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Heinrich, A. (2012)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Languages: English
Types: Article
The fact that the Nazis tried to claim Shakespeare as a Germanic playwright has been well documented but recently theatre historians have claimed that their “success” was rather limited. Instead commentators have asserted that plays such as Othello, Antony and Cleopatra and The Merchant of Venice offended National Socialist precepts and were sidelined. This article attempts a re-evaluation and shows that the effect of the Nazi claims on Shakespeare was substantial, the amount of critical writing supporting these demands was significant, and the official efforts which went into putting these demands into practice were considerable. Crucially, it is also argued that the Nazis established a particular reading of Shakespeare which lasted well into the 1960s and dominated the aesthetic of West German productions of his drama.
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    • 1. Foulkes, Richard, Performing Shakespeare in the Age of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 5. Edwina Booth, daughter of the famous American actor Edwin Booth, claimed in 1883 that Berlin audiences were positively 'Shakespearean' (p. 115).
    • 2. See, for example, Stribrny, Zdenek, Shakespeare and Eastern Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000); Klein, Holger, Peter Davidhazi, ed., Shakespeare and Hungary: the Law and Shakespeare (New York: Edwin Mellen, 1996).
    • 3. This may still be the case. In autumn 2010 the Shakespeare Globe in connection with the University of London and the Goethe Institute presented a string of events under the heading 'Shakespeare is German'.
    • 4. Carl Weichardt on occasion of Hilpert's production of The Taming of the Shrew at the Berlin Volksbühne on 6 October 1933. See review in Berliner Morgenpost, Akademie der Künste Berlin, Heinz- Hilpert-Archiv 1.1 Regie/Sprechtheater, 1426.
    • 5. 'How small is everyone else in comparison', Goebbels added in his diary on 14 June 1938. See Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels. Sämtliche Fragmente. Teil 1. Aufzeichnungen 1924-1941, ed. Fröhlich, Elke (München: Saur, 1987), vol. 3, p. 454.
    • 6. As claimed here by Andrew Bonnell in relation to the representation of Shylock in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (see Bonnell, Andrew G., Shylock in Germany: Antisemitism and the German Theatre from the Enlightenment to the Nazis (London: Tauris, 2008), p. 2.
    • 7. Bonnell, Andrew G., 'Shylock and Othello under the Nazis', German Life and Letters, LXIII, No. 2 (2010), p. 166-78.
    • 8. Strobl, Gerwin, The Swastika and the Stage: German Theatre and Society, 1933-1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 116, 130.
    • 9. Hortmann, Wilhelm. Shakespeare on the German Stage. The Twentieth Century. With a Section on Shakespeare on Stage in the German Democratic Republic by Maik Hamburger. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. p. 121.
    • 10. For a detailed account see Williams, Simon, Shakespeare on the German Stage, Vol. I: 1586-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). See also Marsden Price, Lawrence, 'English-German Literary Influences. Bibliography and Survey. Part II: Survey', University of California Publications in Modern Philology, IX, No. 2 (1920), p. 354-471.
    • 11. Buruma, Ian, Voltaire's Coconuts, or Anglomania in Europe (London: Phoenix, 2000), p. 63.
    • 12. See Fontane, Ludwig, Shakespeare in the London Theatre 1855-58, trans. and introduced by Russell Jackson (London: Society for Theatre Research, 1999), p. 4; Tieck, Ludwig, Kritische Schriften IV, S. 318 (quoted in Zeydel, Edwin Hermann, Ludwig Tieck and England: a Study in the Literary Relations of Germany and England During the Early Nineteenth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1931), p. 54.
    • 13. Theodor Vetter in his main address at the 46th annual general meeting of the Deutsche ShakespeareGesellschaft, 1909. See Jahrbuch der Deutschen Shakespeare- Gesellschaft, XLVI (1910). p. vii.
    • 14. Von Schleinitz, Otto, 'Londoner Brief', Zeitschrift für Bücherfreunde, N.F. 2.1 (1910), p. 47
    • 15. See Heinrich, Anselm, Entertainment, Education, Propaganda: Regional Theatres in Germany and Britain between 1918 and 1945 (London: University of Hertfordshire Press/Society for Theatre Research, 2007), p. 182.
    • 16. Archer, William. 'A Plea for an Endowed Theatre', Fortnightly Review, XLV (1889), p. 613.
