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On the Awful German Fairy Tale: Breaking Taboos in Representations of Nazi Euthanasia and the Holocaust in Günter Grass's "Die Blechtrommel", Edgar Hilsenrath's "Der Nazi & der Friseur", and Anselm Kiefer's Visual Art

Peter Arnds
The German Quarterly
Vol. 75, No. 4 (Autumn, 2002), pp. 422-439
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Association of Teachers of German
DOI: 10.2307/3252212
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3252212
Page Count: 18
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On the Awful German Fairy Tale: Breaking Taboos in Representations of Nazi Euthanasia and the Holocaust in Günter Grass's
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Abstract

This essay explores the use of fairy tales in Die Blechtrommel and Edgar Hilsenrath's Der Nazi & der Friseur in the context of the Nazi's ethnic cleansing. Questions that it attempts to answer are: what makes Hilsenrath's use of fairy-tale material more provocative than Grass's so that German publishers rejected his manuscript, and what links Hilsenrath's and Grass's texts to some of the satiric paintings and photographs of Anselm Kiefer? While Grass's novel tries to resuscitate the humanitarian spirit of the romantic age, Hilsenrath's and Kiefer's sweeping defamation of the German cultural heritage broke taboos in the Germany of the 1970s and was consequently forced into exile in the United States. Yet in trying to work through Germany's past by harking back to an ideologically polluted cultural baggage-the fairy tale, Germanic mythology, the Enlightenment concept of Bildung, and the figure of Goethe-these three artists articulate some of the most horrible Nazi crimes in their œuvre, thus participating in what has been termed Vergangenheitsbewältigung.

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