The ‘National Community’ under Open Skies: The Thing(spiel) Movement and Its Arenas

Text: Gerwin Strobl

The Thingstätten—the Thing sites or arenas—dotted over

much of Germany (and lands formerly German), are the

colossal remnants of a failed experiment in twentiethcentury

mass culture. Dating from the early years of Nazi

rule, they constitute what was perhaps the most visible

cultural investment made by the Third Reich. While the

ideas underpinning the so-called Thing(spiel)—the

Thing play—did not actually originate inside the Nazi Party,

their emergence coincided with the fall of the Weimar

Republic. That synchronicity gave the Thing(spiel)

bewegung [Thing movement] crucial right-wing credentials,

and the new regime a ready means to make its

mark in the cultural sphere. Grassroots enthusiasm and

official encouragement complemented each other. ——

Thing mania promptly ensued.

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Copyright by Gerwin Strobl