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Erwin Guido Kolbenheyer (December 30, 1878, Budapest - April 12, 1962, Munich) was an Austrian novelist, poet and playwright. Later based in Germany, he belonged to a group of writers that included the likes of Hans Grimm, Rudolf G. Binding, Emil Strauß, Agnes Miegel and Hanns Johst, all of whom found favour under the Nazis.


A Volksdeutscher from the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he attended school in Budapest before furthering his education in Karlsbad and Vienna. He became a freelance writer and came to specialise in historical novels that were characterised by their fixation with all things German. Between 1917 and 1925 he produced his most celebrated works, a trilogy of novels about Paracelsus, and in these books Kolbenheyer explored the many of the Völkisch movement concepts prevalent at the time by presenting his hero as the Nordic race archetype struggling against racial degeneracy and immorality. Having settled amongst the Sudeten Germans, Kolbenheyer's right-wing attitudes solidified and he came to pre-empt many ideas of Nazism, notably in his theoretical work Die Bauhütte (1925), which predicted a turn away from 'Judeo-Christianity' as the source of German salvation. This work has been identified as being one of the main influences on Alfred Rosenberg's The Myth of the Twentieth Century. A strong opponent of left-wing politics, he joined Wilhelm Schäfer in resigning from the Akademie der Künste in 1931 over what he saw as their support for the activities of Heinrich Mann and Alfred Döblin.


He continued to write widely under the Nazis, taking up his pen to praise Adolf Hitler in a poem and to defend the Nazi book burnings, as well as to write pro-Nazi war novels such as Karlsbader Novellen 1786 (1935) and Das Gottgelobte Herz (1938). Indeed his star rose under the Nazis because his literature fitted their world view. He was one of a number of writers added to the Prussian Academy of Arts after the Nazis came to power in 1933 at the expense of the likes of Franz Werfel, Ludwig Fulda and Jakob Wassermann, none of whom shared the Nazi weltanschauung.

His 1934 play Gregor und Heinrich, concerning Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor and Pope Gregory VII, demonstrated an instance of his pro-Nazi stance as he dedicated it to "the German spirit in the process of being resurrected". As a reward for his high standing under the Nazis he was one of six writers included on 'List A' or the 'List of the Immortals', properly known as the Gottbegnadeten list, who were exempted from military service on account of their prestige. He was also awarded the Goethe Prize in 1937.


Unsurprisingly Kolbenheyer's star fell somewhat after the Second World War although from his base in West Germany he continued to publish novels that were largely in the same nationalist spirit as his previous output. He also became a regular contributor to the far right, pan-European nationalist journal Nation Europa.


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Taken on January 31, 2011