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Disciplining Germany

Youth, Reeducation, and Reconstruction after the Second World War

Jaimey Fisher

Publication Year: 2007

During Hitler’s reign, the Nazis deliberately developed and exploited a youthful image and used youth to define their political and social hierarchies. After the war, with Hitler gone but still requiring cultural exorcism, many intellectuals, authors, and filmmakers turned to these images of youth to navigate and negotiate the most difficult questions of Germany’s recent, nefarious past. Focusing on youth, education, and crime allowed postwar Germans to claim one last realm of sovereignty against the Allies’ own emphatic project of reeducation. Youth, reeducation, and reconstruction became important sites for the occupied to confront not only the recent past, but to negotiate the present occupation and, ultimately, direct the future of the German nation. Disciplining Germany analyzes a variety of media, including literature, news media, intellectual history, and films, in order to argue that youth and education played a central role in Germany’s coming to terms with the Nazi past. Although there has been a recently renewed interest in Germany’s coming to terms with the past, this attention has largely ignored the role of youth and reeducation. This lacuna is particularly perplexing given that the Allies’ reeducation project became, in many ways, a cipher for the occupational project as a whole. Disciplining Germany opens up the discussion and points toward more general conclusions not only about youth and education as sites for wider socio-political and cultural debates but also about the complexities of occupation and the intertwining of different national cultures. In this investigation, the study attends to both “high” and “low” cultural text—to specialized versus popular texts—to examine how youth was mobilized across the generic spectrum. With these interdisciplinary approaches and timely interventions, Disciplining Germany will find a diverse readership, including upper-division and graduate courses in German studies and German history as well as those general readers interested in Nazi Germany, cultural history, film and literary studies, youth culture, American studies, and post-conflict and occupational situations.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Kritik: German Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

This project has been long in the making and I have many, both institutions and individuals, to thank for its completion: they are, doubtlessly, responsible for its felicities, while its shortcomings are entirely my own doing...

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Introduction: Youth, Memory, and Guilt in Early Postwar Germany

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pp. 1-18

Adolf Hitler made his last public appearance on his fifty-sixth birthday, 20 April 1945, just ten days before he was to die. The Führer’s birthday had traditionally occasioned a prominent pageant of his personal life, parades as well as parties...

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1. Hitler’s Youth? The Nazi “Revolution” as Youth Uprising

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pp. 19-57

In investigating Vergangenheitsbewältigung in the early postwar period, it is perhaps most productive to start with the most obvious: the 1945–49 trials at Nuremberg, which provided the most focused and famous forum for exploring...

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2. The Jugendproblem (Youth Problem): Youth and Reeducation in the Early Postwar Public Sphere

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pp. 59-88

On 22 January 1946 Pastor Martin Niemöller, a former inmate of Sachsenhausen and Dachau, gave a guest sermon in the Neustädter church in Erlangen, entitled harmlessly, perhaps deceptively so, “Lecture without a...

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3. Germany’s Youthful “Catastrophe”: Guilt and Modernity in the Early Postwar Period

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pp. 89-128

In a society that was broken literally and metaphorically by the Nazis and their terror state, then by the ravages of war and bombing, and finally by land invasion and occupation, there reigned a great many shortages: shortages of food and coal and housing...

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4. Modernity’s Better Others: Youth in Jaspers’s Postwar University and Wiechert’s Reconstructive Agenda

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pp. 129-173

In an essay on Ernst Wiechert that appeared in the Deutsche Rundschau in April 1948, Herbert Stegemann begins with what is, for the postwar period, the best-known aspect of the author’s career: Wiechert’s celebrated resistance to the Nazi...

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5. Children of the Rubble: Youth, Pedagogy, and Politics in Early DEFA Films

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pp. 175-211

In the 1920s the German film industry was among the most successful in the world; in fact, Germany was probably the last nation whose industry could seriously compete with Hollywood’s products in the world market until...

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6. Reconstructing Film in the Western Zones: Stars of Youthful Sexuality

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pp. 213-258

After the war, the Allies did not permit German feature film production for almost a year, a period that came to be known in the once-vibrant industry as the Filmpause. During the Filmpause, many German filmmakers and film industry executives...

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Conclusion: Mobilizing Youth for the Cold War

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pp. 259-274

The star vehicle films And the Heavens Above, Ways into Twilight, and The Last Illusion echo the kind of discourse about youth that I elaborated in the introduction. In my introduction to youth and reeducation in the early postwar public...


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pp. 275-329


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pp. 331-360


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pp. 361-375

E-ISBN-13: 9780814337431
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814333297

Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 22
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Kritik: German Literary Theory and Cultural Studies