Show Less
Restricted access

"Völkisch" Writers and National Socialism

A Study of Right-Wing Political Culture in Germany, 1890–1960


Guy Tourlamain

This book provides a view of literary life under the Nazis, highlighting the ambiguities, rivalries and conflicts that determined the cultural climate of that period and beyond. Focusing on a group of writers – in particular, Hans Grimm, Erwin Guido Kolbenheyer, Wilhelm Schäfer, Emil Strauß, Börries Freiherr von Münchhausen and Rudolf Binding – it examines the continuities in völkisch-nationalist thought in Germany from c. 1890 into the post-war period and the ways in which völkisch-nationalists identified themselves in opposition to four successive German regimes: the Kaiserreich, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich and the Federal Republic. Although their work predated Hitler’s National Socialist movement, their contribution to preparing the cultural climate for the rise of Nazism ensured them continued prominence in the Third Reich. Those who survived into the post-war era continued to represent the völkisch-nationalist worldview in the West German public sphere, opposing both the Soviet and liberal-democratic models for Germany’s future. While not uncontroversial, they were able to achieve significant publishing success, suggesting that a demand existed for their works among the German public, stimulating debate about the nature of the recent past and its effect on Germany’s cultural and political identity and position in the world.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter 3: The German Literature Academy: Control Mechanism or Cauldron of Dissent?

← 156 | 157 →CHAPTER 3


In the early years of the Third Reich, völkisch-nationalist networks took on a new character. As many prominent writers went into exile or were excluded from Germany’s literary institutions because of their race or political views, the Nazis required the support of well-known nationalists to replace them and provide the new regime with literary representation. This was important for Germany’s image both domestically and abroad, and ensured these writers recognition as the nation’s literary elite.

In contrast to the Weimar Republic, against which völkisch-nationalist writers stood in clear opposition, the establishment of the Third Reich presented them with a völkisch state. It did not, however, represent the ultimate achievement of their goals. Instead, they viewed the Machtergreifung as a significant step in the ongoing progress of the völkisch revolution. Many greeted the Nazi regime enthusiastically as an opportunity to take control of the cultural leadership of the nation. They saw it as a chance to revive the true creativity of the Volk after an era of degenerate, liberal modernism in the arts. The Nazis’ own revolutionary rhetoric did little to discourage this view in 1933, and many adherents to völkisch-nationalism only acknowledged several years later that in reality they were powerless to create a völkisch state in accordance with their ideals; instead, they were harnessed by the Nazis to serve the regime’s propaganda needs.

This situation was clearly illustrated in the German Literature Academy, which was formed following the Gleichschaltung...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.