Dublin Core




Adolf Hitler, Hitler, Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), architecture, art, Bavaria, Bayreuth, burgher, Burgomaster Nusch, cathedral, church, commander-in-chief Tilly, “Der Meistertrunk”, Dinkelsbuhl, education, engraving, festival, Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805), Germany, German folklore, gothic architecture, ‘heroic past’, historical plays, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), journeyman, Master, medieval city, medieval craft, medieval housing, medieval town, merchant, Nazi parades, Nuremburg, pageant, Peasants’ Revolt (1525), Rathaus (Town Hall), religion, Roder gate, Rothenburg, school pilgrimages, St James, St Marcus Tower, Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), Tillman Riemenschneider (1460-1531), tradition, Wagner festival, walled town, Whitsuntide


In this article, John T. McMahon discusses a visit to Rothenburg in 1936, which he describes as “the finest surviving example of a medieval city with its walls, gates and towers”. After giving a brief history of Rothenburg’s medieval past, its conversion to Protestantism after the Peasants’ Revolt in 1525 and its involvement in the Thirty Years’ War, he recounts a folkloric tale about Burgomaster Nusch saving the town from being plundered in 1621, by plying the Catholic Commander-in-Chief Tilly and his Imperial soldiers with large quantities of wine and himself accepting a challenge to drink the contents of a very large goblet. This tale, McMahon suggests, began the tradition of performing the historical festival play, “Der Meistertrunk”, in the Rathaus (Town Hall) every Whitsuntide. He then moves on to discuss what he coins as “Hitler’s Historical Programme”. In Nazi Germany, he suggests, there is a renewed interest in German folklore, a “renaissance of interest in the heroic stories of the German people”. As well as the festival play in Rothenburg, he cites school pilgrimages to the homes of Goethe and Schiller, the founding of museums, and parades in historically significant locations such as Nuremburg as examples of this trend. He commends the “far-reaching educative influence of such a treatment of history”, suggesting that “we could, with profit, do much more of that form of pageantry in school entertainments and occasional celebrations”. He concludes, however, by taking issue with Hitler’s stance on religion. Not only were the church steeples and shrines he saw in Bavaria evidence of the continued importance of religious faith in the “simple God-fearing lives of peasant farmers”, he argues, the continuing legacy of gothic churches such as St James (built in 1373) and ecclesiastical artwork such as Riemenschneider’s 1478 “Last Supper” could simply not be overlooked.


McMahon, John T.


National Library of Australia


The Western Mail


5 November 1936, p. 36.


The Western Mail


Newspaper Article



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