This chapter explores the moral dilemmas encountered by the Enlightenment writer and pedagaogue Rudolph Zacharias Becker around the concepts of nationalism and war. His meticulous selection and adaptation of texts for the two editions of his Mildheimisches Liederbuch (an originally pedagogical work designed to teach peasants more Enlightened ways of thinking) reveal the issues of war and nationalism to have been greatly troubling for him, yet also, unfortunately, unavoidable. While the first edition of Mildheimisches Liederbuch in 1799 treated war as a moral problem, the second edition in 1815 contained a great many new songs proclaiming the anti-French and pro-war sentiments that had arisen during the Wars of Liberation, even though his personal memoir from this period argued for tolerance and respect of the French. Why, then, did he include this anti-French material in the 1815 collection? I interpret Becker’s choice to include pro-war texts with which he did not agree as an attempt to respect freedom of different political opinions, rather than to censor and control them, in the aftermath of Napoleonic occupation.
This chapter discusses Briefe auf einer Reise nach Petersburg an Freunde geschrieben [Letters to Friends from a Journey to Petersburg], by writer and traveller Fanny Tarnow (1779–1862). First published in 1819, this travelogue contains two discourses of exclusion: one based on gender and the other on culture. Tarnow is victim of the former and complicit in the latter. On the one hand, the difficulties faced by Tarnow as a female writer resonate throughout her text. As a woman who had the audacity not only to write and publish but also to travel and live abroad for two years, Tarnow was acutely aware of the restrictions placed upon her based on her gender. On the other hand, however, she constructs a notion of German national identity in contrast to the perceived Otherness, and inferiority, of Russia. Tarnow, in this context, makes use of common national stereotypes that were already virulent at the time, and even claims that nature in Russia is fundamentally different and inferior to German nature. Hence, her letters from Petersburg oscillate between confident self-assertion as a German (and therefore, ‘inherently superior’ to her Russian counterparts) and self-conscious justification as a female author-traveller (and therefore, ‘inherently inferior’ to her male counterparts).
In the historiography of nineteenth-century Germany, Jewish Germans still tend to be treated as passive objects of German nationalist discourse. The idea of the nation was not, however, an uncontested entity into which Jews sought to “assimilate.” Instead, many Jews in the German lands also sought to influence and shape perceptions of this powerful cultural and political vision which enabled many of them to accommodate their multiple situational identities: as Jews, regional patriots, and Germans. This chapter traces the extent to which a selection of prominent nineteenth-century Jewish-German writers and publicists, Ludwig Börne, Moritz Hartmann, and Berthold Auerbach, actively sought to shape the nationalist discourses of their age. It analyses their responses to the changing face of the German national movement, which took on increasingly aggressive forms during the revolution of 1848, and focuses particularly on the interaction in their writings between their hopes for political freedom from an oppressive aristocracy, on the one hand, and their desire for national unity, on the other. Ultimately, Börne’s absolute commitment to political freedoms and his remarkably farsighted sensitivity to the pitfalls of nationalism were not shared by a younger generation of co-religionists, whose views were rather more representative of the German-Jewish community and the German Liberal movement as a whole. They were prepared to sacrifice political freedoms when they came into conflict with the goal of national unity and were consequently ill-equipped to deal with the rise of neighbouring nationalisms in mid-nineteenth-century Central Europe, such as that of the Czechs, which threatened their German nationalist visions.
This chapter aims to promote a more nuanced narrative of the debate about the nation, fatherland, nationalism, and patriotism in the latter part of the eighteenth century in Germany. It focusses on the specific genre of the publicly declaimed church prayer using the example of a 1778 war-time church prayer composed by the highly renowned and widely respected Enlightenment theologian Johann Joachim Spalding (1714–1804) at the beginning of the War of the Bavarian Succession 1778–79. This case offers insights into the complexity of debates about patriotism and nationalism with regard to the educated elites in Prussia. Although Spalding was no admirer of Frederick ii, his king ordered this most revered man of the church to compose the prayer which by definition constituted an intrusion of the state into the religious worship in every protestant church of the country. The debate it sparked is a clear indication that during the War of the Bavarian Succession, intellectuals were very much sensitised against forms of (patriotic/national) partisanship. This case also refutes the idea of a straight line of development from patriotic sentiments during the Seven Years’ War towards the nationalistic rhetoric during the Wars of Liberation.
This chapter considers Ludwig Börne’s key contribution to political and literary debates about German national identity in the 1830s. In a similar way to Heinrich Heine, his intellectual colleague and rival, Börne sets out a cosmopolitan agenda for German liberals, calling on them to learn from the progressive politics of the French. He therefore represents a German patriotism that rejects nationalism, seeing France as an example for Germany to follow. Through a close reading of Börne’s two masterworks Briefe aus Paris [Letters from Paris, 1832–1834] and Menzel der Franzosenfresser [Menzel: He Eats French People, 1837], this chapter shows how Börne advocates an enlightened form of patriotism that emphasises political rights and reasoned debate, in contrast to Wolfgang Menzel’s Romantic, organic conception of German nationhood.