Partake: The Ever-Flowing Springs of Strength
Originally entitled “From the Oak Tree to Certain Victory” by Wilhelm Steckelings from Nazi Culture by George Mosse (1966)
CAN YOU SEE the Oak tree over there atop the bald hill?
Proudly the strong trunk carries the mighty crown. Centuries have passed over it. Legend tells us that the Swedes, as early as the first of the world wars, which they call the Thirty Years’ War, used its gnarled branches as gallows. Six men are not able to encompass the mighty trunk with their arms. When, about forty years ago, a terrible hurricane felled hundreds of giant trees in this vicinity like so many matchsticks, the oak tree stood straight and strong through the howling storm and the foul weather.
Where do you think this giant among trees draws its strength?
The mystery is not too difficult to fathom. From its earliest youth, the oak tree had to depend on itself. Free and without protection, it stood on its lonely height. It had to defend itself, to hold its own in the battle against wind and water and weather! In summer and winter the storms blew through its crown and bent its trunk until its very roots groaned and moaned.
But that was precisely what made this tree so enormously strong. The wilder the foul weather that fell upon its branches, the stronger did the tree defend itself against the attacker, the deeper the brown roots dug into the soil. The tree had no time for idle rest. Above it stood the law of motion, of survival, of self-defense, of necessity. The tree was a fighter from the beginning.
May this oak tree, German youth, be a picture of yourself. You should be like it! Sound and strong and stately, of tough strength and noble marrow. And it can teach you the secret of its deep strength too. Don’t you hear what the leaves up there whisper to you? “Fight! Struggle!” they whisper. “Temper your strength. Then you will be like me. Never back out of a battle! Grow with the obstacles. What does not break you will make you stronger.”
And now, German child, come with me into the great forest and harken its voices. It too knows the secret of its strength and its powerful life. Listen! Listen to its dialogue with the blooming northeast wind that falls crashing into its crowns. There is no asking for mercy. There is only challenge and the joyful certainty of victory:
“Swing the boys and swing them strong”
Shouts the forest to the storm.
“Even if they should whimper with fatigue,
Don’t let up on them.
Only thus can they learn to keep their feet,
Only thus will marrow fill arm and breast,
Only thus can they grow to proud heights,
A joy to my heart to behold.
For I hate the dwarfish breed
And the swamp-dweller,
Huddled against the weather,
Always in the air of closed rooms.
Pale and bald in the spring’s juice
A small breeze will carry them off.”
German boy! German maid! This is spoken for you. You also should temper your strength in battle. Rest will make you rusty. Stay-at-homes are pale and bloodless. Their muscles are slack and their minds are dim and joyless.
You do not want that. Well, then come with us into the open of the ever-flowing springs of noble joys and true strength. They are called light, air, sun, and water. Come, join us! You will experience wonders. Your tired eye will have a new sparkle. Your pale cheeks will become fresh and red again. Your sluggish blood will flow with fresh movement, your muscles will gain new sap and strength.
— From a series of “class reading matter for the New German School”: Die Schule im Dritten Reich.No. 59: Deutsche Jugend,gesund und stark! (Berlin: Jugendzeitschriften-Verlag Heinrich Beenken, n.e.), pp. 9-10.
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