"Indoctrinated, but not incurable"? Klaus Mann’s Return to Europe and his Interrogations of German Prisoners of War

von Lindeiner-Stráský, Karina (2011). "Indoctrinated, but not incurable"? Klaus Mann’s Return to Europe and his Interrogations of German Prisoners of War. German Life and Letters, 64(2) pp. 217–234.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0483.2010.01530.x

Abstract

It has been stated that ‘die persönlichen Erfahrungen […] mit deutschen Kriegsgefangenen zu Ende des Krieges’ led to disillusion and disappointment among the German exiles who fought in the war against Hitler. This disappointment manifested itself in the many conflicts between former exiles on the one hand and representatives of the governments of their host nations as well as fellow Germans on the other.

Like Stefan Heym, Hans Habe and others, the writer in exile Klaus Mann felt obliged to devote himself to the war against National Socialism, not only in his works, but also as a man of action. As a member of the Psychological Warfare Branch of the Fifth Army he worked in a propaganda unit on the Italian front in 1944. This article deals with Mann's interrogations of German prisoners of war, whom he questioned about their morale, their attitude towards the war, towards propaganda and towards Germany's future. The hitherto unpublished reports of his interrogations, some of which can be found in Mann's estate, provide a fascinating insight into the mind and attitudes of German soldiers shortly before the end of World War II. Furthermore, they help us to understand the nature of the gap that had opened between the exiles and their fellow-Germans and hence to explain the exiles’ side of the growing separation between the two groups towards the end of the war and in the immediate post-war years.

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