    • 17. As quoted in the Daily Chronicle, 16 March 1908. The paper ran a daily column with comments on the Shakespeare memorial, to which German commentators were among the contributors.
    • 18. Quoted in Whitworth, Geoffrey, The Making of a National Theatre (London: Faber, 1951), p. 101.
    • 19. Quoted in ibid., p. 84.
    • 20. Hecht, Hans, 'Shakespeare in unserer Gegenwart', Shakespeare- Jahrbuch, LXX (1934), p. 117.
    • 21. Quoted here in the programme notes of the theatre in Litzmannstadt, the German name of the Polish city of Lodz after it had been occupied by German forces in 1939. Programme note no. 18 from April 1942, Zbiór Teatraliów Lódzkich 21/58. Programy przedstawień teatralnych teatrów lódzkich z okresu okupacji (1940-1943), p. 65.
    • 22. See dossier on the programmes of Berlin theatres between April und October 1938, written by Schlösser and sent to Müller in Goebbels' office, dated 9 November 1938. Bundesarchiv/German Federal Archives Berlin [BArch], R55/20258, p. 155-62.
    • 23. As claimed by the Gauleiter (the regional party head) of Southern Westphalia: see Wagner, Joseph, 'Was ist uns Shakespeare?' Shakespeare-Jahrbuch, LXXIV (1938), p. 13-14). For the history of the Shakespeare Gesellschaft during the Third Reich see the relevant chapter in Hausmann, Frank-Rutger, Anglistik und Amerikanistik im 'Dritten Reich' (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 2003).
    • 24. Strobl, Gerwin, 'Shakespeare and the Nazis', History Today, XLV (May 1997). p. 19.
    • 25. Nedden, Otto zur, Drama und Dramaturgie im 20. Jahrhundert: Abhandlungen zum Theater und zur Theaterwissenschaft der Gegenwart, 2nd rev. edn (Würzburg: Triltsch, 1943), p. 11.
    • 26. Stahl, Ernst Leopold, 'Shakespeare auf der deutschen Bühne 1935 und 1936', Shakespeare-Jahrbuch, LXXII (1936), p. 239.
    • 27. See Schlösser, Rainer, 'Der deutsche Shakespeare', Shakespeare-Jahrbuch, LXXIV (1938), p. 22-4.
    • 28. See Braumüller, Wolf, 'Shakespeare: der Dramatiker der politischen Totalität', Stadttheater und Kammerspiele, XUV (1937-38), programme no. 15.
    • 29. Günther, Hans F.K., 'Shakespeares Mädchen und Frauen: ein Vortrag vor der Deutschen ShakespeareGesellschaft', Shakespeare-Jahrbuch, LXXIII (1937), p. 85-6. This speech is discussed in detail in Strobl, Gerwin, 'The Bard of Eugenics: Shakespeare and Racial Activism in the Third Reich', Journal of Contemporary History, XXXIV (1999), p. 323-36.
    • 30. See Pfeiffer's article 'Shakespeares Werk: ein Protest gegen England', as printed in the programme notes of the Litzmannstadt theatre from December 1942. Zbiór Teatraliów Lódzkich 21/58. Programy przedstawień teatralnych teatrów lódzkich z okresu okupacji (1940-1943), p. 87.
    • 31. See von Trotta, Thilo, 'Rasse und Bühne', Deutsche Bühnenkorrespondenz, III, No. 31 (21 April 1934).
    • 32. See Stahl, Shakespeare auf der deutschen Bühne 1935 und 1936, p. 249.
    • 33. Brauneck, Manfred, Die Welt als Bühne: Geschichte des europäischen Theaters, vol. IV (Stuttgart: Metzler, 2003), p. 509.
    • 34. London, John, 'Non- German Drama in the Third Reich', in Theatre Under the Nazis, ed. London (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), p. 239.
    • 35. See Ketelsen, Uwe-Karsten, Ein Theater und seine Stadt: die Geschichte des Bochumer Schauspielhauses (Köln: SH-Verlag, 1999), p. 137-8.
    • 36. As noted in the statistics of the Essen theatre, quoted in Zeller, Bernhard, Klassiker in finsteren Zeiten 1933-1945: eine Ausstellung des Deutschen Literaturarchivs im Schiller-Nationalmuseum Marbach am Neckar, vol 1, 2nd rev. edn (Stuttgart: Klett, 1983, p. 396.
    • 37. Stadtarchiv Paderborn/City Archives Paderborn [StdAPA], A 1314 (file not paginated).
