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Literature and Film in the Third Reich

Literature and Film in the Third Reich

Karl-Heinz Schoeps
Translated by Kathleen M. Dell’Orto
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 379
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  • Book Info
    Literature and Film in the Third Reich
    Book Description:

    This book is the first survey in English of literature and film in Nazi Germany. It treats not only works sympathetic to National Socialism, but also works of the so-called Inner Emigration, of the resistance, and those written in prisons and concentration camps. Much of this literature is not easily accessible in German, and not available at all in English translation. Historical and ideological context is provided in chapters covering influential works of the time such as Alfred Rosenberg's The Myth of the Twentieth Century and Houston Stewart Chamberlain's The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century. Schoeps also analyzes Nazi cultural policies, fascist histories of literature, and the role of German studies and Germanists in the Nazi movement. A major section of the book is devoted to film, then a relatively new medium of communication whose propaganda value was clearly recognized by Goebbels, the minister for propaganda and president of the Reich's Chamber of Culture. One of the most interesting areas of research in recent years is the relationship between Hitler's cultural commissars, in particular Goebbels, and the literature and film production of the Nazi years. This book is based on the revised and expanded second German edition, Literatur im Dritten Reich (1933-1945), but has again been revised and expanded, especially the chapter on film and Nazi policies toward the film industry. The chapter on cultural policies has also been expanded to include Himmler's efforts to meddle in this area. New also are sections dealing with Jewish entertainers in concentration camps (for example, Kurt Gerron) and activities of the Jewish Cultural League. Karl-Heinz Schoeps is professor of German at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-625-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    A German Edition of this book was first published in 1992 by Peter Lang Publishers in Bern, Switzerland. A second revised and enlarged edition appeared in 2000 by Weidler in Berlin. For the English edition some changes were made in various chapters while the chapter on film and the bibliography were substantially expanded. The present work is the first book in English to provide a comprehensive overview of literature and film within Nazi Germany, ranging from Nazi literature to literature of the Inner Emigration and literature of resistance.

    To date there have only been a few attempts at an overview...

  5. 1: Historical Overview
    (pp. 9-14)

    After Adolf Hitler had decided in 1919 to become a politician and began in 1920 to reorganize the German Workers’ Party (DAP) into the National Socialist German Workers’ Party on the model of a small Austrian right-wing party, it was not at all foreseeable that this party, with him at its head, would seize control of the German Reich a mere thirteen years later, despite Arthur Moeller van den Bruck’s conviction that the National Socialist Party, which he had already dreamed of shortly after the turn of the century, would “certainly be part of the German future.”¹ The DAP for...

  6. 2: The Ideological Context
    (pp. 15-33)

    As to be expected, the literature of the Third Reich reflects its ideology; in contrast to the “manic democratic egalitarianism” of the Weimar Republic, the ideology is founded onvölkischnational Germanness, hero worship, and the leader principle. However, Klaus Vondung rightly points out that National Socialist literature cannot be defined any more exactly than can National Socialism itself: “National Socialism is not a clearly defined entity.”¹ National Socialist literature and National Socialist ideology cannot be cleanly separated from each other because there is a mutual dependence between the two: the literature influences, indeed, forms the ideology, and vice versa....

  7. 3: Literature and Cultural Policies in the Third Reich
    (pp. 35-67)

    The National Socialist culture policies centered around Adolf Hitler’s remarks on cultural policies in his governmental declaration of March 23, 1933. In that declaration, he demanded the “elimination of the destructive heritage of cultural decline” and the “preparation of the soil and clearing of the path for creative cultural development in the future.”¹ From these statements emerged the two main functions of National Socialist culture policies: cleansing and support;culturepolicies became culturepolicies(Strothmann,258). The Nazis attempted to justify their cleansings with the assertion that the Jews in the Weimar Republic dominated in all areas of culture. As Strothmann shows,...

  8. 4: The National Socialist Novel
    (pp. 69-113)

    The Novel In particular made possible the detailed representation of the ideology of National Socialism. As bestseller lists from the twenties and thirties show, the novel surpassed all other genres.¹ This chapter will show, on the basis of several selected novels, what subjects were dealt with in the novels that were welcome to the Nazis for ideological reasons. It makes no difference that some of the novels were already written before Hitler’s official seizure of power in 1933. Decisive is only the ideology expressed in the novels and the fact that several editions and many thousands of copies of the...

  9. 5: The National Socialist Drama
    (pp. 115-165)

    InMein Kampf,Hitler complains, among other things, about the demise of culture and the “intellectual degeneration” of art. The “bolshevism of art” is for Hitler the herald of “political collapse” in Germany. In his opinion, it is the duty of the state to prevent “the people from being driven into the arms of intellectual insanity.”¹ According to Hitler, this disease has also affected the theater in general:

    The theater sank visibly deeper and would probably have already disappeared as a cultural factor back then, if the court theaters, at least, had not opposed the prostitution of art. Aside from...

  10. 6: National Socialist Poetry
    (pp. 167-203)

    The characteristic form for National Socialist poetry was the march song or community song that was derived from the folk song.¹ The Storm TrooperOberführerGerhard Schumann, one of the main representatives of Nazi poetry, recognized the simple folk song as the suitable vehicle in which “the primal sounds of the human German soul” could take on a “contemporary form.” “Restrained toughness and trusting sincerity,” as well as “leave-taking, separation, horror, staying the course, upswing, and victory” could be best expressed in this form, as Schumann explained in a speech about war poetry that he held in 1942 on the...

  11. 7: Film in the Third Reich
    (pp. 205-225)

    In recent years no other area of the cultural life within the Third Reich has received more attention than film, especially in the United States where a number of books on film in the Third Reich have been published since the mid-nineties. These studies complement earlier works by Francis Courtade and Pierre Cadars (1972), David Stewart Hull (1969), Siegfried Kracauer (1947), Stephen Lowry (1991), David Welch (1983), and Karsten Witte (1976 and later), to name only a few. These also include books by Eric Rentschler(The Ministry of Illusion,1996), Linda Schulte-Sasse(Entertaining the Third Reich,1996), Sabine Hake(Popular Cinema...

  12. 8: Non-National Socialist and Anti-National Socialist Literature
    (pp. 227-288)

    This Chapter Will introduce the literature that did not serve the goals and the propaganda of the National Socialists and was not expressly recommended by the Rosenberg Office or the Reich Chamber of Writers. Most of the works treated in this chapter belong to the categories of “undesirable” or even “prohibited” literature. That includes the literature of the Inner Emigration and the literature of open and hidden resistance.

    The literature of the Inner Emigration is the most extensive. The concept of Inner Emigration is controversial and has not been clearly defined. The dispute between the “outer emigrant” Thomas Mann and...

  13. 9: Closing Comments
    (pp. 289-290)

    Neither The Literature of the Third Reich nor the literature of the Inner Emigration or the resistance played an essential role after the war in building a new literature in the occupation zones and the two German states that followed. Still, 1945 was not the absolute zero hour; especially in the Federal Republic, numerous leading representatives of National Socialist literature happily went on publishing, some of them even in the same spirit as before, for example, Erwin Guido Kolbenheyer.¹ Others switched over to harmless topics, such as Hans Friedrich Blunck with hisNeue Märchen(New Fairy Tales, 1951), Edwin Erich...

  14. Biographical and Bibliographical List of Authors
    (pp. 291-324)
  15. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 325-350)
  16. Translator’s Note
    (pp. 351-354)
  17. Index
    (pp. 355-371)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 372-372)