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 apparent. He will drive out the "elements of destruction" and "fix the main outline of cultural futures."

Not even the negative aspects of the cultural change are quite clear. Obviously there is a ban on all books of a socialist or communist propaganda nature, all plays such as those of Ernst Toller and Bert Brecht. But the ban is more widely interpreted to apply to the discouragement of all literature which tends to take a universal as opposed to a strictly national outlook on life, bolshevism being associated in the Nazi mind with all internationalism, and regarded as the inevitable and logical dénouement of economic and political liberalism. Nazism is avowedly not only anti-communist but anti-liberal, and the bourgeois epoch of the nineteenth century is regarded as but one station along the road to bolshevism. The conception of individual freedom as it has existed since the eighteenth century is, to the Nazi mind, only another manifestation of the doctrine of liberty and equality, of man as the atom of society, bolshevism being merely the final collectivism of such atoms. Under this interpretation, all art and culture since the eighteenth century is obviously suspect.

The same idea is taken up by another official Nazi spokesman, Walter Frank, in an address at the opening of the National Institute for the History of the New Germany:

The academicians [of the previous epoch] were themselves bound in chains and within fixed frontiers of which they themselves were not aware. It was the period of the post-Bismarckian epigones. And what they considered historical objectivity was nothing but the reflection of the bourgeois secular spirit in which they, as subjects conditioned by their times, grew up. . . . In so far as these academicians considered that science was only a function of the intellect, in so far as they believed that they could shut out Will, Faith, and Passion . . . they made the most dangerous compromise against understanding.

In this statement Frank adds all of what is elsewhere in the world called "pure" science to the list of Nazi cultural anathemas. Pure science, like abstract art, is regarded as a manifestation of the liberal era; a form of destructive rationalism expressed in the ideas of the French Revolution, a manifestation of the rationalistic conception of life against which National Socialism is avowedly a revolt. When Hitler says that he wishes to "reawaken and restore" spiritual values, he apparently wishes to reincarnate the values which existed in some previous epoch when men's minds were dominated by Faith and Will. Certainly the slow development from what one writer calls "the peoples' springtime of the High Middle Ages, which like the childhood of man was dominated by the supernatural" into the era of individuality and rationalism, was a revolutionary act. And the anti-liberal National Socialists regard the whole development as having followed a false path, and this despite the fact that nationalism was itself a by-product. Just when the German people started on the false road is debated. The Catholic world, also in permanent revolt against rationalism, believes that the false path began with Martin Luther. The anti-liberal part of the Protestant world believes that it began with the ideas culminating in the French Revolution.

This determination to break with the rationalist past and to regard the whole of its science and art as conditioned by an outlived Zeitgeist, is accompanied by the theory that National Socialism is itself the creation of a new Zeitgeist, and by the hope that the new epoch upon which Germany has entered will spontaneously create a representative culture. Thus Alfred Rosenberg, once described by Hitler as "the only mind in the party for whom I have respect," and today officially charged with the broad direction of Nazi culture, writes in the Voelkische Beobachter:

Every great culture is identified with some philosophy that gives man the power to mould the world, which means to create culture. . . . All political formations express a new life-feeling and come to an end only when the life-feeling no longer serves the general good of the people or the group. Thus every great period and every great national conception take their departure from the same source that gives rise to cultural creations. National Socialism therefore regards the unity of culture and the state as being based on and directed by a definite attitude toward life.

But it is precisely the National Socialist attitude toward life which is most nebulous wherever it is not already rigidly fixed in dogma. And Rosenberg is himself not too enthusiastic about the results thus far. Thus in the same article he writes: "At present all that we can say is that the scientific field is beginning to yield results. Discovery, in the National Socialist sense, goes forward. New problems are arising and a younger generation takes cognizance of the great task that confronts it. The whole enormous field of racial science and the doctrines of eugenics, the whole field of spiritual science and history, await the attention of many scholars who can arise only from the younger generation."

