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"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.
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Chapter 5: Völkisch-Nationalism in the Post-War Era

← 278 | 279 → CHAPTER 5

Völkisch-Nationalism in the Post-War Era

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 völkisch analyses of Germany’s recent past.4

The careers of writers like Hans Grimm and his fellow Münchner demonstrate a line of continuity from the Kaiserreich, through the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany, into the early years of the Federal Republic. This chapter will examine their position after the Second World War. After 1945 the surviving members of the Munich Consensus presented their campaign for autonomy and control over their own institutions in the Third Reich as evidence that they had not been implicated in the crimes of the Nazi regime. Their ambiguous attitude towards the Third Reich is central to understanding their position after the Second World War. In the West German political context of the 1950s they also claimed to have been forced into a new ‘inner emigration’.5 They denied a share in responsibility for the Nazi crimes and rejected ideas of collective guilt, emphasising instead that their role in the political developments of the preceding decades was based in an older nationalist tradition that had roots in the search for a German national identity in the nineteenth century. They were not products of National Socialism, which in their eyes had betrayed its initial promise by its distortion of healthy German aspirations.6 For them, the Nazi regime had never been an end in itself. They thus remained blind after 1945 to the full implications of the crimes of the Nazi era and saw little reason why the failure of National Socialism should cause them to abandon their crusade for a völkisch political and social order. Indeed, picking up on widespread ← 280 | 281 → resentment at the treatment of Germans in the immediate post-war period, and their suffering in the midst of the material and psychological destruction the Second World War left behind, they continued to demand equality for Germany on the world stage and understanding for the long-term causes that had led to the Third Reich (as they understood them).

At the same time, after 1945 völkisch writers were forced to fight for their territory in a contested cultural sphere. In doing so, many dogmatically clung to old certainties in the face of social and political change at home and the ideological polarisation of the global order. While political adversity fuelled their determination in old age to avert what they viewed as dangerous and unhealthy trends in post-war Germany, they cannot be written off simply as relics of a previous era. Experience had taught men and women of this generation that political systems could disappear as quickly as they came. There was no reason to suppose in 1950 that the new West German order would be permanent, particularly given the absence of a formal peace treaty, the temporary nature of the Basic Law and taking into account the division of Germany and perceived threat of socialism coming from the East.

In addition, their belief in a national community along the lines of the now discredited Volksgemeinschaft meant that they felt obliged to place their experience of the past at the service of the German people. While they failed to restore völkisch ideas as the guiding principles for social and political organisation, they actively sought to shape the new Germany and found a considerable audience for their efforts. Investigating the role of völkisch literature in the context of the post-war transformation of Germany, this chapter highlights some of the tensions and contradictions of the period. While the publishing success of völkisch works between 1945 and 1960 points to the existence of a substantial readership for their works, they found themselves increasingly excluded from formal political discourse. But this process of exclusion in the cultural and literary spheres occurred over time and reflected Germany’s gradual transformation into a liberal-democratic state with a social-market system.7

← 281 | 282 → Questioning Collective Guilt

Since Germany’s reunification in 1990, commentators on the memory of the Third Reich have displayed renewed interest in the character of the FRG in the 1950s. The results have produced an increasingly nuanced understanding of West German responses to the Nazi past in that decade. The apparent failure or refusal of Germans to acknowledge German culpability for the Nazis’ crimes now appear as responses to a complex set of circumstances informed by both domestic and international politics after the War, alongside social and cultural issues arising from the destruction of war, defeat and the movement of peoples, against the background of exposure to the full extent of the evils of Hitler’s regime. The result has been the emergence of a critical understanding of the way in which public and private memories have developed since 1945. This also takes into account the demand of the generation that came of age in the 1960s that their parents and grandparents acknowledge German responsibility for the Nazi past, which has led to the normalisation of a discourse of guilt in the final decades of the twentieth century that was less widely accepted in the decade after the War.8 Commenting on the Walser-Bubis debate, unleashed by Martin ← 282 | 283 → Walser’s speech on receiving the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels in 1998, Aleida Assmann notes the way, over time, mainstream German historical consciousness has come to endorse the perspective of the Nazis’ victims.9 This consensus has loosened a little since Assmann was writing in 1999; Walser’s debate with the Holocaust survivor Bubis was a symptom of, rather than a catalyst for, the re-emergence of multiple, often contradictory memories of the Nazi era over the last decade. Walser highlighted a divergence between official, public memory and the private memory of individuals. As his generation, the last eye-witnesses, moved towards old age, he appealed for the validity of private memory, informed by the conscience of individuals, in the face of what he viewed as the ‘politically ← 283 | 284 → correct’ manner of remembering the Holocaust that had developed in Germany over the previous half century.10

Widespread acceptance of a public discourse of German guilt was gradual, the product of an ‘ongoing process of critical dialogue (Auseinandersetzung) between the present and the past.’11 As Assmann points out, this Auseinandersetzung with the Nazi past began immediately following the Second World War. Nonetheless, in the immediate post-war decades, moral requirements to engage with the crimes committed in Germany’s name competed with the long-term legacy of resentment left by the war guilt clause of the Versailles Treaty and the need to deal with defeat in a second European war in the space of thirty years, to say nothing of the basic requirements of survival in the initial post-war years. In addition, twelve years of Nazi ideological education, communicated through the regime’s propaganda initiatives, inevitably shaped attitudes to the idea of ‘collective guilt’. As a result, as the völkisch contributions to the discussion of German guilt also help demonstrate, responses to the recent past were mixed, in spite of the efforts of the victorious powers to re-educate the German population.

1945 cannot be viewed as zero hour in German culture, even if the idea of Stunde Null held currency for some contemporaries.12 Nonetheless, 1945 was a historical watershed and for the German people the future looked unclear as the Allied powers divided the country into four zones of military occupation. Thus began what Norbert Frei has labelled the first phase of dealing with the Nazi past, characterised by the only moderately successful ← 284 | 285 → denazification and re-education policies directed by the Allied occupiers.13 Nonetheless Frei points out

that it is inadequate to view this phase of Säuberungspolitik solely in the simplified terms of failed denazification, as was long common in the historiography. For, between 1945 and 1949 ‘Persilscheine’ were not the only things issued; war criminals were also severely punished, NS-functionaries were interned, in some cases for many years, and so-called Mitläufer were held accountable in ways that had considerable impact.14

It was against this background that the surviving members of the Munich Consensus, Grimm, Kolbenheyer, and to a lesser extent Strauß and Schäfer, operated after 1945. Far from encouraging silence with regard to the Nazi past, their strategies to shift the blame for the crimes committed under Nazi rule and loud expressions of resentment at perceived Allied accusations of collective guilt, to say nothing of their anger over the ‘denazification’ and ‘re-education’ measures, were also discourses on the Nazi past. Both political and popular culture in Germany underwent a substantial shift in the course of the 1950s. This shift is also reflected in the position of Hans Grimm and his colleagues in relation to German political and cultural discourses.

Underpinning their defence of völkisch thought was a determined rejection of the so-called Kollektivschuldthese. Frei has identified this as the second phase of addressing the Nazi past, characterised by the Vergangenheitspolitik of the first decade of the FRG.15 This being the case, Grimm and his colleagues were not out of tune with a large proportion of their compatriots. Successive amnesty laws allowed the re-integration of former officials of the Nazi regime and encouraged the suppression of memories of the Nazi past, ostensibly in the service of social cohesion. Adenauer’s government thus adopted a largely pragmatic stance in order to establish the West German state. At the same time, the new order formally accepted its Nazi inheritance, for example in the Basic Law and ← 285 | 286 → West German compensation to the Jews in the form of support for the new state of Israel. The combined outcome of these two positions was the inculcation of a widespread ‘Schlußstrich’ mentality in the public at large, as it became both expedient and acceptable to bury the past in favour of a concentration on Germany’s future.16

Frei suggests that the Kollektivschuldthese was a German construction that proved useful to legitimise the Vergangenheitspolitik of the 1950s. He points out that historians have not uncovered any documentary evidence of an officially articulated principle on behalf of the Allied occupiers.17 Similarly, Helmut Dubiel has shown that the idea of ‘collective guilt’ is repeatedly referred to in Bundestag debates of the 1950s. His conclusions support Frei’s suggestion that it was manifested most strongly in German efforts to refute the idea.18 All the same, there can be little doubt about the message communicated by the victorious Allies to the German people, even before the end of the Second World War. Indeed, the arguments presented by Frei and Dubiel draw on examples of defensive reactions that serve to highlight the extent to which the idea became ingrained in German consciousness in response to Allied efforts to confront the German people with the crimes of the Nazi regime.

The Morgenthau Plan, first proposed in 1944, called for the dismantling of the German state and German industry following her defeat. While it was reflected in the official United States policy in occupied Germany between 1945 and 1947, it was not implemented on the ground.19 All the ← 286 | 287 → same it did much to damage the faith of many Germans in the intentions of the American occupiers in particular. In the minds of far-right commentators it was linked with the Allies’ early occupation policies, when economic activity in Germany, with the exception of agricultural production, was more or less suppressed.20 These years were also years of hunger for the German population, criticised not only on the right, but also by left-wing commentators. The latter included the British publisher and publicist Victor Gollancz, whose treatise criticising conditions in the British occupation zone in 1946, Our Threatened Values, also received an enthusiastic reception in Germany, not least from Hans Grimm and his völkisch colleagues.21 Criticisms of Allied policy by men like Gollancz only served to endorse the resentment of the far right. The Morgenthau Plan, suggests Christoph Müller, became ‘a myth with often anti-Semitic overtones’ with roots in Nazi propaganda, which continued to raise passions throughout the 1950s.22 It provided an early focus for völkisch convictions that the occupation powers were intent on the destruction of the German nation, as, it was believed, they had been since its emergence as world power after 1871.23

Assmann has also pointed out that the forced visits of German citizens to concentration camps in 1945, as well as the posters, photographs and film footage of the camps and their victims to which the population was exposed after the War served to fix in German minds not a sense of responsibility, but resentment at Allied propaganda. The result, she suggests, was a psychological gap between perceptions of the Nazis’ crimes and the ← 287 | 288 → personal memories of individuals.24 This argument is supported by an examination of völkisch writers like Hans Grimm. The need to repudiate the Kollektivschuldthese became paramount if they were going to separate their own ideological position, and belief in the German Volk, from the legacy of National Socialism. In their response to the idea of ‘collective guilt’ they not only denied knowledge of, let alone involvement in the actions of the Nazis, but also presented a relativised view of National Socialism that generally allowed that the fate of the Jews was horrible but exaggerated, and weighed it against the suffering of Germans.

A prominent example was Grimm’s first substantial post-war work: the Erzbischofschrift, delivered a basis for völkisch thought in the decade that followed. It was published in 1950 as an extended version of his response to a radio address by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, to the German people, broadcast in November 1945. The Archbishop’s address was subsequently reprinted in a German translation in several licensed newspapers in the British occupation zone.25 In 1947 Grimm managed to send his 80-page response to Lambeth Palace in spite of restrictions on parcels Germans could send abroad.26

In considering the Erzbischofschrift as an early example of the post-1945 völkisch programme, it is important to note that the book was aimed at rebutting the accusation of collective guilt. In examining the text, it is also necessary to consider not only its content, but also the strategies Grimm adopted in presenting his argument. His use of quotations is striking. In order to provide legitimacy for his positions, he frequently quoted at length, and often out of context, in place of providing his own concluding statements. In doing so, he sought to demonstrate that his conclusions were shared by other, respectable thinkers. The tone of the text is also typical of völkisch publications in this period; it communicates a sense of patient reasonableness in the face of obvious stupidity in the responses of ← 288 | 289 → the occupying powers and, later, German authorities to the grievances of the German people.

Grimm’s arguments may appear stubbornly blind to the realities of Germany’s history and her situation in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but there is little doubt that he genuinely subscribed to the views he put forward. It is evident in his correspondence with a wide range of men and women from various places and many different walks of life that, while he may have combined arrogance with an inability to understand the full implications of the legacy of the Nazi regime, he was not deliberately duplicitous. Indeed, it was a matter of honour to Grimm to represent his truth, even if it was unpopular. And he was encouraged by his communications with friends and colleagues, both in Germany and abroad. He received praise and support from a number of quarters for articulating what many Germans felt.27 The Erzbischofschrift also sold well, providing Grimm with much-needed income after the loss of much of his wealth as a result of the currency reform in 1948.28

Grimm’s work after 1945 introduced little that was new to his völkisch worldview. Instead, he applied this ideological position to the new historical circumstances in which he found himself forced to live. The survival of völkisch thinking lay in large part in the malleability of the ideology, which allowed its adherents to apply it anew as Germany’s circumstances changed and developed. This was also true after the Second World War. The material destruction of Germany as a result of the War combined with the ongoing antagonism against the Germans perceived to be inherent in the Allied occupation policies were not seen to challenge but to endorse the völkisch worldview.

In the Erzbischofschrift, Grimm suggested that National Socialism had begun as an idealistic, healthy response to Germany’s problems in the ← 289 | 290 → early 1930s. Only later, he argued, did Hitler’s increasingly unstable mental health corrupt the original idealism of the movement.29 By contrast, in 1954 he published Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin?, in which he emphasised a positive view of the Nazi leader throughout and the negative role played by Nazi functionaries who put personal ambitions and factional rivalries before the good of the German people.30 Either way, the idea that Nazi ideology had been subject to distortion and corruption in the later years of the regime remained fundamental to his defence. An important part of Grimm’s response to the idea of collective guilt was to separate enthusiasm for the völkisch characteristics of early National Socialism from the later actions of the regime’s leading figures: the crimes committed during the War, which included those against the European Jews, no longer represented the ‘pure’, ‘healthy’ National Socialism that had originally been endorsed by the German population.31

Grimm also insisted that responsibility for the long-term causes of the ‘German catastrophe’ lay with the Allies. Moreover, failure to acknowledge the role played by the desire for revenge on the part of the enemies of the Nazi regime, both at home and abroad and including but not restricted to the Jewish survivors of the regime, led to the establishment of the new and dangerous post-war order. With the division of Germany, Europe was opened up to the advance of Bolshevism in the East. Grimm argued in Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin? that Hitler had been among the first to recognise this threat to European civilisation and suggested that Second World War had been a struggle to allay it. The Western Allies should have joined Germany in the anti-Bolshevist cause, rather than opposing Hitler. ← 290 | 291 → Their mistaken antagonism towards the Nazi regime had resulted in the establishment of two German states in 1949. By preventing the development of the German nation to its full potential and allowing the Soviets to make deep incursions into Central Europe, the western powers were responsible for aiding rather than hindering Europe’s downfall.32

Re-establishing Völkisch Networks

The position of völkisch-nationalist writers after the Second World War reflected the experiences of large sections of the wider German population. In particular, as far as the Allies’ ‘denazification’ and re-education programmes were concerned, Germans’ experiences were determined not only by the occupation zone in which they found themselves living, but also the arbitrary nature of the ‘denazification’ procedures themselves. Some, including Kolbenheyer, Johst and Blunck, were severely affected by the process, both materially and psychologically. Others were left almost completely untouched. Both Grimm and Agnes Miegel emerged unscathed from the process in the American and British zones respectively.

The limited success of ‘denazification’ and re-education was evident in the subsequent careers of these writers. Far from changing their ideas or political views, ‘denazification’ served to confirm for them and their supporters that the Germans were subject to determined strategies to undermine the Volk through malignant propaganda and reprisals. A negative outcome, while proving costly financially, did not necessarily mean the end of a literary career. Blunck, pronounced a ‘Mitläufer’ by the ‘denazification’ commission in Kiel in 1949, continued to publish his Heimat tales in the ← 291 | 292 → 1950s.33 Kolbenheyer was the recipient of the Sudetendeutscher Kulturpreis in 1958, the same year in which the final volume of his autobiographical novel Sebastian Karst appeared.

