Hans Grimm

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Hans Grimm (1935)

Hans Emil Wilhelm Grimm (born March 22, 1875 in Wiesbaden , † September 27, 1959 in Lippoldsberg an der Weser ) was a German writer and publicist . His book title “ People without Space ” became the motto of the National Socialist expansion policy .


Childhood and youth

His father, the legal historian and university professor Julius Grimm (1821-1911), was a member of the state parliament of the National Liberal Party and in 1882 he was involved in the establishment of the German Colonial Association. The lawyer and member of the Reichstag Karl Grimm (1826-1893) was a brother of his father.

As a child, Grimm was shy and dreamy. He lived a secluded life as he was severely visually impaired as a result of an accident and also suffered from allergies . He showed talent as a writer at an early age: at the age of twelve, he wrote a drama about Robin Hood . After graduating from high school in 1894, he began to study literature in Lausanne , but dropped out after a year under pressure from his father.

From 1895 he trained as a foreign trade merchant in London. After its completion in 1897, Grimm was hired by a German trading company in Port Elizabeth ( Cape Colony , today South Africa ). From 1901 he was a self-employed businessman and port agent in East London and also ran a farm. In 1908 he came to Germany for a short time.

Career as a publicist and writer

In 1910 he returned to Africa on behalf of the Berlin-based Daily Rundschau and wrote press reports from the former German colony of German South West Africa , now Namibia. In his texts from this period, the catchphrase “ living space politics” appears for the first time , with which he later became widely known. In the 1920s he returned privately to South West Africa for a visit and brought back photos of the most varied of motifs from this region, which, according to current research at the German Literature Archive in Marbach , can be assigned to some of his literary works.

After returning to Germany in 1911 he began studying political science in Munich (1914–1915) and in Hamburg . He also worked as a freelance writer. In 1913 the South African novels appeared , in which he processed his impressions from German South West Africa and articulated a racist attitude towards the African inhabitants.

During the First World War , Grimm initially served as a soldier on the Western Front and later as an interpreter. In 1917 he wrote on behalf of the Supreme Army Command, Der Ölsucher von Duala . Due to a lack of paper, the book was not published until 1918. According to Uwe-Karsten Ketelsen, it was up to him to propagate “the colonial ambitions of the German Reich and its ruling classes”. The book was republished in 1933. According to its own statement, it served the Langen Müller Verlag to "raise its profile in National Socialist Germany". In National Socialist literary historiography it was known as the “emergency book of the white race in general” ( Hellmuth Langenbucher ). After finishing the novel, Grimm was employed as a military propagandist in the Supreme Army Command. Its task was to "explain the German innocence of the war" to the neutral foreign press.

After the end of the war, Grimm bought a mansion at the former Lippoldsberg monastery and settled here as a freelance writer in the winter of 1918. Like many German national politicians and intellectuals, he felt the German defeat in World War I - and in particular the associated loss of the German colonies - as a national disgrace and was hostile to the established Weimar Republic .

Breakthrough with people without space

From 1920 Grimm worked in Lippoldsberg on the novel People Without Space , which suddenly made it prominent when it was published in 1926. In it he propagated the acquisition of living space as a solution strategy for the economic and political problems of the German republic. The novel was one of the best-selling books of the Weimar Republic, and its title quickly became a catchphrase. The slogan people without space offered itself as a catchy formula with which all social and economic problems of the republic were causally traced back to a supposed lack of space. Grimm's novel acted as a resonance intensifier of a mood that could be described as “collective claustrophobia” and was taken up a little later by the National Socialists in their ideas of “ living space in the East ” and finally implemented in the so-called General Plan East . Grimm was one of Adolf Hitler's favorite authors .

Grimm himself did not think of “living space in the east”, but, based on the classic colonialism of the imperial era (“German people [need] space around and sun above themselves”), of new “living space” overseas.

Grimm's relationship to National Socialism

Grimm had been a sympathizer of the National Socialists since 1923 . He was never a member of the NSDAP , but in the 1932 presidential election openly campaigned in the Göttinger Tageblatt for the election of Hitler in the second ballot.

After the " seizure of power " in 1933, he was appointed senator of the German Academy of Poetry , like a number of other authors respected by the National Socialists (such as Börries Freiherr von Münchhausen , Ernst Jünger , Erwin Guido Kolbenheyer or Hans Friedrich Blunck ) . Disciple was the only one to reject his calling. From 1933 to 1935 he served as the presidential councilor of the Reichsschrifttumskammer .

In 1934, in letters to Reich Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick , he criticized the election manipulation in Lippoldsberg and attacks by the SS on individual opposition members in town. However, this did not change his positive attitude towards the Nazi regime.

