2016 / 3 / 9
Shakespeare was Nazi
By: Freeyad Ibrahim
Although productions of Shakespeare s plays in Germany itself were subject to streamlining , he continued to be favoured as a great classical dramatist, especially so as almost every new German play since the late 1890s onwards was portrayed by German government propaganda as the work of left-wingers, of Jews´-or-of "degenerates" of one kind´-or-another.
In 1935 Goebbels was to say "We can build autobahns, revive the economy, create a new army, but we... cannot manufacture new dramatists." With Schiller suspect for his radicalism, Lessing for his humanism and even the great Goethe for his lack of patriotism, the legacy of the "Aryan" Shakespeare was reinterpreted for new purposes.
Weeks after Hitler took power in 1933 an official party publication appeared entitled Shakespeare – a Germanic Writer, a counter to those who wanted to ban all foreign influences. At the Propaganda Ministry, Rainer Schlosser, given charge of German theatre by Goebbels, mused that Shakespeare was more German than English. After the outbreak of the war the performance of Shakespeare was banned, though it was quickly lifted by Hitler in person, a favour extended to no other.
Clearly there were some exceptions to the official approval of Shakespeare.
Interestingly the reception of The Merchant of Venice was at best lukewarm , because it was too ambiguous and not nearly anti-Semitic enough for Nazi taste. Also Hamlet was as popular play as Merchant of Venice, Macbeth and Richard III.
(Kurdish, secular writer, author-novelist, translator, poet, political analyst, and essayist.)