My Russian Experience with my Arab Friends


Me at the Red Square.

My friend Issam from East Jerusalem and I at the Red Square.

My friend Jihad from Morroco and I in Moscow.

Issam and I in Moscow.

Jihad and I at the Red Square.

Me in front of the Russian Government buildings.


Return to the Popish Plot on September 11, 2001

By Jonathan Coutts-Zawadzki

On November 4, 1605, soldiers discovered a Catholic conspiracy to blowup the Parliament buildings of England to kill King James I. In the decades that followed Catholic persecution continued across England and fear of a Catholic plot remained in British minds.

On September 11, 2001, the Islamic fundamentalist organization, Al-Queda, planned and carried out the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings in New York City.

One can only hope that United States learned from the history of the popish conspiracy that persecution just fuels hatred. But as we shall see in an analysis of how the English government reacted to the popish plot, history has repeated itself.

This paper will concentrate on the development of the anti-Catholic sentiment in Stuart England, making reference to current events about "the war against terrorism" in the United States. The author of this essay does not wish to compare the two events by showing differences but rather wishes to show through examples that America has not learned from England’s mistakes.

First, we shall consider Rene Girard’s reasons for why a community in distress needs a scapegoat. We will then look at the rise of anti-popery in 17th century England and show similarities with the rise of Islamophobia in the United States prior to September 11th. Then we will go on to see how the English government reacted after the plot and then show how America’s reaction to its own attack was similar. Finally, we will consider what the United States could learn from the history of persecution in England, in order to prevent further hatred against the United States.

In Rene Girard’s book "The Scapegoat," he explains why people prefer to blame others for crises rather then try to solve the problem themselves. He used the example of Jews in Europe in the Middle Ages. He says that Jews were considered great doctors during this time. But no common person could explain why plagues took place, so whenever a plague occurred the Jews were often the first to be blamed since being great doctors they should be able to cure the plague. Girard says that at the first sign of the plague, rumors would start accusing the Jews of creating it and many Jews were then executed, in hopes that the plague would not spread. Although, to the modern mind, killing Jews does not correspond with ending a plague but as Girard explains that "the appetite for persecution readily focuses on religious minorities, especially during a time of crisis." (Girard, 6) He also suggests that in times of crisis public opinion is overexcited and ready to accept the most absurd rumors.

He says that when a group is blamed for an event, people seek collective persecution and look everywhere for other reasons to blame this group, no matter how small it may be. For he says the fear created by these acquisitions makes small individual actions correspond with global consequences. (Girard, 15)

He says that people try to confirm the scapegoat’s suspicion by blaming them for violent crimes against society, mainly acts against the brains of the country such as the king, or the heart of the country such as attacks on small defenseless children. These scapegoats also get blamed for having bad habits such as being drunkards, abusive to their women or rapists. (Girard, 15)

He says that by blaming this group for the problems of society, a once diversified community unites to fight against this perceived enemy. "Negative reciprocity, although it brings people into opposition with each other, tends to make their conduct uniform and is responsible for the predominance of the same." (Girard, 14)

Knowing of Girard’s reason for creating a scapegoat, let us first see why England was ripe for the Popish Plot.

Since the creation of the Christian Church, sovereigns have battled with the Pope over civil and spiritual jurisdiction. Henry VIII was not unique in this manner but he started a series of events that lead to the persecution of Catholics across England. When Henry started his own Church in an act against the Vatican, he drew the line between the two sides, Catholic and English Christian. After his successor died, Mary Tudor took over and restored papal authority in November of 1554, and re-imposed the penalties of heresy. Within three years, 300 people were executed for not agreeing with England’s return to papal authority, which earned the Queen the title of ‘Bloody Mary. (Pawley, 10)

When Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1558, she reversed Mary’s return to papacy and doing so the Pope excommunicated Elizabeth in 1570, thereby separating England from the Catholic Church. She then passed the Act of Uniformity and the 39 Articles thus creating ecclesiastic conformity of the English people away from Catholicism and more inline with Protestantism. After this she started her own series of executions against 250 Catholics. Bancroft, the Bishop of London, during Elizabeth’s reign, tried to drive a wedge between the loyal Catholics who were devoted only to the spiritual attributes of their faith and the militant party lead by the Jesuits, who wished to overthrow the English Church and reconvert England to Catholicism. He did this by introducing laws such as: forbidding the public exercise of Catholicism and making it subject to treason, excommunicating Catholics who did not wish to conform, who were then imprisoned until the person was prepared to follow the Act of Uniformity, as well as charging dissidents large fines. (Jordan, 54) The Protestants started seeing Catholics as the antichrist and that to hate popery meant being true to the religion of God, as false worship is the devils work. (Milton, 32)

The seeds were sown for future hatred against Catholics and Elizabeth’s life was threatened at various times by Catholics conspirators because of her stance but none succeed and she died of natural causes. (Jordan, 58)

With having no heir, the crown passed to James VI of Scotland, who was said to have gotten support for the crown from the Pope and therefore was deemed a threat to the Church of England by Protestants. (Pawley, 22) James did not turn out to be the pro-Catholic that he was feared to be, but he wished for tolerance. His motto concerning Catholics was:

"As for Catholics I will neither persecute any that will be quite and give outward obedience to the law, neither will I spare to advance any of them that will by good service worthily deserve it." ( Pawley, 24)

The Protestant Parliament did not like James’ toleration towards Catholics because their biggest fear was that "The priests were far more interested in spreading the faith than in securing safety for their co-religionists," and that James was not actively trying to send the priests out of England. (Jordan, 70) This threat to the Church of England was great and feared. Many wished for more unity of Protestant groups with the Church of England, than tolerance of Catholics. As puritan William Gouge stressed "If there were Israelites (Puritans) in the world, then there must also be Amalekites (Romanists): this was part of this immortal fewde against worshippers of the true God, and professors of the True Religion." (Milton, 36) Parliament forced James to agree to the laws regarding property of recusants to be put in force, and this added to the flame that would lead to Rene Girard’s needed catastrophe.

To give a modern example of what happened in England concerning the Catholics; let us look at the Islamaphobia in the United States during the 1990s.

The anti-Muslim sentiments have been going on for centuries throughout Europe, mainly because of past wars with the Ottoman Empire, as well as the migration of Muslim groups into areas such as France, Germany, Holland and former Yugoslavia, which puts constraints on resources and jobs. In the 1960s onwards the fear of Islam as a political movement became more prevalent in the United States, partly as a result of the 1967 war in Israel and then a rise of terrorist factions within the Palestinian movement. These stereotypes were played in the press and reinforced with films such as Leon Uris’ Exodus and Hajj. (Halliday, 109)

After the Cold War, the threat of Communism diminished greatly and numerous US politicians were speaking about America facing the threat of Islamic militancy. In 1990, Vice-President Dan Quayle in a speech linked Islamic fundamentalism to Nazism and communism. A few years later Pat Buchanan, the republican candidate in the 1992 presidential election, declared "For millennium, the struggle for mankind’s destiny was between Christianity and Islam; in the twenty-first century it may be so again. For, as the Shi’ites humiliate us, their co-religionists are filling up the countries of the West." (Halliday, 109)

With the Intifada in full swing in Israel and other terrorist attacks linked to Islam happening in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa, the fear of violent Islam continued. In 1998, Hollywood produced the controversial film "The Siege," which has a Muslim fundamentalist group blowing up buildings throughout New York. (Halliday, 128)

During the Cold War both the US and the Soviets trained and used Islamic groups to attack the other side, as in the case of the Taliban against the Soviets for the Americans. But without the Soviet Union, the militant Islamic groups were unchecked and therefore were deemed a threat for the world by the Americans. (Halliday, 37) Like the English in the 17th century, the United States needed a reason to go on the offensive and protect itself from a perceived threat.

