Inscribing Yourself into a Nazi Future: Love Letters in the Third Reich

Detlef Schmiechen-Ackermann, Marlis Buchholz, Bianca Roitsch, Karl H. Schneider, Christiane Schröder, Hrsg. Der Ort der “Volksgemeinschaft” in der deutschen Gesellschaftsgeschichte. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöning, 2018. https://www.schoeningh.de/katalog/titel/978-3-506-78648-7.htmlSince 2011, Andrew Stuart Bergerson, Professor of History & Public Humanities, has been one of the lead researchers for a project called Trug&Schein. It uses the correspondence of an ordinary German couple, Hilde Laube and Roland Nordhoff, to facilitate public engagement with everyday life over the course of the Second World War.

The first article to emerge from this project has been published in a major academic book series on the Volksgemeinschaft, the Nazi term for its fascist and racist community. Dr. Bergerson focuses on the period of their courtship from 1938 to 1940, before Roland was enlisted in the Navy but after he had joined the Nazi party. In it, he demonstrates how Hilde and Roland used their correspondence to “inscribe themselves” into a Nazi future—building trust between themselves by building that relationship on the basis of their trust in God, their parents, and increasingly the Führer.

“I have always been fascinated by how politics is embedded in the seemingly ordinary practices of everyday life,” Bergerson said. “This correspondence allowed us to observe the historical dynamics in these various relationships because Hilde and Roland wrote so many letters over the course of such a long period of time.”

The article: “Das Sich-Einschreiben in die NS-Zukunft: Liebesbriefe als Quelle für eine Alltagsgeschichte der ‘Volksgemeinschaft,’” in: Der Ort der “Volksgemeinschaft” in der deutschen Gesellschaftsgeschichte, edited by Detlef Schmiechen-Ackermann, Marlis Buchholz, Bianca Roitsch, Karl H. Schneider, Christiane Schröder, 223–41. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöning, 2018.