiery Museum, online. My translation. Translations, unless otherwise noted, are my own.

(7.) A large literature exists on the question of German modernity/modernization and technology. See Detlev Peukert, The Weimar Republic: The Crisis of Classical Modernity. Translated by Richard Deveson (New York, 1989), Jeffrey Herf, Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture and Politics in Weimar and The Third Reich (New York, 1984), Peter Fritzsche, "Nazi Modern," Modernism/Modernity 3 (1996): 1-22; and Edward Ross Dickinson, "Biopolitics, Fascism, Democracy: Some Reflections on Our Discourse About 'Modernity,'" Central European History 37/1 (2004) 1-48.

(8.) David Landes, The Unbound Prometheus, 276, 458.

(9.) "Forget Your Worries and Trust to Chemistry," New York Times, 12 August 1926. Louis Stark, "A Synthetic Age is Foreseen by Chemistry," New York Times, 22 August 1926.

(10.) Creating what Landes, specifically regarding rayon, has called, "boundless faith in ever-retreating horizons," Unbound Prometheus, 458.

(11.) One prominent contemporary chemist predicted in 1929 that real silk was "doomed," Taussig and White, "Rayon and the Tariff," 595.

(12.) Taussig and White, "Rayon and the Tariff," 594.

(13.) Michel Foucault is credited with theorizing this model in his classic, work, The History of Sexuality Vol.1: The Will to Knowledge (London, 1976, 1998). Edward Ross Dickinson defines biopolitics as "an extensive complex of ideas, practices, and institutions focused on the care, regulation, discipline, improvement, and shaping of individual bodies and the collective 'body' of national populations," in "Biopolitics, Fascism, Democracy: Some Reflections on Our Discourse About 'Modernity,'" Central European History 37/1 (2004): 1-48; here, 3.

(14.) Mart Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century (New York, 1998), 77. There is a growing historiography on interwar eugenics across Europe, see inter alia, Maria Bucur, Eugenics and Modernization in Interwar Romania (Pittsburgh, PA, 2002). For a fairly recent literature review, see Frank Dikotter, "Race Culture: Recent Perspectives on the History of Eugenics," American Historical Review 103 (April 1998): 467-478.

(15.) Georg Meyer-Thurow, "The Industrialization of Invention: A Case Study from the German Chemical Industry," Isis 73 (September 1982): 363-381; Peter Hayes, "Carl Bosch and Carl Krauch: Chemistry and the Political Economy of Germany, 1925-1945," Journal of Economic History 47 (June 1987): 353-363; here, 353,354; and John J. Beer, "Coal Tar Dye Manufacture and the Origins of the Modern Industrial Research Laboratory," Isis 49 (June 1958): 123-131; here, 124. In Germany, this excitement was expresses in a "distinctive 'Machbarkeitswahn'" or belief that "anything can be done." Edward Ross Dickinson, "Biopolitics, Fascism, Democracy," 2.

(16.) "Artificial Silk Abroad," New York Tunes, 1 January 1923, Taussig, and White, "Rayon and the Tariff," 588, 589.

(17.) A number of different sources list Germany as world's third-largest producer, among them, "Germany and the Tariff Issue," The Times, 26 March, 1926. That said, figures are estimates as there is no authoritative source. Moreover, as Taussig and White note, figures themselves can be misleading, as certain weaves weighed more than others and thus would not give an accurate picture of the actual amount of fabric produced. Yardages or meterages might have been a better measure. In any event, much of the fabric, produced in Germany was a lighter variety and that would mean that a proportionately larger amount of fabric was produced than is reflected in poundage alone. Taussig and White, "Rayon and the Tariff," 595.

(18.) Seventy patents alone were discovered almost by accident, "Find Fibre Patents of Germans Here," New York Times, 9 October 1925; Meyer-Thurow, "The Industrialism of Invention," 363-381.

(19.) "Artificial Silk Outturn Mounts," New York Times, 3 July 1925; "Rayon Production has Greatest Year," New York Times, 26 December 1925.

(20.) Clark Lee Allen, "Rayon Staple Fiber: Its Past and its Prospects," Southern Economic Journal 13 (October 1946): 146-157; here, 146.

