"During my wartime years in the United States, I heard not a single 'morale-building' story about Central Europe that did not involve a 'Nazi nobleman.'"The Nazi Nobleman is an arrogant aristocrat who has embraced Nazi ideology: might makes right, he would agree, and the strong should dominate the weak. As he is to his fellow Germans, Germany will be to the world. He disdains democracy and egalitarianism, and hates Communism with a passion; he might believe in Naziism sincerely, or might be using Hitler (who he might know personally) to preserve his family fortune. He could be a leading scientist or a sadistic jailer, but is likeliest to be a Cultured Warrior — if you doesn't look too closely at how his troops behave. His uniform is immaculately starched and pressed, his last name begins with "Von", and a monocle is mandatory. He probably has a Dueling Scar, from his university days. As the page quote suggests, this is a very appealing trope, fusing two classic villain archetypes, the decadent nobleman and the genocidal fascist. This was more complicated in real life. There really were Nazi noblemen of exactly this type, especially in the SS, which only accepted applicants who could prove their non-Jewish ancestry back to the 1700s (which aristocrats tended to find much easier, given that their livelihoods literally depended on having provable genealogies). The Wehrmacht also had a long aristocratic tradition; that tradition wasn't enough for them to act honorably, but it was enough to make Hitler nervous. He weakened the German military by giving the SS a parallel army, didn't trust the army until he had filled high command with incompetent yes-men, and had a point in his mistrust; the most serious attempt on his life came from an Army aristocrat, whose fellow conspitators were also disproportionately aristocratic. There were Nazi noblemen, La Résistance noblemen, and various people in between; but the German nobility had irresponsibly flirted with race-supremacist (or race-and-class-supremacist) ideas for a long time, and was almost reflexively hostile to the Jews. This trope isn't for racism or anti-Semitism outside the 1920s-1940s, though; it should be limited to German arisocrats supporting the Nazi Party, or approximations of the same.
— Erik Maria Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Leftism Revisited
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Anime & Manga
- Prince Gihren Zabi of Mobile Suit Gundam is what happens when this trope meets A Nazi by Any Other Name. He's a Social Darwinist who sees Adolf Hitler as someone to look up to, going so far as to take being compared to him as a compliment ("I'll show you what a man who follows in Hitler's footsteps can accomplish!"). He's also The Evil Prince and a member of the ruling Zeon nobility.
- That someone being his own father, Degwin Sodo Zabi, the ruler of the Principality of Zeon, and Degwin pointedly did not intend the remark as a compliment. The scene may count as a final definitive confirmation that Gihren has crossed the Moral Event Horizon by his pride in being compared directly to Hitler.
- Marvel Comics has a plethora of Nazi barons:
- Baron Heinrich Zemo, a Nazi super-scientist and enthusiastic believer in his own racial superiority.
- Baron Zemo's son Helmut, the second Baron Zemo, is a subversion. While he was brought up to follow in his footsteps, he's generally an Equal-Opportunity Evil type employer. He's also more of an Anti-Villain, and was, for a while, actually Reformed, but Rejected. He's still generally seen as a Nazi, but he apparently doesn't actually hold the same views.
- Baron Von Strucker, a Prussian nobleman who was the arch-nemesis of Sergeant Fury and his Howling Commandos, and later went on the head the Nebulous Evil Organisation Hydra.
- Baron Von Blitzschlag; in this case a Nazi scientist modeled on Werner von Braun.
- Because three German Nazi barons weren't enough, Marvel also created Baron Boche, a Nazi spymaster whose name ("Boche") is an anti-German slur from the French language. It's hard to tell from such a small picture, but he appears to be complete with monocle.
- One shows up in the Garth Ennis version of Nick Fury's WWII career. However, it turns out he's part of a plot against the regime. And when he tries to get friendly with the English soldiers who've caught him by telling them he might have known one soldier's father at Oxford, the soldier replies "If you mean in the biblical sense, I believe you. Father's proclivities never cease to amaze me."
- Non-German example: Marvel's Baron Blood, a Nazi vampire British aristocrat and foe of Captain America.
- In the Avengers Defenders War, the Swordsman finds a castle in South America built by an escaped Nazi who modeled it after his original castle in Germany.
- The DCU:
- Baron Blitzkrieg, a Prussian nobleman and personal friend of Adolf Hitler, who gained superpowers and became one the Nazis top super agents.
