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more recycled Third Internationalism than legitimate scholarship.027917] PaulBetts The New Fascination with Fascism: The Case of Nazi Modernism One of the most curious things about contemporary academic culture is the amount of recent attention devoted to what is now known as 'fascist modernism'.Thousand Oaks. Insofar as the overriding task of the late 1940s and early 1950s was to integrate this new post-fascist polity into the charmed circle of the liberal West as quickly as possible. 2 (April 1996) and 'Fascism and Culture'. 541-558. [0022-0094(200210)37:4. where fascism and modernism were typically treated as intrinsically antithetical and morally incompatible. Art and Power in the 1930s'. television programmes and cable channel docudramas about fascist culture abound. Often this meant recasting fascist culture as a 'regressive interlude' in an otherwise redemptive tale of modernism triumphant. Suzanne Marchand. 8. 'National Socialism. CA and of Contemporary HistoryCopyright? 2002 SAGEPublications. Even so. Peter Jelavich. the postwar period soon gave rise to a distinctly transatlantic campaign to neutralize the toxic cultural legacy of nazism. 1-2 (1990). Vol 37(4). 106. 460-84. exhibitions. Note also the special issues on 'Fascism and Culture'.Journal of Modern History. 2 (April 2001).' These days there seems no end to the intense international preoccupation with a subject that only a generation ago was routinely regarded as reckless and even repugnant. 108-18. The Italian case was more complicated. 'Nazi Culture: Banality or Barbarism?'. 1 Recent academic assessments include Scott Spector. 'Was the Third Reich Movie-Made? Interdisciplinarity and the Reframing of Ideology'.was commonly dismissed as ideological naivete or political opportunism. This was especially true during much of the Cold War in Western Europe and the USA. American Historical Review. New Delhi. to say nothing of the crop of academic review essays and special journal issues devoted to the topic. 70 (March 1998).Journal London. 'The Aesthetics of Fascism'. Journal of Contemporary History. Even plain historical evidence to the contrary like the celebrated marriage of Italian fascism and futurism . given Mussolini's unabashed patronage of avant-garde culture. 164 (August 1999). Nowhere was this more apparent than in West Germany. as well as the absence of any Weimar Republic to which a postwar generation could claim cultural allegiance. . New books. Stanford Italian Review. Past & Present. however.541 -558. What has emerged quite clearly since the events of 1989. 1 (January 1996). Modernism/Modernity. where cultural imperatives often went hand in hand with political ones. 3. 244-65. it is not as if there were no postwar efforts in Italy that aimed to sanitize and rehabilitate aspects of inter- I should like to thank Roderick Kedward and Dagmar Herzog for their constructive criticism. is the extent to which these perceptions were products of the Cold War. 31.
has now seized mainstream public culture. scholars are slowly moving away from older interpretations of how European culture was irreversibly 'Americanized' or 'Sovietized' to suit overarching Cold War objectives. and Richard Golsan (ed. Aesthetics and Culture (Hanover. Fascist Modernism: Aesthetics. Fascist Modernities: Italy.3 It is tempting to dismiss the import of this phenomenon as nothing but another short-lived academic fad. Where Cold War scholarship on fascist culture by and large concentrated upon its diverse causes. Maria Stone. progress and modernism could be heard with increasing intensity from the 1960s on. to recall the last days of European hegemony and a Europe-centred world. Andrew Hewitt. Mabel Berezin. Simonetta Falasca. Present and Future (Oxford 1996). 1922-1945 (Berkeley. Thinking Fascism: Sapphic Modernism and Fascist Modernity (Stanford. 'Fascinating Fascism'. it is really the end of the Cold War that has spurred new curiosity toward the shadowlands of modernism. The fact that interest has extended well beyond Germany and Italy to include Austria. (eds). CA 1998). Politics and the Avant-Garde (Stanford. Fascism.as Susan Sontag so astutely diagnosed at the time . but I would suggest that there are other motives behind the renewed interest in fascist culture. some might argue. the new trend inclines toward investigating its multiple effects.). 17. telegenic media cultures and the more general 'visualization of politics'. this new literature certainly marks a sea change in historiographical attitude and approach. The Patron State: Culture and Politics in Fascist Italy (Princeton. Ruth Ben-Ghiat. 3 Recent titles include Erin Carlston.542 of Contemporary Journal HistoryVol 37 No 4 war modernism as post-fascist cultural ballast and guidance.). Making the Fascist Self (Ithaca. Regardless of its scholarly value. This shift of emphasis can also be seen in Walter Laqueur. Whether one sees this latest academic cottage industry as the final banalization of evil or the ironic revenge of Albert Speer's infamous 'ruin 2 Dawn Ades.). as well as to locate the unholy grail of postmodernism itself. 1930-1945 (London 1995). Le Temps menacant 1929-1939 (Paris 1997). The Cultural of Reconstruction: European Literature. Among them are the manifold desire to contextualize the recent re-emergence of virulent European nationalism and quasi-fascist political parties. .2 While dissenting voices challenging the supposedly elective affinity of liberalism. CA 2001). Thought and Film (New York 1989). Jean-Louis Cohen (ed. Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetic Power of Mussolini's Italy (Berkeley. NY 1997). reprinted in Under the Sign of Saturn (London 1983). visual codes and/or political mythologies . Tim Benton. Of growing concern instead to many cultural historians these days is the extent to which fascist modernism . CA 1997). CA 1993).4 Surely there is a good deal of truth and irony in this. Reconstructing the Past: Representations of the Fascist Era in Post-War European Culture (Keele 1996) and Nicholas Hewitt (ed. to trace the origins of the development of full-blown 'audiovisual regimes'. NJ 1998). 5 Useful broad-based examples are Graham Bartram et al. is that the 1970s subculture fascination with fascism . 'Selectors' Introduction' in Art and Power: Europe under the Dictators. NH 1992). 4 Susan Sontag.including its narrative forms. France and Spain highlights its broadening appeal. The key issue.continued to influence the reorganization of postwar life and culture. David Elliott and lain Boyd White. Fascism: Past. Les Annees 30: L'Architecture et les arts de l'espace entre industrie et nostalgie (Paris 1997).' By the same token.
