Put down that Hatpin-The history of fashionable self defense.

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Just to prove my versatility as a blogger I have decided to do a blog on fashion accessories. Had you there for a moment, I have absolutely no clue about fashion.But in this day where there are more and more accounts of sexual harassment I discovered that in the late 19th,early 20th century women had a particular way to deal with it.

Hatpins were sometimes used by women to defend themselves against assault by men.

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Laws were passed in 1908 in America that limited the length of hatpins, as there was a concern they might be used by suffragettes as weapons. Also by the 1910s, ordinances were passed requiring hatpin tips to be covered so as not to injure people accidentally.

Around the turn of the 20th century, advertising was on the rise, which meant advertisers were targeting women with an array of consumer goods. Among them? Hats. Huge, elaborate hats perched atop even more huge, elaborate hairstyles were the must-have item of the day. The towering monstrosities were crafted from taffeta, silk, ribbons, flowers (real and fake), feathers (some birds were hunted nearly to extinction for hat feathers), birds , and even artificial fruit.

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As you can imagine, ladies required some special hardware in order to affix these fashionable items to their silky tresses.Hence the hatpin

If you’re picturing those cardboard sheets of hairpins you can buy by the hundred at the drug store, think again. The 20th century hatpin was nothing short of a weapon – it was made of sturdy metal and could be up to 9 inches long (or longer, depending on the style(of course the perception of  9 inch for men differs then that from women)

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This is just one account of how women resorted to  this fashion accessory as a means of self defence.

‘On the afternoon of May 28, 1903, Leoti Blaker, a young Kansan touring New York City, boarded a Fifth Avenue stagecoach at 23rd Street and settled in for the ride. The coach was crowded, and when it jostled she noticed that the man next to her settled himself an inch closer to her. She made a silent assessment: elderly, elegantly dressed, “benevolent-looking.” The horse picked up speed and the stage jumped, tossing the passengers at one another again, and now the man was touching her, hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder. When he lifted his arm and draped it low across her back, Leoti had enough. In a move that would thrill victim of modern-day subway harassment, she reached for her hatpin—nearly a foot long—and plunged it into the meat of the man’s arm. He let out a terrible scream and left the coach at the next stop.

“He was such a nice-looking old gentleman I was sorry to hurt him,” she told the New York World. “I’ve heard about Broadway mashers and ‘L’ mashers, but I didn’t know Fifth Avenue had a particular brand of its own…. If New York women will tolerate mashing, Kansas girls will not.”

Newspapers across the country began reporting similar encounters with “mashers,” period slang for lecherous or predatory men (defined more delicately in Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie as “one whose dress or manners are calculated to elicit the admiration of susceptible young women”). A New York City housewife fended off a man who brushed up against her on a crowded Columbus Avenue streetcar and asked if he might “see her home.” A Chicago showgirl, bothered by a masher’s “insulting questions,” beat him in the face with her umbrella until he staggered away. A St. Louis schoolteacher drove her would-be attacker away by slashing his face with her hatpin. Such stories were notable not only for their frequency but also for their laudatory tone; for the first time, women who fought back against harassers were regarded as heroes rather than comic characters, as subjects rather than objects. Society was transitioning, slowly but surely, from expecting and advocating female dependence on men to recognizing their desire and ability to defend themselves.’

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By 1909, the hatpin was considered an international threat, with the police chiefs in Hamburg and Paris considering measures to regulate their length.

In March 1910, Chicago’s city council ran with that idea, debating an ordinance that would ban hatpins longer than nine inches; any woman caught in violation would be arrested and fined $50. The proceedings were packed with curious spectators, men and women, and acrimonious from the start. “If women care to wear carrots and roosters on their heads, that is a matter for their own concern, but when it comes to wearing swords they must be stopped,” a supporter said. Cries of “Bravo!” from the men; hisses from the women. Nan Davis, there to represent several women’s clubs, asked for permission to address the committee. “If the men of Chicago want to take the hatpins away from us, let them make the streets safe,” she said. “No man has a right to tell me how I shall dress and what I shall wear.”

Despite Davis’ impassioned speech, the ordinance passed by a vote of 68 to 2. Similar laws subsequently passed in several other cities, including Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and New Orleans. Ten thousand miles away, in Sydney, Australia, sixty women went to jail rather than pay fines for wearing “murderous weapons” in their hats. Even conservative London ladies steadfastly refused to buy hatpin point protectors.

