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Literary censorship in national socialist Norway

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Kristian Aurebekk Andersen, Cand. philol.
The lecture deals with the censorship policy of the national socialist collaborationist government in Norway during WWII, concerning the reformation of the cultural laws, the relationship and correspondence with the German censorship policy, and the overarching ideology behind this. Furthermore, the
fate of the confiscated books will also be addressed.

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Literary censorship in national socialist Norway

  1. 1. Literary censorship in national socialist Norway
  2. 2. Censorship in general Nikolai Yezhov
  3. 3. Regular reasons for censoring ▪ Religious ▪ Moral ▪ Military ▪ Political ▪ Ordinary reasons does not apply when it comes to totalitarian and millenarian governmental systems
  4. 4. Germany first 1. Die Werke von Landesverrätern, Emigranten und von Autoren fremder Völker, die glauben, das neue Deutschland bekämpfen und herabsetzen zu können. 2. Die Literatur des Marxismus, Kommunismus, Bolschewismus. 3. Die pazifistische Literatur. 4. Die liberalistisch-demokratische Tendenz- und Gesinnungsliteratur und die Propagandisten des Weimarer Staates. 10. Die Literatur jüdischer Autoren, gleichviel welcher Gebiete.
  5. 5. Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg ▪ In effect a project under Alfred Rosenberg’s even bigger project: ▪ Hohe Schule der NSDAP The university (/college) will one day become the central place of national socialist research, teaching and education. The construction will take place after the war. But, to promote the preparatory work, I arrange for Reichleiter Rosenberg to start the preparations with these programs – especially research and the building of the library continuous. The departments of the party and the state has to support him in this work. From «Führer-Erlasse, 29.1.1940»
  6. 6. Institut zur Erforschung der Judenfrage
  7. 7. Other organizations ▪ Himmler’s SS, including the Ahnenerbe
  8. 8. ▪ Reichssicherheitshauptamt, especially under Amt VII (Weltanschauliche Forschung und Auswertung – SD-Ausland) Reinhard Heydrich Franz Alfred Six ▪ Constant rivalry and partly contrary, but still very overlapping interests.
  9. 9. The press in Norway - very briefly ▪ Norwegian NS (collaborationist Norwegian party) control initially ▪ County “press leaders” ▪ German civilian press control ▪ Specific suggestions for headlines had to be chosen After the English bombing of the harbour in Bergen, 16th June 1940, the following options were given: ▪ The king sends us help from England: Bergen has been bombarded ▪ Royal greetings from England – bombs over Bergen ▪ Cordially thank you, King Haakon, for Bergen burning ▪ Did king Haakon know that his English friends bombed Bergen? ▪ Not before the king is in London, the Norwegian citizens are bombed to death ▪ King Haakon brings the war further – Bergen is his first victim
  10. 10. Directions from the press section – an ordinary day at the office (March 1st 1943) 1. Reichminister von Ribbentrop’s visit in Rome shall ha the most prominent place in the morning edition. 2. the message from N.T.B. on the cancellation of the demarcation line in France shall be given special consideration. 3. The meeting of the Danish national socialists, with speeches by Dr. Claussen and the leaders of the Danish volunteers, shall not be published in a sensationalist manner. ▪ […] 8. The article “England prays for Bolsheviks”, which has been sent out by the N.T.B., is given explicit attention. 9. The N.T.B.’s account of the English pirate campaign shall be published in good equipment. One of the ten attached headlines shall be used.
  11. 11. Books ▪ Newspapers is something quite different from books ▪ Rauschning’s book Hitler speeks (Gespräche mit Hitler) had to go ▪ Tidy and orderly three-part account from the administrative council from the summer of 1941 ▪ Primarilly political works ▪ But also some cases of moral judgements
  12. 12. Where do the little children come from? “Many of you have younger siblings. Do you remember the time before your baby brother or sister came to this world? If you would have looked after, you would have seen that your mother was very fat, and then, when baby brother or sister was born, then she was just as slim as she used to be.”
