Hans Severus Ziegler

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Hans Severus Ziegler
Born 13 October 1893
Eisenach, Germany
Died 1 May 1978 (aged 84)
Occupation publicist, teacher
Organization Nazi Party
Known for Head of the Militant League for German Culture
Relatives Gustav Schirmer (grandfather)
Poster of a 1938 exhibit in Düsseldorf

Hans Severus Ziegler (13 October 1893 – 1 May 1978) was a German publicist, intendant, teacher and Nazi Party official. A leading cultural director under the Nazis, he was closely associated with the censorship and cultural co-ordination of the Third Reich.

Early years[edit]

Ziegler was born on 13 October 1893 in Eisenach. He was the son of a banker and, through his mother, the grandson of Gustav Schirmer. His grandmother, the American-born Mary Francis Schirmer, was a close friend of Cosima Wagner and from an early age Ziegler was attracted to the militant nationalism in which the Wagner family were steeped.[1] Ziegler studied German literature at university, completing his education to doctoral standard.[2] He became a journalist, writing mostly for extreme right organs such as the Deutsche Wochen-Zeitung.[3]

On 31 March 1925 Ziegler became a member of the Nazi Party, with his membership number being the comparatively low 1317.[4] From 1925 to 1931 he worked under Wilhelm Frick in Thuringia, serving as deputy gauleiter from 1930 to 1931.[5] In 1928 he was appointed head of the Militant League for German Culture.[5] It was also Ziegler who in 1926 came up with the name Hitler-Jugend (Hitler Youth) for the Nazi youth movement.[5] Ziegler was a close friend of the Schirach family and in 1925 he introduced Baldur von Schirach, who would go on to lead the Hitler Youth, to Adolf Hitler.[6]

Ziegler was associated with the hard-line racialist wing of the Nazi Party, which looked to Alfred Rosenberg as its champion.[7] In keeping with this wing he was particularly staunch in his anti-Semitism.[8]

Under the Nazis[edit]

In 1933 Ziegler was appointed to the Council of State and as a member of the State Government of Thuringia. In addition, he served as President of the Deutsche Schillerstiftung and Reich culture Senator.[9] In 1936, he was appointed the General Manager of the Deutsches Nationaltheater and Staatskapelle Weimar and State Commissioner for the State Theatre in Thuringia.[9] In 1935 he was placed on leave whilst he was investigated for alleged breaches of Paragraph 175, the anti-homosexual legislation, although the case was dropped.[9]

Ziegler played a leading role in promoting the Nazi vision of culture, particularly with regards to "degenerate" music. He was a strong critic of atonality, dismissing it as decadent "cultural Bolshevism".[10] He curated the Entartete Musik exhibition in Düsseldorf, with Karol Rathaus and Wilhelm Grosz amongst those receiving the strongest condemnation in the pamphlet he wrote to accompany the exhibition.[11] Whilst working under Frick, in Thuringia, Ziegler had also overseen the removal of modern art pieces from museums and public buildings, and helped to bring about a crackdown on the "glorification of Negroidism" by restricting the performance of jazz music.[12] Promulgated in his 1930 edict Against Negro Culture, the Thuringian foreshadowed the co-ordination of culture that was to happen under the Nazi government.[13] Entartete Musik would continue Ziegler's crusade against jazz,[14] whilst also condemning Ernst Krenek's opera Jonny spielt auf as the archetype of Weimar decadence and miscegenation.[15]


In the Soviet occupation zone several of Ziegler's writings,[16] as well as a book about him,[17] were placed on the Liste der auszusondernden Literatur (list of banned literature).

After the war he worked as a representative for Gaststättenporzellan and subsequently as a private tutor in Essen.[4] He also directed a private theatre from 1952 to 1954.[4] Politically he was active in Deutsches Kulturwerk Europäischen Geistes, an extreme right study group established in 1950.[18] In this role, he became a regular guest of Winifred Wagner, who regularly hosted such other far-right luminaries as Adolf von Thadden, Edda Göring and Oswald Mosley.[19]

Ziegler died in Bayreuth on 1 May 1978.


  1. ^ Richard A. Etlin, Art, Culture, and Media Under the Third Reich, University of Chicago Press, 2002, p. 51
  2. ^ Gerwin Strobl, The Swastika and the Stage: German Theatre and Society, 1933-1945, Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 9
  3. ^ Jonathan Petropoulos, The Faustian Bargain: The Art World in Nazi Germany, Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 149
  4. ^ a b c Fred K. Prieberg, Handbuch Deutsche Musiker 1933–1945, CD-Rom-Lexikon, Kiel 2004, p. 7967
  5. ^ a b c Ernst Klee, Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Zweite aktualisierte Auflage, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8, p. 694.
  6. ^ Michael H Kater, Hitler Youth, Harvard University Press, 2006, p. 17
  7. ^ Beate Müller, Censorship & Cultural Regulation in the Modern Age, Rodopi, 2004, p. 78
  8. ^ Alan E. Steinweis, Studying the Jew: Scholarly Antisemitism in Nazi Germany, Harvard University Press, , 2008, p. 10
  9. ^ a b c Ernst Klee, Das Kulturlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5, p. 682
  10. ^ Celia Applegate, Pamela Potter, Music and German National Identity, University of Chicago Press, 2002, p. 208
  11. ^ Werner Eugen Mosse, Julius Carlebach, Second Chance: Two Centuries of German-speaking Jews in the United Kingdom, Mohr Siebeck, 1991, p. 280
  12. ^ Alan E. Steinweis, Art, Ideology & Economics in Nazi Germany: The Reich Chambers of Music, Theater, and the Visual Arts, University of North Carolina Press, 1993, p. 24
  13. ^ Strobl, The Swastika and the Stage, p. 116
  14. ^ David Blake, Hanns Eisler, Hanns Eisler: A Miscellany, Routledge, 1995, p. 398
  15. ^ Richard S. Levy, Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia Of Prejudice And Persecution, Volume 1, ABC-CLIO, 2005, p. 476
  16. ^ Deutsche Verwaltung für Volksbildung in der sowjetischen Besatzungszone, Liste der auszusondernden Literatur, 1946
  17. ^ Deutsche Verwaltung für Volksbildung in der sowjetischen Besatzungszone, Liste der auszusondernden Literatur, 1948
  18. ^ Klee, Kulturlexikon, p. 683
  19. ^ Gottfried Wagner, Wer nicht mit dem Wolf heult – Autobiographische Aufzeichnungen eines Wagner-Urenkels (Cologne, 1997), p. 69