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German archaeology and National Socialism. Some historiographical remarks

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2005


This paper reconsiders German reflection on National Socialist pre- and protohistoric archaeology from 1933 onwards. It tries to do so by means of a case study of the academic contacts between the Dutch prehistorian A.E. van Giffen (1884–1973) and his German colleague H. Reinerth (1900–90). The approach adopted here differs from traditional historiographical writing on National Socialist archaeology in two respects. First, in its analysis of the academic exchange between the two scholars, the case study seeks to bridge the classical caesura between a pre- and post-war period. Second, contemporary and historical studies of National Socialist archaeology and archival sources, as well as interviews, have been incorporated in the research alongside the usual publications of the scholars involved. It is argued that with the approach taken here we may arrive at a more nuanced understanding of the different ways archaeologists have reacted to National Socialism over the past seven decades.

© 2005 Cambridge University Press

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