The status of German high culture and that of German national identity have historically been bound up with each other in a unique way, setting the German national project apart in Europe as what Friedrich Meinecke, among others, described as a ‘Kulturnation’. With the appearance of his work Die deutsche Katastrophe in 1946, Meinecke sought to revisit his discussion of Germany as a nation defined by his earlier conception of cultural value as a means to recover moral standing for a defeated and shamed nation, thereby challenging the Allied occupiers’ disparagement of Germany as barbarous and foolish. By examining two films, Georg Klaren's 1947 Soviet Zone adaptation of Georg Büchner's Woyzeck and Karl‐Heinz Stroux's 1949 filming of Goethe's Werther, produced in the Tri‐Zone just before the founding of the Federal Republic, this article casts new light on this dilemma of cultural self‐definition through the popular medium of cinema. Both films feature the authors themselves as diegetic mediators for the adaptations of their work. The article examines the choices of Büchner and Goethe as authors for the screen and looks at the role they fulfil in a project to recuperate German cultural and national identity under Allied occupation.
German Life and Letters – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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