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Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
In the first few days following Hitler’s rise to power, the National Socialist party introduced several laws that would shape Germany for the years to come. In order to achieve a state of “total culture”, the Nazis had to introduce a strict censorship program, as well as a strong propaganda campaign. The goal of the party during the first days of the Reich was to “nationalize the masses”, what was known in Nazi Germany as Gleichschaltung. Censorship played an important role to succeed in their Gleichschaltung program. Foreign literature, newspapers and journals were forbidden, and domestic literature was heavily controlled. Several authors, prosecuted by the Regime, managed to escape Germany during the first years of the Reich. In exile, these authors showed the world the life in Germany that had been encapsulated by the Nazi government. Two of these authors are Lion Feuchtwanger and Klaus Mann, who not only described the life in Nazi Germany, but who also criticized the German intellectuals of the time. Lion Feuchtwanger’s novel Die Oppermanns was written during the first year of the regime. It predicts the transformation of Nazi Germany with great accuracy through the eyes of a Jewish family. Gustav Oppermann is an intellectual, driven by reason, who does not grasp the severity of the barbarism established by the Nazis. Gustav believes in a Germany that doesn’t exist anymore and his idealism blinds him from the reality. Klaus Mann’s novel Mephisto: Roman eine Karriere tells the story of an actor, who changed his beliefs to become successful in Nazi Germany. The actor Hendrik Höfgen is an opportunist, a careerist who seeks success, fame and power. He constantly lies to the point where there is not a real Höfgen anymore. Both intellectuals, Gustav and Hendrik, suffer from a “self-induced” blindness that is criticized by the authors of each novel. On one hand Gustav portraits the intellectuals, whose conformism and dogmatic thinking submerged them into passivism. On the other hand, Hendrik embodies the intellectuals who did not choose a side and worked with the system for their own benefit.
Echavarria, Daniel, "Exilliteratur: Die intellektuelle Gesellschaft der Nazizeit durch die Augen des Klaus Manns Mephisto und Lion Feuchtwangers Die Oppermanns". Senior Theses, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 2012.
Trinity College Digital Repository, https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/theses/163