Goebbels and the not-so-great German novel

In 1923, the future Nazi minister for propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, wrote a novel. Recently, a carbon copy bearing the author’s corrections and amendments, came up for auction in Connecticut. 158 pages long, Michael Voormann: A Man’s Fate in the Pages of a Diary is written as a diary and is both autobiographical and a tribute to Goebbels’ friend, Richard Flisges, to whom the novel is dedicated.

Goebbels and the First World War

Bild 183-L04035One imagines there’s a degree of envy here – born on 29 October 1897, Joseph Goebbels was old enough to fight in the First World War but was rejected due to his clubfoot. (Throughout his life he had to wear a special shoe to compensate his shorter leg.) After the war, he sometimes liked to pretend that his disability was in fact a war wound. In his novel, Michael, in common with Flisges, sees active service on the Eastern Front during the Great War; Michael’s war record reflecting Goebbels’ wishful thinking.

Michael returns to a democratic Germany, seeking revolution and answers, but not sure where to find it. Michael is a socialist and a Christian, attempting to write a play about Jesus (as indeed Goebbels had) and describing Jesus as one of the greatest men to have lived.

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