Grimm had a smooth ride through ‘denazification’. Resuming contact with Kolbenheyer in 1946, he commented that ‘I did not suffer unduly under the occupation, even though the mistaken view circulated that “Volk ohne Raum” was a National Socialist work written for propaganda purposes!’34 His repeated testimonies in the years that followed, written in his own interest and in support of others, state that he emerged in category five as ‘unbelastet’, emphasising that he had not been a member of the NSDAP and that his relationship with the regime had become increasingly ambivalent in the course of the 1930s.35 All the same, the apparent lack of concern regarding Grimm remains surprising given his involvement in the Literature Academy and particularly his position on the Präsidialrat of the RSK between 1933 and 1935. According to the Gesetz zur Befreiung von Nationalsozialismus und Militarismus (Liberation Law) passed in the American zone on 5th March 1946, Hauptschuldige unless proven otherwise included: ‘Reichskulturkammer – all presidents, vice-presidents and executive directors. All members of the Reichkulturrat, the Reichkultursenat and presidential councils (Präsidialräte).’36

No copy of a completed ‘denazification’ questionnaire or formal notification of Grimm’s clearance has so far come to light in his papers.37 Nonetheless, every German in the American zone over the age of 18 was required to complete a questionnaire, leading to a total of 13,199,778 ← 292 | 293 → responses to the 131 questions. Of these 3,445,062 appeared before tribunals (Spruchkammer).38 While the absence of formal documentation in his otherwise full archive is notable, Grimm does mention having filled in the questionnaire in a letter to Miegel and there is enough evidence to conclude that for him the process ended in complete clearance.39 In 1946, he provided a testimony for Ernst von Salomon, who was incarcerated by the Americans immediately after the war on suspicion, according to Grimm, of militarism on account of his earlier writing.40 Von Salomon was released in November of that year. In the years that followed, Grimm wrote further affidavits on behalf of several colleagues, including Miegel and Edwin Erich Dwinger, both of whom had been members of the NSDAP.41

While, officially, Grimm was not viewed as having been implicated in the Nazi regime, in the course of the decade that followed, his activities were increasingly associated with the far right, including surviving elements of the Nazi camp. In addition to the attention drawn by the Lippoldsberger Dichtertage, this was not least the result of his post-war writing, as well as lectures to right-wing groups and organisations. Grimm identified in public with the experiences of those of his colleagues whose passage through ‘denazification’ was less comfortable than his own. He also took up the cause of the former Nazis imprisoned in Landsberg and Spandau.42 In doing so, he became an apologist for those who had been representatives of the Nazi ← 293 | 294 → regime. The establishment of his own publishing house, the Klosterhaus-Verlag, in 1951 assured not only continued publication for his own works, but also allowed him to assist other likeminded writers to present their views in print.

‘Denazification’, in Grimm’s view, was based on the misconception that supporters of the Nazis’ original attempt to reform the life of the German Volk in the early years of the movement had been at fault from the start. Grimm thus distanced himself and those völkisch colleagues who shared his initial enthusiasm for the movement in the early 1930s from the accusation that they helped prepare the way for what went wrong later on. He added, repeatedly, that the alternative had been Marxism. For Grimm, greater distinction was needed between former Nazis, honourable Germans and those who sought to exploit the post-war situation for their own ends. While he acknowledged that there had been victims of the regime, he nonetheless suggested that the prisoners of the camps had been mixed; some, at least had been justly incarcerated. He warned against the influence of these people after 1945, alongside those who had been exiled from the Third Reich, at the expense of ‘the clean Germans, who stand by their country, and their language and culture, and who have been forced into silence.’43

Grimm also argued that ‘denazification’ had wrongly focused on the destructive anti-Semitism that had developed later on in the Nazi regime. In short, he concluded, the fact that true National Socialism had had a positive impact on community life in many places had been forgotten or deliberately ignored.44 His analysis displayed his own anti-Semitism, as he argued against the dangerous identification of Jews as victims, noting the power survivors and their ‘co-religionists’ had in post-War Germany. Grimm sought to create a distinction between the murderous anti-Semitism of a few in the final years of the Nazi regime and a more reasonable, indeed appropriate, anti-Semitism rooted, he believed, in the desire to defend the ← 294 | 295 → German Volk from the negative intentions of Eastern European Jews. He acknowledged that the killings in the concentration camps had been wrong, but insisted that the numbers had been exaggerated. He also argued that the crimes of the Nazis were an extreme expression of a reasonable, more moderate caution that the German people had displayed towards Jews who threatened Germany’s wellbeing.45

Grimm believed this distorted view of the German situation was plainly manifested in German cultural, particularly literary life, not least in an ongoing propaganda struggle on the part of Bolsheviks, alongside those with a sometimes legitimate but more often illegitimate desire for revenge, to suppress real German literature. The latter was represented by the likes of Strauß, Schäfer, Kolbenheyer, Claudius, Carossa, Vesper, and himself, as well as Weinheber, Miegel and Ina Seidel.46 Their forced silence, he warned, was not helping America’s cause; against this background, he suggested to Prof. Heuser in New York, the German view of the USA was growing increasingly negative as a result of measures imposed by the occupation authorities. He suggested that reasonable Germans had previously hoped that the Americans would have some sympathy for the Germans’ situation; now, however, the Americans had shown themselves to be influenced by the Jews. And while he suggested that most Germans would concede that the Jews had a legitimate grievance, he argued that the desire for revenge was an unsuitable basis on which to make judgements or build a new order.47

Grimm took up the challenge that he felt the denazification process posed to the German Volk by engaging directly with the interests of colleagues whose situations were less fortunate than his own. In doing so, he further established himself in his self-appointed role as a völkisch activist and commentator in the post-war era, as well as a coordinator of völkisch networks and activities. ‘Denazification’ was one factor of several that contributed to creating uncertainty, both materially and intellectually, in ← 295 | 296 → the lives of völkisch-nationalists. Grimm’s correspondence in the immediate post-war years reflects this. Gradually re-establishing contact with old friends and colleagues, and in some cases establishing it for the first time, the letters are full of enquiries and shared information not only concerning the situation of the correspondents themselves, but also mutual acquaintances, and above all shared concerns about the future of the ‘German’ cause. They provide an insight into the efforts of these writers to engage with and make sense of the new situation they faced after 1945, many of them like Grimm confronting uncertain times in old age.

A number of significant figures abroad became regular, friendly and supportive correspondents. In some cases, moreover, the initiative for the resumption of communication came not from Grimm, but from old friends like Prof. Heuser in New York, who had attended the Lippoldsberger Dichtertage in 1937 and wrote to Grimm on 17th April 1946 enquiring after his wellbeing and that of his family.48 Among British friends, Edmund Blunden and the lawyer, Dennis Thompson, were among those with whom Grimm resumed contact in the year following the end of hostilities. All three were also among those who provided care packages to the Klosterhaus in Lippoldsberg in the immediate post-war years. They responded to Grimm on his own terms as a representative of German conservative traditions, rightly true to his nation and people.49

In his first post-war letter to Blunden, Grimm rehearsed again the events in Lippoldsberg in the final days of the War. While little damage had been done, three shells had fallen in his garden and three in the Klosterhaus. There were no casualties, but the explosions caused Grimm significant hearing loss. His deafness stayed with him for the rest of his life. He also ← 296 | 297 → reported that Dennis Thompson had passed through Lippoldsberg in the autumn of 1945, spending a night at the Klosterhaus. Thompson was Grimm’s first international guest after the War.50 These contacts proved important for Grimm, who rarely left Lippoldsberg in the post-war years. They not only provided him with an English-speaking audience for his analysis of Germany’s situation, but also reconnected him in a practical manner with current affairs by providing him with access to and in some cases even regular subscriptions to English-language publications. Grimm enjoyed a subscription to the weekly edition of The Times from the end of 1947 through to 1954 thanks to Dennis Thompson.51 Heuser also kept him supplied with newspaper articles and magazines in the late 1940s, ensuring, for example, that he regularly received the World Report.52 Grimm thus remained reasonably well informed not only of what was going on in the world, but also of the opinions in the press of Germany’s erstwhile enemies.

Grimm emphasised the importance of access to the foreign press also in the light of the doubts he entertained regarding the licensed press in Germany. In Grimm’s eyes, the latter was aimed at indoctrinating the German people with an ideology that was, at best, misguided and more often than not a deliberate effort to undermine the German people. Given that his own convictions often ran counter to the positions he encountered in these publications, he was more than ever convinced of the need to provide his contacts abroad with information on the ‘true’ situation. The traffic in publications was not, therefore, one way: Grimm also ensured that Heuser and Blunden, among others, received copies of articles and recommendations for books that would provide them with insight into Germany’s situation.53 In June 1947, Grimm wrote to Heuser, suggesting that ← 297 | 298 → the problems in Germany were the result of initiatives of a small number of left-leaning men and women, both Germans and representatives of the Allied occupiers, to distort attitudes towards Germany’s recent past in order to profit from the present. The licensing system for the press and publishing houses was little more than a propaganda initiative designed to present the Germans with a one-sided view of their situation and thus bend them to the ill-begotten goals of this group. The majority of honest German commentators were deliberately silenced with no publications available to represent their positions. The possible partial exceptions, as far as Grimm was concerned, were Die Zeit and Die Welt, and his positive inclinations towards these newspapers also subsided in the years to come.54

Grimm received regular visitors in Lippoldsberg in these years, including colleagues, friends, and passers-by. His availability to travellers remained a priority throughout the rest of his life. It was part of the responsibility he assumed in his self-appointed role as a spokesman for the German people. And the impressions he gained of life in Germany from his visitors informed his reports to correspondents abroad. Thus, he wrote to Heuser on 4th September 1946:

There have been many visits. And the visitors want answers, which I am unable to provide. It saddens me continually to see these young people in dyed uniforms, only some of whom have families and homes and whose prospects are so miserable and who, furthermore, have been forced again and again to take the blame. I am astonished by the composure with which these things have been borne.55

Grimm’s accounts of the real life stories of his visitors emphasised German suffering, both material and psychological, at the hands of the Allied occupiers and, later, Adenauer’s government. As he became more and more convinced that Bolshevism was gaining the upper hand in Germany, it became increasingly necessary in his eyes that men in England and America gain an insight into conditions in Germany, as he understood them. These ← 298 | 299 → were caused by the misguided government of the occupation authorities on the one hand and left-leaning Germans working under the label of democracy on the other. The latter represented, according to Grimm’s estimate, about one fifth of the overall population, and three quarters of these were politically misguided.56

In 1947 Grimm also began gathering information from colleagues to send to Heuser. Responding to Grimm’s request for news he could pass on,57 on 9th November 1947, Kolbenheyer described the situation in his home in Sölln directly after the War, in which American personnel were billeted.58 He expressed optimism regarding the outcome of his ‘denazification’, which continued to hang over him until its final, negative resolution towards the end of 1948.59 In a second letter, however, written the same month, Kolbenheyer articulated a sense of victimhood. He claimed that no one had formally accused him of anything and expressed incomprehension at a process which placed the responsibility on the Germans to prove their innocence.60

By the end of 1947, the process was well underway, although almost another year would pass before Kolbenheyer appeared before a tribunal. He was unable to view himself as a criminal, having never broken a law or been directly involved in the Nazis’ crimes during the War. He viewed the process as agitation against him with its origins in the press. His conviction that the attacks amounted to an organised campaign against what he stood for in the German Volk echoed Grimm’s accusation that Germany’s cultural life and the public sphere were dominated by individuals seeking revenge ← 299 | 300 → for their suffering under the Nazis. This view only served to strengthen Kolbenheyer’s belief in the rightness of his völkisch worldview:

Denunciations were easy on German soil against anyone whose name appeared on a ‘black list,’ even where they were false, unmerited and laughable. With such actions of revenge personal victims are needed. I have the distinction (I use the word in all seriousness) of belonging to these victims. […] Abroad, the necessary maturity is still lacking for a reasonable response to the propaganda of hate and revenge and for recognition that this second war was a very clever action in favour of a mercantile global imperialism.61

Kolbenheyer claimed that he was targeted because of his poem ‘Der Führer’. The poem, he explained to Grimm, concerned Hitler’s emotions as, in tears, he thanked heaven for his acceptance as a volunteer in the German army in 1914; the poem was not, Kolbenheyer claimed, an endorsement of later Nazi actions. Kolbenheyer continued in the same defensive tone:

I never accepted an office in the Nazi period, turned down a call to a university professorship, refused official invitations (Weimar) in spite of repeated urgent requests for my attendance (a Ministerial Director once sought me out specially). And I also know that the high officials viewed me with suspicion. Naturally I never had direct relationships with these men. In short, I know as little as anyone else what they can be holding against me.62

Given his long-standing contacts with a number of leading Nazis, not least his engagement with Rust over the reconstitution of the Literature Section of the Prussian Academy of Arts in 1933, Kolbenheyer’s version of his recent past was somewhat disingenuous. His avoidance of the NSDAP’s annual literary festival in Weimar was almost certainly not an ideological protest, but the result of his general dislike of such events, a sentiment he explained to Grimm in 1951 when declining his invitation to the Lippoldsberger ← 300 | 301 → Dichtertag.63 With regard to his academic ambitions, in 1944 Kolbenheyer was offered the honorary direction of the newly created Paracelsus Institute in Villach. By this point in the War, this project existed in little more than name, and never became reality.64

The private exchange of letters with colleagues allowed Kolbenheyer and Grimm to articulate their personal versions of their history; in the articulation they were able to create a reality that underpinned their post-war positions that became the accepted truth in völkisch circles. In 1946, Grimm noted that he had not expected to resume contact with Kolbenheyer following their disagreement over the fate of Pezold and the Langen-Müller Verlag in 1938. He observed, however, that the seriousness of the times made it imperative that old animosities should be forgotten and representatives of German literature, among whom Grimm rated Kolbenheyer one of the most important, should stand together. At stake was more than individual personalities; at stake was the soul of the German Volk, represented by its greatest contemporary writers.65

Through the Befreiungsgesetz, those subject to ‘denazification’ were judged by Germans in a civilian court (Spruchkammer). The judges consisted of confirmed anti-Nazis, in particular members of the reinstated political parties, especially Social Democrats and Communists, and German Jews who had been victims of Nazi anti-Semitism. While many Germans initially welcomed the changes enacted by this law in 1946, most notably the transfer of partial responsibility for post-war judicial proceedings into the hands of the Germans themselves, for völkisch-nationalists the hearings were further evidence of the hunger of victims for vengeance. They were also seen as the betrayal of Germany by Germans, a continuation of the treason of the resistance, most notably those involved in the attempt to assassinate Hitler on 20th July 1944.66

← 301 | 302 → These views were evident in their commentaries on Kolbenheyer’s experiences. Unlike Grimm, Kolbenheyer had been a member of the NSDAP, having joined in 1938 following the German annexation of the Sudetenland. He appeared before Spruchkammer VI, situated in Thalkirchnerstraße in Munich, on 22nd and 27th October 1948, not long before ‘denazification’ trials were abandoned in the American sector. The chairman of the chamber, Wetzel, was described by Grimm in a letter to Heuser as a Czech Jew, who, following a period in one of the concentration camps, had subsequently run ‘some sort of information office against the rest of us in London’.67 An account of the trial was published in Der Weg – Monatshefte zur Kulturpflege und zum Ausbau, a journal published in Buenos Aires that provided one of the first organs for völkisch-nationalist writing in the years immediately after the War. Here it was suggested that Wetzel, supported by the public prosecutor, von Moßner, launched an offensive against Kolbenheyer that was ‘unwürdig und haßerfüllt’, irresponsibly motivated by prejudice and ‘unclouded by any factual knowledge.’68 The same article also launched an attack on those writers, among them Alfred Döblin, Erich Kästner, Werner Bergengruen, Alfred Kerr, Heinrich Mann and Arnold Weiß-Rüthel, who provided statements in support of the case against Kolbenheyer. The comments made in the magazine are not only an example of the widespread consternation among Kolbenheyer’s colleagues and friends regarding the case, but also their general opposition to the influence after 1945 of writers who had been exiled or suffered under the Nazis.69

The Spruchkammer verdict sentenced Kolbenheyer to 180 days labour over two years. In addition, half his wealth was confiscated, set at a sum of DM 287,000, and he was placed in Group Two, Aktivisten, the second highest category of Nazi criminal. It also placed a five-year ban on his professional activity, preventing the publication of any of his works until ← 302 | 303 → 1953. In spite of the widespread consensus that ‘denazification’ had failed to achieve the Allies’ goal, namely the elimination of ‘militarism and Nazism’, and the removal of ‘all Nazi and military influences from public institutions and the cultural and economic life of the German people’,70 for Kolbenheyer the repercussions of the process were significant.71 In his final statement before the court, he protested his uncompromised honour. He said that he had submitted himself to the ‘denazification’ process as a German citizen obliged to follow the existing laws, in spite of his doubts about their validity. During the trial, he declared, he had been the subject of invective and conjecture. His attackers had used the proceedings as an opportunity to discredit his life’s work. His concluding words emphasised his belief in the wider historical significance of his case:

Those standing in judgement should bear in mind that the court is not operating in this case solely within the sphere of political justice, but above all in an intellectual, historical forum, which also has resonance beyond the German nation, in an intellectual, historical court therefore, that has international significance. I am convinced that the judgement that is pronounced will not be forgotten quickly.72

These words were circulated to Kolbenheyer’s sympathisers by Otto Zierlik, another Sudeten-German and one of his most loyal supporters in these years.