Of course. is the extent to which post-Cold War accounts have gone well beyond these old ideological battlelines. MA 1997).both within and beyond Germany . however. Richard Evans. In many ways it was the predictable by-product of the ongoing debate on German identity in the wake of Reunification.6 Not that revisions of the nazi past are new. . It is scarcely surprising that nazi Germany remains a main focus of this broader reappraisal. NJ 1997). the heady days of 1989 soon gave way to acrimonious debates . Holocaust and German National Identity (Cambridge. whose legacies shaped the political and moral lives of both German republics. The principal questions are less how class-driven.has flagged noticeably. 6 Reinhard Alter and Peter Monteath (eds). Rewriting the German Past: History and Identity in the New Germany (Atlantic Highlands. 7 Charles Maier. In part this has to do with the hidden effect of 1989. On the one hand. Whereas East Germany built its political and cultural identity upon the vaunted and often mythic heritage of antifascist resistance and non-complicity. this in itself is nothing novel. it has been abstracted and generalized. the point is that fascist 'futures past' have gained remarkable purchase in today's international scholarly community. During the 1960s.9 Since then the historiography on nazi culture has moved in two seemingly contradictory directions.which animated much of the discussion 15 years ago . Over four decades they underwent successive waves of reassessment. The Unmasterable Past: History.7 What is so striking.8 But it is not as if the 'rush to German unity' rendered only the Cold War as the past: the same went for fascism and the second world war. even the task of adjudicating complicity and resistance . much of which has pivoted upon re-evaluating the very meaning of the nazi and Holocaust legacies for post-Cold War Germany. Reflections of Nazism: An Essay on Kitsch and Death (Bloomington. Nor do debates turn on whether nazi politics and culture were 'intentional' or 'functional'. officially denouncing the Third Reich as the natural offspring of 'fascist capitalism'. 'polycratic'. as both Germanys took great pains to distance themselves from its dark patrimony. 9 Jeffrey Herf. MA 1988). Marla Stone and Harold James (eds). has finally become a political subject in its own right again. from self-congratulatory narratives of radical rupture during the 1950s to leftist critiques of scandalous continuities and restorationist tendencies during the 1960s and 1970s and finally to neo-conservative revisionism aimed above all at 'normalizing' German history during the 1980s. the nazi era was subject to divergent reinterpretation throughout the Cold War. and Saul Friedlander.Betts: TheNew Fascination withFascism 543 theory of value' is immaterial. West German attitudes toward the nazi period were more varied and contested. for example. long the object of international geopolitics. Much has been made of the fact that the dismantling of the Berlin Wall converted the Cold War into instant history. Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in Two Germanys (Cambridge. Different issues are now at stake. 8 Not that this was an easy road. Germany. IN 1984). When the Wall Came Down: Reactions to German Unification (New York 1992).about the place and significance of the German past (be it the nazi era or the GDR tout court) after Reunification. or reactionary nazism really was. In Hitler's Shadow: West German Historians and the Attempt to Escape the Nazi Past (New York 1989). Indeed. On the contrary.
Zygmunt Bauman. The Holocaust and Collective Memory: The American Experience (London 2000). Part of the reason why this broadening effort has been so influential is that it has invited new international analyses and comparative approaches. of art and cultural history. The Holocaust Industry: The Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (London 2000). Le Mythe Nazi (Edition de l'Aube 1996). Probing the Limits of Representation: Nazism and the 'Final Solution' (Cambridge. But the emphasis has changed considerably this time round. Peter Novick.). existential extremity and/or radical evil. nazi culture has emerged instead as a contemporary allegory of intolerance. which raised serious questions about the use and abuse of the nazi legacy. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany: Comparisons and Contrasts (Cambridge 1996). Plainly such controversy reflected the more general anxiety about the popularization (or even representation) of Holocaust history.). One well-known example is the Los Angeles County Museum's 1991 reconstruction of nazi Germany's infamous 1937 'Degenerate Art' exposition. the tragic culmination of enlightened science and rationality. In the hands of recent scholars. Saul Friedlander (ed. . It is especially striking in the run of recent comparative exhibitions arranged under the rubric 10 See.). 'Degenerate Art': The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany (Los Angeles 1991). the nazi era and the Holocaust are no longer restricted to either German or Jewish history. as well as questioning to whom this past really belongs.13 fields the in fruitful less have treatments such proved comparative far.544 of Contemporary Journal HistoryVol 37 No 4 West German leftists worked to 'internationalize' the history of German fascism as an indictment of western 'monopoly capitalism'. Quite indicative here has been the common postCold War reflex to lump together fascist and communist culture. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthes and Jean-Luc Nancy. Visual Culture and the Holocaust (London 2001).10 While such new perspectives have certainly afforded fresh avenues of enquiry. and have been refashioned for wider cultural consumption. Several Thus recent works have taken up the task to great profit for future research. MA 1992) and Barbara Zeliker (ed. Modernity and the Holocaust (Cambridge 1989)." The debates about the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC and the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles also touched on the nettlesome problem of negotiating past and present. 12 Tony Kushner. 1914-1945 (Madison. 22. the results have been quite uneven. however. the hothouse fusion of violence. 11 Stephanie Barron (ed. for example. as many worried about the inevitable trivialization of the Shoah through mass media spectacles and bland comparisons. The Holocaust and the Liberal Imagination: A Social and Cultural History (Oxford 1994). A History of Fascism. So dramatic has been the scope and speed with which the Holocaust has become mainstream history that its topsyturvy reception story over the decades has itself become a new object of academic investigation.). Much of this had to do with the fact that the show was partly conceived as a dark parable about the state control of the arts in the wake of the Robert Mapplethorpe controversy. myth and aesthetics. 13 Richard Bessel (ed. WI 1995). communication and 'visual culture'.1' For better or worse. Norman Finkelstein. Stanley Payne. and/or a case study of the limits of post-Holocaust representation.
'16But in the effort to trace the genealogy of illiberalism.. Designing Modernity: The Arts of Reform and Persuasion. Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union..where similarities not differences are stressed . for example. systematic comparison of the "art of dictatorships". the show deals 'with the painful history that has created the Europe in which we live. In so doing. Yet one could argue that this is not so much blurring national differences as writing a new history of post-Cold War united Europe. cit. 15 See. cit. this exhibition seeks to contribute to the regaining of a common memory. The storm of protest surrounding the 1999 West German-curated 'Rise and Fall of the Modern' exhibition in Weimar is a good case in point. 18 Klaus Gallwitz. 17 Jelavich. 1930-1945' exhibition. As the exhibition's curators put it. 'As Europe once more seeks to find its voice. Deutschland. 9. 1885-1945 (New York 1995).14A good illustration of this was the 1995 'Art and Power: Europe under the Dictators. In it the links between past and present were very clear. . The spectres of authoritarianism. While such comparisons were a standard staple of Cold War propaganda well before 1989.'18 Others are more critical of this reconfiguration of 1930s European culture.' 1937: Europaische Konflikte der 30er Jahre in Erinnerung an die friihe Avantgarde (Diusseldorf 1987).Kunst im Totalitarianismus?: Beispiele aus dem NS-Staat und der DDR (Bielefeld 1997). yet it was the manner in which nazi and communist 14 Besides the French shows already noted. Such renditions have not gone unchallenged. It was the largest display of East German painting since the Wende. for example. racism and rampant nationalism which haunted those years are still with us today. Even if past exhibitions had addressed the suppression of the avant-garde across Europe in the 1930s. For many Eastern Europeans. which has smugly reinvented its former ideological enemies as museum curiosities of twentieth-century illiberalism. 16 Ades et al. op.). . Italien und der Sowjetunion.. 'Preface'. 1922-1956 (Baden 1994). the tendency to treat anti-liberal culture as a whole .Betts: TheNew Fascination withFascism 545 'art and dictatorship'. Andreas Beaugrand (ed. Bildhauerei und Malerei in Osterreich. Kunst und Diktatur: Architektur. at London's Hayward Gallery. the old leftist campaign to portray fascism (together with its 'superstructural' culture) as the child of capitalism has been turned on its head: fascism and communism are now condemned together as kindred dystopias of the flesh and spirit. As one contributor stated in the preface to the exhibition's catalogue. it [the exhibition] opted instead for juxtaposition'. cit. Wendy Kaplan (ed. op. As Peter Jelavich observed in his review essay. 38. Art and Power. lumping together fascist and communist art is really a crude form of 'victor's justice' on the part of the liberal West. Art and Power.is very much the central theme. not much can be found in the way of a 'truly extended.15 this was a more ambitious review of the 'politicization of the arts and mass media' in Mussolini's Italy. 'Selectors' Introduction'. 7.17Indeed. 'Die Axt hat gebliiht.). the 1930s shotgun marriage of state and culture has garnered increasing public attention. Totalitdre Kunst . op.. there is precious little on how fascist and communist art and culture contributed in different ways to the 'Europe in which we live'. .