Now let us see how the Girard’s catastrophe unfolds. In 1604, a Roman Catholic named Guy Fawkes was angry by the failure of King James to grant more religious toleration to Catholics. He joined four other Catholics, lead by a man named Robert Catesby, in a plot to assassinate the king. They used a house next to the Parliament buildings, and filled the cellar with twenty barrels of gunpowder in hopes of blowing up the buildings above. Catesby made the mistake of telling other Catholics to join the plot because this lead to one Catholic, Francis Tresham, telling his brother-in-law of the plot, who then told Parliament. Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators were executed as traitors. This act against the supreme power of England created much fear throughout the country, especially since it fulfilled the fear of popery and gave popery a face of the diabolical Guy Fawkes. "The government and Lord Salisbury in particular, used the plot as a means to incriminate the Jesuits, though they had not been involved." (Bergonzi, 2)

For the Americans the face of the devil was and still is, Osama bin Laden. Guy Fawkes aimed at the brain of England, Bin Laden aimed at the heart.

"The twin towers were an icon of the magnificence and boldness of American capitalism. When they collapsed like a house of cards, in about 15 seconds each, it suggested that American capitalism was a house of cards, too." (The Homer-Dixon, 43)

The biggest impact of the September 11th attacks was not just the disruption of communications, transportation financial systems. But rather, Americans’ collective psychology was affected the greatest. By striking at the heart, the Al Queda instilled a sense of fear in American hearts, which amplified the emotional impact of terrorism. (Homer-Dixon, 43)

After the towers collapsed, on October 24, the Patriot Act is introduced, which gave the American government the right to suspend civil liberties such as detaining without arrest, allow wire-tapping and having secretive trials. Many Muslims or Arab looking people were targeted during this time and were detained. It also gave the power to the government to detain enemy combatants, American citizens or otherwise, without charge or due process. "The president used the ''enemy combatant'' rule to jail hundreds of supposed members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay." (New York Times, Oct 8, 2004)

After the Gun Powder Plot was discovered, James went against his previous promises of toleration and allowed two penal acts to be passed. The first forced Catholics to not only partake in the Church of England service but also partake in the communion. The second act rewarded more rewards to informers and also banished Catholics from London unless they had residence and it also barred them from public office. (Jacobs, 74)

Then Elizabeth’s Oath of Allegiance was reintroduced in 1606, which forced all Catholics to show their allegiance either to the King or the Pope. This showed the government who was a potential Jesuit militant and who was a loyal citizen, for Jesuits would not give spiritual allegiance for the King. The government then asked all Jesuit and seminary priests to leave England. (Jordan, 77) As well, those Catholics who refused to go to Anglican service were subject to heavy fines. Despite these terrible pressures the Catholic faith persisted, helped by aristocratic families who were prepared to pay the fines. These rich Catholic families were also punished for many had part or all of their property confiscated (Bergonzi, 2)

This is similar to the clause in the Patriot Act, where there was a great crackdown on fundraising schemes for charities and organizations that have foreign interests involved. An organization called ‘Global Relief’ had its assets frozen as they were suspected of transferring money to terrorists. (Associated Press, Oct.30, 2002)

After James I died in 1625, his brother Charles I took power. Throughout this time Parliament was trying to force the Act of Uniformity on dissenters, forcing Catholics to take Protestant communion. Charles tried to force the Book of Common Prayer on the Scottish, which greatly went against their Presbyterian beliefs. On July 23, 1637, in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, the first readings from a Book of Common Prayer prepared to Anglican ideals by Scottish Bishops provoked a riot and lead to the Bishop’s Wars.

Months after the two towers collapsed, the United States targeted the Taliban government for aiding the Al Queda. Along with England and Canada, the United States commenced with a bombing campaign on Afghanistan and put the country under siege. America’s goal was to make Afghanistan a free and democratic country, which went against Afghanistan’s long time tradition of being a tribal ruled totalitarian country. Through a deadly and long battle the United States finally defeated the Afghanis and pro-Taliban supporters and forced democracy on Afghanistan. (Friedman, 94)

The popish threat remained in English citizen’s minds throughout the fall of Charles I, through the Protectorate period and then to the Restoration. During the Restoration period, the Test Acts were enforced, forcing public office holders to take an Oath to the Church of England. This forced James II, the King’s brother out his office as Duke of York, since he had converted to Catholicism. (Pawley, 43)

In 2002, America formed the ‘Coalition of the Willing" to fight a war in Iraq. Those countries that did not join were punished through trade measures, as in the case of Canada and France. The countries that refused to send troops to Iraq were excluded from direct contracts with Iraqi reconstruction. By limiting the access to the Iraqi reconstruction contracts, the American authorities favoured Great Britain, Italy and Spain, which have sent troops to Iraq.

Even with Canada not supporting the war, politicians in Canada were asked to keep their mouths shut about their anti-Bush sentiment, as in the case of Carolyn Parrish and Svend Robinson. Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio was given orders to take action against Spanish former diplomat in Iraq Fernando Valderrama for statements against the Iraq War.

As we see after the Iraq war is complete, the main reason given by George Bush for going into Iraq, to get rid of Iraq’s ‘Weapons of Mass destruction,’ was a hoax. It is said that Colin Powell’s speech about the threat of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ was taken from a PhD student’s thesis from twelve years ago. But even though there has been no ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ found throughout the entire war, the American people still support George Bush, as he was elected for a second term. For his administration has convinced the American people that the war in Iraq was protecting the United States from the enemy.

England had a similar make believe story about a Popish Plot to assassinate the King. People were named that were innocent but arrested because of this fictitious plot made by Titus Oates in 1678. The plot was further believed because Judge Godfrey who was investigating the plot, was murdered. Although Oates’ tale changed with every telling, people were ready to believe him because of the long history of anti-popery in England. (Bustin, 495)

After the Popish Plot in 1679, the popish threat continued and Catholics were persecuted and banned from office until 1829, when the Catholic Emancipation Act took affect and enabled Catholics to sit in the British Parliament at Westminster. But it took another one hundred years for discussions to commence between the Church of England and the Catholic Church to speak about reconciliation.

But one thing is certain, although much persecution and suspension of civil liberties took place because of the Popish Plot, a year after the plot the English Parliament responded to the abusive detentions of persons without legal authority and enacted Habeas Corpus to stop this from happening again. It was later made a critical right of the Constitution of the United States. But sadly, this important right is being ignored in the U.S. in order to combat the perceived threat of terrorism.

Going back to Rene Girard’s argument of the need for a scapegoat, both America and England, respectively, united its people to fight against a perceived enemy. The heyday of English supremacy was in the 19th century, while this persecution continued. The United States is still the most powerful country in the world and the George Bush Jr. is still the Commander and Chief of the largest military and strongest democracy. One might say that "One group’s suffering, leads to another group’s glory."

Looking back at the history of Catholic persecution in England, one must wonder if Catholics saw their persecution as a test of faith from God and become more zealous. Today, the argument that the American invasion of Iraq has boosted recruitment for Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups, because the war has increased Muslim hatred of the West, and has given suicide bombers new reasons to fight, cannot be ignored. When will we ever learn?




"A Very Bad Deal." New York Times. New York: October 8, 2004, pg. A.26

Begonzi, Bernard. "Guys and Bombs." Commonwealth. New York: January 1997, Vol.124, Issue 1, pg 18-19.