  13. 13. Books or other writings that harm the Norwegian people’s national and social progress, if they are circulated amongst the public, can be seized and confiscated without compensation. Decisions about this will be made by the department, without the courts having the right of judicial review. The decree to guard the Norwegian book home [the Norwegian literary culture], Feb. 17th, 1941:
  14. 14. From the party program of NS Item 24: ▪ A free cultural and intellectual life with organized self-government, under the supervision of the state and with continuous economical support. Item 25: ▪ The press, theatre, broadcasting, film and other cultural mediators shall promote the interests of the nation. Propaganda that is hostile towards the state or that promotes class hate will be forbidden.
  15. 15. The NS handbook Instructions for the censorship of theatres ▪ The censorship itself aims to expunge or remove all scenes, words or gestures that criticize, mocks or ridicules the Germans or Germany, NS, the leader of the party or leading men in the party. All subjects that leads the thought to the war today or the negative side of the politics of today, must be denied performance. All typical war expressions has to be removed. ▪ However, the censorship also has another side. Especially when it comes to cabarets or other entertainment, the censors work has to aim at raising the artistic and moral standard in the programme. Any entertainment material that in the opinion of the censor has to be characterized as low browed shall be forbidden. ▪ Of particularly special rules, it can be mentioned that performance of English, French and Swedish text and melody is not allowed at this moment. The same goes for Russian music. Typical swing melodies are denied performance.
  16. 16. Additional guarding of the Norwegian literary culture To control the flood of Jewish, English-American and emigrant literature, the decree of October 29th, 1941 on translated literature determines, among other things, that it is forbidden to publish, in Norwegian translation or in Norwegian editions, books, texts and other literary works, illustrated works and comics that are published abroad, or if the author is a foreigner or Norwegian emigrant, unless the department has accepted the work for publication in this country. Sverre Riisnæs, minister of justice 1941-1945
  17. 17. Published books in Norway 0 50 100 150 200 250 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 New books Translated books NS propaganda
  18. 18. Politics – poetics ▪ Political opponents = anyone that does not agree, or has defined as out by ideological reasons ▪ Jews are central in this picture of the enemy ▪ The transition between politics/ideology and poetics are gliding ▪ There can hardly be any doubt that the tendency of negative analysis and cynical dissection of the spiritual life that characterize so much of the contemporary literature, is due to Jewish influence. The same goes for the widespread circling of the sexual questions and not least the unnatural. ▪ [succeeding a list of fairly prominent German writers, including Thomas Mann]: That among these, there were many talents, cannot be denied. But it is not enough to have a talent, it depends on what that talent is used for. If it is used with a destructive intent, it is better to be without it. Haldis Neegård Østbye
  19. 19. …and polemics Those who have held the banner of idealism high have not had it easy in the lewd, erotic and decadent atmosphere that has covered our literary life and under the spiritual terror that has been practiced by the “radicals”. However, the time has come when Nordic ideals again shall be in the seat of honour, idealism, selflessness, altruism, honesty, self-discipline, honour and national pride – and the air and the country will be cleansed of this unhealthy and culturally destructive influence. War of the Jews
  20. 20. Faults in many forms ▪ The diseased often has the appearance of excessive vigour. The face blushes in a hectic manner when the temperature of the body exceeds 40 degrees, the eyes shine with an eerie gloss. ▪ The true healthy and unspoiled literature “is calm and enduring and it has long- term goals, goals outside of the ego and it leaps forth from sources outside of the ego.” ▪ Kristen Gundelach, 1941
  21. 21. Culture as a pituitary gland… “It is a gland with the size of a pea, but its function is to spread out hormones to the body in proper doses. If anything goes wrong with it or if it is removed, the limbs can for instance grow and grow and grow – meaninglessly and at random – and the more they grow the more feeble they become – the face increases in size – becomes baggy, hanging, torpid and with a cretinic stupidity in the expression. These almost metaphysical materials are far more necessary for the body than material nutrition. The pituitary gland of society is the spiritual and intellectual life, its most important business takes place in hiding. “