B5.2' This literature effectively complements the other trend toward abstract models by supplying more empirically-grounded studies of cultural decision-making. is a shared disinclination toward treating nazi culture as the historical fulfilment of what were once seen as the peculiarities of German Geist and Kultur. too. Alan Steinweis' Art. 1-21. the return of fascist culture as art exhibition is rather fitting. Theater and the Visual Arts (1993) is useful in illuminating the intricate cultural politics of the Reich Chambers of the Arts (RKK). 49-50. and he does not understand that good and bad alternated in East Germany. Design. display a distinct tendency toward replacing earlier ideologically-driven stories of allpowerful elites and manipulated masses with more nuanced cultural histories of the complex interplay of ideas. as well as its obsession with rendering politics visible and 19 Roger Cohen. East Germans reacted vehemently.'9 But if the study of nazi culture has been broadened in recent years. 'Kesseltreiben in Weimar: Aus Bilderstreit wird Bilderkampf: Wie eine Ausstellung der Ost-West Konflikt schiirt'. Harold Welzer (ed. institutions and everyday practices. Art as Politics in the Third Reich (Chapel Hill. 21 Glenn Cuomo (ed. . Das Geddchtnis der Bilder: Asthetik und Nationalsozialismus (Tibingen 1995). 27 May 1999. To place East German art beside that of the Nazis is an outrage. 'Exhibiting the Art of History's Dustbin'. Ideology and Economics in Nazi Germany: The Reich Chambers of Music. Others. 17 August 1999. What they both have in common.). MA 1996).). in this case pointing up the ongoing post-Reunification cultural wars about such 'End of History' triumphalism. 20 Eric Rentscher. have re-opened the dossier on various aspects of nazi cultural life more generally.546 of Contemporary Journal HistoryVol 37 No 4 art were exhibited in tandem as the iconography of the anti-modern which provoked such disquiet. Kunst im Dritten Reich (Cologne 1994). Peter Fritzsche. Clearly.' Leipzig painter Wolfgang Mattheuer dismissed the exhibition as nothing but 'an expression of the West German victor's mentality'. See. Architecture and Film in the Third Reich (Winchester 1990). however. Indeed. calling for more sustained analyses of the relationship between form and ideology. Jonathan Petropoulos' Art as Politics in the Third Reich (1996) in turn revises earlier images of nazi anti-modernism by describing the private patronage of modern art among the nazi 6lite. Several recent works. NC 1996). it has also been narrowed considerably. This is particularly true with respect to fascism's marriage of state and aesthetics. 'Nazi Modern'. National Socialist Cultural Policy (New York 1995) as well as Brandon Taylor and Winfried van der Will (eds).'?In this regard. Weimar's Deputy Mayor Friedrich Folger spoke for many when he sniffed that '[West German curator Achim] Preiss came here from the West. The Ministry of Illusion: Nazi Cinema and its Afterlife (Cambridge. Jonathan Petropoulos. Modernity/Modernism (January 1996). It was perhaps inevitable that the fascist era would become the stuff of current art retrospectives. Joachim Petsch. The Nazification of Art: Art. it revealed the polemic nature of placing nazi art in certain comparative contexts. from Cologne. too. New York Times. Die Zeit. Music. for instance. especially insomuch as the organization often entertained competing notions of what constituted proper German art and culture. Hanno Rautenberg. B3.
more in Italy. 'Fascist Aesthetics and Society: Some Considerations'.. One should remember that after the war. degenerate. As Igor Golomstock put it.25 Other shows followed.Betts:TheNew Fascination withFascism 547 spectacular. But if these new exhibitions invoke fascist art as the ominous aesthetics of collective mission. trans. of course. Volk festivals. such as the 1977 Munich 'Die 30er Jahre: Schauplatz Deutschland'.. 24 Eric Hobsbawm.. Totalitarian Art in the Soviet Union. It is hardly coincidental that the West's resurgent interest in 1930s anti-liberal culture during the 1970s occurred in tandem with the deeply-felt crisis of modernism at the time.. 25 Kunst im Dritten Reich . The acrimonious debate over the political and moral perils of exhibiting such 'non-art' to the wider public . art exhibitions and grandiose buildings all exemplified the fascist desire to invent mythic imperial pasts and futures. the Versailles Treaty and Weimar Constitution) in favour of decisive political action based on fatal aesthetic criteria . social engineering and . This has proved a boon to museum curators and television programme-makers everywhere. 15.24 On this point the Weimar 'Rise and Fall of the Modern' exhibition was particularly instructive. op.. for its direct link with social and political life'.what postmodernists like to call its 'loss of affect' . For in an era in which the contemporary art object itself has apparently lost its cultural charisma and/or clear connection to politics . Art and Power. 'Foreword'. Journal of Contemporary History. the 1970s interest in fascist art was in large measure fuelled by a 'nostalgia for Art's lost social role. In the end it did not. Robert Chandler. propaganda films. cit. 31. Third Reich.museum exhibitions on fascist culture (not to mention the growing number of Anglo-American university courses on the subject) never fail to excite attention or ticket sales. the show must go on. The nazis were. most extreme in this visualization of politics. Fascist Italy and the People's Republic of China (London 1990). The curtain is down and will not be raised again. . military parades. for its purposeful organization.g. ugly. German vs. Equally as striking was the way in which the 50-year taboo against displaying nazi paintings had been so casually lifted. If the theatre-state is to live. healthy vs. all the while mobilizing the passions of the present for imminent war-making. its one-time danger now appears safely consigned to history. As Eric Hobsbawm noted: How much of the art of power has survived in these countries? Surprisingly little in Germany. 22 George Mosse. .and especially children underlined the high stakes of unpacking the buried past.23This has further intensified in the last ten years. x.in the nazi case racist metaphysics. 2 (April 1996). Only one thing has gone from all of them: power mobilizing art and people as public theatre. denouncing all loyalty to liberal political texts (e. Many nazi-era works did not see the light of day until the 1974 'Art in the Third Reich' exhibition in Frankfurt am Main. nazi art was studiously locked away in dark museum storerooms as toxic cultural material. Jew. in Russia.beautiful vs.22Countless historical pageants.Dokumente der Unterwerfung (Frankfurt 1974). 245-52. 23 Igor Golomstock. perhaps most .
