"Great days" in Germany : Third Reich celebrities as mediators between government and people / by Franz Bokel.
As a contribution to the political and social history of the Third Reich, this study investigates celebrities as mediators between the government and the people of the Third Reich. In addition to administrative terror and mass media manipulation, I contend, genuinely uncontrolled processes of experiential exchange bore on power negotiations between the government and the people. To understand this interface, however, is a matter of finding the representative agency. By presenting case studies about Third Reich celebrities, the study will describe such a representative agency. Tracing the conflicting potentials and occasional shifts in such self-representations (including views from above and from below, "high" and "popular" culture), I describe the nature and the dynamics of the Third Reich not as a nation-state or as a particular culture, but as a communicatively-transacted consensus of interests and perspectives. Part One focuses on the networking idea (1919-1934), showing how power in the Third Reich is established in a negotiation between parties, not simply imposed from above (Goebbels, Schmeling, Riefenstahl). Part Two focuses on the experiential exchange (1934-1943), discussing cases of successful communication through celebrities, communication breakdown, and large-scale attempts to recover a viable consensus (Reznicek, Beinhorn, Schepke). Part Three discusses the political agency under investigation in more interpetive terms (1943-1993), locating the people in Germany as a politically relevant factor, as they moved from their "great days" in the past through the war-torn present and into a bright future (Stuck, Brauchitsch). The more general relevance of this study lies in its focus on communicative action as a viable perspective for understanding the Third Reich (i.e., its emergence as well as disappearance as a viable political option) as a communicatively-transacted consensus of perspectives and interests to include particular kinds of socializations and public communications that depend on the dynamics of exchange (not just indoctrination). At the center of such communications is the fragmented (and not necessarily weak) individual: in this instance, the open-ended "identity" of people in Germany becomes an agent who made a history still unknown despite the masses of existing studies.
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