- Wonder Woman villain Baroness Paula Von Gunther. Eventually justified when it was revealed (possibly an early retcon) that she was working for the Nazis because her daughter was held captive by them.
- According to this reviewer, a 1942 Blackhawk story features a Nazi torturer named Baron Von Zeifh.
- Baron Heinrich von Helsingard, Despoiler of ancient civilizations, arch enemy of Atomic Robo, and Brain-In-A-Jar of Science. Also, doesn't know when to quit while he's ahead.
- Many war themed comics set in WW2, such as Commando Comics would inevitably have stories portraying German Officers as Evil Noblemen.
- Erich von Stroheim was famous for playing villainous German officers before and during the war, always with a monocle and cigarette holder. In Five Graves to Cairo he portrayed the Magnificent Bastard Erwin Rommel.
- 1942's Nazi Agent stars Conrad Veidt as a Nazi spymaster named "Baron Hugo von Detner", the twin brother of a kindly American stamp dealer (also played by Conrad Veidt), playing this trope completely straight. The Nazi aristocrat in question even has an old family butler.
- Wouldn't that mean that the stamp dealer is also an aristocrat?
- Veidt pretty much codified the trope. As early as 1940, he played an aristocratic Nazi general opposite Norma Shearer in Escape. His character runs like a list of everything associated with this trope. Monocle... check. Fanboying Wagner... check. Talking about the survival of the fittest... check. Chatting casually about concentration camps... check. Veidt hated the Nazis in real life, though, and only agreed to play them because the movies were good anti-Nazi propaganda. He donated his entire salary from Escape to help the British war effort.
- Address Unknown, made in 1944, has a classic example of this trope in "Baron von Freische" (Carl Esmond). Turner Classic Movies is helpful enough to provide two clips of the Baron being as haughtily aristocratic and casually anti-Semitic as you'd expect, even praising the Führer to the stars in the latter.
- Secret Service in Darkest Africa, a 1943 film about an American agent battling Nazis in Africa, features a "Baron von Rommler" as the head of a sinister Nazi conspiracy.
- Once Upon a Honeymoon, a 1942 Leo McCarey film, features an Austrian Baron named "von Luber", played by Walter Slezak, who provides P.R. for the Nazis in countries they are planning to annex.
- Obliquely referenced in the Marx Brothers movie A Night In Casablanca. The Nazi agent Heinrich Stubel goes by the assumed identity of "Count Pfferman"; while his noble title appears to be false, he nonetheless projects a vaguely aristocratic image, in keeping with this trope.
- 1945's Hotel Berlin features an apparent Nazi blueblood named "Von Stetten" who attempts to escape to South America and start a new Nazi regime there.
- Adrien Brody's Dmitri Desgoffe und Taxis becomes one of these in the third act of The Grand Budapest Hotel, where the "ZZ" stormtroopers are effectively Putting on the Reich.
- The film Enemy at the Gates depicts a ruthless Bavarian aristocrat sniper by the name of Erwin König; in real life it is not clear that König even actually existed, though the film is supposedly based on a true story. Supposedly. Though in König's case it wasn't so much Nazi ideology as it was his wish to avenge his son's death, his son having been killed in the earliest days of the battle. However, the Soviets invoke the trope because their guy is a poor peasant who learned shooting hunting goats for food. The German guy learnt sniping on his family estate. They turn the sniper duel into class warfare.
- This trope possibly appears in the 1943 war movie Bomber's Moon; the villain of the piece is a Luftwaffe Major named Von Streicher — given the name, very likely an aristocrat of some kind. While it can't be said for sure whether he is an actual Nazi ideologue or just an ordinary soldier, he displays the kind of ruthlessly amoral behavior one would expect of a Nazi, such as machine-gunning an unarmed man.
- The Master Race, made in 1944, depicts unrepentant Nazi "Colonel Friedrich Von Beck" deviously fomenting hatred and dissent in a liberated Belgian town.
- Colonel von Waldheim in The Train (1964) is not explicitly stated to have a title, but the "von" in his name, along with his demeanour and taste in art, suggest that he comes from an upper-class background.
- Baron von Sepper (Richard Burton) in Bluebeard (1972).
- Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid features as its main villain a "Field Marshall von Kluck" (Carl Reiner), whose surname, in combination with his starched-and-pressed uniform and neatly shined boots, suggest a probable aristocratic background. He is also an enthusiastic Nazi, referring to the heroine's family as members of an "inferior race", and trying to destroy the Third Reich's enemies long after the war has ended.