Kolbenheyer was right to believe that history would remember the verdict passed by the court. Although it was reduced on appeal, placing him in group three – ‘Mitläufer’ – his trial and the initial verdict fundamentally informed Kolbenheyer’s relationship with the post-war German order. The outcome of his ‘denazification’ gained him considerable public sympathy. In the right-wing and nationalist press he was praised for emerging with ← 303 | 304 → his principles uncompromised. Significantly, however, as well as articles in right-wing organs like Der Weg,73 several mainstream German newspapers also condemned the proceedings both at the time and long afterwards. On the occasion of Kolbenheyer’s death in 1962, the trial was referred to, for example, in the national daily newspaper Die Welt as a ‘tragi-comedy’; the Mannheimer Morgen described it as a ‘farce’ as late as 1978.74 In addition, the Kolbenheyer Society was established in 1951 by his supporters in response to the negative outcome of the author’s denazification trial. Its aims were twofold: to promote his work and to provide him with moral and material support as he faced the five-year ban on pursuing his profession and the financial problems this caused him.75

As he did with Kolbenheyer, Grimm also established regular correspondence with Agnes Miegel in the years immediately after the War. Previously known to each other principally through their positions as Senators of the Literature Academy in the 1930s, after the War their friendship was fuelled by a period of intensive letter writing in the late 1940s. Grimm sought to provide assistance for the ‘wohl grösste lebende Dichterin’, as he referred to Miegel in a letter of 31st January 1947,76 his second to her following her forced flight from her home in Königsberg, East Prussia, in 1945. Crossing the Baltic Sea, she and her companion, Elise Schmidt, were interned in a Danish camp on an island in Jutland. Eventually the two women were released to Apelern in the British occupation zone. They were provided with a room in a castle belonging to the Münchhausen family, relations of Miegel’s old friend Börries von Münchhausen, who had committed suicide in the final weeks of the War.

← 304 | 305 → Grimm’s correspondence with Miegel further demonstrates the role he increasingly played after 1945 as a source of advice and a coordinator of the networks vital for providing likeminded individuals on the right with information and support as they sought to negotiate the new political climate after the War. They were helped by the fact that the ‘cleansing’ of the German bureaucracy after 1945 was only partial, allowing a number of old friends and colleagues to retain positions of responsibility, giving their völkisch literary acquaintances access to officialdom.

In February 1947, Miegel expressed her growing uncertainty regarding the ‘denazification’ process in the British zone.77 Grimm responded to Miegel’s questions by passing them on to Ministerialrat Zierold, who had previously been in charge of the Prussian Academy of Arts in the Prussian Ministry of Culture. Advising Miegel to wait and see how events developed, Grimm’s letter also highlighted the differences between the zones of occupation, which further added to the impression that the ‘denazification’ process was arbitrary and unfair.78 Writing this letter, Grimm was already more pessimistic than he had been a few weeks earlier about the potential reception of Miegel’s work, although his faith in her position among the most important German literary figures remained undiminished.79 He was convinced, for example, that the editors of Die Zeit and Die Welt would have accepted her work if they had been left to their own devices. As it was, Grimm could only assume they were operating under pressure from the British occupation authorities.80

Zierold responded to the enquiry regarding ‘denazification’ with a recommendation to lie low. Miegel told Grimm that she intended to follow his advice, showing little urgency to start publishing again.81 Miegel’s case was not dissimilar to that of Kolbenheyer, although the difference in their genders had a bearing on their experience of the Nazi ideology. But even ← 305 | 306 → here, Miegel’s life was not typical of German women of her generation, not least because she enjoyed the privileges that success and renown as a poet brought. This meant that she had access to membership of a number of male-dominated literary institutions, including the Literature Academy. Like Kolbenheyer, she came from the territorial fringes of the German Reich in Eastern Europe, although East Prussia, while cut off after the First World War by the Polish Corridor, was part of Germany in Miegel’s lifetime up to 1945. And like Kolbenheyer she had made a name for herself already in the first decade of the twentieth century. In Miegel’s case, she had been one of the leading proponents of the revival of the German ballad, alongside Münchhausen. She was eventually cleared of involvement in the Nazi regime in 1949, although she had joined the NSDAP in 1940. Not unlike Kolbenheyer’s emotions at the annexation of the Sudetenland, this had been in gratitude for the reconnection of her East Prussian homeland with the rest of the Germany following the German invasion of Poland.82

In Königsberg Miegel had been involved particularly in the activities of the BdM. Her post-war correspondence with Grimm suggests a naïve attitude towards her involvement with the Nazis and reinforced Grimm’s faith in the existence of a healthy, pure National Socialism. According to Miegel, the sense of community and service to the Volk survived to the end of the war among the Germans in East Prussia.83 Her repeated accounts demonstrate how little the ‘denazification’ process touched her personal experience of the Nazi period:

[…] I was not involved in ‘Party work’. I did, however, stand close to the dear young people in the BdM, the Arbeitsdienst and the Landjahr, as well as those women, so courageous to the very end and always helpful, in the Frauenschaft and the NSO. In particular, in our border region in the East, I met with so much human competence, so many pure, healthy and enthusiastic hearts, so many willing workers and helpers – literally until death, and so much composure in the face of the bodily and spiritual need of the downfall – that I can only think of these people with loyalty and love, yes with admiration. The survivors among them now have to wrestle so hard to be ← 306 | 307 → allowed to serve the land that had the greatest meaning for them in the world, the land that they believed they were serving with all their hearts.84

Miegel’s attitudes towards the Third Reich were therefore based on her own experiences, rather than the public discourse disseminated by the Allies. Her response to post-war Germany was, unsurprisingly, also bound up with the experience of expulsion from Königsberg, her personal suffering binding her to that of her Volk. This suffering was not only ignored by the victorious powers, but exacerbated by the worry caused by ‘denazification’ and controls over the publishing industry that threatened her livelihood.85

The overall failure of the ‘denazification’ process had far-reaching consequences for the relationship of völkisch-nationalist and right-wing thinkers with the post-war structures in Germany. They did not understand the process as it has been seen by subsequent historians like Fritz Stern, who suggested that active memory of the Nazi past was pragmatically suppressed in West Germany in the post-war era in favour of social and cultural peace that allowed social cohesion and the development of democracy at home and rehabilitation abroad.86 While there is truth in Stern’s analysis, memory of the immediate past remained very much alive, often in unofficial forms that were not imposed from outside; indeed, as the German population sought to recover materially and psychologically from the experience of the War, engagement with what had gone wrong was unavoidable. Far from forgetting, völkisch-nationalists were determined that the memory of what had gone before needed to be remembered correctly. They emphasised ‘denazification’ and ‘re-education’ as Allied propaganda. In the long run, some of them argued, this would be detrimental not only to Germany, but to Europe and the ‘white race’ as a whole.

Paradoxically, at the same time the quiet subsidence of the ‘denazification’ process noted by Stern provided völkisch-nationalists with their opportunity for integration into West German literary life. It created a situation in which those on the far right could be absorbed into ← 307 | 308 → the new Federal Republic. Moreover, their efforts to negotiate ‘denazification’ strengthened their networks, laying the foundation for ongoing cooperation throughout the 1950s. Völkisch-nationalists, however, failed to recognise the advantages the situation brought them, the short-term disadvantages of ‘denazification’ instead fuelled their wider grievances at Germany’s situation. These also focused, for example, on the destruction of German cities and the expulsion of Germans from territories in Eastern Europe in 1945 and 1946.


Alongside ‘denazification’, initiatives introduced to re-educate the German population after the War contributed to the frustrations of völkisch writers during the years of military government. The principles that governed the re-organisation of German cultural life under the victorious powers were agreed at Potsdam in the summer of 1945 and were aimed at the removal of National Socialist and militarist tendencies in German life, viewed by the Allies as the root of German aggression in the modern period. ‘Re-education’ was, therefore, the result of the prevailing understanding and, at times, prejudices regarding Germany. A study commissioned by the US Military Government, for example, explained the rationale behind the ‘re-education’ measures, highlighting the danger that German culture was liable to create an atmosphere of aggression.87

As a result measures were taken to control cultural production in all four occupation zones. Initially, these included a complete ban on publishing, which was gradually eased through a system of licensed publishing houses, newspapers and magazines. Until the middle of 1947, ← 308 | 309 → the four powers cooperated closely in this process. All the same, the wide scope of the ‘re-education’ process meant that it was by its very nature difficult to manage, aiming at the transformation of the moral, cultural and political values prevailing in Germany.88 While the nationalist historian Caspar Schrenck-Notzing was among the first to refer to ‘re-education’ measures as ‘brainwashing’ (Charakterwäsche), Ernst Fraenkel described the process as ‘salutary coercion, intended to help the German people in their attempt to restore their connection to a common cultural inheritance indicated by the words Jerusalem, Athens and Rome, which had been broken by their relapse into barbarism during the years 1933–1945.’89 Fraenkel’s comments highlight an area of misunderstanding between the policy makers of the occupation authorities and völkisch commentators: the language of babarity and civilisation was open to multiple interpretations. For völkisch writers, the civilisations of ancient Rome and Greece were the products of the ‘white’ race. While few returned overtly to Alfred Rosenberg’s interpretation of western civilisation as an Aryan accomplishment, Grimm and Kolbenheyer emphasised Germany’s central role in protecting ‘white’ civilisation, which facilitated the idea of united Europe based on racial principles.90

Völkisch-nationalists compared ‘re-education’ with the censorship and propaganda they had known between 1933 and 1945; frequently the measures were viewed as more restrictive than anything that had operated under the Nazis. Not only was the remaining German cultural production after ← 309 | 310 → the War suspended and restarted gradually under the control of the occupation authorities, but völkisch commentators saw a discrepancy between the restrictive measures adopted by the latter and the Allies’ message of democracy and free speech.91

‘Re-education’ measures affected literary life in various ways. The identification and removal of literature felt to contain militarist, racist or National Socialist content from libraries and bookshops was seen by some to point to a continuation, with a new focus, of Nazi strategies. Licenses were granted to publishers and booksellers who had been cleared in the ‘denazification’ process and appeared committed to democratisation. Centralised distribution of paper resources also continued after the War, further limiting what could be published. In the Western zones this came to an end with the currency reform in 1948. Similarly, a centralised system was established to administer the copyright for German translations of books and plays in the canons of the victorious nations, selected because they were felt to promote suitable attitudes in the German population. Cultural centres run by the occupying powers were established, notably the American Houses in cities across the American zone, as well as new libraries containing works deemed suitable for Germany’s democratic future. Arrangements were also made to ensure the free exchange of ‘information and democratic ideas’, as well as actors and artists, between the four zones. In addition, German initiatives were encouraged that sought a renewal of German culture along democratic lines. Thus, for example the Deutscher Kulturbund was established in East Berlin in August 1945 and the Kulturliga in Munich the following December. A number of magazines and journals were allowed, including Der Ruf, a project led by Alfred Andersch and Hans Werner Richter from August 1946 until its prohibition, in its original form, as a result of its ‘nihilist’ tendencies in 1947. Thereafter, Andersch and Richter were central to the formation of the influential, unofficial Gruppe 47, which sought a new German literature.92

← 310 | 311 → With the onset of the Cold War, ‘re-education’ initiatives were increasingly less of a priority in the West.93 This environment also provided völkisch-nationalists, emphasising their anti-Bolshevik credentials, with an opportunity to revive their careers. Nonetheless, in spite of the freedom they enjoyed under the Basic Law of the Federal Republic, the initial limitations on published output imposed by Allied policies fundamentally shaped the völkisch interpretation of the post-war order as a whole. They presented the Allies’ policies as the reintroduction of censorship; the strategic publication of works that were felt to promote democracy, particularly in the American zone, led to accusations of propaganda. Völkisch-nationalists shared a more widespread feeling among Germans that Allied policies represented the double standards of the victors in the recent conflict: the use of undemocratic methods in defence of democracy. This has been noted by a number of subsequent scholars. Dieter Breuer observes, for example, that the initial idealism of democratic education in all four occupation zones gave way after 1947 to a more ideologically determined message of anti-Capitalism or anti-Communism in the east and west respectively, helping to undermine further the credibility of the measures introduced by the Western Allies.94

Kolbenheyer reflected on the Herculean task of the ‘denazification’ and ‘re-education’ programmes in his autobiographical novel, Sebastian Karst. The fact that the criticisms he raised echoed problems that were widely recognised, namely that ‘denazification’ in the late 1940s led to a shortage of skilled workers in some areas, served to endorse his overall point of view, and demonstrates how völkisch commentators were able to draw on widely held concerns to support their position in the early post-war era. Kolbenheyer wrote:

Idleness everywhere, in the trades, in intellectual life. Industry and businesses were paralysed, the ‘cleansed’ schools hardly had any teachers left, no teaching materials, no schoolrooms; in the universities only a fraction of those who were clammering to study were allowed to enrol; foreigners, however, flooded the universities. Those who had ← 311 | 312 → belonged to the Nazi Party were excluded from all higher activities. Black, grey, white lists of authors were compiled, the libraries were also ‘cleansed’. Karst belonged among the ostracised, alongside names like Sven Hedin, Ludendorff, Hamsun, Binding, Grimm, Jünger, Chamberlain. The names of these men were erased in the catalogues of the lending libraries and at least some of their works removed from the shelves. A committee of servile ignorants, or those who wanted to vent their spleen, took the decisions; the names of these dreadful individuals remained unknown. In musical life the same disgraceful situation reigned as in the literary sphere.95

Kolbenheyer’s reflections, written in the course of the 1950s, suggest that the grievances of the years of military government added to more general resentments and continued to colour völkisch responses to the FRG, which came to be seen as the product of Allied policies. Thus, while the material conditions of most West Germans improved rapidly, the memory of the immediate post-war years continued to have a defining impact on völkisch responses to the transformations that occurred in Germany in the course of the 1950s. It is telling that Kolbenheyer emphasises the endorsement he gained from being targeted by policies he believed illegitimate and destructive of German culture. In his writings, German suffering was raised to the level of martyrdom in the name of the German Volk.

