Art historian examines cultural politics in Nazi-occupied Denmark
On April 9, 1940, despite a non-aggression pact, Germany invaded and occupied Denmark after meeting only two hours of resistance. The two countries agreed to a “policy of negotiation,” which allowed for fairly comfortable living conditions for Danes during the first half of the occupation. Denmark reasoned that this would minimize loss of life and disruption in the economy, while Germany hailed Denmark as a “model protectorate.” Yet the intricacies of this policy, which some historians have described as collaboration, have only recently been re-examined, most visibly when then Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen publicly condemned the Danish government’s actions as “morally unjustifiable” in 2003.
Greaves will address Denmark’s complex political situation during the war through a consideration of the social-activist collective and its eponymous journal Helhesten (The Hell-Horse, 1941-44), whose establishment as a progressive art journal took on considerable urgency as a gesture of artistic freedom during the occupation. Helhesten’s transgressive project served as a surrogate for overt political resistance by engaging with both Danish social democratic and German traditions to challenge Nazi propaganda and the Danish government’s policy of cooperation with Germany.
The talk, sponsored by the German and Scandinavian Studies Program, is free and open to the public.