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Becoming a Nazi Town

Culture and Politics in Göttingen between the World Wars

David Imhoof

Publication Year: 2013

Becoming a Nazi Town reveals the ways in which ordinary Germans changed their cultural lives and their politics from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s. Casting the origins of Nazism in a new light, David Imhoof charts the process by which Weimar and Nazi culture flowed into each other. He analyzes this dramatic transition by looking closely at three examples of everyday cultural life in the mid-sized German city of Göttingen: sharpshooting, an opera festival, and cinema. Imhoof draws on individual and community experiences over a series of interwar periods to highlight and connect shifts in culture, politics, and everyday life. He demonstrates how Nazi leaders crafted cultural policies based in part on homegrown cultural practices of the 1920s and argues that overdrawn distinctions between “Weimar” and “Nazi” culture did not always conform to most Germans’ daily lives. Further, Imhoof presents experiences in Göttingen as a reflection of the common reality of many German towns beyond the capital city of Berlin.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Title Page, About the Series, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-x

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...

Contents

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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction: Guns, Opera, and Movies in a Nazi Town

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pp. 1-20

“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

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1. Local Growth, National Renewal, and Invented Traditions, 1919–25

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pp. 23-42

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...

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2. From “Something That Concerns Everyone” to Cooperative Coordination, 1925–38

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pp. 43-70

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

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3. Modernism and Baroque as Counterpoint in a University Town, 1920–28

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pp. 73-99

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...

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4. Aesthetic Changes, Political Transformation, 1928–38

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pp. 100-124

“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

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5. National Products That “Serve the Public Good,” 1920–29

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pp. 127-152

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...

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6. Making Mass Culture Local, 1930–38

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pp. 153-186

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...

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Conclusion: The Rise and Fall of a Nazi Town

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pp. 187-192

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...

Notes

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pp. 193-240

Bibliography

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pp. 241-258

Index

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pp. 259-278


E-ISBN-13: 9780472029488
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472118991

Page Count: 292
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Social History, Popular Culture, and Pol

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Subject Headings

  • Göttingen (Germany) -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • Politics and culture -- Germany -- Göttingen -- History -- 20th century.
  • Göttingen (Germany) -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei.
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