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Defining the Volk: Willy Hellpach's Völkerpsychologie between National Socialism and Liberal Democracy, 1934–1954

Klautke, E; (2013) Defining the Volk: Willy Hellpach's Völkerpsychologie between National Socialism and Liberal Democracy, 1934–1954. History of European Ideas , 39 (5) pp. 693-708. 10.1080/03044181.2012.735086. Green open access

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Abstract

This article analyzes the Völkerpsychologie of the German psychologist and liberal politician Willy Hellpach. It shows how Hellpach used the once venerable approach of Völkerpsychologie, introduced by Moritz Lazarus and Heymann Steinthal in the nineteenth century, to adapt to the Third Reich and distract the authorities from his political career. The article provides a close reading of Hellpach’s main text on the subject, the Einführung in die Völkerpsychologie, published in 1938, and explains the ease with which he was able to make this approach compatible with Nazi ideology. Hellpach’s case thus illustrates the proximity of national-liberal thinking to ‘Nazi ideology’. Moreover, on account of the postwar reception of Hellpach’s Völkerpsychologie by scholars such as Ralf Dahrendorf, the article examines the uneasy and incomplete repudiation of Völkerpsychologie after 1945. It concludes that the origins of widely used concepts such as ‘national habitus’ or ‘collective identity’ may be traced back to the tradition of Völkerpsychologie and related studies of national character.

Type: Article
Title: Defining the Volk: Willy Hellpach's Völkerpsychologie between National Socialism and Liberal Democracy, 1934–1954
Location: UK
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/03044181.2012.735086
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03044181.2012.735086
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in History of European Ideas on 31/10/12, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline.com/10.1080/03044181.2012.735086.
Keywords: Hellpach, Völkerpsychologie, National character, National Socialism
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1358371
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