Explain and evaluate Walter Benjamin’s statement (made in 1936) about the “aestheticization of politics” under German fascism.

Lesson 4: Hitler and the Aestheticization of Politics
Lesson Essay
When you can accomplish the learning objectives for this lesson, you should begin work on the lesson essay described below. You may use any assigned readings, your notes, and other course-related materials to complete this assignment. Be sure to reread theessay grading criteria on the Grades and Assessments page.
This essay should be about 750 words long, typed double space with one-inch margins on the sides. It is worth 100 points and it should address the following:
Explain and evaluate Walter Benjamin’s statement (made in 1936) about the “aestheticization of politics” under German fascism. What did he refer to and why have critics since then both repeated the statement and called it cryptic at the same time? What, if any, is the relevance of this statement for our own culture today, particular with regard to our use of media technology?
Learning Objectives
After completing this lesson, you should be able to do the following:
Explain why the German philosopher Walter Benjamin referred to the aestheticization of politics in Nazi Germany.
Summarize various theories that seek to explain Hitler’s appeal (e.g., structuralist, intentionalist, general field, and hidden variant theories).
Distinguish between fact and legend in Hitler’s various biographical accounts.
Evaluate the seminal role of Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda film Triumph of the Will (1934).
Commentary
Was Hitler Great?
The German author and journalist Joachim Fest caused an uproar in 1973, when he introduced his massive 1,200-page biography of Adolf Hitler with the provocative question whether or not one should call Hitler great—the same way historians refer to Alexander the Great or the great Napoleon. After all, he argued, these and other statesmen had caused immense bloodshed, war, and famine. Like Hitler, they were responsible for inconceivable pain and suffering during their time, yet nobody seemed to object to them being remembered as great men. Needless to say, Fest quickly rejected his own idea in the following pages, but he had struck a nerve with historians and the general public alike, highlighting the degree to which Hitler’s crimes stood apart from others in human history. To this very day, many critics still insist on the historical singularity of Nazi crimes that cannot—indeed must not!—be compared with other events before or since. The reason, they argue, is not only the unprecedented extent of World War II and the staggering number of Nazi victims, but also the machine-like effectiveness and precision with which the genocide of the Jews was administered.
There are, of course, numerous theories trying to explain how all of this had become possible, and a number of them focus on the charisma of the führer as the key element. In his book Explaining Hitler (1999), Ron Rosenbaum distinguishes between what he calls “general field theories” and “hidden variant theories.” The first approach concentrates on the general, overall situation in Germany during the 1920s and early 1930s. These critics argue that any populist demagogue like Hitler (and not necessarily Hitler himself) would have sufficed to bring about Nazism. In their view, the rise of German fascism was a structural phenomenon overdetermined by a variety of historical factors (modernization, economic crisis, German humiliation after World War I, etc.) that owed nothing to the person Adolf Hitler. Rather, Hitler was merely a symptom of the German situation at the time.
The other theories, by contrast, try to find some hidden variable that would explain why Hitler and none other emerged at the center of the Nazi movement. The psychologist C.G. Jung, for example, argued that Hitler’s power was not political, but magic, in so far as he incarnated people’s dream of a powerful German nation. Jung saw Hitler as a seer, as a kind of mythical medicine man able to mesmerize an entire Volk. Other psychoanalytic studies have focused more on the role of sexuality. Susan Sontag, an eminent writer and cultural critic, sought to unveil the erotic appeal of Nazi symbols and paraphernalia, while others searched for some hidden sexual secret in Hitler’s youth that would be able to account for his later pathologies (both personal and political). One particular focus was the theory that, according to the Russian autopsy of Hitler’s corpse, he had been born with just one testicle, and some critics indeed sought to explain Hitler’s mental deviance as resulting from this condition. Others concentrated on particular details about his upbringing, such as Hitler’s closeness to his mother or his quasi-incestuous relationship to his niece Geli Raubal. Rosenbaum himself is rather skeptical of most of these theories. He gets help from Dr. Kurth, an old psychiatrist living in New York City, who in her youth had met Hitler’s Jewish family doctor, Dr. Langer, who in turn had examined Hitler as an adolescent and declared that there was absolutely nothing wrong with his testicles.