. For example. made no bones about featuring Arno Breker heroic bronzes and clips from Leni Riefenstahl films. the brown spectre once haunting Europe is considered dead enough to allay any worries about fascist art's once potent pathos and affective powers. Peace and the Struggle for Renewal'. cit. 305.31Adam is by no means alone: others too have underlined nazi culture's power to bind and entrance. 27 Peter Reichel. Yet its danger has apparently vanished with the regime itself. The first concerns the changed image of nazi culture.548 Journal of Contemporary HistoryVol 37 No 4 the 1981 Paris 'Realisms'. On the contrary.30In his 1992 Art in the Third Reich. 'Preface and Acknowledgements' in Nazification of Art.28 Not so in the 1990s. op. it would be premature to write off fascist artifacts as completely impotent. Bl1-12. But there are other changes afoot. along with images by Kandinsky and Joseph Beuys. 28 See. 31 Peter Adam. Still. vi. Crowds still line up to see these exhibitions. Noteworthy in this regard is the virtual disappearance of the early Cold War construction of nazi cultural life as largely anti-modern. Der Schone Schein des Dritten Reiches: Faszination und Gewalt des Faschismus (Frankfurt 1994).26 dal and outrage that the newly-established Green Party devoted a full plenary session meeting to the affair. op. Three additional shifts in recent historiography are worth discussing in some detail. it is precisely its 'grim fascination and its undoubted terror' that is so attractive. 2 December 1999. the 1999 Berlin show. Indeed. 231-48. Peter Adams even went so far as to say that nazi painting (by removing Jewish figures from the canvasses of an idealized Germany) actually anticipated and in some measure was responsible for atrocities to come. to say nothing of the academic bookshop. there was talk of including nazi-era art in national museum collections as part of the more general (albeit self-critical) story of twentieth-century German art and culture. for example. 'The 20thCentury: A Century of Art in Germany'. New York Times.27In fact. Few today would subscribe to the once-dominant image of nazi culture (the term alone was once considered a scandalous oxymoron) as essentially reactionary ideology and kitschy pastoral idylls. Nazi-Kunst ins Museum? (G6ttingen 1988). Art in the Third Reich (New York 1992). the 1982 Milan 'The Thirties: Art and Culture in Italy'. and fascist images are never in short supply at the box office or on the television screen. 'The De-Nazification of Nazi Art: Arno Breker and Albert Speer Today' in Nazification of Art.. 'Germany Picks Art of the Century: A Vast Exhibition Recalls War. . as well as the 1987 Berlin 'The Staging of Power' expositions. That is not to say that there is 26 Walter Grasskamp. In West Germany there were even several mid-1980s exhibitions dedicated to rehabiliThese produced such scantating the work of Arno Breker and Albert Speer.29Apparently. cit. 17. ultimately issuing a statement condemning such neo-conservative revisionism on both moral and intellectual grounds. 29 Alan Riding. as its visual archive now serves as a source of historical fascination based on half a century's distance and wonder. 30 Taylor and van der Will. the whole question about whether or not to hang nazi art in museums continued to provoke intense discussion through the late 1980s.
Sabine Weissler (ed.first formulated in his 1925 'Manifesto of the Antifascist Intellectual' . Hitler's Social Revolution: Class and Status in Nazi Germany. See also Ronald Smelser. such a thesis was (and still is) quite delicate and at 32 Eric Michaud. Forced Labor and the Nazi Monumental Building Economy (London 2000). Society and Democracy in Germany (New York 1967) and David Schoenbaum. cit. 35 Ralf Dahrendorf. What distinguished the 1980s revision of nazi political culture was the way in which the Third Reich was treated less as the midwife of 1950s liberalism than as an alternative form of modernity itself. Un Arte de I'Eternitd (Paris 1996).for the more individual-oriented consumer society of 1950s West Germany.). No better example is the recent trend to expose the strange career of Werkbund-Bauhaus modernism (to say nothing of the shadowy dealings of their once-untouchable leading figures) within the Third Reich. 33 Winfried Nerdinger (ed. and most recently. Robert Ley: Hitler's Labor Front Leader (New York 1988). Taylor and van der Will. Benedetto Croce's oft-cited notion . The Architecture of Oppression: The SS.36Needless to say. as the Third Reich's modernizing thrust was seen as having created the conditions often despite itself .such as painting and architecture . 1938-1985 (Berlin 1986).32 In this sense.that fascism and culture were inherently contradictory has lost its intellectual hold. the seemingly impeccable antifascist credentials of leading Weimar modernist institutions and artists have been subjected to new scrutiny.34Granted.have proved less adverse to Weimar modernism than once believed. Architects of Fortune: Mies van der Rohe and the Third Reich (New York 1989). op. as well as exploring the continuities between the 1920s and the 1930s. though his conclusion very much asserts the connection between the 1940s and 1950s . Paul Jaskot. See also the revisionist biographies by Winfried Nerdinger.. 34 See Petropoulos. No longer does Nikolaus Pevsner's famous observation that any word devoted to nazi architecture is one word too many reflect today's cultural climate. cit. 36 Detlev Peukert.. Bauhaus-Moderne und Nationalsozialismus (Munich 1993). Peukert's Inside Nazi Germany can also be viewed in this light. With few exceptions. This has often meant erasing the line between 1932 and 1933. Modernity and the Holocaust (Cambridge 1989). 1933-1945: Asthetik und Organisation des Deutschen Werkbundes im 'Dritten Reich' (Giessen 1990).33This theme was elaborated a generation later by the likes of Detlev Peukert and Zygmunt Bauman. But they are increasingly treated as less the return of Teutonic paganism than a decidedly modern crisis of national identity and what French art historian Eric Michaud suggestively calls nazism's 'fantasies of autonomy'.33Even those spheres long regarded as the supreme examplars of 'blood and soil' ideology . Walter Gropius (Berlin 1985) and Elaine Hochman. op. Max Webers Diagnose der Moderne (G6ttingen 1989) and Zygmunt Bauman.). who similarly stressed the modern dimensions of nazi social policies. Deutsche Architekten: Biographische Verflechtungen (Frankfurt 1992). Werner Durth. to argue for the modernity of the Third Reich is hardly a new assertion. Art as Politics. Design in Deutschland. the new literature tends to stress the modern aspects of nazi culture. occultism and misty virility myths.withFascism Betts:TheNew Fascination 549 no interest in nazi culture's irrationalism. It was first introduced by Ralf Dahrendorf and David Schoenbaum in the mid-1960s. 1933-1939 (New York 1966). As a result. and Herbert Bayer: Kunst und Design in Amerika.
