A comparison between US GAAP and German HGB

A comparison between US GAAP and German HGB
By
January 2014
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I, Claudiu Ghiuzan, do hereby irrevocably consent to and authorize the Library of University of Applied Management Studies, Mannheim, to file the attached Research Paper entitled: “A comparison between US GAAP and German HGB”, and make such paper available for use, circulation, and reproduction by Library users at the University of Applied Management Studies, Mannheim.
I state at this time that the contents of this paper are my own work and completely original.
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List of Definition of Terms

NYSE

.New York Stock Exchange

GAAP

General Accepted Accounting Principles

HGB

Handelsgesetzbuch

AICPA

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

PCAOB

Public Company Accounting Oversight Board

GASB

Governmental Accounting Standards Board

A comparison between US GAAP and German HGB

Table of Contents

Page

List of Definition of Terms

2

Chapter 1

4

1. Introduction

4

Chapter 2

4

2.1 Literature Review

4

2.2 U.S. GAAP

4

2.3 German GAAP

4/5

Chapter 3

5

3.1 General Analysis
3.2 Value-added tax
3.3 Personnel restructuring
3.4 Deferred income including derivatives
3.5 Maintenance accruals
3.6 Unrealized gains on marketable securities
3.7 Share offering cost
3.8 Provisions
3.9 Foreign currency translation
4.0 Tax influences on the Balance sheet

5/6/7

Chapter 4

8

5.1 Conclusions

8

References

9

Chapter 1
1. Introduction
When the multinational enterprises work with different accounting systems it might be possible to come with different results at the end of the year. This is the case of Siemens AG with the annual report from 2000. The German corporation´s stock has been traded on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) and according to their report from US GAAP (General Accepted Accounting Principles) their net income was €8,860 million while on German GAAP based on the same calculations their net income was reported as €7,901 million. This means practically 14% more net income (Bruetsch 2003).
HGB and US GAAP are different accounting systems that companies use to organize their financial statements. HGB is primary used for companies in Germany and US GAAP in United States. Basically the financial reports of the multinationals are written according to the financial standards from the country they operate.
This research paper will give you an overview of the main differences between the both systems and will help you to better understand the practices used by the two important market leaders in the world.
Chapter 2
2.1 Literature review
2.2 U.S. GAAP
The accounting standards in United States have been first set by the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). In 1939 AICPA created also the Committee on Accounting Procedure and after this in 1959 it was replaced by Accounting Principles Board. In 1984 the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) determined the accounting standards in U.S (PWC.com, 2012). The US GAAP is influenced basically by the Common Law of United states.
2.3 German GAAP
Different from US GAAP is the German HGB or Handelsgesetzbuch, a commercial code established first in 1897 and replaced in 1938 conform the European standards. The German accounting system was used also in Austria since 1938 (Investopedia.com). There are many differences between the German and U.S. accounting standards and it seems quite important for the financial employees to know them, mostly when they work in a multinational company. Some of the major differences consist in value-added tax, capitalization of software costs, personnel restructuring, employee share purchase plans, deferred income including derivatives, maintenance accruals, unrealized gains on marketable securities and share offering costs. The following section will analyse this differences and will offer a better understanding of the terms used in German GAAP and U.S. GAAP.
Chapter 3
3.1 General Analyses
3.2 Value-added tax
In the German GAAP the value-added tax or VAT needs to be depreciated and the VAT recoveries recorded as other operating income. Under U.S. GAAP the capitalized VAT is considered a long-term receivable rather than plant and equipment or property. For that reason the depreciation and operating income are not recognized (Alexander et al. 2004).
3.3 Personnel restructuring
Under U.S. GAAP, the estimated cost of employee separation are accrued in the period that the employee accepts the offer of termination while under German GAAP these costs are often financial on the basis of the Company when it announced the intention to reduce its workforce (Alexander et al. 2004).
3.4 Deferred income including derivatives
According to U.S. GAAP the income of a company from a basic agreement is to be distributed over the duration of the agreement while under German GAAP this income is to be considered in accordance with the economic useful life (Alexander et al. 2004). “Under German GAAP, gains and losses resulting from the termination of interest rate swaps are recognized in the year of termination while according to U.S. GAAP, gains and losses on interest rate swaps accounted for as hedges are amortized over the remaining outstanding period of the interest rate swap or the remaining life of the hedged position, whichever is shorter” (Alexander et al. 2004).
Under German GAAP, “the foreign currency forward contracts and options used to hedge against the currency risk involved with a planned acquisition” are accounted as a hedge without affecting net income “as an offset against the acquisition cost of the investment” while under U.S. GAAP may not be accounted for as a hedge (Alexander et al 2004).
3.5 Maintenance accruals
The German GAAP requires that the cost of maintenance associated to the financial year and only the ones incurred within the first three months of the following year have been accrued at every end of the period while under U.S. GAAP, the cost of maintenance is considered in the periods incurred (Alexander et al. 2004).
3.6 Unrealized gains on marketable securities
Under U.S. GAAP the marketable equity securities other than investments accounted for by equity method or marketable debt, are classified as either available for sale, or as trading, or held to maturity while under German GAAP they are generally carried at historical cost. “Securities classified as trading or available for sale are reported at fair value at the balance sheet data and held to maturity securities are reported at historical cost. Unrealized gains and losses on trading securities are recorded in net income while unrealized gains and losses on securities categorized as available for sale are recorded, net of income tax, in shareholders´ equity” (Alexander et al. 2004).
3.7 Share offering cost
The share offering costs are written as extraordinary expenses in the income statement according to German GAAP while under U.S. GAAP are charged against the proceeds of the offering (Alexander et al. 2004).
Jürgen Kirsch, a professor of Finance at the University of Munster explain that the essential differences between German GAAP and U.S. GAAP are seen better at the capital markets and at investors. According to his paper in the financial structure of Germany the capital markets are less important than bank loans while in USA the capital markets are more important than banks. Furthermore the shareholder structure in USA is based on broad distribution of shares while in Germany the private investors are less important (Kirsch 2012). Looking at the basis for tax calculation and distributions we can see that USA has no influence on tax law and in Germany “tax dictates financial accounting” was abolished.
The distribution rules are also different under German GAAP and U.S. GAAP. In Germany building of reserves and distribution constraints are controlled by law, and there are minimum distribution rules based on single accounts. However in USA there are almost no regulations to build reserves. The board determines the distribution and it is based on group accounts (Kirsch 2012).
Another significant differences between HGB and US GAAP according to KPMG, one of the biggest professional service companies in the world, are the provisions. The provisions have different recognition criteria, different measurement criteria and different selected specific areas.
3.8 Provisions
Recognition criteria
Under German GAAP the provisions are based more on the principle of prudent accounting while under U.S. GAAP are recorded for legal/contractual obligations or constructive obligations. The German HGB allows also provisions where no third-party liability exist for example expense accruals, planned repairs or internal costs of the year-end closing. Under U.S. GAAP a liability must exist to a third party at the balance sheet date (KPMG, 2005).
Different measurement
The measurement criteria are also different. Under U.S. GAAP the amount of provision is based on best estimate while HGB allows greater flexibility and accruals could be substantially higher than under U.S. GAAP (KPMG, 2005).
3.9 Foreign currency translation
The German GAAP requires that the financial statements must be recorded in the Euro currency and no other currencies are allowed. Under U.S. GAAP there is no specific currency underlined (KPMG, 2003).
4.0 Tax influences on the Balance sheet
According to Grabowski´s paper under the German GAAP the tax balance sheet and commercial balance sheet are closely connected to each other while under the U.S. GAAP there are no tax influences on the financial statement because the commercial balance sheet is separated from the tax balance sheet (Grabowski, 2012).
Chapter 4
5.1 Conclusion
This paper provided abroad understanding of the key differences between U.S. GAAP and German GAAP and offered a better analyse of the concepts. Even though both financial systems have some differences in the structure, the basic principles do not differ so much.
We can probably say that this differences are influenced by the different laws systems of the countries. Germany for example is based on civil code which has an extensive number of regulations that should be applied to as many special cases as possible and transferred to similar cases while USA is based on common law which implies a limited number of regulations. Here the rules are applied to special cases they were invented for and are decided for individual cases by jurisdiction.

