PETERARNDS Kansas State University

On the Awful German Fairy Tale: Breaking Taboos in Representations of Nazi Euthanasia and the Holocaust in Giinter Grass's Die Blechtrommel, Edgar Hilsenrath's Der Nazi & der Friseur, and Anselm Kiefer's Visual Art
of Amongthose representations the Holocaust in literature,painting,cartoon,and film that share the characteristic mixing of the sublimewith the profaneand hence opposingTheodorAdorno'sfamousstatement that writing a poem after Auschwitzwould be barbaric, there is in Germanya groupof texts and films in which Nazi atrocitiesare representedwithin the context of German mythologyand the Germanfairy-taletradition. The fictionalizationof such a largely historicalevent as the Hounrepresentable locaustand its aftermathis, of course,problematic.If writinga poemafterAuschwitzis barbaric,what is writing fairy tales after 1945,particularly fairytales in the contextof the ThirdReichand the Holocaust? In her recentbook The Languageof SiLiterature theHoloand lence:West German Ernestine Schlant argues that West caust Germanliteraturehas largelyremainedsilent aboutthe topicofthe Holocaust.' siThe lence aboutthe Holocaustthat maypervade the worksSchlantanalyzesis, however, shatteredin quitea fewotherworksof art in Gerof many,not only in textual representations Nazi atrocitiesthat make use of the fairy tale, but also in the workof artists and filmmakers such as Anselm Kiefer and Hansthe Jfirgen Syberberg, two enfantsterribles "ofan otherwisereputableculture",as Andreas Huyssen has pointed out.2Although SchlantbrieflydiscussesG(interGrass'sDie
The GermanQuarterly 75.4 (Fall 2002) 422

Blechtrommel,she ignores the fact that a close readingrevealsit to be a text in which there is definitely no silence about Nazi atrocities (69-71). Althoughit is true that the persecutionof Jews and their elimination in concentration campsis not a central theme in this novel,it is in its entiretya text about the persecutionof another minority group that the Nazis consideredartfremd, the physically and mentally handicapped, exemplified the dwarfOskarMatzerath. by I want to explorethe use of fairytales in Die Blechtrommeland Edgar Hilsenrath's Der Nazi und der Friseur in the contextof the Nazis' ethnic cleansing.Questionsthis essay attempts to answer are: what makes Hilsenrath'suse of fairy-talematerialmore provocativethan Grass's, so that German publishers rejected the manuscript until 1977, six years afterits originalappearance in the US; and what links Hilsenrath'sand Grass'stexts to someof the satiricpaintings and photographsof Anselm Kiefer?The fairytale in Germanyin the 20thcenturyis an ideal genre for showinghow historydeterminesthe uses and abuses of fictionand how then this veryfictioncanbe used in differentwaysto representhistory.Thetalesof the BrothersGrimmhad becomepoliticized as duringthe years of the WeimarRepublic writersandconservatives fought progressive over their legacy.3 the Nazis the fairy For talesbecamethe primevehiclein supporting

ARNDS:Grass, Hilsenrath, Kiefer their Aryanpolicies.As a consequence,the entire field of Volkskunde becameideologiFolcallypollutedfarinto postwarGermany. lowing this abuse of folklorein support of the Nazis' racistand imperialist in ideology, 1945 the Allied Forces briefly banned the of publication the Grimmtales in Germany because they associated the horrors expressedin many a fairytale with violencein the death camps.4 Such postwarauthorsas Arno Schmidt, Giinter Grass, Edgar Hilsenrath,RolfHochhuth,most recentlyIngo Schramm,and filmmakerslike Alexander and Kluge,VolkerSchl6ndorff, Helma Sanders-Brahmshave all re-claimedthe Germanfairy-tale traditionfortheirworksin orderto exploitthe artisticpotentialofthe connection between this genre and the Third
Reich. In tales like Hidnsel und Gretel, Daumerlings Wanderschaft, Vom Fischer und seiner Fru, and Frau Holle they see ways of


speaking the unspeakable. It seems that its throughtwo of its attributes, violenceand its unreality,the fairy tale lends itself to a of representation just that--extreme political violenceand the victims'loss of reality. The reaction in Volker Schl6ndorff'sfilm The Ogre of the French protagonistAbel as (played John Malkovich), he witnesses by eccentrichunting orgies, that it Goering's was so unrealhe thoughthe was in somesort of fairytale holds true especiallywithin the contextof the Holocaust. otheraspectsof Yet the fairy-tale worldreoccur texts andfilms in after1945.Whatthe Naziseagerlyembraced for their nationalistpolitics-such motifsas the "Faustian" quest of the Germanic fairytale hero, the housekeepingskills of such a figureas Frau Holle,and the Germanfairytale forest as a symbolfor nationalidentity and unity-becomes a target for artisticrethat the appropriation oftenparodies Nazis' abuse of the genre. One phenomenonthat becomes apparent in many of the postwar texts that employ the fairy tale in connection with the Third Reich is that the genre no longer seems to promise an intact order in which moral values can be re-established. Although the orig-

inal Grimmtales were ideallysuited for the conservative Adenauerperiod,as JackZipes argues,a text like Arno Schmidt'sDas steinerne Herz (1956) clearly deconstructsthe conservative message of the patriarchal, moralisticfairy tale, as I have shown elsewhere.5The fairytale as an intertextin the belleslettresthus undergoesa literarytreatment similarto that of the Bildungsroman. The 19thcentury'squestforan organicunity and a metaphysical totalityfor whichthe Nazis ideologicallyexploited both genres, the fairytale and the Bildungsroman,is no longer possible after 1945. Whereasin the proletarianfairy tales of the 1920s and the anthologies in the Third Reich, the tales' teleology serves political purposes, in the FederalRepublic dimensionof hopedisthis appearsalmost entirely from fairy-talerewritingsin the belleslettresand can only be foundin fairytales forchildren. WestGerIn there is little experimentation fairy in many tales for childrenfrom 1945to 1968. Due to the anti-authoritarian attitude of the student generation, after1968the fairytalewas no longer consideredsacrosanctand it became a target for increasingexperimentation.6 As for fairytales within the bellesletfor tres,thereis someearlyexperimentation, in Arno Schmidt's Das steinerne example
Herz or Giinter Grass's Die Blechtrommel.

The main phaseof experimentation with reto representationsof the Holocaust gard doesnot startuntilthe late seventies,i.e.,ten years after the increaseof experimentation with children'stales. Undoubtedly, phethis nomenonresultsfromthe fact that, with an increasing discourseon the German past, the fairytale has becomea more acceptable vehicle for speakingabout the Third Reich and the Holocaust:the later Grass, Edgar Hilsenrath,RolfHochhuth,AlexanderKluge, and Helma Sanders-Brahmsmust be mentionedhere.A film like Benigni'sLife is
Beautiful, which not only conjoins the Holocaust with a fairy-tale imagery but fills the representation of the Holocaust with a great deal of laughter, would have been as shocking in the Germany of the late 1960s as was




the provocativeHolocaust art of Anselm The KieferandEdgarHilsenrath.7 reception works or historyof some of the provocative art by Kieferas well as the publicationhistory of Hilsenrath's Der Nazi und der Friseur reflect this development. Hilsenrath's and Kiefer'sunrealistic representation of the Holocaustin the context of fairy tale and myth, particularly their use of the in was macabre, ill received Germany unlike, for example,JurekBecker'sJakobderLuigner (1969),whose conflationof the sublime withlaughterwasaccomplished moresubtly. in the philo-Semitic climateof the Ironically, Germanyof the 1970s Germanpublishers told the Jew Hilsenrath,who at that time still livedin the US, that they considered his novels Nacht (1964) and Der Nazi und der Friseurunacceptable becauseof their inherent anti-Semitism.8 Anselm KieSimilarly, fer'spaintingsandhis photographs Occupations (1975),a series of Hitler salutes, were taboobreakersin Germanythroughoutthe 1970s and wereinterpretedas "thesarcasm of a young artist directing his questions toward a pernicious iconography."9 These a sortof exworksconsequently experienced ile existenceoutsideof Germany. WhileHilsenrath had not become successfulin Germany until the 1990s, which experienceda renaissanceof Jewish culture,Anselm Kiefer'sart hadto "migrate" andthroughthe to Statesbeforereturning Germany, to whereit had never been fully recognizeduntil his 1991exhibitionin Berlin.As AndreasHuyssen points out, "[t]he timing could hardly havebeenbetter:Kiefercomesto Berlin,the politicaland culturalcapitalof the new,reIt united Germany."'• is clearlydue to the earlier openness of discourseon the Holocaustin the UnitedStates andthis country's of appropriation the Holocaustas a cultural icon that the GermanHolocaustart of the '60s and '70s, with its transgressionof the
limits of representation, was forced to "emigrate" to the US. 11Beforethe 1980s there was no significant discourse on the Holocaust in Germany. Consequently, when the United States witnessed the awakening of

