German Nazi views of the Greeks

Piano Poetry Pantelis Politics

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A newly translated study of classical reception by the Nazis emphasizes that what made their approach to antiquity unique was its concept of race. In his study Greeks, Romans, Germans: How the Nazis Usurped Europe’s Classical Past (2016, originally published in 2008 as Le national-socialisme et l’Antiquité), historian Johann Chapoutot shows that their claim to antiquity was “inscribed in the flesh and blood of contemporary Germans, who possessed the same racial essence as the ancient Greeks and Romans. This continuity of race justified the Nazis’ territorial conquests: if the Greeks and Romans had originally come from the North, then the Mediterranean basin … rightly belonged to the legitimate heirs of the North” (394).

This Aryanist view of history was put into brutal use when Germany invaded Greece and its army encountered the natives: “In 1941 the invasion initially prompted some disillusionment and confusion, until the Nazis’ awareness of their…

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