Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats

428                   MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

sich (nur %ft leichf) in das Gebiet der Narntei; unter der Carole neusein
umjeden Preis kannjeder Stumper ehvas besonders leisten*

One immediate result of the new standards was the drastic re-
shuffling of reputations. All those writers who could be classified
as 'volkhaff (racially minded) were whirled to the heights of Par-
nassus; those who could not were given back seats and ticketed
'undeutscti or 'volksfremd\ All the Jews1 without exception were
branded as unfit for reading; non-Jews who had satirized Ger-
many (e.g. Heinrich Mann) were outlawed ^ausgebilrgerf}\ Liberals
and cgood Europeans' (e.g. Thomas Mann) found it expedient to
live in exile. Neo-romantics like Hermann Hesse, whose charac-
ters are too full of the sadness of life to be heroic except in the
endurance of suffering, were damned with faint praise, or rejected
as effeminate and 'aimless'. The places held in the eyes of Europe
by these veteran writers were taken by a younger generation -
Binding, Blunck, Kolbenheyer, Hans Grimm, Ina Seidel, Harms
Johst, Hermann Burte, Josef Ponten, Will Vesper; and of some
of these 'Dichter des heimlichen DeutscUandf (certainly of Ina Seidel
and R. G. Binding) one might say that they were now given the
rank due to them. One might also admit that the indignation of
Germans over the fact that some of the best German writers
remained unknown abroad while others never recognized as even
third-rate in Germany (Feuchtwanget, Vicki Baum, Emil Ludwig
for instance) had a vast foreign public had some justification,
though it should be remembered that these mass purveyors would
not circulate if they were not readable.

The first principle of Nazi literature is that it must express, not
. the feeling of the individual, but that of the race. This principle
includes self-dedication of the writer to the communities within
the race (Hingabe an die Gemeinschaft), so that poetry and drama tend
to be Gemeinschaftsdichtung. Whereas the expressionists dreamt of
regenerating all humanity the Nazis restrict their regenerative fer-
vour to the German race. Moreover, while expressionism was vio-
lently individual (in spite of its Wir-*Bewusstsein} National Socialism
humbly accepts regulation from without. Expressionism followed
the lines of Walther Rathenau's straggle against Mechanisierungdes

1 The problem of the Jews had been handled by Schnitzler in Professor
"Bernbardi and Der Weg ins Frm and by Hermann Bahr in Die Rotte Karat*
(1919). The works of the Jewish writers had to be published in foreign
capitals where they found a refuge: Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Zurich,
Prague was a city of refuge till 1938.