In 1936 Grimm propagated in the journal Die neue Literatur according to the völkisch racial theory the Nordic masters with the following words: "that we northerners with our different peoples with our deeply similar beings are called to be foremen of this earth". In 1944 Grimm was included in the God-gifted list.

In 1938 there was a conflict with Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels . Its content cannot be verified as only self-statements are available. Although Grimm neither joined the NSDAP nor fully agreed with the Nazi ideology, he saw the “Third Reich” as the only way to realize his colonial-expansive, social and nationalist ideas. According to a judgment from 2010, he saw himself as a “National Socialist outside the party”. Even after 1945 he regarded Hitler as a "reformer". During the Second World War he sent his novel People Without Room with a handwritten dedication to wounded soldiers from Lippoldsberg who were in the hospital.

In the Soviet zone of occupation his writings Von der civil honor and civil necessity (1932), Faith and experience (1937), Von der Deutschen Not (1937), Englische Rede (1938), Vom Deutschen Kampf um den Raum (1940), Der Oil diggers from Duala (1944) and Volk ohne Raum (1944) added to the list of literature to be discarded.

His differences did not prevent him from appearing after 1945 as a belittling of National Socialism. In 1950 he was able to publish Die Erzbischofsschrift , in which he differentiates between Hitler and the "National Socialist Idea" and continues to celebrate National Socialism as "revolutionary", in the Plesse publishing house . He defended the "original National Socialism" and spoke of it as a necessary measure against the "massification" and thus against the "decline of European culture". He charged the Allies with the blame for the escalation of the war.

In 1951 he founded the “Klosterhaus Verlag” in Lippoldsberg and, in addition to his collected works, also sold books by relevant authors such as Hans Venatier , Jürgen Rieger and Erich Glagau .

The relief paper Why - where from - but where (1954) was recommended by the NPD as a "fundamental contemporary historical discussion". In it, Grimm defended and played down, among other things, the racial policy and in particular the anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime, as noted in 1969. The German national body "fell ill" after 1918. The “basically religious protests” of “genuine National Socialism”, which represented “defensive anti-Semitism as a defense against disintegration”, were directed against this.

Both books were unanimously rejected by the critics, but were well received by the public; they achieved large print runs. Grimm also published in the right-wing extremist monthly Nation und Europa .

In the federal election in 1953 , Grimm ran on the list of the right-wing extremist German Reich Party (DRP). He appeared as a speaker for the Association of Former Internees and Denazification Victims. In his lecture, Grimm used the slogan “You are nothing, your people are everything”. In 1955 one of his events, completely incomprehensible to him, was banned.

Since the 1990s, literary studies have increased with Grimm in the context of coming to terms with the Nazi regime and its prehistory. The focus was on Grimm's contributions to the fight against the Weimar constitutional state, with people without space to popularize the folk and National Socialist myth of the allegedly inadequate “living space” and the expansion policy based on it and its pioneering role for a West German neo-Nazism.

In 2008 the German Literature Archive in Marbach took over the library from Hans Grimm. At first it remained in family ownership and was given to the archive as a foundation for research purposes.

Lippoldsberger Dichtertage

At the annual “Lippoldsberger Dichtertreffen” organized by Grimm in his house since 1934, those who refer to participation in the “war experience” 1914–1918, make a subsequent “true suffering” in the “state of the people” credible and an “upright one Attitude ”towards the“ real, interior of the [German] Reich ”. A broad nationalist spectrum on the right was invited. At the beginning of the war, these meetings were forbidden by Goebbels, as he saw them in increasing competition with the official National Socialist literary meetings. One last took place in 1939. Grimm, who had developed into an open Nazi apologist and anti-Semite in the course of the war, reconstituted the district in 1949. Now the participants reduced themselves to a narrow spectrum of “ethnic, radical nationalist and neo-national socialist” participants, including Hans-Ulrich Rudel . The meetings became a “focal point” for right-wing extremist culture and cultural policy. As such, they met with high acceptance in the region in the press, politics and tourism. A new, youthful generation of right-wing extremists was introduced to the days of poets .

After Grimm's death, the gatherings were continued until 1981 by his daughter Holle Grimm , co-founder of the right-wing extremist “ Society for Free Journalism ” and heir to the right-wing extremist “Klosterhaus Verlag” founded by Grimm after the end of the Nazi regime. The first meetings after 1949 were attended by 2,000 to 3,000 people, after Grimm's death the number of participants dropped rapidly. There were increasing numbers of anti-fascist protests. At the last Dichtertage in 1981 there were still 200 participants. Her long-time secretary Margret Nickel then continued Holle Grimm's activities in the same spirit. It sells u. a. “Legal Advisor” for “national activists” and writings from Holocaust deniers.

