Monday, 12 January 2015

touchstones oder sonderweg

The years from 1806 to 1815 marked some of the darkest times for the kingdom and more peculiar holdings of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, as armies of Napoleon ravaged the lands, spanning from the surrender of most of the nobility, the summoning of the secular and ecclesiastical powers of the realm to pledge allegiance to the conquering French in Vienna, until Waterloo, and called into question the survival of Germany as a coherent culture. Retreating to the ancestral city of Königsburg (the modern-day Russian exclave of Kaliningrad) on the Baltic, the royal house of Prussia, the only major kingdom that did not capitulate to the French—and for that saw their lands redistributed and further reparations that exacted too much, the duke instituted many measures to build solidarity, patriotic privation and sacrifice and gave his subjects a waft of equality and egalitarianism which sustained the people through victory and the rebuild and the reorganisation that seemed to be deferred for nearly a generation.
Democratic reforms elsewhere in Europe—including France, culminated in 1848 in Frankfurt am Main with a Constitutional Convention, which rejected the decimated gerrymandering of the former Empire, from some three-hundred fifty quasi-independent states to a confederation of a mere thirty-seven, as not being representative of the people. This revolution, though uniting and healing and never quite killed, did rather die on the vine, with Prussia and other regional powers tossing out democratic ideals, feeling that they had served their purpose and were in the environment of security and renewed prosperity were dangerous and subversive.
In the two years, however, that a united and republican Germany prevailed—not to be taken up again until after the defeat and horrors of World War I in the short-lived Weimar Republic—convened under the auspices of the Bauhaus Movement, in an opera house like the Frankfurt summit in a church, a few trappings and symbols that were destined to return were popularised:
the German tri-colour of gold, black and red (supposedly inspired by the uniforms that a group of resistance fighters worn during the Napoleonic Wars) and without the insignia of any particular royal-holding but rather of the people was briefly flown, and the German national anthem was sung. “Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles,” was not a lyric of dominance but rather a plea for an end to Kleinstaaterei and internal division, though now replaced with the excusable and admirable trinity of Einigheit und Recht und Freiheit (Unity, Rule of Law and Freedom) originally extolled in the third verse.  These events were not an abortive revolution but rather sentiments that came before their times.  One other premature development came about this same year, with social scientists and agitators Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels first publishing a thin pamphlet in Köln called the Manifesto of the Communist Party (Manifest der kommunistischen Partei) which described all of history as class-struggles, but this too garnered little attention at the time.