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 5: Völkisch-Nationalism in the Post-War Era

← 278 | 279 →CHAPTER 5


In 1962, Walter Laqueur noted the tendency of German intellectuals in the 1950s to consign the nationalist writers of the Third Reich to oblivion in their determination to reject the Nazi regime itself. He contested this dismissive assumption and commented: ‘Some of them are apparently more widely printed and, presumably, read than even the better-known contemporary writers of the “democratic-liberal” camps. True enough, their books are not widely discussed, and they certainly are of no interest to the literary avant-garde, but they have their faithful public, a fact that is usually ignored by the literary critics.’1 Following the Second World War, writers who had been prominent in the Third Reich, particularly those who had occupied leading positions in political and cultural institutions, were subject to the Allies’ denazification and re-education programmes. A demand for their works nonetheless continued to exist and by 1950 their books were widely available again as publishers sought to satisfy the desire of the German public for familiar literature.2 Hans Sarkowicz estimates that only one-sixth of the recipients of literary prizes, honours and awards under the supervision of Goebbels and the Reich Chamber of Literature between 1933 and 1945 published nothing at all after the War.3 Similarly, Gregor Streim has demonstrated the popularity in the 1950s of accounts of post-war imprisonment in Allied internment camps. He places these in ← 279 | 280 → the context of post-war perceptions of German victimhood, which, while not exclusive to the far right, also came to play a significant role in v...

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.