The writer Hugo Ernst Buyer , who is associated with the work group Literature of the Working World, described the post-National Socialist days of poetry in a poem in 1975 :

"In Lippoldsberg (3417) / on the beautiful Weser / every summer / the Nazis & their entourage / perform their witches' sabbath."

This also included conferences, including meetings with Holocaust deniers (2009). Nickel is the holder of the letter of honor of the state of Hesse. The Grimm family now wants nothing more to do with the right-wing extremist activities of their forefathers ("brown spook"). She is amazed that "the brown hustle and bustle ... continues" and that the local population, town hall and mayor remained silent.

Participants included:


"Hitler and the official National Socialist party leadership, with their anti-Semitic sayings and torturous methods, undoubtedly drew the warmongering defensive hatred of world Jewry, which would probably be humanly expected, upon us [...]"

- Review 1950


  • South African short stories . Langen / Müller, Frankfurt am Main 1913
  • The Lieutenant and the Hottentott and other African stories . German house library, Hamburg 1913
  • The Duala oil prospector . A diary . Ullstein, Berlin 1918
  • The Olewagen saga . Albert Langen, Munich 1918
  • People without space . Albert Langen, Munich 1926
  • The thirteen letters from German Southwest Africa . Albert Langen, Munich 1928
  • The German Southwest Book . Albert Langen, Munich 1929
  • The writer and time. Confession . Albert Langen, Munich 1931
  • The Duala oil prospector. an African war diary . Hamburg 1931, with the assistance of Hans Aschenborn
  • The story of the old blood and the tremendous abandonment. German Book Community, Berlin 1931
  • What we are looking for is everything. Three novels . Berlin 1933
  • Lüderitzland . Seven incidents . Munich 1933
  • English speech. How I see the Englishman . C. Bertelsmann, Gütersloh 1938
  • Russian Germans and Danube Germans as ethnic groups of different fertility . In: DArchLandesVolksforschung 4, 1940
  • The archbishopric. Answer from a German . Plesse Verlag, Göttingen 1950
  • Life in anticipation. My youth . Klosterhaus-Verlag, Lippoldsberg 1954
  • Why, where from, but where to? Before, below and after the historical appearance of Hitler. Klosterhaus-Verlag, Lippoldsberg 1954.
  • Search and hope . Klosterhaus-Verlag, Lippoldsberg 1960
  • The Thomas Mann font . Klosterhaus-Verlag, Lippoldsberg 1972


