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Ego-documents offer a different perspective on the bilious rhetoric that fills the pamphlets and sermons which constitute the normative sources for enmity in this period. Interior self-examination is rare, but writers betrayed their sentiments when they commented on an event or recorded matters for a moral or satirical purpose. The different purposes in writing, the distance between self-reflection and social reality, the style of a text and how it changes over time are themselves as significant as the content in exploring the enmity through the lens of ego-documents. The subject is a vast one. It limits itself to considering personal reflections about public enemies; the varieties of emotions that writers negotiated when describing their enmities; the experience of civil conflict and fashion for stoicism in the seventeenth century; family breakdown; and, finally, through the lens of a particular manuscript diary, it shows how the emergence of new social identities around 1700 changed the perception of enmity.
This chapter analyses a range of different ego-documents, written and visual, to explore how ordinary Germans positioned themselves vis-a-vis the National Socialist regime. Creating such records was a symbolically charged practice which valorised notions of the private. The analysis particularly focuses on the performance of gender roles in this context. The first section explores these issues in private conversations recorded in the 1930s by Amy Buller, which were later published as 'Darkness over Germany'. The second section examines private photo albums made by young women, showcasing leisure and enjoyment as ways of living out ideological promises of the Nazi regime. The third section analyses an illustrated diary by the wife of a German officer, which configures her experience of the years 1942–1945 as a romantic fantasy. The analysis shows not just what National Socialism did to ordinary Germans, but what ordinary Germans did with National Socialism. In using it as a resource to realise their personal aspirations and fantasies, they could become avid supporters of the regime – but also ones that were all too happy to drop its specific political aims in an instance, when new ideological templates promised greater personal satisfaction.
This chapter critiques the way in which historians of National Socialism have dealt with the topic of private life, highlights recent new developments in the historiography that can be built on, and shows how concepts of privacy and the private drawn from sociology and political theory can usefully be applied and tested in relation to developments under the Nazi dictatorship.
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