The important words in this passage are "in the National Socialist sense." For all those whose habits of scientific thought are rooted in the way of thinking which in Germany officially belongs to the past, but which still belongs to the present in the rest of the western world, the phrase is fantastic. Nor do many German scientists understand it. When I was last in Germany a great cancer specialist said to me: "I am supposed to treat cancer in a National Socialist manner but do not know what that means unless it means that I am to attempt to cure it in Aryans and let it do its worst to Jews." In "the enormous field of racial science and eugenics" which Mr. Rosenberg suggests as a field for research for the younger generation, discovery must be confined to what will support an already established dogma, for racial doctrines are as fixed in Nazi Germany as the verities of the Communist Manifesto are in Russia. The dogma includes the idea of eugenic defilement by the mixture of German with Jewish blood; of the superiority of the Nordic type, dolichocephalic, fair haired and blue eyed, to all other types; of the transmission of mental, social, and spiritual characteristics through the chromosomes; of mind-forms as a by-product of biological forces.

The dogma is translated into law, and marriages or intimate relations between Jews and non-Jews are forbidden and penalized. Certain categories of citizens reserved for an élite (the members of the Prætorian Guards, for instance) may not marry without eugenic examinations. And Berlin doctors regularly test school children, making "scientific" measurements of pronounced "Aryan" types, whose mothers are then subsidized to procreate further children by the same father. Scientific research into this field must indeed be carried on with "Will, Faith, and Passion" rather than with the enquiring mind, for the state will allow the enquiry to come to only one conclusion. And Rosenberg admits that there is rebellion in the scientific world. "After a period of apparent levelling," he says, "certain scientific groups have reverted to their liberalistic past, so much so that they are trying to undermine National Socialist ideology by what appear to be scientific means since they can no longer alter it by political means." He reports that in the general field of cultural politics and art "a marked condition of uncertainty still prevails. Groups of artists who are trying to express the spirit of our time have emerged in every sphere. Others, however, have given the same clear proof of their rejection of our doctrine that we have seen in the sphere of science, and thus the lines are more tightly drawn."

This passage is especially significant because it indicates that the "spirit of the time" has already become formalized into a doctrine and a ritual. The Zeitgeist, the "life feeling" of which National Socialism is on the one hand held to be a manifestation, is to be given no further opportunity to express itself spontaneously. There is clearly an admission of fear that the élan of the liberated German soul had insufficient vitality of itself to overcome the spiritual remains of the conquered epoch. There is no genuine faith in National Socialist circles, apparently, that the German spirit if left alone will give artistic form to National Socialist doctrine. No sooner has "the impulse been given for the reawakening and restoration of artistic vitality," to quote Hitler again, than the impulse itself is put into uniform and carefully regimented and controlled, lest it should desert the new track. The Zeitgeist is simply not functioning as the Nazis think it should, and so an immense apparatus is set up to push, coerce, lure, cajole, and bribe it into the correct paths.

This apparatus is in the hands of Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Chief of the Federal Bureau of Propaganda and Enlightenment, and Dictator of German Culture. The movement which rests its case on its claim to issue from the wellspring of the folk soul apparently believes that the effort of revolution has exhausted the waters. Dr. Goebbels is to prime the pump and shut away the people from other wells. The Folk Soul having reached its apotheosis in National Socialism, it will now be the function of National Socialism to embalm it forever in dogma. Religion has done its work. It is now time to establish the Church.

The work of establishment is undertaken with all the precision, thoroughness, and careful organization of the Prussian Army. Instead of creating a new culture, one is to be organized. Who may and who may not write, model, compose, play, sing, act, produce, paint, is defined in a set of decrees having the full force of law and carrying penalties for their violation. What shall be written, sculptured, built, composed, played, acted, and painted, is controlled by an army of bureaucrats and spies. Dr. Goebbels' bureau is a cultural inquisition, its word is final, its force unchallenged. Its competency is established in Decrees XXX to XXXIII of the Third Reich.