Holocaustart (e.g., Spiegeltaboo-breaking man), in Germanythere was still a sort of hidden censorshipthat producedthe languageof silenceof whichErnestine Schlant speaks.Althoughthis silence was also broken in the documentarydrama of Peter Weissand RolfHochhuth,their playsdo not contain Holocausthumor or parody. While theirrepresentations remainwithinthe limits of realism, German-Jewish authorslike Tabori,Jakov Lind, Soma MorgenGeorge stern, and Edgar Hilsenrath broke the silence in their worksthroughhumor,parody, andgrotesque Thisdifficulty findof fantasy. an adequatelanguageforwritingabout ing the Holocaustwas a point of discussionbetweenHilsenrathandJakovLindwhenthey lived in Israel. Hilsenrath, who spent the years from 1941 to 1944 in the Ukrainian describesthis ghetto of Moghilev-Podolsk, in with "Joseph meeting Lindberg" his novel Die Abenteuer RubenJablonski (1997). des Lindberg says to him:"Heutemusst du realistischschreiben, wennduernstgenommen
werden willst. [...] Ich meinerseits schreibe

humoristischmit einem Zug ins Groteske.
[...] Irgendwann wirst du es in dir spilren,

dass die Zeitreifist. Und dann setzt du dich auf deinen Arsch und legst los. Alles muss wie fliel3en.Es muss aus dir herausflieBlen aus einer Quelle."12Hilsenrath must have heededLind'swordsbecausein most of his works he too chooses a grotesqueform of representationover a realistic one. In Der Nazi und der Friseur he completelydestabilizes the sacrosanctityof the fairy tales. They were considereduntouchableby the Nazis because of their typically Germanic features but also after the war when they becameimportantfor "the healing process necessaryfor the rebuildingof a humanist Whileone can still see Die Blechculture."13 trommeland its fairy-talesubtextsas a contributionto this reconstruction a humanof
ist culture, Hilsenrath's novel, which is possibly one of the strongest satires of the Grimm folktales, eludes this process. By transmogrifying Frau Holle into a prostitute, Der Nazi und der Friseur becomes a re-

ARNDS: Grass, Hilsenrath, Kiefer


actionto the Nazis'perception FrauHolle of as a symbolof fertilityfrom Germanicmyfigureto be emuthologyand an archetypal lated by all Germanwomen. Furthermore, he placesHdnselund Gretel into the context of genocide. Despite all the debunking of after 1968this sortof fairytales in Germany limits transgressionof the representational was aheadof its time. Grassuses the fairy-taletraditionin the context of the Holocaustin a much subtler and less cynicalway than Hilsenrath.While Hilsenrath'sview of the Germanfairytale is entirelynegativebecausein Jungianfashion he associateswith it the realizationof myth duringthe ThirdReichand sees reflectedin the fairytale the spiritofWotan, Grass'sperception of the German fairy tale changes to fromDieBlechtrommel his laterwork.It is precisely the concatenationof a historical event of suchutter hopelessnessas the Holocaust with the fairy tales, whose predominant messageis one of hope, that leads the Nobel Laureatein the courseof his ceuvre to an increasing senseof doom.His adaptations of fairytales reflecthis skepticismaboutthe of and possibility a Germanreunification the idea of historical progress. In Der Butt of (1977),his adaptation the Grimmtale Vom Fischer und siner Fru, he argues that male ratherthan femalegreedled to the catastrophes of the twentieth century.In this novel the Faustianquestof the Nordicman,which the Nazis read into the German folktale, leadstowardthe Holocaustas a culmination In beforethe declineof humanity. Die Rdttin (1986) Grassdevelops-among many other fairy-talemotifs-a link between Nazi Germany and the legend of The Pied Piper of Hameln, with Hitler as the seductiveflute player who takes rats (Jews) and children (the Germans)to their doom.In this novel It the pessimismis even more pronounced. harks back to the Nazis' perversionof folklore primarily through the motif of the German fairy-tale forest, a chief emblem for national identity during the Third Reich, which is itself endangered now in light of Germany's ecological crisis. In Grass's Rdttin,

not only are the Germanforestand German national identity about to vanish, the fairy tales themselvesare.Theendof the fairytale announcesthe end of humankind. His earlier and no doubt most famous does not yet connovel, Die Blechtrommel, tain this dark fairy-taleworld.On the contrary, far from his later pessimism and Hilsenrath'scynicismconcerningthe German fairy-tale tradition, reviving the Romantic dwarftale allows Grassto recovera deeplyhumanitarian aspectof the Romantic Grass addresses Age. In Die Blechtrommel the persecutionof the mentally and physically disabled, of schizophrenics,thieves, aimlesswanderers, the so-calledArbeitsand scheuenunder the Nazis' sterilizationlaws and euthanasiaprogram. Blechtrommel Die probes the limits of representationby employing elements of folk culture--the fairy tale, a carnivalambience,the archetypeof and the trickster, the literarygenreof the picaresque novel-in order to represent the grim realityof the NationalSocialisteuthanasia programas well as the discriminatory WestGermansocipracticesof a post-fascist ety.14Althoughthe novel conflatesthe sublime (the Holocaust)with the profane(folk humor), in doing so it attempts to revive some of the grotesqueformsthat the Nazis had tried to eliminate.Die Blechtrommel is an elaborateTom Thumb tale that directs ourattentionto the Nazis'misuseof folklore fortheirracialtheories.15 Throughhis dwarf Oskar Matzerath Grass comments on the Nazis' narrowly definedideaof the Faustian quest pertainingonly to the Nordicman of classicalbeauty,a limitationthat nourished their conceptof life unworthyof life. In reclaiming the fairy-tale tradition from its ideologicalabuse during the Third Reich Grass harks back to the liberaltraditionof the Romantic periodandthe Weimar Repubwiththe physlic,whichexpressedsolidarity
ically and racially different Other. Moreover, Die Blechtrommel is a picaresque satire on the Bildungsroman that questions Goethe's concept of Bildung, of man's perfectibility, thus casting doubt on the classical notions of



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stability, health, and harmony, the Apolline spirit that also informed the racial eugenics of National Socialism. Like the constantly endangered Tom Thumb of the fairy tale, Oskar Matzerath is not only physically challenged, he is also a thief, a trickster, and a seemingly aimless wanderer. These categories make him into the kind of social outsider that the Nazis targeted. Through its revival of different forms of folk culture repressed or manipulated by the Nazis for ideological purposes, Die Blechtromnmelis a major contribution to German Vergangenheitsbewialtigung.1l It is the story of Oskar Matzerath, who decides to stop growing at age three. He lives in Gdansk during the Nazi years, where he keeps beating on his tin drum and shattering glass with his miraculous voice, all in protest against the adult world. After his mother dies from unhappiness and compulsive fish consumption, Oskar leaves home and joins his friend Bebra, a circus midget, in order to perform before the Nazis at a warfront theater in France. He then returns home to his father, whom the Russians kill as they overrun Poland. At his father's funeral Oskar decides to grow a few more inches, he develops a hunchback, then temporarily becomes a successful entrepreneur in the early Federal Republic and finally ends up in a madhouse after being charged with murder. The tale of Tom Thumb occupies a central place in this Bildungsroman parody. Like Wilhelm Meister, who is influenced for the remainder of his life by a puppet play, Oskar's development is substantially impacted by a theater performance: Es wurde das Marchen vom Daumeling gegeben, was mich von der ersten Szene an fesselte und verstandlicherweisepersbnlich ansprach. Man machte es geschickt, zeigte den Daumeling gar nicht, liel3nur seine Stimme horen und die erwachsenen Personenhinter dem unsichtbaren aber recht aktiven Titelhelden des er Stiickes herspringen.Da saB3 dem Pferd im Ohr, da lieB er sich vom Vater fuir schweres Geld an zwei Strolche verkau-

