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The Public Polemics of Baldur von Schirach: A Study of National Socialist Rhetoric and Aesthetics, 1922-1945

Description: This dissertation examines the political writings and speeches of Baldur von Schirach, a leading figure of the National Socialist German Worker's Party, and the means by which he chose to transmit his beliefs in totalitarianism, racism, and militarism. Schirach's activities serve as a case study of the Third Reich's artistic and cultural programs and the means by which these programs served as conduits for propaganda and public education. Throughout his career as the leader of the National Socialist Student's League, Reich Youth Leader, and Gauleiter of Vienna, Schirach promulgated a political theory which interpreted the rise of the Third Reich as an expression of an innately superior German culture. He put this theory forth through the use of artistic means, including his own poetry and prose, and theoretical exegeses of artistic and literary works that explained them within a fascist, totalitarian idiom. The dissertation discusses Schirach's personal adherence to Nazism and its roots; the ways in which he interpreted fascist philosophical tenets, symbols, messages, and archetypes; his concepts of youth and adult education; his attempts to mold the artistic community of Vienna into an aesthetically progressive, yet politically coherent, means of propaganda; and his role in the destruction of the Jews of Vienna and his explanation of this act as a cultural contribution to the Third Reich. The dissertation is based upon Schirach's own speeches, poems, and published writings dealing with education and politics, as well as unpublished archival sources housed in the Österreichisches Staatsarchiv in Vienna and the National Archives in Washington, DC.
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Date: December 2003
Creator: Koontz, Christopher N.
Partner: UNT Libraries