Øhrgaard, Per

Research Project
The Early Postwar Years in Germany – Intellectual Debates and Literature

It has become a commonplace that 1945 did not constitute a “zero hour” in Germany’s history or in its intellectual life. Nevertheless, many at that time experienced it as such, and some also evidently wanted it to be perceived that way in order to make bygones be bygones as soon as possible. The point of departure for my research is the question: What were the anxieties, the expectations or maybe even the hopes in the short period between the German surrender and the Cold War? And what did the literary “accompaniment” look like? The State and University Library Göttingen has one of the best collections of postwar periodicals, some of which have, of course, already been researched and described, whereas others are still relatively unknown. My main interest, however, is the broader context: Who published where (and how widely spread)? How did the publications look (design, advertising)? Which literary authors also commented on current events? Continuity and new beginnings: Can one always distinguish between these two, and if not: Which consequences should be drawn from that? How different was the situation in Berlin from that in the occupation zones? Last not least: I would like to compare the German intellectual situation with that in a country that had been occupied by German troops (i.e. my own country, Denmark): To what extent did the debates run parallel, to what extent did they follow different tracks; how much was German, how much was “Zeitgeist” – and what did a foreign country expect from Germany? In my work I can rely on much research already done by others and even some already done by myself.
A further project of a different kind: The preparation of a Danish-German edition of the works of Jens Baggesen (1764-1826, writer in both languages) in collaboration with colleagues from Göttingen.

Selected Publications

Øhrgaard, P. 1999. Goethe. Et essay [in dänischer Sprache]. København: Gyldendal.

Øhrgaard, P. 2007. Günter Grass. Ein deutscher Schriftsteller wird besichtigt. München: dtv (dtv 34446). (frz. Ausgabe: Günter Grass. L’homme et l’œuvre. Paris: Seuil 2007. [Urspr. dänisch 2002, 2. Ausgabe 2007].

Øhrgaard, P. 2009. Tyskland – Europas hjerte [in deutscher Sprache: Deutschland – das Herz Europas]. København: Gyldendal.

In direktem Zusammenhang mit dem Projekt:

Øhrgaard, P. 2008. «German Writers’ Attitude Towards Europe in the First Postwar Years» in Lund, J. & Øhrgaard, P. (eds.): Return to Normalcy or A New Beginning. Concepts and Expectations for a Postwar Europe Around 1945. Copenhagen: University Press of Southern Denmark and Copenhagen Business School Press, pp. 113-127.

Øhrgaard, P. 2009. «Europa – aber wo lag es? Oder: Qui parlait Europe? Beispiele aus der frühen Nachkriegszeit» in Busch, B. & Combrinck, T. (eds.): Doppelleben. Literarische Szenen aus Nachkriegsdeutschland. Materialien zur Ausstellung. Göttingen: Wallstein, pp. 9-18.