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How the Nazi years influenced the Nobel Prize in Literature



Der Nobelpreis und die deutschsprachige Literatur. Eine Studie über die Vergabekriterien des Literaturnobelpreises 1901-1971
« How the Nazi years influenced the Nobel Prize in Literature

Newswise — Paulus Tiozzo studied the Nobel Prize and German literature for his thesis. Previously inaccessible archival material shows how members of the Swedish Academy viewed German literature during the two World Wars and the influence that Adolf Hitler and Nazism had on the Nobel Prize.

Few prizes give rise to so much emotion, discussion and debate as the Nobel Prize in Literature. Every year, there is great speculation about which author the Swedish Academy might award the Prize to. But anyone who thinks they might be able to identify some pattern or logic behind the process of determining the prize winners won’t have an easy task, according to Paulus Tiozzo.

“It all depends on what the members of the Swedish Academy were thinking at a particular time. And it’s not just about the candidate’s ability as an author, but also personal factors, such as whether a member of the Academy liked or disliked the author for political reasons.”

His thesis in the subject area of German is a historical study of the Nobel Prize in Literature and its criteria seen from the perspective of the German authors nominated for the Prize between 1901 and 1971.

So what are the criteria for being nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature? Among other things, Alfred Nobel wrote that the Prize should go to a person who, during the previous year, in the field of literature, produced the most outstanding work in an idealistic direction. No more detail about what this means is provided.

“So this has been interpreted from the different perspectives of the members of the Swedish Academy. I argue that you cannot understand the history of the Nobel Prize unless you look at its specific historical context in each instance. Many people have advanced thoughts and opinions on this matter, but I demonstrate more concretely, based empirical evidence, how the authors nominated were assessed.”

Ambivalent relationship to Nazism
That he looked at the period up to 1971 was for purely practical reasons. The documents relating to the decision-making process surrounding the Nobel Prize are subject to a strict non-disclosure rule for 50 years, after which the archives are released. The Nobel Library in Stockholm includes nomination letters, statements of opinion, minutes of meetings and correspondence.


The time span chosen, and the fact that he looked at German-speaking literature, mean that a portion of the material deals with how Germany was viewed before and during Nazi rule. For example, the Nobel Committee’s chair Per Hallström firmly rejected the first nomination of Hermann Hesse 1931.

“Hallström himself had written propaganda in support of Germany, and thought that Hesse, with his pacifist stance, had behaved contemptuously and lacked pride in his nation.”

Those who sat on the Nobel Committee had an especially great influence on the Nobel Prize – the chair of this Committee in particular. Per Hallström had this role for 24 years, from 1922–1946, and compiled several hundred opinions on authors.

“He had an ambivalent relationship with Nazism. He was fascinated by Hitler and the national revolutionary aspects of Nazism appealed to him. But on the other hand, he was very critical of its anti-Semitism.”

According to Paulus Tiozzo, the Nobel Committee took a generally cautious approach at this time and tried not to fall into any politically motivated traps.

“If the Prize had been given to an author who had been forced to flee from Nazi Germany for political reasons, there would probably have been some kind of backlash from there, and it was this that the Swedish Academy wanted to avoid. It did not either want to give the Prize to any author who appeared to be officially sanctioned by the Nazis. In general, much thought was given to how the choice of Nobel Laureates might affect the image of the Academy. The same applied to candidates from the Eastern bloc during the Cold War. It is likely that similar political considerations are still weighed into the decision, even though it is difficult to know this with certainty.”


New insights into the Nobel Prize as a phenomenon
What surprised him most during his work on the thesis is how German literature was viewed in Sweden during the 20th century, especially by the members of the Academy.

“You get an impression of Sweden being dominated by German literature at the time, but that impression is not correct. Swedish authors and literary scholars were much more critical and nuanced than you might think and were not unreserved admirers of Goethe, Schiller and other German 19th century writers. English and French authors were admired on the other hand. This is one of the reasons why many German Nobel Prize candidates were rejected.”

What do you hope your thesis will lead to?

“Hopefully it will lead to new insights into the Nobel Prize as a phenomenon and also on the importance of German literature outside Germany. I also hope that it stimulates interest in more research in both literary history and the Nobel Prize.”