fen, da erging er sich auf des einen Strolches Hutkrempe, sprach von dort oben herab, kroch spiter in ein Mauseloch, dann in ein Schneckenhaus, machte mit Dieben gemeinsameSache,geriet ins Heu und mit dem Heu in den Magen der Kuh. Die Kuh aber wurdegeschlachtet,weil sie mit Daumelings Stimme sprach.Der Magen der Kuh aber wanderte mit dem gefangenen Kerlchenauf den Mist und wurde von einem Wolfverschluckt. Den Wolf aber lenkte Daumeling mit klugen Worten in seines Vaters Haus und Vorratskammer und schlug dort Larm, als der Wolf zu rauben gerade beginnen wollte. Der SchluB war, wie's im Marchen zugeht: der Vater erschlug den basen Wolf, die Mutter offnete mit einer Schere Leib und Magen des FreBsacks, heraus kam Diumeling, das heiBt, man horte ihn nur rufen: "Ach, Vater,ich war in einem Mauseloch, in einer Kuh Bauch und in eines Wolfes Wanst: nun bleib ich bei Euch." Mich rfihrte dieser SchluB [...], und als ich zu Mama hinaufblinzelte, bemerkte ich, daBsie die Nase hinter dem Taschentuch barg, weil sie gleich mir die Handzum eigensten Erleblung auf der Bifihne nis gemacht hatte. Mama liel3sich gerne rithren, driickte mich wihrend der folgenden Wochen,vor allen Dingen, solange das Weihnachtsfest dauerte, immer wieder an sich, kiiB3te mich und nannte Oskar bald scherzhaft, bald wehmittig: Diumling. Oder:Mein kleiner Ddiumling. Oder:Mein armer,armer Daumling.17 This novel is densely intertextual not only with two different versions of the Grimms' Tom Thumb folktale, Daurmesdick and Daumnerlings Wanderschaft, but also with other fairy tales about dwarfs, first and foremost Wilhelm Hauff's Der kleine Muck and Zwerg Nase.18 Grass regenerated, as it were, what the Nazis had perceived as degenerate, the grotesque body and the grotesque Romantic fairy tale.19 A close reading of the novel reveals that Grass adopts a structure shared by at least these four dwarf tales: (1) the reduction of the dwarf to his grotesque body, (2) the mockery and public display of the dwarf,

ARNDS:Grass, Hilsenrath, Kiefer (3) the public's understanding of the dwarf'ssize as a reflectionof mental inadequacy,(4) the dwarfs desire to hide from harassment and persecution, (5) his collaborationwith criminalsas a form of selfprotection, (6) the questionability of his parents' love, and (7) his wandering in searchof happiness.The tales thus become a vehicle for historicalrepresentation.20 Like Tom Thumb, Oskaris in constant dangerbecauseof his size. LikeTomThumb therefore,Oskar repeatedlyhas to hide in places that symbolizethe protectivenessof the mother's womb. He hides under his skirts,inside a rostrumdurgrandmother's ing a Nazi partygathering,in war bunkers, closets,etc. Hejoins a bandof criminals,the and "Stdiuberbande" the Nazis themselves, in ordernot to be crushedby them.Although he is the size of a thumb,TomThumb's journey reflectshis pursuitof happiness.Grass elaborateson this conceptand contextualizes it with the historicalbackground euof thanasia.The externalarrestingof Oskar's growthstandsin directcontrastto his inner life. The associationof arrestedintellectual growth with arrested physical growth becomesa criticalcommenton the condemnation of the disabledby the Nazis as dead soulsandtherefore"lifeunworthyof living." Oskar'srich inner life exposesthe enormity of Nazi crimes against the mentally and who were sent into physicallyhandicapped, the gas chambersafter"aperfunctory medical test."21 Whathave been literarytopoifor centuries-society's contemptforthe dwarf, the view that his physicalshortcomings signal mental inadequacy, uselessness for his society other than for the purpose of display-are paradigmswe can observe not only in the above-mentioneddwarf fairy tales but also in such novels as Par Lagerqvist's Dvdirgen(1944) and Ursula Hegi's Stonesfromthe River (1994).These literary
topoi became gruesome realities under Nazi euthanasia. Leni Yahil points out that "Sterbehilfe became Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens and the extension of such life was denoted unsozial" (307). While euthanasia


aims at alleviatingthe sufferingof the individual, "racialeugenicswas to developand improvethe humanraceand,in light of this seeminglynoble aim, the individualand his
suffering became insignificant. [...] People

who were no longeruseful to the state were as in perceived "monsters" contrastto "true human beings"(Yahill307). They were describedas geistig Tote, "aliengrowth[s]in humansociety,andof a lowerlevel than animals"(Yahill 307).It is onlya shortstepfrom this conceptto the denialof the rightto exist. to According these theoriesit was suggested by Professor Ernst Bergmann as early as 1933 "thata worldwide campaignshouldbe launched against the retarded, habitual criminals, and all degenerates.He recommended 'quietly throwing away onto the garbageheap a millionof the human refuse in the largecities"'(Yahil 308).Yahilgoes on to describe implementation the euthathe of nasia program in Nazi Germany.She exi.e., plains how the Sonderbehandlung, the gassingand subsequentcremation,of undesirable Ballastexistenzenoriginated as the centraloperationof the euthanasiaprogram in 1940 beforeit was used in concentration camps. After public protest against these practices,the Nazis halted the euthanasia operationand the gassinginstallationswere officiallycloseddown. In practice,however, the operationcontinuedin the form of the so-calledwild euthanasia,that is, killing in special,locked-upinstitutionsin which victims wereput to deathindividually injecby The tion, sleepingpills,or starvation. starvation methodwas particularly popularin the discase of mentallydefectiveandphysically abledchildren-the numberof such victims is estimatedat twentythousand.Persuasion in and deceptionwerepracticed particularly the case of child victims: parents were informedthat the child had been transferred to a specialinstitutionfor specialtreatment
(Yahil309), from which they never returned. Rather than employing a 'language of silence' in Die Blechtrommel, Grass explicitly addresses these concepts of (a) Sonderbehandlung, (b) Ballastexistenz, (c) the per-



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ception of the handicapped as monsters at a lower level than animals, (d) their perception as mentally dead, and (e) their consequent institutionalization. Oskar's friend, the dwarfBebra, refers to the concept of Sonderbehandlung when he says: "Unsereins darf nie zu den Zuschauern gehoren. Unsereins muB auf die Btihne, in die Arena. Unsereins muB vorspielen und die Handlungbestimmen, sonst wird unsereins von denen da behandelt [my italics]. Und jene spielen uns allzu gerne uibel mit!" Mir fast ins Ohr kriechend, fliisterte er und machte uralte Augen: "Sie kommen! Sie werden die Festplitze besetzen! Sie werden Fackelziige veranstalten! Sie werden Tribiinenbauen, Tribiinen bevolkern und von Tribuinenherunter unseren Untergang predigen. Geben Sie acht, junger Freund,was sich auf den Tribiinen ereignen wird! Versuchen Sie, immer auf der Tribilne zu sitzen und Kleine Leute wie wir finden selbst auf iiberftilltesten Tribiunennoch ein Platzchen. Und wenn nicht auf der Tribuine, dann unter der Tribiine,aber niemals vor der Tribiine."(92f) The difference between Bebra and Oskar is that in order to survive, the circus dwarf will, as he says, sit on the rostrum, i.e., side with the Nazis for self-protection, whereas Oskar initially puts up some resistence to the Nazis by sitting inside the rostrum. We may all remember the famous carnivalesque scene in which Oskar drums apart a party gathering from within the bandstand. Sitting inside this rostrum like Jonah in the whale corresponds to the interior spaces in the Tom Thumb tale, the cow's and the wolf's belly, from which Tom Thumb liberates himself through his own activity. Although he initially practises political resistance, Oskar later joins Bebra in performing before the Nazis at the warfront in France. Oskar would lose his life if it were not for his "usefulness" to the Nazis as an entertainer at the front. As long as he entertains the Nazis he can

escape from being classified as Ballastexistenz. He survives thanks to his voice, the miracle weapon that enables him to scream glass to pieces. By shattering glass he also becomes an accomplice to the Nazis in the sense that this activity is associated with the Reichskristallnacht. This complicity with the Nazis once again recalls Tom Thumb, who for self-protection also joins a gang of thieves. That Oskar is persecuted is easy to miss in the novel. After his return from France Oskar is in danger of being taken to an institution, and not simply because the question of who Oskar's father is remains unresolved in his life. Oskar would not be taken to an orphanage, although Matzerath's dubious fatherhood is used by the authorities as a reason for Oskar's planned institutionalization: Ein Mann vom Gesundheitsministerium kam, sprach vertraulich mit Matzerath, aber Matzerath schrie laut, dass man es h6ren konnte: "Das kommt gar nicht in Frage, das habe ich meiner Frau am Totenbett versprechen miissen, ich bin der Vater und nicht die Gesundheitspolizei." Ich kam also nicht in die Anstalt. Aber von jenem Tage an traf alle zwei Wochen ein amtliches Briefchenein, das den Matzerath zu einer kleinen Unterschrift aufforderte;dochMatzerathwollte nicht unterschreiben, legte aber sein Gesicht in Sorgenfalten. (286) Oskar has become a public health issue. In the chapter entitled "Die Staiuber" this letter is mentioned a second time: Es hatte mich also alle Welt verlassen, und nur der Schatten meiner armen Mama, der dem Matzerath idhmendauf die Finger fiel, wenn er ein vom Reichsgesundheitsministerium verfaBtes Schreiben unterzeichnen wollte, verhinderte mehrmals, daBich, der Verlassene,diese Welt verlieB.(299) Although Matzerath's position as father is a weak one, his reaction to the letter is healthy:

niemalsvor der Tribiinezu stehen. [...]

