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Dr. Anne Keller

Dissertation Project


The National Socialist Amateur Play: Theater Pedagogy as Propaganda Instrument in the Hitler Youth

Historical approaches are almost entirely new to the emerging field of theater pedagogy. This project forces a critical engagement with our current understanding of this discipline by focusing on the national socialist practice of amateur plays, which instrumentalized and occupied their pre-1933 structures—in theory and practice of the amateur play, and in the training of “play directors” (Spielleiter).
Between 1933 and 1945, amateur plays were instrumentalized in the Hitler Youth (Hitler-Jugend or HJ) for political and propagandistic purposes in the sense of a national socialist world view. Taking a historical, discourse-analysis perspective, the dissertation analyzes the various specialized publications that were especially addressed to the “HJ Theater Troops” as a unique kind of association in order to provide insight into the objectives and ideology of national socialist amateur plays: practical knowledge about the amateur play movement, which was largely for and driven by youth, was given new aims and adopted into the work of national socialist amateur plays. Especially the “HJ Theater Troops,” which brought together musically gifted boys and girls, were expected to culturally educate the population in addition to furthering their mission of propaganda. These groups’ model events aimed to strengthen the (village) community and root it in German or Germanic culture, to advance a struggle for the Volk (the Volkstumskampf), and to fight rural exodus, to name just a few of the results that were expected from “Theater Troop” events. The education of play directors, which mainly took place at “education camps,” followed a form of all-around art-pedagogical training that included music, dance, and/or storytelling in addition to the dissemination of amateur plays.
The project is motivated by research on the principles of theater pedagogy and by current developments in teaching practice: the increasing interest of companies and educational institutions in theater-pedagogical approaches and methods requires us to sharpen our understanding of the discipline and the sense of responsibility carried by the upcoming generation of practitioners.

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From 2005–2012, freelance theater educator and director, instructor at the University of Siegen and the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences.
From 2002–2005, studies in theater pedagogy at the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences.
From 1998–2002, studies in special education at the University of Cologne.



Wurzelbehandlung – Theaterpädagogik zwischen 1933 und 1945 in Deutschland, in: Zeitschrift für Theaterpädagogik 26 (2010), S. 20-22.

„Der ‚ausgerichtete‘ Zuschauer. Zu den Propagandaaufgaben der HJ-Laienspielscharen“, in: Barz, André / Paule, Gabriele (Hg.): Der Zuschauer. Analysen einer Konstruktion im theaterpädagogischen Kontext, Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2013, S. 183–216.


20./21.09.2013: Präsentation auf dem "Basar theaterpädagogischen Wissens" im Rahmen der "Ständigen Konferenz Spiel und Theater an Hochschulen" an der UdK Berlin


01.-03.02.2014: Seminar "Der Chor in Theater und Musik. Explorationen in Theorie und Praxis" an der UdK Berlin, Fakultät Darstellende Künste, gemeinsam mit Marion Haak

WS 2013/14: Unterrichtsauftrag im Modul "Archäologie der Theaterpädagogik" am Institut für Theaterpädagogik, HS Osnabrück