Decree XXX establishes a Ministry "for purposes of enlightenment and propaganda among the people concerning the policy of the National Cabinet and the National Reconstruction of the Fatherland." The individual duties of the Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda are determined by the Chancellor. "The Chancellor also determines . . . the duties to be transferred . . . to the new ministry."

The next decree transfers to Dr. Goebbels, with modifications and amplifications, powers formerly lodged in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, Posts and Communications. It declares that "the Minister for Propaganda is competent to deal with all measures for mental influence upon the nation, the publicity for state, culture, and business, the instruction of the public within and outside the nation concerning the above, and the administration of all devices that serve these purposes." It puts under his jurisdiction, from other ministries, the following: "Intelligence reports and publicity in foreign countries, art, art exhibits, film and sport affairs in foreign countries, explanation of general domestic policies, the University for Political Science, establishment and celebration of national holidays, the press and the Institute for Journalism, radio, national anthem, the German Library in Leipzig, all art (except German institutes abroad covered by special treaties, protection and care of national monuments and art treasures, and the Association of German Societies for Folk-lore), music cultivation, including philharmonic orchestras, theatrical affairs, business publicity, travel publicity, everything concerning radio except such things as pertain to technical administration and in these the Minister of Propaganda may interfere in so far as it is necessary to determine loans to radio plants and the regulation of their dues."

These vast powers, which cover the whole field of the spoken and written word, as well as pictorial, theatrical, and musical creation and presentation, are not merely executive. They are legislative and judicial as well. The last sentence of the decree says: "In the designated fields the Minister is in charge of all matters, including legislation."

The next decrees relating to cultural matters represent the legislation made under the foregoing powers. They establish a Chamber of Culture, with subsidiary chambers for writers, press, radio, theater, music, painting, sculpture, and films, and provide for their coördination. All cultural creation in Germany is made a monopoly of members of these bodies.

The Press Law is an amazing document. It brings within its competency every conceivable kind of printed or multigraphed publication. It establishes a guild of writers, which includes every person who contributes in any way to any printed or multigraphed publication, and admits to this guild only German citizens of Aryan descent who are not married to non-Aryans, who are 21 years old, are competent, have had professional training, and "have the qualifications for influencing public opinion intellectually." Admission to this guild is by petition, but registration may be denied "if the Minister for Propaganda and Enlightenment objects." The writers who pass through the filter are next compelled by decree to withhold from publication everything which "confuses selfish with common interest, is able to weaken the strength of the German nation, the will toward national unity, national defense, culture, or business; is offensive to the honor and dignity of a German; illegally injures another's reputation; is indecent." The variety of possible interpretations allows this law to cover anything that the Press Dictator wishes it to.

Once admitted to the guild, a writer automatically becomes a member of the National Association of the German Press. Its director is appointed by the Minister of Propaganda. The dues are set by the Minister (or must have his approval) and are collected as part of the public taxes. He also supervises its discharge of its obligations. It is not in the most remote sense a free professional body. Disputes between writers and publishers are tried before vocational courts appointed by the Minister. Anyone who is not a member of the Association and publishes anything at all may be punished with a year's imprisonment. Any publisher who employs a non-guild member may be punished by fine and imprisonment.

The Press Law sets the standard for the decrees, subsequently adopted, which govern the other professions. Decrees XXXIV and XXXV establish a national Ministry for Science, Education and Public Instruction. They hand over to Hitler full powers to determine the scope and function of this Ministry, and specifically put under it all scientific matters, including relations with foreign countries, the various scientific institutes, and all public, private, and professional schools. They hand over to the Minister, responsible only to Hitler, full legislative powers in all educational matters.

The control of every conceivable branch of German culture is complete. It begins, not by censoring what actually appears, but by determining who shall be the creators and transmitters of culture. No publication, no concert platform, no publishing house, no theater, no gallery, is open to any writer, artist, or musician, who has not first of all run the gauntlet of the Propaganda Ministry. One may not exhibit a picture, or present a play, or perform on the piano, or write in the papers and magazines, unless one is a member of the established "chamber." One cannot get into the chamber if one is suspected of being a heretic. And the very first test is a blood test -- one must be able to prove a blood stream uncontaminated by non-Aryan admixture.