Grimm’s perspective was similar. He described the inspection of his private library by a CIC official, who noted that Grimm possessed a large number of books that had been banned by the Nazi government. For Grimm, this was not only further proof of his independence during the regime, but also of the false understanding of the regime spread by Allied ‘propaganda’ after the War. He told the official that he knew nothing of banned books during the Third Reich from his own experience; no one had ever prohibited him from reading anything. By contrast, however, he went on to describe his concern at the lists of banned books drawn up by the victorious Allies, both those made public and the alleged unofficial lists of the Americans. Grimm claimed that he had gained access to the latter and found his name included on them.96 He presented a similar argument in response to the lists of literature to be removed from libraries ← 312 | 313 → and booksellers drawn up by the military occupiers. Again, the efforts to shape German cultural life after the War put Allied measures on a par with those previously adopted by the Nazis and undermined any moral credibility they might claim in the eyes of Grimm and his fellow völkisch commentators.97

While Grimm’s work appeared on some early lists of books to be removed from libraries and booksellers’ shelves in the Soviet zone, there is little evidence to suggest that in the long run its publication was adversely affected by censorship measures in the FRG. This suggests that the actual impact of Law No. 5 of the Allied High Commission was low. This legislation was passed on 23rd September 1949 and remained in power until the Occupation Statute was lifted in 1952. It covered the press, radio, reporting and centres of entertainment in West Germany, prohibiting work that could be considered damaging to the reputation of the Allies or a threat to their security. It established mechanisms for the control and, if necessary, confiscation of works that contravened these terms, stipulating that a copy of every publication be made available to the relevant German or Allied officials.98 This was, however, balanced out in the long run by Article 5 of the Basic Law of the FRG, ratified on 23rd May 1949, which established freedom of opinion and the press, as well as teaching and research, and prohibited censorship.99

The appearance of their names on lists of undesirable literature in the various zones of occupation in 1946 and 1947 nonetheless served to endorse the arguments of völkisch commentators that they were the targets of a deliberate campaign being waged against them by the occupation authorities. In April 1946, the Verwaltung für Volksbildung in the Soviet occupation zone published a provisional list of ‘auszusondernde Literatur’. The preamble stated that the list was intended as a guide for staff in relevant positions in fulfilling the cultural requirements of the military government, according to which ‘All works with fascist or military content are ← 313 | 314 → to be withdrawn, those that contain expressions of political expansionism, represent the National Socialist racial teachings or oppose the Allies.’100 While the list contained around 15,000 titles, it was emphasised that it should not be considered an exhaustive bibliography. In particular, works that were not necessarily to be considered National Socialist or militarist in general, but which contained specific sections that might cause alarm, were to be examined at a later date, as well as those works that remained in wartime storage: ‘The fact that a book does not appear on this list is by no means valid justification for the director of a library or a bookshop to allow the lending or sale of a book with negative tendencies.’101 This initial list concentrated, as explained in the preamble, on works published during the Third Reich. With the exception of his 1932 speech, ‘Von der bürgerlichen Ehre und bürgerlichen Notwendigkeit’, which was also included, only editions of works by Grimm published between 1933 and 1945 were present on the list, including the 1944 edition of Volk ohne Raum released by Bertelsmann.102 Similarly, Kolbenheyer’s major works were not listed, only four published speeches, including Der Lebensstand der geistig Schaffenden und das neue Deutschland that had been banned in 1934.103

Similar lists were drawn up in all four zones. On 12th July 1946, the American newspaper, Die Neue Zeitung, reported that the American military authorities had issued a list of undesirable literature following the publication of the Soviet list.104 The principles for the selection of works were more or less the same: all works representing fascist, anti-democratic, pan-German and imperialist points of view were to be removed. The same applied to works against the United Nations or any of the occupation powers. Nonetheless, as the article pointed out, while the Soviet list ← 314 | 315 → included 15,000 titles that of the Americans was limited to 1000. It was presented as an illustrative sample rather than exhaustive bibliography, leaving decisions regarding individual works to the discretion of booksellers and librarians. As the Neue Zeitung observed, the list did not include works by Hitler, Goebbels and Mussolini. Nonetheless, it was self-evident that these should be withdrawn from circulation. Perhaps more confusingly, it failed to provide guidance on borderline cases like Ernst Jünger and Oswald Spengler, prohibited the entire catalogues of authors like Bartels, Dwinger and Joseph Magnus Wehner, and included only specific books by Kolbenheyer, Grimm and Frenssen, among others. Friedrich Griese and Hanns Johst were both subject to a blanket prohibition in the American list, but remained largely tolerated in the East.105

The Neue Zeitung noted the American list’s lack of clarity, commenting that its attempt to avoid prescription in favour of a more open approach left too many questions open. It also acknowledged the problem of such lists in a democratic system, but emphasized their necessity, highlighting the paradoxical nature of re-education:

Anyone who fundamentally supports freedom of expression will find no joy in any index. Sadly, a large proportion of the German people is so strongly infected by the National Socialist mass psychosis that it must now also accept an intellectual paternalism. […] It is to be wished that the time is no longer far off in which all bans in the publicistic and literary spheres will be superfluous. National Socialist agitation will come to have curiosity value as the documentation of human stupidity, and pamphlets against the ‘racial enemy’ will be automatically proscribed as a result of their ridiculousness.106

It was also unclear how long the lists would apply to the living writers whose names appeared on them. The article in the Neue Zeitung suggests that the American authorities assumed that the lists would eventually become redundant as the demand for the works of undesirable writers diminished as the population became more enlightened.107

← 315 | 316 → A cutting of this article can be found in Grimm’s papers, alongside further press clippings on the subject. His correspondence also supports the impression that he relied to a large degree on the press, on hearsay and informal exchanges for information on the situation. In his correspondence in 1946 and 1947 in particular he sought to keep track not only of his own works, but also those of his colleagues. His first post-war exchanges with Alverdes were dominated by his efforts to discover first, where lists had appeared in the American zone, in which they both lived, and who was responsible for them, and second whether his own works were included. On 3rd May 1946, Alverdes wrote to Grimm:

More exact information about the sales ban is unavailable. That such lists exist is, however, without doubt. Nonetheless, Rütten und Loening recently informed me that they intend to launch a legal appeal through their lawyers against the ban on the Pfeiferstube. Most of Rudolf G. Binding’s works are also affected by this ban. You can see, therefore, that we are not dealing with a local Munich list.108

Similarly, as they sought to uncover the implications of the Allied policies for their work, Alverdes reported to Grimm that Carossa’s autobiographical work, Die Geheimnisse des reifen Lebens, had been banned. He suggested the underlying reason for Carossa’s problems was his involvement in the Europäische Dichterunion established by Goebbels; he noted that at the most only the small section of his autobiography that dealt with the War could be counted as in any way militarist.109 In responding, Grimm asserted, moreover, that the Dichterunion had been largely positive, the only drawback being the fact that it had been an initiative of Goebbels.110

The measures introduced to ‘cleanse’ the German intellect of Nazi ideology enjoyed a mixed reception in the press, from the measured support of the Neue Zeitung to opposition and frequently incomprehension. The Deutsche Rundschau considered the vocabulary used in presenting the list drawn up by the Magistrat in Berlin in cooperation with the Kammer der ← 316 | 317 → Kunstschaffenden and the Kulturbund zur demokratischen Erneuerung Deutschlands, suggesting that ‘auszusondern’ was not very different from ‘Verbot’ or ‘unerwünscht’, the latter used by Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry in constructing the black lists of the Third Reich. The same article also noted that Hans Grimm, for example, had been included in this list, with nine works specifically named, among them Volk ohne Raum. The journal questioned his inclusion, alongside that of a large number of fellow writers, arguing: ‘All these writers, who offer real substance, should be removed from the lists of banned works as quickly as possible. For the sake of the lists, which will come to determine the style of cultural politics in a democratic epoch!’111

The problem with the production of lists of undesirable literature mirrored more general problems that characterised ‘re-education’ initiatives across Germany: while the lists were seen as necessary for realigning German culture towards democracy, their piecemeal publication and differences in style and emphasis laid the occupation authorities open to accusations of arbitrariness. Moreover, opinions differed regarding the relative worth and Nazi content of the works of various writers, as the commentary in the Deutsche Rundschau demonstrates.112

In practice, it was often unclear to writers and publishers where restrictions on their works were imposed, why, and by whom. Legally, it also appears to have been difficult to gain an oversight of the process.113 The responses of writers to the inclusion of their names included incredulity and resentment. In mid-1946, Grimm was informed by acquaintances that an announcement had been made by the Hamburger Rundfunk informing listeners that Volk ohne Raum was among the works to be removed from Hamburg’s public libraries. In a letter to the radio station’s Intendant, ← 317 | 318 → Grimm demanded to know where the ban on his work had originated. He warned that the suppression of his works would not only go down negatively in literary history, but would also ensure that an era in which Germans were allegedly searching for a new truth and new freedom would in fact appear less true and less free.114

Alongside expressions of resentment, however, a sense of defensive pride was also evident in the responses of Grimm and Kolbenheyer to the inclusion of their works on lists of literature that should be removed from circulation. Kolbenheyer noted: ‘The index of banned works was not even complete, only the most obvious had been quickly included. At the same time, Karst would have had difficulty bearing it if his work had not been included in the ban. The unique cultural life of the German Volk was targeted; it was to be reduced to a level of civilisation that made it the last Volk of the [white] race – Morgenthau.’115 Given their view of the measures introduced under the allied occupation as an attempt to undermine the German Volk, the desire to remove their works only served, in the eyes of the authors and their supporters, to endorse their importance for German culture. Grimm’s criticisms were not aimed solely at the Allies, but also at those Germans who were prepared to enforce the post-war denazification and re-education measures. He denounced those of his compatriots who had cooperated with Germany’s erstwhile enemies and thus betrayed the German people.116

The ‘re-education’ measures presented völkisch-nationalists with the challenge in the immediate post-war years of finding licensed publishers prepared to produce their works. This further contributed to their sense of grievance at the post-war situation, but actually passed remarkably quickly, with a significant number finding outlets for their work by 1950. While Grimm was cleared in the ‘denazification’ process, his position under the occupation regime remained unclear. This became apparent, not least, in ← 318 | 319 → his relationship with the Bertelsmann Verlag. Bertelsmann re-established its business relatively quickly, managing to convince the British authorities that it was untainted by association with National Socialism, although subsequent historical work has reassessed the firm’s relationship with the Nazi regime, showing it in a less positive light.117 Like the ‘denazification’ of individuals, the licensing of publishing houses was more arbitrary in practice than official regulations suggested, and like ‘denazification’ it depended to a considerable extent on networks of support, having the right figurehead, and personal contacts. For Grimm, who had moved his work to Bertelsmann following his withdrawal from the LMV in 1938, there was no reason to suppose that Bertelsmann would not continue to operate as it had in the Third Reich – a patriotic, conservative firm that profited from producing literature to support the German war effort – even if he was uncertain whether he wanted to remain involved with the firm.118

Grimm’s attitude towards the firm displayed his failure to recognise the weakness of his position after the Second World War. Nonetheless, his assumption that he would continue to occupy a privileged position in the German literary landscape was also supported in the immediate post-war period by the efforts of leading members of staff, including the firm’s Director, Heinrich Mohn, to cultivate Grimm alongside Vesper as a star author of the firm. Both lived relatively close to Gütersloh. Mohn wrote to Grimm as early as March 1945, stating that he hoped ‘in the not too distant future to have my firm more or less completely operating again.’119 It is also apparent from Grimm’s correspondence with Pezold that Bertelsmann’s staff remained in close contact with him after the War. On 27th September 1945, Grimm informed Pezold that Dessin, Bertelsmann’s editor in chief, had visited him in Lippoldsberg.120 Grimm was swift to assure Pezold that he had made it clear that his favoured option was to rejoin him should he ← 319 | 320 → be able to revive the LMV, an ongoing subject of discussion after the War.121 Shortly after his visit to Lippoldsberg, meanwhile, Dessin was forced to the resign at Bertelsmann due to his membership of the NSDAP. He was replaced by Wolfgang Strauß, who continued to correspond with Grimm and Vesper.122

It has been suggested that Bertelsmann’s efforts to court Grimm had pragmatic foundations. While too close an association with his name threatened to cause problems for the firm with the British occupation authorities, Grimm provided access to a large circle of significant conservative and nationalist authors now without a publisher, not least those who had previously published with Langen-Müller. No longer able to rely on the substantial income it had enjoyed from its war books, the possibility of acquiring the rights to works of writers who had been successful with the LMV appeared particularly appealing to Bertelsmann’s managers. Many were regular visitors to Lippoldsberg. In 1946, moreover, Heinrich Mohn already sought to win Emil Strauß for the firm, telling him that he was simultaneously in contact with August Winnig and had already gained the commitment of Hermann Claudius and Rudolf Alexander Schröder. He added that he intended to contact Friedrich Bischoff, while Hans Grimm had agreed to talk to Wilhelm Schäfer, Joachim von der Goltz and Heinrich Zillich.123

Heinrich Mohn was forced to stand down as Director of Bertelsmann in April 1947 in the course of the firm’s application for a licence to publish newspapers in the British military zone, although he remained active behind the scenes after he passed formal direction to his son Reinhard.124 One of Heinrich Mohn’s last acts as Director was the formal termination of the firm’s ties with Grimm. This does not appear to have been motivated by political ← 320 | 321 → concerns, but by the personal slight Mohn felt he had received from Grimm, who had suggested that the publisher was driven by commercial rather than ideological commitments.125 From Grimm’s perspective, his association with the firm had already ended in 1944 and Mohn’s actions do not seem to have affected him unduly. Moreover, their correspondence remained business-like in the years that followed, although there was no serious discussion of Bertelsmann continuing to publish Grimm’s works in their subsequent letters. These focused on Grimm’s purchase of the typeset manuscripts of his books.126 Also of concern to Grimm were the 7800 copies of his Englische Rede that had survived the War stored in the town hall in Gütersloh. Grimm’s correspondence with the Book Section of the military government in the British occupation zone documents his efforts to gain possession of these remaining stocks in order to disseminate them to friends and acquaintances.127 In 1948, however, there was still no decision and Grimm does not appear to have pursued the matter further.128

By 1950, Grimm’s pessimistic analysis of the publishing landscape reflected his view of the situation of German literature as a whole. After several years of dissatisfied searching, and the publication of his Erzbischofschrift in 1950 by the Plesse-Verlag in Göttingen, he founded his own firm, the Klosterhaus-Verlag, in 1951. Grimm’s concern to identify a suitable publishing firm was not limited to his own work. He also sought to alleviate both the material and intellectual frustrations of his friends and colleagues and intended that the Klosterhaus-Verlag should provide writers ← 321 | 322 → on the far right a practical solution to the problem of finding a publisher.129 Grimm’s commitment to his völkisch colleagues reflected his sense of a duty towards ‘German’ literature, evident in his communications with Miegel. Early on in their post-war correspondence he raised the question of her financial situation and the question of gaining permission from the occupation authorities for the appearance of her work. He offered to put her in touch with Strauß at Bertelsmann. He continued to promote the firm as one of the few sensible options open to his colleagues.130

Hans Grimm and the Extreme Right after 1945

Völkisch writers were able to re-establish their careers quickly after the War. This was partly due to the unsystematic coordination of policies between the zones of occupation. More important, however, was the attitude of Germans themselves. As the Lippoldsberger Dichtertage in the post-war years demonstrated, members of the public did not necessarily identify Grimm and his colleagues as representatives of the regime; instead, for many, their situations mirrored the challenges that faced the whole country.131 Their works represented familiarity and continuity against a backdrop of change and uncertainty.

Völkisch books also remained on school curricula. On 16th November 1950, Annelies von Ribbentrop informed Grimm that her daughter was reading his Südafrikanische Novellen in school. It was, the widow of the former Nazi Foreign Minister suggested, a good sign.132 In 1954, she again ← 322 | 323 → noted that her son, Adolf, was reading Grimm’s Im Lüderitzland. The children were required to explain Grimm’s intentions in writing the story. Again she commented that the inclusion of his work in the curriculum was a ‘very significant beacon of hope.’133

The Sudeten expellee, Hans Venatier, also reported to Grimm on 10th January 1955 that his work as a teacher gave him an opportunity to shape young minds in Germany’s favour:

As expected, your Hitler book [Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin?] has been hushed up once more in the press. But in the silence it is making the rounds, you can be sure of that. My Primaner are reading it and are astonished by what they find in it. And such things have further impact. I am often disheartened by the teaching profession, because it prevents me from writing. Then I find new strength in the knowledge that I can do a lot in this profession for the purification of minds. You would have had great pleasure in a lesson on the ‘Gang durch den Sand’. Suddenly the young people were aware of the prophesying nature of a writer who had been presented to them elsewhere as a rigid, narrow-minded nationalist. As a result, one Primaner has requested an exam on Hans Grimm in the Abitur. In general, I see a change occurring in our young people. The paroxysm of the post-war years is diminishing, and self-confidence in their German being is beginning to grow again.134

Hans Venatier was twice required to justify his presence at Grimm’s Lippoldsberger Dichtertage during hearings before committees of the government in Rhineland-Palatinate in the second half of the 1950s. In 1956 he offered to open the Dichtertag by reading his essay ‘Warum ich trotzdem zum Dichtertag nach Lippoldsberg gehe.’ This was written in response to the discussion at the first of these hearings, to which Venatier had been ← 323 | 324 → summoned as a result of a suspicion that he was propagating a neo-Nazi ideology in the classroom.135 Venatier presented the meetings as part of Grimm’s effort to engage ‘objectively’ with the Nazi legacy and defended the honour of their shared nationalist position:

We call ourselves the Federal Republic of Germany, we have a commission ‘Indivisible Germany’, we hoist the national flag, but woe betide anyone […] who identifies himself as a German, or even utters the word! Immediately, the cavillers, both abroad and at home, are on the spot, building that well-known progression of negative associations: national – nationalist – chauvinist – fascist – destroyer of the peace – world conqueror – criminal. […] Taught by the most horrendous catastrophe that has befallen us and the whole history of Christendom, we give the word national a better ring: nation, nationalist, national consciousness are the supporting walls, the bricks and mortar of Europe.136

