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Re-forming the Nation in Literature and Film - Entwürfe zur Nation in Literatur und Film

The Patriotic Idea in Contemporary German-Language Culture- Die patriotische Idee in der deutschsprachigen Kultur der Gegenwart


Julian Ernest Preece

In the year that Europe commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of World War I and the European Union faces a crisis of legitimacy, the national question is once again being posed across the Continent. This volume assesses how contemporary German-language writers and filmmakers have approached this troubled question over the last decade. It addresses whether the collective entity known as Germany should more properly be conflated with the Federal Republic, with its successful sixty-five-year history (‘the best Germany we have ever had’), rather than the ‘nation’ with all its tainted connotations and corrupted concepts such as ‘Vaterland’. Contemporary Germany is a product not only of its history up to 1945 but also of the process of understanding that history and acting upon that understanding since the defeat of National Socialism. Each of the sixteen essays collected here illuminates a different segment of a bigger picture, whose shape and shades are themselves evolving. Presented as a whole their purpose is to provoke further discussion among observers of the contemporary German-speaking scene.
In dem Jahr, in dem Europa den 100. Jahrestag des Ausbruchs des Ersten Weltkriegs begeht, und die Europäische Union eine Legitimitätskrise durchmacht, stellt sich in ganz Europa wieder einmal die ‘nationale Frage’. Dieser Band zeigt Antworten von deutschsprachigen Autoren und Filmemachern aus den letzten zehn Jahren. Es wird gefragt, ob es nicht passender wäre, das unter dem Namen ‘Deutschland’ firmierende Kollektiv als ‘Bundesrepublik’ zu erfassen, und somit die Idee der ‘Nation’ mit all seinen Brüchen – bis hin zum verpönten ‘Vaterland’ – zu verabschieden. ‘Das beste Deutschland, das es je gegeben hat’ zeichnet immerhin eine Erfolgsgeschichte seit 65 Jahren. Das heutige Deutschland ist ohne Zweifel ein Produkt seiner Geschichte bis 1945, aber auch von Prozessen des Verstehens und der Verständigung über diese Geschichte seit dem Ende des Nationalsozialismus. Jeder der sechzehn Beiträge in diesem Band beleuchtet ein Fragment eines größeren Bilds, das selbst ständig im Umbruch ist. Als Ganzes sollen diese Beiträge die Debatte unter Beobachtern der heutigen deutschsprachigen Welt anregen.


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GREG BOND ‘Willkommen in jenem unbekannten Land, das Deutschland heißt’


. Moritz von Uslar, Deutschboden. Eine teilnehmende Beobachtung The history of Germany has always involved many definitions and redefini- tions of the German nation, and definitions and redefinitions of Germany’s role vis-à-vis its immediate neighbours and the rest of the world – or in the parenthetical European decades between 1949 and 1989, its own other half.1 Since reunification in 1990 the topic has never been of f the politi- cal and media agendas, with Germany negotiating its regained unity, its renewed international inf luence, and working at reshaping itself as a soci- ety of tolerance within its own borders and a state that is a respected ‘soft power’ beyond them. Today’s ongoing Euro crisis and Germany’s role as the Euro’s most powerful economy and the largest EU state in the centre of Europe make the question even more relevant – Germany is forced to ask and answer, for itself and for the other nations of Europe, what exactly its role is in the world today, and thus also what are the values that make the German nation what it is. As Germany plays a stronger role in European and world politics, this is again accompanied by redefinitions of the self-image that the German press and German politics present – and the self-definition of what it means to be a German that is held by ‘ordinary’ citizens. This image has been shifting over the last decade. It is still determined by the question of 1 Tony Judt describes this period as a parenthesis in...

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