37While it would be misleading to suggest that the concept of nazi modernity enjoys full consensus. Vernichtungspolitik: Eine Debatte iiuber von Sozialpolitik und Genozid im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland (Berlin 1991). Fritzsche's point is rather that nazism was shaped by the same cultural landscape of disorder and possibility characterizing German life after the first world war. On one level. 'Nazi Modern'. Vordenker der Vernichtung: Auschwitz und die deutsche Plane fir eine neue europdische Ordnung (Hamburg 1991). namely that of modernism itself. The claim. as much as for the artist. The controversy sparked by the 1991 publication of Rainer Zitelmann and Michael Prinz's Nationalsozialismus und Modernisierung. 37 Rainer Zitelmann and Michael Prinz (eds). 'Nationalsozialismus und Modernisierung'. Fritzsche sets his sights on placing National Socialism within Germany's interwar culture of avant-garde modernism. CT 1987). is particularly innovative. this interpretation is very much in keeping with Modris Eckstein's much-quoted assertion in his classic Rites of Spring that Germany 'has been the modernist nation par excellence of our century'. In it he attempts to tackle the issue from another angle. 19 (1993). but it assumed a special resonance there: West Germany. trans. Nationalsozialismus und Modernisierung (Darmstadt 1991). however. For the civil servant or the public health official. xvi. 12. . 38 Influential rebuttals of the modernization thesis include Jens Alber. Fritzsche aims to dissolve the boundaries between German aesthetic modernism and social politics by putting the whole interwar period under the sign of radical reconstruction. The debate is reproden Zusammenhang duced in Wolfgang Schneider (ed. MA 1989). much of which resulted in the volume's overall tendency to discuss nazi social policy divorced from racist politics. op. In the main.550 of Contemporary HistoryVol 37 No 4 Journal times was used to downplay the centrality of racism within nazi Germany's project to build a new state and society. 40 Modris Eksteins. Detlev Peukert. cit. This spirit was obviously not confined to nazi Germany. the enduring aspect of the modern age was instability. has remarkable social and political implications.38it is undeniable that the thesis has gained more and more acceptance among scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. Geschichte und Gesellschaft.. Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age (Boston. which has usually been conceived in literary or artistic terms.). Kolner Zeitschrift fir Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie. 346-65 and Norbert Frei. On this score. esp. underscored the high stakes of the debate. 236-49. It is the apprehension of the malleable: the dark acknowledgment of the fragility and impermanence of the material 9 world allied with the conviction that relentless reform could steady collapsing structures. Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity.40But there is a good deal more at stake here than simply suggesting that the Dadaist and technocrat were cultural bedfellows. Modernism. is not somehow that nazi art and culture were all that radical and/or progressive. 39 Fritzsche. 367-87. Peter Fritzsche's 1996 article. 'Wie modern war der Nationalsozialismus?'. 41 (June 1989). Note also the controversy sparked by the publication of Bauman's Modernity and the Holocaust as well as Gotz Aly and Susanne Heim. Richard Deveson. Opposition and Racism in Everyday Life (New Haven. In his words.
43But Fritzsche is less interested in aesthetic debates. from Franco to Stalin. Fritzsche draws interesting parallels between the 1920s artistic avant-garde and the 1930s campaign toward radical modernization. His chief point is that interwar Germany was a construction site for a range of new visions of social engineering. As such.42 So pervasive was this avant-garde spirit of innovation and experimentation in interwar Europe for Golomstock that he has no qualms about declaring 'totalitarian art' as the 'second International Style of contemporary culture' after modernism.. then it is the artistic avant-garde of the 1910s and 1920s who first elaborated a totalitarian ideology of culture. 21. op. while everything else is counterrevolution or bourgeois reaction: to the revolutionary avant-garde this was an absolute and unshakeable truth.44 41 Fritzsche. Igor Golomstock's book. op. Where Fritzsche departs from them. op. Only that art has the right to exist which is an effective instrument for the transformation of the world in the necessary direction. it places nazism's 'will to totality' as part of the broader post-1918 desire for social experimentation born of profound incertitude and the need for fundamental reform. 42 Golomstock. op. see Ruth Ben-Ghiat's Fascist Modernities. At first his argument appears to dovetail neatly with the recent renaissance of the longmaligned concept of totalitarianism as an explanatory tool to describe European dictatorships ranging from Mussolini to Hitler.. Gesamtkunstwerk Stalin (Munich 1988). In it he wrote that .. the Nazis operated in the subjunctive tense. Reactionary Modernism (New York 1984). reordering. Crucial in this regard is also Jeffrey Herf. Third Reich. See also Franco Borsi. Fascist Italy and the People's Republic of China. .. A similar argument is made for Stalinist Russia in Boris Groys. however. cit. first made this claim in bold fashion. arguing in effect that nazi social policies served as the political avant-garde of their day. Michael Burleigh's new The Third Reich: A New History (2000) is only the most current title in this new scholarly dispensation. The Monumental Era: European Architecture and Design. 1929-1939 (New York 1987). cit. if the principal characteristic of totalitarianism is that it proclaims its ideological doctrine as both uniquely true and universally obligatory. cit. reconstructing. and it was this feeling of danger and malleability .that fuelled new dreams of radical change across the political spectrum and cultural domain. It is true that others have hinted at the connection between 1920s avantgarde artists and 1930s policy-makers. 43 Golomstock.41 This is important in a number of respects. First. 306. is the suggestion that nazi Germany's 'totalitarian version of the modern' (17) had its roots largely in Weimar radicalism. cit. 44 For a useful discussion about the value of this model.. experimenting.the existential condition of modernism itself . significantly entitled Totalitarian Art in the Soviet Union. 7. and it is this spirit of renovation that qualifies National Socialism as modern. especially the introduction..Betts:TheNew Fascination withFascism 551 Although the Hitler regime cannot be adequately described as merely a German version of Beveridge's England or Roosevelt's America.
