Guns, opera, and movies : local culture in interwar Germany, Göttingen, 1919-1938 / by David Michael Imhoof
- Variant Title
- Local culture in interwar Germany, Göttingen, 1919-1938
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 392-406)
My project studies local culture in interwar Germany. It argues that we can understand the ways in which Germans adapted to the momentous social and political changes of the 1920s and 1930s by looking at cultural life between the world wars and by uniting two apparent extremes of twentieth-century cultural experience—the vibrant, avant-garde, liberal ideal of “Weimar culture” with the racialist, monolithic, state-controlled Nazi world-view. My research on elite and popular culture in the German university town of Göttingen helps explain the processes by which many Germans adapted their cultural practices to the very different political environments of the Weimar Republic and Third Reich. The dissertation focuses on three prominent cultural activities in Göttingen during the 1920s and 1930s: the Händel Opera Festival, sharpshooting clubs, and cinema. In each case, distinctly local versions of larger trends in culture and politics shaped the ways Göttingers viewed events of the turbulent interwar period, including changes brought about by the Third Reich. The Nazis ultimately succeeded in gradually politicizing cultural life in Göttingen by grafting their cultural policies onto pre-existing ideas and institutions and by working closely with established local cultural purveyors. Moreover, the National Socialist regime responded to the economic difficulties that jeopardized many cultural institutions in the early 1930s with financial assistance and incentives for attendance, thus garnering more support for its policies. By looking closely at cultural life in its local setting, this dissertation offers a new perspective on how both politics and larger cultural trends were integrated into everyday life. Many Germans experienced changes in cultural practice between the wars—mass culture, politicized culture, the avant-garde, the profusion of voluntary associations, and the commercialization of culture—not as a series of ruptures, but as a steady growth of leisure activities that combined newer and older forms of cultural activity. My research demonstrates that Göttingers viewed this era's cultural trends and products, national or international, progressive or racist, through a distinctly local filter.
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