The Nazi-Fascist New Order for European Culture
“This revelatory book maps a virtually undiscovered aspect of Europe under Nazi and Fascist hegemony: the attempt to create pan-European cultural institutions for film, music, and literature. This enterprise required a redefinition of what ‘Europe’ meant for the Nazis, the Fascists, and for the extreme right in virtually every European country. Martin’s transnational approach is without doubt a major contribution to a new generation of scholarship about fascism and modernity.”
—Anson Rabinbach, Princeton University
"narrated with great erudition and grace...Drawing upon libraries and archives in five different countries, Martin’s work is a dazzling transnational history of ideas and institutions as well as a major contribution to our understanding of fascism and the Third Reich: Martin reveals how cultural initiatives unlock the political imagination of the interwar radical right."
"Martin’s illuminating book...adds a significant dimension to our understanding of how the Nazi and Fascist empires were constructed. [...] Martin unravels these multinational connections with clarity and precision, aided by research and reading in at least five European languages. [...] This story has been approached mostly, if at all, in individual national terms, but Martin has brought the whole Axis cultural project admirably into focus."
—Robert O. Paxton, in The New York Review of Books
Author interview podcast with New Books in History; listen here!
Chosen as Editor's pick in EuropeNow (January 2017)
Reviewed in Canadian Journal of History (Autumn 2018)
Reviewed in The Historian (September 2018)
Reviewed in Historische Zeitschrift (August 2018)
Reviewed in The Journal of Modern History (June 2018)
Reviewed in H-Diplo (April 2018)
Reviewed in The American Historical Review (February 2018)
Reviewed in The New York Review of Books (October 2017)
Reviewed in H-France (August 2017)
Reviewed in The New Republic (May 2017)
Reviewed in Michigan War Studies Review (May 2017)
Reviewed in Journal of Social History (April 2017)
Reviewed in Central European History (March 2017)
Reviewed in Dagens Nyheter (January 2017) (in Swedish)
Reviewed in New Statesman (November 2016)
in Laura Cerasi, ed., Genealogie e geografie dell’anti-democrazia nella crisi europea degli anni Trenta (Venice: Edizioni Ca’ Foscari, 2019)
Italian fascists presented corporatism, a system of sector-wide unions bringing together workers and employers under firm state control, as a new way to resolve tensions between labor and capital, and to incorporate the working classes in national life. ‘Cultural corporatism’ – the fascist labor model applied to the realm of the arts – was likewise presented as a historic resolution of the problem of the artist’s role in modern society. Focusing on two art conferences in Venice in 1932 and 1934, this article explores how Italian leaders promoted cultural corporatism internationally, creating illiberal international networks designed to help promote fascist ideology and Italian soft power.
“The Art of Nazi International Networking: The Visual Arts in the Rhetoric and Reality of Hitler’s European New Order”
in M. Björkman, P. Lundell, and S. Widmalm, eds., Intellectual Collaboration with the Third Reich: Treason or Reason? (London: Routledge, 2019)
By bringing international audiences into contact with particular works of German painting, sculpture, and architecture, the Nazi deployed the visual arts as a form of cultural diplomacy. At the same time, a particular idea of art – understood as a transcendent, non-commercial, non-political reflection of the spirit of the nation – played a crucial role in the Nazis’ broader effort to forge pro-German networks of foreign intellectuals and cultural producers in many fields. Over time, this depoliticized idea of art played an even more important role in the Nazis’ cultural “New Order” than did actual exchanges of artists or works. Compared to the Nazis’ ambitious efforts to restructure the fields of literature, music, and cinema through pan-European organisation and institution-building (documented in my book), the international field of the visual arts was left relatively neglected. Understanding why this was so requires a look at the “art” – in practice and as theory – of the Nazis’ international networks.
National Socialists were notoriously hostile to the internationalist spirit and scoffed at the universalist and humanitarian values of international law. Yet in 1939, Nazi officials brought together jurists from across Europe to launch a new international legal institution. Founded officially in 1941, the International Law Chamber (Internationale Rechtskammer) exploited wide-spread dissatisfaction with liberal internationalism to rally European jurists around a regional-European, anti-liberal, and fascist-corporatist vision of international legal order.
"Svensk film i Hitlers Europa: Nationell filmindustri och internationella nätverk"
in Maria Björkman, Patrik Lundell & Sven Widmalm (red.) De intellektuellas förräderi? (Stockholm: Arkiv, 2016)
This book chapter examines how the Swedish film industry navigated between two alternative efforts to create international film networks in the interwar period--one led by Hollywood, the other led by Nazi Germany. I focus on Sweden's participation in the International Film Chamber (IFC), founded by Nazi Germany in 1935, in order to explore what longer-term legacies can be ascribed to Swedish cooperation with the intellectual and cultural politics of Hitler's Germany.
"'European Literature' in the Nazi New Order: The Cultural Politics of the European Writers' Union, 1941-3"
This article examines the European Writers' Union, founded by Nazi Germany with representatives of fifteen nations in October 1941, in the context of the history of the idea of European literature. It argues that this institution was a serious effort to re-order the international literary field into a European form, designed to help legitimate Nazi Germany's New Order Europe and to establish the cultural hegemony which German elites believed they alone deserved. Drawing on work by scholars of comparative literature and cultural sociology, this article sets the Writers' Union in the transnational history of the literary field in twentieth-century Europe in order to interpret the rhetorical, ideological and practical strategies of what could be called the "soft power" of Nazi Empire.
in Roel Vande Winkel and David Welch, eds., Cinema and the Swastika: The International Expansion of Third Reich Cinema (rev. ed., Houndsmill, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011): 25-41.
"Celebrating the Nation's Poets: Petrarch, Leopardi, and the Appropriation of Cultural Symbols in Fascist Italy"
in Roger Crum and Claudia Lazzaro, eds., Donatello Among the Blackshirts: History and Modernity in the Visual Culture of Fascist Italy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005): 187-202
"Here was an actress with the potential not just to replace Marlene Dietrich—whose 1930 departure for Hollywood had been a lasting blow to the German industry—but to be a new Garbo. And, if the Germans could keep her from running off to Hollywood, she could be Germany’s European Garbo."
An essay on the European role of the Swedish actress and singer, on the blog of the International Association for Media and History.
An essay on the twentieth-century birth of the idea of 'European culture' in Aeon, the online magazine of ideas.
European intellectuals' "attachment to European distinctiveness led to an embrace and celebration of something else, something almost ineffable, that neither the US nor the USSR could ever claim: that was ‘European culture’."
Historical essay in Uppsala stadsteater program book, 2014 (in Swedish)
This essay offers historical context for viewers of the Uppsala city theater company's production of the musical Cabaret.