- It may be worth mentioning that von Kluck was an actual German general in World War I, whose inability to coordinate with von Bülow's signaled the failure of the Schlieffen Plan and led to the extended trench warfare of that conflict.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show invokes this trope in typical B movie style (which is to say, reversed) where referring to Dr. Scott as Dr. Von Scott is enough to establish him as a Nazi (even though this is never actually said).
- Presumably a former Nazi scientist, rather than a nobleman. The United States recruited by such scientists in droves after the war in an effort to keep them from being recruited to the USSR instead.
- Dissected in the film Judgment at Nuremberg by the widow of a nobleman who was executed by the Allies as a war criminal. She maintained that she and her husband supported Hitler as being the patriotic thing to do during wartime, but never agreed with his ideology. Of course, the primary reason that she gave for why they could never truly follow Hitler was that he was too low-class, so she comes across as not-entirely-sympathetic.
- In Where Eagles Dare, we have Gestapo officer Major von Hapen. His name aside, though, he otherwise seems like a typical working class SS man, and it is the Wehrmacht's General Julius Rosemeyer who more fits the aristocratic Nazi trope, monocle and all.
- In Sahara (1943), we get Luftwaffe pilot Captain von Schletow, who is every bit the dedicated, arrogant Nazi, up to and including flying into a rage and assaulting the Italian soldier who talks smack about Hitler. He is also startlingly racist, refusing to let a black soldier search him when he's captured.
- These elements of von Schletow's character are downplayed somewhat in the 1995 remake. There, the character of Major von Falken (who was also in the original film) is the fervent Nazi supporter, even shooting his own men for weakness.
- Johann Schmidt in Captain America: The First Avenger. While it's hard to tell if he's actually a noble descendant and he actually renounces any ties to the Nazis, he deliberately invokes this Nazi Nobleman imagery anyway with his fancy suits, handsome rubber masks, and love of portraits of himself, not to mention Social Darwinism so strong he believes Psycho Serum Makes Right.
- The Damned has a whole family of Nazi noblemen (and women) backstabbing each other to curry favor with Hitler's government. It's not exactly a feel-good movie.
- Captain von Berkow in The Passage. He even smokes a cigarette in a fancy cigarette holder.
- Biggles' arch-nemesis Erich von Stalhein, both during and after the war.
- Although, really, his attitude is closer to My Country, Right or Wrong, and he ends up defecting later.
- The 1952 novel The Sound of His Horn features the hero being captured by a sadistic Nazi Nobleman who hunts human beings for sport.
- The short story Poison Victory uses a Nazi Nobleman, and lampshades the inaccuracy by having one character remark "Another Nazi nobleman... And to think how Hitler hated the aristocracy!"
- Norman Katov's novel The Judas Kiss depicts an Austrian Nazi Baron who collaborates with Hitler in torturing prisoners.
- The von Shrakenbergs in The Draka novels fit this trope... never mind that at one point they were fighting the actual Nazis.
- P. G. Wodehouse included a British variant in his Jeeves and Wooster stories. Roderick Spode, 7th Earl of Sidcup, is the founder of a Fascist organisation informally known as the "Blackshorts" (so named because "by the time [he] founded his organisation, there were no shirts [as in shirt colours] left"). Fortunately, Wodehouse knew enough to depict Spode correctly as an exception to the general rule — most of the other upper-class characters think he is bonkers.
- It should be pointed out that Spode abandons his attempts to become a dictator precisely when he succeeds to the title. Moreover, when "Joy in the Morning" was written, Wodehouse probably had not yet invented a title for Spode to inherit.
- Several members of the Vanger family in The Millennium Trilogy were enthusiastic supporters of Nazi ideology.
- Graf Otto von Schlick, whose identity was taken over by Dr. Perseus Friend, in the Young Bond novel By Royal Command.
- Erik von Ulrich from Winter of the World is technically this, but his parents' lifestyle is not very typical for aristocrats. Ironically, a straighter example would be his cousin Boy Fitzherbert's short stint at being a British Union Of Fascists Nobleman.
- Subverted in Von Ryan's Express. German prison train commander Major von Klement isn't actually a nobleman. As is discovered by the main character, the "von" in his name is self-given.
- Leader von Braun, the ruler of the neo-Nazi state in post-apocalyptic Victoria, claims to be one. However, protagonist John Rumford doubts whether his name and title are legitimate.