(21.) "German Artificial Silk Industry," The Times, 29 August 1927, 17-18. See Mary Nolan, for the standard work on the influence of American business principles on German industry, Visions of Modernity; American Business and the Modernization of Germany (Oxford and New York, 1994).

(22.) Taussig and White, "Rayon and the Tariff," 591. They add, however, that by 1929, these problems had been largely surmounted by American rayon manufacturers, although machines continued to be imported from Germany, 603-604.

(23.) Rudolf Hilferding, "The Organized Economy," (1927) in Anton Kaes, et al., Weimar Republic Sourcebook (Berkeley, 1994), 68-72, here, 69. Hereafter, WRS. Over the years, these companies formed various combines and cartels, the details of which do not add or detract from the focus here. They also produced chemically different types of rayon yarn, again, the line points do not hear directly on the subject at hand.

(24.) Wanamaker's ad, New York Times, 10 April 1928; Rayon Record, 15 November 1929, 511.

(25.) This image can be found at the German Hosiery Museum online.

(26.) Another part of this project discusses rayon's impact on "gender roles and offers a close leading of Irmgard Keun's Das kunstseidene Madchen. In Yvette Florio Lane, "The Goddess of Rayon: Artificial Silk and the Fashioning of Modernity in 1920s Germany" (Unpublished MA thesis, West Long Branch, NJ, 2006).

(27.) According to the New York Times, the film, Ein Volk will leben (A People Wants to Live) was produced in 1939, starring popular actor Willy Fritsch. The film was released during the Third Reich, but dramatizes events that ostensibly took place in 1919. In "The Screen," New York Times, 27 March 1939. (After searching in vain for this film, I discovered that it was released in Germany, in 1938, under the name Am seiden Faden [On a Silk Thread]. It is not available for viewing.)

(28.) See Jeffrey T. Schnapp, "The Fabric of Modern Times," Critical Inquiry 24 (Autumn 1997): 191-245, on rayon's intersection with Italian Futurism.

(29.) See Anna Grossmann, Reforming Sex: The German Movement for Birth Control and Abortion Reform, 1920-1950 (New York, 1995). Karin Hansen, "Mother's Day in the Weimar Republic," in Renate Bridenthal, Atina Grossmann, and Marion Kaplan, eds. When Biology Became Destiny: Women in Weimar and Nazi Germany (New York, 1984), 131-152. David Crew, Germans on Welfare: From Weimar to Hitler (New York, 1998).

(30.) Victoria de Grazia, Irresistible Empire: America's Advance Through Twentieth-Century Europe (Cambridge, MA & London, 2005), especially the chapter on "Big Brand Goods," 184-225. In 1995, Atina Grossmann wrote, "there has been remarkably little research on consumer culture in Weimar." Although some studies have been published in the intervening years, the interwar consumer culture of Germany remains much under-examined, Reforming Sex, 225n.18. In 2001, in "Regime of Consumer Culture: New Narratives in Twentieth-Century German History," German History 19 (2001): 135-161, Alon Confino and Rudy Koshar concurred, 143-144. Konrad H. Jarausch and Michael Geyer, Shattered Past: Reconstructing German Histories (Princeton, 2003), especially chapter 10 "In Pursuit of Happiness: Consumption, Mass Culture, and Consumerism," 269-314: and Confino and Koshar, "Regimes of Consumer Culture."

(31.) For this study, I was able to look at the BiZ for the years 1924 through 1933. This study also uses additional promotional pieces and primary sources as noted. While no rayon advertising was found in BiZ in 1924, by 1928 numerous ads from three primary rayon producers, Glanzstoff, Agfa, and Bemberg, ran regularly. Bemberg advertisements were the must numerous, appearing on a regular basis at least through 1930 and employing various techniques and styles of illustration and copy.

(32.) Defined as "the mystical essence of Germanness," in Maria Makela, "The Rise and Fall of the Flapper Dress: Nationalism and Anti-Semitism in Early Twentieth-Century Discourses on German Fashion," Journal of Popular Culture 34 (Winter 2000): 183-209; here, 198.

(33.) "Symbolic universe," from Jackson Lears, "Reconsidering Abundance: A Plea for Ambiguity." in Getting and Spending European and American Consumer Societies in the Twentieth Century, ed. Susan Strasser, Charles McGovern and Matthias Judt (Cambridge and New York, 1998), 454.

