Literature under National Socialism
As early as the Weimar Republic, “völkisch” literature continued to exist alongside literature oriented towards the modern industrial world and international developments. O. Spengler’s “Downfall of the Occident” (2 volumes, 1918–22) provided the historical-philosophical theory for a scale of values that was hostile to progress and rejected the metropolis (especially Berlin), industrialization and any cosmopolitan culture. This anti-modern literature propagated the superiority of the “German race” (also through appropriate processing of history), a mystical bond with “blood and soil” and an anti-democratic model of society. In the 1920s, among others, wrote in this sense. E. Strauss, H. F. Blunck, W. Vesper, R. G. Binding, W. Schäfer, A. Dinter and H. Grimm, whose colonial homeland novel “People without Space” (2 volumes, 1926) provided the National Socialists with an aggressive catchphrase. Around 1930, W. Beumelburg and E. E. Dwinger had success with idealizing and heroizing the war.
With the seizure of power by National Socialism, the external conditions for literature changed immediately. The publications were regulated and controlled through the establishment of the “Reich Chamber of Culture” and similar organizations. The blood-and-soil ideology dominated official literature. Directly in the service of National Socialist politics were H. Johst, E. G. Kolbenheyer, H. F. Blunck; In addition to those already mentioned, Agnes Miegel, B. von Münchhausen and Ina Seidel were among the celebrated authors, as were the peasant novels by H. Stehr and J. Berens-Totenohl were considered exemplary. The drama fell back on forms of the 19th century (represented by, among others, Kolbenheyer, Johst, C. Langenbeck,E. W. Möller, and P. Ernst was also played a lot). Heinrich Anacker (* 1901, † 1971) and B. von Schirach wrote pathetic combat poetry, among others.
The vast majority of writers did not want to submit to “Gleichschaltung”. The book burning on May 10, 1933 at the latest made the existential threat clear. An unprecedented emigration of German culture followed. About one and a half thousand writers known by name left Germany. Many did not survive the stresses of exile and committed suicide (Toller, Tucholsky, W. Benjamin, E. Weiss, Hasenclever), others were murdered because of their active resistance (A. Haushofer, E. Mühsam, T. Lessing) and died in the concentration camp or the consequences of imprisonment (Gertrud Kolmar, P. Kornfeld, C. von Ossietz ky).
The German writers, who were expelled from Germany, and later also from Austria, Czechoslovakia and other occupied countries, continued their work in exile, insofar as external circumstances permitted. The centers of exile literature were initially Vienna, Prague, Amsterdam and Paris, where exile publishers and journals were founded. With the outbreak of the Second World War, a second phase began: Escape from internment camps and before extradition to the USA, South America, Mexico and even New Zealand (K. Wolfskehl). Else Lasker-Schüler, A. Zweig, M. Brod and others. went to Palestine. Some of the most important works of German literature of the first half of the 20th century were created in exile: von T. Mann wrote the tetralogy of novels »Joseph und seine Brüder« (1933–43), by H. Mann the two volumes of »Henri Quatre« (1935–38), by Döblin the »Amazonas« trilogy (1937–48), from Anna Segher’s “The Seventh Cross” (1942), from Brecht et al. “Life of Galileo” (first performance 1943). The situation of the emigrants themselves became a literary theme, for example in the novels “Der Vulkan” (1939) by K. Mann, “Exil” (1940) by Feuchtwanger, “Transit” (1948) by Anna Seghers and in the dialogues “Refugee Talks” (1944) by Brecht.
The authors who remained in Germany and who did not want to be captured by National Socialism withdrew into what is known as inner emigration. The term, which can hardly be defined precisely, is used for all those writers who distanced themselves from the regime, did not want to be influenced in their work, but had no contact with the active resistance. The magazine “Das Innere Reich” (1934–44) represented with the restriction v. a. conservative forces within the “Reich German” literature of the time in an attitude that could be called ambivalent. The front of the “inner emigration” comprised Christians of both denominations (including R. Schneider, J. Klepper, R. A. Schröder), Communists, liberals and conservatives (including J. Petersen, F. Reck-Malleczewen). In the medium of varied camouflage, in disguised speech through allegory, parable and legend, S. Andres (“El Greco paints the Grand Inquisitor”, 1936), Klepper (“The Father”, 1937), R. Schneider (“Las Casas before Karl V. ”, 1938), W. Bergengruen (“ The Grand Tyrant and the Court ”, 1935), Gertrud von Le Fort, G. Weisenborn. The two most controversial names for which the term is applied are G. Benn and E. Jünger (“On the Marble Cliffs”, 1939). Other authors who, mostly for personal reasons, stayed in Germany and did not allow themselves to be captured were E. Welk, who, with his view of Low German village life (“Die Heiden von Kummerow”, 1937) distance himself from the official “Blut-und-Boden- Poetry “held, the poets O. Loerke and W. Lehmann as well as Fallada, whose novels met with official rejection, and Kästner, who was temporarily banned from publication
The non-fascist literature of the “young generation” in National Socialist Germany (G. Eich, W. Koeppen, Marieluise Kaschnitz, Marieluise Fleisser, F. Lampe, A. Goes, G. Britting, Elisabeth Langgässer, H. E. Nossack) did not stand up to political reality for discussion, she acknowledged the conservative spirit of Europe and cultivated a style that sought to achieve balance, which was further developed after 1945 under the influence of existentialism.