ARNDS:Grass, Hilsenrath, Kiefer
Das geht doch nich. Man kann doch den eigenen Sohn nich. Selbst wenn er zehnmal und alle Arzte dasselbe sagen. Die schreiben das einfach so hin. Die haben wohl keine Kinder.(298) It is Maria, Oskar's first love and later stepmother, who is not as sure about keeping Oskar at home as is Matzerath. She would not mind seeing him disappear in an institution. Her vacillation already becomes evident upon Oskar's return from France. Her reception of him is far less emotional and is accompanied by the comment that he has given them plenty of trouble (286). Although she claims to hope that they will not put him in an institution, she adds: "Vaidient hastes ja. Laifst davon und sagst nischt!" (286) She shows the same kind of ambiguity at the second mention of the letter. In response to Matzerath's healthy reaction that he can't send his own son away she says: Nu beruhje dir doch,Alfred.Du tust grad so, als wiird mir das nuscht ausmachen. Aberwenn se sagen, das macht man heut so, denn weiB ich nich, was nu richtig is. (298) The "modern way to do" this, is, of course, to kill the likes of Oskar. Despite the apparent ambivalence of Maria's reaction, she tries to exert some pressure on Alfred and push him into signing the letter, quite possibly not so much to get rid of Oskar as to get rid of the trouble he causes them. Matzerath seems almost shocked at her willingness to get rid of Oskar and he bursts out: "Agnes [Oskar's real mother] hatte das nie gemacht oder erlaubt!" (298). Maria's reaction to this is quite interesting because it expresses an idea with which we are familiar from the fairy-tale world: "Na is verstindlich, weil se de Mutter war und immerjehofft hat, dasses besser mecht werden mit ihm. Aber siehst ja: is nich jeworden, wird iiberall nur rumjestoBen und weiBlnich zu leben und weiBl nich zu sterben!" (298). This is undoubtedly the 'evil' fairy-tale stepmother want-


ing to do away with the real mother's child[ren]. But in this very comment the fairy-tale world also collides with the historical reality of euthanasia. Apart from the fact that she is wrong because Oskar knows very well how to live, she adopts the Nazi party's own reasoning that because there is no visible physical growth, a cripple like Oskar has no life inside and should therefore be put out of his misery. This is the very idea implied by the euthanasia program, under which the disabled were considered geistig tot. Ernst Klee has collected a large amount of historical documents that reflect such attitudes. He quotes, for example, from Karl Binding's and Alfred Hoche's book Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens. Ihr Ma/3 und ihre Form (1920): Sie habenwederden Willenzu leben,noch zu sterben.So gibt es ihrerseits keine beachtliche Einwilligungin die Titung, andererseits stS6t diese auf keinen Lebenswillen, der gebrochen werden mif3te. Ihr Leben ist absolut zwecklos, aber sie empFUrihre finden es nicht als unertraiglich. Angehorigen wie ffir die Gesellschaft bilden sie eine furchtbarschwere Belastung. Ihr Tod reil3tnicht die geringste Liicke auBer vielleicht im Gefuihl der Mutter. [...] Wieder finde ich weder vom rechtlichen, noch vom sozialen, noch vom sittlichen, noch vom religiosen Standpunkt keinen Grund, die T6tung dieser Menschen, die das furchtbare Gegenbildechter Menschen bilden und fast in jedem Entsetzen erwecken, der ihnen begegnet, freizugeben.22 Euthanatos, the beautiful death, was in store for those who were considered marginal existences between life and death, neither quite alive because they were considered geistig tot nor quite dead because physically they were still alive. Oskar asserts his existence in opposition to Maria's words by taking refuge in his two gifts, the drum and his voice, "mir jedoch war Oskars Stimme iiber der Trommel ein ewig frischer Beweis meiner Existenz; denn so-



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lange ich Glas zersang, existierte ich, solange mein gezielter Atem dem Glas den Atem nahm, war in mir noch Leben" (299). These words are, of course, also a reference to his earlier 'usefulness' to the Nazis at the warfront, because Oskar has survived this long solely because of his strange gift of shattering glass with his voice. Maria's disparaging words have a strong impact on Oskar. In a way they disillusion him about her and his love for her as becomes clear from his vision of the clinic, which evokes the Nazi euthanasia institutions: [er] sieht sogar heute noch, sobald ihm Mariaunter die Augen kommt, eine wundersch6ne, in bester Gebirgsluftliegende Klinik,in dieser Klinik einen lichten, modern freundlichen Operationssaal, sieht wie vor dessen gepolsterter Tiir die schtichterne, doch vertrauensvoll ldichelnde Mariamich erstklassigen Arzten tibergibt,die gleichfallsund Vertrauenerweekend lacheln, wahrend sie hinter ihren weiBen, keimfreien Schiurzen erstklassige, Vertrauen erweckende, sofort wirkende Spritzen halten. (299) The Nazis' euthanasia methods of camouflaging their activities as well as using injections are both addressed in this passage. The neglect that Oskar experiences from his stepmother Maria nearly causes his death, were it not for the good angel of his mother and Matzerath's persistent reluctance to sign. Finally, however, Matzerath gives in when, after Oskar's trial for his and the 'Stauberbande's' desecration of the Church of the Sacred Heart, an official in civilian clothes approaches him, iibergabdem ein Schreibenund sagte: Sie sollten sich das wirklich noch einmal tiberlegen, Herr Matzerath. Das Kind mu3 von der StraBefort. Sie sehen ja, von welchen Elementen solch ein hilfloses Geschapf mifbraucht wird. (319) The official's comment is again a reference to Oskar's mental deadness and echoes Maria's earlier words that he's always be-

ing pushed around by others, i.e., that he has no will of his own. Both are wrong since we know that Oskar is the gang leader, the brain behind all of its activities. Yet the authorities now have two reasons to institutionalize Oskar and dispose of him. Not only is he considered a public health threat because of his physical imperfection, now he also falls under the category of criminal, another type of Untermensch that the Nazis were eager to eliminate. This time Matzerath ponders for ten days as to whether or not he should sign the letter before he finally gives in. Yet luckily for Oskar lag die Stadt schon unter ArtilleriebeschuB, und es war fraglich, ob die Post noch Gelegenheitfainde, Briefweiterden zusenden. (319) The end of the war saves his life. It is little surprise that Maria, who almost causes Oskar's premature death, becomes the chief representative of the postwar affluent bourgeoisie which contrasts sharply with the institutionalized Oskar. Although Oskar proposes to her, their marriage seems out of the question. In a moment of rage she had once reduced him to the kind of monster mentioned earlier. Bindingund Hoche called people like Oskar "Menschen, die das furchtbare Gegenbild echter Menschen bilden und fast injedem Entsetzen erwecken, der ihnen begegnet" (Klee 22). Maria calls him eine verfluchte Drecksau, einen Giftzwerg, einen fibergeschnappten Gnom, den man in die Klappsmiihle stecken miisse. Dann packte sie mich, klatschte meinen Hinterkopf, beschimpfte meine arme Mama, die einen Balg wie mich in die Welt gesetzt habe und stopfte mir,als ich schreien wollte, es auf alles Glas im Wohnzimmerund in der ganzen Weltabgesehen hatte, den Mundmit jenem Frottierhandtuch, das, wenn man hineinbil3, ziher als Rindfleischwar. (238) Although she failed to see him institutionalized during the Third Reich, she witnesses how this is finally accomplished in

ARNDS:Grass, Hilsenrath, Kiefer the FederalRepublic.Thus in the end she finds her theory confirmed that he is an Gnom,den man in die "iibergeschnappter Klappsmiihle stecken miisse." By calling him a gnome she reduces him to a fairytale creature, an otherwordlybeing, stripping him of his humanity,in the same way the Nazis placedthe disabledand the Jews at a level lower than animals. Art Spiegelman's caption to his Maus series may also come to mind in this context, Hitler's words "The Jews are undoubtedly a race but they are not human." This view applied to both the Jews and the disabled, who were primarily considered a health hazardand fell victims to the politics of racial hygiene. Like Tom Thumb, chased by his Master's wife with a rag, Mariathreatens to gag Oskar with a towel. The rag in the fairy tale and the perception of the physically handicappedas monstrous are also linked to Oskar's famous comment on Goethe:
der Goethe hitte [...] in dir [Oskar] nur


Unnaturerkannt, dichals die leibhaftige
Unnatur verurteilt und seine Natur [...]

