How do you help a nation


1. The concept of the nation

There is no generally recognized and unambiguous concept of the nation (N.), much less the German N. That is based on the complex function of this and similar concepts (e.g. → free-democratic basic order): they have both explanatory and legitimizing and standardizing tasks. Concepts of this kind not only want to grasp and help analyze reality, but they also set political goals for the future and are used to justify the present. The right to self-determination, to self-organization internally and independence externally is related to this concept.

The nation-state movements of the late 18th and 19th centuries used the term N. in very different ways. In the literature a distinction is made between (a) the N. as an ethnically homogeneous group ("people's nation"); (b) the idea of ​​the "culture." (cf. Meinecke 1908), which ties in with the commonality of behavior in general and language, literature, music in particular; (c) the concept of "Staatsn.", which does not specify any specific criteria for the conception of a nation, but rather the existence of a state association order and on the basis of the "Volksn." or the "culture." can exist; (d) the idea of ​​the "citizens.", which "constitutes itself through the individual civic equality rights and the procedure of the democratic legitimation of the rule by the citizens" (Lepsius 1990: 242).

For M. Weber (1980: 528) the N. "cannot be defined according to the empirical common qualities of those who are attributed to it", rather the concept of N. says "that certain groups of people can be expected to have a specific sense of solidarity towards others", thus it is subjective and belongs "to the sphere of values". The idea on which this "feeling of solidarity" is based has not yet been determined; this is what Weber calls not only language and the "'ethnic" belief in common ground "(Weber 1980: 237) also the memory community (cf. Fitzi 2004: 198-202). E. Renan (1996: 35) also emphasizes this element when he writes: "A nation is therefore a large community of solidarity, carried by the feeling of the sacrifices that have been made and the sacrifices that are still to be made. It sets a past and leads to a tangible fact in the present: the agreement, the clearly expressed desire to continue the common life.The existence of a N. is - allow me this picture - a plebiscite day after day, like the existence of the individual is a permanent assertion of life. "

History as a conceptual feature of N. is based on the commonality of memory and experience of the past, on which the self-understanding and actions of nationals in the present and future are based. History plays a role in the development of national movements insofar as it constructs a cross-generational community that extends beyond the life of the individual (Anderson 1993; Hobsbawm 1983). This creation of tradition legitimizes the "people." and "Kulturn." as well as the "Staatsn."

The ambiguous and evaluative dimension of the term N. shapes the attempts to define it more precisely, it differs due to different convictions of a scientific and political nature. No matter which definition is used for the term N. it always overlaps or coincides with other terms such as that of nationality as an ethnic unit or of the people as a cultural community. Often, therefore, N. and nation-state are equated, at least for each N. a uniform nation-state is required. This is the goal that nationalism pursues. As an ideological, political and social movement, it tries to create uniqueness and to achieve harmony between ethnic and political boundaries, while tending towards marginalization.

Which constitutive attributes of N. (e.g. language, history, culture, descent or political creed) are also assigned, they only cover a part of the complex social structure that N. is called. Accordingly, one can hardly speak of a uniform, social-scientific theory of N.

2. Germany as a "belated nation"

The development of the German N. compared to the Western European nation states is characterized by the long time in which their unity was based solely on cultural commonalities. When state unity was finally achieved in 1871 with the establishment of the German Empire, the establishment of the national state was burdened in many ways. After the attempt to achieve "unity and freedom" at the same time failed in the bourgeois revolution of 1848/49, the foundation of the Bismarck Empire was not based on a national and democratic mass movement, but on the sovereign unification decision of the princes. He brought with the kleindt. Reich the state unity of only a part of the German N. and left the German Austrians outside; In the course of the 1880s a "people's city" developed in parts of the population of the Danube Monarchy. Self-image in the ethnic sense. On the other hand, the newly founded German Empire comprised national minorities (Poles, Danes, Alsace-Lorraine) whose membership of the German N. was questioned and who, due to the often repressive policies, could not or no longer profess to the N. . But also religious minorities who clearly acknowledged the N. (e.g. the German citizens of the Jewish faith) were not protected from hostility. Thus, as early as 1871, the "belated nation" (Plessner 1992) was not an undisputed and saturated nation-state. The democratic deficit and its territorial instability turned into the aggressive and imperialist thinking and acting of the Wilhelmine power state. Even the downfall of this state through the defeat in World War I, the territorial reduction of the German Empire and the introduction of a parliamentary republic did not yet bring about reconciliation between democratic self-determination and national self-modesty. Rather, the National Socialists understood how to take up the inadequacy of the German bourgeoisie in their national existence. As a result of the imperialist and dictatorial policy, political opponents and the German Jews initially lost their civil rights and later their lives. The conquests of the National Socialist large-scale politics extended the German rule far beyond the German N. and robbed many European nations of their state existence, if they did not want to extinguish their physical existence by genocide. With the total expansion and defeat of the Third Reich, this development of the German people also seemed to lead to the downfall of the German nation (→ National Socialism).

3. Divided Germany (1945-1990)

Nevertheless, after 1945 all German politicians in East and West stuck to the idea of ​​the German N., but wanted it to be purified in a specific way. Regardless of what was understood by N. in detail, all leading politicians in the FRG shared the opinion that N. should be adhered to. The awareness of togetherness and the will to preserve it were seen as constitutive for the German population.

In the → GDR, the leadership initially claimed to represent the Ds unit. From 1955 the leadership followed the policy of the two German states as a reaction to the non-recognition, but stuck to the unity of the N. However, when the social-liberal → Federal Government (BReg.) Took over this concept in 1969, it was abruptly dropped by the GDR leadership in order to propagate the development of an independent socialist nation-state.

After the SED leadership got into a legitimacy crisis during the summer of 1989, it became clear that the acceptance of a "GDR-N." increasingly dwindled. While the majority in the → opposition initially sought a democratic renewal in the GDR, the political option of statehood was no longer shared by large sections of the eastern population after the opening of the Berlin Wall (November 9, 1989). At the large demonstrations from December 1989 the slogan "We are the people" was replaced by the motto "We are one people" and "Germany united in the fatherland".

The unification process was also connected with the fear of the rise of German nationalism. In Great Britain and France in particular, politicians feared a reawakening of the national hegemony, which the German side tried to dispel. After talks with all four victorious powers of the Second World War, the FRG regained full sovereignty in internal and external affairs with the conclusion of the "Treaty on the Final Settlement with regard to Germany (12.9.1990). Through the border treaty with Poland (14.11.1990 ) the united D recognized the Oder-Neisse line as the final German-Polish border. This treaty as well as the amendment of the → GG, that its territorial scope is unchangeable after the unification, showed the complete renunciation of all earlier to the German Empire territories belonging to it, including the reunification requirement, was deleted from the Basic Law on October 3rd, 1990. This also made it possible to gain acceptance in the neighboring states of the FRG for the unification of the two German states which in the past had suffered more than once from D's national aspirations for great power The "national question" seemed to have been answered.

Source: Andersen, Uwe / Wichard Woyke (ed.): Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 7th, updated Aufl. Heidelberg: Springer VS 2013. Author of the article: Christian Bala