The "National"

- Yg. 1926, No. 25 -

At this point, as great as I am inclined to do so, I cannot pass the preliminary remark that, according to my entire original disposition, I have an absolutely affirmative relationship to the national. It is almost impossible for me to think of myself transplanted abroad. I can only empathize with German soul life, express myself only in the German language with sufficient accuracy, and with strangers it would certainly be similar to Thomas Mann, who says of himself that he spoke to Constantinople admirers on his Mediterranean voyage in "flowing German ”replied to their rally.

Against the Jews, the French, the English and I have many things in my heart especially about the Americans, which is very close to my German nature. But one thing has hitherto prevented me from publicly expressing this national attitude, and that sounds strangely to the doings of our contemporary nationals, with whom I do not want to be confused at all, because they seem too embarrassing incarnations of that lesser Germanism Being reminded of its presence can only depress and humiliate the national sense. At first I believe I have to deal with them before I dare to fight against foreign national characteristics.

Erich Schairer has recently rightly pointed out that the national actually understands itself, as Friedrich Theodor Vischer considers morality, and that it is already suspicious if it is all too deliberately put into the foreground. Our nationals already do that by calling themselves national, and as such separating them from the other national comrades, whom they simply consider to be non-national. For what, objectively, does it entitle to such a loveless condemnation of the greater part of their nation that they are allegedly so proud to hear? Is not this loveless condemnation in the end a proof that they are really not national at all?

But apart from that: is that a good German way (or rather the worst international bad habit) to pretend to have leased some privilege? In order to remind you of the obvious parallel, doesn't a church that calls itself “orthodox” or another that recommends itself as the “sole salvation” awaken a certain mistrust in us? Noble style, which is sure of itself and which feels the power to convince through itself, does not need any screaming advertising, such as the party names "German national" and "German nationalist" undoubtedly mean. [...]

In all that, strangely enough, our nationals still consider themselves the great idealists. It never became clear to me what they wanted to do with this claim. It seems to me that the length of time has made them more of a mere article of faith. For only in this way can it be explained that, in response to the frank question of what her ideal really is, she gives the equally candid reply that her ideal is the German fatherland again to a strong army, a proud fleet and overseas colonies to help it to be as powerful to foreign countries as it once was. That this and nothing else is German idealism, they are evidently unimpeachable certain. And they become very angry, if one dares to intimate only from a distance, that until then they have just always considered to be the most robust materialism.

But the method with which they have endeavored to express their national sentiments towards the historical events of the past twelve years strikes me as even more strange. The fact that is accessible to everyone is that for four years, that is, a period of time previously thought to be quite impossible, our people asserted themselves against the enormous, steadily growing superiority of almost all other great powers and are only inferior when they are already hundreds of thousands of exhaustion gone, the last reserves used up and allies fallen away. This, as I said, the fact. And now the question: how should one as a member of his people approach her? At first glance it may seem impossible that the position could be anything other than that of a firm loyalty to the community with which one knows oneself connected through such dire fates, a deepened love for this people, which endured so much so much sacrificed, fought so bravely and last but not least is so gloriously inferior. But the stab-in-the-back legend shows that this assumption is wrong and that the national sentiment that makes it all alone consists rather in kicking his collapsed people from a safe ambush and mocking their bleeding wounds and death weariness with the drooling accusation that they have failed cowardly, betrayed the front and gave up the fight without need. [...]

It is like this: as long as everything went well, our nationals stood in "unshakable loyalty" to their people. But as soon as the fate of these her people turned, their loyalty was over. They liked to live in the victorious people, but turned away from the defeated people [...]

It is torture not to be able to avoid dealing with them entirely. But it cannot be completely avoided because those dare to desecrate the expensive names “German” and “national” by falsifying them in their minority sense. The world must know that being German and German-national means something else than rattling a saber, opening your mouth in a grandiose manner, portraying hopeless narrow-mindedness as a firmness of character, foolishly enthusiastic about new thoughts, fundamentally fighting the idea, indiscriminately belittling foreign cultural assets, those of one's own Ignoring the people without understanding, betraying self-chosen ideals, defiling his people in need instead of helping them with senseless insults.

For if this and that alone belonged to Germanism and national consciousness - and according to the behavior of our present-day nationals it sometimes looks almost like this - then it would no longer be an honor to be German and national. But I have believed so far. And I would like to be able to believe it.

1926, 25 Kuno Fiedler