Konfekt hitte ermittibersiilhem geffittert und dich armen Tropfwenn nicht mit dem Faustdannmit einemdickenBand seinerFarbenlehre (72) erschlagen. Goethe'svision of the "klassisch Gesunde"as a seedbedforthe racialeugenicsof the Nazis is undoubtedly provocative a thought. Yetin postwarGerman cultureGrass'snovel is not alonein its recourseto the picaresque and its parodyof Germanhigh culture and the Enlightenmentconceptof Bildung. In this regard,Die Blechtrommel can also be Mann's withsuchworksas Thomas compared Felix Krull, Arno Schmidt'sDas steinerne Herz, EdgarHilsenrath'sDer Nazi und der and Friseur, someofAnselmKiefer's provocative visual art. In their returnto the world
of fairy tales and myth for the representation of the Holocaust and post-Holocaust German society these artists were all supporters of Richard Alewyn's warning to all Germans in 1949 that Buchenwald lies "zwischenuns

und Weimar."23 Much has been written on Grass'suse of the picaresque his parody and of GoetheanBildung, yet these categories havenot been discussedin the contextof the Nazis'oppression the grotesque of low of and culture.24 recoveringwhat was considBy ered an inferiorgenre throughoutthe 19f century(exceptin the Romantic Age),nametradition,i.e., by salvaging ly the picaresque the degenerateandgrotesquenot onlyin the humanbody (Oskar)but also in the literary form, Grass's Die Blechtrommelbecomes one of the great humanitarian novels of our time. I would argue, however,that Grass's use of the fairy-taletraditionin the context of Nazi euthanasiaand criticismof German Bildung is, on the whole, subtler and less cynicalthan that of his contemporary Edgar Hilsenrath.AlthoughDie Blechtrommel has received reactions,the auverycontroversial thor's cautious and non-provocative treatment of the theme of euthanasiain the context of folkculturedid not overtlybreakany taboos.25 This does not hold true for Hilsenrath and Kiefer. JenniferTaylorhas correctlyarguedthat whileElie Wiesel"writesto struggle with his madness Edgar Hilsenrath writesto asserthis claimto his own German culturalpast, as well as to redefinehis postwar identity as a Jew.Writingis for him an act of assertionor even of revengewhich allows himto reclaimsomeof the Germancultural inheritance taken from all German Jews by the Nazis."26 is referringto the She Germanhigh culture that Hilsenrath'suse of the grotesquetransformsinto a sort of He Unterkultur. does so by displacingthe BrothersGrimmwith his own fairy-tale versions and by parodyingthe GoetheanBildungsroman. Hilsenrath's principle technique is one of inversion.As he invertshigh cultureinto low culture,he invertsthe positions of Ubermensch Untermensch. and Max
Schulz, a non-Jew who looks like a Jew, is one of these lowly creatures. Allegedly raped by his stepfather when he is seven weeks old, he becomes a mass murderer in a concentration camp. After the war he recreates himself as



Fall 2002

his former Jewish neighbor and Holocaust victim Itzig Finkelstein, goes to Tel Aviv,and becomes a well-respected barber. The two main fairy tales that intertextually pervade the structure of the first half of this novel are Frau Holle and Hdnsel und Gretel. Though the reluctance on the part of German publishers to publish the book in the early 1970s was attributed to its alleged anti-Semitism, Hilsenrath's provocative reappropriation of German culture may have something to do with their refusal to accept the novel. As I pointed out, the fairy-tale tradition was at best considered beneficial for the process of healing the great German wound. Through his use of the fairy tale, Hilsenrath reopens this wound and throws salt into it. Hilsenrath's Frau Holle has little in common with the benevolent woman of the original tale, who was considered a role model for all women in the Third Reich. With the figure of Frau Holle we transcend the boundaries of folklore and enter the realm of Germanic mythology. As an archetypal figure of Germanic mythology that has survived in the folktale she was of particular interest to the Nazis.27No doubt Hilsenrath's Frau Holle is inspired by the Nazis' obsession with her origin in Norse mythology and her function as a model for the good mother and Hausfrau. The Norse goddess Hel was a figure associated with death and rebirth, which we see reflected in the fairy tale's image of the well through which the two daughters enter Frau Holle's underworld and exit from it. Catering to Nazi ideology,Maria Fuihrersays of the Norse goddess that she "nahm zwar die Verstorbenen in Empfang und hielt sie streng gefangen und verhiillt in den Tiefen ihres unterirdischen Reiches; sie barg aber auch die Lebenskeime in ihrem muitterlich nihrenden SchoB" (82). In his parody of Frau Holle Hilsenrath works with these two functions, that of guardian of the dead and the archetype of the life-giving mother. Her "mfitis terlich niihrender SchoB3" perverted into that of a prostitute. That she has only one real leg makes her the object of sexual desire for an American major, who is incapable of

making love to two-legged women and ends up making love to her wooden, non-Aryan leg. After he dies from too much sex with the wooden leg, Frau Holle guards his dead body in her "underworld,"her bombed-out basement apartment. Particularly through the revisionist tendencies of his Frau Holle, Hilsenrath alludes to the Nazis' ideological abuse of this tale and their appropriation of what for them was a typically Germanic myth: "Ichkenne keine Juden,"sagte Frau Holle. Frau Holle wollte weitergehen, aber der Junge sagte dann noch:"Diekommen doch jetzt aus den Lagern zuriick!""Du meinst - die - die noch da sind?"sagte Frau Holle. "Ja,"sagte derJunge, "- haben Sie die Zeitung gelesen?" "Ich lese keine Zeitungen,"sagte Frau Holle. "Ist sowieso alles Schwindel.""6Millionenermorderter Juden," sagte der Junge. "Alles Schwindel,Willi,"sagte Frau Holle.28 This was possibly a key passage contributing to the publishers' rejection of the book. Yet even more iconoclastic in the eyes of the German publishers may have been the associative proximity of the text's Hansel und Gretel version to the concentration camps. When Max Schulz returns from the war he tells the Triimmerfrau Frau Holle a Hansel-and-Gretel story that happened to him deep in the Polish forest. Like Giinter Grass's fairy-tale forest in Die Rattin, Hilsenrath's forest is far from being the emblem of national unity that the Nazis saw in the German forest.29Hilsenrath's fairy-tale forest transcends the original danger of the Grimm Brothers' forest by referring to the horrors Germany committed in Eastern European forests during WW II. As Schulz is fleeing the Russians he manages to hide during the winter in the hut of an ancient Polish woman, Veronja, who in return for giving him shelter and food expects sexual service from him seven times a night. As he chances upon her cabin he describes it in ominous terms that conjure up the crematoria: Ich sah zuerst nur ein Dach [...] ein schie-

ARNDS: Grass, Hilsenrath, Kiefer fes Strohdachmit einem kurzen Schornstein aus gepreBtem Lehm. Schwarzer Rauch stieg aus dem Schornstein, kriudem Strohdach,verfing sich in selte Uiber den Baumwipfelnin der Nihe des Daches, l1ste sich bei neuen WindstiBenund stieB himmelwarts. Ich folgte den Rauchschwaden mit meinen Blicken, guckte in den Himmel, ohne zu wollen, und erschrak. Denn der Himmel iiber dem Strohdachsah wie Eis aus. Blaues Eis mit einer eingefrorenen Sonne [...] Plitzlich ging eines der Fenster auf. Ich sah ein Gesicht. Das Gesicht eines Hutzelweibes. Ein uraltes Gesicht. [...] [D]ann ging die Tiir auf. Ganz langsam ging die auf. Und knarrte. Ganz komisch knarrte die Tiir. "So wie bei Hinsel und Gretel," sagte FrauHolle. "Michgruselt's richtig. "Mich hat's auch gegruselt," sagte Max Schulz. "Dastand sie pl6tzlichauf der Tiirschwelle. Eine uralte Frau. Eine, die ganz komisch grinste. So ein Grinsen hatte ich vorher noch nie gesehen [...]. Die grinste wie ein Menschenfresser"(100-01). That Veronja first appears to him as a cannibal is not only a reference to the voracity of the Grimm witch and the devouring mother archetype but can, in the context of Schulz's sexual slavery, also be read as a Freudian reference to the finger episode in the Grimm original. On the seventh night of doing seven 'numbers' with Veronja, "sieben Nummern schieben" as he calls it, Schulz has his second heart attack. He had his first one while shooting Jews at the edge of the mass grave. Instead offinding a treasure in the witch's hut, as do Hansel and Gretel, Schulz already arrives with one, a box full of gold teeth he has managed to swipe from Laubwalde, the concentration camp from which he had escaped before his encounter with Veronja. The Hansel-and-Gretel tale is thus thematically linked to the Holocaust in a number of ways, via: (a) the black smoke from the hut,30 (b) the box of gold teeth, (c) the inversion of the status of Max Schulz: from oppressor to oppressed, from perpetrator to victim; the witch makes him the kind of


