The Knudsen case and the beginnings of theater studies
In 1993 the scholar Max Herrmann was forced out of his university because he was Jewish. But his former assistant Hans Knudsen offered his services as a theatre critic to the Nazi culture machine. While Hermann was murdered in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942, Knudsen was rewarded for his work with a so-called Führer professorship.
After he was successfully denazified in 1948, he became one of the founding professors of the Freie Universität Berlin and made a lasting mark on West German media, arts and culture.
The book presented in this lecture uses Hans Knudsen’s career to ask about the political and social function of theatre studies in the Weimar Republic, Nazi dictatorship and West Germany. In a conversation with Max Czollek following the lecture, continuities in anti modern and anti-Semitic bodies of thought in the humanities are used to ask about blank spaces in today’s culture of memorialisation.