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After all we can say that U.S. GAAP and German GAAP are simply a combination of dependable standards and due to globalization it become necessary for multinational to understand the both systems in order to operate in this powerful economies. However in the future it might be possible that companies from both countries to report their financial data just according to one financial system.

References

Alexander, D., Noble, C. (2004), “Financial Accounting: An International Introduction Second Edition”, Pearson Educational Limited 2004. Available at: http://books.google.de/books?id=_oe7rGbzdBsC&pg=PA406&lpg=PA406&dq=differences+between+hgb+and+us+gaap&source=bl&ots=iKY7Xicu3a&sig=3jlQYyYW0OxDFP8HJqSepxbhPGg&hl=ro&sa=X&ei=-SbgUv6gHcLcswagr4HgBQ&ved=0CF8Q6AEwBjgK#v=onepage&q=differences%20between%20hgb%20and%20us%20gaap&f=true [Accessed at 23 Jan. 2014].
Bruetsch, M. (2003), “U.S. GAAP and German HGB – A comparative Approach”, Oxford Brookes University, [online]. Available at: http://www.grin.com/en/e-book/14850/u-s-gaap-and-german-hgb-a-comparative-approach [Accessed at 22 Jan. 2014].
Grabowski, P. (2012), “Die wichtigsten Unterschiede zwischen HGB, IAS & US-GAAP“ [online]. Available at: http://www.petra-grabowski.de/Schulungen/Diploma_Bilanzierung/Bilanzierung-8_Unterschiede_IAS_HGB_US-GAAP.pdf [Accessed at 23 Jan. 2014].
Kirsch, H., J., ”International Financial Reporting“, Institut für Rechnungslegung und Wirtschaftsprüfung Westfälische Wihelms-Universität Münster 2012, [online]. Available at: http://www.wiwi.uni-muenster.de/25/content/html_de/studieren/material/11wise_IRL_Kap1.pdf [Accessed at 22 Jan. 2014].
KPMG (2003) ‘Implementing IFRS – Extract from: IFRS compared with US GAAP and German GAAP’ [online]. Available at: http://www.kpmg.com/CN/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Documents/IFRS-German-GAAP-O-200303.pdf [Accessed at 23 Jan 2014].
KPMG (2005) “Provisions-Significant differences between IFRS/HGB/US-GAAP” [online]. Available at: http://www.agig.de/53-2.pdf [Accessed at 23 Jan. 2014].
Investopedia (no date available), “Handelsgesetzbuch-HGB” [online]. Available at: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/hgb.asp [Accessed at 23 Jan. 2014].
PWC (2012), “AP: similarities and differences- 2012”, [online]. Available at: http://www.pwc.com/us/en/cfodirect/issues/ifrs-adoption-convergence/ifrs-and-us-gaap-similaries-differences-2012.jhtml [Accessed at 23 Jan. 2014].
1
 

