Hist 33D, L 2: My Research
by Prof. H. Marcuse, UCSB, Sept. 25, 2003
[images will be added later]
What does a historian do?
What is a "historical approach"?
- Leni Riefenstahl & her films
- index cards, enrollment,
- My story: research on Dachau
Leni Riefenstahl (1902-2003)
- Your thoughts, reactions to the films?
- "Triumph of the Will"
- a documentary film? (vs. artistic)
- "Victory of Faith" (1933 NSDAP Rally)
- Leni upset in Nuremberg parade grounds
- Ernst Roehm
- documentary aboutówhatóLeni's life?
- a biography?
1938 visit to Hollywood
- She arrived just after 'Kristallnacht'
she was "shocked", "couldn't be true"
- accompanied by press secretary (member of Olympic committee), briefed by Goebbels, debriefed by him, funded by his office
- Hollywood reception party: boycotted by many actors
- Goebbels in diary, Feb. 5, 1939: "In the evening, LR reports to me on her
trip to America. She gives me an exhaustive description, and one that is far
from encouragign. We shall get nowhere there. The Jews rule by terror and
bribery. But for how much longer?"
Bruns article in reader
- What does the regime's promotion of a woman to the position of official filmmaker of the Party and first artist of the Reich reveal about gender politics in Nazi Germany?
- Do Riefenstahl's postwar photographs of the African Nuba advance the same
flawed values as Triumph of the Will and Olympia
because they bear many stylistic similarities and depict tall, athletic male
bodies engaged in violent skirmishes?
- Do artists like Helmut Newton or Herb Ritts, whose portraits explore themes like domination, submission, and conquest and construct highly staged images of muscular beauty, automatically partake in the same murky ideological discourse as Riefenstahl?
- Not only are such mass performances not inherently fascist; they are not even "neutral," waiting to be appropriated by left or right.
It was Nazism that stole them and appropriated them from the workers' movement, their original site of birth. None of these "proto-fascist" elements is per se fascist. What makes them "fascist" is only their specific articulation -- or, to put it in Stephen Jay Gould's terms, all these elements are "ex-apted" by fascism.
There is no fascism avant la lettre, because it is the letter itself that composes the bundle (or, in Italian, fascio) of elements that is fascism proper.
- Please fill out index cards:
- On back: define/describe Nazism, Holocaust
The postwar "Media Blitz": 1945 poster "These shameful deeds: Your
Question: How does case of Dachau illustrate the
Holocaust in its historical context?
- "normal" German town in 19th century (artists colony)
- disruption by World War I (artists leave, munitions)
- consequences of Versailles Treaty (unemployment)
- the Nazis turned meager showing into majority
- the concentration camp system developed over time
(teleology: moving towards a known goal)
- Phases: 1933-42: neutralize opposition;
1943-44: branch camps for industry
11/44-4/45: chaos, mass death in Germany
The historical approach
- Looking chronologically
- Perspective of looking forward, not back
prepared for web by H. Marcuse, Sept. 30, 2003
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