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Art of SuppressionConfronting the Nazi Past in Histories of the Visual and Performing Arts$
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Pamela M. Potter

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520282346

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520282346.001.0001

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Occupation, Cold War, and the Zero Hour

Occupation, Cold War, and the Zero Hour

(p.89) 3 Occupation, Cold War, and the Zero Hour
Art of Suppression

Pamela M. Potter

University of California Press

Witnessing the devastating effects of war and genocide, Allied victors attempted to rebuild Germany’s cultural life with ambitious yet fundamentally flawed programs of reeducation and denazification. Reluctant to replicate what they imagined as the Nazis’ aggressive control of the arts, they backed away from imposing their own culture on the vanquished Germans and ultimately left behind a postwar cultural landscape largely indistinguishable from that of the Third Reich. In the performing arts, the pressing need to provide diversion to an impoverished German population and to win hearts and minds led the four powers to hastily rehabilitate artists (such as Furtwängler, Gründgens, and Harlan) and to ease up on their censorship of arts and media originating in the Third Reich. Visual art and architecture became the battle ground for Cold War cultural conflict, as each side accused the other of persisting in Nazi practices, and the Soviet implementation of Socialist Realism helped to shape a Western approach to cultural history that paired Nazism with Stalinism. Meanwhile, German responses to denazification and reeducation gave rise to a “Zero Hour” mentality that urged artists to look to the future but diverted attention away from careers and artistic trends carrying over from the Nazi years.

Keywords:   Allies, occupation, denazification, reeducation, Zero Hour, Socialist Realism, Stalinism, Furtwängler, Gründgens, Harlan

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