German Support for Syrian Refugees Essay

Introduction
The migrant crisis caused by the civil war in Syria has been reported as causing a migration crisis for Europe (Troianovski, 2015; BBC News, 2015). It is forecast that in 2015, Germany, a country which has a compassionate history of welcoming refugees, will receive 1.5 million asylum applications, double the 2014 level (BBC News, 2015). With a record influx, the government has made a commitment to spend an additional €6 billion to support the refugees; €3 billion to aid with housing and a further €3 billion for other expenses such as welfare benefits (The Guardian, 2015). These costs are being incurred while Germanys economy is in recovery following a recession and period of stagnation (Kollewe and Wearden, 2014), and critics are arguing that the refugees are a drain on the German economy (Froden, 2015; Scally, 2014). There is little doubt there are ongoing short term costs incurred providing for refuges; in addition to the 2015 refugee spending, the government has committed to provide an additional €4 billion in 2016, allocating regional states €670 per month for each refugee received (Reuters, 2015a). However, with initial estimates indicating only 450,000 expected arrivals (Reuters, 2015b), and economic forecasts indicating Germany could sustain an influx of up to 500,000 a year (Groden, 2015), the question becomes whether the support of the refugees is economically sustainable. In this context sustainability refers to the ability of the German government to continue with the current polices at the same level.