Now the first result of this, of course, is that a man's degree of mendacity decides whether he lives or dies, produces or starves. In the main, the newspapers and periodicals today are still written by the same men who wrote them prior to March 1933. In the main, the same artists are painting pictures, composing music, playing violins, and designing stage settings. Yet in 1932 the National Socialist "ideology" no more dominated the German press, theater, or symphonies than the ideology of Huey Long dominated American cultural activities in 1935. A vast insincerity, then, lies over the whole of German culture. A shamefaced compromise, an agonized inner cleavage rends the German artist. Day by day he is forced to ask himself: "Shall I compromise or shall I perish?" This, rather than the enforced emigration of those artists who either could not or would not compromise, is the greatest tragedy of German culture. For those who have gone abroad there has been no drastic break with the continuity of the stream of German thought. They are exiled and cut off; yet all of them have survived, in their intellectual and spiritual lives, the terrific earthquake of the National Socialist experience. None is quite the same today as he was yesterday. But none has been forced to deny his own past, and none has been forced to compromise his own spiritual future. It is even possible that this new diaspora may be the savior of German culture, indeed may keep alive the very spirit which aborted in the revolution. In Switzerland and Holland, in France and in England, in America, Austria and Czechoslovakia, Germans are playing and composing German music, writing German poetry and novels, adding to the structure of German science, not unmoved by the National Socialist revolution, not unchanged in their sense of values because of it, but free of its strangling shackles.

Of course the flight abroad of German artists, writers and scientists has been prodigious. The roster of their names reads like pages torn from a German "Who's Who." Most of them, to be sure, are not classed as Germans in the Third Reich, because they have non-Aryan blood in their veins. But they have German science, German tradition, German history, and a German experience in their hearts and heads.

In physics three names stand out high above all others in the contemporary German-speaking world -- all of them Nobel prize winners -- Albert Einstein, James Franck (who received the prize for research into atomic theory) and Max Planck, of the quantum theory. The first two, being non-Aryan, have left German universities. Dr. Gustav Hertz, famous for his discoveries in classifying types of human blood (valueless to the Nazis, who have their own a priori theories); Dr. Otto Meyerhof, distinguished for research into the transformation of energy in muscles; and Dr. Fritz Haber, who together with Professor Bosch perfected the process of synthesizing ammonia and thus became the parent of chemical gas warfare and the benefactor of all of German agriculture, are also victims of the Aryan paragraph. Dr. Haber died shortly after his emigration. By April 8, 1934, some 800 college teachers and university professors had left German universities because of their Jewish blood, among them many distinguished names.[i]

Scores of actors whom the German folk soul thought it idolized before the enforced awakening have been forced to leave the German stage, among them the adored Fritzie Massary, now in retirement; the inimitable Pallenberg, afterward killed in an airplane accident; Elisabeth Bergner; Ernst Deutsch; Lucie Mannheim; Lotte Schoene, who is one of the most delightful Mozart opera singers; and the most famous Shakespearean actor, Alexander Moissi. The purge of non-Aryan Germans includes the dean of German painters, Max Liebermann, co-founder with Corinth (who himself had a Jewish wife) of the Berlin Secession, which gave a new impetus to German art in the last century. The Secession has now shut out of its galleries all "non-Aryan" painters, with the protest of only two "pure-blooded" Germans, the woman painter Annot, and her husband, Rudolf Jacobi. They are now in America, as is George Grosz, one of the finest living draughtsmen. Pictures by Oskar Kokoschka and Karl Hofer have been removed from museums. Both men were considered under the Republic to be ornaments of German culture. Perhaps the most beloved woman artist in Germany, the elderly and saintly Käte Kollwitz, famous for her etchings of German proletarian life, has been persecuted to the brink of the grave.

