"Inventing ‘Paganists’: a Close Reading of Richard Steigmann-Gall's the Holy Reich”

Bibliographic Information: 

Irving Hexham, "Inventing 'Paganists': a Close Reading of Richard Steigmann-Gall's the Holy Reich,” in Journal of Contemporary History Vol 42 (No 1): 59-78.

This article questions Richard Steigmann-Gall's claim that leading National Socialists were essentially ‘Christian’ and that neo-pagan ideas played an insignificant role in the ideology of nazism. This is done by examining the argument of Dr Goebbels' novel Michael. Ein deutsches Schicksal in Tagebuchblättern (1929) to reveal its anti-Christian structure. Speeches and other statements by and about Goebbels are then looked at to show that his work is consistent with German neo-pagan thought. The role of Alfred Rosenberg is then re-examined, demonstrating that, contrary to the claims of Steigmann-Gall and many other writers, his work was highly regarded by Hitler and other nazi leaders and played a prominent role in promoting the National Socialist Weltanschauung. Finally, the argument is reviewed in terms of historical method, the problem of using literature to illustrate an author's ideas, and the researcher's encounter with a totally alien outlook.