There are countless German and other language books on the topic of the Oktoberfest. Many of them focus on the history, stories, events and anecdotes that happened during the traditional Munich beer festival. Most of them tell the same or similar stories and are humorous and light reading with lots of lederhosen, beer mug and dirndl photos.
But the new book “Das Oktoberfest. Zwei Jahrhunderte Spiegel des Zeitgeists” (The Oktoberfest. Zeitgeist Mirror of Two Centuries) by author Sylvia Krauss-Meyl, a historian at the Bavarian State Archives, is different, Jakob Wetzel writes in his article for the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. It is different, because it takes the Oktoberfest seriously. Krauss-Meyl’s Oktoberfest is far more than institutionalized excess. It is a huge market, a reflection of society, but above all a stage of power.
She gives examples of how the beer festival was used by various Bavarian rulers, the Nazi regime and afterwards. To illustrate the importance of the “Wiesn”, as the locals call the Oktoberfest, she gives the national Bundestag elections 1957. The date of the elections was overlapping with the opening day of the Oktoberfest. And it wasn’t the opening of the festival which was postponed for a week!
The author also recognises the Oktoberfest as an economic factor, a media event and a "dirt-cheap image campaign" for the city of Munich, Bavaria and Germany, but also as a place of international understanding, on which not only Bavarians, but people from all over the world slip into dirndl and lederhosen and enjoy their Maßkrug of beer.
The Oktoberfest is held annually in Munich at the Theresienwiese, it is a 16-day folk festival running from mid or late September to the first weekend in October, with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. The 183rd Oktoberfest is set to take place from September 17 until October 3, 2016.