Notion and Concept of the Nordic Idea
The Notions Völkisch and Nordic: A Conceptual Approximation Uwe Puschner Preliminary Note Ethnic, folkish, national, nationalistic, racial, ethnique, national and raciste are com- mon English and French translations of the German word völkisch.1 The multiplicity of interpretations demonstrated by these variant translations points not only to the difficulty of appropriately translating the term but to the confusion the adjective völ- kisch has caused for more than a hundred years as well. Historical Remarks on the Political Slogan It began in the mid-1870s with the proposal from völkisch language ideologue Her- mann von Pfister-Schwaighusen that the Latin-rooted word “national” be Germa- nised to völkisch.2 The use of the word quickly spread, initially throughout the pan- German environment in Austria, then, at the turn of the century, entering the lan- guage of German radical nationalism and becoming the sign of a hybrid, integral nationalism.3 Its assimilation into mainstream German vocabulary and establish- ment as a political rallying cry set off controversies about the word. Völkisch is, as an Austrian proponent of the völkisch movement in 1925 stated, the same as nation- al but somehow something different: “dasselbe wie ‘national’ und doch etwas an- 1 Winfried Baumgart, Wörterbuch historischer und politischer Begriffe des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts. Deutsch, englisch, französisch (München: Oldenbourg, 2010), p. 531. Modern German-English and German-French dictionaries normally translate völkisch as “national” or “nationalistic”; for further examples, see fn. 23. 2 See Uwe Puschner, “Pfister (seit den 1880er Jahren...
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