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By H. St. J. & Marcus, Ralph (English Trans.) Josephus; Thackeray

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The chief apostle of the religion whose god was the racial superman plunged the world into the fiery furnace of global conflict, determined to recast the molten human mass in his own idolatrous image. The initial Western response to the Nazi threat was despair, a condition Gabriel Marcel labeled a "dissolution at the heart of things . . "2 The Demise of the Autonomous Individual The Enlightenment inspired modern man's peculiar version of the sin of hubris: namely, his setting himself up as a separate, Page 2 inviolable entity, answerable to himself alone, fully sovereign and rival to Goda god in his own right.

Thus the religious function of man was "sucked into the maelstrom" of the totalitarian apparatus, which used it to support an "evilly distorted . . "8 Despite the solemn claim that the twentieth century was to be the age of the common man, it instead victimized the individual by the very technological devices designed to make life a paradise on earth. Man's powerlessness was accentuated by his architectural creations, especially in the fascist states. Had Albert Speer's grandiose building program been completed, the monuments to Hitler's Third Page 4 Reich would have exceeded even the Egyptian pyramids in sheer enormity, dwarfing their creators.

Although the fighting in the trenches decimated its ranks, after 1918 many surviving members of the Wandervögel either regrouped under the same banner or joined paramilitary organizations, such as Hitler's Brown Shirts or the conservative Stahlhelm. Known from the beginning for their habit of viewing life through mercilessly frank lenses, these new realists contributed mightily to the unrest that ultimately destroyed the Weimar Republic. Their prewar defiance of parental authority and their passion for freedom (Wandervögel means literally "bird of passage") gave way in the troubled postwar years to an embracing of authority, a remarkable volte-face by these youthful activists who found in authoritarianism the security bourgeois society could not give them.

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