Writing the Nazi Movement. The Poetry of Baldur von Schirach

Hundehege, Stefanie (2017) Writing the Nazi Movement. The Poetry of Baldur von Schirach. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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This thesis examines the literary output and influence of Baldur von Schirach (1907-1974) and - since he devoted his writing to the service of the party and its leader - his resultant cultural contribution to the establishment and consolidation of the National Socialist dictatorship. To date, Schirach's political role as Reichsjugendführer has overshadowed his literary work and influence. By demonstrating that his poems were not only supported by the National Socialist regime but also widely read in nationalist and right-wing circles in and before the Nazi party's rise to power, I aim to complement and correct the current perception of Schirach's role in the Third Reich. A clearer picture of Schirach's cultural persona and ideological development is achieved by considering literary sources as well as historical and biographical data. Based on the analysis of his published and unpublished texts (poems, songbooks, articles, speeches, correspondence, interviews), this study outlines Schirach's position within the National Socialist movement and also situates his writing within the wider context of his times. To this end, it establishes his literary role models and investigates the extent of their influence on Schirach. It explores his literary response to debates around the role of the author in the politicised sphere of the Weimar Republic. Analysis of his poems in comparison with the war writing of the 1920s, in particular with that of Ernst Jünger, reveals that there is more ambiguity in Schirach's poetry than scholarly accounts of his poems have previously allowed. I identify central features of his writing that can be found in Communist poetry but also in non-political poetry written during the same period, especially as regards use of intertextuality and the blurring or merging of the literary and political spheres. These commonalities reaffirm the existing impetus in scholarly research made by Helmuth Kiesel, Uwe Hebekus, Walter Delabar, Sebastian Graeb-Könneker and others to rethink our binary understanding of modernist and National Socialist literature. The example of Schirach, this study concludes, reveals not only the contrasts but also continuities between the literature of the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. It is also possible here for the first time to extend these reflections to the post-1945 period, as unpublished correspondence and poems from Schirach's twenty-year prison sentence, provided by his family, are analysed in the final chapter. Engagement with Schirach as an author is not an attempt to rehabilitate him, or to rebut his categorisation as a National Socialist writer. Instead, by analysing his literary works and how they relate to other literary and ideological currents of his time, this study contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the role literature played in National Socialism at all stages of the party's development and thus to a broader understanding of the movement as a cultural as well as political phenomenon.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Uncontrolled keywords: National Socialist literature, Political literature, Third Reich, Weimar Republic, War literature, Political religion, Post-1945 literature
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2017 15:10 UTC
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2017 11:46 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/62985 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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