Continuity or Change? Aspects of West German Writing after 1945

  • Keith Bullivant
Part of the Warwick Studies in the European Humanities book series (WSEH)


Until well into the 1960s, the prevailing conventional wisdom was that for West Germany the capitulation of 8 May 1945 marked an absolute caesura, a radical break with the Third Reich: this is the substance of the myth of the ‘Nullpunkt’ or ‘Stunde Null’. More recent studies have revealed an astonishing degree of continuity in the area of capital before 1948, the year of the currency reform and the Marshall Plan, which in turn marked a large-scale return to power and influence of a compromised generation. Over and above this, the rapid development of the Cold War situation led to the Western allies, in their fear of Communism, rushing through and reducing to a farce the process of so-called denazification, so that the key positions of responsibility in the legislature and in commerce could be assumed only by the only people with appropriate experience, in many cases former Nazis. The revelations about the Nazi past of leading West German politicians and industrialists in the 1960s and 1970s were but the tip of the iceberg.1


Postwar Period Critical Realism German Literature Youth Movement Idealist Tradition 
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  1. 6.
    Ernst Jünger, Gesammelte Werke, vol. ix (Stuttgart, 1979) p. 173.Google Scholar
  2. 14.
    Frank Thiess, Dichtung und Wirklichkeit (Wiesbaden, 1952) p.9.Google Scholar
  3. 15.
    Gerd Gaiser, Die sterbende Jagd, rev. edn (Frankfurt, 1957) p. 157.Google Scholar
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    See Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Deutsche Literatur in Ost und West (Munich, 1963) pp. 55–80.Google Scholar
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    Arnold Bauer, in Der Kurier (Berlin), 5–6 October 1957.Google Scholar
  6. 26.
    Günter Grass, Headbirths, or The Germans are Dying Out trans. R. Mannheim (Harmondsworth, 1984) pp. 22–4.Google Scholar
  7. 27.
    Günter Grass, Widerstand lernen (Darmstadt and Neuwied, 1984) and Vormweg, Günter Grass pp. 16–23.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Nicholas Hewitt 1989

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  • Keith Bullivant

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