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Short Term Sustainability
There are significant short term economic costs; in addition to the €670 per refugee per month supplied by the Federal Government for 2016 there are the addition local costs (Reuters, 2015a). The refugees arrive with little or no personal possessions and many may need medical attention after a long and arduous journey, as well as accommodation (DW, 2015). The German municipalities receiving the refugees already faced a housing deficit; a recent report indicated at least 400,000 houses needed to be built each year (EurActiv, 2015). The increase in refugee arrivals exacerbates the existing deficit (EurActiv, 2015). Therefore, a significant short term cost is associated with the provision of emergency housing needs (Wagstyl, 2015). There are also welfare payments, education, and the costs of processing claims. A recent assessment has indicated the total cost for municipalities was approximately €12,000 – €13,000 per refugee per annum, including the direct and indirect costs such as housing, healthcare, and administration (CW, 2015). This appears to be a significant drain on the short term resources, and intervention of the Federal government with further aid indicates that the costs are not sustainable at municipal level (Reuters, 2015a).
The concept of the short term sustainability may also be impacted by public opinion, as the money provided comes from the public purse. In 2012 a survey of German nationals indicated that two thirds believe that migrants were a strain on the economy (Scally, 2014). This is often accompanied by local residents’ fears that migrants will take jobs from locals, driving down wages, as well as increased pressure on the public purse due to lower taxes, and increased demand for welfare payments to supplement low wages (Kerr and Kerr, 2013; Migration and Integration Research Department, (MIRD), 2005). If these perceptions are correct, then it would appear the current German policy towards refugees is unsustainable. However, the perceptions are not necessarily accurate. Therefore, it is necessary to look at the longer term economic impact of the refugees on Germany.
Long Term Sustainability
There is little disagreement that the refugees will cause short-term costs. However, while fears regarding the long-term cost of refugees and migrants were highlighted in past research, with the perceptions of an ongoing net cost, general research appears to indicate immigrants, including settled refugees, frequently make positive net contribution towards the economies in which they reside (Kerr and Kerr, 2013; Brucker and Jahn, 2011; MIRD, 2005).
The association with the short term situation of refugees, arriving with little, reliant on the goodwill of the state, is frequently assumed to continue (Jacobsen, 2005). However, after an initial settlement period, research indicates refugees are often positive contributors, finding long-term jobs and making net contributions towards the welfare state (Bonin, 2014; Jacobsen, 2005). In Germany, there are some additional long-term issues to consider. The existing German population is shrinking; Germany has one of the world’s lowest birth rates (Groden, 2015; Giugliano, 2015; Fitzenberger, Kohn, and Qingwei, 2011). This demographic pattern is leading to a disproportionate distribution of the population, with current official estimates indicating a shortage of younger workers to sustain the economy as older workers retire (Groden, 2015). Furthermore, the issue is not only a shortage of workers, but the crisis facing the budget and the state pension system. For example, it is forecast by 2060 there will only be two active workers to every one retiree (Groden, 2015). As the German pension system pays current pension claims out of current taxation, this exponentially increases the taxation burden on future generations (Evans, 2013). Therefore, the current demographic profile of Germany indicates that an influx of new young labour may prove significant in resolving an existing demographic imbalance in the current population (Groden, 2015).
The issue is not only the influx of the younger labour, but the type of labour entering the market; different workers may generate different levels of economic value based on their skills (Jacobsen, 2005). Where refugees arriving have few skills, they have few job opportunities, often entering into low paid jobs, generating lower levels of tax (Kerr and Kerr, 2013; Jacobsen, 2005). This scenario leads to concerns regarding job loses for nationals, low wages, and competition for low paying jobs resulted in declining wages (Papastergiadis, 2013; Jacobsen, 2005). Displacement of existing workers and lower wages may result in negative economic impacts, reducing aggregate income and the tax receipts. However, while this may be a problem with reference to some refugees, it does not necessarily apply to all, as many refugees may have economically valuable knowledge and skills, from engineers and technicians through to drivers, builders, and service professionals (Papastergiadis, 2013). In past research profiling Syrian refugees, it was found a significant level have a wide range of skills and experience, with approximately 46% classified as semiskilled, and 12% as skilled (ILO, 2013). From this profile, there is a great potential for many Syrian refugees to make significant long-term contributions towards, but there are some significant unknown variables, the potential value may be influenced by the skill levels of the refugees (Bonin, 2014).
In recent research undertaken by the Centre for European Economic Research for The Bertelsmann Foundation projections were made regarding the existing and potential impact of immigration on the German economy, bringing all these factors together, including the existing low birth rate, and consideration of the labour shortage and skills (Bonin, 2014). It was found that in 2012, the 6.6 million residents in Germany with foreign citizenship made a net contribution of €147.9 billion surplus in taxes, after accounting for welfare transfers (Bonin, 2014). It was noted this surplus was created despite a substantially weaker position of the foreign nationals in the labour market, when compared to German nationals (Bonin, 2014), an assumption which may be directly comparable to the current Syrian refugee crisis. Importantly, when assessing the long-term sustainability, the study found Germany needed immigration. Without any further immigration budget deficits would rise significantly to a level equating approximately 146.6% of the GDP by 2060 (Bonin, 2014). This would equate to a requirement for additional lump-sum contributions of approximately €1,082 per employee per year (Bonin, 2014). However, this deficit decreases with the presence of migrants (Bonin, 2014). It was estimated that if there were 200,000 immigrants per annum, where 20% of which had no skills, 50% medium skills, 30% high skills, rather than a deficit, the existing population would benefit by approximately €406 per annum (Bonin, 2014). In addition, it was noted that despite these calculations, an annual net immigration of 200,000 people would not be enough to reduce the existing problems associated given the current population patterns and demographic changes (Bonin, 2014).
Therefore, it appears that not only is there the potential for the long-term policy for the Syrian refugees to be sustainable, but it would help to resolve an existing German problem (Groden, 2015; Bonin, 2014). Furthermore, when considering the long-term implications, it is not only the first migrant generation that should be considered, but the subsequent generations, where children gain a German education, skills, and themselves contribute towards the German economy, often gaining increased levels of skills compared to the previous generation, and gaining higher paying jobs (Papastergiadis, 2013). However, while it appears there may be some benefits, a greater insight to the outcomes and sustainability may be considered through an examination of previous experiences, looking at scenarios where Germany has already faced large influxes of refugees and migrants.
Past Experiences
Germany has a long history and culture of welcoming migrants and refugees. Drawing on past experiences may help to indicate the potential future outcomes.
An influx of migrants was seen following the collapse of the Berlin Wall. In 1990, a total of 397,000 people entered into Germany, 37% from the former Soviet Union, 34%, and 28% from Romania (Glitz, 2012). Notably, in the context of the Syrian refugees, all of these countries were relatively low income, with a generally lower skill profile (Glitz, 2012). Within a period of fifteen years following the fall of the Berlin wall, more than 2.8 million people had migrated to Germany (Glitz, 2012). These migrants were not refugees, but individuals wanting to live in Germany, often as a result of German heritage (Glitz, 2012). The strategy of the German government was similar to the current approach; with the migrants allocated across different regions (Glitz, 2012). In the short term, one of the fears regarding a greater prevalence to low skill work was observed, but it was also found that over time the level of skills of the migrant population increased, as in 1996 28.3% of the immigrant group were working in low skill occupations, but this decrease to 26.1% in 2001, with a corresponding increase in the semiskilled group, from 29% in 1996, to 31.5% in 2001 (Glitz, 2012).
A significant concern has been the impact on German nationals’ jobs. Increased participants in the workplace, resulting in increased competition for jobs is likely to result in a degree of displacement. However, displacement was not as heavy as may have been expected; for every ten jobs taken by immigrants, only 3.1 jobs for local German residents were displaced (Glitz, 2012). This displacement rate of 0.31 to 1, corresponds with previous research, when Campos-Vazquez (2008) found a displacement ratio of 0.3. Therefore, there is a net increase in jobs with job creation.
While there are jobs created, there was little evidence that the increase in the labour market resulted in any negative wage impacts, a finding which may have been influenced by the practice in German where wages are often determined through collective agreements (Glitz, 2012). However, Fitzenberger et al. (2011) did find a higher potential level of vulnerability to low wages for female workers in the non-unionised sectors. Likewise, small declines were found in the short term in the unskilled, non-unionised, labour market (De New and Zimmerman, 1994). However, while there were some wage decreases, the research of D’Amuri, Ottaviano, and Peri (2010) highlighted the fact that the wage decreases impacted primarily on the migrants, with little impact on native workers. Brucker and Jahn (2011), sought to create a general equilibrium model for integration across the entire economy, concluding that an increase of 1% in the labour force immigration would result in a wage decrease of 0.1%, research findings that were also aligned with international studies from areas such as United States and United Kingdom.
Overall, it has been concluded that this period of migration was beneficial. The MRID (2005) found that as a direct result of immigration in Germany, between 1988 and 2003, 85,000 new jobs were created, GDP was increased by 1.3%, and the public budget benefited from net contributions of between 25 million 35 million Deutschmarks per year.
Conclusion
The refugee crisis for Germany is creating short term costs, but may also create long-term benefits, with the potential for the refugees to become significant contributors to the economic well-being of Germany, increasing demand for goods and services, creating new jobs, as well as generating new tax revenues. This is particularly important for Germany, where there is an existing deficit due to the low birth rate, and recognise the need for immigration. Therefore, it may be argued that the current influx is beneficial, and that it is sustainable as current short-term costs may be seen as investment for the German future, to support not only self-sufficiency within the migrants, but the German economy as a whole.
References