(34.) de Grazia, Irresistible Empire, 229, 240-242.

(35.) Corey Ross, "Visions of Prosperity: The Americanization of Advertising in Interwar Germany," in Pamela E. Swett, S. Jonathan Wiesen, and Jonathan R. Zatlin, eds. Selling Modernity: Advertising in Twentieth-Century Germany (Durham and London, 2007), 55. de Grazia, Irresistible Empire, 239.

(36.) Janet Ward, Weimar Surfaces: Urban Visual Culture in 1920s Germany (Berkeley, 1997), offers an insightful discussion on Weimar-era advertising, but she is mainly concerned with outdoor ads rather than those in the illustrated press. See the chapter, "Electric Stimulations: The Shock of the New Objectivity in Weimar Advertising," 92-141. De Grazia, Irresistible Empire, 250-262 on the decline of the poster.

(37.) For the use of broadside advertising, see de Grazia, Irresistible Empire, 227, 245-247, 255. In "Visual Culture: Illustrated Press and Photography," Anton Kaes et al, provide a useful overview of the illustrated press during this period in WRS, 641 -643.

(38.) Patrice Petro, Jobless Streets: Women and Melodramatic Representation in Weimar Germany (Princeton, 1989). Ross, "Visions of Prosperity," 59.

(39.) Belinda Davis, "Food Scarcity and the Empowerment of the Female Consumer in World War I Berlin," in The Sex of Things, ed. de Grazia and Furlough, 287-310; here 287.

(40.) Haans Kropff, "Women as Shoppers" (1926), in WRS, ed. Kaes, et al, 660-662.

(41.) Ross, "Visions of Prosperity," 60.

(42.) Ross, "Visions of Prosperity," 56.

(43.) Ross, "Visions of Prosperity," 55-57; de Grazia, Irresistible Empire, 269.

(44.) Swett, et al, Selling Modernity; de Grazia, Irresistible Empire; Kaes et al, "Visions of Plenty: Mass Consumption, Fashion, and Advertising," in WRS, 655-656.

(45.) de Grazia, Irresistible Empire, 269.

(46.) Already in 1924, the British Celanese company, which manufactured a rayon product, noted that it had spent [pounds sterling]37,000 in "propaganda" for its product in the previous year. The Times, "Company Meeting; British Celanese," 26 September 1924. Figures are not available for the BiZ to the best of my knowledge; but it is fair to assume that the advertisers were spending a sizable amount. See de Grazia on the difficulty faced by contemporaries and historians in ascertaining advertising rates, Irresistible Empire, 242.

(47.) The year 1924 is considered to be the start of the "Golden Twenties"--a period of economic and political stabilization and creative expression which came to an end with the world-wide depression in 1929.

(48.) Bemberg was a rayon fabric made by the cuprammonium process. Historian David Landes estimates that by 1924, the amount of cuprammonium rayon produced worldwide made up only 1 percent of the total. David Landes, The Unbound Prometheus, 455. Although it is not clear what percentage of the rayon produced in Germany was cuprammonium, it was nevertheless not the main product. The volume of ads created to promote Bemberg in its various forms--as hosiery and undergarments, but also as dress fabric--is therefore surprising.

(49.) Michael Hau, "Sports in the Human Economy: 'Leibesubungen,' Medicine, Psychology, and Performance Enhancement During the Weimar Republic," Central European History 41 (2008): 381-412. Gunter Berghaus, "Girlkultur: Feminism, Americanism, and Popular Entertainment in Weimar Germany;' in Journal of Design History 3/4 (1998): 193-219; here, 209. Birgitte Soland, Becoming Modern: Young Women and the Reconstruction of Womanhood in the 1920s (Princeton, and Oxford, 2000), see especially the chapter "Fit for Modernity," 46-64.

(50.) Coleman, Rayon, 187.

(51.) "Enough is Enough! Against the Masculinization of Women" (1925), in WRS, ed. Kaes, et al, 659. See Mary Lynn Stewart, For Health and Beauty; Physical Culture for Frenchwomen. 1880s-1930s (Baltimore and London, 2001), for description of similar attitudes in contemporaneous France.

