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”The freak in the gas mask": The cultural significance of the Nazi undead
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMK).
2009 (English)In: Monstrous media / Spectral subjects, Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Gothic Association, Lancaster University, UK, 21-24 July 2009, 2009Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

One rather peculiar, but nevertheless recurrent theme within popular culture representations of Nazis and World War II, is Nazi zombies. You find them in movies, in novels, computer games and traditional pen-and-paper role-playing games, at least from the 1960´s and up until today. Walking dead Nazi soldiers are lurking in remote, snowy areas of the Bavarian Alps (Night of the Zombies, 1981) and in gloomy Eastern Europe (Outpost, 2008). They are emerging from the deep waters in the Pacific (Shock Waves, 1977) as well as from Lake Totenkopf [sic!] in (again) the Alps (The Illuminatus! Trilogy, 1975). Sometimes the uncannily revived corpses are identified as prominent characters within the Nazi hierarchy: Hitler (in Wolfenstein 3D, 1992), Himmler (in The Spear, 1978, and Vampire The Masquerade: Berlin By Night, 1993), or the fictive head of the historically existing occult Thule Society, Karl Ruprecht Kroenen (in Hellboy, 2004). There are many more examples.


Nazi zombies, and other kinds of undead Nazis, appear within narratives of the fantastic, of gothic, horror and science fiction. What is the cultural significance of this? What does the Naziness of these undead add to their contexts? What can be said about the Nazi undead in connection to more realistic representations of history, especially in the context of our cultural memory? In this presentation I will first give some visual presentations, followed by an analysis combining the thoughts of Richard Dyer, Jean Baudrillard and Zygmunt Bauman, as well as theories on impurity, death, and evil.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Nazi Germany, zombies, film, digital games
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Research subject
Communication Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-68776OAI: diva2:473515
Available from: 2012-01-06 Created: 2012-01-06

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