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Adolf camping it up-His sense of Fashion should have been a sign for the Germans.

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I know this blog will be controversial however  I  do believe sometimes to get a message across is by showing how absurd things are. The fact is Adolf Hitler liked to dress up, I am not saying he was a drag queen but I think he may have had tendencies towards it,and behind closed doors you just don’t know what happened.

He actually spent a lot of money on clothes, the picture above is a bill of one of his tailors.

In this rare picture below, at first glance, Hitler looks like a bad pantomime dame, but is actually sporting a Japanese kimono.

The Fuhrer is seen donning the swastika-emblazoned traditional dress in the 1930s, despite not being known for his love of different cultures.

Bizarrely, before the start of WWII, from when he was sworn in as chancellor in 1933, it was quite common for Germans to buy novelty nick nacks bearing an image of the Fuhrer, such as this.

Its exact origin is not known, but it is speculated it was taken to commemorate the signing of the international pact between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan on November 25 1936.

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Really how could the Germans take anyone serious dressed in these shorts.

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The one thing that I often noticed in Hitler’s body language that it was very effeminate, this probably fueled the rumours he may have been gay.

 

Hitler banned publication of this image from an early Nazi propaganda book.

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Hitler grinning inanely in another picture he tried to ban.


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Hitler during imprisonment at Landsberg Prison. He was visited by fellow party members, 1924.

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Hugo Boss-Fascist Fashion

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In 1923, Hugo Boss founded his own clothing company in Metzingen, a small town south of Stuttgart, where it is still based. In 1924 he started a factory along with two partners. The company produced shirts, jackets, work clothing, sportswear and raincoats. Due to the economic climate of Germany at the time, Boss was forced into bankruptcy.

Boss joined the Nazi Party in 1931, two years before Adolf Hitler came to power. By the third quarter of 1932, the all-black SS uniform (to replace the SA brown shirts) was designed by SS-Oberführer Prof. Karl Diebitsch and Walter Heck (graphic designer).

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The Hugo Boss company produced these black uniforms along with the brown SA shirts and the black-and-brown uniforms of the Hitler Youth.

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Some workers are acknowledged to have been French and Polish prisoners of war forced into labour. In 1999, US lawyers acting on behalf of Holocaust survivors started legal proceedings against the Hugo Boss company over the use of slave labour during the war. The misuse of 140 Polish and 40 French forced workers led to an apology by the company.

In 1945 Hugo Boss had a photograph in his apartment of him with Hitler, taken at Hitler’s Obersalzberg retreat.

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The Hugo Boss company was one of 15,000 clothing companies that produced uniforms for Nazi Germany.

Because of his early Nazi Party membership, his financial support of the SS and the uniforms delivered to the Nazi Party, Boss was considered both an “activist” and a “supporter and beneficiary of National Socialism”. In a 1946 judgment he was stripped of his voting rights, his capacity to run a business, and fined “a very heavy penalty” of 100,000 DM ($70,553 U.S. dollars).However, Boss appealed, and he was eventually classified as a ‘follower’, a lesser category, which meant that he was not regarded as an active promoter of Nazism.

He died in 1948, but his business survived.

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Seventies Fashion

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I know there are a lot of people who will disagree me on this but I think the seventies music was great,with bands like Deep Purple,Led Zeppelin,the Eagles,the Who at the height of their success.Emerging artists like David Bowie and Gary Numan giving an artistic edge to the music scene. And who could forget this gem.

However when it comes to fashion!That is a completely different ball game altogether. Especially men’s fashion Thank God I was too young at the time to wear men’s clothes

Below are a few examples of 70’s fashion. I’d suggest to put on sunglasses for this one.

 

Don’t say I haven’t warned you.If you are eating or drinking something please put it down now.

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I can’t say the women were much better though.

Not sure what this is, Mexican western style or beach sports attire. They should not have been smoking the funny stuff before getting dressed.

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Leaving you with Mungo Jerry his sideburns were a fashion statements on their own. As for the lyrics.

“If her daddy’s rich take her out for a meal
If her daddy’s poor just do what you feel”

I don’t think you’d get away with that nowadays.

C&A and the Nazi Regime

Although C&A is considered to be a global company it really only has stores on the European mainland,Brazil,Mexico and China. In total there are approximately 2000 stores.From 1922 to 2001 the company also had outlets in the UK.However most people around the globe will be familiar with the Fashion giant.

Although technically a Dutch company it has strong links to Germany. The 2 founders were Clemens and August Brenninkmeyer.