If we discount the more obnoxious psychoanalytical explanations listed above, we can conclude that the reason for the emergence of German fascism lies somewhere in between the “general field theory” and the emphasis on Hitler as “leader.” Obviously, the social, economic, and political situation in Germany after World War I provided an ideal setting for a populist “strong man” to emerge. On the other hand, Hitler proved extremely skilled in exploiting the situation and was able to secure his absolute position of power through competent decisions along the way. For instance, he created an administrative system in which representatives of state ministries and the Nazi party competed with each other for power. Hence, both sides remained dependent upon Hitler for arbitration and final decisions. Other than that, Hitler often deliberately stayed in the background. He withdrew from regular government work and instead returned to the Bohemian lifestyle of his Vienna days. A typical day at the Staatskanzlei in Berlin or his vacation home at the Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden would be structured around the meal times, with few or no official meetings scheduled except for private conversations with various visitors. Hitler usually got up around 11:00 a.m., opened mail, and made a few quick decisions regarding the most pressing matters of the day. An hour-long discussion with his secretaries Bormann and Hess usually followed, after which lunch would be served at around two or three o’clock, often lasting for several hours. Then there were private conversations with people who had particular problems, often taking place during Hitler’s afternoon walks with his dog or over tea. Dinner, like lunch, could also last several hours, during which Hitler usually dominated the conversation or held forth in lengthy monologues about whatever had struck his fancy recently. Thereafter, one or two feature-films would be shown and discussed. Hitler usually retired around two or three in the morning.
There are, then, two opposing theories about Hitler’s style of leadership. The first, the so-called structuralist theory, regards the structural ambivalence of Nazi politics and Hitler’s Bohemian lifestyle as indicative of his ineptness as leader. In this view, Hitler was simply unable to create a more efficiently working administration and thus undermined his own power because he had to make major decisions simply ad hoc, without adequate planning and sufficient information. The so-called intentionalist theory, by contrast, maintained that this confusion was planned in order to secure Hitler’s absolute power. Proponents also point out that this system adheres to Hitler’s belief in Social Darwinism already pronounced in Mein Kampf. The idea was to create a competitive atmosphere that allowed the fittest person or organization to win out in the end.
In other words, Hitler created an atmosphere of what has been called “authoritarian anarchy.” A good example of this is Nazi foreign politics. The leader of the state foreign ministry was Konstantin von Neurath, an independent from the Weimar period who only joined the NSDAP in 1937. The reason Hitler kept such non-party bureaucrats on board was to guarantee a smooth transition and the continued efficiency of the various state apparatuses—particularly after the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, when the country needed to be stabilized. Yet he also checked the authority of these non-party bureaucrats by naming numerous partySonderbeauftragte (persons with special duties) to interfere or even supervise their work. Thus, while Nazi minister of state, von Neurath had to compete with powerful party officials such as Alfred Rosenberg and Joachim Ribbentrop over foreign policy, and he increasingly lost influence until he was finally replaced in 1938.
Once again, it is difficult to decide for or against either one of these theories (structuralist vs. intentionalist). Instead, what is important to recognize is that both theories illuminate different aspects of Hitler’s personal idiosyncrasies as well as the peculiarity of the Nazi party regime in general.
Fact or Fiction?
As demonstrated above, it is often difficult to separate myth from fact in the life of Adolf Hitler, not least because Hitler himself was extremely protective of his public image. Just as he studied his posture and gestures during public speeches with the help of his personal photographer Hoffmann, he also engineered the official image of himself as an artistic and political genius who, nonetheless, always remained a man of the people and never forgot his modest social roots.
Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, in the small village of Braunau near Linz, Austria. There has been a lot of speculation as to the identity of Hitler’s paternal grandfather, which to this day remains unknown. The most credible assumption refers to one Georg Johann Hiedler, a miller’s assistant. We do not know for sure because of serious irregularities on the birth certificate of Hitler’s father, Alois, the illegitimate son of Maria Anna Schicklgruber (i.e., Hitler’s paternal grandmother), who originally named a dead person as the father of her child. It was only later during his adult life that Hitler’s father, Alois, changed his last name from Schicklgruber to Hitler. Because of these uncertainties, some speculate that Hitler might have actually been of Jewish descent, his (rich?) grandfather refusing to accept his responsibilities for his son Alois (i.e., Adolf’s father). This, in turn, would have provided Hitler with a personal reason for hating the Jews. There is, however, little evidence to support this suspicion, in spite of the numerous theories that continue to thrive around it.
