The Arts In Nazi Germany

The Arts In Nazi Germany: Continuity, Conformity, Change

Jonathan Huener
Francis R. Nicosia
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 236
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  • Book Info
    The Arts In Nazi Germany
    Book Description:

    Culture and the arts played a central role in the ideology and propaganda of National Socialism from the early years of the movement until the last months of the Third Reich in 1945. Hitler and his followers believed that art and culture were expressions of race, and that "Aryans" alone were capable of creating true art and preserving true German culture. This volume's essays explore these and other aspects of the arts and cultural life under National Socialism, and are authored by some of the most respected authorities in the field: Alan Steinweis, Michael Kater, Eric Rentschler, Pamela Potter, Frank Trommler, and Jonathan Petropoulos. The result is a volume that offers students and interested readers a brief but focused introduction to this important aspect of the history of Nazi Germany.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-700-4
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: The Arts in Nazi Germany: Continuity, Conformity, Change
    (pp. 1-14)
    Jonathan Huener and Francis R. Nicosia

    On the evening of 25 January 1942, during one of his typically endless conversations at the Wolfsschanze that lasted long into the night, Adolf Hitler suggested to those in his company that the cultural life of the Reich, not politics, was his true passion and concern. He made the following confession to his guests:

    I became a politician against my will. Politics for me is merely the means to an end …. It will be the happiest day of my life when I can retire from political life …. I want to do that when I have completed my political...

  5. Chapter One Anti-Semitism and the Arts in Nazi Ideology and Policy
    (pp. 15-30)
    Alan E. Steinweis

    On 18 April 1937, the great German novelist Thomas Mann delivered an address to a Jewish audience in Carnegie Hall in New York City. Mann was one of the few German cultural luminaries who had voluntarily chosen a life in exile rather than remain in Nazi Germany. The main focus of his speech was on the contribution of Jews to the cultural and intellectual life of Germany, and, more generally, Europe. The Jews, Mann asserted, had brought something special and different to European culture. Mann attempted to articulate what this difference was. “The Jews,” he observed: “are called the people...

  6. Chapter Two The Impact of American Popular Culture on German Youth
    (pp. 31-62)
    Michael H. Kater

    Classic, long-entrenched views of National Socialism and the totalitarian Third Reich hold that Hitler’s polity was a streamlined monolith, unbreakable and having a well-defined beginning and ending, with strong codes for the collective life of society, tolerating neither exceptions nor any contradictions.¹ For many years, rigid models such as these blocked more differentiated interpretations. These could have resulted in the recognition of more brittle societal textures, greater fluidity in the development of pre-Nazi to Nazi phenomena and, as an important matter of timing in defining the end of the Third Reich, skepticism regarding the artificial construct “Zero Hour” (Stunde Null)....

  7. Chapter Three The Legacy of Nazi Cinema: Triumph of the Will and Jew Süss Revisited
    (pp. 63-84)
    Eric Rentschler

    The feature films as well as the documentaries, newsreels, and short subjects produced in Germany during the Third Reich continue to circulate and resonate. Nonetheless, their undeniable presence is neither self-understood nor fully comprehended. What is their rightful place? Do they belong in the garbage pile of history? Or, with the passing of time, do they now warrant less impassioned and more measured consideration? To reject—and with what justification? To redeem—and at what cost? In any event, these examples of mass media deserve our renewed reflection, particularly because they have become an integral part of contemporary culture. What...

  8. Chapter Four Music in the Third Reich: The Complex Task of “Germanization”
    (pp. 85-110)
    Pamela M. Potter

    In November 1936, the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels made the following announcement in front of a convocation of the Reich Chamber of Culture:

    We now have German theater, German film, German press, German literature, German art, German music and German radio. The charge that was often made against us that it would be impossible to remove the Jews from artistic and cultural life because there were too many of them and that we would not be able to fill all of the vacant positions has been stunningly disproven [applause]. This change in personnel, organization, and direction proceeded without any...

  9. Chapter Five A Command Performance? The Many Faces of Literature under Nazism
    (pp. 111-134)
    Frank Trommler

    When we approach Nazi literature, we usually know what we can expect: a blustering rhetoric of living and dying for the GermanVolk. Yet, at closer look, young love is always wholesome, family life is an earthly paradise, manual labor is pleasant and redemptive, and nature functions as a friend and support. When we approach the histories of this literature, we also know what we can expect: extensive discourses on the party and state apparatus of controlling the writers, on Goebbels’s Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, which supervised the Reichsschrifttumskammer (Reich Chamber of Literature), the Amt Schrifttumspflege (Office for...

  10. Chapter Six The Art World in Nazi Germany: Choices, Rationalization, and Justice
    (pp. 135-164)
    Jonathan Petropoulos

    It has been four years since I finishedThe Faustian Bargain. The organizers of the Miller Symposium have given me the opportunity to revisit issues in the book and incorporate new information that I have found during my subsequent work on Nazi art plundering. This is work, I might add, that I have often done as a legal consultant, as there continue to be a number of cases involving stolen cultural property that was never restituted. The Holocaust was not only the most systematic program of murder in history; it was also the greatest theft, and the repercussions continue to...

  11. APPENDIX A Letter from Wilhelm Furtwängler to Joseph Goebbels 12 April 1933
    (pp. 165-166)
  12. APPENDIX B Law for the Establishment of a Provisional Chamber of Film 14 July 1933
    (pp. 167-168)
  13. APPENDIX C The Reich Chamber of Culture Law 22 September 1933
    (pp. 169-170)
  14. APPENDIX D First Decree for the Implementation of the Law for the Reich Chamber of Culture 1 November 1933
    (pp. 171-178)
  15. APPENDIX E Activities of the Cultural Association of German Jews [Jewish Cultural League] Frankfurter Israelitisches Gemeindeblatt, April 1934
    (pp. 179-180)
  16. APPENDIX F The German Authorities and the Cultural Association of German Jews [Jewish Cultural League] 19 June 1934
    (pp. 181-182)
  17. APPENDIX G Ten Principles for the Creation of German Music 28 May 1938
    (pp. 183-184)
    Joseph Goebbels
  18. APPENDIX H From Hitler’s “Speech on Culture” (Kulturrede) at the Nuremberg Party Congress September 1938
    (pp. 185-188)
  19. APPENDIX I What Are People Reading? A Questionnaire in Berlin Book Stores December 1940
    (pp. 189-194)
    Christian Bock
  20. Contributors
    (pp. 195-196)
  21. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 197-214)
  22. Index
    (pp. 215-227)