Unsurprisingly, cabaret and nationalism always had a difficult relationship. The more effective cabaret is the one which challenges prevailing values, successful fashion, and the political powers that be. It makes people re-examine their preconceived notions, and it attacks figures, institutions and symbols of authority. Even when non-political, cabaret questions social mores with special regard to sexuality, religion and commercialism and this is what constitutes its form of humour and its stronger point of social commentary.
Of course, no nationalistic force would ever have any of it.
The antagonism between cabaret and nationalistic forces started very early in the Weimar Republic life. Right-wing attitude were always a target for cabaretists, who, after all, were more often than not liberals and leftists. Cabaret also addressed Hitler’s ambitions of power since he first raised to national attention. It pointed out the flaw of his ideology, and ridiculed the goals of the NSDAP as outlandish and crazy. This may even be the reason why most of the cabaret movement failed to understand his true threat: it ws just too absurd, they could see it clearly, and they thought other people could see it as clearly.
Even after 1931, when street violence became particularly virulent in Berlin, cabaret had a hard time intercepting the danger that was coming, in the same moment they had to start making concession to it. After 1931, in fact, many cabarets decided to stopped using politics in their shows.
When Nazis came into power in 1933 they soon sought to destroy the cabaret movement, for most of the entertainers were liberal, leftist and Jewish. Many of these artists fled Germany in the first days and weeks of the Nazi rule and those who remained, being them Jews or ‘Aryans’, had to come to heavy terms with the new regime. They often had to bow to the new ideology (or pretend they did) or face the consequences of keeping to address the problem Nationalism posed. Most of them were persecuted and ultimately forced to close down."Unsurprisingly, cabaret and nationalism always had a difficult relationship #German #history #Berlin #cabaret Click To Tweet
The Nazis tried to counter the criticism of the cabaret movement by creating their own cabaret form, one that would not criticise but applaud the good things the new regime brought about. Which was a plan destined to fail from the beginning.
Cabaret is inherently a form of social criticism, one that looks at reality in a subversive way so to cause critical thinking. Admittedly, there was nothing more alien to the Nazi’s ideology than this. The last thing the Nazis wanted was critical thought. They wanted conformism, a ‘healthy folk mentality’. Individualism was dangerous and undesirable. In May 1933 Goebbels told his audience of actors and theatre directors that ‘individualism will be smashed’ and replace by dedication to the ‘Volk’. The positive cabaret was supposed to give a strong, unambiguous response to people who disturbed the homogeneous mindset.
By the outbreak of WWII Goebbels had achieved the ‘complete harmlessness’ of all entertainment. Cabaret went back to noncritical vaudeville as it had been before the 1890s. In short, it was not cabaret anymore.
Limelight – ‘Willkommen’: the History of Cabaret
Peter Jelavich, Berlin Cabaret. Harvard University Press, Harvard, 1993
“it ws just too absurd, they could see it clearly, and they thought other people could see it as clearly.” I think this may be a common failing in critics of the powers that be – not taking them seriously when they should.
Besides, when it is that we ‘should’? It’s very hard to take our time ‘seriously’ if by this we mean thinking about it and acting consequently. Most of people delegate. We vote who we want and delegate ‘them’ to think to serious stuff while we live our lives. And when day-by-day life gets tougher, we want to think to other ‘serious’ stuff even less.
Maybe this is it. Maybe this is how history happens while we’re looking the other way.
Gail M Baugniet
When too much power falls into the hands of the wrong government officials, we all ultimately participate in a completely harmless vaudeville act, and in fear.
(AtoZ Theme: very short stories/various genres)
N is for: Narthex, Nave, and Exorcisms
Now you’ve scared me, Gail…
Oh boy, didn’t take them seriously because they could see how clearly nutty the Hitler regime is and thought everyone else could as well…hmmmm….seems like not much has changed eh? I found this sad and so disturbing even though it is almost 90 years ago but it’s because not much has truly changed
Yeah. My understanding is that nobody took Hitler very seriously until he was appointed Chancellor. In fact, he might have been appointed Chancellor because nobody took him seriously.
Boy, History is a tough teacher! In fact, she’s so tough that we often prefer not to listen to her.
Nazi ideology is most certainly antithetical to what cabaret is all about! Who wants standard-issue entertainment, or entertainment promoting blind, fanatical support of totalitarianism?
Apparently, they thought it was going to be quite interesting…