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‘It is Germany where he Truly Lives’: Nazi Claims on Shakespearean Drama

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 August 2012


That the Nazis tried to claim Shakespeare as a Germanic playwright has been well documented, but recently theatre historians have claimed that their ‘success’ was rather limited. Instead, commentators have asserted that plays such as Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Merchant of Venice offended National Socialist precepts and were sidelined. This article attempts a re-evaluation and shows that the effect of the Nazi claims on Shakespeare was substantial, and the official efforts that went into realizing these in productions were considerable. It is also argued that the Nazis established a particular reading of Shakespeare, which lasted well into the 1960s and dominated the aesthetics of West German productions of his drama. Anselm Heinrich is Lecturer and Head of Theatre Studies at the University of Glasgow. He is the author of Entertainment, Education, Propaganda: Regional Theatres in Germany and Britain Between 1918 and 1945 (2007), and has co-edited a collection of essays on Ruskin, the Theatre, and Victorian Visual Culture (2009). His new monograph on theatre in Westphalia and Yorkshire for the German publishers Schoeningh is forthcoming.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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