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HindenburgPower, Myth, and the Rise of the Nazis$
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Anna von der Goltz

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199570324

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570324.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction

Anna von der Goltz (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This introductory chapter outlines the thrust of the book and provides the reader with a theoretical background. The author surveys the historiography of Hindenburg's career and his role in German politics. The most important scholarly texts on the politics of memory and commemoration and the history of political myths and hero worship are discussed. Turning to Weber's concept of charismatic authority, the author contends that its application to Hindenburg's case is limited because projection is defined as key. Hindenburg's followers could not simply mould him into the mythical figure they desired, but constantly had to incorporate the tumultuous events and his conflicting actions into the mythical narrative, making it an enduring, but ever-evolving phenomenon. Furthermore, it is argued that Hindenburg's adulation was no stride on a ‘special German path’, but had parallels elsewhere. However, the Hindenburg myth had grave consequences: it was inextricably linked to the rise of National Socialism.

Keywords:   myth, hero worship, politics of memory, charismatic authority, National Socialism, Hindenburg, commemoration

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