The Politics of Music in the Third Reich

The Politics of Music in the Third Reich

The Politics of Music in the Third Reich

The Politics of Music in the Third Reich

Excerpt

The history of the Third Reich has been written by numerous historians and specialists from many disciplines. Yet, rather than having exhausted the subject, the stupendous amount of information, interpretation and theory continue to grow. Karl Dietrich Bracher The German Dictatorship (1969) synthesized archival records, memoir literature, previous research and theoretical positions, but even this magisterial work did not put the corpse to rest. The live historiographical tradition feeds on itself--ever-expanding in formulations, challenges, confirmations and, again reformulations which variously reflect new insights based on old and new sources, but-- significantly--also on contemporary attitudes. Germany's caustic 1980s debate over the significance and uniqueness of Nazism and holocaust, known as the Historikerstreit, bears witness to the intensity of the ongoing scholarly and popular interest in the Nazi past, though manifestly in the light of current issues and concerns.

Most analysts agree that the Third Reich deviated markedly from the general behavior patterns of western society. Shocked by the radicalism of the terror state, the regimentation of the population, thought and culture, and the aggressive attitudes and actions which led to the horrors of world war and unprecedented genocide, the authors have attempted to understand the inexplicable. How was it possible for the Nazi dictatorship to rise in the country which had boasted of its share of bourgeois propriety and rich achievement in culture? What were the mechanisms by which the behavior of German society was made to coincide with brutal Nazi policies? And what were the consequences of those fateful years for today's Germany and for western civilization? Transcendent theory and global interpretation of those twelve years will continue to evolve. Some areas of Nazi totalitarian control still merit examination because they have not received the same attention as other--almost blank spots until recently, in an otherwise well-charted map.

Music is one such blank area--surprising, not only because of the apparently insatiable public interest in Nazi affairs, but also in view of music's celebrated tradition in Germany, its international prominence--perhaps even preeminence, a considerable memoir literature of its distinguished representatives who had either practiced their craft in Nazi Germany or abroad dur-

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