The first trading Brenninkmeyers left the family farm in Mettingen,Germany in 1671 to become traveling linen sellers in the Netherland. It is said that even then they were secretive about their business. At this time, secrecy gave them a commercial advantage and permitted the avoidance of customs charges.

In 1841, the brothers Clemens and August Brenninkmeyer abandoned the itinerant life and laid the groundwork for the C&A chain when they opened their first store in the small Dutch town of Sneek.

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The small firm of textile sellers was very successful, and within the next few years further stores were opened in the Dutch cities of Leeuwarden, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Groningen, Leiden, Haarlem, and Enschede. Many of Clemens and August Brenninkmeyer’s descendants have been active in the company throughout its history.

The Brenninkmeyers were and are still very strict and devout Roman Catholics.Their new shop openings would often be done by holding a mass rather the throwing a party.Many of those who didn’t work for the company would become priests or nuns.

In 1911 it had its 1st international expansion in Berlin.

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C&A’s most successful field of operations, Germany, was coming under the control of the strongly nationalist and anti-Semitic Nazi regime. The Dutch Catholic family had to come to terms with this new German government. C&A’s Dutch background put its German expansion plans at risk. Nazi laws required the firm to gain government permission to open new branches. Some Nazis were also suspicious of the firm’s church connections.

The firm emphasized its pre-Nazi, anti-Jewish hiring policies and the family’s distant German origins. In a 1937 application to open a store in Leipzig, the board asked for assistance from Hermann Göring, the author of the state economic plan, and successfully argued that it had struggled against Jewish-owned business and prohibited the employment of Jews in the past.

In an attempt to build relations, bosses sent a letter to  Hermann Göring in 1937.

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The letter boasted how the firm ‘never employed Jews’ and took on ‘Jewish supremacy’ of the textile trade.  As a result, the company was able to expand, as Goering greenlighted the C&A takeover of a Leipzig store that was Jewish-owned and the company proudly displayed a sign stating that the business was ‘Aryan’.

Hermann Göring’s wife EmMY would often buy clothes in C&A.

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Against further 1938 allegations by influential Nazi party members that C&A was Dutch, the firm’s Berlin representatives stressed the Brenninkmeyer family’s German roots in Mettingen. They claimed the family had been forced to take Dutch citizenship by a 1787 law.

While the company was gifted expensive paintings, C&A paid huge sums of money into the Nazi fund – masquerading as the Winter Help collections which was for protection they acquired after striking up a relationship with Joseph Goebbels.

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At least half of 16 properties acquired in the years 1937 and 1938 in Berlin came from Jewish-owned families. All were acquired at less than market price, as was a plot of Jewish owned land in Bremen.

In Berlin the Bialystock family had a fashion shop next to C&A , Heinrich Chaim Bialystock had already left Berlin for Belgium due to increasing crimes committed against Jews. His wife Franya had stayed behind to finish up the shop and would follow her husband.

During the Kristall Nacht their shop got damaged but also some of the C&A shop. The Brenninkmeyers insisted and made Franya Bialystock pay for the damages to the C&A shop too.The Bialystocks were eventually arrested in Belgium and both died in Auschwitz on 21 September 1942.

In the Jewish ghetto of Lodz, 70,000 people had to perform forced labour.

Around half of them worked in tailoring, shoe and leather manufacturing.

By the autumn of 1944, the German arm of C&A was turning over 22 percent of the whole of the ghetto’s industry turnover.

During the course of their employment with the firm, four young women and five children died of malnutrition deaths  C&A is mainly responsible for.
Although C&A’s headquarters before 1939 were in Amsterdam, the British arm of the company turned over one of its warehouses in 1940 for use by the Dutch government in exile.

Bernard Brenninkmeijer in London hoped that the Germans would soon be stopped.

But his cousin Rudolf Brenninkmeijer in Berlin sucked up to the regime in Berlin and dreamed of the ‘final victory’ over Britain.

‘There can be no doubt after reading the history that the German line of the firm had exploited the plight of Jewish owners.

‘It was less out of ideological than for opportunistic reasons,’ said the Neue Zürcher newspaper in Switzerland.To give credit to the Brenninkmeyer family, in 2011 they commissioned historian Mark Spoerer, to research the company’s dealings with the Third Reich.His research uncovered all these findings.The family have opened up an archive relating to their time during WWII.

Currently the 6th generation of the Brenninkmeyer family is at the helm of the business.