Helena Tomko, Humanities Department
"Europe Imagined in the German Catholic Inner Exile, 1933-1945"
Wednesday, February 10, 2016, St. Augustine Center-300
12:00-1:30, Lunch will be provided
This talk will focus on how Europe figures in the social imaginary of the German Catholic inner exiles during the Third Reich. The inner exiles were writers, artists, and thinkers who lived under National Socialism between 1933 and 1945 and who attempted, in their writing, art, and in crypto-public spaces, to resist intellectual and moral conformity to the regime. This project describes how inner exiles turned to the past for imagined surrogates for the religious dynamics that had shaped European culture throughout the ages and the forces that had led to the emergence of the Third Reich. My focal point is the logic of European identity as articulated by prominent Catholic inner exiles, in particular the cultural critic Theodor Haecker and the novelist Gertrud von le Fort. My project explores how their shared conviction that German Catholics must respond to Nazism by acknowledging the failed legacy of Europe-as-Christendom anticipates postwar crises of European identity, in particular German Catholics' complicated acceptance of their place in a secularizing post-1945 country and continent.