Folklore and Fascism: The Reich Institute for German Volkskunde

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Indiana University Press, 1994 - Social Science - 308 pages
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Folklore and Fascism explores the genesis of the Reich Institute for German Folklore during World War I and the time of the Weimar Republic. When the National Socialists came to power in 1933, they recognized that such an organization could serve their purposes of coordinating the political and social orders. When the Nazis gave their support to the formation of the Institute, respected folklorists were swept up in this movement, which promised a realization of their dreams of a pan-German Folklore Center. Lixfeld discusses numerous folklorists in this volume, but special attention is paid to scholars such as John Meier and Adolf Spamer, who had long nurtured and promoted the idea of a Reichsinstitut but assumed an ambiguous stance in their dealings with the fascists. Lixfeld shows that two of the most powerful Nazi ideologists seized on the idea of such an institute and detailed plans to implement it. Alfred Rosenberg, the Commissioner for the Supervision of All Intellectual and World View Schooling and Education of the NSDAP, worked toward an advanced school that would help to implement the Reichsinstitut. Heinrich Himmler, who ran the rival SS Office of Ancestral Inheritance, was also involved in the plan to set up the Institute. Their purpose was always quite clear: the creation of a vehicle for disseminating the new National Socialist world-view. Lixfeld documents how ""respectable"" German folklorists willingly worked with the Nazis, paving the way for an inhuman concept of the ""volk"" and the nation. Nazi archival documents he uncovered in the former East Germany explode the myth of ""two German folklores"" - a folklore of willing Nazi collaborators and one of unwitting collaborators.

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