H-Net: An excellent example of contemporary study not only of German culture under National Socialism but of European totalitarianism of the interwar era (Italy, USSR).

By Maria Silina
H-Net Reviews

Nazi Exhibition Design and Modernism (Michael Tymkiw)The questions and case studies brought up in Nazi Exhibition Design and Modernism are a part of contemporary scholarship on the culture and politics of National Socialist Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. Its author, Michael Tymkiv, adheres to a functionalist (semiotic) approach to totalitarian studies and the culture of Hitler’s era in Germany and in occupied countries,[1] such as Gleichschaltung (falling into line), a key principle of Nazi cultural politics; Führerprinzip, the totalitarian pattern of all artistic projects; and Volksgemeinschaft (people's community), a desirable image of German society. As the author states in the opening lines, he does not ask whether exhibition design under the Third Reich was modern or modernist; his main interest lies in bringing to light “the disparate precedents and contemporary developments that informed experimental approaches to Nazi exhibition design, and partly [in] closely attending the formal features of exhibition spaces in order to expose the multiple and often contradictory motivations that propelled such experimentation” (p. 238). The monograph builds on formal analysis of temporary expositions—large industrial shows such as Deutsches Volk - Deutsche Arbeit (German people, German work, 1934) and Gebt mir vier Jahre Zeit (Give me four years’ time, 1937); propaganda Schandausstellunden (exhibitions of shame) like Das Ewige Jude (The eternal Jew, 1937-38 in Germany and 1941-42 in France) and Das Sowjet-Paradies(The Soviet paradise, 1942), and Fabrikausstellungen (factory exhibitions, 1934-42). 

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