Meine Ehre heißt Treue
In a National Socialist context, the phrase Meine Ehre heißt Treue refers to a declaration by Adolf Hitler following the Stennes Revolt, an incident between the Berlin Sturmabteilung (SA) and the SS. In early April 1931, elements of the SA under Walter Stennes attempted to overthrow the head of the Berlin section of the National Socialist German Workers' Party. As the section chief Joseph Goebbels fled with his staff, a handful of SS men led by Kurt Daluege were beaten trying to repel the SA. After the incident, Hitler wrote a letter of congratulations to Daluege, stating ... SS-Mann, deine Ehre heißt Treue! ("Man of the SS, your honour is loyalty"). Soon afterward, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, adopted the modified version of this phrase as the official motto of the organisation.
Terms related to virtue, such as "honour", "fidelity", "comradeship" or "obedience" were abundantly used by the SS. The word "fidelity", used alone, was often a reference to Hitler personally, as in the pledge of allegiance of the SS:
We swear to you, Adolf Hitler, (...) fidelity and bravery. We solemnly pledge obedience to the death to you, and to those named by you as leaders (...)
The notion of fidelity did thus not refer to an ideal or an ethic, but to Hitler personally and his delegates, in line with the Führerprinzip of National Socialist ideology; "fidelity" was to be understood as absolute obedience.
The identification of "fidelity" with "honour" entailed, in the negative, the loss of honour by disobeying orders. Hence, "honour" lost its traditional meaning: honour in disobeying illegal and criminal orders became an oxymoron, as only a blind obedience was deemed honourable. In the ethos of the SS, the refusal to commit crimes ordered by a leader constituted a dishonourable deed. This nazification of vocabulary was aimed at obtaining the sort of unconditional obedience that law could not provide, as it required a pledge to traditional ideals of chivalrous virtue.
Since 1947, the use of this motto or variations thereof has been prohibited in a number of countries, notably Austria and Germany, in their laws pertaining to the use of symbols of anti-constitutional organizations, e.g. in Germany, Strafgesetzbuch 86a. Nonetheless it is still used by extreme-right organisations.
Notes and references
- ...Wir schwören Dir, Adolf Hitler (...) Treue und Tapferkeit. Wir geloben Dir und den von Dir bestimmten Vorgesetzten Gehorsam bis in den Tod...[CITATION NEEDED]
- Bernd Wegner, Hitlers politische Soldaten ("Tugendideale der SS")
- Fröhlich, Claudia; Heinrich, Horst-Alfred (2004). Geschichtspolitik: wer sind ihre Akteure, wer ihre Rezipienten? (in German). Franz Steiner Verlag. ISBN 9783515082464.
- ""Deutschland den Deutschen" - Gedanken und Fakten zu Fremdenfeindlichkeit und Rassismus in der Fußballfanszene" (PDF).