According to Joachim Fest’s biography (2002), Hitler was a loner who loved daydreaming and dropped out of school early. His best childhood friend was a man named August Kubizek, who followed him to Vienna, Austria, in 1908. The two lived in a hostel for the homeless for several years, trying to earn their living by selling drawings and postcards to tourists. (There are rumors that Hitler had Kubizek murdered during the 1930s to protect his aggrandized public image from being undermined by his friend’s personal reports, but this, too, remains uncertain). While in Vienna, Hitler actually applied to the School of Fine Arts but was rejected. Although Hitler would later blame this rejection on the allegedly strong Jewish influence on the German art market, the fact was that the board did not deem his artistic talent sufficient for admission. Hitler later also claimed that he had been financially dependent upon his own work as an artist during this time, which was incorrect. Rather, he was able to support himself with an inheritance and his orphan’s pension from the state, losing the latter only after he had failed to report for military examination three consecutive times. In May of 1913, Hitler went to Munich, allegedly because of love for Bavaria and his hatred of Vienna. The real reason was that he wanted to escape the Austrian military service. His attitude changed drastically after the outbreak of World War I, when Hitler volunteered for the German army and remained a soldier throughout the war. He experienced the end of the war in a hospital recovering from wounds he had suffered at the front.
Hitler: The Great Director
Whether he is portrayed as a film producer, director, actor, architect, or as the first rock star in human history (going back to a statement by David Bowie; cf. Adam Darius, A Nomadic Life)—Hitler’s artistic “talents” and preoccupations have always inspired post-war critics. Hitler’s self-stylization as an artistic genius turned politician was disseminated by the Nazi propaganda machine and its state-sanctioned art, including paintings, sculptures, and movies. Like Hitler, Goebbels argued that a politician is an artist of sorts, molding disparate people into a genuine Volk like the sculptor molds clay into a figure. He also believed that “Hitler’s creative style is that of a true artist, regardless of the area in which he operates.” Hitler’s artistic interests were evident not only in his close collaboration with his favorite architects (such as Paul Ludwig Troost and Albert Speer) and sculptors (such as Arno Breker and Josef Thorak), whose works often relied on some of Hitler’s own drawings or ideas. (Fortunately, only a few of Hitler’s grandiose plans for the rebuilding of cities like Munich, Nuremberg, Berlin, and Linz were actually concluded before the war and had to be abandoned thereafter.) His artistic interests were equally present in the numerous mass rallies and rituals staged by the Nazis. Most critics investigating fascism’s extraordinary appeal to the masses rightly point to the all-penetrating power of fascist propaganda, which they vaguely define as some form of “ideological cult” or “pseudo-religion.” The overall goal of these performances was to transform everyday life under the Nazis into an embellished pseudo-reality of festive public events, colorful mass rallies, and quasi-religious rituals always featuring the same star: the Führer Adolf Hitler.
In light of these entertainment shows, the German philosopher Walter Benjamin talked about the “aestheticization of politics” under German fascism, one of the most often-used expressions to characterize the Nazi regime. However, its precise meaning remains somewhat unclear: had politics not always been aestheticized to some degree? Even back in antiquity, rituals and public festivals had a political meaning, not to mention today’s mass party conventions or public discussions, all of which are thoroughly “aestheticized.” How was the aestheticization of politics under German fascism different? It was Benjamin’s colleague Siegfried Kracauer who fleshed out and clarified the meaning of this phrase through a detailed discussion of the Nazi-Wochenschau (or weekly newsreels) as well as Leni Riefenstahl’s famous documentary Triumph of the Will from 1934. Like Benjamin, Kracauer argued that it was the efficient use of the new technological media film and radio that distinguished Nazi ideology and made it so effective. But he further stipulated that the images fascism produced did not simply seek to replace reality with an idealized representation. Rather, fascism used its mass arenas as stage-props to construct a new kind of hyperreality for the movies that left the masses unable to distinguish between reality and representation, between truth and propaganda. By means of such a montage, “[r]eality was put to work faking itself” (299).
[F]rom the real life of the people was built up a faked reality that was passed off as the genuine one; but this bastard reality, instead of being an end in itself, merely served as the set dressing for a film that was then to assume the character of an authentic documentary. (Kracauer, Siegfried, “Caligari.”)