- The Champions episode "The Final Countdown" features Nazi war criminal "Field Marshall von Splitz" being released from prison and attempting to detonate a German atom bomb in order to start World War III; given his name, he is almost certainly an aristocrat of some stripe.
- The aforementioned "Baroness von Gunther", from the Wonder Woman franchise, made an appearance on the 1970s TV show.
- Hogan's Heroes
- Colonel Klink was depicted as a man of Prussian aristocratic descent (if somewhat impoverished), though his apparent lack of enthusiasm for Nazi ideology may exempt him from this trope.
- Jeeves and Wooster: Lord Sidcup, mentioned in "Literature" section above, made an appearance on several episodes.
- The Rat Patrol gives us the insane SS officer Colonel von Helbing, and the vengeance-hungry Evil Cripple Major von Brugge.
- "Max Otto von Stierlitz" from Seventeen Moments of Spring pretends to be one (in reality, he is a Soviet spy and a former Red revolutionary).
- Enemy at the Door: Hauptmann von Bulow, the title character of "The Prussian Officer", is a Prussian nobleman but objects to being called a Nazi, and explains at length that he is not a Party member and that people of his class regard the Nazis as inferior and common but temporarily useful in the pursuit of increasing Germany's imperial dominance.
- While not exactly a Nazi, David Bowie described his "Thin White Duke" persona (which was during his transition from "plastic Soul" to New Wave Music and/or Post-Punk-ish Krautrock) as an "emotionless Aryan superman," playing off this trope. This is best reflected on his album Station to Station.
- In the 1940s Soviet wartime song "Baron von der Pshick" by Leonid Utesov, the titular baron is the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Wehrmacht and gets his ass totally handed to him in Russia.
- Baron Max von Alvenstor from Margin for Error is blond-haired, blue-eyed, and helped beat a Jew to death in Berlin on the night of November 7th, 1938. Though a loyal German, he speaks perfect Oxford English, and his Nazi sympathies are doubtful, especially after it's revealed that his grandmother was Jewish.
- Many Nazi enemies from Rocket Age fit neatly into this category.
Real Life — Examples
- Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia, son of former emperor Wilhelm II and SA-Obergruppenführer.
- Infamous Otto von Bolschwing, one of the Holocaust masterminds, also known as "The Butcher of Bucharest".
- Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski a ruthless SS officer, infamous for his atrocities in Warsaw.
- Successful tank commander and nobleman Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz von Gross-Zauche und Camminetz nicknamed by his troops der Panzergraf (Tank count).
- German night fighter ace Major Heinrich Alexander Ludwig Peter Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a night fighter pilot with the Luftwaffe with eighty-three aerial victories to his name before he was killed in action by the Royal Air Force. Despite his undeniably superlative flying ability, he was something of an Insufferable Genius and Spoiled Brat, at one point confining his radar operator to quarters for three days in retaliations losing a contact and also ordering his wingmen to leave enemy planes airborne for him to kill. Despite this, his contemporaries say he became disillusioned with the Nazi regime and may even have been planning to kill Hitler before he was shot down by the RAF in 1944.
- His equally aristocratic colleague, Egmont Prinz zur Lippe-Weißenfeld, also a night-fighter ace in his own right, is another example. The two are buried together in the massive German cemetery at Ysselsteyn in the Netherlands.
- Franz Pfeffer von Salomon, first commander of the SA after 1925.
- Wolf-Heinrich, count von Helldorf - a bit zigzagging real life example - an Impoverished Patrician turned ardent Nazi official (and a really Dirty Cop), but later became disillusioned and tentatively joined the anti-Hitler plot.
- Hermann Göring started styling himself as one once in power, and by the end of the war he had made it the last "job" he actually did.
- At least one aristocratic German relative of Britain's Prince Philip attained a high position in the Nazi Party. Prince Christopher of Hesse-Cassel was an intimate of Hermann Gōring and became head of the Forschungsamt wiretapping unit organized by Gōring that became the forerunner to the Gestapo. The aforementioned Major Heinrich Alexander Ludwig Peter Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein was also closely enough related to British royalty for it to be notable, and he remains the only "British royal" to have - officially - received the Iron Cross for bravery in WW2.note
- The Mitfords were perfect examples of British nobility who sympathised with the Nazis; though a distinct minority, their massive publicity over the years has caused many in the public to believe their position was reflective of opinion among the vast majority of British nobility. As among German nobility, it wasn't. Perhaps it would be useful to illustrate through the example of the Mitfords themselves.
