Join our Email List Berghahn Books Logo

berghahn New York · Oxford

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Instagram
Hitler's Dancers: German Modern Dance and the Third Reich

View Table of Contents

Email Newsletters

Sign up for our email newsletters to get customized updates on new Berghahn publications.

Click here to select your preferences

Hitler's Dancers

German Modern Dance and the Third Reich

Lilian Karina and Marion Kant
Translated from the German by Jonathan Steinberg

400 pages, 15 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-300-8 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (June 2003)

ISBN  978-1-57181-688-7 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (February 2004)

eISBN 978-1-78238-958-3 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook from these vendorsRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“This book points the way for the next steps of further research … [It] will be a seminal work in facilitating the analysis of understanding the roles of dance and body under fascism.” • H-Net Reviews

“…a bristling book … Rarely have we been invited to read polemical history charged with both emotional intensity and – thankfully – voluminous documentation … Reading along with rapt attention, I can’t decide which is more surprising: the blistering clarity and conviction of Kant’s claims and their documantation, or the fuzzy preoccupation with self that Hitler’s dancers seemed to embody during this period.” • Dance Critics Association Newsletter

“This is a welcome publication … [It] provides a valuable insight into the period for English-speaking readers … The authors provide much new information and pose some serious questions … essential read.” • Dance Theatre Journal

Praise for the German edition:
“This book will change a lot in dance history. And it will indeed be a painful awakening for the idol worshippers who forgive artists all sins and place them above all moral responsibility.” • Judisk Kroenika

“This books is indispensable because of its many important documents.” • Ballettanz

“Highly recommended … The most important publication on dance in the Third Reich.” • Tanzwissenschaft

“An important contribution to the discussion [on Nazism and dance] - obligatory reading on the history of dance - that makes parts of this book as gripping as a thriller.” • Der Tanz der Dinge


The Nazis burned books and banned much modern art. However, few people know the fascinating story of German modern dance, which was the great exception. Modern expressive dance found favor with the regime and especially with the infamous Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda. How modern artists collaborated with Nazism reveals an important aspect of modernism, uncovers the bizarre bureaucracy which controlled culture and tells the histories of great figures who became enthusiastic Nazis and lied about it later. The book offers three perspectives: the dancer Lilian Karina writes her very vivid personal story of dancing in interwar Germany; the dance historian Marion Kant gives a systematic account of the interaction of modern dance and the totalitarian state, and a documentary appendix provides a glimpse into the twisted reality created by Nazi racism, pedantic bureaucrats and artistic ambition.

Lilian Karina, born in Russia, studied ballet with Eduardova and Gsovsky in Berlin in the 1920s and danced with Sascha Leontieff, Aurél von Milloss and many others. She fled from Germany to Hungary and later Sweden, where she opened a ballet studio and lived in Stockholm.

Marion Kant was raised in East Berlin and began dancing at the Comic Opera at the age of 14. She took her PhD at Humboldt University in musicology and dance history and has taught at the Free University of Berlin, Kings College London, Cambridge University, the University of Surrey and now at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jonathan Steinberg is Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Modern European History, University of Pennsylvania.

Subject: Performance StudiesGender Studies and Sexuality
Area: Germany


Back to Top

Library Recommendation Form

Dear Librarian,

I would like to recommend Hitler's Dancers German Modern Dance and the Third Reich for the library. Please include it in your next purchasing review with my strong recommendation. The RRP is: $145.00

I recommend this title for the following reasons:

BENEFIT FOR THE LIBRARY: This book will be a valuable addition to the library's collection.

REFERENCE: I will refer to this book for my research/teaching work.

STUDENT REFERRAL: I will regularly refer my students to the book to assist their studies.

OWN AFFILIATION: I am an editor/contributor to this book or another book in the Series (where applicable) and/or on the Editorial Board of the Series, of which this volume is part.