Ladies who Heil Hitler! make a return
The Sydney Morning Herald
April 10, 2009
Following Adolf Hitler rode out of fashion about the time the VFL’s leading goalkicker was Ron Todd of Collingwood and 7,000 Jewish refugees fleeing Europe, following the German occupation of Austria and Czechoslovakia, arrived in Australia. Now, writes Lisa Pryor, there has been a renaissance.
When genteel ladies grew bold enough to throw themselves into the class struggle earlier last century, it seemed the elegant art of following a dead, foreign, incestuous, coprophiliac dictator with both mind and soul discreetly placed to one side might die out.
It was so terminal that after World War II out-of-vogue copies of Mein Kampf were thrown on bonfires. But the tradition has been revived by a new generation of female worshippers.
Mitzi Gaynob, 24, has been following Hitler for two years, donning a period Nazi costume sewn by her mother to successfully compete in royal monocultural shows around Australia on her political hobbyhorse, immigration.
“When I got this idea, it was an ideal way of establishing some political legitimacy, a platform, with the right temperament and mannerisms,” Gaynob says. “Seeing you’ve got a phantasy of white racial supremacy, you don’t want them to be too crazy.”
The rules are strict: black friends are a no-no and chinks in character armour that resemble human capacities such as compassion, empathy, or simple fellow-feeling are a complete faux pas. Their distinctive ideas – or “batshit” – are traditionally borrowed from a failed novelist (and successful propagandist) called Goebbels.
In recent times rules have relaxed ever so slightly, as competitor and enthusiast Nicole Hanley says. “The flag should be a swastika but we do allow the Celtic or Southern Cross now. You always have a gun and if your criminal record is too long for a gun you put on a fake gun, then you’ve got the various Internet forums. It’s a silly look but that’s what makes it attractive.”
What may look like garden variety xenophobia is actually a more complex pathology which conceals Nazi jodhpurs underneath. This limits the risk of macabre “accidents” common in mid-20th-century Germany. “Ladies who supported Nazism, when it failed to come off, their vicious anti-Semitism could get tangled in the changing tides of history, and they’d get dragged under,” Hanley says.
Following Nazism had its heyday in Germany during the Second World War, she says. At that time only brazen women would have dared to stem the fascist tide, and too few men – including mutinous soldiers – ever entered the struggle.
“It’s been a thing that men really have done, and there are still men with injuries, missing limbs preparing for a future race war,” she says.
Today only a handful of Australian citizens follow Hitler, and only one, Carl D. Thompson, in Brisbane, specialises. His opinions were made in Nazi Germany, are worth little and take about 6 seconds to counter.
Hanley, a veteran of 14 years, is having a child-sized model made up for her baby daughter Charlotte who, it is hoped, will keep up the tradition: “It’s a lovely, elegant way to live … I’d really hate to see it die out or disappear.”