Introduction: Caught by Politics

Part of the Studies in European Culture and History book series (SECH)


The story has been told many times over, largely following one and the same model. An aspiring modernist artist gets caught in the web of Nazi persecution, not because of his or her political convictions but because of the Nazis’ hostility toward modernist experimentation and aesthetic self-reflexivity. In order to avoid the censorship of modernism, our artist either adapts a rather moderate artistic style or chooses the path of exile to escape future violence. The streams of forced and voluntary dislocation are manifold: they crisscross the maps of unoccupied Europe as much as those of the New World, Asia, and even Australia. Repeatedly, however, we find our artist stranded at either coast of North America, a nation that was initially largely ignorant of what happened on the other side of the Atlantic, yet later became one of the principle powers in overthrowing Hitler’s reign of terror.


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  1. 1.
    Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. John Cumming (New York: Continuum, 1995), 167.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Theodor W. Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life, trans. E. F. N. Jephcott (London: New Left Books, 1951), 38–39.Google Scholar
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    Edward W. Said, “Reflections on Exile,” Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Culture, ed. Russell Ferguson et al. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990), 357–366.Google Scholar
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© Sabine Eckmann and Lutz Koepnick 2007

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