Prussian poet Gottfried Benn landed on the wrong side of history, supporting Hitler’s government in the early 1930s when it promised solutions to the global economic collapse. But by 1934, his allegiance to the regime ended as it became clear the Nazi party were not “cultural pessimists” but rather “criminal politicians.” Over at The New Republic, Adam Thirlwell points to Benn as a “case study in disgrace.”
He gives disgrace its aesthetic form. He experienced life as total defeat, and in this disgrace, he discovered a kind of nihilistic truth. In Benn’s poetry, the real meaning of disgrace was not remorse. No, its real meaning was isolation.