Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

5/1/2009 - 7/31/2009

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Folktales: The Life of Alfred Karasek, Folklorist, and Germany's 20th Century

FAIN: FT-56581-09

Monica Ann Black
Furman University (Greenville, SC 29613-0002)

This monograph-length study examines the history of folklore as a project of collective representation and a source of cultural and national identity in 20th-century Germany through the life of folklorist Alfred Karasek (1902-1970). A Sudeten German, Karasek studied the ethnic-German communities of Eastern Europe in the post-WWI period. In the 1920s, he joined the Nazi Party and later, the SS; during World War II he helped facilitate the process of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and the Germanization of eastern Europe. After 1945, he became a founding scholar in the new field of "expellee folklore," which was dedicated to preserving the arts, traditions, and customs of Germans forcibly expelled from eastern Europe in the wake of Nazi defeat. The study asks how a folklorist and self-described "unpolitical" man become a scientist of race, a Nazi true believer, and an instrument of genocide and then adapted himself, after 1945, to the changed political conditions of a post-Nazi Germany.

Associated Products

Expellees Tell Tales: Partisan Blood Drinkers and the Cultural History of Violence after WWII (Article)
Title: Expellees Tell Tales: Partisan Blood Drinkers and the Cultural History of Violence after WWII
Author: Monica Black
Abstract: After 1945, ethnic German refugees from the Yugoslavian Banat told stories about encounters they had with Partisans—fighters in Tito’s army—who had become vampires. Situating these tales within their place of origin reveals them as an idiom through which Yugoslavian Germans described experiences and fantasies of wartime violence. This idiom had many diverse cultural strands, including memories of partisan warfare in World War I, religious culture, and local folklore surrounding blood. Through a contextualized reading of tales about blood-drinking Partisans, the essay offers a window onto a psychology of WWII violence and its legacies and makes a plea for taking fantasy and the monstrous seriously as objects of historical analysis.
Year: 2013
Primary URL:
Access Model: Subscription only
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: History & Memory