Nazi Characters in German Propaganda and Literature


Winner of the 2019 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Stereotypical characters that promoted the Nazi worldview were repurposed by antifascist authors in Weimar Germany, argues Dagmar C.G. Lorenz. This is the first book to trace Nazi characters through the German and Austrian literature. Until the defeat of the Third Reich, pro-Nazi literature was widely distributed. However, after the war, Nazi publications were suppressed or even banned, and new writers began to dominate the market alongside exile and resistance authors. The fact that Nazi figures remained consistent suggests that, rather than representing real people, they functioned as ideological signifiers. Recent literature and films set in the Nazi era show that “the Nazis”, ambiguous characters with a sinister appeal, live on as an established trope in the cultural imagination.

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Dagmar C. G. Lorenz, Ph.D. (1974), Cincinnati, is Professor Emerita in German, University of Illinois-Chicago. She has published monographs, editions, and articles in Austrian and German Studies, including Keepers of the Motherland: German Texts by Jewish Women Writers (1997).
"Lorenz’s critical powers are on display in her social analysis and diagnoses of characters in German works published from 1920 to 1950." - R. C. Conrad, University of Dayton, US, in: CHOICE, Vol. 56 No. 5

1 The Origins and Conceptualization of Nazi Figures after the First World War
 The Utopian Typology of a Nazi State and Its Citizens
   The Program of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party
   Artur Dinter’s Anti-Semitic Novel Die Sünde wider das Blut
   Hans F.K. Günther’s Racial Theory in Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes
   Adolf Hitler’s Autobiographical Manifesto Mein Kampf
   Alfred Rosenberg’s Racialized Cultural History Der Mythus des Zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts
 Critical Responses to the Nazi Typology
   Hans Reimann’s and Hugo Bettauer’s Political Satires
   Joseph Roth’s Society Novel Das Spinnennetz
   Gertrud Kolmar’s Novella Die Jüdische Mutter

2 Contested Nazi Characters
 Literature Exploring the Turning Point of 1932/3 through Nazi Figures
   Lion Feuchtwanger’s Family Saga Die Geschwister Oppenheim
   Ferdinand Bruckner’s Drama Die Rassen
   Friedrich Wolf’s Drama Professor Mamlock
 Transfigured Germans. Leni Riefenstahl’s Celebration of the National Community in the Propaganda Film Triumph des Willens
 Representations of Nazi Characters in Exile Literature
   Hermynia Zur Mühlen’s Novel Unsere Töchter, die Nazinen
   Klaus Mann’s Roman á Clef Mephisto
 Bertolt Brecht’s Epic Drama Furcht und Elend des Dritten Reiches
   Veza Canetti’s Novel Die Schildkröten
   Anna Seghers’s Narrative Der Ausflug der toten Mädchen

3 The Problem of Nazi Identity and Representation after 1945
 Processing Defeat
   The Memoir of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Höß
   Marta Hillers’s Anonymous Memoir Eine Frau in Berlin
   Ingeborg Bachmann’s Wartime Diary Kriegstagebuch
 Writing about Nazis—A Postwar Dilemma
   Carl Zuckmayer’s Drama Des Teufels General
   Wolfgang Borchert’s Play Drauβen vor der Tür
   Heinrich Böll’s Narrative Der Zug war pünktlich
   Ilse Aichinger’s Novel Die gröβere Hoffnung


Scholars and students of twentieth century German and Austrian culture and Nazi propaganda and ideology; antifascist literature , the production and reproduction of Nazi stereotypes, and gendered Nazi characters.