'The Will to Motorization: Cinema. Toller Tag: Filmkom6die im Dritten Reich and (Berlin 1995). Karsten Witte. 1945-1965 (Berkeley. literature and propaganda film. television.552 of Contemporary Journal HistoryVol 37 No 4 A second new avenue of enquiry about nazi modern concerns the so-called industrial arts within the Third Reich. Leibeskult und Liebeskitsch: Erotik im Dritten Reich (Munich 1992). Lachende Erben. Iron Cross medallions. (Cologne 1994). sculpture. cultural distance and racial difference in an aesthetic ideal of unified purpose and imperialist mission. Gothic script. This is not so new as all that. But it is autobahns. If anything. pop culture eroticism and other 'low culture' enterprises. 73 91-137. eugenics. What at first appears as a flippant question is on closer inspection deadly serious: what ultimately did not count as industrial design in the Third Reich? Mass political rallies. the 'death-speak' of bureaucratized mass murder and even the 'Final Solution' itself were also expressions of the industrial design of nazi ideology? Central to this new research is the exploration of the ways in which 'trivial culture' related to the broader nazi campaign to intensify the identification of the people with the government by dissolving all political resistance. (Summer Modernity'. Highways Hakenkreuz unterm Fernsehen Klaus Winkler. Die braune Mattscheibe (Hamburg 1995). torchlit processions. Werbung im Dritten Reich (Berlin 1989). Likewise. architecture. of course. they have succeeded in enlarging our notions of nazi material culture well beyond 'Home Sweet Heimat'. For these fields were often laden with surprising political gravity and cultural power in their own right. entertainment cinema. . Paul Betts. the study of these industrial arts has opened up rich repositories for investigating what Peter Reichel ironically calls the 'happy illusion' (sch6ner Schein) of nazi modernism. industrial design. And in light of the nazi effort to dissolve the boundaries between high and low culture in the name of a new Volkskultur. 1995). the cumulative result of these new studies has been to underline the very ubiquity of industrial aesthetics in the Third Reich. While some of these new works are occasionally guilty of losing sight of the broader context of nazi cultural politics. not least because they rested at the very crossroads of industry and ideology. While assessments of nazi culture were once largely confined to painting. Even since the late 1960s scholarship on nazi industrial culture has been at the forefront of challenging the long-held Cold War image of nazi culture as 45 Uwe Westphal. the V-2. CA forthcoming). Design der Macht (Stuttgart 1992). Udo Pini. Thing theatres and radio broadcasts are commonly cited as constitutive elements of the notorious repertoire of nazi cultural tools and techniques. monumentalist architecture. Hitler salutes. these new industrial arts occupied a key place in the Third Reich's infamous visual culture. Sonja Giinther. propaganda films. Edward Dimendberg. Heiko Zeutschner. But could it not be argued with equal validity that yellow stars. The Pathos of Everyday Objects: A Cultural History of West German Industrial Design.45 not enough to describe these developments as simply a postmodern impulse to climb down the cultural ladder to rediscover the hitherto trivialized world of nazi material culture. a generation of new scholars has begun to reconsider the significance of advertising. October.
(Munich1997). John Milfull (ed. .'Gestaltung 47 Hans-Dieter DeutscheKulturund Lebenswirklichkeit Schafer. but also in Portugal. Lectures on Fascism(New York 1976 ). At the heart of these most recent works is a fascination with the industrialized fantasy world of nazi modernity. 70. Die bildende Kiinste im Dritten Reich: Eine Dokumentation(Reinbekbei im 3. Fora key earlyassessment. Speer-esque monumentalism and/or 'blood and soil' reaction. (Cambridge Togliatti. 3 vols (Berlin 1983. Greece. 71 (1975).48 This is all the more suggestive given that one of the hallmarks of fascism (not only in Germany and Italy. 49 VictoriaDe Grazia.47But where earlier accounts were often inspired by a desire to expose embarrassing continuities with the socalled 'Adenauer Restoration'.69. Lebensgeschichte und Sozialkultur im Ruhrgebiet 1930 bis 1960. (Minneapolis. Hamburg1966) and Hans Scheer. 51 LutzNiethammer et al. their successors were motivated by other issues. Edgar Reitz's film. Schindler's List (1993). so much so that the psychological fascination of fascism has emerged as a favourite research topic. 1986).5?0 Clearly this development owes much of its inspiration to the advent of the 'history of the everyday' methodology pioneered during the late 1970s and early 1980s. this alternative view of nazi modernism found wide reception in new books and exhibitions about the fascist past. there has been a discernible movement away from moralizing narratives of mass manipulation toward fuller descriptive accounts of the emotional linchpins of fascist everyday life. NJ 1996).46 By the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was in this context that Anna Teut's Architektur im Dritten Reich (Berlin 1967) and Barbara Miller Lane's Architecture and Politics in Germany. Literatureand French IntellectualLife MN 1987).Das gespalteteBewusstsein: 1933-1945 (Berlin1981). Die Dreissiger Jahre:SchauplatzDeutschland(Munich 1977).The Cultureof Consent:Mass Organization of Leisurein FascistItaly Palmiro 1981).). be it Klaus Theweleit's Male Fantasies (Minneapolis 1989. Heimat (1984). Studies on industrial design and film reached similar conclusions. Spielberg's film. what Giidrun Brockhaus suggestively calls the fascist 'offer of experience'. Inszenierung der Macht:Asthetische im Faschismus Faszination (Berlin1987).). 239. The Attractions of Fascism(New York 1990). 73-87. 48 Giidrun Schauder undIdylle:Faschismus als Erlebnisangebot Brockhaus. Bulgaria. The History of EverydayLife: Reconstructing HistoricalExperiences and Waysof Life (Princeton. Romania and Spain) lay in the state organization of mass leisure.). and BertoldHinz (ed. in that they effectively qualified reigning assumptions of nazi 'blood and soil' culture by showing its undeniable modernist penchant.) and Alf Liidtke (ed. and Alice Kaplan.49 In recent years. original German 1978).Die Dekorationder Gewalt(Giessen1979). 46 Josef Wulf. MA 1968) were such milestones. 50 BerndOgan and WolfgangWeiss (eds).51One might even contend that it is precisely the subjective side of fascism that is the red thread running through some of the most influential reconsiderations of the nazi past over the last two decades.'TheDopolavoro'in idem. Faszination und Gewalt:Zur politischenAsthetik des Nationalsozialismus (Niirnberg1992). Reich'in Form. which concentrated upon the realm of individual experiences and private memories (often based upon oral history) swirling beneath the crust of conventional social history and structural sociology. Reproductionsof Banality: Fascism.Betts:TheNew Fascination withFascism 553 essentially Teutonic pastoralism.. Art Spiegelman's Maus (New York 1992. 1918-1945 (Cambridge.