Kracauer’s accusation has been quoted and repeated numerous times (by Susan Sontag, for example, in her influential essay, “Fascinating Fascism,” from 1977). Both Kracauer and Sontag highlight the fact that film proved to be an extremely useful medium for disseminating Nazi propaganda and for “entertaining the Third Reich,” as film critic Linda Schulte-Sasse put it. Indeed, both Hitler and Goebbels were total film fanatics and watched at least several movies a week. During their twelve years in power, the Nazis produced almost 1,200 films, most of them providing light entertainment (musicals, comedies, and romance). Only a selected few served as clear-cut propaganda films (Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will being the most notorious among them). Given the regime’s obsession with the movies, it is hardly surprising that historians and critics have repeatedly tried to conceptualize fascist politics within the theoretical framework of film aesthetics. In his 1984 book War and Cinema, the French philosopher Paul Virilio (1989) regarded Hitler less as dictator than as film director, claiming that “[t]he Nazi Lebensraum was less the fulfillment of Bismarck’s grand political schemes…than the transformation of Europe into a cinema screen…” (53). This fusion of reality and cinematic illusion is evident in the production of the Nazi film Kolberg, a historical war film, for the production of which Goebbels actually recalled 187,000 soldiers and 4,000 sailors from the fighting front in 1944. The Third Reich rather risked the acceleration of actual military defeat than popular demoralization at the home front. In April 1945, with the war already lost and the allied bombs devastating the country, Goebbels addresses his staff with the words:
Gentlemen, in 100 years’ time they will be showing a fine color film of the terrible days we are living through. Wouldn’t you like to play a part in that film? Hold out now, so that 100 years from hence the audience will not hoot and whistle when you appear on the screen. (The New York Times, 6th November 1994)
In light of these and similar statements, the German film critic Anton Kaes more recently suggested that we regard the whole “Third Reich as film: Germany as the location, Hitler as the producer, Goebbels and his officers as directors and stars, Albert Speer as set designer, and the rest of the population as extras” (From Hitler, 4). The question remains whether such characterizations contain more than some fancy allusion to the peculiar aesthetic obsessions of Hitler and his staff.
Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will
To answer this question, let us discuss the most famous Nazi propaganda film, Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. Originally a dancer, Riefenstahl began her acting career in the mid-twenties and directed her first movie, The Blue Light, in 1932. In 1934, Hitler asked Riefenstahl to make a documentary film about the annual Nazi party rally to be held at the beginning of September in Nuremberg. She had already filmed the Nazi party rally of 1933, producing a less spectacular film entitled Victory of Faith, which is now considered lost. There are rumors, however, that Riefenstahl herself actually sought to erase this movie from memory and, therefore, took it out of circulation because she was profoundly dissatisfied with the rough or unrefined quality of the film, where power cables were visible and people stumbled into position right in front of the camera. In any case, brief segments of that film have survived, and the contrast between these episodes and the flawless editing of Triumph of the Will is indeed striking.
When asked to direct Triumph of the Will, Riefenstahl was working on another film and originally did not want to take on the project. Riefenstahl also cautioned Hitler that Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda and head of the German film industry, did not like her filmmaking. However, Hitler persisted and agreed to her demand that her own film company be in charge of the film instead of Goebbels’ Ministry for the People’s Enlightenment and Propaganda. He also granted her complete freedom to shoot the film as she wanted, with the one stipulation that it be openly supportive of the Nazi movement. So, even though Riefenstahl’s film company was ultimately responsible for the film, she had the close cooperation and financial support of the Nazi party, without which such an effective film could not have been made. Contrary to reports by Hitler’s architect and planner, Albert Speer, Riefenstahl repeatedly claimed that nothing in the film was staged for her crews, nor was any part of it later reshot in a studio. This seems to be true in a strict sense. On the other hand, however, the whole party rally was carefully planned with the cameras in mind and in close conjunction with Riefenstahl and her crews. Hitler was keenly interested in the film for its propaganda potential and took a direct hand in its planning, enabling Riefenstahl to choreograph many of the events so that her extensive film crews and equipment (172 people, including 36 cameramen and assistants, and 22 chauffeured cars) could capture them on film as she wanted.
The final version of the film was edited by Riefenstahl and lasted two hours and twenty minutes (down from sixty-one hours of footage!). It premiered in Berlin on March 28, 1935, to the resounding approval of Hitler, Goebbels, and the entire Nazi leadership, none of whom had seen any of the footage before the premiere. Goebbels, who had originally opposed the choice of Riefenstahl for the project, awarded her the National Film Prize on May 1, 1935. The film also gained recognition outside of Germany, winning the Italian Film Prize in June 1936, albeit in fascist Italy. But it also won the gold medal at the Paris International Exposition in 1937—where many French citizens protested the award going to a film they considered a work of Nazi propaganda. Despite its success at national and international film festivals, the film had only moderate success playing at the movie theaters in Germany. On the whole, most of the population was more interested in entertainment, and even some ardent Nazi followers complained that Riefenstahl’s film was too artistic in its presentation.
