Forestopia : the use of the forest landscape in naturalizing National Socialist ideologies of Volk, race, and Lebensraum 1918-1945 / by Michael Imort.
This thesis examines how the National Socialists used representations of the forest landscape to naturalize, i.e., make appear as a natural and apolitical given, their vision of the New Order. The first part of the thesis investigates the 19th-century foundations of the myth on which the National Socialist propaganda built: the myth that Germans and Germany co-evolved in a special relationship with the forest that goes back to prehistoric times. By uncovering the Romantic construction of the forest myth and the involvement of German foresters in the völkisch radicalization of that forest myth in the early 20th century, Part I shows the National Socialist uses of the forest myth to be a continuation of an abiding theme, rather than an aberration unique to the Nazi period. In the second part of this thesis, the uses of the forest myth between 1933 and 1945 are examined in more detail. Over the course of the Third Reich, the Nazis used the forest as an analogy for three successive paradigms of Volk, Race, and Lebensraum , which corresponded to the notions of Germany as an ethnically pure and classless Volksgemeinschaft, a peripherally consolidated Greater Germany, and a German colonial empire in Eastern Europe. Using examples taken from German foresters' representations of both German and foreign forest landscapes in books, articles, and other cultural products, the study shows that foresters naturalized those notions and their underlying paradigms in the public discourse, thereby contributing to the racialization of German society and the construction of the Jewish and Slavic ‘Other’ in the collective imagination of the German people.
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