Bustin, Dennis. "Papacy, Parish Church, and prophecy: The Popish Plot and the London Particular Baptists." Canadian Journal of History. Saskatoon: Dec 2003.Vol.38, Iss. 3;  pg. 493, 12 pgs

Friedman, Norman. Terrorism, Afghanistan, and America’s New Way of War. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2003.

Giddens, Anthony. "Globalization" in Braving the New World: Readings in Contemporary Politics. (Thomas Bateman and Roger Epp, eds.) (Thomson Nelson, 2004), 8–13.

Girard, Rene. The Scapegoat. Baltimore: The john Hopkins University Press, 1986.

Homer-Dixon, Thomas. "The Rise of Complex Terrorism" in Braving the New World: Readings in Contemporary Politics (Thomas Bateman and Roger Epp, eds.) (Thomson Nelson, 2004), 39–47.

Jordan, W.K.. The Development of Religious Toleration in England: From the Accension of James to the Convention of the Long Parliament. Gloucester: Harvard University Press, 1965.

Lane, Jane. Titus Oates. London: Andrew Dakers Ltd., 1949.

Milton, Anthony. Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought 1600-1640. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1995.

Pawley, Bernard and Margaret. Rome and Caterbury: Through four generations. London: Mowbray, 1981.

Halliday, Fred. Two Hours that shook the World: September 11, 2001: Causes and Consequences. London: Saqi Books, 2002.

"U.S. Defendds use of Secret evidence against Muslim Charity." The Associated Press. St. Louis: October 30, 2002. pg a.14

God’s Wrath or Protecting your family

God’s Wrath or
Protecting Your Family

January 13, 1946

Dear Jacob,

    I could not control my joy when I heard you were alive after all these years of not hearing from you. I am working hard to get your acceptance into Canada but I am having problems with the Mennonite community here because of things that occurred during the war.

    Let me tell you what has happened to me during our time apart. My love, realize that I have always loved you and no one else.

    Shortly after you were taken from us those many years ago, my father and my brother Aaron were recruited as you were, into the Soviet army. I cried for weeks. I couldn’t bear to be without you. Most women in town were also heartbroken for there were no men left except for dear old Legless Leopold. Why did God allow them to take you? My life changed completely.

    We were lucky when the Germans came in 1941 because they brought food and let us practice our religion in peace. My sister Gertrude wed one of the German chefs. He was a nice chap but not one of us. We had problems taking him in but he gave us food and she was happy with him. But being in the army he never had time to help us with men stuff like fixing things, so we were left to do a lot by ourselves.

    In Marlene Epp’s article “The ‘Grab Bag’ Mennonite Refugee Family in Post War Canada, she sheds light on the fact that when Mennonite women came to Canada, their gender roles changed from what they were in Europe. These women had to do the tasks of men because of the absence of their husbands due to the war or women having come to Canada without husbands but with children because of being raped during the war. But one must note that this change in gender roles did not happen in Canada, because these women came to Canada usually without husbands, and therefore they had to take on the traditional male jobs long before their migration.

    When Justina Wedler’s roof collapsed in 1943, she was frazzled and not sure what to do. But soon, a few woman in town remembered some of the things they had watched their husbands do and taught the rest of us. Some German soldiers were nice enough to show us how to saw wood and hammer nails. But none were so kind to help us actually do these chores because they were to busy doing other things.

    But no sooner did we fix Justina’s roof that we got news of the Russian army marching towards our town. We packed up our bags as quickly as possible and started our exodus to German lands in Poland with the German army. But soon, the Germans went to the frontlines, and dear Gertrude had to say goodbye to her new husband. I felt her pain as he marched away. The nightmare of you leaving me has never left my mind.

    The exodus from the Ukraine was hard. It never stopped raining and we had to throw away a few things on the way like my beloved dowry chest because every so often we got word that the army was near and we had to move faster than them.
I remember a smile was on all our faces as we passed a sign that said the Polish border was just 15 km away. This relived me as after weeks of travelling, your mother looked horrible and we were all starving.
    But when we saw the Russian border patrol, our smiles turned to frowns. There was no way we could get passed. But we needed to get out.
 When no one was looking, Gertrude ran to the guard at the post and offered him father’s gold watch and her wedding ring. The guard grabbed these from her and said it would take more than that to get 5 people across the border. The bastard than winked at her and stared at her breasts.
    She understood what he meant and she left with him for his barracks. A few hours later, she returned crying but with the border passes.

    Well we entered Poland and started our new life as part of the Reich. But it was not an easy life. Without you, I had to do a lot of things I regret.
    My love, most of the women around me had got news that their husbands had been killed during the war. We got word that my father was killed in December of ’42 and my brother a few months later. I always kept my hopes up that you would return to me one day but after four years of being without you, I needed to think of our children.
    I took up work in a German officer’s house. He gave me enough food for myself but not enough for our children, so I had to take some things from time to time. He was nice to me but I always felt awkward around him.

    One night when he was drunk, he forced himself on me. I couldn’t resist his force so I shut my eyes and tried to picture you instead of this monster.

    I felt so dirty afterwards that I felt I could not bear to live. Other women carried around cyanide with them in case such a thing could happen but I knew I had to live on to take care of our family.

    Soon after other officers started getting that look in their eyes when they were around me. I got friendlier with the first officer in hopes that he would protect our family and me from bad things. He gave us food and no one bothered me.

 According to Marlene Epp, Mennonite narratives rarely describe the act of rape explicitly. But what one gets in reading various narratives of this time, is that voluntary rape was used time and time again by these women to get what they needed during drastic times. It shows that these women had to balance their own survival and the survival of their families with that of following their religious beliefs.  Sex out of wedlock and stealing are mortal sins to the Mennonites no matter what the motive.

    During February of ’42, there was talk that Germany was losing the war. The Germans in town started fleeing towards Berlin, and our small group joined them. We managed to get to the German side of the city before the war’s end. But without a German passport we were worried about being sent back home.

    I could not allow this to happen, not to anyone in our family.

    My aunt Maze had escaped to Canada a few years before and had sent me letters about it when we were in Poland. She had told me that Canada had given land to we Mennonites to re-settle and that Maze and her family were happy there. I asked her to send money for our passage there, and I promised to pay her back.

    In Epp’s article Five Mennonite Refugee Women she says that many Mennonite immigrants were sponsored by their relatives living in Canada. This demonstrates that Canada was portrayed as being a place of making great wealth, for asking someone who just immigrated to a new country for the cost of a ticket across the ocean shows the great opportunities in the new country. This also gave the sense to the possible Mennonite immigrant that if they emigrated they would have a familiar community feeling in Canada, a concern many immigrants have before leaving their home country. The fact that Canada gave an area of land to the Mennonites also relieved some of the stress possible Mennonite immigrants would have of settling in a new land. This was an aspect not applied to many other immigrant groups

    In October of 1944, I found out I was pregnant. My love, I never meant for this to happen. I let that brute have his way with me for our family and nothing else. Please believe me.

    After working in Berlin for a few months and after selling most of what we had, I managed to get enough money for a ticket to Canada, in hopes that the one would send money back for the rest of us to go as well.

    Luckily, Maze sent enough money for three more tickets. But we were still one ticket short and I did not want to leave anyone behind.

    Mother was sick and she refused to go. I did not know what to do. Your Mother was so brave my love; she cared for us deeply. She took one of the cyanide pills that we had saved just in case, and she passed away on November 10th. It tore my heart.

    We bought our tickets and with the help of the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization, we left for the Promised Land.

     It seems as if God both saved us in our exodus to Canada and is constantly punishing us for our sins during the time of wandering. Shortly after arriving in Canada, the Canadian officials asked me about whom the father of my unborn child was. I had to lie or else they would not let us settle, so I said it was you.

