Helmuth Kiesel & Thomas Karlauf

  • Who writes the story?
  • About literature in the Third Reich
  • In dialogue

What can we learn about history from literature? Are literary works sufficient historical sources? The literary historian Helmuth Kiesel and the writer Thomas Karlauf discuss this question.

Literature offers insights into the social, cultural, political and psychological aspects of an era or place that may not be expressed in purely historical documents. However, literature is also an artistic representation and contains fictional elements. Can authors like Alfred Döblin provide insights into the Third Reich period? Döblin’s novels and essays, such as Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929), reflect the social and political conditions in Germany at the time and illustrate the atmosphere and society of the time.

Helmuth Kiesel is Professor of Modern German Literature at the University of Heidelberg. He specializes in the history of literary modernism, from naturalism to the present day.

Thomas Karlauf worked for ten years for the magazine Castrum Peregrini, was an editor at Siedler and Rowohlt and runs an agency for authors in Berlin. His book publications include biographies of Stefan George and Helmut Schmidt.

In the series History Telling

Fotos: F. Hentschel

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