'Enticement and Deprivation: The Regulation of Consumption in Pre-War Nazi Germany' in Martin Daunton and Matthew Hilton (eds).53 What they all show is that even the regime's inability to make good on these promises (not a single Volkswagen was ever produced for private use) in no way detracted from their symbolic importance. An oft-cited example is Alf Liidtke's landmark study on the symbolic world of German workers from the Kaiserreich through the Third Reich. While it is true that this approach owes its roots to the work of Theodor Adorno. 2 (Fall/ Winter 2000). History and Memory. 318ff. Consumer Culture and Identity in Modern Europe and North America (Ann Arbor. ed. Eigen-Sinn: Fabrik-Alltag. 54 Shelley Baranowski. such ideology helped forge vital links between pride and production. Rudy Koshar. op. Sabine Behrenbeck.. 11. 1945-1960'. 229-53 and Kaspar Maase. 213-36.J. 196-234. material motivations and the 'practices of everyday life'.2 In a similar fashion. historians are beginning to explore just how the nazi fabrication of the good life and postwar bonanza played a long-underestimated role in 'normalizing' post-1933 social life for many Germans. plunder. cit. Recent forays into what might be called the Third Reich's 'culture of pleasure' have uncovered new material on the 'gracelands' of nazi leisure. Grenzloses Vergniigen: Der Aufstieg der Massenkultur 1850-1970 (Frankfurt 1997). the Volkswagen and the so-called 'people's homes' played an equally stabilizing function in furnishing fetching images of future prosperity. 12. Hasso Spode. The Politics of Consumption: Material Culture and Citizenship in Europe and America (Oxford 2000). Arbeitererfahrungen und Politik vom Kaiserreich bis in den Faschimus (Hamburg 1993). 'Arbeiterurlaub im Dritten Reich' in Carola Sachse. 53 Dennis Doordan. Journal of the History of Sexuality. Dagmar Herzog. esp. while at the same time cultivating loyalty to the regime. 115-34. esp. D. German Travel Cultures (Oxford 2001). 'work value' and even 'joy of work' was remarkably effective in winning over workers to the regime by appealing to their psychosensual identification with 're-enchanted' industrial labour. Erich Fromm and Wilhelm Reich back in the 1930s. Tilla . Being Elsewhere: Tourism. Baranowski and Ellen Furlough (eds). consumerism. those massproduced material dreams of deferred gratification and postwar affluence became even more precious amid consumer rationing and wartime sacrifice. 165-84. 'Political Things: Design in Fascist Italy' in Designing Modernity. CA 2002). 'flights from freedom' and 'restructured libidinal economies' than symbolic negotiation. In it he persuasively shows how the nazi exploitation of the old romantic concepts of 'German quality work'. Pain and Prosperity: Reconsidering 20th Century Germany (Palo Alto. esp. 92-121. 'Traveling as a Culture of Remembrance: Traces of National Socialism in West Germany. Hartmut Berghoff. scholars have started to look seriously at how the famed 'Strength Through Joy' vacation packages. 1-2 (January-April 2002). 'Strength Through Joy: Tourism and National Integration in the Third Reich' in S. the focus now is decidedly less upon 'authoritarian personality'. Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners (New York 1996). sexuality and tourism.554 Journal of Contemporary HistoryVol 37 No 4 Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men (New York 1992). Special Issue on 'Sexuality and German Fascism'. Consequently. or the recent rash of firstperson Holocaust survival tales. In this way. MI 2001). On the contrary. Alon Confino. 'The Transformation of Sacrifice: German Identity between Heroic Narrative and Economic Success' in Paul Betts and Greg Eghigian (eds).'4 The long-obscured importance of material culture has even 52 Alf Ludtke.
Deutsche Geschichtswissenschaft nach 1945 (Munich 1989). NC 1996) and Martin Damus. and most recently. trans. Memory and Representation (Basingstoke 1999) and Luisa Passerini. 57 Peter Reichel. 58 Ulrich Herbert. are rethinking how the nazi past .). Robert Moeller (ed. which uses commonplace objects and spaces as vehicles of individual reminiscences of the period.57 While no one would dispute that West Germany and West Germans still denied a great deal. Fascism in Popular Memory: The Cultural Experience of the Turin Working Class (Cambridge 1987). is the effort to address how each Germany (mis)handled these nazi and Holocaust legacies. 59 Winfried Schulze. . Norbert Frei. "'Normalisierung" im Westen: Erinnerungen in die 50er Jahre' in Gerhard Brunn (ed. Life in the Third Reich (Oxford 1987).Betts:TheNew Fascination withFascism 555 worked its way into memoirs of the era. R. Zucht und Ordnung: Herrschaftsmechanismen im Nationalsozialismus (Opladen 1982). Objects: A Chronicle of Subversion in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy (New York 1997 ). NJ 2000). CA 2001). Heinz Bude. picking through the moral and epistemological rubble in search of what could be salvaged as heuristic and moral compass after 1945. 'Good Times. 97-110. For Italy. 56 Besides Jeffrey Herf's Divided Memory. Bosworth and Patrizia Dogliani (eds). 17-126. Hasso Spode and Wolfgang Spohn (eds).often those conducted by the 'historians of the everyday' . Bad Times: Memories of the Third Reich' in Richard Bessel (ed.). Glassgold. West Germany under Construction (Ann Arbor. MI 1997). An interesting instance is Hans Deischmann's 1995 Objects: A Chronicle of Subversion in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.58Cultural historians. Post-Fascist Fantasies (Durham. See also Hanna Schissler (ed. Italian Fascism: History.). Lutz Niethammer.59Their success in doing so varied tremendously.). see Julia Hell. Thirdly. 175-207. 55 Hans Deischmann. What separates this new literature from its antecedents. Wissenschaft in geteilten Deutschland (Frankfurt 1992). Malerei der DDR (Reinbek bei Hamburg 1991). cit. this new historiography is distinguished by a new interest in the lasting effects of fascism. Vergangenheitspolitik: Die Anfdnge der Bundesrepublik und die NS-Vergangenheit (Munich 1996). 1949-1968 (Princeton. Some of this is nothing but an extension of the 1970s trend toward debunking the once-hallowed legend of 1945 as 'zero hour' by laying bare the persistent continuities in everything from architectural styles to family policies. a range of new works . too.. op. Angst. Belohnung. Constantine and P. In recent years the conventional perception of the 1950s as one of public silence on and private suppression of the nazi past (what Adorno called 'purposeful forgetting') has given way to a new image of the decade as a rich 'culture of memory'. Virtually all of the humanities and social sciences were engaged in some form of Trauerarbeit after the war. Robert Moeller. Despite some new works on East Germany. War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany (Berkeley.J. P. Walter Pehle and Peter Sillem (eds). The Miracle Years:A Cultural History of West Germany. however. but it was notable that certain disciSiegel. Neuland: Nordrhein-Westfalen und seine Anfdnge nach 1945/1946 (Essen 1986).uncovered a strange body of recollections and memories teeming below shopworn periodizations and platitudes.56most of the attention thus far has been on the early Federal Republic. Bilanz der Nachfolge: Die Bundesrepublik und der Nationalsozialismus (Frankfurt 1992).however imagined stood as a traumatic reference across the cultural landscape. Politik mit der Erinnerung: Geddchtnisorte im Streit um die nationalsozialistische Vergangenheit (Munich 1995).