Two internationally famous German conductors, Bruno Walter and Otto Klemperer (the latter a German Jew and ardent Roman Catholic) were forced to lay down their batons. With the exception of Richard Strauss, hardly a composer of international reputation remains to work in Germany. The case of Strauss is particularly curious, for he is a demonstration of the sort of happy German-Jewish collaboration which has occurred so often in German history. Nearly all the librettos of Strauss's operas were written by the Austrian poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal, a non-Aryan. Gustav Mahler, a Jew, composed music to that most German of literature, the "Knaben Wunderhorn;" Arnold Schönberg, a Jew, immortalized the Danish folk "Gurre Lieder" and Dehmel's "Verklaerte Nacht;" the pureblooded German composer Schumann wrote his loveliest lieder to the lyrics of the German-Jew, Heinrich Heine. Today these lovely collaborations are, because of the blood of one of the authors, not "German," not "folkish;" and are anathema. The same rule would make Browning un-English. And Dr. Goebbels has commissioned an unimportant composer to write new "Nazi" music to supplant Mendelssohn's score for Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream."

Put out of German music are Schönberg, Toch, Krenek, Kurt Weill and Alban Berg, leaving a musical wilderness. The gifted composer Hindemith, who does not come under the non-Aryan ban, remains; but he has been continually threatened with boycott due to his unwillingness to snub and help ruin fellow artists. The beautiful Guarneri quartette, which delighted Ferruccio Busoni in the last days of his life, is broken up and scattered. The long arm of Nazi control reaches outside German boundaries. The German conductor Furtwängler, conducting the Budapest Philharmonic during this past winter, was forced to delete from his program a Mendelssohn number, by "unofficial" intervention of the German legation with the Hungarian government.

Before the National Socialists came to power in the Reich, measures had already been taken against modern architects and artists in those provinces under Nazi domination. In Dessau, the famous "Bauhaus" (headed by the purely Aryan and Nordic architect Herr Gropius) had to close because of the opposition of the provincial government to the "cultural bolshevistic" tendencies of this institution, which sought to unite creative art with the machine age. Flat roofs being regarded as "Jewish-Oriental" and hence culturally taboo, the architects who created much of the modern housing of the Weimar Republic were blacklisted.

Writers have suffered equally. Amongst the emigrés from the Nazi régime, forced or voluntary, are Thomas and Heinrich Mann, and Klaus, the son of Thomas. This very German family of poets originated in the very northern city of Lübeck. The mother of the Mann brothers was, however, a French Creole from South America, which of itself would make them suspect. The list of writers who could not live and produce in Germany includes Arnold Zweig, author of the trilogy including "The Case of Sergeant Grischa," anathema because of its anti-war implications; Stefan Zweig, who lives in Austria; Alfred Döblin, Berlin neurologist and author of many novels and historical works; Josef Roth; Ernst Glaeser; Jacob Wassermann, who wrote "My Life as German and Jew" and broke his heart over the loss of his German Fatherland; Erich Maria Remarque, author of "All Quiet on the Western Front;" René Schickele; Annette Kolb; and numerous writers internationally less well known. Not all of these artists are Jewish, and vast differences in ideas separate those that are. What unites the Jewish writer Lion Feuchtwanger, satiric, keen, malicious, with the Jewish writer Jacob Wassermann, a mystic, and in the truest sense of the word a Christian? Nothing except their common German heritage and tongue. Thomas Mann is a conservative; his brother is Heinrich a political radical. Erich Remarque is a Nordic blond, remote from politics, for whom, as for Hitler, the war was the greatest experience of his life. He recorded it in a book that swept the world, but which was not in harmony with the new German heroic conception of life. Josef Roth is a bohemian, author of one of the most exquisite studies of Ghetto Jewry ("Hiob") and other sensitive and lovely novels. Arnold Zweig is tender; Döblin is harsh. These writers represent a cross-section of the thought and feeling of the times in which they lived, as many-faceted as those times have been. Some of them are still published in Germany; more of them are still allowed to be read; others are completely blacklisted. But all of them may at any moment be blacklisted for reasons which have nothing to do with their artistic creations. The announcement last year that some of them (the Mann brothers, Schickele, Döblin, and others) might contribute to an émigré publication printed in Amsterdam was immediately followed by the threat that unless they withdrew from the enterprise their entire works would be permanently suppressed in their native land.

