Imagining and performing The Self in NAZI Germany: Leisure and travel in the correspondence of Hilde Laube and Roland Nordhoff, 1938-39
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Hilde Laube and Roland Nordhoff exchanged nearly 180 letters between May 1938 and December 1939 relating their everyday lives, discussing world events, organizing outings, and their growing relationship. This unique set of letters, made available through the public history project Trug und Schein, offers the opportunity to study the historical world of late 1930s Germany from the perspective of two ordinary individuals. Hilde and Roland's correspondence is particularly relevant for insight into everyday life in post-recovery, prewar Nazi Germany. Studying the history of individuals involves discussing the processes of how people form their selves and perspectives in relation to historical events. I argue that Roland and Hilde imagined and expressed their identities through the self-narratives created in their letters. They particularly showed how they defined themselves in their narratives of leisure and travel. They frequently incorporated their travel experiences into their narratives in order to imagine aspects of their selves and to perform their selves to one another. They made similar use of other leisure activities like film, literature, and letter-writing. They each imagined themselves beyond their place in society, creating heroic selfnarratives in which they could achieve their aspirations. Roland expressed his status and education through his travels and his leisure activities, from recommending novels to writing about his travels. Roland expressed the status of a Bildungsbürgertum. Meaning far more than just middle-class, this word means a status of taste and the ability to discern the good and beautiful. Roland's letters and his leisure activities affirmed his taste, as well as his ability to teach Hilde about the good and the beautiful. Hilde expressed her aspirations for herself and their relationship through discussions of their travels and her pastimes. The narratives Hilde and Roland created reveal how they constructed their sense of self, and how these narratives changed and adapted over the course of their relationship as well as during the prelude to World War II.
Table of Contents
Abstract -- Acknowledgements -- Introduction -- Narrating the landscape: May 1938 â€“ December 1938 -- Work, leisure, and bohemia: January 1939 â€“ December 1939 -- Conclusion -- Bibliography