Venatier saw the völkisch-nationalist position as the continuation of a long-standing, unblemished tradition in German nationalist thought. He shared Grimm’s post-war belief in a European solution for the future based on the preservation of the individual racial characteristics of the continent’s constituent nations. He viewed the crowds of visitors to Lippoldsberg each year in the 1950s as an endorsement of the writers’ political message, evidence that the German people were still hungry for the ideas they articulated.137

At the Lippoldsberger Dichtertag in 1959, his last, Grimm read Venatier’s essay ‘Ist das Neofaschismus?’ in memory of its author, who had committed suicide the previous January. The essay had originally appeared in the journal Nation Europa in 1958 before being reprinted in several other right-wing publications shortly afterwards, attracting a ban in Austria. In response, ← 324 | 325 → Venatier himself had approached the Ministry for Culture and Education in Rhineland-Palatinate, appearing the second time before a committee in Mainz to explain his position. According to the numerous, dramatic farewell letters published in several right-wing organs, the meeting filled him with such despair that he decided to make a final sacrifice for Germany. While the underlying causes of his death remain unclear – it seems likely that ill health and psychological problems influenced his decision138 – he quickly became a martyr for right-wing publicists, and has remained such to the present. Certainly, Grimm presented him in this light in Lippoldsberg in 1959.139

After 1945, Grimm increasingly moved to the right-wing margins of Germany’s political and cultural landscape. While he continued to emphasise the reservations he had long entertained regarding Hitler, the change in his view of the Nazi dictator evident by the early 1950s mirrored his reaction to post-war German political conditions, which he viewed as detrimental to national development. Against this background, the Third Reich and Hitler, with all their problems, increasingly appeared in Grimm’s commentaries in a more positive light than they had before 1945. Simultaneously, he moved closer to those who had been ardent supporters of the Nazi regime. His intensive communication with the wives of several leading Nazis, including Ilse Hess, whose husband was imprisoned in Spandau, and Annelies von Ribbentrop, the wife of the former Foreign Minister executed at Nuremburg, offers insights into his intellectual development after 1945, and his growing association with surviving Nazi circles in these years. Grimm sought to offer the two women support as they worked to resuscitate the reputations of their husbands, and in the case of Hess gain relief of his prison sentence. ← 325 | 326 → In doing so, he engaged in a project to ‘correct’ what he viewed as the mistakes of many commentators on the years before 1945.140

Annelies von Ribbentrop and Grimm also expressed shared outrage at the publication in 1950 of memoirs by Ernst von Weizsäcker, Staatssekretär under Joachim von Ribbentrop in the Auswärtigen Amt between 1938 and 1943, and the diplomat Erich Kordt, who had sought to warn the British government of the secret negotiations between Germany and the Soviet Union that led to the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939.141 As he made clear to Ribbentrop’s widow, Grimm viewed these works as evidence of a conspiracy in the civil service that had fundamentally undermined the regime and contributed to Germany’s defeat, amounting to an outright betrayal of the German Fatherland.142 In opposition to these and other perceived traitors, including the conspirators involved in the bomb plot of 20th July 1944, Grimm’s völkisch honour increasingly overlapped with the residual defensiveness of former Nazis and their families.

Grimm also sought to aid both Annelies von Ribbentrop and Ilse Hess in their efforts to publish books and articles intended to revive their husbands’ reputations. He was instrumental in advising Annelies von Ribbentrop throughout the process of editing the documents of her husband, which finally appeared as a book published by the Druffel-Verlag in 1954.143 The networks that developed after the war also crossed the Atlantic. ← 326 | 327 → The magazine Der Weg, published in Buenos Aires, was particularly important for the far right and former Nazis in the early post-war years; it was through the former fighter pilot and Wehrmacht officer, Hans-Ulrich Rudel, that Annelies von Ribbentrop was able to publish in this organ in 1951.144 Ribbentrop’s widow and Grimm both also worked closely with Arthur Ehrhardt, the editor of Nation Europa, another organ that provided them with access to a public in the early 1950s.145

Grimm also came into contact with members of the far right through his involvement with the Deutsche Reichspartei, for which he stood as a candidate in the Bundestag election in 1953, alongside Rudel, Adolf von Thadden and Werner Naumann. The latter had been Goebbels’ Staatssekretär in the Propaganda Ministry. The DRP was concentrated in the northern states of the FRG in 1953. In the run-up to the election, it was clearly identified in the mainstream press as standing on the radical right. Its main hope lay with those who had previously voted for the Sozial Reichspartei (SRP), which had been banned the previous year. The DRP’s campaign drew comment in the press, if not real enthusiasm among electors. According to Die Zeit on 27th August 1953, the Party had not made a very significant impact in Bremen during the election campaign, in spite of its ambition to win a mandate in the city-state at the expense of the SPD or DP.146 Even in Schleswig-Holstein, which enjoyed a reputation as a breeding ground for National Socialist sympathy in the early 1950s, the newspaper reported that there appeared to be little enthusiasm for the Party.147 In the event, the DRP achieved only 1.1 per cent of the overall vote in the election and emerged without representation in the new Bundestag. It was noted that even in former SRP strongholds in Lower Saxony it was unable to match the latter’s success.148 The Party nonetheless continued ← 327 | 328 → to operate throughout the 1950s, in spite of an abortive attempt in late 1953, supported by Chancellor Adenauer, to initiate proceedings to ban it as unconstitutional.149

Grimm’s involvement with the DRP provided him with a public platform for his views. The Kasseler Post, for example, published a critique of his campaign, declaring longstanding sympathy for Grimm and appealing to him to rethink his support for the party.150 It also published Grimm’s response, in which he emphasised that

I have never under any circumstances allowed myself to become the ‘showpiece and box-office draw’ of any party political propaganda. I stand behind the DRP as a fully free and independent man in my decisions. I placed myself behind this party as I saw that it offered perhaps the last chance to assist the Bundestag, currently the most visible German representation in the world, to achieve expression of a calm but secure Germanness in the public eye. Since 1945 I have increasingly seen the way all available means have been deployed in the attempt to prevent German statements and German things.151

He sought, he stated, to counter the constant assertion of German guilt for the National Socialist period, and the corresponding refusal to recognise the abuses done to Germany by opponents of National Socialism. With the Erzbischofschrift, he argued, he alone had sought to let fresh air into the discussion. According to Grimm, it had been the best-selling political book of 1950. The criticisms it met in the licensed press and commentaries on the radio were, in Grimm’s view, nothing less than a continuation of the earlier betrayal of Germany.152

Grimm also commented on the case of Werner Naumann. In an obituary in 1982, Der Spiegel described him as a convinced National Socialist even after 1945, when he became a director of a German-Belgian import-export ← 328 | 329 → firm based in Düsseldorf. In January 1953 Naumann was arrested by the British occupation authorities for engaging in unconstitutional activities. While he was in custody, the DRP recruited him as a candidate for the 1953 election campaign, causing an extraordinary ‘denazification’ process that left him, having previously remained uncategorised in the British zone, in group two and therefore unable to sit in parliament.153 His arrest and ‘denazification’ drew him out of political obscurity, as Konrad Adenauer noted in an election address in Munich in August 1953.154 In January 1953, Grimm wrote to Annelies von Ribbentrop: ‘The German position with regard to the so-called Naumann case has left me very upset. The things we have to put up with are completely unbelievable. I am convinced that the English foreign office has been urged on by men of Kordt’s ilk, or those related to him.’155 In the Kasseler Post he pointed to the case as yet further evidence of the determination of both German and foreign authorities to silence those willing to speak out in Germany’s favour.156


Völkisch-nationalist writers after 1945 were motivated to work not only by a sense of obligation towards the Volk, but also by financial difficulties. The currency reform in 1948 left those living off savings and capital worse off than they had been in 1945. Prior to the currency reform, Miegel consistently assured Grimm that she was not struggling financially. On 28th March 1947 she wrote to him describing her living conditions in Apelern and contributing some reflections on the situation of the publishing industry ← 329 | 330 → in relation to her work, most significantly the Diederichs Verlag, which had been partially responsible for her books before the war. Miegel continued to maintain close relations with the Diederichs family in these years, and they in turn sought to support her where possible by providing a pension drawn from the remaining assets of their firm in the West. She expected her life to resume its pre-war character, with a high demand for contributions to journals and magazines, as well as invitations to deliver readings and lectures. These were already reaching her in 1947 from admirers and colleagues, particularly from those representing Germans expelled from East Prussia and other Eastern European territories, as well as Heimat organisations in her new Lower Saxony home.157

On the eve of the currency reform, however, Miegel’s optimism turned to concern. Having just moved to a small apartment in Bad Neundorf, on 18th June 1948 she described to Grimm the impact the change in currency would have on her existence and expressed concern that the new arrangements would end even the small consolations she still enjoyed following her expulsion from her homeland:

To receive letters from dear people and old friends, and to write to them all in turn – has been my greatest pleasure in the past 1 ¾ years. Now it will come to an end. For people without work, who must live from the pitiful remainder of their capital, post will be a luxury. Particularly when, as in our case, one has just gained a modest home of one’s own. ‘I took the risk’ when a chance was offered to move here. Now I could live to regret it […].158

Towards the end of 1949, Miegel sought to improve her financial situation by engaging in public readings and lecture tours. Nonetheless, while there appears to have been no shortage of an audience to hear her, her health prevented her from resuming these events on a large scale or for very long.159

Grimm, on the other hand, maintained a busy schedule of lectures and readings across Germany throughout the 1950s. His appearances drew considerable audiences and attention in the press, both positive and negative. ← 330 | 331 → They throw light not only on his message in these years, but also on its reception in a West German public sphere that reflected the fluid nature of German national identity in the post-war years. On a number of occasions, Grimm was at the centre of controversy, not least following the cancellation of his speech ‘Von der Wirklichkeit, die nach 1945 offenbar wurde’ in Itzehoe on 26th October 1955. This followed a ban issued by the government of Schleswig-Holstein, ostensibly as a result of the involvement in the organisation of the event of the Vereinigung ehemaliger Internierter und Entnazifizierungsgeschädigte. As a number of newspapers were swift to note, the timing of the ban coincided with a conference of the Big Four in Geneva, at which, among other topics, German reunification was on the agenda. It came at a time in which Germany was particularly concerned to demonstrate that it had overcome National Socialism. Some commentators suggested that this influenced the decision to silence Grimm.160

The public response to the episode reflected the tensions that existed in German society in the mid-1950s. Reporting on the anticipation of both Grimm’s supporters and his opponents on the eve of the planned lecture in the Itzehoer Stadttheater, the Norddeutsche Rundschau asserted that Grimm’s literary significance was unquestionable. The article echoed Grimm’s own version of his political biography in explaining that he had been increasingly marginalised following the Machtergreifung in 1933, but that since 1945 his commitment to Germany had left him no peace: while the Erzbischofschrift and Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin? had been condemned in some quarters, both works had provided comfort in others. Even Grimm’s opponents, the paper suggested, recognised that his work had always been inspired by his deep-seated concern for Germany. Thus, the newspaper suggested, his listeners were less concerned with literary issues and more interested in the views of an ‘unerbittlicher, oft unbequemer Wahrheitssucher’.161

By contrast, the Schleswig-Holsteinische Landeszeitung suggested that the majority of those who had turned up to hear Grimm in Itzehoe, ← 331 | 332 → only to be turned away disappointed by the police, were members of the older generation. Their interest in his post-war political message, it was claimed, was limited; they were motivated by a desire to see the author of Volk ohne Raum in person.162 Similarly, the Rundschau zum Sonntag on 5th November 1955 estimated that of the five-hundred listeners who had previously provided an audience for Grimm in Kiel, four-hundred were primarily interested in Grimm’s literary prominence.163 All the same, given the political nature of Grimm’s most famous novel, and his prominence as a spokesman for the national right, enthusiasm for his work is difficult to separate from the völkisch worldview of previous decades. While most members of his audience probably did not identify themselves as völkisch, let alone residual Nazis, their enthusiasm to hear what Grimm had to say indicates the existence of a nostalgia for the familiar literary themes of previous decades. This perhaps also reflects unwillingness among some Germans to recognise the role of völkisch-nationalist thought in creating a climate in which the Nazis were able to gain power. While the Schleswig-Holstein ban was officially directed at the event in Itzehoe as a meeting of the Vereinigung ehemaliger Internierter und Entnazifizierungsgeschädigte, a number of further groups were also involved in the organisation of Grimm’s lecture. These included the Landesverband der Vertriebenen Deutschen; the Soldatenverband and the Heimkehrerverband.164 The nature of these organisations provides further insights into the questions that concerned at least some of Grimm’s potential audience: ‘denazification’, the expulsion of Germans from territories in Eastern Europe, the challenges faced by returning prisoners of war and, more generally, former soldiers.

In general, Grimm’s racial message coupled with his assessment of Germany’s treatment on the international stage over decades was designed to appeal to a shared sense of German victimhood among the members ← 332 | 333 → of these organisations. The Schleswig-Holsteinische Landeszeitung and its associated newspapers addressed this question in a second article on the ban, this time an opinion piece, on 28th October. Its comments reflected the general dissatisfaction caused by the ‘denazification’ process, arguing that there was nothing wrong with the victims of the modern ‘witch hunt’ after 1945 coming together to provide each other with mutual support.165 Nonetheless, it was also noted that their activities had previously gone beyond reasonable mutual assistance in overcoming the difficulties they had encountered as a result of ‘denazification’, leading to a series of organised events that had included discussions of ‘Siedlungsraum in the East’, a theme Grimm also addressed in the banned speech. Applauding the decision to stop these events, the commentator condemned those like Grimm who still spoke of ‘German Siedlungsraum in the East’ or the ‘healthy ideas of Hitler’, pointing out that encouraging German youth to adopt the spirit of Hitler directly contradicted the ideals of those honourable men seeking to establish the new German state.166

Following the cancellation of the lecture on 26th October in Itzehoe, two further lectures were also prohibited by the state government in Schleswig-Holstein, in Eckernförde and Schleswig. Grimm voluntarily cancelled the final station on his tour in Flensburg and returned to Lippoldsberg. In all, as Grimm and his defenders pointed out, he had already delivered the speech in twenty-two cities, including Bonn, before his arrival in Itzehoe. It had, therefore, already reached a wide public. Grimm presented his case in the Reichsruf in November 1955, pointing out that in addition to attracting significant audiences to these previous events, an audio recording of the speech had, without his knowledge at the time, been made in Mannheim. Moreover, a version also appeared in a collection of Grimm’s essays published by the Göttinger Verlagsanstalt the same year.167 This firm was owned by Karl Waldemar Schütz, also editor of the ← 333 | 334 → Reichsruf and proprietor of the Plesse-Verlag that had published Grimm’s Erzbischofschrift. Schütz was prominent in right-wing politics in Lower Saxony, gaining a seat for the DRP in the Landtag in 1955. He was also instrumental in ensuring Grimm’s speech appeared in print and providing Grimm with an opportunity to present his case in response to the actions of the Schleswig-Holstein authorities.

Grimm acknowledged in his article in the Reichsruf that while Article 5 of the Basic Law ensured freedom of expression in the FRG, the Versammlungsgesetz of 24.7.1953 included a provision prohibiting addresses that would incite crime. Nonetheless, as far as Grimm was concerned, a ban was unjustified on these grounds, given the uneventful nature of the previous occasions on which the speech had been delivered. He viewed the involvement of the Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB), alongside the SPD, in silencing him in Itzehoe as a sign of the influence of the trade unions over the politics of Schleswig-Holstein. He recounted that only minutes before he had delivered the same speech in Mölln, the police had asked him not to mention Hitler as it angered the trade unions. Grimm stated, however, that he felt obliged as an independent German to present the unadulterated truth regarding the German Volk and its fate for the sake of future generations. This, he said, was more important than the political games of functionaries and the gossip propagated by newspaper reporters.168 His appeal to the importance of preserving völkisch integrity for future generations was implicitly racial, corresponding with his conviction that the threats to the German Volk were not simply political in nature, but aimed at undermining its very being.