    The officials luckily believed my story but the Mennonite community did not for they knew you had been missing since 1940. They had a great problem with letting us settle in the community.

    In the ‘Grab Bag’ Mennonite refugee Family in Post-War Canada, Epp describes the problem immigration officials had when dealing with unmarried women with children, which were many among the early Mennonite population. The system back then was very Christian-based in origin, even in a secular country, and therefore looked down upon single parents families, unlike today. Luckily the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization (CMBC) took responsibility for many of these ‘unfortunates,’ unlike other immigrant organizations that wanted nothing to do with bastard children. Perhaps Canada looked more favorably on these post-war widows not so much for ‘passionate grounds’ but rather that many of them had brought up their children throughout the war without husbands and therefore would likely be able to raise their children in peaceful Canada. But it’s more likely that because Mennonite families were willing to adopt these single-parent families, Canada accepted many of these unfortunate women and children.
    Those years of living in constant fear during the war are gone but now the fear is a different type, one of accusation, hatred and resentment.

    Jacob, the community here thinks of me as a whore because of what I did during the war to survive. I had no choice my love, I had to protect our children and put food in their mouths. We lived during the war because of what I did for our family.

    But here in Canada, they say what I did were mortal sins. But if I were to have an abortion, I would be a sinner as well. So I had a choice, either be a sinner by having sex out of wedlock and conceiving a bastard child, or taking a life of an innocent child who has done no harm to anyone. With the death of my father, brother and believing you to be dead as well during that stupid war, I choose to have the child in hopes that she will grow up in this new country where she will never see what we saw.

    It is interesting that Epp mentions that Mennonite men who went against their religion by killing others during the war were tolerated by the community, but women who either had abortions or kept their bastard children of rape were looked down upon by the community.

    But God punished me. After weeks of not eating well, and because of the long journey, God did not allow my baby to live. But still the leaders of our community did not accept me.

    They allow me to stay with our daughters in the community but will still not allow me into the Church. Our daughters are accepted though, which I am relieved to say. They are working for Maze and her family in their store, so that one-day we can pay back the great debt we owe Maze’s family. But I want to leave their business soon, for I know the familiar look her husband gets when he is near our daughters, all to well.

    I am not sure if they will ever accept me into the congregation. But I am happy to be free in this new land without fear of the war.

    My love, I miss you and have always loved you. Please come to Canada, so we can start our life over again.

I am sorry,


The Film Wars of Weimar Germany

By Jonathan Coutts-Zawadzki

After the First World War, Germany signed the Armistice in Compiegne, and the Kaiser abdicated in November of 1918. The new government was greatly leftist, but they were hated by the extreme left and the right-wing parties for ‘stabbing Germany in the back’ by signing the Treaty of Versailles. Both the leftists and rightists formed armed groups to fight against one another and in 1919 Germany faced the possibility of civil war. The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to limit its army to 100,000 soldiers. If a civil war took place, the Reich would easily lose control.

This essay wishes to show that instead of fighting an armed conflict against each other on the streets, which would cause a civil war, the two most powerful political parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National People’s Party, battled the leftist-rightist war in the cinema. The prize for the winner was the German mind.

Looking at this cinematic war, we will first describe the use of film as a source of warfare. After we have a good understanding of this, we will compare the emergence of film as a weapon for these two groups. Then, we will compare the different tactics used in this war and see how they affected the outcome of the battle. In doing so, we will consider film techniques, political advantages, leadership and allies of each group. We will then conclude with an analysis of how the knowledge of this battle can affect world events of today.

First, let us discuss the importance of film in propaganda efforts. Since the creation of film, the cinema has become a powerful tool of propaganda, which affects a mass audience in a relatively short amount of time. With this medium, one does not have to be literate to be affected by propaganda for pictures and sounds can tell a story better than words on a page. The life portrayed in film becomes one’s own experience. Filmmakers can create their own worlds, ignoring reality, and make this fictional world critical of the existing status quo and tell this message to a mass audience. The spectator without any intellectual effort can consume this deep message and to many the cinema was and still is a way to escape a dismal reality. When one sees a better life than their own on the big screen, one has something to desire and work towards. As a result of this mass appeal, the big screen became an important means of political propaganda.

Now that we have an understanding about the chosen weapon of this war, let us go on to explain whom the two combatants were and why they needed to win this war.

The National People’s Party strongly believed that the Republic was God’s punishment to Germany. They were ardent right-wing thinkers in that they believed strongly in the duty of citizens to obey, that German should have a strong military and be a world power, and censorship would help create unity and stability. They were greatly supported by rich industrialists who used their newspapers and other companies to promote right-wing thinking.

Until 1914, German political groups did not pay much attention to film as a source to promote political values. In the final years of World War One, General Erich Ludendorff and the Supreme Command of Germany saw the danger of anti-German films during the war and wished to establish a third front, a film front, against these propaganda films. First the government attempted to ban the importation of foreign films, especially from Britain and France, but this left a huge void for German moviegoers who, because of war, needed more entertainment. The German Government also saw that it could promote Germany abroad through film. In 1917, Lundendorff united many small production companies in Germany with the German High command, industrialists, ship owners, Messter film, Davidson’s Union and Nordisk, and established the Universum, A.G., known as the UFA. "The official mission of Ufa was to advertise Germany according to government directives. They asked not only for direct screen propaganda, but also for films characteristic of German culture and films serving the purpose of national education."

When the war ended the Reich sold its shares to mainly Deutsche Bank but as we will see later on, right wing leadership still controlled the company. In 1928, Alfred Hugenberg, leader of the German National People’s Party, who owned many German newspapers and helped form the German Motion Picture Company, took the reins of Ufa. He stood along with Hitler on the far right of the political spectrum and had great business sense. The rightist views of Ufa became prominent during this time, as the head of a rightist part was ruling the company.

By 1931, eight German companies controlled the German film market. During this time, Ufa represented 71 companies, including: 6 production companies, 5 distribution companies, 37 theater chains, 19 foreign companies and 4 other firms. The National People’s Party had solidified their tool to spread their message.

The National People’s Party’s biggest opponent in politics was the Social Democrats (SDP). This party was by no means a small political force in Weimar Germany, for between 1918 and 1930, they were the biggest political party. But they never had an absolute majority of votes and had to join up in coalitions with left wing, Catholic Centre and some bourgeois groups, leading to uneasy compromises. The SDP was to a large extent the political arm of the trade unions. They wished to be both pacifists and patriots, and promoted such things as progressive welfare legislation, human rights and even female rights. But the party had a dual personality between revolutionary Marxist beliefs and mildly reformist practices, therefore leading to much disunity in the group. One thing Social Democrats had in common was they greatly supported the Weimar Republic.

The greatest fear that the SDP had was that commercial films would brainwash people to believe in bourgeois thought. W.L. Guttsman says that "Film transmitted bourgeois values and conservative nationalist interpretation of history, and frequently extolled the virtues of militarism disguised as patriotism." But by the time the leftist groups realized that film was an effective way for propaganda, it was too late as commercial film was already dominant in Germany. In the Communist Party newspaper, Die Rote Fahne, a writer named Axel Eggebrecht estimated that one and a half million people went to the movies each day and he pointed out the potential impact of bourgeois films that dominated the market. To combat this, German leftist groups who were inspired by the creation of communist film companies in the Soviet Union, began to form their own film companies, such as Prometheus, Weltfilm and Volksfilmverband.

