Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
This is a very interesting essay on how the historic divisions within Germany have profound implications for the future of Europe. Question I have is: how close is this to on-the-ground reality?

New Statesman - James Hawes - What Britain needs to understand about the profound and ancient divisions in Germany

On 24 September, Angela Merkel will be re-elected chancellor of Germany and that, we might think, will be that. With Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron in control of the European project, populism will surely be vanquished and the old Franco-German core of the EU restored. Yet things are changing, and if western Europe wants Germany to keep singing "Ode to Joy" as enthusiastically as "Deutschlandlied", it will have some work to do. Our Brexit negotiators need to see how important this is to Macron, to other European leaders and, above all, to thinking Germans.

For we may all soon miss the old, self-effacing Germany. Despite having such economic power, it always seemed to have no greater wish than to exist as part of a larger whole. Konrad Adenauer, its first postwar chancellor and founding father, made Westbindung ("binding to the West") the heart of West German politics. Adenauer came from the deeply Catholic Rhineland, "amid the vineyards" as he put it, "where Germany's windows are open to the West". His instinctive cultural sympathy was with France, but he knew that West Germany's existence depended on keeping America in Europe. France he courted out of profound conviction, the US out of clear-eyed necessity, and he was worried that after him this twin course might be abandoned. His demands for reassurance during his final year in office led to John F Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech of 1963. Every West German knew about that, and about the Berlin Airlift: these became locations of national memory from which West Germany triangulated its sense of self.

There were some Germans for whom this was too much. Anti-Americanism was ingrained among West Germany's hard left, the early Green Party and the tiny hard right. But even Germans who were suspicious of America had no fear of tying themselves closer to Europe. On the contrary, that was exactly what they wanted. The standard explanation of this is guilt. West Germans, in this argument, felt so remorseful about the horrors of the Second World War that they wanted to make amends. This idea fitted with others' belief that Germany did indeed have much to feel guilty about.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Sep 20th, 2017 at 06:16:42 PM EST
Entertaining but no. Just no.

I mean, my first reaction is to go through it with scissors and point out all the stuff he leaves ut that would complicate the picture, but it doesn't really matter. The Junker's manorialism was destroyed by the Soviets in 1945 and besides West Germany dominates the new Germany politicly and economically.

And his political and economical analysis of the re-unification with West paying for it all misses the Western economic elites taking over the ownership in the East and the East role in keeping the value of the currency down. And so on.

There is probably East-West splits in Germany today, but it is more reasonable to look at re-unification than an economic system that was abolished eighty years ago.

by fjallstrom on Thu Sep 21st, 2017 at 03:51:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
if western Europe wants Germany to keep singing "Ode to Joy"

If Western Europe really wanted that, they would have come up with some words to their anthem....

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Sep 21st, 2017 at 04:30:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
West Germany was anything but an artificial construct. It was the historical Germany, being almost geographically identical to what was, for almost 1,200 years, the only Germany. Julius Caesar named the land ...

wow. What a ludicrous premise. So yeah. no, just no in the first instance.

This essay is a wonderful example of "casual" bigotry. Thanks, Helen. File in "Romanticism" / Contemporary Polemic / AfD Sympathizer / Failed States.

  1. Answer: Comparison of political (ethnic) divisions in the other 26, especially the united kingdoms' and Catalunya at the moment, demonstrate why it is always a mistake to isolate current events from their historical, contemporaneous contexts. Indeed, but for Roman empire and the Napoleanic dynasty --not US magisterial authority after VJ Day-- neither "nationalism" across europe nor EU federalism would be of much concern to the author today. He'd be a back-stabbing courtier.

  2. "Politics are local." And local politics invariable concern distribution of tax receipts among citizens. Adenauer and Kennedy understood that identity, as was convenient for them, as anethema [!] to the demos during Reconstruction.

  3. Germans are heavily taxed. And Brits are about to be retroactively taxed heavily, too, for the same purpose --mediating political malfeasance including cost of re-unification. #2019Charge, #NoRetroTax and tax avoidance

With Donald Trump's wavering on Nato and his noisy anti-German protectionism, along with Brexit, the West may no longer seem vital to Germany's future.

Hawes is barking up the wrong tree.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Sep 21st, 2017 at 07:27:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The rise of the new German right 16 Sep 2017 podcast

AfD "leader" credits US tea party for her party's founding in 2013.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Sep 22nd, 2017 at 05:33:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series