In-house webinar: Doubling in Nazi Era Ibsen Adaptations: Peer Gynt (1934) and Stützen der Gesellschaft (1935)

In-House webinar: Associate Professor Thor Holt (Centre for Ibsen Studies) will discuss how Nazi cinema (mis)used Ibsen in order to provide a positive source of orientation for German audiences.

Bildet kan inneholde: plakat, film, bart.

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Henrik Ibsen was the second most frequently adapted author in Nazi cinema, surpassed only by German writer of homeland novels Ludwig Ganghofer. Most of these adaptations premiered in the mid-1930s—a period in film history that saw a marked decrease in Ibsen adaptations on a global scale: Fritz Wendhausen’s Peer Gynt (1934), Detlef Sierck’s Stützen der Gesellschaft (1935, and Hans Steinhoff’s Ein Volksfeind (1937).

One important reason why the Nazis appropriated Norwegian literature in general and Ibsen in specific, is found in their mission to restore an alleged lost ‘Nordic’ or ‘German’ identity. In 1933, for instance, publicist Eberhard Freidank wrote an article on the frantic call to ‘hyper-Nordify’ Germany by spiritual and cultural means. Nazi ideologues projected onto the Nordic man an ideal self in terms of a positive image. This perceived thus represented an antidote to the dark double of the “Jew.” Against this backdrop, Ibsen was “adopted” as a German writer, his plays appropriated in line with Nazi ideology, and the Norwegian settings of the film adaptations served as Germany’s displaced doubles.

In this in-house seminar, Thor Holt will present how Nazi cinema (mis)used Ibsen in order to provide a positive source of orientation for German audiences. One key to an understanding of the ideological labor of these Ibsen adaptations is found in the specific modalities of othering that came into play when the Nazi era Ibsen adaptations screened in front of audiences in the Third Reich. The settings of these Ibsen adaptations gradually blurred the boundaries between Norway and Germany in films that anticipated the annexation of Norway and supported this alleged homecoming as a driving force in the Nazi worldview. 


Thor Holt obtained his PhD from the University of Oslo in January 2020. He is currently associate professor at the Centre for Ibsen Studies

Publisert 6. nov. 2020 10:47 - Sist endret 9. feb. 2021 14:17