Courtesy Reuters

Culture Under the Nazis

At the time the National Socialists were fighting their life-or-death battle the first impulse was given for the reawakening and restoration of artistic vitality in Germany. . . . In the midst of everything we found time to lay the foundations for a new Temple of Art. . . . For though there were many grounds on which we might have proceeded against the elements of destruction which had been at work in our cultural life, we did not wish to waste our time calling them to account. . . . I need not speak of the Bolshevizing Jewish litterateurs who found in such "cultural activity" a practical and effective means of fostering a spirit of insecurity and instability among the populations of civilized nations. But their existence strengthened our determination to make assured provision for the healthy development of cultural activities in the new state. . . . We resolved that on no account would we allow the dadist or futurist or intimist or objectivist babblers to take part in this new cultural movement. . . . Our task is not merely to neutralize the effects of the unfortunate period which is now past, but also to fix the main outlines of those cultural futures which will be developed during the centuries to come in this first national state which is really German.

IN this speech before the seventh National Socialist Congress, at Nuremberg, in September 1935, Hitler laid down, however vaguely, the main tenets of the Nazi attitude toward culture. It is an affirmative attitude. But it breaks decisively with Germany's pre-Nazi past and scorns any argument about it. It hopes to reawaken and to restore. The cultural future is to be national and German. It is the business of the state to foster such artistic production as will demonstrate native cultural resources. It is the business of culture to aid in impressing on the public mind the aims of the National Socialist movement. Just how much of the past Hitler hopes to cut out of German culture, history and consciousness is not

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