    • 38. The question of how to translate Shakespeare correctly is still a major concern for German theatre practitioners. See, for example, a recent issue of the leading German-language theatre journal Theater Heute (April 2010), entitled 'Shakespeare deutsch'.
    • 39. See letter by Rainer Schlösser to Goebbels in February 1936 (BArch R55/20218, p. 43). See also articles by Werner Kurz, Karl Künkler, and Wolf Braumüller in a special issue of Bausteine zum deutschen Nationaltheater from February 1936.
    • 40. For the following see BArch, R55/20218, p. 3-29.
    • 41. See BArch, R55/20218, p. 35. See also the detailed 1936 memo compiled by the Reich Theatre Chamber listing over 100 reviews of Shakespeare performances using the Rothe translations during 1935-36 alone. The majority of these reviews evaluate Rothe's translations positively (ibid., p. 3-22). Goebbels' ban on Rothe did not manage to stop his translations entirely. The 1940 Shakespeare-Jahrbuch noted 'with dismay' that the Danzig state theatre had still used Rothe's translation of Comedy of Errors for its recent production of the play: see Papsdorf, Werner, 'Theaterschau. Shakespeare auf der deutschen Bühne 1938-40', Shakespeare-Jahrbuch, LXXVII (1940), p. 244.
    • 42. See R55/20218, p. 66. For example, in early 1937 the translations by Walter Josten were sanctioned by the Propaganda Ministry (see ibid., p. 119) and subsequently used at a number of theatres.
    • 43. See BArch, R55/20218, p.76, 83.
    • 44. See BArch, R55/20172, p. 193-95.
    • 45. See BArch, R55/20218, p. 73, memo on p. 74-7.
    • 46. See letter from Kroepelin to Sigmund Graff at the Ministry from 7 October 1936 (BArch, R55/20218, dossier on p. 88-93).
    • 47. BArch, R55/20218, p. 89.
    • 48. Ibid., p. 93.
    • 49. See BArch, R55/20194, p. 283.
    • 50. Letter by Schlösser to Goebbels on 16 July 1940 (ibid., p. 285).
    • 51. Ibid., p. 287-8.
    • 52. See Bonnell, Shylock in Germany, p. 156-61.
    • 53. See BArch, R55/20194, p. 291-2.
    • 54. See BArch, R55/20218, p. 173.
    • 55. For an overview of Shakespeare productions between 1929 and 1944 see Eicher, Thomas, 'Spielplanstrukturen 1929-1944', in Rischbieter, Henning, ed. Theater im 'Dritten Reich': Theaterpolitik, Spielplanstruktur, NS-Dramatik (Seelze: Kallmeyer, 2000), p. 297-316.
    • 56. See Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels, vol. 3, entry for 14 June 1938, p. 454.
    • 57. For a discussion of three different Berlin productions of The Shrew in the early 1940s see Márkus, Zoltán, 'Whose 'Triumph? The Taming of the Shrew in Berlin During World War II', in King, Ros, Paul, J.C.M. Franssen, eds. Shakespeare and War (Houndmills: Palgrave, 2008), p. 197-212.
    • 58. See Akademie der Künste Berlin, Heinz-HilpertArchiv, 1.1 Regie/Sprechtheater, 1284.
    • 59. Völkischer Beobachter, 13 September 1934.
    • 60. See Akademie der Künste Berlin, Heinz-HilpertArchiv, 1.1 Regie/Sprechtheater, 1477.
    • 61. See Völkischer Beobachter, 2 December 1940.
    • 62. Berliner Allgemeine Zeitung, 5 December 1940.
    • 63. Review entitled 'Ordnungswillen gegen Sinnenrausch', dated 12 February 1943. Akademie der Künste Berlin, Heinz-Hilpert-Archiv, 1.1 Regie/Sprechtheater, 1653.
    • 64. Review in Das Reich from February 1943. Akademie der Künste Berlin, Heinz-Hilpert- Archiv, 1.1 Regie/Sprechtheater, 1653.
    • 65. See Papsdorf, Theaterschau: Shakespeare auf der deutschen Bühne 1938-40, p. 247.
    • 66. Biedrzynski, Richard, Schauspieler - Regisseure - Intendanten ((Heidelberg: Hüthig, 1944), p. 35.
    • 67. Lahm, Karl, 'Shylock der Ostjude.' Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 19 May 1943.
