9 Pile-dwelling theory and research
After the first discoveries, it was to be far more than 50 years
before the first scientifically confirmed information about pile dwellings was available.
In the 1920s, settlement excavations were carried out at the Federsee (BW)
and gave new impetus to the pile-dwelling theme.
The traditional pile-dwelling theory with its notions of
legendary platform constructions slowly began to waver.
In the Federsee, several bog villages built on the ground level were discovered.
The attempt to transfer this finding to the lakes of the Alpine foothills
caused scientific dispute.
The golden twenties of pile-dwelling theory?
Robert R. Schmidt (1882-1950) shaped the ideas about pile-dwellings
of the entire decade with his film "Haus im Wilden Ried" from 1921.
He cultivated a casual approach to the more distant past
and took a playfully free approach to archaeological information.
This was true to both in film, with wild depictions of pile dwellers,
as well as in his popular lectures and texts.
He wanted to entertain viewers and readers, not instruct them.
Professional colleagues regularly criticised him for this unscientific approach.
However, his way of presenting the pile-dwelling theory hit the mark of the time.
Lake dwellings and Nazi ideology
A radically instrumentalised pile-dwelling image gained momentum from 1942 onwards
and stood in sharp contrast to that of the twenties.
Hans Reinerth used his findings and research
in the interests of National Socialist racial ideology.
He was the editor of the "Monatsschrift für Deutsche Vorgeschichte"
(monthly journal for German prehistory) with the title "Germanenerbe".
The cultural, social and economic supremacy of the "Nordic race" was to be
proven by Reinerth's archaeological excavations at Federsee.
The realisation that all civilisation originated in the Orient was denied.
In the films of the twenties, Stone Age people, despite some romanticisation,
were still portrayed as untidy and unclean.
In the "Third Reich", all depictions of pile dwellers were clean and neat:
The ancestors of the German "master race" (Herrenrasse) thus fulfilled a role model function
in the sense of the Nazi "national community".
The German Society for Prehistory (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Vorgeschichte) founded in 1909
became the "Reichsbund für Deutsche Vorgeschichte" in 1933
and controlled archaeological research as well as museums.
This Reichsbund was attached to the Rosenberg Office in 1939,
an office for cultural and surveillance policy
of the Nazi chief ideologist Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946).
Founded in 1922 by the Society for Lake Dwellings and Local History
(Verein für Pfahlbauten und Heimatkunde),
the open-air museum in Unteruhldingen went to the Reichsbund in 1938.
The representations in the museum propagated the
dominant petty bourgeois values of cleanliness and order.
The focus was on "Germanic greatness, leadership, allegiance and militancy".
These themes were also dealt with in the open-air museum
on the Mettnau peninsula near Radolfzell on Lake Constance.