In 1922, the SDP emulated Ufa and drew up its own film program. The SDP encouraged the establishment of the workers’ cinema, but they did not have the financial backing to support such a venture. As late as 1929, twelve years after the creation of Ufa, the SDP started a system of mobile cinemas to show party propaganda films. The SDP wanted to produce films with a socially progressive message to appeal to the working class.

The mission of both groups was to win over the German mind. The Social Democrats needed the victory not only to unify its own members under a common banner, but also to get more people supporting them to gain a majority in the government. They had the support of an ally, the Soviet Union, who produced leftist films. The National People’s Party, on the other hand, was at a disadvantage in politics, as initially they did not have great support. But as we see with the increase in rightist-films, Siegfried Kracauer suggests that this paved the way for the Nazi takeover of Germany.

After knowing the identity of the combatants and what they are fighting for, let us go on to analyze what their tactics were in this war.

During the ending years of the war, Ufa started producing great amounts of short films promoting right-wing beliefs. They mainly used nationalistic stories about soldiers and great historical figures. In Siegfried Kracauer’s book From Caligari to Hitler, he explains that in the early years of film in Germany, propaganda films were just loud speakers blaring the greatness of Germany. He said that later Germans saw the great success of foreign propaganda films that were full-length feature films with drama, mystery and suspense, and later tried to emulate them. He said that these films implied propaganda subtly through entertainment rather than just proclaim that their nation or beliefs are the greatest nation on Earth.

Ufa then took this example and started making full-length feature films to get its message across. An example of right-wing thinking being enforced on German film is seen with Decla, a company of Ufa, changing the plot of Robert Weine’s ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ (1919) to suit right-wing thinking. Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer originally wrote this film as an anti-authority piece. It was about a mad psychiatrist who trains his patient to commit murder. ‘The audience was supposed to see the director as an example of the voracious power and authority that had plagued Germany for so long, while Cesare was to stand for the common man of unconditional obedience." But one of Ufa’s greatest officers, the famous director Fritz Lang, made ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ betray the leftist views and made it a weapon of rightist thinking. Although he didn’t direct the film, he put a framing story in by making it so the patient was telling the story. This made it so the patient just perceived Caligari as a mad man but in reality he was the distinguished head of the mental institute. The authors saw this as reversing the point of the film. By Lang putting in this framing story, the anti-authority sentiment of showing a crazy lunatic just using people in his crazy plots, was turned into a story of a benevolent authority that tries to heal the mad to benefit society. This, therefore, forced the audience to see that "Any escape from tyranny seems to throw it into a state of utter confusion."

The film ‘The Golem, how he came into the World,’ produced in 1920 by Paul Wegener, also reinforces this belief in the need of a strong authority figure. When Jews are being persecuted in the Middle Ages, a rabbi makes a large clay monster into a living being, who is called the Golem. This monster is supposed to protect the Jewish people from tyrants and do the daily work such as cutting wood and getting water. But when there is a dispute over power the Golem and learns about love and passion, he goes mad and starts destroying things causing chaos throughout the city. This idea alludes to trained soldiers coming back from the front, knowing how to kill people, but suggests that without proper guidance and leadership they too will go mad and create chaos.

Another film that promotes nationalist sentiments is ‘Fridericus Rex,’ (1922). This film called for the restoration of the monarchy by showing the greatness of Frederick the Great. The film shows that Frederick might have won the Seven Years War if his closest supporters didn’t abandon him. This draws parallels to Wilhelm II’s abdication as Kaiser after World War one and the ‘stab in the back’ sentiment the right wing thinkers felt.

In the film ‘Der müde Tod,’ a mysterious figure that turns out to be Death captures a young girl’s lover. Through a series of events she tries to rescue her lover from death but he dies in every case. The figure of Death then gives her a chance to save her lover by allowing her to find a being that can be offered in his place. She then saves a baby from a burning hospital but does not give it up and in the end she burns to death. She then is reunited with her lover in the afterlife. This movie brings the viewer to see that no matter whatever one does, one’s destiny is determined by a higher authority. One can go into battle but in the end it is Death who controls if one lives or dies, and not oneself. This adds to the view that people should be nationalistic because it is the state that controls their lives and makes it better or worse.

In each of these films, the main tactic used was expressionism. In John Barlow’s book The German Expressionist Film, he says that expressionism is an art form that wishes to shock and agitate the public from the bourgeois conformist views of materialism and science. He said that this movement wished to counter the false security given by technology. Inner experiences were emphasized in the movement and expressed through a distorted rendition of reality. Examples of this are seen in the surreal artistic effects of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." Barlow says that in this film, the set is made up of structures that lean, twist, and rear back as if they were alive with the fear and violence of the film. Windows are often fitted with broken glass, buildings are distorted with awkward looking chimneys and the lighting techniques increase the sense of fear in the film. And the costumes and makeup of the characters give a fantastic and eerie experience to the viewer. These effects give the feeling of insecurity and bizarreness to anyone who watches.

The socialists, on the other hand, used a different art form called Realism/naturalism, to oppose the bourgeois culture. This style shows things for what they are, such as suffering and despair of poor people on the street. Naturalist artists attempt to present exactly, down to the smallest detail, the suffering of victims of social conditions.

Similar to Ufa’s experience, SDP realized that short propaganda films did not influence public opinion as much as full-length feature entertainment. In 1929, SPD started producing films depicting the suffering of the workingman such as Schmiede (Blacksmiths) and Freies Volk (Free People). Brüder (Brothers) was about the Hamburg dockworkers’ strike of 1896, showing the conflict between two brothers, one a dockworker, the other a policeman. This film shows the suffering of the dockworkers at the hands of rich bourgeoisie. Another film was made in 1930 called Lohnbuchhalter Kremke (bookkeeper Kemke). This film shows the demise of a bookkeeper, who gets replaced by an automated book keeping system and eventually he commits suicide.

Although these movies were a success, they had no way of competing with the entertainment filled thrillers of Ufa. Soviet films were SDP’s answer, for the Soviet Union had well funded film industries that produced leftist leaning films.

As mentioned, both Ufa’s expressionism and SDP’s realism were against the bourgeois class. The leftist believed that rightist films were instilling bourgeois values in viewers, while the rightist feared the same of the leftists. University of Toronto professor, Modris Eksteins, says that we should not look at the political spectrum as a linear line, rather we should look at it as a circle, with socialists and conservatives right near each other, and on the other side, the bourgeois class.

Even though these two sides had similar interests of attacking the bourgeois class, Ufa had a greater advantage when the government started intervening in the film industry. In May of 1920, the Republic passed the Motion Picture laws that aimed at banning pornographic films and films that endangered public order. The law was written vaguely enough that censors could interpret these laws to coincide with their political views. Leftist and extreme rightist films were censored under this law. The freethinking society that we thought the Weimar Republic was, was actually curtailed by the government in the area of film.

We also must look at the laws concerning foreign importation of films to see the leftist groups at the disadvantage. Since the beginning of the German film industry, there had been competition with Hollywood. When Ufa was in crisis in 1924, Hollywood took advantage of this and exerted much more influence. They owned theaters, operated branches of their distribution companies and purchased stock in production companies. American films were full of bourgeois thinking, usually concluding with a happy ending. This was one of the leftists’ biggest criticisms of commercial film.

In 1923, National Film, one of Ufa’s greatest competitors was taken over by the American company of Paramount. By 1926, even the most powerful film agency in Germany at the time, Ufa, started negotiating with Paramount and MGM. This culminated with the Parufamet agreement, whereby Ufa received a loan of 17 million marks from Paramount and MGM, and they promised to distribute 10 Ufa films of their choice. In return, Ufa had to distribute 20 of their films each, of their picking.