The Texture of Memory (New Haven. NC 1998). sexuality and tourism have gone a long way toward revealing the presence of the past in postwar culture across the Cold War divide. Dagmar Herzog. Critical Inquiry. 'The Nierentisch Nemesis: Organic Design as West German Pop Culture'. Der Kult um die toten Helde (Vierow 1996). CT 1993). Confino. Rudy Koshar.the state.60 Recent works in the field of memory have pursued different tacks. the Neue Wache debacle.arose as the principal narrative modes for representing the relationship between past and present. 1933-2001 (Cambridge 2001). Not that this is especially new.6'Others have widened the scope of enquiry still further. A wellpublicized newcomer to this new 'culture of memory' is the study of memorials and commemorations in both Germanys. the traditional sites of memory-production . Eric Santner. To the extent that they are always as much about the present as the past. MA 1989). Shifting Memories: The Nazi Past in the New Germany (Ann Arbor. CA 2000). 240-72. Volker Berghahn. Legacies of Dachau: The Uses and Abuses of a Concentration Camp. MI 2000). Deutsche Geschichtswissenschaft nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg (Munich 1989). '"Pleasure. Germany's Transient Pasts (Chapel Hill.556 of Contemporary Journal HistoryVol 37 No 4 plines .62 All told.g.). IL 2002).above all fiction. Potsdamer Platz) about the rendition of the past in reunited Germany. The Work of Memory: New Directions in the Study of German Society and Culture (Urbana. 1945-1965: Angloamerikanische Historiker und moderne deutsche Geschichte' in Ernst Schulin (ed. business relations. Harold Marcuse. Anton Kaes. universities and the institutional world of 60 Judith Ryan. Postwar German Novels and the Third Reich (Detroit 1987). 61 James Young. Berlin's new Jewish Museum or. historical preservation. 'Deutschlandbilder. 19. New studies on architecture. In so doing they reveal how collective memories were officially and visually articulated. Munich and Memory: Architecture. for that matter. Much of this new historiography is quite innovative and pioneering. In part this is due to the fact that 'nazi modern' has increasingly become the stuff of mass-media production and commercial consumption. Sex and Politics Belong Together": Post-Holocaust Memory and the Sexual Revolution in West Germany'. While some assessments woefully underestimate the presence and power of what Saul Friedlander has called the dialectic of kitsch and death underlying nazi culture. NY 1990). German History. 185-217. op. From Hitler to Heimat: The Return of History as Film (Cambridge. Sabine Behrenbeck. cit. the changing image of nazi modernism thus very much reflects our shifting attitude toward the cultural meaning and legacy of the Third Reich. sociology and later film . 2 (Spring 2001). But it is not without occasional shortcomings. having reconsidered the problem of nazi modernism from a fresh post-Cold War vantage-point. See also Klaus Neumann. 'Public Relations as a Site of Memory: The Case of West German Industry and National Socialism' in Alon Confino and Peter Fritzsche (eds). how they radically differed across the divides of Cold War time and space. Stranded Objects: Mourning. 393-444. 'Traveling as a Culture of Remembrance'. Monuments and the Legacy of the Third Reich (Berkeley. Jonathan Wiesen. memorials thus afford valuable insight into each country's perceived relation to its nazi past. . 24 (Winter 1998). Memory and Film in Postwar Germany (Ithaca. and how they continue to incite controversy (e. Paul Betts. others discount the racist component altogether in their haste to unmask the regime's uncanny (post)modern face. 62 Gavriel Rosenfeld. industrial design.
As a politics. In the end this may be one of 1989's most potent legacies. In an essay written in 1996. This is no trivial matter. 64 Michael Geyer. yet goes one step further in his analysis of 1990s cultural memory. As Omer Bartov has written: Thus. 169-70. Radical Evil (London 1996). memory or anticipation. and that remembering the Holocaust will prevent the recurrence of National Socialism and of the attending evils of racism and anti-Semitism.. Michael Geyer makes a similar point. Notwithstanding this outcome. The dreadful notion of the Holocaust as a comforting memory (since it is over and done with. While these memorial efforts were overwhelming in their own right.. above all. Industrial Killing and Mass Death (New York 1996).. What happened instead is that the culture of memory continued to expand. is a return of memory without the effects that once were presumed to follow in its wake. We no longer remember the past so as to act against its repetition in the future but transform the present into a past that precludes all action . appear to have become a very real possibility in our present civilization. as many proponents of a politics of memory feared it might. What can be discerned. How it all will pan out is of course impossible to predict. It will remake German identity and thus sever relations with the past. the myth of German amnesia has motivated German academics and intellectuals to explore the history of the Third Reich during the past twenty-five years . past or present. But one thing is sure: the stakes are still very high. 10.64 The same moment of cultural danger applies equally to the fascination with fascist modernism more generally.lost their control of the nazi past to pop culture long ago. they did not follow the path of enlightenment. conformity and complacency. and being the very worst of which humanity is capable can by definition not be surpassed). Bosnia] right in front of our eyes (on the screen). there is also good reason to suggest that the emphatic project of combating radical evil with enlightened knowledge is in jeopardy.). we may have reason to fear that the current mechanical reproduction of images of violence is progressively transforming reality into fiction and memory: as we watch an actual genocide taking place [Rwanda.63 This is what Bartov meant by 'murder in our midst'. It is not that memory has suddenly faded with German unification. reaching a high first with the surprising popularity of Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List and then with the innumerable commemorations that accompanied the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II. and the no less horrifying exploitation of the Holocaust as a means to legitimize inaction and indifference. we are no longer sure whether it is real or staged. For what underlies this cultural sea change is the evident collapse of the once-formidable antifascist consensus on both sides of the former Wall.. 'The Politics of Memory in Contemporary Germany' in Joan Copjec (ed. Indeed. insomuch as our contemporary mass-mediated 'surfeit of memory' has not brought about a more enlightened civic culture.Betts: The New Fascinationwith Fascism 557 Kultur .. even if (or per63 Omer Bartov. . As Geyer sees it: This politics of memory is predicated on the assumption that public knowledge about the Third Reich and the transparency of a reckoning with the past will have a cathartic effect. this cultural free-for-all about the fascist past may be postmodernism's most lasting legacy.. he takes up the post-Cold War transformation of what he calls Germany's 'politics of memory'. Murder in our Midst: The Holocaust.
558 of Contemporary Journal HistoryVol 37 No 4 haps precisely because) the one-time passionate debate about nazi modernity has faded considerably. enlightenment and progress. The Fascist Revolution: Toward a General Theory of Fascism (New York 1999).as George Mosse indefatigably reminded us through numerous books and essays may be with us more than we like to admit.the untethering of knowledge and liberation.65 In this sense. the 'postmodernization' of nazi culture has simply reproduced one of fascist modernism's most distinguishing features . CA forthcoming). Paul Betts is Lecturer in German History at the University of Sussex. He is the author of The Pathos of Everyday Objects: A Cultural History of West German Industrial Design. 1945-1965 (Berkeley. CA 2002). . 65 Some of his most important essays have been republished in George Mosse. and co-editor of Pain and Prosperity: Reconsidering 20th-Century German History (Stanford. The cultural fall-out of the 'fascist revolution' .
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