- First of all, there is the patriarch, David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale, a ardent reactionary and xenophobe, he was described as "one of nature's fascists" (by his own daughter, no less—and it was meant as a compliment). However, his sympathy for the Nazi party was tempered by his knee-jerk hatred for the Germans and his fierce patriotism.
- The most strongly Nazi Mitfords were Unity (whose middle name was Valkyrie, once traveled to Germany just to fangirl over Hitler—the Fuehrer put her in his inner circle to give it a bit of the feminine touch and declared her "a perfect specimen of Aryan womanhood", and attempted suicide when Britain declared war on Germany) and Diana (who married Sir Oswald Mosley—for whom see below). Of the two, Unity was by far the more committed; she had a massive crush on Hitler (she was 19 when he took over Germany) and is rumoured to have had an affair with him.
- Their brother Thomas was vaguely fascist, and refused to serve in Europe; however, he gladly served in Burma, where he was killed by the Japanese in the last year of the war.
- Pamela and Deborah were more or less typical British gentry, unimpressed with Nazism and content with the British system as it stood (although some say Pamela was a rabid antisemite in private). Deborah and her husband (the Duke of Devonshire) actually joined the Social Democratic Party when it formed in 1981, attracting much-needed attention to the party from centrist Tories who were increasingly alienated by the hard-right government of Margaret Thatcher (just as the "Gang of Four" original party founders were alienated by the hard-left Labour leadership).
- Nancy, the eldest, was a moderate socialist, and could be fairly said to have hated the Nazis.
- Finally, the second-youngest Mitford, Jessica- who shared a room with Unity (she and Unity had been inseparable as children, even developing a private language)- was an ardent communist—she was blacklisted when her move to Hollywood happened to coincide with the McCarthy era. Indeed, Jessica later recalled that the room she shared with Unity was starkly divided with a chalk line down the middle, with Unity's side being decorated with swastikas and portraits of Hitler, while Jessica's was decked out in hammers and sickles and pictures of Lenin. The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry, indeed.
- Sir Oswald Mosley, 6th Baronet, was a real-life example of the British variant (though technically not a true "Nobleman", he was the equivalent of a German "Junker"), and was the inspiration for Roderick Spode, listed above.
- Josias, Hereditary Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont became a senior SS officer and served as High Commissioner of Police in German-occupied France. He served three years in prison after the war. Himmler was godfather to his son.
- Franz von Papen was an opportunistic supporter of the Nazis and Hitler's vice-chancellor from 1933 to July 1934. He was a widely disliked figure and German political exiles compared him to Judas or even to Satan. This was not least because until 1932 he had been a member of the Centre (Catholic) party, one of the pillars of the Weimar Republic, and then formed a government that did not dispose of a majority in the Reichstag but governed via the emergency powers of President von Hindenburg; Chancellor von Papen's antidemocratic cabinet consisted in the majority of noblemen and was called "the cabinet of barons". Some of the most momentous acts of the short-lived Papen government were the rescinding of the ban on the SA and SS, and the deposition of the democratic government of the Free State of Prussia in a military coup. In WW1, Papen had been the head of Imperial Germany's intelligence effort in the US, where his recommendation that German submarines should start sinking American merchant ships did so much to keep America neutral and win the war for the Kaiser. He was appointed Hitler's deputy by President von Hindenburg, who figured that Papen would be just the fellow to keep this damned "Bohemian corporal" in line. However his ineptitude allowed Hitler to outmanoeuver him after the burning of the Reichstag, and his most notable act as vice-chancellor was the signing of the concordate between the Reich and the Vatican in 1933, which only helped Hitler to achieve a better standing with German Catholics. Papen sometimes appeared as a kind of opponent of the Nazis (though counterproductive to say the least) prior to the Night of the Long Knives when various associates of his including his personal adviser were were killed, and he personally only "narrowly escaped" Hitler's purge by the SS. After this he became Hitler's ambassador in Vienna and helped prepare the Anschluss. Furthermore he had the dangerous combination of a delight in intrigue with an overestimation of his strategic talent. When an attempt was made on his life in Ankara the Turkish investigators were presented with a problem well known from detective novels: anyone might have wanted to kill him.
- Baldur von Schirach was Reichsjugendführer, leading the Hitler Youth and other Nazi youth organizations.