Appeals were made against the ban in the months that followed, first by the Schleswig-Holstein Landesverband of the Vereinigung ehemaliger Internierter und Entnazifizierungs-Geschädigte. This was withdrawn after the state government demanded power of attorney over the organisation on the grounds that the organisers of the banned events had not been the Landesverband, but the individual Kreisverbände. Grimm also appealed the decision, which led to the case dragging on for a further two years ← 334 | 335 → before his position was finally rejected in November 1957. The outcome of Grimm’s case was reported in newspapers across Germany.169

A number of versions of Grimm’s banned speech have survived, including corrected drafts among his papers and a published essay in the collection published by the Göttinger Verlagsanstalt in 1955, Erkenntnisse und Bekenntnisse.170 It is likely the latter is fairly close to the version he took with him to Schleswig-Holstein, particularly given the fact that Grimm preferred to read a prepared text on such occasions rather than speak freely.171 He began with a discussion of the congress on demography held by the United Nations in Rome in September 1954. He used this as a vehicle to discuss the issue of overpopulation that increasingly preoccupied his post-war work. He suggested that the matter concerned the survival of the human race, and its most gifted members. Drawing on the theories of Thomas Malthus, he presented his position as one established long before and therefore independently of National Socialism. This strategy claimed legitimacy for his position not only as a result of the longevity of Malthus’ influence, but also by emphasising that his ideas came from Britain. Implicitly, Grimm suggested that the western Allies were hypocritical in judging Germany harshly for what had taken place under the Nazis given that similar ideas had been evident in their own countries for at least a century.172

Grimm courted criticism by presenting a eugenicist position that argued the human race was degenerating biologically through the failure to rid it of hereditary diseases. Citing unattributed infant mortality rates and population forecasts for India, he argued that while the problems of ← 335 | 336 → overpopulation were going to affect the Asian world most significantly, the Europeans and Americans had failed to take into account the impact these increases would have on their own lives. Grimm also used the question of over-population to consider the drawbacks of capitalism: he pointed out that while American thinking assumed that the growing numbers of people would be provided for by expanding economic markets for ever larger quantities of basic goods, most notably foodstuffs, the population was growing most strongly in those places least able to pay for the goods needed to feed their people. At the same time, Grimm proposed that increases in the American population would strain the capacity of the USA to produce enough to feed its own people, reducing the surplus available for export. Finally, in addition, the creativity needed for the technological and scientific progress required to produce new sources of food and raw materials, found according to his racial worldview among Europeans and Americans, was threatened with degeneration as the racial health of the populations in these regions declined.

Grimm also linked the population question to the threat of Bolshevism. He returned to his old concerns regarding people and space, race and the role of Heimat. For Grimm, through the forced relocation of populations, the Soviet rulers had deliberately severed the connection of the peoples they dominated from their native lands. This had allowed them to consolidate their power, weakening the ability and determination of the people to protest against the conditions in which they were forced to exist. This was a cautionary tale for the Germans: a people severed from their Heimat will be fundamentally weakened and susceptible to negative outside influences. Germany was particularly vulnerable, divided between east and west and with a large number of displaced people as a result of the expulsions from Eastern Europe and the soldiers still returning from the Russian front. The Bolsheviks were foreign to many of the peoples they governed, their power was based on terror and the severance of people from their native lands; the Nazis, on the other hand, had emerged from the Volk and had emphasised the importance of Heimat.173

← 336 | 337 → Grimm went on to discuss Germany’s recent history. With Germany’s rise as an economic power in the early years of the twentieth century, he argued that the German population had become increasingly used to a standard of living that was untenable within Germany’s borders given the increase in the size of the population that accompanied this development. Thus, Germany had been weakened by her dependence on foreign powers to deliver the required levels of food and raw material imports. He provided an economic analysis of the causes of the First World War: Germany’s enemies had sought to prevent her further economic development and limit the competition she presented to their own interests. The loss of the war and the shortages it caused had allowed Bolshevism to emerge within Germany’s borders.174 His reminder of Germany’s difficulties after the First World War is likely to have aroused memories of similar or worse suffering as a result of the Second in the minds of his audience of aggrieved former Nazis and those expelled from their homes by the Red Army. In suggesting that it was under these conditions that Bolshevism first took on a concrete ideological shape, he connected his vision of the threat from the East to the wellbeing of the Germans themselves.

The most controversial aspect of his lecture was, however, the attitude he expressed towards Hitler. The way in which Grimm’s view of the former dictator developed after 1945 is striking. From his non-committal and at times even critical attitude towards the Party in the 1930s, and apparent distaste regarding Hitler as a man, he came to espouse a view of the former dictator as an early Austrian-German idealist who had displayed impressive foresight regarding Germany’s problems, forming the basis for his political activities in the 1920s. These sought, according to Grimm, to counter the threat of Bolshevism coming from the East. In the light of the post-Second World War situation in Eastern Europe, Grimm suggested that Hitler had been ahead of his time in acting against the threat that continued to loom in the East.175

Grimm’s comments reflected his position in post-war Germany, not his position during the Third Reich. He responded as much to the new ← 337 | 338 → conditions in Germany that had seen respect for his ideological position diminish over the years, as well as a new world order characterised by the Cold War and the overarching rivalry between the two global superpowers. It should also be noted that his contacts with former Nazis, and in particular the wives of Rudolf Hess and Joachim von Ribbentrop in 1950s also had a significant influence over his retrospective view of the Nazi movement. Moreover, emphasising his own change of perspective provided a strategy for distancing himself from connection with the problematic elements of the Third Reich; he presented himself as someone naturally critical who had only come round to recognise Hitler’s strengths when it was almost too late. He stated that he became aware of the historical importance of Hitler only when the dead man had become the scapegoat for the evil actions of others, while at the same time politics at all levels were blind to the situation that Hitler had once sought to counter. He also suggested that since 1945 it was possible to recognise the situation in which Hitler had actually found himself, lonely and isolated in his struggle while others sought to undermine him.176

Grimm sought to turn Hitler into a prophet for the sake of future generations. Germany still faced unsolved questions that had existed long before the emergence of Hitler and National Socialism. And after 1945 they had become clearer and more threatening than even Hitler’s ‘traumhafte Sicht’ had recognised. He presented Germany’s fight during the Second World War as a struggle against Bolshevism on behalf of Western Europe. In Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin? he quoted an unnamed German-Dutch woman, who allegedly wrote in 1952:

Now I see everything with a focus on the Soviet Union; and without a doubt, it is thanks to Hitler that Germany is still not a Soviet republic. It is so often said that Hitler should not have started [the war] against the Russians; but then the logical consequence would have been an alliance with the Soviets against the West, and I maintain that that would have been suicide for us all.177

← 338 | 339 → In his banned speech, Grimm declared that Hitler’s attempt to bring about a solution had led to huge suffering for many respectable and well-intentioned people. Nonetheless, Hitler had already recognised the dangers facing the human race thirty-five years earlier, and sought to counter the threat through the establishment of a North-Germanic Reich:

In the Reich the word Nationalism was not emphasised, but instead the words herditary health, nurture of family, achievement, racial preservation. And everything possible was to be done to maintain these values. The Reich was not intended to disrupt England in its global task in the face of increasing overpopulation, or America, or the peoples of the Mediterranean. The Reich was to be as Dutch as it was German, and as Danish, as Scandinavian and French, and the positions of highest leadership were to go to the best, those who had achieved the most. It was deliberately intended as a dam against the human failure in the advanced life of the Earth, which has meanwhile become so visible.178

Grimm believed, moreover, that Germany remained the bulwark against Bolshevism in Europe after 1945, just as Japan, and more particularly Formosa and South Korea filled this role in Asia. The threat to the future would not come, he argued, from nuclear war or the struggle for nuclear energy. The real danger to the world was unlimited population growth and the resulting competition for food and materials necessary for life. In this struggle the masses would overrun countries and states, destroying their structures and orders without considering the resulting losses to human civilisation. Grimm therefore posed the question: ‘What life should be protected as healthy and of service to the world and what life should be deemed damaging from its very roots and eliminated?’ He viewed this as a controversial question of conscience, and claimed that it, urgently demanded an answer.179

Grimm expressed views in Schleswig-Holstein that mirrored his lengthier post-war writing in which he sought to place Germany’s post-1945 history in a global context. Echoing the message of Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin?, which had appeared the previous year, his speech was also ← 339 | 340 → an appeal for a reassessment of the prevailing negative interpretation of the Nazi past. He concluded, therefore, by emphasising that the Germans were forced to live divided without a formal peace settlement and listing Germany’s losses: the Oder-Neisse region was passed to Poland as compensation to the Poles for relinquishing their own eastern territories to the Soviet Union. In other ‘stolen’ German territories, like East Prussia, Pomerania and the Sudetenland, farmland lay uncultivated. These regions had previously guaranteed Germany’s corn supplies. They had ensured an agricultural surplus which the western zone alone would never be in a position to match. Without these areas, a reunified German Reich, following an eventual peace treaty, would be forced to export more and more cheap goods in order to cover the expense of the most basic needs of the German Volk. And cheap German exports would increasingly come at the expense of Britain. Should German exports be cut off by force, Bolshevism would take hold, not as the result of war but of the deprivation and anger of a helpless German people. England, on the other hand, would need to prevent German exports. In only a matter of decades she too would be facing similar problems on an overpopulated small island. Grimm asked his listeners what was to be achieved through the condemnation of Hitler. He asked what had been achieved by punishing National Socialists, of whom, he added, ten percent were still good Germans and once again rejected the ‘criminalisation’ of the German people around the world and in Germany itself.180

As the solution to the problems outlined in his Schleswig-Holstein speech Grimm proposed the creation of a ‘nation of Europe’. This became the goal of his post-war work, in which he engaged with an initiative that had supporters beyond Germany’s borders, bringing him into contact not only with surviving far-right networks in Germany, but also those operating internationally. Grimm was also closely involved with the magazine Nation Europa, which brought him into contact with the British Fascist leader, Sir Oswald Mosley, his wife Diana, and the Union Movement established by the British fascist leader after 1945.

← 340 | 341 → In spite of a lack of surviving correspondence between Grimm and the Mosleys in Grimm’s papers, Oswald Mosley’s papers do contain one letter from Grimm, begun on 24th January 1950 and completed on 29th January 1950. It confirms receipt of a letter from Mosley of 16th January, apparently written in response to an earlier communication from Grimm on the 10th of that month. Grimm was involved in advising Mosley on the most suitable format for a new German edition of Mosley’s book The Alternative. On this issue Grimm had also apparently consulted Ellen Soeding, a minor novelist of the Nazi era, who collaborated with Grimm on the preparation of a number of texts, among them several published by the Klosterhaus Verlag.181 Grimm’s letter to Mosley provides a number of insights into right-wing networks, most particularly connections between Germans and like-minded figures on the far right elsewhere in Europe. Both Grimm and Mosley took an interest in the Nation Europa in its early years. Grimm provided articles and also editorial advice to its editor Arthur Ehrhardt.182

The Nation Europa remains one of the leading organs of the German right. It was established in 1951 and, in common with counterparts in other countries, developed a style of pan-European activity that emerged as groups in several countries looked to the European arena for the room to manoeuvre denied them at the national level. Mosley was linked to the initiative from the start.183 Müller notes that Mosley’s involvement in the journal gained it added notoriety, as well as support in some circles.184

← 341 | 342 → The efforts of the Nation Europa to intellectualise right-wing rhetoric also had roots in the work of a number of groups and individuals after the Second World War. The initial impetus for pan-European activity came from Italy, where the neo-fascist movement, Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) established contact with former Nazis in West Germany, as well as fascist groups across Europe and even in South America and the Middle East. In March 1950 it was instrumental in organising a first meeting of interested parties in Rome. Alongside representatives of the MSI, the Spanish Falange, and the German Bruderschaft sent representatives. In addition, Mosley was among those present. At a second, larger conference later the same year delegates came from France, England, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Norway and Germany, as well as Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal, Albania and Romania.185

In Germany such pan-European activities provided intellectuals on the right with a context in which to distance themselves from the Nazi regime, whilst maintaining the racist and nationalist views that had underpinned it. To this end, the journal provided writers and commentators like Grimm with a forum for political commentary. In a letter to the Nation Europa on 2nd December 1954, which thanked the editors for their positive review of Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin?, Grimm discussed his view of Hitler and Germany’s future. He demanded greater differentiation when judging the Third Reich:

[…] I believe this correction is necessary. It should in no way indicate that I possessed a clear view of the political figure of Hitler from the beginning. […] But what is important is that we finally gain a clear view […] of the reality facing humanity and the difficult task confronting future generations in Christendom, to which our children and grandchildren belong as a result of their geographical location. […] The new conditions of life and the new laws governing human behaviour will look to the causes rather than speak of guilt. They must be found by the coming generations in the Christian world. If that does not happen, we Europeans will be lost.186

← 342 | 343 → Rewriting history, Grimm argued that Hitler’s early adoption of the common European cause had been represented in areas of the Nazi institutional landscape, not least in the international SS-units. In an article entitled ‘Reich Europa’, Grimm wrote:

The call for a ‘Nation Europe’ in conjunction with the very conscious maintenance of the different Volkheiten was not so very many years ago already the creed of life and death, without emerging as such in public consciousness. It was […] the secret light that drew French, Flemish, Dutch, Walloon, Danish, Scandinavian, Finnish, Swiss, Irish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Ukrainian, Estonian and other ‘foreign’ men into certain SS-formations, in spite of their other concerns and their deep love for their homelands. None of these men were looking for service of a German ‘state nationalism’ or some form of foreign rule, or party rule, or a fight with their own true and beloved people. Instead they were all striving for the ‘Reich Europa’, which was beginning to make itself apparent, and they were all striving to defend Europe from the threat from Communism and Marxism and overpopulation and, not least, biological neglect and confusing Americanism […]. These men wanted to win ‘Europe’ and desired at the same time to restore the original creative powers and innate importance of their own Volkheiten, free of all political rhetoric and babble.187

Hans Grimm and his colleagues rejected the official line on the Second World War in post-war Germany, which emphasised German aggression. This official line was encouraged by the occupying powers, and generally accepted by Adenauer’s government after 1949, as well as most of those leading intellectuals who had been exiled from the Third Reich. Nonetheless, the idea of German guilt was unpopular among the population, and the nationalist rejection of collective responsibility, and indeed assertion that the Germans had acted in the best interests of all of Europe in going to war against the Soviet Union, fell on fertile ground. This was also nourished by a sense of grievance at the way in which German suffering had gone unrecognised. Anti-Bolshevism among West German nationalists in the 1950s fitted into a wider, at times even contradictory intellectual attitude that, to a degree at least, also characterised mainstream German conservatism. A general acceptance of the importance of defending freedom and the rule ← 343 | 344 → of law from the totalitarian threat posed by the U.S.S.R. underpinned the efforts of the Federal Republic to fit into the new global situation brought about by the Cold War.188 This combined with a suspicion of American culture among many conservatives, who shared ideas common on the radical right in their refusal to accept the power relations of the Cold War. In this context, the idea of a united Europe as a third global force was a strategy that allowed its adherents to recognise the dangers from the East whilst asserting the ongoing importance of European culture, to which Germany had been a significant contributor, and Europe as an independent political actor in the face of perceived American domination.


Hans Grimm was increasingly associated with the extreme right and by the time he died in 1959 he found himself on the margins of the German political spectrum in a way that he had not done previously. He was far from alone among his völkisch colleagues, although the level of his continued activity remained higher than that of many others of his generation. This makes him of particular interest here. The process of marginalisation experienced by Grimm and his colleagues did not occur overnight; indeed positive newspaper reports suggest that völkisch writers retained the endorsement of sizable sectors of the population after 1945. Striking chords with the concerns of many Germans after the War, their efforts to distance themselves from National Socialism were juxtaposed with attempts to relativise the history of the Third Reich. Experiences of suffering rather than guilt were common in the population at large. The völkisch-nationalist message of racial and national rebirth presented the post-war population, ← 344 | 345 → socialised under the Nazis, with a familiar cultural option. It emphasised the common national heritage of the dislocated population, and recognised the hardships the German people had experienced as a result of the War. Reacting to the official anti-Nazi rhetoric of the occupying powers, Grimm, Kolbenheyer and their colleagues consciously sought to provide a framework for a new cultural identity based on völkisch-nationalism.

