Cultural Critique in the Two Unifications of Germany

  • Stephen Brockmann
Part of the New Perspectives in German Studies book series (NPG)

Abstract

One of the central themes underlying criticism of German reunification in the early 1990s was the idea that reunification was, in essence, a repetition of the Reichsgründung (foundation of the Reich) carried out in 1870–71 under the leadership of Bismarck. In particular Günter Grass made this argument. His novel Ein weites Feld (Too Far Afield, 1995) was an extended comparison between the two unifications, in which most aspects of Germany in the 1990s had equivalents in the Germany of the 1870s and 1880s, the primary correspondence being that between Grass’s protagonist Fonty in the 1990s and Fonty’s literary hero Theodor Fontane in the 1870s and 1880s, while Fonty’s Chancellor Helmut Kohl corresponded to Fontane’s Bismarck in the earlier period. In his criticism of the supposed joylessness of German reunification, Grass sometimes eerily echoed, from a left-wing perspective, the criticisms of the nationalist Paul de Lagarde, who, over a century earlier, had criticised Bismarck’s Second Reich in similar terms: ‘There has never been a creation as joyless as this one.’1

Keywords

Phen Decad Cond Mist Lism 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Cited in Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultnral Despair (Berkeley 1961), p. 32.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Golo Mann, Deutsche Geschichte des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts (Frankfurt a. M. 1995), p. 431.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See, among others, Mann, Deutsche Geschichte, pp. 431–2, and Zentralinstitut fiir Geschichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR (ed.), Grundrif3 der deutschen Geschichte (Berlin 1979), pp. 266–71.Google Scholar
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    Friedrich Nietzsche, Briefe April 1869 — Mai 1872, Briefioechsel: Kritische Gesamtansgabe, ed. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari (Berlin 1977); emphasis Nietzsche s.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragodie, in Friedrich Nietzsche, Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe, III/1, ed. Colli and Montinari (Berlin 1972), pp. 3–152; here, p. 20. Subsequent references to the Geburt der Tragodie appear as GdT in the text. For a translation, see R. Geuss and R. Speirs (eds), The Birth of Tragedy and other writings (Cambridge 1999). All following references to Nietzsche s works in German are to the Colli and Montinari edition, referred to simply as Nietzsche, Werke, vol. no, etc.Google Scholar
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    Cited in Wilhelm Ltitgert, Das Eride des Idealismns irn Zeitalter Bismarcks (Giitersloh 1930), p. 39. Subsequent references appear as EI in the text.Google Scholar
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    Karl Heinz Bohrer, ‘Zeit und Imagination: Das absolute Prasens der Literatur, in Bohrer, Das absolute Prlisens: Die Seinantik iisthetischer Zeit (Frankfurt a. M. 1994), pp. 143–83, especially p. 179.Google Scholar
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    Karl Heinz Bohrer, ‘Provinzialismus (II): Ein Psychogramm, Merkur 45, no. 1 (January 1991), pp. 255–62; here, pp. 257–8.Google Scholar
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    Hans Jurgen Syberberg, Vorn Unglück und Gliick der Kunst in Deutschland nach dem letzten Kriege (Mtinchen 1990).Google Scholar
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    Botho Strauf, ‘Anschwellender Bocksgesang’, Der Pfahl 7 (1993), pp. 9–25.Google Scholar
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    See Stephen Brockmann, ‘The Good Person of Germany as a Post-Unification Discursive Phenomenon’, German Politics and Sociehj, vol. 15/4 (Winter 1997), pp. 1–25.Google Scholar
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    Gunter Grass, Schreiben nach Auschwitz (Frankfurt a. M. 1990).Google Scholar
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    Giinter Grass, Im Krebsgang (Gottingen 2002), p. 216.Google Scholar
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    Gtinter Grass, ‘What Am I Talking For? Is Anybody Still Listening?’, trans. Stephen Brockmaim, New German Critique, 52 (1991), pp. 66–72, here p. 68.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Stephen Brockmann

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