ISBN This volume, based on a series of lectures given in Weimar, literally in the shadow of the fire-ravaged Herzogin Anna Amalia-Bibliothek, investigates the 'German book' in its various guises as an indicator and symbol of German culture and nationhood.
It touches on questions of national memory and identity, the collective 'book' as a 'lieu de memoire', as icon, as warning. The volume is divided into three sections, one historical, a second treating specifically the role of Weimar, and a third addressing questions of preservation and conservation. The subject being Germany and its past, there is inevitably some soul-searching and even breast-beating. One might agree with Bernhard Fabian that 'die verspatete Nation' meant that there was no Author: Roger Paulin.
Thus, both contemporary Native Americans and ancient Germanic tribes were identified as woodlands peoples, and both symbolized the origin of man and the presumed common state of pure and untainted humanity. Even where the links between ancient Germanic and contemporary Native American tribes were not made explicit, the parallels in symbolism and imagery facilitated an ominous absent presence of the Indian in German discussions of ancient life in the woods. Character traits, such as honesty, bravery, or inwardness, were declared to be national features of a typical forest-dwelling people.
By implication, cities and urbanization were branded as manifestations of chaos, destruction, and alien incursion Giesen, Junge, and Kritschgau — An element of conservative cultural pessimism, it prevailed throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Stern ix. This notion of originality and rootedness was a source of both Indianthusiasm and the corresponding, emerging sense of German exceptionalism in Europe. It allowed to portray both Germans and Indians as Indigenous peoples, that is, as guardians of a sacred home environment who protected it against alien destroyers.
Protagonists of many Life Reform groups sought practical solutions for particularly troubling effects of industrialization and urbanization. Some sought to re-enchant their world by embracing myth, or by assigning religious qualities to abstract concepts, such as the nation Ulbricht — This embrace entailed a continuance of reviving old German fairy tales and sagas since the Romantic era, but it also resulted in an increasing interest in the mythology of non-European cultures among some reformers.
This recently discovered reverence led to spiritual explanations and attempts to rediscover and redefine the natural world, borrowing from Indian imagery as much as from interpretations of old texts about Germanic tribes, and ascribing life and spiritual qualities to virtually everything:. Once again, we are beginning to scent that the many beings which are there beside us are something more than mere masses of facts out of which one would take the most profit and that we must, deep below the threshold of our conscious, somehow stand in a lively relation, in a hidden context, with them.
Hans Kern, qtd.
The connection to ancient Germanic ancestors in education, popular culture, and academia was, thus, often made via a discussion of Native Americans. Although it seems to be an oxymoron, the Nazis could promote racism and Indian imagery at the same time: both racial theory and Indian imagery attributed inherent cultural and racial idiosyncrasies to peoples that could not be transferred to others. Nazis, driving Social Darwinism to an extreme, understood their ideology as the application of natural law Schwenkel The solidarity, mutual aid, and group cohesion of Indigenous peoples, for instance, could serve as a role model for the group cohesion of the Nazi Volksgemeinschaft the community of the people ; and this opportunity for propaganda overrode notions of white supremacy that were foregrounded on other occasions.
In a treatise on the value of adventure novels for Nazi education, Erhard Wittek who had become famous as a writer of Indian novels stated that a child, playfully hiding in the woods, experienced the same mysterious chirps and rustles that made Indigenous peoples develop a sense for the supernatural Civilized peoples had apparently retained this sense in their fairy tales and sagas. Thus, a German child could link to its ancestral origins by way of adventure novels and by playing Indian in the woods. Researchers pointed out the connection between natural features and supernatural powers.
Nazi ideologists eagerly picked up these findings for their propaganda, which was often explicitly neo-pagan. The following explanation incorporates Romantic notions with a religious elevation of nature and with the racist assertion of German superiority:. In the forest, under the majestic giant trees, you are closer to your god than in the dusky dome of your church.
Reverently you hearken to the mysterious murmur: the rustling of the leaves, the ripple of the water, the song of the birds [ It already made its appearance in our first religious myths and has been with us to this day. Kirsten The teaching about local plants and animals was to be combined with teaching sagas and fairy tales that featured these plants and animals, and with instructions about their value for medicine, food, and industry. Teachers were urged to emphasize the link to the Germanic ancestors and their worship of these plants and animals Steinsiek — These didactic concepts invited parallels to the image of the Indian elder telling stories by the campfire at night.
Riehl had witnessed rapid changes in the German landscape due to urbanization, increased exploitation of natural resources, and industrialized agriculture, during the nineteenth century. His works made a link between a healthy environment and a healthy society, and between the national character of Germans and the forested wilderness. Love for animals, and for nature as such, is one of the most beautiful and noble German traits.
The German is far ahead of all other peoples in this respect [ Ancient Aryan religious experience [ Wohlbold Since their claim to indigeneity made Germans apparently understand and love nature, the Nazis saw Germans qualified as natural-born forest rangers. Walther Schoenichen, one of the chief conservationists during the Nazi era, argued that, since man and animal were relatives, protecting animal included protecting man. He explains:. Now that we endeavor to save animal species from extinction, it is even more our duty to ensure that the benefactions of an effective protection be bestowed upon primitive man, the most noble of all creatures still living in their original state.
It stated that races and, by implication, peoples, owned inheritable character traits and idiosyncrasies which could not be transplanted onto other peoples without destroying their cultural integrity cf. Schmokel In accordance with similar statements by Nazi leaders, cultural anthropologists and conservationists argued that National Socialism was the political application of biology, and thus, the manifestation of natural law Schwenkel In all these considerations, the history of US-Indian relations and the Native American reservation system were used as examples: The Dawes Act of , by which the allotment of tribally held lands was meant to enforce speedy assimilation of Native people into the white mainstream, had led to the erosion of Native cultures, and its economic effects had caused resignation.
They were simply interested in a healthy environment for healthy food, which would support racial breeding. Race developed through nature, therefore nature needed to be healthy to keep the race healthy. Blood-and-soil ideology did not canonize nature, it canonized race — The promotion of healing plants and of traditional harvesting methods were supplements in the struggle to provide food and resources in a wartime economy.
Right-wing populism in Germany: Muslims and minorities after the 2015 refugee crisis
Spirituality was simply bait for power—promoted when feasible, and curbed when it opposed the political goals of Nazi politics. Anderson , Benedict R. Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, Blome , Hermann, ed.
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- The American Cyclops, the Hero of New Orleans, and Spoiler of Silver Spoons?
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