After the war, shorter versions (around fifty minutes to an hour long) were made that contained the most dramatic scenes from the film’s twelve basic sequences but cut many of the repetitious shots of marching, flag-bearing members of the various Nazi party institutions. However, these were made for foreign audiences, because Triumph of the Will was banned in Germany for more than thirty years after the war due to concerns that it could re-arouse enthusiasm for the Nazi movement.
The film contains twelve chronologically arranged sequences that capture the mood of the city and the participants during the seven-day rally and shows the political bodies of the Nazi party taking part in the major events. The Labor Service, the Hitler Youth, the SS, and the SA are all depicted in gatherings that celebrate their role in the Nazi movement. By contrast, the traditional German military (Wehrmacht) appears in only a single sequence that is by far the shortest and least dramatic of the twelve. In fact, when the chief of staff of the Wehrmacht later protested, Riefenstahl made a separate short film about the military (called Day of Freedom) that consisted of unused footage from the party rally edited together with a few subsequent scenes she shot in one day. The artistically constructed montage of these shots was extremely effective and appeased the disgruntled Wehrmacht generals.
What is Fascist Aesthetics?
During the Nazi reign, Riefenstahl released only two movies, both of them documentaries: Triumph of the Will from 1934, and her account of the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936 called Olympia. After the war, she was tried as a Nazi sympathizer but was ultimately acquitted, even though many continued to think of her as a “fascist artist.” This label is responsible for the continued scholarly and public interest in Riefenstahl’s career, which awakens a deep-seated fear that haunts the history of aesthetic discourse: the fear that art is not ethical per se, but can be made to serve the most inhumane and barbaric policies. Since Plato, the relationship between aesthetics and ethics has remained a highly charged matter of debate. In Riefenstahl’s case, the fear about the potentially unethical dimension of art is exacerbated by the century-old humanist suspicion of technological media as inherently ideological and prone to political abuse—a suspicion raised by numerous media theorists such as Vilém Flusser, Guy Debord, Jean Baudrillard, Neil Postman, and others. Put differently, Riefenstahl’s work becomes the locus where these two humanist qualms—the one concerning the ethical frailty of traditional art, and the other regarding the manipulative nature of technological media—coincide and reinforce each other. This distinguishes her case from that of other artistic collaborators like Arno Breker, Albert Speer, Ernst Jünger, or Louis-Ferdinand Céline.
The desire to exorcise this fear is the hidden motor that powers critics’ continued search for “fascist aesthetics.” The latter, according to Benjamin, grants the masses their (aesthetic) self-expression but not their (politico-economic) rights (“The Work,” 247). In other words, the German population under Hitler was allowed (or called upon) to celebrate the new “spirit” of their nation, when, in fact, none of the Nazis’ “socialist” or “revolutionary” promises had been kept. On the basis of this juxtaposition, many scholars even today—either implicitly or explicitly—continue to repeat Kracauer’s central argument made some sixty years ago, namely that Riefenstahl’s classical film style serves to fuse reality and representation and thus numbs the critical faculties of its audience. Contrary to the Soviets’ “critical” use of montage, Riefenstahl appeals only to the masses’ base, subconscious instincts, thereby turning them into mindless automatons willing to serve their supreme leader Hitler. This political goal of indoctrination, according to most critics, defines fascist aesthetics.