    • 68. As claimed by Strobl, Swastika and the Stage, p, 183.
    • 69. For an excellent discussion of Shakespeare's comedies during the Third Reich see Grange, William, Hitler Laughing: Comedy in the Third Reich (Lanham: University Press of America, 2006), p. 1-12.
    • 70. For the appreciation of Hamlet in Germany see in more detail Pfister, Manfred, 'Hamlet und der deutsche Geist: die Geschichte einer politischen Interpretation', Jahrbuch 1992 der deutschen ShakespeareGesellschaft (West), p. 13-38.
    • 71. See, for example, Türck, Hermann, 'Hamlet, eine eminent tatkräftige Natur!' Stadttheater und Kammerspiele der Stadt Münster, XIV (1937-38), programme no. 12.
    • 72. See London, Non-German Drama in the Third Reich, p. 245.
    • 73. Fischer, Friedrich Theodor, 'Shakespeares Hamlet', Stadttheater und Kammerspiele der Stadt Münster, XIV (1937-38), programme no. 14.
    • 74. Papsdorf, 'Theaterschau: Shakespeare auf der deutschen Bühne 1938-40', p. 254. See also Fechter, Paul, 'Deutsche Shakespeare-Darsteller', Shakespeare-Jahrbuch LXXVII (1941), p. 123-33 (dedicated to Gründgens' portrayal of Hamlet); Daiber, Hans. Schaufenster der Diktatur: Theater im Machtbereich Hitlers (Stuttgart: Neske, 1995), p. 155-6.
    • 75. Papsdorf, 'Theaterschau: Shakespeare auf der deutschen Bühne 1938-40', p. 242. Similarly Papsdorf, 'Theaterschau: Shakespeare auf der deutschen Bühne 1940-42', Shakespeare- Jahrbuch LXXVIII-LXXXIX (1943), p. 128-37.
    • 76. See BArch, R55/20258, p. 41-4.
    • 77. Hauptmann, Gerhard, 'Deutschland und Shakespeare', Jahrbuch der Deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, LI (1915), p. xii.
    • 78. See BArch, R55/20218, p. 177-88.
    • 79. BArch, R55/20314, p. 50-65.
    • 80. Ibid., p. 67-81. For a critical account of performances of Othello during the Third Reich see Bonnell, Shylock and Othello under the Nazis, p. 166-78.
    • 81. Quoted in Ruppelt, Georg, Schiller im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland: der Versuch einer Gleichschaltung (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1979), p. 31.
    • 82. See Rühle, Günther, 'Ich bin Fehling: Shakespeares Richard III., eine Inszenierung in der Diktatur: - Jürgen Fehlings nicht geheures Theater'. Theater Heute October 2002, p. 34-41. See also London, Non-German Drama in the Third Reich, p. 247-50.
    • 83. See, for example, Wardetzky, Jutta, Theaterpolitik im faschistischen Deutschland: Studien und Dokumente (Berlin: Henschel, 1983), p. 85.
    • 84. See, for example, Stahl, Ernst Leopold, 'Theaterschau. Shakespeare im Aufführungsjahr 1943-44', Shakespeare-Jahrbuch LXXX-LXXXI (1946), p. 109.
    • 85. Fechter, Paul, Große Zeit des deutschen Theaters (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1951)
    • 86. See Hortmann, Shakespeare on the German Stage, p. 123.
    • 87. Essen is a typical case (see Waidelich, JürgenDieter, Essen spielt Theater. 1000 und einhundert Jahre. Zum 100. Geburtstag des Grillo-Theaters. vol. 2. (Düsseldorf: Econ, 1994), p. 137, 143.
    • 88. See, for example, 'Rothes Irrungen', Der Spiegel XL (1960), p. 84.
    • 89. See Die neue Münchner Illustrierte, XLVII (1950), p. 11.
    • 90. See Stahl, Ernst Ludwig, Shakespeare und das deutsche Theater. Wanderung und Wandelung seines Werkes in dreieinhalb Jahrhunderten (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1947), p. 669, 701-5.
    • 91. Uthoff, Kurt, 'Ein halbes Jahrhundert', in 50 Jahre Stadttheater Bielefeld (Bielefeld: Sievert and Sieveking, 1954), p. 9.
    • 92. Ihering, Herbert, Regie (Berlin: Hans von Hugo Verlag, 1943), p. 78, 80.
    • 93. Hortmann, Shakespeare on the German Stage, p. 130.
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