  22. 22. What did they want? ▪ We have to ruthlessly remove all the foreign un-culture and replace it with Norwegian culture. It is our plan that the theatres, films, broadcasting, press and all providers of culture shall become means to rebuild the belief in the good Norwegian ideals.” Gulbrand Lunde, 1941 ▪ Moral/political assessment criteria, no separation of author and literary work ▪ Aesthetically in the sense that it should not seem foreign
  23. 23. Implementation in the legal system ▪ Keeping the cases outside of the legal/court system: “Decisions about this will be made by the department, without the courts having the right of judicial review.” ▪ Regulated by the department, NS and the occupational governing system
  24. 24. Apropos the legal system In principle NS does not recognize that there will be given any special legal sphere for the individual who might need judicial protection from the state. The state is the peoples organizational means to promote the common interests. […] The individual’s intrinsic value is related to his position as a part of the community. It is for his people's sake and not for his own that he enjoys his legal protection. Sverre Riisnæs, minister of justice 1941- 1945
  25. 25. What happened to the books? ▪ The collection took place partly voluntary, partly through physical gathering ▪ Large parts were collected in the Literature and library office in Parkveien 41 B ▪ Large amounts was stored in the premises of the department of culture ▪ The library of the Norwegian Military Academy was confiscated ▪ The libraries of the Parliament and the Foreign Ministry was divided and moved ▪ The library of the conservative party “Høyre” and private collections was used as filling in ditches at Grini prison camp (Polizeihäftlingslager Grini)
  26. 26. ▪ The large libraries got to store quite a lot of the books in their own buildings ▪ Both Gestapo and NS were diligent, especially in the first period of the occupation ▪ A Verbindungsoffizer between Abteilung Schul- und Bildungswesen des Reichkommisariats für die besetzten norwegischen Gebiete and the libraries was instated ▪ This organization made contact for the libraries with der Deutch-Ausländische Buchtausch ▪ “The governmental libraries are allowed to make exceptions for scientific use, but since very few of the books were of scientific kind; the decree has had no serious impact. The books are moved into separate rooms, but they are not to be removed from the libraries.”
  27. 27. The publishing houses ▪ The publishing house “Tiden”, which was owned by the labour party, got their materials, papers and books seized. This ended up as being used to make tar paper. ▪ Many of the older editions in their catalogue was seized. ▪ Realization of the law on the Norwegian publishers union ▪ Many publishing houses resigned from the union – these resignations were not granted ▪ A governmental consultants is instated at Aschehoug publishing house ▪ No new books was published by them from 1943 until the end of the war ▪ Many leaders were arrested
  28. 28. Guidelines for the consultant ▪ Open or hidden attacks on the states of the Tripartite Pact or prominent politicians or historical personalities from these nations. ▪ Anti-Norwegian or anti-German propaganda of any kind ▪ Attacks on the new-German racial doctrine ▪ Definite negative criticism of the ideas of the new order at all ▪ Hidden or open propaganda for anything Anglo-American ▪ General mention of the royal family and other Norwegian or German emigrants ▪ Propaganda of any kind for Soviet- Russia or the Soviet-system or leading Marxist-communist personalities ▪ One-sided propaganda for the materialistic ideas
  29. 29. ▪ The Norwegian Freemasons are still searching for most of their library ▪ The main synagogue in Oslo had most of its furnishings in place ▪ Even the locker that the Torah was kept in was in place ▪ The synagogue in Trondheim was in a worse condition, but the local Methodist church had kept their most important books, documents and Torah scrolls ▪ After the war, the Mosaic Belief Society applied for 900 Norwegian kroner as reimbursement for “Hebraic prayer-books and Bibles” ▪ The northers part of Norway fell victim to a scorched earth policy, which meant that they not only lacked books, but also libraries.

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