BBC News, (2015), Germany faces 1.5 million asylum claims this year, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34442121
Bonin, H, (2014), The Fiscal Effects of Foreigners and Immigration in Germany, from http://www.zew.de/en/news/2817/the-fiscal-effects-of-foreigners-and-immigration-in-germany
Brucker, H, Jahn, E, (2011), Migration and wage-setting: Reassessing the labor market effects of migration, Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 113(2), 286-317
Campos-Vazquez, R M, (2008), The substitutability of immigrant and native labor: Evidence at the establishment level, Department of Economics, University of California, from http://doku.iab.de/fdz/events/2008/Vazquez2.pdf
D’Amuri, F, Ottaviano, G, Peri, G, (2010), The labor market impact of immigration in Western Germany in the 1990’s, European Economic Review, 54(4), 550-570
De New, J, Zimmermann, K, (1994) Native wage impacts of foreign labor: A random effects panel analysis, Journal of Population Economics, 7(2), 177-19
DW, (2015), Refugee crisis ‘to cost Germany 10 billion euros’ from http://www.dw.com/en/refugee-crisis-to-cost-germany-10-billion-euros/a-18696346
EurActiv, Morgan S, (trans.), (2015), Refugee influx tough on German housing market, from http://www.euractiv.com/sections/social-europe-jobs/refugee-numbers-tough-german-housing-market-317690
Evans, R, (2013), The Best Pensions in the World, The Telegraph, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/pensions/9902745/The-best-pensions-in-the-world.html
Fitzenberger, B, Kohn, K, Qingwei, W, (2011), The erosion of union membership in Germany: Determinants, densities, decompositions, Journal of Population Economics, 24(1), 141–6
Giugliano, F, (2015), A short-term burden, refugees may yet boost sagging EU economy, Financial Times, from http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6d9a2214-5df0-11e5-a28b-50226830d644.html#axzz3nyQvMBfSM
Glitz, A, (2012), The Labor Market Impact of Immigration: A Quasi-Experiment Exploiting Immigrant Location Rules in Germany, Journal of Labor Economics, 30(1), 175-213
Groden, C, (2015), Here’s why Germany is welcoming migrants with open arms, Fortune, from http://fortune.com/2015/09/08/germany-migrant-crisis/
International Labour Organisation (ILO), (2013), Assessment of the Impact of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon and the Employment Profile, from http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—arabstates/—ro-beirut/documents/publication/wcms_240134.pdf
Jacobsen, K, (2005), The Economic Life of Refugees, Boulder, CO, Kumarian Press
Kerr, S P, Kerr, W R, (2013), Economic Impacts of Immigration: A Survey, Working Paper 09-13, Boston, Harvard Business School, from http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/09-013_15702a45-fbc3-44d7-be52-477123ee58d0.pdf
Kollewe, J, Wearden, G, (2014), Eurozone growth figures: Germany narrowly avoids triple-dip recession, The Guardian, from http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/14/germany-france-eurozone-gdp
Migration and Integration Research Department, (MIRD), (2005), The Impact of Immigration on Germany’s Society, Nürnberg, Federal Office for Migration and Refugees
Papastergiadis, N, (2013), The Turbulence of Migration: Globalization, Deterritorialization and Hybridity, London, John Wiley & Sons
Reuters, (2015a), UPDATE 3-German government boosts funding to states for refugees, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/24/europe-migrants-germany-funding-idUSL5N11U30Z20150924
Reuters, (2015b), Berlin to double funding to states, cities to deal with migrants, from http://www.dw.com/en/berlin-to-double-funding-to-states-cities-to-deal-with-migrants/a-18512658
Scally, D, (2014), Germany’s foreign-nationals give more than they take, says report, The Irish Times,from http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/germany-s-foreign-nationals-give-more-than-they-take-says-report-1.2019357
The Guardian, (2015), Germany to spend extra €6bn to fund record influx of 800,000 refugees, The Guardian, from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/07/germany-to-spend-an-extra-6bn-to-fund-record-influx-of-800000-refugees
Troianovski, A, (2015), Migrant Crisis: Germany Gets Tough on Those Who Don’t Qualify for Asylum, The Wall Street Journal, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/migrant-crisis-germany-gets-tough-on-those-who-dont-qualify-for-asylum-1443133537
Wagstyl, S, (2015), European Refugee Influx Leads to Temporary Housing Bonanza, Financial Times, from http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/668b4bd0-3b75-11e5-bbd1-b37bc06f590c.html

 

Aesthetic and Ethical Demands of German Memory

‘Acts of memory in contemporary German fiction and visual art must seek to balance ethical and aesthetic demands.’

Discuss with reference to Die Ausgewanderten and one or more visual artists.

‘’History serves a more important purpose than simply gathering evidence to establish order, sequence and cause, because it is through reflection on the past that we can engage with a process of redemption that may lead to happiness.’’[1] Both W.G. Sebald’s ‘Die Ausgewanderten‘ and the oeuvre of Gerhard Richter address the inherent difficulties associated with the ineluctability of memory, a burden which, as Walter Benjamin explains in the quote above, is necessary to overcome for the emotional freedom of the individual and the collective. As post-Holocaust artists, both Sebald and Richter must engage in what Hirsch has labelled ‘postmemory,’ a particular form of memory which refers to the experience of those who grow up dominated by narratives that preceded their birth, and whose own belated stories are ‘evacuated by the stories of the previous generation shaped by traumatic events that can be neither understood nor recreated.’ The works of Sebald and Richter are thus characterised by the need to reconcile the aesthetic and the ethical. The aesthetic requirements of German memory work will here be seen to derive from Sebald’s transmission of ‘l’effet du réel’ and Richter’s mantra ‘Es ist wie’s ist.’ The intermedial nature of both artists’ works afford the acts of memory an aesthetic character that is neither heroic nor condemnatory nor in any way resolved. There emerges, however, a problematisation of the artist as witness, given the post-1945 lens through which the works are to be viewed, which is underscored by consideration of the morality of representation and the ethics of representation. A balance between the aesthetic and ethical demands of such acts of memory will thus be shown here to be impossible, as the questions surrounding postmemory call into question the ethical framework of memory itself. Can the ethical demands of contemporary German memory work be fulfilled by post-war artists?