"Untermensch" (103) that he is used to seeing in others, and, most centrally, (d) the oven motif. Schulz has to clean Veronja's oven (110) and when it comes to the showdown in which, in order to save his gold teeth, he has to kill her, the oven again looms large: Ich [...] zertrfimmerte den Schidel der Hexe mit drei Schligen [...] VeronjasGesicht [...] rutschte zum Kiichenherd, rutschte unter die Beine der Ziege Katjuscha, die entsetzt gegen das Ofenloch sprang. Kalte Asche fiel auf VeronjasGesicht. Ich holte die Kohlenschaufel,kehrte Gesicht und Asche zusammen, warf es ins Ofenloch, machte ein lustiges Feuer. (117) The German war crimes, primarily the Holocaust, cannot be disentangled from this fairy tale version. For a moment, Veronja as a representative for all Poles who became victims of the Nazis, can enjoy her position as oppressor and take sweet revenge.31 Yet it is above all such props as the black smoke, the icy atmosphere, the ashes, the coal shovel, and the oven that are stable reminders of the Holocaust in the midst of this carnivalesque encounter. That Schulz momentarily becomes a victim gives him the idea central to the structure of the novel of recreating himself as a Jewish victim after the war. Through the

death of the witch, he experiences like Hansel and Gretel a sort of rebirth: "Ich ging dem Frithling entgegen" (118). The theme of rebirth is shared by the Grimm tale, Hilsenrath'snovel, Grass'sDie Blechtrommel, and some of Kiefer's work.32 Oskar,for example, repeatedly voices his eagerness to return to the mother's womb. In connection with the oven as a symbol of the motherly womb (as discussed also by Jung), Andrey Toporkovhas pointed out that the Russian version of Hansel and
Gretel, the Baba-Yaga tale, is related to an Eastern European rebirth ritual, in which a sick baby is placed on a shovel and shoved into a hot oven with the intention of re-




baking it, i.e., to placing it back into the womb so that it can be rebornas a healthy This baby (nepeneKaHie [perepekanye]).33 ritual evokes not only the Hansel-andGretel tale but also the story of Max and Moritz, who are baked into bread in the baker's oven. Their rebirth does not function, however,because they re-emerge as ill-behaved as they were before, which is why they are ultimately killed: so that the village communitycan be reborn.The Nazis also thought in terms of rebirth. By getting rid of what was considered harmful, parasitic, diseased, and ultimately evil, they thought that Germany could be reborn, literally like Phoenix fromthe ashes. In the context of the Holocaust as well as against the backgroundof the beginningof the Federal Republic as Stunde Null, the idea of rebirth becomes thematic in Der
Nazi und der Friseur and Die Blechtrommel.

has been unsuccessful in Germany. LikeGrass,Hilsenrathparodies Goethe thean Bildungsromanand its successorsin the 19thcentury.Particularly beginning the
of Der Nazi und der Friseur, which juxtapo-

ses the upbringing the non-Jewish the of and to Jewishboy,theirfriendship opposed the as prejudicesof their parents, is intertextual with such novels as Wilhelm Raabe'sDer
Hungerpastor and Gustav Freytag's Soll und Haben. The Ubermensch Goethe is asso-

Max Schulz's rebirth as Itzig Finkelstein can partlybe seen as a sort of Holocaustdenial and the repression of his own guilt. Oskar Matzerath's rebirth ironically occurs in the chapter in which after the war he travels west on the freight train where he metamorphizesfrom a mere child that had refused to grow into an ugly dwarf with a hump. His ugly hump denotes the ugliness with which Germansociety emerges from the war years, the burden of its guilt which Oskar takes upon himself. That Hilsenrath's perpetrator recreates himself as a victim can even be understood as a comment on Germany's postwar philo-Semitism. Ironically,it is this very philo-Semitism,denouncedby Hilsenrath, that prevents the novel from being published.34 The fact that the Hansel-andGretel oven is a symbolof rebirth simultaneously pointing to the destruction in the camps moves this text onto taboo ground. The oven that destroys human life becomes the perpetrator's site for his recreation as victim. If in this context the protagonist Max Schulz has been understood to represent German society at large, it becomes possible to fathom why this book

ciated with the Jews, who live in the GoethestraBe("diemeistenJuden [wohnten]in der Goethe- und SchillerstraBe" [20]) and are civilizedpeople as opposedto the nonJews likethe butcher, who"wollte unbedingt aufderGoethestrasse bleiben,ichnehmean, wegen des 'Erlk6nigs,'obwohl ich nicht sicher bin, ob er Goethes Gedichtkannte" (14), and like Slavitzkiwho rapes his stepson. What are the points of intersectionbetween the visual art of Anselm Kieferand the literaryworksof Grassand Hilsenrath? LikeHilsenrath,Kieferbroketaboosin representing the darkest chapter of German history.Like Hilsenrath'snovelsNacht and
Der Nazi und der Friseur, Kiefer's work was

received triumphantlyin the US while it triggeredshockreactionsat home. He employssomeofthe samethemesas Hilsenrath and Grass:the world of Germanicmytholforest,the contrastbetween ogy,the German German high culture and the darkness of militarism and genocide. Like Grass and Hilsenrathhe contraststhe classicalAryan bodywith the Jewish body,and in doingso, like Hilsenrathhe alludes to Paul Celan's "deingoldenesHaarMargarete, Todesfuge: dein aschenesHaarSulamit." Thislinefrom Celan'spoem is echoed visuallyin Kiefer's
paintings Margarete (1981), in Dein goldenes Haar, Margarete (1981), in Sulamith

(1983), and in two books made of soldered
lead and strands of women's hair (Sulamith 1990). As L6pez-Pedraza argues, "in Germany before Hitler, the Jewish Diaspora was driven by an unreflective love for the German culture, leading to the illusion of being

ARNDS:Grass, Hilsenrath, Kiefer
assimilated. But now we have to recognize that it was the fantasy of assimilation to a shadow-culture with Wotanic roots (L6pezPedraza 69)" It is this Jewish love for the German culture that Hilsenrath ironizes in his parody ofBildung and the German fairy tale. It is the rift between these two cultures that appears to us from the abysses of Celan's poem and on the burnt East Prussian landscape of Kiefer's paintings. Yet while his Holocaust paintings may command one to silence, Kiefer's Occupations (1975) caused a major uproar among Germans. This is a set of photographs and paintings in which by making the Sieg Heil salute the artist "occupies" various symbolic locations in Europe, all territories held by the Nazis during WW II. According to Peter Winter "WestGerman art critics tend to assume that Anselm Kiefer is a nationalist painter [...]. Short of banning him, the domestic critics would like at least to tell Kiefer what he ought to paint,"35 and WolfSch6n asked in the Rheinischer Merkur (6 June 1980), shortly after the 1980 Biennale in Venice: "Is this neo-Nazi Blood-andSoil art, a relapse into the glorious past?" (cited in Winter 66). Kiefer, however, defended himself against accusations that his art was neo-fascist by saying: "I identify myself neither with Nero nor with Hitler. However, I must sympathize with them just a little bit so as to understand their madness" (cited in Winter 70). Kiefer's way of acting out and working through the fascist past rather than partaking of the collective amnesia of the parent generation, is not altogether different from Hilsenrath's sarcasm, which became a means of working through his own traumatic experiences. In an interview Kiefer once said, "you cannot show things as they are;you have to ironize them or they are not supportable. The only way to sustain life is to laugh about it."36This stance and the responses to their work-Hilsenrath was accused of anti-Semitism, Kiefer of being a Neo-Nazi-show how similar this work is. Like Grass, who returns to the Parsifal myth in Die Blechtrommel, and Hilsenrath, who plays with the figure ofFrau Holle, Kie-


