Sunday, 3 January 2021

schrifterlaß

On this day in 1941 in a directive circulated by head of the party chancellery and private secretary to Adolf Hitler, Martin Bormann settled the long-standing Fraktur-Antiqua Dispute (see previously) by declaring the former “undesirable” and the latter Latin script influenced by printing and automation to be in align with the ideals of Nazism. Although a typographical debate in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the blackletter and calligraphic typefaces coexisted. Originally seen as un-German when the Antiqua font came in after the 1806 dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and scholastically used for parsing Germanic tradition and terminology from foreign influences, supporters and proponents on both sides extolled the virtues of their preferred over the alternative, citing one was better for compact printing, higher legibility—did not contribute to myopia and blindness, more universal, less ornamental, and so on. Eventually these arguments began to carry ideological and political weight, with the Führer denouncing its continued use in 1934 in a speech before the Reichtag: “Your alleged Gothic internalisation does not find a place in this age of iron and steel, glass and concrete—of womanly beauty and manly strength—of headraised high with defiance…” The probable motivation for this edict was for ease in distributing propaganda material to countries being occupied and attacked in a typeface that the besieged were familiar with.