AN - Biographies

Das Kulturlexikon zum Dritten Reich: wer war was vor und nach 1945 [A Cultural Encyclopedia of the Third Reich: Who Was What Before and After 1945]. Ernst Klee. Rev. ed. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, 2009. 648 p. 19 cm. (Fischer-Taschenbücher, 17153). ISBN 978-3-596-17153-8: EUR 14.95

The 2007 original edition of this work (see RREA 13:31), which included some 4,000 biographies of cultural figures of the Third Reich, was criticized for its apparently arbitrary selection criteria. This new edition takes some steps to remedy this shortcoming, but unfortunately the appearance of arbitrariness remains. This is perhaps inevitable given that the number of persons registered with the Reich Chamber of Culture totaled ca. 140,000, although the number of biographies in this volume amounts to fewer than the stated 3,600. In one example, the reviewer’s core sample of entries beginning with the letter A showed that 14 persons from the first edition were not included in the second edition. Of these, nine were Jews who had been listed in the notorious 1940 Lexikon der Juden in der Musik [Lexicon of Jews in Music], which attempted to identify every possible Jewish element in German music (see RREA 6:178).

Although the articles in the Kulturlexikon reveal little new information about their subjects, the emphasis on dispelling the myth of ‘victimhood’ is laudable; and the work represents a particularly rich source of information on artists of the Third Reich, notably actors, directors, writers, painters, sculptors, architects, composers, and musicians. [sh/cjm]

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