German-speaking authors awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 1901–1971

1902 Theodor Mommsen Germany
1908 Rudolf Eucken Germany
1910 Paul Heyse Germany
1912 Gerhart Hauptmann Germany
1919 Carl Spitteler Switzerland
1929 Thomas Mann Germany
1946 Hermann Hesse Germany/Switzerland
1966 Nelly Sachs Germany/Sweden
During the years 1940–1943, no Prize was awarded because of World War II


Source: University of Gothenburg

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NASA, Boeing to Host Media Briefing, Provide Starliner Update

NASA and Boeing will host a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Wednesday, March 29, to provide an update on the Crew Flight Test (CFT) of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station.



The Starliner team works to finalize the mate of the crew module and new service module for NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test that will take NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams to and from the International Space Station.

NASA and Boeing will host a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Wednesday, March 29, to provide an update on the Crew Flight Test (CFT) of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Managers will share a mission status and discuss upcoming milestones ahead of Starliner’s first flight with astronauts prior to certifying the spacecraft and systems for regular crew rotation flights to the space station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Audio coverage of the teleconference will livestream on the agency’s website.

The briefing participants are:

  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, CST-100 Starliner, Boeing

To participate in the call, media must RSVP no later than one hour prior to the start of the event to: [email protected].

The Starliner spacecraft will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The demonstration flight will carry two NASA astronaut test pilots, Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, and will prove the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system.

Find out more about the Commercial Crew Program at:


Source: NASA

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A Spectacular Aurora dazzles Skywatchers

Geomagnetic storm on the sun caused a stunning display of the Aurora Borealis to be visible as far south as New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Virginia.



On March 23, 2023, a geomagnetic storm on the sun caused a stunning display of the Aurora Borealis to be visible as far south as New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Virginia. The Northern Lights, a natural phenomenon caused by charged particles from the sun interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field, are usually only visible in the far north. However, this storm caused a rare opportunity for those in more southern regions to witness the incredible light show.


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Business and Finance

Economics expert explains how consumer price reports show ‘inflation is not done yet’

The statistics from these reports have economists predicting that the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates to get inflation under control.



Expectations that inflation has eased fueled recent stock market gains, but results from two major price-tracking indexes came in higher than expected, dousing that optimism with cold water. The statistics from these reports have economists predicting that the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates to get inflation under control.

 “The latest figures underscore the risks of persistently high inflation. Much of the easing that was celebrated at the end of last year has been erased,” said David Bieri, an economics professor for Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs. He answered a few questions about the persistence of inflation and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to reverse it. 

 Q: What is the difference between the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index (PCE)?

“The CPI is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a basket of goods and services. This basket includes commonly purchased items such as food, housing, clothing, transportation, and medical care. The rate of inflation (or deflation) is then inferred by comparing the price of this basket to a base period. The PCE is the one used by the Federal Reserve. Unlike the CPI, the PCE measures not just goods and services for urban consumers, but the prices of all goods and services purchased by households. While the CPI uses a fixed basket of goods and services, the PCE uses a changing basket of goods and services that reflects consumers’ evolving spending patterns. Also, the PCE incorporates data on the quality of goods and services.” 

Q: What can be deduced about inflation and the economy from these new statistics? 

“Different components of the indexes react to different influences of the economic process, and they also do so at different speeds, or as economists like to say, with different lags. For example, fuel and gas prices react with very little delay and if the price of crude oil goes up, it does not take long for these effects to show up. But this is not the case for other important components. Quite a bit of the recent uptick in inflation has to do with the fact that it has taken so long for the post-COVID related upswing in housing to show up in the data. As for the most recent PCE numbers, these were unexpected and point in the direction of more entrenched inflation.  In other words, inflation is not done yet.”

Q: What do these results indicate about the Federal Reserve’s efforts to curb inflation? 


“The Fed has to be patient. If we take the image of interest rates working like a brake pedal, the Fed is driving a car on a windy road with a blacked-out windscreen and when it brakes, it can only guess how soon the car — that is, the economy — will slow down, let alone by how much and when the next bend will be. However, the Fed has one key trick up its sleeve: unlike the hapless driver of our car, the Fed can influence how many bends in the road might show up in the future. It does this by something that we call ‘forward guidance,’ which is a wonky term for how the Fed’s attempts influence consumer and market expectations of consumers and market participants. Essentially the Fed is saying that if we stop believing there will be inflation in the future, there actually won’t be any.” 

About Bieri 
David Bieri is an associate professor of urban affairs in the School of Public and International Affairs and an associate professor of economics. He also holds an appointment in the Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience. His teaching interests are at the intersection of public finance, monetary theory, and history of economic thought. He has held various senior positions at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland. Prior to his work in central banking, he worked in investment banking in London and Zurich. View Bieri’s full bio.

Source: Virginia Tech

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