- General Franz Ritter von Epp (1868-1946), a decorated officer of Imperial Germany's war against the Herero in Southwest Africa (1904-1908) and World War I. Born Franz Epp, he was knighted after fighting with the Bavarian Leibregiment the battle of Verdun. In 1919 he founded a free corps (at first sponsored by the central German government), which participated in the bloody suppression of the Munich soviet republic in 1919 and the Kapp-Putsch of 1920 (in the process deposing the democratically elected Bavarian government). The "Freikorps Epp" was eventually absorbed into the Reichswehr, and Epp through his chief of staff, Ernst Röhm, used his position to supply arms to right-wing paramilitary formations. Epp became involved with the Nazis from the earliest days of their existence at the beginning of the 1920s, but only officially joined the party in 1928. He used 60,000 Reichsmarks from secret army funds to help fund the Nazi newspaper, the "Völkischer Beobachter", and even provided the khaki uniforms that would later become the iconic brown shirts of the SA from Imperial Germany's army surplus.
- Hans von Tschammer und Osten (1887-1943) was the head of German sports organizations in the Third Reich; he instituted the German Football Cup competition (the original trophy was the "Tschammer-und-Osten-Pokal").
- Rocket scientist Wernher Freiherr (baron) von Braun was a member of the Nazi party, rose to the rank of Sturmbannführer (major) in the SS and would have had to face trial for war crimes, especially regarding the use of slave labour in the building of V2 rockets, if he had not been considered too useful by the Americans for their space program. His association with the Nazis is generally considered to have been opportunistic; joining the SS was the best way to guarantee his rockets got built, so join the SS he did. Or as Tom Lehrer put it on That Was the Year That Was:
"Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down?
That's not my department," says Wernher von Braun.
- Erich Ludendorff, even though his mother came from an ennobled family, chose not to become ennobled during World War I, when he was essentially co-dictator of Germany through 1917-18. The author of the stab-in-the-back legend, Ludendorff's refusal to admit that Germany had been beaten in World War I was the seed from which the Nazis were eventually born. While never officially a Nazi, he sympathized heavily with the movement and helped kick off the Beer Hall Putsch. Ludendorff turned on Hitler only when he realized that the Nazis were co-opting the ultranationalist movement away from him.
- While not a Nazi himself, president Paul von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg was the man responsible for bringing Hitler to power. That said, he beat Hitler in Weimar Germany's last presidential election and tried to prevent that "Bohemian Corporal" from forming a government after the Nazis held the most seats in the Reichstag.
- Hindenburg still is a bit of a controversial figure to this day, as it was long believed that he was too senile to be held responsible for bringing Hitler to power, with a lot of emphasis being put on the back-chamber dealings between people like compulsive conspirator Franz von Papen and Hindenburg's son, General Oskar von Hindenburg (the "son of the president not provided for in the constitution"). However, more recent evaluations would indicate that Hindenburg did not do anything he did not want to do, and he apparently had no second thoughts about appointing Hitler chancellor. Indeed, shortly before his death he congratulated Hitler on the "Night of the Long Knives".
- After Hindenburg's death, Field Marshal August von Mackensen (1849-1945) became the "venerable old soldier" to be featured at official occasions, prompting the nickname Reichstafelaufsatz (table decoration/conversation piece of the Reich). His position was ambiguous; although he hated the Weimar Republic and vaguely sympathized with the Nazis, he was not blind to what they did and e. g. used his influence to protect oppositional Protestant pastors and during World War 2 protested against atrocities that came to his knowledge. But to the end he considered Hitler innocent of any evil committed by the Nazi party and Hitler's government. However, Mackensen was only ennobled in 1899.
- Even after World War II was over, the Allies were convinced that it was "Prussian militarism", embodied by the German landowning nobility ("Junkers") that was to be blamed for Germany going to war again, not merely the Nazi Party and its ideology. The Free State of Prussia was thoroughly dismantled in 1947 in an attempt to deprive the supposed Prussian militarists from their powerbase. Considering the track record, they had a little justification for thinking so, but that never meant the Junkers were Nazis. And what remains of the Prussian traditions later found its way to East Germany via Wehrmacht officers who had enough of that Austrian lowlife & surrendered with their men to the Red Army earlier in the war, with the little-changed uniforms of the East German army as a visual example.
