All national gestures have meaning. Some are insulting, some are complimentary. There are places in the world where a hand gesture literally communicates an entire paragraph of ideas and emotions.
The Hitler Salute is a translation from the German Der Deutsche Gruß, better translated as “the German salute.” The question becomes, how much of the salute was for Germany and how much was for Hitler?
The Hitler salute was by no means original. Like many of the other trappings of Hitler and Nazi Germany, it was borrowed from a great society and given a special twist. Clearly, Hitler made the salute his own. He required that it be used as public greeting and salutation accompanied with the words “Heil Hitler,” which means “Hail, Hitler.” In Hitler’s mind, the parallel between the salute proffered him and the salute demanded by the great conquering Caesar was clear, direct, and incontrovertible.
In Hitler’s Germany the notion of the salute was a galvanizing social element. It was used in massive rallies where the master of ceremonies would shout “Sieg” (meaning “Victory”) and the tens of thousands in attendance would respond with “Heil.”
This short little gem of 100 pages will further the reader’s understanding of an essential yet seldom discussed tool that helped Hitler succeed in motivating the masses of Germany to perpetrate their heinous crimes.