At the same time they emphasised their anti-Soviet position, a sentiment shared by an overriding majority of West Germans, and nurtured an ideal of Heimat based on an implicitly racial definition of the German nation. Anti-American sentiments were also prevalent across the political and social spectrum, but, as Müller demonstrates, they were particularly evident on the right wing.189 The Allied occupiers were held responsible for Germany’s situation and the suffering of her population during and after the War. The ‘denazification’ and ‘re-education’ programmes, as well as alleged attempts to impose foreign, particularly American, culture on the Germans, were considered yet further continuation of a long tradition of British and American oppression of Germany. This resentment had already found expression in earlier völkisch-nationalist literature, particularly during the interwar years in response to the Versailles Treaty. It was now also linked to widespread grievances in Germany as a result of the post-war situation.

From a völkisch perspective there was little promise of a resolution for Germany’s fundamental problems on the international stage. These were felt to go back several generations, representing the long-term, underlying causes of Germany’s actions during the Second World War. By presenting modern German history as one of victimhood at the hands of the other European powers, these writers tuned to and shared popular resentments in the decade immediately following the Second World War, allowing them to carve out space in the West German public sphere that ensured a readership for their publications and audiences at public lectures and events. ← 345 | 346 →


1 Quoted by Stefan Busch, ‘Und gestern, da hörte uns Deutschland’: NS Autoren in der Bundesrepublik. Kontinuität und Diskontinuität bei Friedrich Griese, Werner Beumelburg, Eberhard Wolfgang Möller und Kurt Ziesel (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 1998), p. 9.

2 Ibid., p. 17. See also Sarkowicz, ‘Die literarischen Apologeten des Dritten Reiches’, pp. 436–437.

3 Hans Sarkowicz, ‘Die literarischen Apologeten’, p. 436.

4 Gregor Streim, ‘Germans in the Lager. Reports and Narratives about Imprisonment in Post-War Allied Internment Camps’, in Helmut Schmitz (ed.), A Nation of Victims? Representations of German Wartime Suffering from 1945 to the Present (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008), pp. 31–49.

5 Grimm, Die Erzbischofschrift, p. 126. See also reports on the comments of Grimm and, in particular, Vesper to reporters at the Lippoldsberger Dichtertage in 1950: E.g. ‘Der Leser spricht – Begegnung mit Grimm und Kolbenheyer’, Westfälische Zeitung, 19.7.1950; ‘Armes Lippoldsberg’, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 25.07.1950; handwritten copy of an article with the title ‘Wie wir hören’, Aufbau, 8.09.1950, DLA – A: Grimm, Dichtertage – Zeitungsberichte, 1949–1950.

6 Grimm, Warum, – Woher – Aber wohin?

7 Everhard Holtmann, ‘Flüchtlinge in den 50er Jahren: Aspekte ihrer gesellschaftlichen und politischen Integration’, in Schildt and Sywottek (eds), Modernisierung im Wiederaufbau, pp. 349–361. See also Anthony J. Nicholls, The Bonn Republic: West German Democracy, 1945–1990 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997), p. 11; Christoph Hendrik Müller, West Germans against the West: Anti-Americanism in Media and Public Opinion in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1949–1968 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2010), p. 26.

8 The discussions on this subject have not been limited to the academic sphere, but have also been evident in public discourse. Following the Historikerstreit of the 1980s, a new wave of debate occurred in the wake of Martin Walser’s controversial acceptance speech in Frankfurt on being awarded the Friedenspreis der deutschen Buchhandel in 1998. The question of public vs. private memory raised by Walser, as well as debates concerning Germany’s ‘normalisation’ as a nation have been accompanied by a number of significant academic studies on the subject: See, for example, Norbert Frei, Vergangenheitspolitik: Die Anfänge der Bundesrepublik und die NS-Vergangenheit (Munich: Beck, 1997); Norbert Frei, 1945 und Wir: Das Dritte Reich im Bewußtsein der Deutschen (Munich: Beck, 2005); Aleida Assmann and Ute Frevert, Geschichtsvergessenheit; Geschichtsversessenheit: Vom Umgang mit deutschen Vergangenheiten nach 1945 (Stuttgart: Deutsches Verlags-Anstalt, 1999); Aleida Assmann, Geschichte im Gedächtnis: Von der individuellen Erfahrung zur öffentlichen Inszenierung (Munich: Beck, 2007). In addition, discussions of German victimhood during and directly after the Second World War have increasingly become part of mainstream political culture in Germany in the last two decades. Jörg Friedrich’s Der Brand: Deutschland im Bombenkrieg, 1940–1945 (Munich: Propylöen, 2002) drew attention to the carpet bombing of German cities. Further works, including Randall Hansen’s Fire and Fury: the Allied Bombing of Germany 1942–1945 (Toronto: Doubleday, 2008) have adopted a critical position on Allied strategy. While the memory of German expulsions from Central and Eastern Europe in 1945/46 has been kept alive by various organisations representing the interests of various expellee groups, the dissolution of the Bundesministerium für Vertriebene, Flüchtlinge und Kriegsgeschädigte in 1969 removed the issue to a large extent from daily political discourse. While the extra-parliamentary Bund der Vertriebenen sought to keep the issue alive, refusing to recognise Germany’s eastern boundaries, it has only been in recent years that the debate over the establishment of a Centre for Expulsions in Berlin has brought it to the surface of wider German political and cultural consciousness once more. A number of works have emerged in recent years that engage directly with the discussion of German victimhood and its memory. These include but are not restricted to: Bill Niven (ed.), Germans as Victims: Remembering the Past in Contemporary Germany (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2006); Helmut Schmitz (ed.), A Nation of Victims? Representations of Wartime Suffering from 1945 to the Present (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008).

9 Assmann and Frevert, Geschichtsvergessenheit; Geschichtsversessenheit, pp. 22–23.

10 ‘Erfahrungen beim Verfassen einer Sonntagsrede’, acceptance speech by Martin Walser on receiving the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels in the Paulskirche, Frankfurt a/M, 11.10.1998. See also: Gregor Streim, ‘Germans in the Lager. Reports and Narratives about Imprisonment in Post-War Allied Internment Camps’ in Schmitz (ed.), A Nation of Victims?, pp. 31–32.

11 Aleida Assmann, ‘Gedächtnisgeschichte’ in Assmann and Frevert, Geschichtsvergessenheit; Geschichtsversessenheit., pp. 30–31.

12 See, for example, Stephen Brockmann, German Literary Culture at the Zero Hour (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2004).

13 Frei, 1945 und Wir, p. 28.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid., pp. 30–34;also Norbert Frei, Vergangenheitspolitik.

16 Frei, 1945 und Wir, pp. 31–32. Fritz Stern, Dreams and Delusions: National Socialism in the Drama of the German Past (New York: Yale University Press, 1989), p. 16.

17 Frei, 1945 und Wir, p. 145.

18 Helmut Dubiel, Niemand ist frei von der Geschichte: Die nationalsozialistische Herrschaft in den Debatten des Deutschen Bundestages (Munich: Hanser, 1999), p. 71; also quoted by Assmann in Assmann and Frevert, Geschichtsvergessenheit; Geschichtsversessenheit, pp. 116–117. See also Wolfgang Benz, ‘Etappen bundesdeutscher Geschichte am Leitfaden unerledigter deutscher Vergangenheit’ in Brigitte Rauschenbach (ed.), Erinnern, Wiederholen, Durcharbeiten (Berlin: Aufbau, 1992), p. 120.

19 Directive to Commander-in-Chief of United States Forces of Occupation Regarding the Military Government of Germany of April 1945 (Joint Chiefs of Staff Directive 1067), especially § 16. See also: Michaela Hoenicke Moore, Know your Enemy: The American Debate on Nazism, 1933–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), chapters 10 and 11.

20 Kolbenheyer, Sebastian Karst, vol. I, p. 401; Grimm, Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin?, pp. 381, 489–491.

21 Victor Gollancz, Our Threatened Values (London: Gollancz, 1946). See for example Grimm to Gollancz, 4.4.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Victor Gollancz, 1947. Also: Grimm to Miegel, 31.1.47, 25.2.1947 and 29.4.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Agnes Miegel, 1933–1959.

22 Müller, West Germans against the West, p. 15; pp. 44–54.

23 Grimm, Die Erzbischofschrift, pp. 15–96.

24 Assmann and Frevert, Geschichtsvergessenheit; Geschichtsversessenheit, p. 125.

25 Grimm, Die Erzbischofschrift, p. 9.

26 Grimm to Archbishop Fischer, 7.5.1946, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Canterbury, Erzbischof, 1946–1950.

27 For example Kolbenheyer to Grimm, 4.5.1950 and 11.9.1950, DLA – A: Grimm, Kolbenheyer to Grimm, 1946–1959; A. von Ribbentrop to Grimm, 14.11.1950, 21.7.1951, DLA – A: Grimm, Annelies von Ribbentrop to Grimm, 1950–1951; Miegel to Grimm, 1.3.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Miegel to Grimm, 1933–1959.

28 Grimm to A. von Ribbentrop, 13.12.1950, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Annelies von Ribbentrop, 1950–1954.

29 Grimm, Die Erzbischofschrift, pp. 29–34, 89, 92, 95–96.

30 Grimm, Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin?, pp. 204–221. Grimm also expressed this view particularly strongly in his correspondence with Annelies von Ribbentrop in these years. See, for example, Grimm an A.v.Ribbentrop, 13.11.1950; 20.03.1951; 11.10.1952; 26.12.1953; 6.08.1954, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm an Annelies von Ribbentrop, 1950–1954. Also Grimm an A.v.Ribbentrop 20.12.1957, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Annelies von Ribbentrop, 1955–1959.

31 Grimm also presented this view to Victor Gollancz in his letter of April 1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Gollancz, 4.4.1947.

32 Grimm, Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin?, pp. 338–353. This is also a running theme in Grimm’s Erzbischofschrift. See also Hans Grimm, ‘Mein Europäisches Bekenntnis’ in Erkenntnisse und Bekenntnisse, pp. 9–37.

33 Sarkowicz and Mentzer, Literatur in Nazi-Deutschland, pp. 103–104.

34 Grimm to Kolbenheyer, 12.9.1946, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Kolbenheyer, 1933–1959.

35 Manfred Franke offers further discussion of the nature of these testimonies in, Grimm ohne Glocken: Ambivalenzen in politischen Denken und Handeln des Schriftstellers Hans Grimm (Cologne: S.H. Verlag, 2009), pp. 151–168.

36 Quoted by Düsterberg, Hanns Johst, p. 331.

37 I am grateful to the staff of the Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach, in particular Frau Dieke, for conducting repeated searches in Grimm’s papers in order to ascertain whether he kept any records of the ‘denazification’ process. None have come to light.

38 Düsterberg, Hanns Johst, pp. 331–332; see also Peter Reichel, Vergangenheitsbewältigung in Deutschland: Die Auseinandersetzung mit NS-Diktatur in Politik und Justiz (Munich: Beck, 2007), pp. 30–41.

39 Franke also reports that Grimm was categorised as ‘unbelastet’ (category 5). Nonetheless, Franke also relies on Grimm’s own reports and the fact that he provided so-called ‘Persilscheine’ for others as evidence. He provides no reference to any formal documentation of Grimm’s ‘denazification’. See Franke, Grimm ohne Glocken, p. 151. See also Grimm to Miegel, 25.02.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Miegel, 1933–1959.

40 Grimm to Heuser, 15.11.1946, DLA – A: Grimm / Amerika: Grimm to Heuser, 1935–1959.

41 See DLA – A: Grimm, Entlastungsschreiben.

42 Grimm to Ilse Hess, 30.12.1947, 26.11.1946, 20.12.1949, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Ilse Hess, 1936–1952; Grimm to Rudolf Hess, 19.12.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Rudolf Hess, 19.12.1947. See also Grimm to A.v. Ribbentrop, 9.3.1951, 9.6.1951, 5.9.1952, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Annelies von Ribbentrop, 1950–1954.

43 Grimm to Heuser, 12.061947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Heuser, 1935–1959.

44 Grimm, Die Erzbischofschrift, pp. 122–123.

45 Grimm, Warum – Woher-Aber Wohin?, pp. 185–189.

46 Grimm to Heuser, 4.01.1947, DLA – A: Grimm / Amerika: Grimm to Heuser, 1935–1959.

47 Grimm to Heuser, 12.06.1947, DLA – A: Grimm / Amerika: Grimm to Heuser, 1935–1959.

48 Heuser to Grimm, 17.04.1946, DLA – A: Grimm / Amerika: Grimm, Heuser to Grimm, 1935–1949.

49 The reception of care packages was a prominent theme of Grimm’s correspondence with friends abroad in the early post-war years, demonstrating, among other things, the complications involved in the re-establishment of postal services with Germany after the War. See, for example, Grimm to Heuser, 24.06.1946, 6.08.1946, 4.09.1946, 4.10.1946, 15.11.1946, 16.12.1946. 4.01.1947, 31.03.1947, 14.04.1947, DLA – A: Grimm / Amerika: Grimm an Heuser, 1935–1959.

50 Grimm to Blunden, undated letter in 1946, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Blunden, 1939–1949.

51 Thompson to Grimm, 17.12.1947; Thompson to Grimm, 2.04.1954, DLA – A: Grimm, Thompson to Grimm, 1936–1958.

52 Grimm to Heuser, 24.08.1947, DLA – A: Grimm / Amerika: Grimm to Heuser, 1935–1959.

53 For example, Grimm to Heuser, 14.08.1947, DLA – A: Grimm / Amerika: Grimm to Heuser, 1935–1959.

54 Grimm to Agnes Miegel, 25.02.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Miegel, 1933–1959.

55 Grimm to Heuser, 4.09.1946, DLA – A: Grimm / Amerika: Grimm to Heuser, 1935–1959.

56 Grimm to Heuser, 15.11.1946, DLA – A: Grimm / Amerika: Grimm to Heuser, 1935–1959.

57 Grimm to Kolbenheyer, 3.11.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Kolbenheyer, 1933–1959.

58 Kolbenheyer and his wife had been forced to leave their house in Sölln altogether in 1946.

59 Kolbenheyer to Grimm, 9.11.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Kolbenheyer to Grimm, 1946–1959.

60 Kolbenheyer to Grimm, 27.11.2947, DLA – A: Kolbenheyer to Grimm, 1946–1959 in response to Grimm to Kolbenheyer, 15.11.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Kolbenheyer, 1933–1959.

61 Kolbenheyer to Grimm, 27.11.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Kolbenheyer to Grimm, 1946–1959.

62 Kolbenheyer to Grimm, 27.11.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Kolbenheyer to Grimm, 1946–1959.

63 Kolbenheyer to Grimm, 4.5.1950, DLA – A: Grimm, Kolbenheyer to Grimm, 1946–1959.

64 See discussion of the awards accorded to Kolbenheyer on pp. 133, 136–140.

65 Grimm to Kolbenheyer, 12.9.1946, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Kolbenheyer, 1933–1959.

66 Grimm, Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin? pp. 485–506.

67 Grimm to Heuser, 8.11.1948, DLA – A: Grimm / Amerika: Grimm to Heuser, 1935–1959

68 Eberhard Fritsch, ‘Der Prozess Kolbenheyer’ in Der Weg – Monatshefte zur Kulturpflege und zum Ausbau, 3. Jahrgang, Juli 1949, 7. Heft (Buenos Aires: Dürer-Verlag), p. 490.

69 Ibid.

70 Quoted in Reichel, Vergangenheitsbewältigung, p. 30.

71 Copy of Kolbenheyer’s summing up reproduced by Otto Zerlik and sent to friends and enquirers, including Kolbenheyer’s publisher, the Langen-Müller Verlag in Munich. In sending it, Zierlik emphasised the private nature of the document; it was not, he emphasised, for public distribution. DLA: Otto Zierlik to Albert Langen – Georg Müller Verlag München, 1948–1949.

72 Ibid.

73 Fritsch, ‘Der Prozess Kolbenheyer’.

74 ‘Seine Zeit machte ihn gefährlich: Zum Tode Erwin Guido Kolbenheyers’ Die Welt, 16.4.1962; ‘Prophet der deutschen Innerlichkeit’ Mannheimer Morgen 31.12.1978/1.1.1979.

75 Pamphlet circulated by the Kolbenheyer Gesellschaft dated July 1956; Newsletter of the Kolbenheyer Gesellschaft, June 1962; also ‘Zum Thema Literatur und Monopol’ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 17.7.1957. All in DLA – Erwin Guido Kolbenheyer: Wirkungsgeschichte.