(52.) Michael Hau, The Cult of Health and Beauty in Germany: A Social History, 1890-1930 (Chicago and London, 2003), 181, 182.

(53.) Attitudes varied; many saw sport as essential for women in building a healthy nation, see Kaes, et al, "The Cult of the Body: Lebensreform. Sports, and Dance," in WRS, ed. Kaes, et al, 673-674; and Hau, The Cult of Health and Beauty, 8.

(54.) Hau, The Cult of Health and Beauty, 39, 70-72.

(55.) Hau, The Cult of Health and Beauty 4; and George L. Mosse, "Nationalism and Respectability: Normal and Abnormal Sexuality in the Nineteenth Century," Journal of Contemporary History 17 (April 1982): 221-246; here, 224, 233, 234-237. See also, Kaes, et al, "The Cult of the Body," in WRS, ed. Kaes, et al, 673-674.

(56.) In Hau's estimation, the middle and lower classes found in the Korperbildung cultivation of the body, an "alternative source of social esteem for men who did not enjoy the prestige of a neohumanistic education," Hau, The Cult of Health and Beauty. 4.

(57.) One of the most heavily advertised products, after its well-known stockings, was Bemberg Gesundheitswasche or healthy underwear. Although exact figures for Germany are unavailable, it was estimated that in the US a third of all rayon fillers produced were used in the manufacture of underwear.

(58.) "Kein Nahrboden fur Krankheitserreger!" in BiZ, 11 August 1929.

(59.) As Schnapp has written regarding rayon in Italy, in addition to its connotations for health and hygiene, it also carried "themes of democratization," in Schnapp. "Fabric of the Times," 197.

(60.) Inter alia, "Krawatten, Oberhemden, Socken," BiZ, 29 July 1928; "Der elegante Herr tragt Bembergseide," 28 October 1928.

(61.) Taussig and White, "Rayon and the Tariff," 619, voicing a common concern.

(62.) In Reforming Sex, Atina Grossmann writes, "class justice required the working class to have access to the same benefits that the bourgeoisie was able to buy," 44. Although she is describing medical benefits the idea itself reaches across consumer categories.

(63.) "Wanted: A Name. A Philological Puzzle," The Times, 9 March 1926.

(64.) Berlin's high-end shopping district. The phrase is from Felix Stossinger, in "Die verwandelte Tauentzien," in Glanzender Asphalt: ed. Jager and Schutz, 107-111; here 108. Quoted in translation in Ward, Weimar Surfaces, 86, 273n.217, 258n.199, 256-n163. The original reads: "Aus del Tauentzien mit den teuersten und vornehmsten Ladenenrichtungen, jedes Bandgeschaft ein Tempel fur die Gottin der Kunstseide, ist ein Jahrmarkt geworden."

(65.) Swett, et al, Selling Modernity; one of many iterations of this idea, 9.

(66.) Social critic, Siegfried Kracauer's 1927 collection of essays, The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays Translated, edited, and with Introduction by Thomas Y. Levin (Cambridge, 1995) and his 1929 study, Die Angestellten were widly read and set the tone for the contemporary discussion. Translated as The Salaried Masses: Duty and Distraction in Weimar Germany Translated by Quintin Hoare with introduction by Inka Mulder-Bach (London and New York, 1998. Originally published in 1930, Frankfurt am Main). Pinker, Weimar Republic, 165, 178 190. "The public debate about 'America' was really a debate about German society itself and the challenge that modernity posed to it." Detlev Peukert, Weimar Republic, 178. Zweig, "The Monotonization of the World," in WRS, ed. Kaes, et al. 397-398.

(67.) Hau, The Cult of Health and Beauty, 4. Kaes, et al, "The Cult of the Body," in WRS, ed. Kaes, el al, 673-674.

(68.) Adolf Koch, "The Truth About the Berlin Nudist Groups" (1924), in WRS, ed. Kaes, et al, 676.

(69.) By 1945, in Hau, The Cult of Health and Beauty, 189.

(70.) Hans Suren, "Man and Sunlight" (1925), in WRS, ed. Kaes, et al, 678-679.

(71.) Hau, The Cult of Health and Beauty, 4. Kaes, et al, "The Cult of the Body," in WRS, ed. Kaes, et al, 673-674.

