Dickins, Eric Paul (1972) The attitudes of three writers of 'innere emigration' to national socialism: Ernst Wiechert, Werner Bergengruen and Erich Kaestner. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This study is intended as a contribution to the discussion of the attitudes to Nazism of inner emigrant* writers especially in the period 1933-45 and since 1945; and, where appropriate, before 1933.
No comprehensive study of inner emigration has appeared, nor has any rounded assessment been published
of the part inner emigrant writers have played in the process of coming to terms with the Nazi past since 1945.
Particularly the work of inner emigrants published
in Germany between 1933 and 1945 has been the object of criticism. It is widely assumed that alleged literary opposition to Nazism in published work was ineffectual; and that a number of works for which it has been claimed that they offered systems of counter-values to Nazism ('Gegen­bilder') or even coded criticism of Nazism (' Schluessel­schriften') were barely intelligible as such. These and other inner emigrant works are often regarded as having positively strengthened the hold of Nazism on Germany by encouraging escapist attitudes in their readers.
The present study makes no claim to examine inner emigration comprehensively. It is written in the conviction that it is only by a close textual analysis of the ethical stance and oppositional content of inner emigrant works published in the Nazi period, and the interconnections that these may have with the clandestine writings of their authors and their attitudes after 1945 to the 'unmastered past' ('unbewaltigte Vergangenheit') of Nazism that the existing indifference to the inner emigration can be overcome. To this end, I have chosen to examine the works of three inner emigrants who may be seen as representative of others in a number of important respects. In the course of the research I pay attention not only to possible oppositional elements in published works and unmistakable opposition in works which were not written for publication and which were, in some instances, clandestinely circulated as resistance literature; I stress also the ways in which the reading public in Germany may have been predisposed to receive a message of opposition, and the sensitivity to such a message which was heightened by the totalitarian conditions of the time ('Hellhorigkeit'). It is particularly the historical novel as a form in which communication could be made on the evils of Nazism that demands attention. Bergengruen's Der GroBtyrann und das Gericht and Am Himmel wie auf Erden are examined for oppositional content and ethically reconstructive thought. Wiechert's Das einfache Leben, usually seen as the inner emigrant novel of the Nazi period par excellence, is reconsidered as a 'Gegenbild' and 'Schlusselschrift'.

The inclusion of Kastner, who occupies the unusual position of one who, in his own words, stayed in Germany as an eye-witness of events and reactions, even though he was known through his works published before 1933 as uncompromisingly hostile to Nazism, is to be justified on the grounds that he represents the intellectually left wing opposition among inner emigrants, and that his work before 1933 and after 1945 provides certain standards for comparison with the work of Wiechert and Bergengruen.
It is only by the detailed study of individual inner emigrant works - not (as at present is largely the case) by generalised assessments - that criteria can be established whereby the efforts and achievements of inner emigration and its inadequacies and failures, can be illuminated. The focus of interest in the present study is the engagement of Wiechert, Bergengruen and Kastner at all times as keepers of the nation's conscience and as men of letters who instinctively rejected Nazism. Not least among my objectives is to observe the relationship between character and talent in each case.

*'Inner emigrant': a general term Cor anti-Nazi or non-Nazi writers who, while recognizing the motives which drove a substantial part of' the profession of' letters into emigration, themselves declined to emigrate. The term is generally applied to authors who remained in Germany, preserved a distance to Nazism, and continued to publish.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: For access to the hard copy thesis, check the University Library catalogue.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2019 15:54
Last Modified: 02 May 2019 11:54
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/5951

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