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Goethe’s politics and political uses: nazi and anti-nazi readings of Des Epimenides Erwachen

Pilsworth, E. ORCID: (2023) Goethe’s politics and political uses: nazi and anti-nazi readings of Des Epimenides Erwachen. Oxford German Studies, 52 (1). pp. 15-27. ISSN 1745-9214

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/00787191.2023.2170956


This article examines the first leaflet made produced by the anti-Nazi White Rose group in 1942, focusing on its use of a quotation from Goethe’s festival play Des Epimenides Erwachen. I begin by exploring the appropriation of Goethe by the Nazi Regime, in particular the instrumentalisation of his works during wartime. In contrast, I then consider how the White Rose use their chosen Goethe passage to send an anti-war message and to incite passive resistance, reclaiming Goethe for an anti-Nazi agenda. Finally, I consider the passage’s political significance in Goethe’s own context ca. 1813, which was characteristically ambivalent, reflecting the lack of a singular political, nationalist narrative at the time of the Wars of Liberation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Languages and Cultures > German
ID Code:106601
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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