To combat the onslaught of foreign films taking over the market, the government modified the contingency laws to make it so for every imported film, one German film had to be produced. But this plan backfired, for companies started making very low budget German films to get foreign films imported. Without government funding or investment from industry, leftist-distributing companies could not produce contingency films necessary to distribute Soviet imports. Although a few Soviet films were able to become popular, the contingency laws made it very difficult to obtain them. To make the plight of SDP films worse, with the success of Warner Brothers’ production of sound films like ‘Don Juan’ and ‘The Jazz singer,’ the film industry changed drastically. Two German companies, Tonis and Klangfilm, merged and bought up a majority of the sound film patents. Ufa along with Terra and Emelka were given licenses to use sound, while other companies had to pay Tobis-Klangfilm for permission to use sound. Cinema-goers were no longer interested in silent films. The left-wing production houses did not have the funds to cater to sound films and many either went bankrupt or were bought up by the eight remaining film companies.

When the New York stock exchange collapsed in 1929, the U.S. government recalled its loans and the German economy plunged. The Weimar Republic was becoming a thing of the past as the right wing under Hugenberg and Hitler formed the Harzburger Front of Right-wing political groups to combat the strong left wing and the Weimar republic. Right wing supporters used protest as another weapon in this film war. In the 1930s, the right wing groups in government started being ardent protesters against films that were incompatible with its ideology, such as ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ (1930). Censorship started to arise banning many progressive films. The result of this was the production of a series of nationalist films such as ‘Das Flötenkonzert von Sanssouci,’ Barberina, die Tanzerin von Sanssoucci ‘ and ‘Der Choral von Leuthen.’ All three recalled the glory days of Frederick the Great and suggested another strong leader was needed for Germany to get its greatness again.

One of Ufa’s most expensive productions was a film written by leftist thinking Fritz Lang and his rightist leaning wife Thea von Harbou. At the end of Fritz Lang’s film ‘Metropolis’ the workers revolt against the industrialists and create chaos throughout the city. But the main character, Freder, who stops the two groups from destroying each other. He binds the mind (the industrialists) and the strength (the workers) together with his example of love and caring (the heart). He marries the prophetess of the workers, and being the son of the leading industrialist, he unifies these two groups to work in union with one another for the betterment of the city.

As Kracauer suggests, Hitler was the Freder for Germany for he took the rich and powerful industrialists and the working man and made them work towards one goal, the nation of Germany. When Hitler’s Nazis take control, Joseph Goebbels becomes the minister of propaganda. As Rolf Giesen says in his book ‘Nazi Propaganda Films,’ "like the political parties, independent production outfits has to disappear in order to gain full control and make German films fit for war." This changed the course of the film war, for instead of fighting against each other, the leftists and rightists united to fight common enemies, being the Allied Nations and the dissenters of German nationalism.

When the Germans were finally defeated in World War Two, the victorious nations decided to split Germany up. The Socialists went to the Soviets and the Rightists to the Americans, British, and French. As we saw in the Nazi experience, when these two groups unite they were a dangerous fighting force, but by separating them with the Berlin wall, this problem was solved.

Now that we have an understanding of the cinema war between these two groups, how does this help a Canadian living in the 21st century?

"We just came from a century where we can kill people at the 100 million rate," said retired col. Howie Marsh, senior defense analyst with the Conference of Defense Associations. "The long-term trend indicates that in this century we will kill a billion to two billion people in global conflicts." Marsh also said that since the introduction of gunpowder in 1385, studies of the last 4,000 conflicts show that the amount of wars multiplies by 10 every 100 years. He suggests that as the population increases from eight billion to 12 billion, the number of psychotic people will increase as well. "The evil leaders that we had in the last 100 years, we will get that number in the next 50 years," Marsh said. His concerns of war were centered mainly on a group or nation attacking the US with nuclear weapons. He said that the U.S. would then retaliate ten-fold with their nuclear armament.

Marsh’s warnings should be a wakeup call for Canadians. If the nation chooses not to fund its military, put the defense budget towards another warfront in order to carry out Canada’s peacekeeping objectives. Using the example of the SDP-Ufa film war, instead of buying tanks, guns and airplanes; Canada could fund films, literature and the arts that express crises around the world and possible solutions to these problems.

Like Ufa, if a strong leader like General Ludendorff united the small production houses of Canada, Canadian film could fight against the atrocities taking place across the world, to the family and friends of Canadian citizens. The filmmakers can emulate Weimar film by using realism in films. An example of this could be the life of a tsunami survivor rebuilding his house, or about a Muslim being held in Guantanamo Bay.

Filmmakers can show the film through expressionist lenses as well, that warps images but still get a powerful message across. In 2002, a poll was taken in the Times of India, "What leader in history would be the best for India today?" The choices were Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy or Hitler. The leader who won by a landslide was Adolph Hitler. This shows that many Indians do not understand the consequences of the Holocaust or fascism, because many believe that this political movement could help India’s problems. Using expressionism, in a film one could take the experience of the Holocaust and put it in the Indian context, using Indian actors. The Indian viewer would be able to relate more to the characters being persecuted because Indian people are playing these characters.

Another example could be making a movie about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Switch the culture of the actors around. Instead of an Arab looking person playing the part of the Palestinians take an actor like Ben Stiller to play the Palestinian role and the same with Arab actors portraying Jews. This will force the viewer, whether be Israeli, Palestinian or other, to step in another person’s shoes and see the experience through a person from their own culture’s eyes.

The World can be blown up an infinite amount of times on the movie screen, but can only happen once in real life. By fighting a war on film, one does not have to worry about the violent consequences of retaliation. Once can battle the crimes of today through peaceful means, as the Germans had done so many years ago.



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The Cult of nationalism and the Birth of a Nation

By Jonathan Coutts-Zawadzki

When in Egypt, many ancient Israelites worshipped foreign gods. In the 18th century, Germans worshipped other cultures, like the French, the Greeks and the British.

But this foreign worship declined when French ended the Holy Roman Empire and separated the Church and State in Germany. Worship of one nation, the Fatherland, helped replace Catholicism’s role in politics and allowed Germans to be proud of their own culture.

This essay purports the evolution of the German people from a scattered group lacking an identity and culture to one that developed a near cult worship of the fatherland, which promoted a deep sense of nationalism.

To begin with, we must understand why and how Germans tried to copy and emulate other nationalities.

An 19th century German philosopher, Johann Gottfried Herder, said, "When will our public cease to be this three-headed apocalyptic beast, poorly Greek, French and British? Is it possible that the German people were destined from the beginning only to translate and imitate?" (Ergang, 119)

Since Roman times, he proposes that nations destroyed parts of Germany, have taken what was valuable and then given the Germans some alms in return. Herder believed that Germans took the gifts from the conquerors and accepted them with admiration. He said that by doing this Germans forgot about the great things they themselves had from before. Thus, Germans remained a divided country, more interested in pleasing and imitating others than allowing their own culture to grow. (Ergang, 120)

Raffael Scheck, a professor of history at Colby College in the United States, says that the religious borders of Germany largely coincided with the lines of Roman civilization. He says that the "Roman" parts were predominantly Catholic and shared more with French culture than the others do. The areas that the Romans did not control were Christianized and "colonized," particularly in the 8th and 9th centuries. Some of the eastern areas for centuries included Slavic settlements. (Scheck, 1)

Literature of the time helps demonstrate the German worship of other nations. In the 16th century, while England had such authors in literature like Shakespeare, Bacon and Jonson, and France such figures like Rabelais, Montaigne and Bodin, Germany had hardly any noteworthy names between Hutten War and the Thirty Years War period. Soon French, Spanish, English and Italian customs and language began to appear in German courts, along with the nobility, and even among the upper middle class. (Ergang, 12)

"Of all the nationalities, the people of Germany are most unlike themselves," said Herder. (Ergang, 119)

In addition the dynasty ruling the countries of the German peoples, were of a branch of the Habsburg family,. This family ruled Spain, France and England, as well as small sovereignties. A ruling class with a foreign culture, did not help the development of German culture. An example of this is when the German Habsburgs followed what their Spanish and Austrian cousins suggested as the means spread Catholicism during the age of the Reformation. This caused much violence throughout Germany.