fer returns to many of the Germanic myths that had been ideologically perverted by the Nazis. In his enormous painting Parsifal II (1973), for example, he does what Grass did with his "WaldoperZoppot, wo unter freiem Nachthimmel Sommer ffir Sommer Wagnermusik der Natur anvertraut wurde" (87): he points to Wagner as a political forerunner of the Nazis. Both Grass and Kiefer focus on the blood in the Parsifal myth. They refer to the myth in connection with the question of guilt: Nichts ist vorbei, alles kommt wieder, Schuld, Sfihne, abermals Schuld. [...] Kennen Sie den Parzival?Auch ich kenne ihn nicht besonders gut. Einzig die Geschichte mit den drei Blutstropfen im Schnee ist mir geblieben. Diese Geschichte stimmt, weil sie zu mir passt. Wahrscheinlich passt sie zu jedem, der eine Idee hat [.... [A]berder Schnee war schon gefallen, der jene drei Blutstropfen aufnahm, die mir den Blick gleich dem Narren Parzival festnagelten, von dem der Narr Oskar so wenig weiB, daB er sich zwanglos mit ihm identisch ffihlen kann. (392-94) The central terms in this passage are guilt and its return, the blood, the snow that catches the blood, the idea, and the fool. Oskar the drummer is, of course, an ambivalent figure. He is the victim ofpersecution, yet in order to escape this victimization he sides with the Nazis. This makes him a guilty "Mitliiufer." The blood is that of the victims of the Nazi crimes. The snow, he says, "das ist die Berufskleidung einer Krankenschwester" (394), i.e., the blood spilled on the white clothes of the nurse could once again be read as an allusion to the perversion of medicine under the Nazis. The idea is that of the Thousand Year Reich and the salvation of the German Volk by way of cleansing it from its blood pollutants. The fools are those who tried this. Kiefer reduces the Parsifal myth to a bowl of blood in the center of an ominous, claustrophobic room with two monstrous




constructionsof woodenbeams that resem- themes was the Germanforest, the Teutoble a pairof gallows.As in some of his other burgerWald,muchabusedby the Nazis as a paintings, Nothung (1973), Deutschlands national emblem. Nationalists after the modGeistigeHelden (1973),and his famousHo- BrothersGrimm,like the reactionary locaustpaintingSulamith(1983),the design ernist Werner Sombart, had already prefromthe paredthe groundforthe Naziobsessionwith of these cavernoushallsis "derived 'valkisch' Fascist architecture [...] and also the forest by distinguishing the "desertbearsconnotations the heroicpast of Ger- roamingrationalistJews"fromthe "sensuof manic legend [...] reminiscent ofValhalla."37 ous, rooted,andforest-dwelling Germans."38 Over the bucket of blood one reads the in- Hilsenrath turns the Nazi obsession with scription:"HdchstenHeiles Wunder!Erld- the forestinto a grimfairytale forestandthe These words contain a "Wald 6 Millionen"which haunts Max der sung dem Erldser!" good deal of irony when taken out of the Schulzforthe rest of his life,and KiefercomChristiancontext and appliedto the Nazi bines the imageof the forestwith Germanic past. This must be done in Kiefer'scase, es- history,especiallythe "Schlachtim Teutobecausethe "Heil" its ideaofsal- burgerWald" and betweenVarusand Hermann pecially vation turn up in another of his paintings the German.To the Nazis, the defeatof the that mentions Germancultural figures by Romanswas a symbolofGermansupremacy indirectlyreferringto them as forerunners and the purityof Germanblood.Whatis inof Third Reich ideology: Deutsche Heilslinie terestingis that, like Grassand Hilsenrath, (1975). Like many others this painting is who satirizeGermanBildung and the Bilbased on Kiefer'svision of the Norwegian dungsromanby returningto the picaresque an landscape, areathat was dearto German tradition, Kiefer in his two paintings "denationalistsfrom KaiserWilhelmto Hitler. picts the unrealityand inflationembedded It traditionofknowledge. was "Usinginscriptionsof their names, [Kiefer] in the German has separated several great modern Ger- a knowledge that pretendedto be wellout of to man-languagethinkers into two lineages" the forestand a contributor universalen(Rosenthal56).ThoughRosenthalmentions lightenment,but Kieferplacesall those repsuch social theorists as Hegel, Feuerbach, resentative heads" back in the forest (L6and Marxhe also inscribes"futureoriented pez-Pedraza 47). MatthewRampleyargues whobelievedthat a kind of sal- convincingly that the Hermannsschlacht, philosophers vationwouldcomeaboutthrougheitherthe which "wastaken up early as a symbolof emergence of an extraordinaryleader re- Germanidentityin the growthof a sense of sponsive to history or through historical nationhood in the nineteenth century, [...] forcesbeyondthe controlof any individual": became an icon of Wilhelminenationalist Schopenhauer,Wagner, Nietzsche, Jung, ideology"(Rampley84) and that Wegeder andHeidegger of Weltweisheit,in which Kiefer places the (56).Theideaofthe "Heil," salvationbecomesveryamiguousin connec- headsof prominentGermanthinkersround tion with Wagner, Nietzsche,and Heidegger, a groupof gaunt trees and the words "Die the evoking the notion of "Sieg Hell" or "Heil Hermann-Schlacht," "presents ideology Hitler"in the spectator. of Arminiusand mainstreamGermanintelThe approximation Germanhigh cul- lectual life as inextricablylinked. Indeed, of ture, its literary and philosophicalfigures, Kieferseemsto implythat the world-wisdom with WW II and the Holocaust shared by of the Germans,through the motif of the Grass, Hilsenrath, and Kiefer is possibly best [tree]roots,lies at the originof the political
exemplified in Kiefer's series of paintings entitled Wege der Weltweisheit (1976-77) and Wege der Weltweisheit:die Hermannsschlacht (1978). One of Kiefer's favorite violence and its justification symbolized in the event of the battle of the Teutoburger Wald" (Rampley 86). This thought goes beyond Adorno and Horkheimer's idea ofa dia-

ARNDS: Grass, Hilsenrath, Kiefer lectic of the enlightenment and suggests that German romanticism too is responsible for the political violence of the Nazis. Kiefer's second painting in particular seems to support this idea, because in Wegeder Weltweisheit: die Hermannsschlacht he places figures representative of Germany's entire cultural heritage next to the two Nazi propaganda heroes Schlageter and Horst Wessel. In this sweeping defamation of German culture-of enlightenment, classicism, and romanticism -Kiefer resembles Hilsenrath more than Grass. While Hilsenrath's view of the German romantic heritage is deeply cynical in Der Nazi & der Friseur, Grass's treatment of this period is more subtle. Despite the textual proximity of the Wagner opera and the Diumling-performance in the chapter "Die Tribiine," Die Blechtrommel reflects the deeper humanity of German romanticism, which did not reject the grotesque as Goethe did when he said "das Romantische ist krank." Grass's novel seems consciously to revive the grotesque after the Nazis had suppressed it as degenerate and persecuted it in all of its forms, both in the human body and in the arts. Yetthere is no denying that in trying to articulate some of the most horrible Nazi crimes in their oeuvre, all three artists participate in what has been termed Vergangenheitsbewdltigung. They attempt to work through Germany's past by harking back to an ideologically polluted cultural baggage: the fairy tale, Germanic mythology, the Enlightenment concept ofBildung, and the figure of Goethe. Notes: 1Ernestine Schlant, The Language of Silence: West German Literatureand the Holocaust (New York:Routledge, 1999).
2Andreas Huyssen, "Kiefer in Berlin," Octo-


tian, Die "Kinder- und Hausmirchen" der Briider Grimm in der literaturpidagogischen Diskussion des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts (Frankfurta.M.:Haag& Herchen,1981)186. 5Jack Zipes, "The Struggle for the Grimms' Throne: The Legacy of the Grimms' Tales in the FRG and GDR since 1945," Reception of Grimms' Fairy Tales: Responses, Reactions, Revisions, ed. Donald Haase (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1993) 169; Peter Arnds, "Arno Schmidts Das steinerne Herz und Wilhelm HauffsDas kalteHerz,oder:wie ein biedermeierliches Mdirchen gegen den Strich gekimmt

wird,"BargfelderBote.Materialienzum Werk Arno Schmidts (Miinchen:edition text + kritik, 2000): 3-17. 6Zipes, "Grimms' Tales in the FRG and GDR,"173ff. 7It still does now to many critics.Cf. eg. Richard Schickel, "Fascist Fable," Time (Nov. 9, 1998): 116-17: "[T]urningeven a small corner of this century's central horror into feel-good popular entertainment is abhorrent. Sentimentality is a kind of fascism too, robbingus of judgment and moral acuity, and it needs to be resisted. 'Life is Beautiful' is a good place to start." 8Cf. Fritz Rumler, "Max& Itzig, "EdgarHilsenrath: Das Unerzahlbareerzdhlen, ed. Thomas Kraft (Miinchen:Piper, 1996) 70. 9Cf. Rafael L6pez-Pedraza,Anselm Kiefer: After the Catastrophe (London: Thames &
Hudson, 1996) 16.