The withdrawal of these writers, scientists, artists, composers, architects, actors and musical performers naturally leaves an immense gap in German cultural life. But more important than their personal absence is the cultural atmosphere which has settled upon the land. A peace pervades it, like the peace of death. The pre-revolutionary years were years of intense, almost feverish, cerebral activity. The very polarities in society created a tension, an electric energy, which burst forth in the most manifold artistic forms, some tawdry, some exaggerated, some noble and lofty. All of western literature was translated and read; the most divergent viewpoints and experiences found form and expression. The struggle to create a new social order was paralleled in the struggle for new artistic forms. It was a period of conflict, and this was reflected for better or worse in art. Now the conflict is stilled; indeed, say the Nazis, permanently settled. The "alien and disruptive" spirits have departed. The coarse night clubs, the extravagant theaters which subjected content to effect, are closed. Germany, they assert, has returned to her essential spirit, and found for it a fitting habitation. Now the soul is at peace; now true Art can emerge, in what Rosenberg calls "the smooth monumental style of the National Socialist Way of Life."

But it does not emerge! The artists are assembled, each in his proper compartment, each properly certified as to ancestry and breeding, competency and ideology, each holding from the proper authority his license to create. No Jewish taint corrupts them; no breath of non-Germanic internationalism, of bourgeois secularity, of Catholic obscurantism perverts them. The green-uniformed hordes of the Work Army are ordered: "Dig! Plant! Build!" And they dig, and plant, and build. The Brown-uniformed hordes of the Storm Troopers are ordered: "March! Present arms! Collect the winter-aid fund!" And they march, present arms, and collect. And in the same manner the state says to the artists, so perfectly organized, so immaculately regimented: "Create!"

But when God in the form of Dr. Goebbels says, "Let there be Light!" there is no light.

It appears that the creative process is something quite different. The Spirit of the Times is elusive. Yesterday, in the midst of chaos, one caught a glimpse of her garment. But today she is ordered to appear; her devotees are assembled; and she doesn't show up. In her place comes a marionette. It is properly labelled "Spirit of the Times" or "Life Feeling." The face is her face, but the voice is the voice of Dr. Goebbels. She describes herself clearly as being German, national, of the folk, born of German blood and bred in German soil, with the whisper of the German forest in her voice, her blue eyes full of the wonder of German nature and poetry, her heart warm with love for the manly, the virtuous, the heroic. But the artists commanded to create in her image find themselves impotent.

This is not to say that words, plays, pictures, and sculptures are not being produced in Germany today. They are. But they neither speak a language intelligible to the rest of the western world, nor do they passionately incarnate a new German spirit. For the most part they are hack stuff, as made to order as a Hearst editorial on communism.

The dramatic critic of the London Times visiting Germany with a sympathetic attitude, begs for a patient investigation into German ideas, the more necessary because the German world has accepted values fundamentally different from our own. "Not to understand the German world outlook is to miss the underlying motive of those who seek now, in the theater, and in every department of life, to give new significance to the word Kultur." He goes on to say that the guiding truths are beginning to appear in the theater, but adds: "The new movement is so new that its constructive elements are improvised from day to day, and in another sense they are not new at all, but a passionate reaction, an attempt to eradicate the influences which made themselves felt after 1918, and to revert to the historical or mythical glories of the past. Fortunately music is offenselessly wordless, unless its authorship is un-Aryan or it contains those unvirile elements of the grotesque or expressionistic." He observes that the classical poets are somewhat embarrassing to the Nazis. "They had a taste in subversiveness and internationalism. Goethe has come into National Socialism as Pontius Pilate into the creed." He might have added that Schiller has hardly come in at all.