I have two major misgivings about this argument. First, one ought not to forget that the Soviet style at the time also included outright propaganda films. This is not to deny or diminish the ideological differences between Nazism and Stalinism, but to argue that the stereotypical juxtaposition of Eisenstein’s “critical” vs. Riefenstahl’s “affirmative” cinematography is far too simple. Indeed, we cannot simply identify (aesthetic) form and (socio-ideological) function without considering the specific historical circumstances in each case. In the words of the German film historian Karsten Witte: “Instead of determining which features constitute a fascist film, we need to examine how films functioned under fascism or rather, in the context of fascism” (23). Like Witte, I want to argue that Nazi aesthetics cannot be positively identified with a fixed set of tangible characteristics or stylistic patterns, such as Albert Speer’s neo-classicist architecture or Riefenstahl’s cinematic montage idealizing a völkisch community on the screen. There is no distinct Nazi style of art that could be abstracted from its historical context. There is only a multi-faceted Nazi aesthetics that envelops and informs this art to serve a specific socio-political function at a particular moment in time. The overall goal of Nazi aesthetics was to re-define the very concept of “reality” and the human perception of that reality by means of an overpowering Gesamtkunstwerk of intersecting media (what Bertolt Hinz rightly calls a Medienverbund) considered more perfect than reality itself. Put differently, the falsity of Nazi aesthetics lies not in its attempt to “distort” or “idealize” reality, which is, in fact, the proper task of all art and aesthetics. Rather, its falsity lies in the Nazis’ unwillingness to allow for other “distortions” or “idealizations” of reality besides their own. Nazi aesthetics sought to close down what must remain an essentially open discourse regarding the experience of difference in and through the realm of art.
In 1937, Goebbels officially prohibited the use of the term “art criticism,” speaking instead of the “art-report.” The task of art, according to Nazi ideologues such as Schultze-Naumburg, Rosenberg, and other cultural conservatives in the Nazi regime, was not to mirror the existing status quo but to visualize the fascist ideal of a higher reality underneath the everyday. The goal of Nazi culture was to achieve a “naturalization of the ideal, and simultaneously an idealization of nature,” as Bertolt Hinz has rightly argued (333). This conflation of reality and the ideal explains why Nazi ideologues could herald Triumph of the Will as an authentic documentary of the 1934 party rally in spite of the constructedness of the film. For the avowed goal was to leave a strong impression on the audience, and the stronger this impression, the more “true” the work of art, according to Riefenstahl and official Nazi doctrine. This crucial shift in Nazi cultural theory from a production-oriented toward a reception-oriented approach also explains the lack of a discernable style in Nazi cinema, as film experts such as Eric Rentschler, Linda Schulte-Sasse, and Sabine Hake have rightly pointed out. For once you focus on the creation of a certain “atmosphere” or “mood” as the goal of artistic production, all aesthetic styles and materials become available to serve this goal. Hake rightly concludes that the Nazis’ identification of filmic reality with perceptual and emotional effects “closed the gap between ideologized constructions of the real in the state-commissioned film and the conventional techniques of illusionism associated with popular entertainment” (188). In other words, the classical normative distinction between state propaganda and popular art disintegrates. In this regard, Nazi culture confronts us with an all-encompassing process of aestheticization similar to what we are facing today in popular talk shows and mass political conventions.
This correlation serves as a crucial reminder that politics continues to be aestheticized via technological means of entertainment even today. The German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno once went so far as to predict that if fascism came to America it would look like Mickey Mouse—a reference to Walt Disney, who was the only prominent American to meet with Riefenstahl on her trip to the United States following the release of Triumph of the Will. While Adorno’s position seems excessively critical of Western mass culture, the overall point is well taken: one ought never to forget that for most Germans, the arrival of fascism was synonymous with the celebration of art, entertainment, and community above anything else. War, famine, and death appeared only much later, toward the end of what, until then, had seemed to many like a truly fabulous show.
Bibliography and Further Reading
Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” In Illuminations, translated by Harry Zohn, 217–252. New York: Schocken, 1969.
Elsaesser, Thomas. “Leni Riefenstahl: The Body Beautiful, Art Cinema and Fascist Aesthetics.” In Women and Film: A Sight and Sound Reader, edited by Pam Cook and Philip Dodd, 186–197. New York: Scarlet Press, 1993.
Fest, Joachim. Hitler. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt, 2002.
Hake, Sabine. Popular Cinema of the Third Reich. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001.
Hinz, Bertolt. “‘Degenerate’ and ‘Authentic’: Aspects of Art and Power in the Third Reich.” In Art and Power: Europe under the dictators 1930-45, compiled and selected by Dawn Ades et. al., 330–333. London: Hayward Gallery, 1995.
Kaes, Anton. From Hitler to Heimat: The Return of History as Film. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992.
Kracauer, Siegfried. From Caligari to Hitler. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947.
Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe, and Jean-Luc Nancy. “The Nazi Myth.” Critical Inquiry 16/2 (1990): 291–312.
Rosenbaum, Ron. Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of his Evil. New York

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