Graphics standards manuals are par for the course for any corporation or well-run organization so it stands to reason that the German Nazis of all people would have a graphic standards manual for the appropriate use of their numerous insignias, logos and typefaces.

Historian Steven Heller managed to uncover the Nazi graphic standards manual after a long search, and explains the history of the book in a new article at Design Observer.

Here are some of his finer observations:

First, there were different bureaucracies: The Party’s identity was overseen by one leader, while the state’s identity was handled by another — and within these were many sub-chambers too. Dr. Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Enlightenment and Propaganda (PROMI) did not oversee the signs and symbols of the Party. Although his Ministry had a graphic design atelier, it was primarily for creating the propaganda materials. Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect and the designer of Nazi spectacles, did not administer to the identity either. His office designed monumental ways of displaying the existing brand.

The policing of all things Swastika was the responsibility of Dr. Robert Ley, the head of the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF) and the Strength Through Joy (Kraft durch Freude, KdF). Known as much as anything for his heavy drinking, this former editor of the anti-Semitic newspaper, Westdeutsche Beobachter, was not a designer or art director, but garnered considerable power owing to his intense loyalty to Hitler. One of his most ambitious design initiatives was taking over the development of the Volkswagen (people’s car) from Porsche.

Perhaps a lesser, though significant, responsibility was developing a NSDAP handbook that detailed the organizing principles and mechanics of building the Nazi movement. It is this 550 page, red cloth-bound book titled Organizationsbuch der NSDAP, with the symbol of “Greater Germany” embossed in silver on the front, which turns out to be the elusive standards manual. The DAF was also responsible for typesetting guides and other graphic arts handbooks, but this is the graphic masterpiece of the Master Race.

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