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The intermedial texture of both Sebald and Richter’s works plays a crucial role in both artists’ fulfilment of the aesthetic demands of memory work, the main component of which, it will be argued here, is the aestheticization of the incomprehensible. What this means is an artistic representation of the impossible weight attached to a psychoanalytical working through of the past, or, to quote Adorno, an ‘Aufarbeitung der Vergangenheit’. Richter, for instance, insists that his paintings must retain ‘something incomprehensible,’[2] and to this author’s mind that is the conundrum of memory work. An illuminating example of such aestheticization is found in Richter’s most famous series, ‘October 18, 1977.’ Painted 11 years after the events they are concerned with, the 15 works show members of the Baader-Meinhof group (a youthful picture; a post-capture mugshot; the record player in which a gun was smuggled into prison etc.) in the form of press and police photographs that Richter has blurred. Imperative to the work’s aestheticization of the difficulties of memory work is the way in which Richter’s blurring of the authentic documents exert a double pull towards, on the one hand, monumentality and, on the other, monochrome monotony.

Indeed, Richter has used the term ‘ansehnlich’ to describe the consequences of rescuing an image from the endless rush of media and paying it the devotion of crafting it into a work of art – in doing so, Richter highlights the importance to his work of visual representations of the past which are altered in such a way that they reconfigure pre-conceived notions of historical events, thereby underlining the transmorphic character of memory work. Richter comments further on ‘October 18, 1977’: ‘’Their horror is the horror of the hard-to-bear refusal to answer, to explain, to give an opinion.’’[3] Richter’s images, in spite of being ultra-loaded, refute any attempt to bring their subject matter into focus along perspectival notions of ideology or pathos or transcendence. According to the artist, they represent ‘’a leave-taking from any specific doctrine of salvation.’’ Here is where Richter’s aestheticization of the incomprehensible past is most clear: through his adherence to the notion that ‘Es ist wie’s ist,’ the artist makes clear that history is not there to be redeemed and held up in divine synthesis.

Likewise, Sebald deploys techniques in ‘Die Ausgewanderten‘ which are indicative of his turn towards the aestheticization of the incomprehensible. Indeed, it is Sebald’s combination of text and image which produces an enigmatic effect in its capacity to destabilise the notion of fixed memory and to place emphasis upon the difficulties pertaining to memory work. Many inconsistencies between the images used by Sebald that are interspersed throughout the text (76 photographs in total) emerge on closer analysis. Horstkotte has drawn attention, for instance, to the date stamp and archival filing information visible on the image of an article from a newspaper the narrator claims to have bought in Switzerland – the archival markings on the image here belie the textual narrative, given the fact that the newspaper was not purchased but rather researched in an archive. Another illuminating example is to be found in the photograph of the railway tracks at the beginning of the Paul Bereyter story. The depth of field includes the trees in the background and the tracks receding around a bend, whilst the rails in the foreground appear out of focus. In the narrative we learn that Bereyter is nearly blind at the time he lies down on the tracks to commit suicide, which means that the content of the narrative and that of the photograph do not appear fully congruous.

There is no denying that Sebald’s use of photography is somewhat centred on indexicality, which produces ‘l’effet du réel’ – as Tagg has argued, the notion that the photograph is a mode of technological rather than human witnessing is taken to imply that it also possesses a greater claim to truth: the apparatus is merely a non-human recording agent that cannot lie- the enigmatic inconsistencies, however, are crucial in understanding how Sebald aestheticizes the monumental task of memory work. By destabilising the authority of photographic and verbal documents, Sebald does not discredit history; instead, the enigmatic in ‘Die Ausgewanderten’ works in such a way as to encourage personal, critical engagement with the text and to discourage passive, superficial reception. As argued by Scholes, ‘all writing, all composition, is construction. We do not imitate the world, we construct versions of it.’[4] This is particularly relevant to ‘Die Ausgewanderten,’ in which Sebald shows how photography is also a way of constructing versions of reality. His blurring of ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’ reveals that representations of truth and reality, most prominently with regards to memory, exist only in their constructedness. By doing so, Sebald encourages the reader to engage memory personally, privately, and possibly find ways for finding the redemptive happiness espoused by Benjamin.

Sebald and Richter, however, also seek to explore the ethical demands of memory work. As artists, aesthetics is crucial, and this author’s interpretation of their works as aestheticizations of the incomprehensible serve to emphasise the artists’ desire to present objectively the ruminations of memory work; such an interpretation, however, must be followed by a review of the ways in which the artists engage ethically with particular aspects of social history. Indeed, Sebald does place moral judgements on certain aspects of German memory work, in his attempt to unravel the veil of silence underlining Germany’s troubled relationship with Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung. Through an exploration of place and memory, Sebald can create a narrative that balances the claims of memory with the injunction against Holocaust representation. Sontag has rightly noted that ‘journeys of one kind or another are at the heart of all Sebald’s narratives; the narrator’s own peregrinations, and the lives, all in some way displaced, that the narrator evokes.’ Indeed, the book begins with the description of a journey whose exact purpose remains vague, despite the precise markers of time, place, and motivation in the description: ‘’Ende September 1970, kurz vor Antritt meiner Stellung in der ostenglischen Stadt Norwich, fuhr ich mit Clara auf Wohnungssuche nach Hingham hinaus.’[5] This opening vague scene of departure establishes displacement as both the subject and the condition of writing. This notion of displacement carries on throughout the book, most notably in the section pertaining to ‘Max Aurach.’ An illuminating example is to be found in the narrator’s journey to Kissingen, the South German town where Aurach’s family had lived. The narrator shows himself to be appalled by the forgetfulness of the Germans – in fact, the reason he gives for his early departure is that ‘die rings mich umgebende Geistesverarmung und Erinnerungslosigkeit der Deutschen, das Geschick, mit dem man alles bereinigt hatte, mir Kopf und Nerven anzugreifen begann.’[6] The geographical displacement of the characters in the book mirrors the ways in which ‘Aufarbeitung der Vergangenheit’ pulls apart notions of identity. Contemporary German memory work is seen in ‘Die Ausgewanderten’ as being accompanied by disdain for previous generations, and a hostile approach to national identity.

