, Volume 91, Issue 1, pp 135-148

Stanley Milgram and Siegfried Lenz: An Analysis of Deutschstunde in the Framework of Social Psychology

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Abstract

Siegfried Lenz’s novel Deutschstunde is analyzed on the basis of work conducted by two American psychologists: Stanley Milgram and Lawrence Kohlberg. The concept of duty and obedience to authority are considered as social phenomena that go beyond personal disposition. The article uses Milgram’s famous obedience experiment in order to consider the literary depiction of psychological processes underlying compliance with orders to commit reprehensible acts. A comparison is made between Jens Jepsen, the fictional obedient policeman in Deutschstunde, and Paul Grueninger, a real policeman in wartime Switzerland, who refused to follow orders and saved many refugees at the Austrian border.