In the different sovereignties where the German people lived other languages were spoken besides the main language of German. In Prussia both French was spoken in Malmedy, and Polish was also common. In Austria, great parts spoke Czech or Hungarian. Therefore, the German peoples did not have a land where they could just speak their language. (Augustin, 14)

As well, in Robert Ergang’s book ‘Herder and the foundations of German Nationalism,’ he explains that the reason for Germany’s downfall in culture was because of the Thirty Years War. During this time, the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by the Habsburgs of Austria, which held the German sovereignties together, was in decline. This decay of the empire encouraged the other nations of Western Europe to infringe upon German territory, as in the case of Spain and France. Ergang wrote that during this age, England rose to a high position, and France became the cultural dictator of Europe, but because of the Thirty Years War, the greatness and national development of the German states was destroyed and this took centuries to repair. (Ergang, 13)

But this all changed when the Holy Roman Empire came crashing to an end as a result of the conquests of France led by Napoleon. On August 6, 1806, the last Holy Roman Emperor officially laid down the scepter of the old empire and retained only the title of Emperor of Austria.

Before Napoleon came, at the beginning of the 19th century, the German map was greatly partitioned. The German peoples were broken up into approximately eighteen hundred separate territories of various sizes and forms of government and many were ruled by non-German rulers. (Ergang, 14)

When Napoleon Bonaparte conquered the land in 1806, he created the Confederation of the Rhine, uniting 400 of the small German sovereignties into just 30. He then added this to the Kingdom of Westphalia in order to create a sizeable federation, which would counteract Austria and Prussia and to balance things out in the area. As well, in 1803 and 1805, Napoleon’s combination of military victories and political blackmail brought the southern German states of Baden, Bavaria, and Wurtemberg under his control. (Herwig, 64) German states were starting to unite under Napoleon.

When Napoleon’s introduced the Civil Code in 1804 of, he established a legal order in Germany that was secular rather than one based on the laws of the Holy Roman Empires laws. "Napoleon proved at once a destroyer of the Holy Roman Empire and the modernizer of Germany." (Herwig, 64)

The land of the German peoples was home to a many religious denominations. In 1792 about 16 million Catholics and 10 million Lutheran Protestants lived in the Holy Roman Empire. One must not forget the 2 million Calvinists inhabited the Rhineland, Hesse, Westphalia, and Bradenburg. As well as 200,000 Jews in the Reich, about 80,000 lived in the Habsburg lands. (Herwig, 8)

"In Luther, it seemed, the German people had a Moses who was about to lead them out of the pit of wilderness of impotence and disunion to the Promised Land of strength and unity." (Ergang, 11)

But the Thirty Year war crushed the dreams of German unity. This religious movement, which could have ushered in a new era of German unity and pride had the direct opposite affect and split the German people. (Ergang, 12)

But with Napoleon ending the Holy Roman Empire by confiscating Church lands and ending the Catholic supremacy of being the official church of the Empire, he brought a chance to revive a sense of German national sentiment and unite the German peoples. (Herwig, 65)

Napoleon’s ruthless policy of secularizing the Holy Roman Empire’s lands found great acceptance in both Protestant Prussia and Catholic Bavaria. (Herwig, 64)

As well, as a result of the reordering, Bavaria acquired 880,000 new subjects and became the third largest German state, after Prussia and Austria. Prussia, which had forfeited 127,000 subjects and all its land west of the Rhine to the kingdom of Westphalia, acquired through secularization nearly 560,000 new subjects and land areas 5 times the size of those lost. (Herwig, 66) Germans were starting to be ruled by large German nations rather than foreign rulers or the princes of small German states. A sense of pan-German identity was starting to take hold.

After Napoleon, it was the 19th century German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, who suggested an end to the disunity of the German people because of Catholicism and Protestantism, a unified German Church should be developed or at ;east a substitute that would promote German identity and culture.

" O that Germany had not unhappily divided itself in the century of the reformation. O that the nationality had adhered to one Christ and to one confession as to one God and to one Bible. Yet much has remained; and perhaps it will depend only on the turn of events that Germany will have for its mind and heart a national religion, the religion of Christ, which in human way gives the mind and heart true freedom." (Ergang, 128)

But even with a unified church, Herder was reluctant to advocate a national religion. And although Herder believed that Christianity was the highest expression of humanity, he felt that Christianity was to a large extent responsible for the loss of German character, and that it had done great harm "to the tales, songs, customs, temples and monuments of paganism among the Germans." (Ergang, 128)

As German culture was developing, the German peoples were still scattered throughout many different sovereignties. Unlike England or France, Germany had no permanent capital city and no ruling cultural or economic centre. (Augustin, 15) As the German historian, Johann Gustav Droysen, said ‘Germany needed a powerful ruling house." (Kohn, 5)

"It is easy to become the slaves of others, but not always will a Moses appear to free his people and to reward them for their servitude with the spoil of Egyptian legislation." (Ergang, 122)

Finally in 1862, one voice stood out and brought order to this chaos of the German peoples. Otto Von Bismarck, Prime Minister of Prussia, helped shape the State of Germany during his three decades in power. Through a series of wars, Bismarck helped carve out a place for the new German State.

Bismarck also helped solve the problem of German struggle of dualism between Catholic German-speaking ‘old empire’ of Austria and German-speaking Prussia for cultural hegemony. (Augustin, 18) Bismarck battled with Austria after the war of 1866 and established Prussia as the ruler of the German peoples. He also brought Prussian into a war with France in 1870, and the victory brought the kingdoms of Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden and Hesse into the North German Alliance. The alliance of Prussia and 17 northern German states created by Bismarck led to the declaration of the German Empire (Deutsche Reich) in 1870 and the proclamation of King William I of Prussia as German Emperor in Versailles in 1871. The imperial constitution was declared in April 1871 and Bismarck was appointed imperial chancellor.

Bismarck’s greatest gifts to the Deutsche Reich was administrative reforms such as developing a common currency, a central bank, and a single code of commercial and civil law for Germany. He also created a comprehensive scheme of social security to counter the Social Democrats, offering workers insurance against accident, sickness and old age.

Bismarck’s rule gave a land mass and a political ruler to the German peoples. But a national spirit needed to be developed. Herder felt that in order for the German people to develop unity of spirit and action and a common culture, every German had to merge his individuality with the group. He said that it is the sacred duty of every individual to work to preserve and perpetuate national traditions and to add to the national resources of Germany. (Ergang, 123)

In the following parable, Herder tried to explain the need for Germans to see the group before themselves.

