“Diese Leistung bleibt zu bewundern”: Remembering Wilhelm Furtwängler and Gustaf Gründgens in Biographies and Memoirs of the 1950s and 1960s

Karina von Lindeiner- Stráský


Few artists performing during the time of National Socialism have been in the limelight as much as the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler and the actor and theatre director Gustaf Gründgens. Their decision to remain in the “Third Reich” and continue their artistic work under—and, in some ways, collaborate with—the regime has stimulated ongoing debate. Both artists have been discussed in various biographies and memoirs; on each occasion the reviewing of their outstanding “Deutsche Karriere” has had varied responses “im Echo der Nachwelt.” By looking at descriptions of key moments in these two artists’ lives during the “Third Reich” and the immediate post-war period, this article traces strategies of remembering Furtwängler and Gründgens in biographical and memorial writings of the 1950s and 1960s so as to investigate the early stages of “Vergangen-heitsbewältigung.” Contemporaries employ these strategies, often in order to use their accounts to justify and redefine their own artistic identity in post-1945 Germany. (KL-S)

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