- The eastern part of Prussia was even thoroughly de-Germanized, divided between Poland and USSR and resettled by Poles, Lithuanians and Russians; this was not entirely about the Junkers and "Prussian militarism", however, as the Soviets took a massive chunk of pre-war Poland to give to itself and were "compensating" the Poles with the German land. Of course, the Soviets planned to have Poland as a buffer state in case the Western Allies tried anything funny, so the further away from Moscow Poland's western border could be, the better. After the end of the Cold War, the land that was once East Prussia remains in this state to this day, divided between Poland, Lithuania and the Russian Federation's Kaliningrad Enclave.
- Josef Terboven, the Reichskommisar of Norway, was the son of landed gentry. He joined the Nazi Party early on, however, and never actually managed his family's holdings. He was close enough with Hitler that the glorious leader was a guest at his wedding, and as the reichskommisar of occupied Norway he developed a reputation for being a particularly nasty tyrant.
- The close blood ties between the British and German royal houses meant that strange anomolies happened, such as Major Heinrich Alexander Ludwig Peter Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a second cousin of King George VI who was closely enough related for him to be - theoretically - on the line of succession to the British thronenote - who won the Iron Cross as a night-fighter pilot for shooting doen British planes. The abdicated King Edward VIII has been alleged, with good circumstantial evidence, to have been a Nazi sympathiser and fellow traveller. His meetings with Hitler in the 1930's are well documented. Given a sinecure and honorary General's rank in 1939, it is alleged he passed French military secrets to German intelligence, in return for a guarantee that when Germany defeated the western allies, he would be re-instated as King and head of a puppet government. (The mechaznism for passing on these secrets was via contacts with German noblemen in then-neutral Holland; one boasted in February 1940 that Edward was a spy working for Germany). He was abruptly relieved of duties as a liaison officer with the French Army, and when he was reluctant to leave France during the 1940 surrender, was forcibly evacuated back to Britain at gunpoint, then packed off as Governor of Bermuda, a backwater Carribean colony a long way from Europe. Documents relating to the former King's conduct in WW2 are permanently locked and will never be released on grounds of "national security"; and up to her death in 2002, the Queen Mother, widow of George VI, adamantly refused to have anything to do with him and blocked all moves for him to be reinstated as a working royal with full status. Edward, Duke of Windsor, died in exile in Paris in 1972.
Real Life — Exceptions
- Joachim von Ribbentrop was a subversion, in that he acquired the aristocratic "von" when he was adopted by a distant female relative from one of the branches of the Ribbentrop family that had been ennobled during the 19th century. At the age of 37, no less, and it's alleged that money changed hands in order to bring it about. Before taking his post in Hitler's cabinet he was a wine and liquor salesman, and his pretensions did not endear him to the true German nobility in the least.
- Real-life Austrian aristocrat Erik Maria Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, author of the above quote, complained about this trope in his book Leftism Revisited, where the full quote reads "During my wartime years in the United States I heard not a single 'morale-building' story about Central Europe that did not involve a 'Nazi nobleman'. Some did of course exist — as did Jews who paid conscience money to the NSDAP, and Catholic priests who held 'brown' sympathies. Exceptions confirm the rule. But National Socialism was a plebeian movement; significantly, at the big Nuremberg Trial, not a single nobleman was among those condemned to death." (It should be noted that Kuehnelt-Leddihn's own father had served in the German army, but decidedly without any enthusiasm for the Nazi cause).
- One of the "exceptions" alluded to by Kuehnelt-Leddihn was Kurt Baron von Schroeder, a banker who helped lobby for Hitler's appointment as chancellor, and who financed the Nazis after their rise to power.
- At the trial of the main war criminals alluded to in the quote, Franz von Papen was acquitted (he was sentenced to eight years in a labour camp in a later trial), Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach was sentenced to 20 years, Konstantin von Neurath (former Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia) to 15, while industrialist Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was deemed unfit for trial by reasons of health. Foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop was sentenced to death and hanged but evidently considered a fake nobleman by Kuehnelt-Leddihn since he got his "von" by adoption.
- Several members of Bavaria's ex-royal family spent time in concentration camps.
- The Habsburgs, the former ruling family of Austria and among the most aristocratic of "Germanic" families, were notable in their opposition to the Nazis and were persecuted accordingly. Archduke Otto, son of the last Habsburg emperor, was sentenced to death by the Nazis in absentia. Several other members of the family were imprisoned and/or murdered in Germany and/or Nazi-controlled Europe.