Everyone who is on the ship in the turbulent waves of the sea feels himself bound to assist in maintaining and saving the ship. The word fatherland has set the ship afloat at the shore; and he cannot, he must not, as if he were on shore, stand idle in the ship and count the waves. His duty calls him (for all his companions and loved ones are with him in the ship); if a storm rises up, if danger threatens, if the wind changes or if another ship hurls itself against his ship threatening to run it down, his duty calls him to help and to call. … He does not seek only his own safety; he must not dream that he is in the boat, which is here not at his disposal, of a select society upon the shore; he goes to work and becomes, if not the saviour of the ship, at least a loyal compatriot and watchman. (Ergang, 123)

Herder and other German nationalists stressed the importance of developing education, architecture, music, language and literature to help foster the idea that the German individual must see himself as a part of the Fatherland, and work towards improving the State. (Ergang, 88)

The first obstacle was to get Germans speaking German. Herder said that first and foremost, German sovereigns should stop speaking French and should set an example to the German people by speaking in the language of the Fatherland. (Ergang, 130)

He said that history showed that most ruling people did not rule through arms but through reason, art and a highly developed language. Great civilizations might have fallen many centuries ago but what showed their greatness was the fact that their language prevailed until the present day. He said that one could see this in the use of the Greek, Latin and Arabic languages. (Ergang, 130)

Linguists, James E. Jacob and William R. Beer said that language does not only convey ideas between people, but it has a fundamental role in shaping what those ideas are. They say that it divides communities, and creates a cultural boundary.(Beer and Jacob, 2)

Martin Luther’s Reformation divided Germany but his translation of the Bible into German helped create a codified German language that helped unify the people. And by the eighteenth century the German speech started producing a rich culture that compared well with the best phases of the older Italian, French, and English cultures. (Augustin, 18)

David Friedrich Strauss, a liberal deputy, and follower of Bismarck, rejected Christianity as the "Old Faith" and upheld classic German literature and music, as well as modern science, factories and laboratories as the "New Faith." (Herwig, 143)

With J. S. Bach and his sons, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Germany was already the centre of music in Europe. But the development of nationalism in music came later. An example of German music inspiring nationalism can be seen in Richard Wagner’s operas. Wagner romanticized the Germanic past such as in his "Niberlungenlied." In the words of the great novelist Thomas Mann, it was to help humans "out of darkness and confusion to redemption in the beautiful." (Kohn, 192)

In German literature, one of the greatest problems was the lack of national symbols. The German poet, Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock used a northern mythology as a symbol for the new German school of poetry and tried to liberate the German language from French and Latin domination." (Herwig, 32)

As well, to spread national ideas and to increase the use of the German language, Freidrich Koenig’s invention of the rapid typesetting helped produce newspapers faster and cheaper. This allowed many groups to publish newspapers including Tante Voss.

To teach this new language, schools needed to be developed throughout the nation. In 1873, Bismarck took the supervision of schools out of the Church’s hands and made it the State’s responsibility. Herder said, "Men are formed only by education, instruction and permanent example." (Ergang, 91)

Near the end Bismarck rule, the illiteracy rate in Germany was less than 1% because primary education was mandatory for eight years. In the 1870s the Prussian curriculum was broadened beyond the basic three Rs to include geography, geometry, history, and the natural sciences. As well, in order to awaken and intensify national feeling in Germany, Herder wanted to create a patriotic academy.

But there was also criticism to the State’s secondary education. Friedrich Nietzsche said that the purpose of this education was to maintain "the natural order of rank in the kingdom of intellect." (Herwig, 143) He believed that the State’s ideal of higher education was not to educate as many of its citizens as possible but rather to select intellectual people to serve the State after completing their university studies.

In architecture, instead of building churches, this new State built monuments to promote a sense of pride in Germany. Such promotions of the German culture include: Ernst von Bradel’ Hermannsdenkmal. This monument is of the Germanic chieftain Hermann who defeated Varsus’ Roman legions. Johanned Schilling’s huge statue of a female Germania, holding the crown of Charlemagne, celebrates German unity. In 1896, another monument was built to Emperor William I. A large platform in the front of the main monument served as "sacred space for pilgrims." Willhelm Kreis designed and built 500 Bismarck stone towers throughout the land. Modeled on the tomb of the Gothic king Theodoric at Ravenna, Kries’ towers symbolized continuity between the First and Second Reich. (Herwig, 145)

These monuments served to remind Germans of their unity and the continuity of their turbulent history and uplift their level of patriotism. (Herwig, 146)

The Industrial revolution also greatly helped German nationalism. The development of railroads connected many distant regions, bring the German people closer together. Rapid population growth and urbanization, the expansion of the middle classes and of the proletariat followed industrialization. And after lagging behind Western Europe for three hundred years, Germany caught up within two decades.

Like Christianity, the new Germany also had its saints and prophets. Friedrich Nietzsche, professor of the classical philology at the University of Basel, prophesied a century of world wars, revolutions, and eternal turmoil. He said that in the following century "everything that was weak would be crushed, everything that would be false stamped out." He also said that out of this chaos would come a new order. (Herwig, 147)

Although Nietzsche did not support the formation of the German State, this prophecy further substantiates the need the Germans had to be strong and powerful, or to be crushed again by the powerful around them.

To Herder the development of the German State was the ultimate reflection of humanity. He wrote, "The group which is the chief factor in the development of humanity is a group of a specific type; it is the national group or nationality." (Ergang, 84)

Towards the beginning of the 20th century, the German people had finally united under one banner, the German flag. Instead of studying the Bible in Latin at Jesuit schools or listening to music about Jesus, and building large churches, following the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, Germans studied German history and read German books, listened to music about the greatness of Germany and built great monuments to Germany’s heroes. With the passing away of the influence of the Holy Roman Empire, German culture and spirit was allowed to grow and develop, and Germans no longer had the need to copy and imitate other cultures. Otto Von Bismarck may truly be credited for bringing the German peoples together in one geographical area and giving them an identity. But it was the cult of nationalism that gave birth to this nation an sustained it in the long run.



Annotated Bibliography

Augustin, Sankt. German Identity – Forty Years After Zero. Konigswinter: Friedrich Naumann Foundation, 1985.

Scheck, Raffael.

Augustin explained the difference of how other nations developed and how Germany developed differently. He explained how since Roman times, Germans had emulated other cultures but the idea of Germany still existed. This book also helped me to explain how this German national identity lead Germany into two World Wars and brought them not only to fight for themselves but for the Fatherland.

Beer, William and James Jacob. Language Policy and National Unity. Totowa: Rowman and Allanheld, 1985.

This was a great book in explaining the need for a unified language in Germany. It helped to explain that language not only unites a people but also affects how a person thinks and acts.

Ergang, Robert. Herder and German Nationalism. London, Columbia University Press, 1931.

I used this book greatly because of its in-depth analysis of the views of the German nationalist Herder. By reading this book I was put into the mind of Herder and his beliefs about the need to develop German identity and German culture. This book emphasized symbols and forms of expression in German nationalism. It also helped me explain the history of the German fight for unification.

Fernnel, Barabara. Language, Literature, and the Negotiation of Identity: Foreign Worker in the Federal Republic of Germany. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

Although I did not quote this book in my essay, it helped me to understand the need for a unified German language. Even after unification, there were many languages spoken in Germany and foreign workers had trouble communicating with their employers.

Herwig, Holger. Hammer or Anvil: Modern Germany 1648-Present. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company, 1994.

This overview of German history helped me put the idea of Germaneness into context. I quoted this book various times because of its in-depth analysis of the development of German identity through cultural advancements. This book also helped to explain Bismarck’s role in the development of the nation.

Kohn, Hans. The Mind of Germany: The Education of a Nation. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1960.

This is another book that helped me greatly in explaining the cultural evolution of the German people. It helped me to understand why Germans copied other nations and the effects the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire had on the German peoples. This book also contributed to the explaining development of technology, which helped bring about change in Germany.

Scheck, Raffael. Professor of History at Colby College. Waterville, Maine.

Although this is a web site of lecture notes, it gave an in-depth analysis of German unification and how culture affected how Germans thought of themselves. He gave a historical overview of the development of German culture but more so he explained how this development led to the creation of a German national spirit.