After the Nazis

Michael H. Kater


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Yale University Press
22 August 2023
ISBN: 9780300259247
544 pages

From the publisher

A wide-ranging, insightful history of culture in West Germany-from literature, film, and music to theater and the visual arts

After World War II a mood of despair and impotence pervaded the arts in West Germany. The culture and institutions of the Third Reich were abruptly dismissed, yet there was no immediate return to the Weimar period's progressive ideals. In this moment of cultural stasis, how could West Germany's artists free themselves from their experiences of Nazism?

Moving from 1945 to reunification, Michael H. Kater explores West German culture as it emerged from the darkness of the Third Reich. Examining periods of denial and complacency as well as attempts to reckon with the past, he shows how all postwar culture was touched by the vestiges of National Socialism.

From the literature of Gunter Grass to the happenings of Joseph Beuys and Karlheinz Stockhausen's innovations in electronic music, Kater shows how it was only through the reinvigoration of the cultural scene that West Germany could contend with its past-and eventually allow democracy to reemerge.