"Although," says this critic, "there is in Germany today an unequalled opportunity for the young dramatist of the first rank whose art receives a genuine impulse from these times, he has not emerged. What is required is that he can affirm the Nazi way of life, keep in touch with the people, respect ancient customs and have the 'will to form' which in Nazi ideology means the dramatic expression of a will to collective discipline. Dietrich Eckhart is said to have achieved this, but he died in 1923." The reporter concludes: "The new Germany is as yet artistically barren and its governors have set their faces against individual achievement and experiment. Dramatists and actors are considered valuable not for the ideas which they beget -- all necessary ideas having been conclusively begotten -- not even as originating teachers, but as lesson-learners and audience-fodder. The audience not the artist is what interests Germany now."

It is also what interests Russia; and in cultural matters the parallelism between the two societies is close. Dietrich Eckhart was a Nazi poet, but National Socialism has produced no Dietrich Eckhart. Maxim Gorki was a socialist author, but communism has produced no Maxim Gorki. The German publisher who brought out most of the works of the young National Socialist writers prior to the Hitler revolution complained to me in the summer of 1934 that there were no more Nazi writers: "Either like Ernst von Salomon they are considered heretics -- right or left wing, as so often in Russia -- or they are simply and inexplicably silent."

If the spirit fails to quicken, the National Socialist ideology furnished plentiful subject matter for conventional dramas. The Blood and Soil philosophy is transmuted into numerous peasant melodramas, whose claim on the Zeitgeist is that they contain plenty of soil and blood. The excitement of the revolution is depicted in films which with a little change in dialogue might be highly successful in Russia, showing as they do collective heroism and the criminality of individual self-aggrandizement. No Zeitstueck has emerged, on a stage where it has always been at home, comparable to Hauptmann's "Weavers," or "Figaro," or "Dr. Bernhardi," or "Nathan the Wise." Or for that matter comparable to Toller's "Massemensch."

A study of the book catalogues shows that German literature is given over, for the most part, to books on sport, biographies, historical works, and simple romances as innocuous as "The Girl of the Limberlost." One book-seller's winter list contains: "The Olympic Book;" novels about Joan of Arc, Diocletian and Caroline Schlegel; a collection of lives of scientists; a collection of short German biographies; and a Life of Bach. On the same list a best-seller is advertised as "beautiful holiday reading . . . full of bloom and ecstacy, a young passionate love-story set in a Nordic landscape, full of poetic tenderness." It is the landscape, evidently, which makes it Nazi. A leading best-seller last year was a sentimental love story, "Das Herz Ist Wach."

For the energetic writer, anxious to earn a living, there is plentiful picking to be had in eulogies of Nazi revolutionary figures, books on aviation, and, indeed, books of all kinds on military subjects. With Jewish journalists and scenario writers removed, it is a fine time for the Aryan hack. I have before me a list of those books which are considered preferred reading for children in the public schools. It appears in the official Magazine for Education, and presents the opinion of the Secretary for Education. Forty percent of all the titles of the list deal with battles, air combats, ancient Teutons, and racial questions, while most of the rest are either purely technical books or childish stories on folklore. An immensely large number deal with the Nazi fight against communism, liberalism, pacificism, and internationalism. One title is "Mathematics in the Service of National Socialist Education." Another: "What German Youth Must Know About Racial Inheritance." (He will know what few other peoples in the world believe to be true. The racialist books preach the theory that mixed blood results in a divided personality.) This sort of literature is being turned out in profusion by all the conjunctur scribblers in the country.

But the consumption of printed matter of all kinds is decreasing. It is difficult to keep track of the number of newspapers which have folded up in the three years since National Socialism came into power, and almost all of those that remain have lost circulation. Since they all publish the same news and nearly the same editorials, the monotony of reading them is great. The number of theaters has also decreased. In January 1928, there were 45 theaters and operas in Berlin, and two new plays were running that attracted international attention: Zuckmayer's "Schinderhannes" and Hauptmann's "Dorothea Angermann." In January 1932, at the bottom of the depression, there were still audiences for 30 theaters. On February 1, 1936, only 24 theaters and operas were operating, and a third of these were playing Shakespeare or classical opera. The most successful contemporary drama was the White Russian play "Tovarish." Nothing which could be described as creatively Nazi was on the boards.