76 Grimm to Miegel, 31.01.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Miegel, 1933–1959.

77 Miegel to Grimm, 21.02.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Miegel to Grimm, 1933–1959.

78 Grimm to Miegel, 25.02.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Miegel, 1933–1959.

79 See for comparison, Grimm to Miegel, 31.01.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Miegel, 1933–1959.

80 Grimm to Miegel, 25.02.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Miegel, 1933–1959.

81 Miegel to Grimm, 28.3.1947, DLA – A: Miegel to Grimm, 1933–1959.

82 Sarkowicz and Mentzer, Literatur in Nazi-Deutschland, p. 281.

83 Miegel to Grimm, 21.02.1947, DLA – A: Grimm – Miegel to Grimm, 1933–1959.

84 Miegel to Grimm, 3.08.1947, DLA – A: Grimm – Miegel to Grimm, 1933–1959.

85 Miegel to Grimm, 8.04.1947, DLA – A: Grimm – Miegel to Grimm, 1933–1959.

86 Fritz Stern, Dreams and Delusions., p. 16.

87 Hansjörg Gehring, Amerikanische Literaturpolitik in Deutschland, 19451953: Ein Aspekt des Re-Education-Programms (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1976), p. 17.

88 Harold Zink, American Military Government in Germany (New York: Macmillan, 1947), p. 147; Gehring, Amerikanische Literaturpolitik, p. 18.

89 Caspar Schrenck-Notzing, Charakterwäsche: Die amerikanische Besatzung in Deutschland und ihre Folgen (Stuttgart: Seewald, 1965), 176–178; cited in theintroduction to Karl-Ernst Bungenstab, Umerziehung zur Demokratie? Re-education-Politik im Bildungswesen der US-Zone 1945–1949 (Düsseldorf: Bertelsmann, 1970), p. 11; on the ‘Americanisation’ of West Germany, see among others: Arnold Bergstraesser, Zum Problem der sog. Amerikanisierung Deutschlands, Jahrbuch für Amerikastudium, 176–178, 8 (1963), 18 and 21. All cited by Gehring, Amerikanische Literaturpolitik, p. 19.

90 Grimm, Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin?, pp. 211–213; Kolenheyer, Sebastian Karst, vol. I, pp. 187–194. This reasoning also reflected the arguments used by Kolbenheyer in the 1920s. See Chapter 2.

91 See, for example, Grimm, Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin?, p. 180.

92 Dieter Breuer, Geschichte der literarischen Zensur in Deutschland (Heidelberg: Quelle & Meyer, 1982), pp. 239–240; Gehring, Amerikanische Literaturpolitik, p. 40

93 Breuer, Geschichte der literarischen Zensur, p. 240.

94 Ibid., p. 239.

95 Kolbenheyer, Sebastian Karst, vol. I, p. 401.

96 Hans Grimm, Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin?, p. 180.

97 Ibid.

98 Breuer, Geschichte der literarischen Zensur, p. 248.

99 Ibid., p. 248.

100 Deutsche Verwaltung für Volksbildung in der sowjetischen Besatzungszone, Liste der auszusondernde Literatur, vorläufige Ausgabe nach dem Stand vom 1. April 1946 (Berlin: Zentralverlag, 1946), p. 3.

101 Deutsche Verwaltung für Volksbildung, Liste der auszusondernde Literatur, p. 4.

102 Ibid., pp. 146–147.

103 Ibid., p. 223; see Chapter 3.

104 ‘Liste der 1000’ in Die Neue Zeitung, 12.07.1946, DLA – A: Grimm / Nachkriegsverbote; Konv. Listen der unerwünschte Bücher und Berichte darüber 1946/47.

105 Ibid.

106 Ibid.

107 Ibid.

108 Alverdes to Grimm, 3.05.1946, DLA – A: Alverdes, Alverdes to Grimm, 1937–1951.

109 Alverdes to Grimm, 18.03.1946; 3.05.1946 in Alverdes to Grimm, 3.05.1946, DLA – A: Alverdes, Alverdes to Grimm, 1937–1951.

110 Grimm to Alverdes, 5.04.1946, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Alverdes, 1934–1953.

111 ‘Auszusondernde Literatur’ in Deutsche Rundschau, Heft 7, October 1946, DLA – A: Grimm / Nachkriegsverbote; Konv. Listen der unerwünschte Bücher und Berichte darüber 1946/47.

112 Ibid.

113 See, for example, the correspondence regarding the ownership of the Rütten & Loening Verlag in 1946, in particular Dr. jur. G. Greuner an Firma Rütten & Loening, 15. April, 1946, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Alverdes, 1934–1953.

114 Grimm an den Intendant des Hamburger Rundfunks, 5.6.1946; copy sent to Paul Alverdes, 29.11.1946, DLA – A: Alverdes, Grimm to Alverdes, 1946–1955.

115 Kolbenheyer, Sebastian Karst, vol. I, p. 401.

116 Grimm to Alverdes, 27.2.1946, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Alverdes, 1934–1953.

117 Saul Friedländer, Norbert Frei, Trutz Rendtorff, Reinhard Wittmann, Bertelsmann im Dritten Reich (Munich: Bertelsmann, 2002).

118 Grimm to Miegel, 31.01.1947 and 29.04.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Miegel, 1933–1959.

119 Quoted in Friedländer et al., Bertelsmann im Dritten Reich, p. 516.

120 Grimm to Pezold, 27.09.1945, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Pezold, 1938–1946.

121 See also Grimm to Pezold, 12.6.1945, 27.11.1945, 14.12.1945, 29.12.1945, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Pezold, 1938–1946; Gustav Pezold, ‘Über den Verlag Langen-Müller u. seinen Autor Erwin Guido Kolbenheyer’, DLA – A: Alverdes, Gustav Pezold, versch.

122 Friedländer et al., Bertelsmann im Dritten Reich, pp. 524–525.

123 Ibid., pp. 544–545.

124 In filling in his denazifacation questionnaire, Heinrich Mohn failed to declare his membership of the SS as a financial donor. Ibid., pp. 529–530.

125 Ibid., pp. 530. See also Grimm to Miegel, 29.04.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Miegel, 1933–1959.

126 Heinrich Mohn to Grimm, undated letter 1947; 13.1.1948 and 29.1.1948, DLA – A: Grimm, Heinrich Mohn to Grimm, 1947–1948.

127 Grimm to the Book Section of the Military Government of the British Zone of Occupation, in which Gütersloh was located, 10.119147; 30.12.1947, DLA – A: Grimm – Grimm to Deutschland, Militärregierung, Book Section, Regional Staff 1947.

128 Book section of the Military Government of the British Zone of Occupation, 6.01.1948 to Grimm, DLA – A: Grimm – Deutschland, Militärregierung, Book Section, Regional Staff, to Grimm, Hans, 1947; see also Mohn to Grimm, undated letter 1947; 13.1.1948 and 29.1.1948, DLA – A: Grimm, Heinrich Mohn to Grimm, 1947–1948.

129 Franke, Grimm ohne Glocken., pp. 145–147.

130 Grimm to Miegel, 31.01.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Miegel, 1933–1959.

131 Guy Tourlamain, ‘In Defence of the Volk: Hans Grimm’s Lippoldsberger Dichtertage and völkisch Continuity in Germany before and after the Second World War’, Oxford German Studies 39 (2010), No. 3, pp. 229–249.

132 Annelies von Ribbentrop to Grimm, 16.11.1950, DLA – A: Grimm, Annelies von Ribbentrop to Grimm, 1950–1951.

133 Annelies von Ribbentrop to Grimm, 26.11.1954, DLA – A: Grimm, Annelies von Ribbentrop an Hans Grimm, 1954–1957. Not everyone viewed the ongoing inclusion of Grimm’s work on school curricula positively, as one commentator in a school student publication in Göttingen demonstrated: See H. Heick, ‘Nun spinnen sie weiter …’, Impuls – Göttinger Schülerzeitschrift, Jahrgang 1, Heft 7, Oktober / November 1949, Preis 25 Pfg, DLA – A: Grimm, Lippoldsberger Dichtertage: Konv – Zeitungsberichte Dichtertag 1949 u. 1950.

134 Venatier to Grimm, 10.01.1955 (mistakenly dated 1954), DLA – A: Grimm: Venatier to Grimm.

135 Venatier to Grimm, 19.6.1956, DLA – A: Grimm, Venatier to Grimm, 1932–1958.

136 Hans Venatier, ‘Warum ich trotzdem zum Dichtertag nach Lippoldsberg gehe’, DLA – A: Grimm, Venatier to Grimm, 1932–1958. The Kuratorium ‘Unteilbares Deutschland’ was founded in the FRG in 1954, following the demonstrations of 17th June in East Berlin. With members drawn from political, commercial and cultural life, its goal was to keep the idea of a united Germany alive. See Leo Kreuz, Das Kuratorium Unteilbares Deutschland: Aufbau, Programmatik, Wirkung (Opladen: Lesker & Budrich, 1979).

137 Venatier to Grimm, 24.7.1955, DLA – A: Grimm, Venatier to Grimm, 1932–1958.

138 Among the publications that printed Venatier’s farewell notes was a ‘Sonderdruck’ of the Nation Europa with the title ‘Hans Venatier’ (1959). The case was also commented on in a number of newspaper reports, including Rhein-Zeitung, Koblenz, Nr. 42, 18.2.59; Die Welt, 12.1.59; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 12.1.59; Rhein. Merkur, 6.3.59. See DLA – Dokumentationsstelle / Zeitungsausschnittsammlung / Material aus dem Nachlaß Venatier, Hans.

139 See for example, ‘Verschwörung gegen die Zeit’, Die Welt am Sonntag, 19.7.1959; ‘Lesungen in Lippoldsberg’ in Kasseler Post, 14.7.1959, DLA – A: Grimm, Dichtertage, Zeitungsberichte, 1959.

140 On Grimm’s involvement in campaigns for the release Rudolf Hess from prison, as well as his support for the wife of Wilhelm Frick, alongside Ilse Hess, see, for example, Grimm to Heuser, 24.8.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Heuser, 1935–1959; also Grimm to Kolbenheyer 4.9.1950, DLA – A: Grimm to Kolbenheyer, 1933–1959.

141 Ernst von Weizsäcker, Erinnerungen (Munich: List Verlag, 1950); Erich Kordt, Nicht aus den Akten …: Die Wilhelmstrasse in Frieden und Krieg: Erlebnisse, Begegnungen und Eindrücke 1928–1945 (Stuttgart: Union, 1950).

142 This is a recurring theme in Grimm’s correspondence with Annelies von Ribbentrop throughout the 1950s. See, for example, the letters sent by Grimm on 11.10.1952, 23.1.1953, 11.3.1953, 4.4.1953, DLA, A: Grimm, Grimm to Annelies von Ribbentrop, 1950–1959; Annelies von Ribbentrop to Grimm, 1.3.1951, DLA, A: Grimm, Annelies von Ribbentrop to Grimm, 1950–1951.

143 Joachim von Ribbentrop, Zwischen London und Moskau: Erinnerungen und letzte Aufzeichnungen. Aus dem Nachlass herausgegeben von Annelies von Ribbentrop (Leoni am Starnberger See, 1954).

144 Annelies von Ribbentrop to Grimm, 15.7.1951, DLA – A: Grimm, Annelies von Ribbentrop to Grimm, 1950–1951.

145 See, for example, Annelies von Ribbentrop to Hans Grimm, 1.9.1951, DLA – A: Grimm, Annelies von Ribbentrop to Grimm, 1950–1951.

146 ‘Aufmarsch der Parteien zur Wahl’, Die Zeit, No. 35, 27.08.1953.

147 Ibid.

148 ‘Trübsal in Hannover’, Die Zeit, No. 37, 10.09.1953.

149 Grimm to Annelies von Ribbentrop, 13.10.1953, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Annelies von Ribbentrop, 1950–1954.

150 Herbert Schildener, ‘An Hans Grimm. Und an Herrn Naumann auch’, Kasseler Post, 13.8.1953.

151 Hans Grimm, ‘Rechtfertigung der Wahlhilfe der DRP, 1953’, Kasseler Post, 28.08.1953.

152 Ibid.

153 ‘Werner Naumann’ – obituary, Der Spiegel, No. 45, 8.11.1982, p. 272.

154 ‘Aufmarsch der Parteien zur Wahl’, Die Zeit, No. 34, 20.08.1953.

155 Grimm to Annelies von Ribbentrop, 23.1.1953, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Annelies von Ribbentrop, 1950–1954.

156 Grimm, ‘Rechtfertigung der Wahlhilfe der DRP, 1953’.

157 Miegel to Grimm, 28.03.1947, DLA – A: Grimm, Miegel to Grimm, 1933–1959.

158 Miegel to Grimm, 18.06.1949, DLA – A: Grimm, Miegel to Grimm, 1933–1959.

159 Miegel to Grimm, 8.02.1951, DLA – A: Grimm, Miegel to Grimm, 1933–1959.

160 ‘Im Scheinwerfer der Öffentlichkeit – Volk ohne Traum’, Rundschau zum Sonntag, 5.11.1955.

161 Norddeutsche Rundschau, 15. October 1955, ‘Unsere lokale Seite’.

162 ‘Hans Grimm erhebt Einspruch’, Schleswig-Holsteinische Landeszeitung, Nr. 252, 28.10.1955, p. 1.

163 ‘Im Scheinwerfer der Öffentlichkeit – Volk ohne Traum’, Rundschau zum Sonntag, 5.11.1955.

164 ‘Hans Grimm erhebt Einspruch’.

165 ‘Unser Kommentar – Nazis’, Schleswig-Holsteinische Landeszeitung (and associated newspapers), 28.10.1955, p. 2.

166 Ibid.

167 Grimm, ‘Von der Wirklichkeit, wie sie nach 1945 offenbar zu werden beginnt’, Erkenntnisse und Bekenntnisse, pp. 175–203.

168 Grimm, ‘Das Kieler Vorkommnis’, Reichsruf, 12.11.1955, pp. 3–4.

169 See for example, Die Stuttgarter Zeitung, 25.11.57, DLA – A: Grimm, Verbot in Schleswig-Holstein.

170 Grimm, ‘Von der Wirklichkeit, wie sie nach 1945 offenbar zu werden beginnt’, file containing draft manuscripts, DLA – A: Grimm, Manuskripte. See also Grimm, ‘Von der Wirklichkeit, wie sie nach 1945 offenbar zu werden beginnt’, Erkenntnisse und Bekenntnisse, pp. 175–203.

171 ‘Im Scheinwerfer der Öffentlichkeit – Volk ohne Traum’, Rundschau zum Sonntag, 5.11.1955.

172 Grimm, ‘Von der Wirklichkeit’, p. 170. Quotations from Grimm’s speech are taken from the published version unless otherwise stated.

173 Grimm, ‘Von der Wirklichkeit’, pp. 175–178.

174 Ibid., pp. 179–180.

175 Ibid., p. 186.

176 Ibid., pp. 188–189.

177 Grimm, Warum – Woher – Aber Wohin, p. 382.

178 Grimm, ‘Von der Wirklichkeit’, p. 195.

179 Ibid., pp. 190–191.

180 Ibid., pp. 198–203.

181 See Grimm’s correspondence with Ellen Soeding, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Ellen Soeding, 1948–1959; DLA – A: Grimm, Ellen Soeding to Grimm, 1948–1959. Grimm also discusses their work together in letters to Annelies von Ribbentrip, e.g. 10.04.1951, 28.06.1951, 12.07.1951, 17.10.1951, 30.12.1951, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Annelies von Ribbentrop, 1950–1954.

182 See for example Grimm to Ehrhardt, 28.8.1951, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Nation Europa, 1951–1957.

183 Grimm to Kolbenheyer, 21.10.1950, DLA – A: Grimm, Grimm to Kolbenheyer, 1933–1959.

184 Quoted in Müller, West Germans against the West, p. 48.

185 Quoted in Kurt P. Tauber, Beyond Eagle and Swastika: German Nationalism since 1945 (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1967), pp. 208–209.

186 Grimm to Nation Europa, 2.12.1954, DLA: Grimm to Nation Europa, 1951–1957.

187 Grimm, ‘Reich Europa’ in Grimm, Erkenntnisse und Bekenntnisse, pp. 65–76; here pp. 68–69.

188 Axel Schildt, ‘Ende der Ideologien? Politisch-ideologische Strömungen in den 50er Jahren’, in Schildt and Sywottek (eds), Modernisierung im Wiederaufbau, pp. 627–635; here: p. 630.

189 Müller, West Germans against the West.