Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Our Nazis

Our Nazis: Representations of Fascism in Contemporary Literature and Film

Petra Rau
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 256
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Our Nazis
    Book Description:

    An analysis of the resurgent cultural fascination with Nazism since 1989Why has a fascination with fascism re-emerged after the Cold War? What is its cultural function now, in an era of commemoration? Focusing particularly on the British context, this study offers the first analysis of contemporary popular and literary fiction, film, TV and art exhibitions about Nazis and Nazism. Petra Rau brings this material into dialogue with earlier responses to fascism and demonstrates how, paradoxically, Nazism has been both mediated and mythologised to the extent that it now often replaces a critical engagement with actual, violent history.In 5 thematic chapters on Nazi Noir, Men in Uniform, Vile Bodies, The Good German and Meta-Cinematic Farce, Rau provides close analysis of contemporary novels such as Jason Lutes’ graphic novel series Berlin, historical crime fiction by Philip Kerr and others, Robert Harris’ Fatherland, Ian McEwan’s Black Dogs and Justin Cartwright’s The Song Before It Is Sung; films such as Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie and Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards; art installations including Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art, and Fucking Hell by Jake and Dinos Chapman; and Piotr Uklanski’s photo frieze, Untitled (The Nazis).Key Features:Broad interdisciplinary approach which includes literature, film, TV and artWide coverage of popular forms and High ArtComparison with earlier material about fascism which reaches back to the 1930s

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-6865-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Sources of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Series Editors’ Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    Kate McLoughlin and Gill Plain
  6. Introduction: ‘Having Your Nazi Cake and Eating it’
    (pp. 1-42)

    Models are always more and less than the reality they ostensibly replicate. They are a fantasy and an interpretation as well as an approximation en miniature. What precisely constitutes ‘Nazi-ness’ in a model, a film, a piece of fiction? The comments of artist Jake Chapman above indicate that reproduction is not merely an attempt at verisimilitude but already contains some excess in the very effort to replicate. In the peculiar diorama of war described above, the fetishism lies not in the emphasis on ‘hyper-Nazis’ or the precise model of the Panzer but in the loving detail of the pastoral scene...

  7. Chapter 1 Nazi Noir: Hardboiled Masculinity and Fascist Sensibility from Ambler and Greene to Philip Kerr
    (pp. 43-69)

    One of the hallmarks of both the classic hardboiled novel and film noir is the level of graphic violence meted out either to or by the detective. The body count in Hammett’s Red Harvest(1929) is staggering; the torture scene in The Glass Key(1931) even suggests a certain masochistic propensity for voluptuous anguish in the detective. The fascination with, even admiration of, violent crime (and, concomitantly, the new type of crime fiction) worried a number of intellectuals in the 1940s.¹ For J.B. Priestley, hardboiled fiction was a foreign import about a ‘particular America’, ‘a fungus world, of greed, of calculated violence...

  8. Chapter 2 The Fascist Corpus in the Age of Holocaust Remembrance: Robert Harris’s Fatherland and Ian McEwan’s Black Dogs
    (pp. 70-92)

    In January 2005, Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth II’s second grandson and third in line to the British throne, made headlines as he was photographed attending a friend’s birthday party with the theme ‘Colonials and Natives’ dressed in the shirt of the German Afrika Corps, complete with swastika armband. If his judgment was spectacularly bad, his timing was even worse: two weeks before the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. ‘Harry the Nazi’ screamed the headline of the Sun the following day, the British Jewish community was stunned, and Clarence House swiftly issued a statement that the Prince apologised for...

  9. Chapter 3 ‘Fascism’ as Excess and Abjection: Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones
    (pp. 93-124)

    Jonathan Littell’s epic novel Les Bienveillantes (The Kindly Ones, 2006) consists of the memoirs of the fictitious Franco-German SS-Obersturmgruppenführer Dr. jur. Maximilien Aue. It focuses on his deployment as an SD intelligence officer on the Eastern Front, in the Caucasus, at Stalingrad, with the mobile Einsatzgruppen in the Ukraine, and at Auschwitz. A Zelig figure of the war in Europe, he meets various historic and imagined characters, talks to French collaborators in occupied Paris, survives the siege of Berlin and an encounter with bands of Nazi Werewolves (roaming teenage guerrilla fighters), before he vanishes into anonymity in the chaos of...

  10. Chapter 4 The Good German: The Stauffenberg Plot and its Discontents
    (pp. 125-157)

    In 1998 Piotr Uklański mounted his installation Untitled (The Nazis) at the Photographers Gallery in London. It consisted of 166 captionless stills, publicity posters and photographs showing well-known actors in Nazi roles, mostly from Hollywood productions with some shots from European arthouse films. Cinema, more than any other art form let alone history education, has shaped our visual inventory of ‘fascism’. This seemed an obvious point to make but it was not a welcome one. There were protests outside the gallery accusing the artist of glamorising fascism. When Uklański’s photo frieze was mounted at the Zacheta Gallery in Warsaw two...

  11. Chapter 5 ‘Operation Kino’: Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds as Meta-cinematic Farce
    (pp. 158-189)

    Quentin Tarantino’s foray into the war film takes its cue from Enzo Castellari’s Inglorious Bastards (1977) but it is hardly a straightforward remake of 1970s ‘macaroni combat’. True to Tarantino’s highly allusive style, the film’s intertextual archive is much larger and, as the misspellings in his title indicate, much more self-consciously playful. One would not enlist Basterds among the earnest hyper-realist war films and TV-series that, beginning with Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, have re-introduced audiences to the heroic protagonist and the good fight. As we have seen in the last chapter, these productions often boast historical consultants and original location...

  12. Coda
    (pp. 190-194)

    In the summer of 2011, the Chapman Brothers mounted a widely reviewed installation entitled Jake or Dinos Chapman at the White Cube in London, one part in Hoxton, one part in the Mason’s Yard gallery off The Strand. As I descended the stairs to the basement gallery of the central London venue, I caught a glimpse of the main exhibit before I fully entered the room. I remember that I froze on the steps although it is not clear to me precisely what I felt – shock, horror, fear, or a mixture of all three. I had seen the reviews, most...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 195-210)
  14. Index
    (pp. 211-214)