Richter’s acknowledgement of the ethical demands of acts of memory is more difficult to pin down. Commenting on Richter’s pervasive use of grey Spieler notes, ‘when Richter eliminates color from his paintings and restricts himself to shades of gray, he forces the viewer to take a consciously less sensuous and more intellectual approach.’[7] Indeed, Richter explained his predominate use of grey thusly: ‘’It makes no statement whatever; it evokes neither feelings nor associations… It has the capacity that no other colour has, to make ‘nothing’ visible. To me, grey is the welcome and only possible equivalent for indifference, non-commitment, absence of opinion, absences of shape.’’[8] His attempts to neutralise the ethical standpoint of his work are not entirely convincing – Richter chooses to make ‘nothing’ visible, an act one can argue is not at all indifferent.’ Richter’s technique of photo-painting is particularly effective in arguing for ethic morality in his works – particularly ‘Onkel Rudi’ – as photo-painting acts to add a ‘moment of cognitive reflection, of historical and representational self-consciousness, to the experience of the photographic image. It creates a space and time for reflection upon that image which is qualitatively different from that of the photograph itself, haunted as such experience is by the trace of the object.’[9] The example of ‘Onkel Rudi’ is illuminating in considering the historical consciousness of Richter’s works and how he directly problematises memory of Germany’s Nazi past. Dissonance is created in the image as the viewer notes the man’s smiling face alongside his stiff, formal uniform. What is more, tension arises in the light of such a military figure being portrayed in soft focus. As the harshness of the image of the soldier is softened, conflict emerges between form and content, a disjuncture which occurs on multiple levels. Moderating the barbarity of the Third Reich in such a way, alongside titling the piece ‘Onkel Rudi’, points the viewer to the ambivalence so many Germans felt after the war. Richter asks how one reconciles the identities and memories of family members who fought for their country under the leadership of the Third Reich. It is in the blurred lines of the painting that the viewer sees reflected the antipodal concepts of remembering and forgetting, alongside those of uncle and complicit soldier. As Hoffman posits, ‘’Das Gemaelde loest den Helden auf wie eine harte Substanz im Wasser. Nicht das Was, sondern das Wie der Erinnerung ist Richters Thema.‘‘[10]

It becomes clear that both Sebald and Richter engage in acts of memory which, at first glance, subscribe to both aesthetic and ethical demands. However, this author seeks to argue that a balance between the two is not to be found, given the artists’ position as memory workers of the ‘postmemory’ sort. In ‘The Ethics of Memory,’[11] Margalit questions whose obligation it is to remember. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, the question of sensitivity and appropriateness emerges – who, or which group is the agent of memory? Also, does the immediate memory of persecuted groups and individuals take precedence over the imagined reconstructions of others, such as Sebald and Richter? This issue of retelling provokes conflict in the socio-political realm, where the problems of ethics, imagination and the right to speak on behalf of memory intersect. Margalit argues for historical specificity and clarity in remembering, which insists that the moral witness must have lived in the past and must testify from memory, not hearsay. In essence, moral witness is undermined, not strengthened by false testimony. Sebald is problematic in that he starts by recounting stories of his interlocutors and ends by universalising their suffering and blurring distinctions between past and present, victim and perpetrator. One must question whether Sebald’s second-generation German suffering is really the same as second-generation Jewish suffering? Indeed, the desire to give back the stories of his interlocutors can be viewed as a double-edged sword, in that it is also him taking away their voices, a confusion of voices. Sebald in many ways cannot be a moral witness, as he did not experience the events with which he wishes to identify himself, and his suffering is so different from that of his interlocutors. As Margalit expounds, ‘a moral witness is a species of eyewitness’[12] – no amount of postmemory will create the conditions for Sebald to experience what his interlocutors do.

Hence, a balance between the aesthetic and ethical demands of German memory work can be sought but is rarely achieved. Both Sebald and Richter engage in acts of memory work in such a way that they masterfully convey the difficulties of remembering and the dangers of forgetting. Through this author’s belief in the aestheticization of the incomprehensible, both Sebald and Richter appear to query whether an ‘Aufarbeitung der Vergangenheit’ is possible for any individual or collective, regardless of nationality. Their works, however, do have ethical foci – both artists are forced to reconcile the disruption and upheaval inherent in 20th century German history. It is contentious whether the ethical demands of memory work can be met through the works of these artists – it is arguable, yet hotly debatable, as to whether those born post-1945 are capable of dealing with those ever-present ghosts of the past still haunting Germany today. Such contention will continue to foment ,for the burden of the past does not leave us. As Sebald’s narrator explains: ‘so also kehren sie wieder, die Toten.‘[13]

Bibliography:

W. G. Sebald, Die Ausgewanderten (1992)

Aleida Assmann, ‘Four Formats of Memory: From Individual to Collective Constructions of the Past’, in David Midgley and Christian Emden (eds), Cultural Memory and Historical Consciousness in the German-speaking World since 1500.

J. J. Long, W. G. Sebald: Image, Archive, Modernity (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).

Andrea Lauterwein, Anselm Kiefer/Paul Celan: Myth, Mourning and Memory (London: Thames and Hudson, 2007).

Gerhard Richter: Editions 1965-2004 (Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2004).

Searching for Sebald: Photography after W.G. Sebald (2007)

Robert Scholes, Structural Fabrication (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1975)

Reinhard Spieler. «Ohne Farbe.» Gerhard Richter: Ohne Farbe.( Ed. Reinhard Spieler. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2005.)