(72.) "Licht, Luft, und Sonne," BiZ, 29 September 1929.

(73.) Hau, The Cult of Health, and Beauty 196.

(74.) Sauberkeit (cleanliness) is mentioned here, "Bringt dem Korper Licht, Luft und Sonne," BiZ, 16 June 1929.

(75.) John Alexander Williams, Turning to Nature in Germany: Hiking, Nudism, and Conservation, 1900-1940 (Stanford, 2007).

(76.) Mosse, "Nationalism and Respectability," 234, 236-237.

(77.) "Bemberg Gesundheitswasche und ultraviolette Strahlen!" BiZ, 23 June 1929.

(78.) "Licht, Luft und Sonne," BiZ, 29 September, 1929.

(79.) For example, as early as 1924, ads for foot powders, mouthwash, toothpaste, and deodorants appear in the Berliner illustrirte Zeitung in every issue. See Kaes, et al, "Visions of Plenty," in WRS, ed. Kaes, et al, 656.

(80.) Odo-ro-no advertisement in BiZ 14 July, 1929. This is just one example of the many ads of this type, which ran in this periodical in the time under study.

(81.) De Grazia writes that the owner of Odol built Germany's first Hygiene Museum in Dresden, which was dedicated to the study of eugenics, Irresistible Empire, 221.

(82.) Odol ad, BiZ, 4 August 1929.

(83.) "Leidet nicht durch die Transpiration des Korpers," BiZ, 10 August 1929.

(84.) Dickinson discusses how new fears and the ways in which science will solve them created a permanent sense of crisis, "Biopolitics, Fascism, Democracy," 2

(85.) Hau, The Cult of Health and Beauty, 1.

(86.) "Kein Nahrboden fur Krankheitserreger!" in BiZ, 11 August 1929.

(87.) Dickinson discusses a "pathologization of difference," in "Biopolitics, Fascism, Democracy," 4.

(88.) Mary Lynn Stewart, "Marketing Fabrics and Femininity in Interwar France," Textile History 35 (2004), 90-111. Here, 105. Early rayon had a tendency to fall apart when wet.

(89.) "In Parisian Shops. Varied Application, From a Correspondent," The Times, 9 Match 1926.

(90.) Lisa Tiersten analyzes the democratization of chic in Marianne in the Marketplace: Envisioning Consumer Society in Fin-de-Siecle France (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2001).

(91.) Mazower, Dark Continent, 77.

(92.) The Times, 9 March 1926.

(93.) Daily Mirror, 27 August 1928. The Times, 27 August 1928.

(94.) Daily Mirror, 4 June 1928.

(95.) On agency of consumers, see Jarausch and Geyer. Shattered Past. 270-271.

(96.) L. Kirberger. "How Should Artificial Silk be Washed?" The Melliand, 1929, 28.

(97.) Detlev Peukert, "The Genesis of the 'Final Solution' from the Spirit of Science," for a full elaboration of this theme, in Reevaluating the Third Reich, ed. Thomas Childers and Jane Caplan (New York, 1993), 234-252; and Mazower, Dark Continent.

(98.) An official Nazi decree in 1935 ordered a percentage of rayon fibers he present in all textiles, Allen, "Rayon Staple Fiber," 151. The importance of synthetics, including rayon, to National Socialism is discussed in Burton Klein, Germany's Economic Preparation for War (Cambridge, MA, 1959), 47. See also Irene Guenther, Nazi Chic?: Fashioning Women in the Third Reich (Oxford and New York, 2004), 113, 118, 147, 182, 234-247; and Dominique Veillon, Fashion Under the Occupation (Oxford and New York, 2002), chapter 5, "Fibranne, Rayon, and Ersatz," 69-83.

(99.) Peter Fritzsche, "Did Weimar Fail!" The Journal of Modern History 68 (September 1996); 629-636. Fritzsche uses this phrase.

(100.) Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience (Cambridge, MA, 2003), 6.

(101.) Peukert, Fritzsche, Dickinson, Grossmann, op cit.

(102.) Dickinson's phrase, in "Biopolitics, Fascism, Democracy."

By Yvette Florio Lane

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Department of History

New Brunswick, NJ 08901
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