What's all this then?

My name is Victoria Stiles and I'm an Early Career Historian currently doing whatever odd research / consulting / outreach / tutoring jobs come my way. I blog here about some of the interesting texts I've found.
My research focusses on books about Britain and the British Empire which were in circulation in Nazi Germany but you'll also find a smattering of school textbooks, witchcraft beliefs, bog drainage, bemused travellers and weird illustrations that caught my eye.
Translations from German are my own. Comments are currently unmoderated and are mostly spam for leather jackets anyway.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Happy Limbo!

(This post originally appeared on one of my other blogs, Violetta Crisis.)

Yes, Limbo.

Welcome to those weird two weeks when it's too late to wish people a happy new year (in this case because it's already been very unhappy indeed) but new calendars and diaries still aren't half price. Now seems to be an appropriate time to present another fleamarket find - the Jung Siegfried Kalender from 1927.

This little magazine has nothing to do with the mythical Siegfried beyond the stylish dragon slaughter on the cover. Around that time, “Siegfried” seems to have been a by-word for plucky, patriotic youngsters. I haven’t found reference online to the calendar yet but there are annuals of a regular children's magazine with the title Jung-Siegfried on offer.

One interesting point about all things Nibelungen between the wars, particularly Wagner’s use of the older Norse myths to create his Ring Cycle, is that they were so bound up with German nationalism that they became an important step in the assimilation process of middle-class Jewish families. Apparently, names such as Siegfried, Sigmund, Siegbert etc. were given so often to Jewish children that non-Jewish parents started to avoid them. There are certainly a fair few Siegfrieds on the WW1 memorial in the Jewish cemetery at Ohlsdorf, Hamburg.

Jewish war memorial, Ohlsdorf Cemetery, Hamburg

What the Jung Siegfried calendar does contain is short stories (from fairy tales to accounts of arctic exploration), poems, saying and brain teasers, beautifully illustrated with a selection of shadow pictures. It’s written in the typical, slightly suffocating, “learn with father” style (imagine “watch with mother” delivered through a pipe and clipped moustache).

Here's the index:

And here's a double-page spread from January to April and the first page of a fairy tale. It was difficult to choose my favourite illustration but the stag beetle tipped it in the end:

I'll try to get some translations up once the clump of half-written posts has been flushed out of my braintubes.

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