  • Christian Adam : Reading under Hitler: authors, bestsellers, readers in the Third Reich. Galliani, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86971-027-3 , p. 280ff.
  • Timm Ebner: National Socialist Colonial Literature. Colonial and anti-Semitic traitor figures 'behind the scenes of the world theater'. Wilhelm Fink, Paderborn 2016, pp. 43–78.
  • Gudrun Eiselen: South African way of life in Hans Grimm's poetry . o. O. 1951.
  • Manfred Franke : Grimm without bells. Ambivalences in the political thinking and acting of the writer Hans Grimm . SH-Verlag, Cologne 2009, ISBN 978-3-89498-192-1 .
  • Dieter Lattmann : Space as a dream. Hans Grimm and his saga of the people . In: Prophets of Nationalism , ed. v. Karl Schwedhelm. List, Munich 1969.
  • Wolfgang Monath:  Grimm, Hans Emil Wilhelm. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 7, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1966, ISBN 3-428-00188-5 , pp. 83-85 ( digitized version ).
  • Baboucar Ndiaye: Description of Africa in recent German-language literature. Using the example of Hans Grimm's African dramas and short stories and Uwe Timm's novel “Morenga” . Master's thesis, University of Konstanz 2006. ( full text )
  • Hans Sarkowicz : Between sympathy and apology: the writer Hans Grimm and his relationship to National Socialism . In: Karl Corino (Ed.): Intellectuals under the spell of National Socialism . (= Books on the matter) Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1980, ISBN 3-455-01020-2 .
  • Heike Wolter: People without space. Concepts of living space in the geopolitical, literary and political discourse of the Weimar Republic. A study on the basis of case studies on the life and work of Karl Haushofer, Hans Grimm and Adolf Hitler . (= Social and economic history; 7) LIT, Münster u. a. 2003, ISBN 3-8258-6790-0 .
  • Peter Zimmermann : The struggle for living space. A myth of colonial and blood-and-soil literature . In: Horst Denkler , Karl Prümm (Hrsg.): The German literature in the Third Reich. Topics - traditions - effects . Reclam, Stuttgart 1976, ISBN 3-15-010260-X .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Daniel Berndt: Folk dance and safari - reflections on Hans Grimm's photographs from South West Africa . on www.mww-forschung.de
  2. ^ All information in this paragraph according to: Thomas Vordermayer: Bildungsbürgertum und völkische Ideologie. Boston / Berlin 2016, p. 35f.
  3. ^ Natalie Krentz: Hans Grimm. Tabular curriculum vitae in the LeMO ( DHM and HdG )
  4. a b c d Ernst Klee : The culture lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945 . S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 , p. 198.
  5. ^ Josef Wulf: Culture in the Third Reich. Literature and poetry . Berlin / Frankfurt am Main 1989, pp. 36-38.
  6. ^ Josef Wulf: Culture in the Third Reich. Literature and poetry . Berlin / Frankfurt am Main 1989, p. 197.
  7. ^ Quote from Ernst Klee: Kulturlexikon, p. 198.
  8. Hermann Weiß (Ed.): Biographical Lexicon for the Third Reich . Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Second updated edition, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-596-13086-7 , p. 164.
  9. Hans-Martin Pleßke: Ernst Wiechert's relationship to fellow writers of his time. In: Leonore Krenzlin, Klaus Weigelt (eds.): Ernst Wiechert in conversation: Encounters and insights into his work. Berlin / New York 2010, pp. 35–58, here: p. 48.
  10. polunbi.de 1946 ; polunbi.de 1948
  11. Katrin Sello: The broken beginning . In: Die Zeit , No. 38/1975.
  12. Martin Wellmann: Grimm, Hans, 2004, in: [1] .
  13. ^ Hermann Bott: Die Volksfeind-Ideologie: To the criticism of right-wing radical propaganda. Stuttgart 1969, p. 18.
  14. ^ Jürgen Hillesheim, Elisabeth Michael: Lexicon of National Socialist Poets: Biographies, Analyzes, Bibliographies. Würzburg 1993, p. 213.
  15. a b See personal article Hans Grimm in: Wilhelm Kühlmann (Ed.): Killy Literaturlexikon, Vol. 4. 2nd edition. Munich 2009, p. 418f.
  16. Hirsch: Right from the Union. P. 377f.
  17. Hirsch: Right from the Union. P. 377.
  18. See: Hans Sarkowicz: Between Sympathie and Apology. The writer Hans Grimm his relationship to National Socialism. In: Karl Corino (Ed.): Intellectuals under the spell of National Socialism. Hamburg 1980, pp. 120-135; Klaus von Delft: Critical Apology of National Socialism. Hans Grimm's Conservative Revolution? In: Jörg Thunecke (ed.): Sorrow of words. Panorama of the literary national socialism. Bonn 1987, pp. 255-277.
  19. ^ Gerd Koch: Hans Grimms Lippoldsberger poet circle. In: Richard Faber , Christine Holste (ed.): Circles - groups - frets. On the sociology of modern intellectual association. Würzburg 2000, pp. 165–188, here: p. 165.
  20. ^ Michael Lausberg: The extreme right in North Rhine-Westphalia 1946-1971 . Tectum Wissenschaftsverlag, 2014, ISBN 978-3-8288-5769-8 , p. 179 ( google.de [accessed on March 25, 2018]).
  21. a b Gideon Botsch : Lippoldsberger Dichtertage. In: Wolfgang Benz (Hrsg.): Handbuch des Antisemitismus. Anti-Semitism in the Past and Present, Vol. 7, Literature, Film, Theater and Art. Berlin / Munich / Boston 2015, pp. 290–293, here: p. 291.
  22. They dig and dig in the mother earth The Lippoldsberger Dichtertag 1963 , Uwe Nettelbeck , " Die Zeit " , July 19, 1963.
  23. Red Army Faction Trophies for the Safe , Der Spiegel October 14, 2002.
  24. ^ Gerd Koch: Hans Grimms Lippoldsberger poet circle. In: Richard Faber, Christine Holste (ed.): Circles - groups - frets. On the sociology of modern intellectual association. Würzburg 2000, pp. 165–188, here: p. 167.
  25. Martin Wellmann, 2004 polunbi.de
  26. ^ Carsten Meyer, Julian Feldmann, North Hesse right-wing extremist, honored right-wing extremist , Frankfurter Rundschau September 11, 2012.
  27. ^ Gerd Koch: Hans Grimms Lippoldsberger poet circle. In: Richard Faber, Christine Holste (ed.): Circles - groups - frets. On the sociology of modern intellectual association. Würzburg 2000, pp. 165–188, here: p. 182.
  28. Gerd Henke: Inglorious Tradition Klosterhof: Young Grimm Generation distances itself from the real ghost. In: HNA , September 6, 2012.
  29. Making up for what has not been missed - Gerd Henke on the letter of honor on September 5, 2012
  30. Prime Minister to revoke Margret Nickel award Greens. No letter of honor for right-wing extremists , in: HNA, September 5, 2012.
  31. After: Hirsch: Rechts von der Union. P. 377