Instrumentalising the Past: The Germanic Myth in National Socialist Context


  • Irina Maria Manea Faculty of History, University of Bucharest


Tacitus, Germania, Myth, National Socialism, Germany, Kossinna, Cultural-Historical Archaeology, Ideology, Totalitarianism, Falsifying History


In the search for an explanatory model for the present or even more, for a fundament for national identity, many old traditions were rediscovered and reutilized according to contemporary desires. In the case of Germany, a forever politically fragmented space, justifying unity was all the more important, especially beginning with the 19th century when it had a real chance to establish itself as a state. Then, beyond nationalism and romanticism, at the dawn of the Third Reich, the myth of a unified, powerful, pure people with a tradition dating since time immemorial became almost a rule in an ideology that attempted to go back to the past and select those elements which could have ensured a historical basis for the regime. In this study, we will attempt to focus on two important aspects of this type of instrumentalisation. The focus of the discussion is mainly Tacitus’ Germania, a work which has been forever invoked in all sorts of contexts as a means to discover the ancient Germans and create a link to the modern ones, but in the same time the main beliefs in the realm of history and archaeology are underlined, so as to catch a better glimpse of how the regime has been instrumentalising and overinterpreting highly controversial facts.

Author Biography

Irina Maria Manea, Faculty of History, University of Bucharest

PhD Student, Faculty of History, University of Bucharest