chapter  7
32 Pages

The Battle over Fairy-Tale Discourse: Family, Friction, and Socialization in the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany

Given the signifi cant attempts in recent years to grasp the essential features of Weimar and Nazi culture and the crucial links between these two phases of German history, it is remarkable that very little attention has been paid to fairy tales. 1 I use the word remarkable for good reasons. Unlike any country in the Western world, with the possible exception of Great Britain, Germany has incorporated folktales and fairy tales in its literary socialization process so

that they play a most formative role in cultivating aesthetic taste and value systems. In fact, it is generally impossible to think about folktales and fairy tales without fi rst thinking about the Grimms and Germany. Though it is not wise to attribute too much infl uence to any one cultural product in the formation of national customs and consciousness, there is no doubt that folktales and fairy tales participated heavily in the creation of beliefs and norms and symbolically refl ected changes in the social orders of Germany. As we know, fairy tales in particular were used consciously and unconsciously during the rise of the bourgeoisie to indicate socially acceptable roles for children and to provide them with culture, the German version of civilité .