A wide-ranging, insightful history of culture in West Germany—from literature, film, and music to theater and the visual arts
After World War II a mood of despair and impotence pervaded the arts in West Germany. The culture and institutions of the Third Reich were abruptly dismissed, yet there was no immediate return to the Weimar period’s progressive ideals. In this moment of cultural stasis, how could West Germany’s artists free themselves from their experiences of Nazism?
Moving from 1945 to reunification, Michael H. Kater explores West German culture as it emerged from the darkness of the Third Reich. Examining periods of denial and complacency as well as attempts to reckon with the past, he shows how all postwar culture was touched by the vestiges of National Socialism.
From the literature of Günter Grass to the happenings of Joseph Beuys and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s innovations in electronic music, Kater shows how it was only through the reinvigoration of the cultural scene that West Germany could contend with its past—and eventually allow democracy to reemerge.
Michael H. Kater is distinguished research professor emeritus of history at York University, Toronto, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He is the author of Culture in Nazi Germany, Weimar: From Enlightenment to the Present, and Hitler Youth.
“[An] excellent new book. . . . After the Nazis seeks to explore not only the details of West German culture, but also its importance to the nation in the first place.”—Ben Hutchinson, Times Literary Supplement
“Kater paints a picture of a nation stripped of cultural touchstones it could rely on. . . . From the outset, Kater reflects on his own personal connections and experiences to draw readers into these stories.”—All About History
“A tremendous study into life and culture in West Germany after World War II up until German Reunification… a highly accessible and enjoyable read that maintains an incredibly high standard.” —Jackson van Uden, Aspects of History
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