Becoming a Nazi Town
Culture and Politics in Göttingen between the World Wars
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Michigan Press
Title Page, About the Series, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication
Those who believe that writing takes place in splendid isolation have not written much. The list is long of those who have aided, abetted, comforted, and nudged this project to completion, and my appreciation is deep. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), University of Texas Sheffield and Dora Bonham Fellowships, and Susquehanna University Faculty Development program...
Introduction: Guns, Opera, and Movies in a Nazi Town
“Politics doesn’t belong in the town hall!” So claimed in May 1924 the leaders of Göttingen’s Apolitical List, a coalition of right-leaning organizations that had formed a political party to run in local elections. Their call went on:
Politics doesn’t belong in the town hall! That is the solution from nineteen Fatherland clubs, economic associations, and undersigned women’s...
Part 1. Sharpshooting
1. Local Growth, National Renewal, and Invented Traditions, 1919–25
With this article on the 1921 Sharpshooting Festival, commentator Heinz Koch welcomed Göttingers to the city’s first Festival since the outbreak of World War I. This local editor and chief cultural critic at the Göttinger Tageblatt articulated what many shooters believed at this time, that sharpshooting could unite Göttingen by overcoming the many divisions in post-war Germany. They...
2. From “Something That Concerns Everyone” to Cooperative Coordination, 1925–38
In 1927 the leaders of Göttingen’s Burgher Sharpshooting Society constructed a new, unique target-shooting range. The twenty-eight firing lanes of various lengths, sophisticated signal system for reporting results, and special safety features prompted Heinz Koch to call the Sharpshooting Hall “the most modern of such facilities known in Germany.” Sharpshooting leaders intended it to...
Part 2. The Göttingen Händel Festival
3. Modernism and Baroque as Counterpoint in a University Town, 1920–28
Walking home from the theater on the night of 26 June 1920, Oskar Hagen could feel good about what he had accomplished. His sold-out performance that evening of George Händel’s opera Rodelinde marked the first time any of the composer’s operas had been performed in nearly 200 years. Hagen had joined the George August University’s art history faculty in the fall of 1918 and...
4. Aesthetic Changes, Political Transformation, 1928–38
“Even the greatest local patriotism,” Göttinger Zeitung critic Max Maaß confessed in April 1930, “should not hide the fact that with the last performances in summer 1928 a certain dead point was reached, that stagnation had set in.” He concluded, “The Händel Renaissance was something that had made its triumphant march across all the great stages. Göttingen had fulfilled its...
Part 3. Cinema
5. National Products That “Serve the Public Good,” 1920–29
Almost immediately after the November 1918 Revolution that created the first German republic, revolutionary leaders realized the unique problems that cinema posed for Germany and searched for ways to control it effectively. In January 1919, the Worker and Soldier Council of Dortmund asked the Prussian Ministry of Justice in Berlin “whether cinema owners couldn’t be forced to...
6. Making Mass Culture Local, 1930–38
Six nights in December 1930 was all it took to make Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front into the most controversial film in Germany between the world wars. After just six nights in Berlin with protests in and out of the theater and across the country, the Appellate Censorship Board reversed the Censorship Board’s original approval of the American movie and banned it. For several...
Conclusion: The Rise and Fall of a Nazi Town
In October 1946 Rolf Thiele and Hans Abich received a license from the British military government occupying Lower Saxony to create the Film Construction Company (Filmaufbau GmbH) Göttingen. The new film production firm made its home in an abandoned airplane hanger on the outskirts of town. The founders, both just twenty-eight years old, played up their inexperience with...