Official guardians of German culture themselves complain of their difficulties. At the end of last year the chief of the Reichs-theaterkammer reported that the year had been difficult but that they were pleased that it had been possible to cover the need, in a relatively short time, for "clean entertainment plays and other average useable stuff." "The French salon comedy, the English society hit, the Vienna sentimental porridge, the Prague aesthetic drama, certainly can never be produced by National Socialist writers," he says. He goes on to admit that the general public had "been prejudiced in favor of this sort of stuff, never having known anything else." (Shades of the classic dramas which were always on the German boards!) But he rejoices that the German stage publishers have solved the problem by acting as "a very fine filter of stage literature." He thanks them for having saved the producers from working through censorable material and says, "Now, if we could only liven up the operetta theater we would be over the worst of our troubles." But, alas, the operetta theater in Germany was always chiefly Austrian, Hungarian, and largely Jewish.

All book-sellers suffer from the uncertainty of the censorship, for books may be withdrawn at any moment from the market if a sudden increased campaign is undertaken against Protestants or Catholics, or if an author whose works are permitted in Germany becomes personally distasteful to the Propaganda Ministry. Each number of the journal of the book trade carries a list of books which have been put that day upon the index. Whereas at first socialistic and communistic works appeared oftenest on the forbidden list, today they are overshadowed by religious books. Forbidden, according to recent numbers of the book trade journal, are such titles as: "German Folk and the Christian West;" "The Vatican and the Modern State;" "The Church in the Third Reich," etc.

It would, however, be presenting a false picture to give the impression that no criticism at all breaks through the crust of licensing and censorship. In the intellectual periodicals, in some German books and verses brave voices speak. They frame their words carefully, they use, where they can, the prevailing idiom, but through them breathes a whisper of an old wind, the wind of Freedom. And to Nationalist Socialist Germany must be given credit for one of the greatest Protestant documents of recent times, Karl Barth's "Theological Existence Today." To be sure, it cost him his chair at the University of Bonn; but without National Socialism it would never have been written.

Many forces propelled National Socialism into power, and amongst them the Zeitgeist played its rôle. But what was that spirit, the spirit which revolted both against communism and against the stuffiness of bourgeois conceptions, which groped for a happier social order, modern, yet rooted in the whole German past? The rebellion against sterile intellectualism, against the mechanistic conception of man; a Nietschean avowal of the heroic as opposed to the secure and rational existence; the desire for the self-disciplined community of free men, rather than the congerie of anarchic atoms of the capitalist-bourgeois state, or the society of regimented masses of the Marxian order; the longing for a reëstablished contact with nature and with wonder -- all these things are in the German soul, and have found expression in German literature and German art, and in some vague and formless way dominated the Youth Movement both before and after the war. The conception of society not as a machine but as an orchestra, communal yet individual, coöperative yet voluntary, united but not uniform, was breathing through German society years before the Nazis came to power, hindered by organized forms, parties, and systems of thought. It was the longing expressed by Thomas Mann in the phrase "the truth for us lies somewhere between Athens and Moscow." And this spirit attracted to National Socialism -- and also to the ranks of those who lined up against it -- some of the most idealistic youth of Germany. But the National Socialist machine is no less sterile a mechanism because it regiments men under the banners of the Will to Bread and Freedom, and the liberation of the Folk-Soul. Allegedly fighting the spirit of bolshevism, National Socialism has adopted its entire technique. A people which wished to be free has forged its own chains.

But it was Herder who said of the Zeitgeist: "Lock it in cloisters, towers, and caves; nevertheless, it will escape."

[i] London Times, April 18, 1934.

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  • DOROTHY THOMPSON, foreign correspondent for American newspapers; author of "The New Russia," "I Saw Hitler," and other works
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