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Abstract

The emergence of the Third Reich, punctuated by Germany’s economic recovery (1933-1938), stands as a most intriguing episode in the history of Europe – intriguing for its geo-political significance, for what it reveals of the economic structure in which we (still) live, and for the sociological record of humanity. No less uncanny than the episode itself and the experience of Nazi Germany in general is the prophetic anticipation of the Reich’s dynamic beginnings which Goethe penned in the second part of Faust (1832), a whole century before the facts. The striking parallel between the financial trickery performed by the Devil in the play and the discount bills later circulated by Hitler’s banker, Schacht, has already been drawn and is now a matter of semi-common knowledge; what is not sufficiently emphasized – and such is the purpose of the fragment presented here — is how, not just the stylized monetary diatribe, but the virtual entirety of Faust’s second part, —its plot of imperial conquest, the very characters and their sequential shenanigans, and the saga’s climactic epilogue— can be seen as a vision of the rise and fall of Hitler’s Reich. It is this juxtaposition of poetic narrative and historical tragedy that is attempted in this piece.