Review of Folklore and Fascism: The Reich Institute for German Volkskunde, by Hannjost Lixfeld, and The Nazification of an Academic Discipline: Folklore in the Third Reich, edited and translated by James R. Dow and Hannjost Lixfeld
Date of this Version
Taken together, these two books do much to explode what they characterize as the myth of "two German folklores." This is the notion, still disturbingly widespread in German academia, that during the National Socialist era the field of Volkskunde was split into two distinct groups, the first consisting of serious scholars whose work remained largely untainted by Nazism, and the second consisting of hacks, publicists, and weak scholars who championed the Nazi ideology and program. By dispelling this myth, these volumes contribute to the ever-growing body of scholarship that documents the role of traditional German elites in the legitimation and promotion of National Socialism. The simplistic differentiation between a respectable and moderate establishment, on the one hand, and a radicalized Nazi insurgency on the other, might have helped facilitate the reintegration of academic and cultural elites into postwar West German society, but it has not held up under the scrutiny of historians.