- While he supported German nationalism and the Nazi goals of making Germany great again, Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor, refused to meet with Hitler and condemned the Nazis near the end of his life. Several of his sons and other family members, however, did join the Wehrmacht. His second wife was also quite a fan of that Austro-Bavarian corporal.
- German spy Princess Stéphanie zu Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst née Richter was close the Hitler and Göring. She was also a Hungarian national and came from a bourgeois Jewish family. She got her noble title by marrying a prince in 1914 (Emperor Franz Josef's son-in-law Franz Salvator; he divorced her in 1920), probably to cover up that she was expecting a child from an archduke.
- Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg did get a bit of a Historical Hero Upgrade in the 2008 film Valkyrie, but it is indisputably true that this Swabian Count was a mastermind behind one of the biggest plots to assassinate Adolf Hitler. While he didn't exactly have the highest opinion of non-Germans, and endorsed some planks of the Nazi political platform, he also didn't just go along quietly after the Nazis crossed the Moral Event Horizon. Many of the other real-life plotters were aristocrats of one stripe or another as well.
- However, in 1934 he described the "Night of the Long Knives", in which not only the SA leadership, but also some of Hitler's conservative opponents - e. g. former chancellor General von Schleicher - were summarily murdered, as "the lancing of a boil".
- For about ten years prior to the plot, Stauffenberg's morality was basically one long Heel–Face Revolving Door. He started out as an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler, though he found many aspects of the Nazi Party repugnant and never became a member. During the buildup to the war, he expressed reservations about whether it was a good idea, only to become swept up in Patriotic Fervor once the war started. For the next couple of years, he kept vaccilating between distaste for Hitler's policies and respect for his (apparent) military competence. To his credit, as soon as he learned that Jews were being shot en masse, he finally did turn against Hitler, though he still obviously wanted the war to be won for the sake of his country. It was only after he lost parts of his own body in that war that "kill Hitler, whatever the cost" became top priority.
- Defied by Konrad von Preysing and Clemens August von Galen. These men were not just lay nobility (they both had the title of Graf, or "count", and were from very old and very aristocratic families), but also nobility of the Catholic Church, being bishops of Berlin and Munster respectively (both became Cardinals later.) Von Preysing and von Galen were, from the beginning, among the most critical voices of the Nazi regime within the German Catholic Church and instigated several instances where German Catholics publicly protested Nazi policy and forced the Nazis to conduct their programs (specifically mass murder of those deemed "genetically unfit") in secret. They managed to escape overt persecution and violence on their persons only because of their status as Catholic Church leaders. Many other priests and Catholic laymen who dared to criticize the Nazi regime but were not count-bishops were not so fortunate.
- The Duke of Windsor is only rumored to have been a Nazi sympathizer — odds are more that he was more just stupid in accepting the attentions of anyone who would give his wife the recognition he thought she deserved - and Hitler was smart enough to realize this.
- A strong case has been made, however, that when sent to a sinecure position in France with general's rank in 1939, meant to be more diplomatic than military, the former King Edward VIII knowingly and deliberately passed French military secrets to the Germans. His price, allegedly, was to be restored as King in a puppet state when Germany won the war. Whatever the truth of this, he was effectively exiled in 1940, as far away as possible, as Governor of The Bahamas.
- The German tennis player Baron Gottfried von Cramm, despite playing Davis Cup matches for the Nazis, did not represent the "Aryan ideal" that the Germans sought from their athletes. Von Cramm openly opposed the Nazis' dismissal of his Jewish doubles partner Daniel Prenn from the Davis Cup team. Furthermore, he lived as a closeted gay man and narrowly avoided being sent to a concentration camp because of his sexuality.
- Count Felix von Luckner, a famous German mariner who rose to fame for captaining anachronistic maritime raider Seeadler (a sailing warship) during World War I was often mistaken for this during the pre-war years. In fact, he was an exception who loathed the Nazis and was eventually responsible for arranging for peaceful surrender of his home town, Halle, to the Allies in 1945, which the local military commander, fearful of consequences for his family, would afraid to do. For this, von Luckner was condemned to death in absentia by the Nazis, although they were unable to carry out the sentence, since they were on the verge of defeat and all.
- Korvettenkapitän Georg Johannes Ritter von Trapp. Captain von Trapp of Sound of Music fame was a decorated officer in the old Imperial Austrian Navy. After the Anschluss in 1938 the Germans ordered him to report for duty in the Kriegsmarine, but the virulently anti-Nazi von Trapp instead defected with his family to America.note