10Huyssen, "Kieferin Berlin" 87. 11Peter Novick has recently pointed out that the "Holocaust,as virtually the only common denominator of American Jewish identity in the late twentieth century, has filled a need for a consensual symbol." See Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999) 7.
12Edgar Hilsenrath, Die Abenteuer des Ruben Jablonski (Miinchen: Piper, 1999) 214-16.

ber 62 (1992): 85. 3Forinformationon the fairy tale of the Weimar Republic see Jack Zipes (ed. and trans.), Fairy Tales and Fables from Weimar Days (Hanover:UP of New England, 1989) 3-28. 4Cf.Zipes, WeimarDays 25, and Ulrike Bas-

13Zipes, "Grimms' Tales in the FRG and GDR"170. 14Cf.Saul Friedlander,Probing the Limits of Representation:Nazism and the "Final SoluHarvardUP, 1992). tion" (Cambridge:
15This dimension of the Nazis' cultural poli-

tics has to an extent been analyzedby Christa Kamenetsky in Children's Literature in HitThe CulturalPolicy of National ler's Germany:
Socialism (Athens: Ohio UP, 1984), and in



Fall 2002

"Folklore as a Political Tool in Nazi Germany," Journal of American Folklore 85 (1972): 22135, and "Folktale and Ideology in the Third Reich," Journal of American Folklore 90 (1977): 168-78. 16Cf. Berthold Hamelmann, Helau und Heil Hitler: Alltagsgeschichte der Fasnacht 19191939 am Beispiel der Stadt Freiburg (Eggingen: Edition Isele, 1989) 317. Hamelmann demonstrates that the carnival was instrumental to the Nazis in their foreign politics. They saw in carnival a possibility to present National Socialism as a humane (menschenfreundliches) system to an international audience, thus camouflaging their nefarious activities at home. The carnival and the dwarf fairy tales that were not entirely suitable for the education of the young were often omitted from anthologies. 17Giinter Grass, Die Blechtrommel (Darmstadt: Luchterhand, 1986) 87; further references cited parenthetically. 18The fairy-tale subtexts of the novel have been analyzed in two articles, Janice Mouton's "Gnomes, Fairy-Tale Heroes, and Oskar Matzerath," Germanic Review 56.1 (1981): 28-33, and David Roberts, "Tom Thumb and the Imitation of Christ: Towards a Psych-Mythological Interpretation of the 'Hero' Oskar and his Symbolic Function," Proceedings and Papers ofthe Congress oftheAustralasian Universities Language and Literature Association (Canberra, 1972) 160-74. g1ReinholdFranke analyzes the figure of the "Daumling," in "Das Mdirchen vom Diiumling in deutscher und franzbsischer Sprache," Jugendschriftenwarte 43.11 (1938): 21-25. Comparing Perrault's version of the tale with the German version, he concludes that one can recognize "im deutschen Mirchen den nordisch bestimmten, im franz6sischen den westischen Rassetyp" (25). But dwarfs or dwarf-like figures were not particularly popular among Nazi ideologues, who considered them unheroic and "artfremd." Seen in this light, Franke's analysis seems contrived, especially when compared with an interpretation of the tale "Das tapfere Schneiderlein." As early as 1924, Georg Schott interpreted the little tailor, who brags about his achievement of having killed seven flies, as a truculent Jew, who tricks the 'Germanic' giant. Schott sees in this pattern the reflection of

a historical truth. Cf. Peter Aley, Jugendliteratur im Dritten Reich: Dokumente und Kommentare (Hamburg: Verlag ffir Buchmarktforschung, 1967) 103-05: "Es wire einfach ergotzlich, zum laut Auflachen, wenn es nicht so todtraurig wdire.Denn es ist abermals unsere, der Deutschen Geschichte. Die deutschen Riesen: Prachtkerle, mit ihren unheimlichen Kriften. Die Welt k6nnten sie aus den Angeln heben, wenn sie zusammenstiinden. Aber alles ist umsonst; ein elender Wicht, der seinen Schabernack mit ihnen treibt, wird ihrer Herr" (104). 20The Tom Thumb tale is also a subtext in Volker Schlbndorff's movie The Ogre. Abel (John Malkovich), who steals young boys from his parents to recruit them for an elitist Nazi School in an Eastern European forest, corresponds to the ogre of Charles Perrault's Le Petit Poucet, who eats little children that get lost in the forest. Since Abel is a French prisoner of war, the French fairy tale here literally merges with the German fairy-tale world. 21Leni Yahil, The Holocaust: The Fate ofEuropean Jewry (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990) 309. 22Ernst Klee, ed., 'Euthanasie' im NS-Staat: Die 'Vernichtung unwerten Lebens' (Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 1989) 22. 23Georg Bollenbeck, "German 'Kultur,' the 'Bildungsbiirgertum,' and its Susceptibility to National Socialism," German Quarterly 73.1 (2000): 67-83. 24See, for example, Rainer Diederichs, Strukturen des Schelmischen im modernen deutschen Roman: Eine Untersuchung an den Romanen von Thomas Mann 'Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull' und Giinter Grass 'Die Blechtrommel' (Eugen Diederichs Verlag, 1971); Volker Neuhaus, Giinter Grass (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1992); Volker Neuhaus, Giinter Grass: Die Blechtrommel (Mfinchen: Oldenbourg Verlag, 1982). 25Cf. especially the following reviews: Otto von Loewenstein, "Der Blechtrommler in der Kiisestadt: Wie ein Vollstreckungsrichter die Bekanntschaft von Oskar Matzerath machte," Die Zeit 7 June 1963, shows that in the Allgiu a judge considered the novel a menace to youth; Hubert Becher, "Die Blechtrommel und ihre Kritiker," Echo der Zeit 13 March 1960, calls it a barbaric book; Marcel Reich-Ranicki, "Auf gut Gliick getrommelt: Spielereien und

ARNDS:Grass, Hilsenrath, Kiefer
Schaumschliigereien verderben die Zeitkritik des Giinter Grass," Die Zeitl January 1960: 1. 26Jennifer Taylor, "Writing as Revenge: Reading Edgar Hilsenrath's Der Nazi und der Friseur as a Shoah Survivor's Fantasy," History of European Ideas 20.1-3 (1995): 439. 27 Maria Fihrer tried to show the connection between German folktales and the Germanic myths behind them in Nordgermanische Gitteriiberlieferung und deutsches Volksmdrchen: 80 Mdrchen der Briider Grimm vom Mythus her beleuchtet (Miinchen: Neuer Filser-Verlag, 1938). While she identifies Frau Holle as typically Germanic because of the Norse myths behind this tale (80ff, 91f.), she has almost nothing to say about the Tom Thumb figure (cf. page 71). In reading this work it becomes obvious that their connection with Germanic myths made some tales more useful to the education of the German youth than others. 28 Edgar Hilsenrath, Der Nazi und der Friseur (Miinchen: Piper, 1990) 64; further references cited parenthetically. 29 The Nazis' view of the German forest to an extent harks back to Grimms's nationalistic perception of it. Cf. Jack Zipes, "The Enchanted Forest of the Brothers Grimm: New Modes of Approaching the Grimms' Fairy Tales," Germanic Review 62.2 (1987): 67: "The Volk, the people, bound by a common language but disunited, needed to enter old German forests, so the Grimms thought, to gain a sense of their heritage and to strengthen the ties among themselves. " 30 Cf. Jennifer Taylor 442. She makes a connection between "Dach" and Dachau and refers to the intertextuality between the above passage and Paul Celan's "Todesfuge." Similarly, An-


selm Kiefer appropriates Celan's poem for some of his most deeply moving Holocaust representations. 31Cf. Peter Novick 217: "Aloysius Mazewski, the president of the Polish-American Congress, insisted that it was Poles [... .] who deserved second place to Jews: his total of ten million Holocaust victims was made up of six million Jews, three million Catholic Poles, and one million 'other nationalities."' 32The painting "Resurrexit" (1973), for example. 33Andrey Toporkov, "'Rebaking' of Children in Eastern Slavic Rituals and Fairy-tales," The Petersburg Journal of Cultural Studies 1.3 (1993): 15-21. 34 Cf. Fritz Rumler in Thomas Kraft's Edgar Hilsenrath, 70: "'Uberempfindlichkeit der Verleger ffir jiidische Themen' und der 'geder hier so ftihrliche Philosemitismus, iibereifrig gepflegt wird,' vermutet Nazi-Autor Hilsenrath, habe die Buchmacher z6gern lassen." 35Peter Winter, 'Whipping Boy with Clipped Wings,' (66-70), "Evaluating Anselm Kiefer," Art International 2 (1988): 66. 36Nan Rosenthal, Anselm Kiefer: Works on Paper in the Metropolitan Museum ofArt (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998) 10. 37Matthew Rampley, "In Search of Cultural History: Anselm Kiefer and the Ambivalence of Modernism," Oxford Art Journal 23.1 (2000): 83. 38Cf. Jeffrey Herf, Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1984) 140.

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