A Study of Right-Wing Political Culture in Germany, 1890–1960
Chapter 3: The German Literature Academy: Control Mechanism or Cauldron of Dissent?
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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...
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