Formation of 20th Century Nationalism Term Paper

Pages: 3 (898 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - World

German Nationalism can be divided into three periods: unification, expansion, and implosion. Each of these phases is conveyed through various sources of German Nationalist literature.

One of the first German Nationalist writers, philosopher Johan Gottlieb Fitche, had more to say about Germanic wars than of German people. The only concrete concept Fitche mentioned of the German character was the ability of Germans to resist foreign domination, Roman and French, and survive with their German identities intact. He states the current objective of all Germans as being "…to preserve the existence and continuity of what is German," never defining what German might include.

To Fitche's credit, he did emphasize the integrity of the German race despite its considerable contact with the Roman empire, which had absorbed most other races it had touched through miscegenation and integration. Although this may be seen as an early conception of German race purity, it is not nearly as well-defined as the concept of race purity promoted in Nazi Germany in the 20th Century.

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Neither could Turnvahter Jahn think of any traits with which to define an essential German character. Instead, he focused on how the German State was to be built. He laid out the principles upon which each aspect of the German State would function, as if presenting a white paper to a prime minister. Like Fitche, Jahn did have early conceptions of what would later become hallmarks of the German identity. Jahn seems to allude to a certain German profundity and seriousness, claiming that Protestantism was a German innovation and that no other peoples felt Luther's teachings as deeply as Germans.

Term Paper on Formation of 20th Century Nationalism Assignment

The most surprising feature of early, pre-unification works of German Nationalism was this lack of well-developed ideas to characterize the German identity. There was no mention of German industriousness or profundity, just vague references to the resilience of the "German identity" through various struggles and of the need to continue the German nation.

It is during the period after unification that we start seeing a self-conscious definition of the German character, which, according to the historian Treitschke, was "depth of thought, idealism, cosmopolitan views, a transcendent philosophy." This is to be contrasted with "English cowardice and sensuality" and "…a love of money which has killed every sentiment of honor…" that Germans apparently immune to.

In characterizing the Englishman as "…hypocritical…with a bible in one hand and a pipe of opium in the other…," Treitschke appears resentful of English authority, as if to suggest that the English did not deserve their position as tacit hegemon of Europe. Treitschke's characterizations fit with his advocacy of the German Empire's aggressive expansion, which could only culminate in its dethroning of the "hypocritical," degenerate English Empire.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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