Detlef Hoffmann. «Die Schärfe der Unschärfe – Zum Beispiel: ‚Onkel Rudi‘ von Gerhard Richter.» Geschichte und bildende Kunst. (Ed. Mosche Zuckermann. Göt tingen: Wallstein, 2006).

Avishai Margalit.The Ethics of Memory (Harvard University Press, 2002).

[1] Searching for Sebald: Photography after W.G. Sebald (2007)

[2] Gerhard Richter: Editions 1965-2004 (Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2004).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Robert Scholes, Structural Fabrication (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1975)

[5] W.G. Sebald, Die Ausgewanderten (1992)

[6] Ibid.

[7] Reinhard Spieler. «Ohne Farbe.» Gerhard Richter: Ohne Farbe.( Ed. Reinhard Spieler.

 Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2005.)

[8] Gerhard Richter: Editions 1965-2004 (Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2004).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Detlef Hoffmann. «Die Schärfe der Unschärfe – Zum Beispiel: ‚Onkel Rudi‘ von Gerhard Richter.» Geschichte und bildende Kunst. (Ed. Mosche Zuckermann. Göt tingen: Wallstein, 2006).

 [11] Avishai Margalit.The Ethics of Memory (Harvard University Press, 2002).

[12] Ibid.

[13] W.G. Sebald. Die Ausgewanderten (1992).
 

How Supportive Were The German people of Nazi Anti-Semitic Policy

To what extent were the German people supportive of Nazi anti-Semitic policy?
Only a few years ago, a remarkable book exploded on to the academic scene which initiated a heated and sometimes acrimonious debate amongst historians. The Harvard historian Daniel Goldhagen had argued in his book Hitler’s willing executioners[1] that Germans were culturally predisposed to mistreat and kill Jews.

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This essay will look the extent to which Germans were supportive of Nazi anti-Semitic policy mainly through the lens of the Goldhagen debate. It will have to explore three interrelated but distinct conceptual questions. Firstly, it will have to determine the nature of the anti-Semitic policies themselves. Secondly, the essay needs to clarify what type of support was typical amongst Germans. Thirdly, the essay needs to ask how support was articulated and how reliable the various types of historical evidence is to reach so dramatic conclusions as Goldhagen did in his work. Goldhagen’s thesis can be summed up briefly by saying that he believes to have identified the single most important motivation of Germans to kill Jews. He writes:
‘[There was a] widespread profound German cultural animus towards Jews that evolved from an early nineteenth century eliminationist form to the more deadly twentieth century incarnation.’[2]
While Germans throughout the past two centuries harboured this ‘eliminationist anit-Semitic attitude’ towards the Jewish people, ‘only with the control of Eastern Europe could Germans finally act upon Hitler’s pre-existing exterminationist intentions.’[3] Goldhagen attributes to Germans a general voluntarism and enthusiasm for cruelty in performing their assigned and self-appointed task of exterminating Jews.[4] Goldhagen maintains that all other ways of explaining German anti-Semitic behaviour during the various phases of discriminatory Nazi policy have failed for some reason. The only viable explanation must be, so Goldhagen argues, that Germans were somehow pre-disposed to kill Jews. His claims rests on an analysis of the actions of ordinary Germans, the Police Battalion 101 and their general willingness to execute the exterminationist orders of the Nazi leadership. He then claims that ‘all conventional explanations explicitly or implicitly posit universal human traits’[5] so that explanations must hold true for everyone. Something Goldhagen insistently rejects. This, he exclaims, is ‘obviously and demonstrably false’[6]. He uses a two-pronged, methodologically questionable, strategy however. First, his thesis undergoes a daring generalisation when he claims that the actions of some Germans, those who willingly engage in mass murder, are indicative of the attitudes of all Germans (something that implicitly accepts by the way the Nazi assumption that assimilated German Jews are not Germans!). The second step is even more audacious methodologically. On some grounds he now claims that this attitudes is a trait specific only to Germans, no one else. He writes:
‘The one explanation adequate to these tasks holds that a demonological anti-Semitism, of the virulent racial variety, was the common structure of the perpetrators cognition, and of German society in general.’[7]
In short, Germans killed Jews because they were Germans, and every German would be subscribing to the same eliminationist anti-Semitic attitude. If that is the case, the extent to which Germans were supportive of Nazi anti-Semitic ideology and policy is clear. All Germans potentially supported them, even or especially if this included the physical elimination of the Jewish people. They did so, not because they found Nazi ideology particularly persuasive, or were convinced that this is for the better good of German society, but simply because they were Germans.
This identification of an ethnic group with a particular character trait of course is, strictly speaking, no explanation at all.[8] It is a conjecture that awaits evidence and elaboration. Goldhagen provides neither. His logic, as Josef Joffe writes, is simplistic and defies any reasonable historical method. ‘The killers were ordinary Germans, ergo the ordinary Germans were killers.’[9] Goldhagen’s book therefore lack the rigorous methodological standards of any decent historical work. Methodologically his work offers a circular thesis and is conspicuously devoid of argument and evidence.
If such a simplistic approach fails to provide an answer to the question, we should look further. First, what was Nazi policy towards the Jews?
Historians stress that Nazi policy greatly differed throughout the years of their twelve-year terror reign. Although Hitler had sketched the main outlines of his anti-Semitic attitude even before January 1933 and although Hitler and others were very sympathetic to the sporadic killings, beatings and other reprisals against Jews in German cities, they also feared this would diminish the widespread popular support that the Nazi government enjoyed in the first months after the appointment of Hitler as chancellor. What was needed was to reign in and organise properly the anti-Semitic actions, effectively basing them on a more legal basis and thereby giving them a façade of legitimacy. Behind this problem stood the issue of competency of policy, and a constant state of confusion as to who was responsible for what in the many layers of the new regime. The fact however that Hitler and his inner circle deemed it necessary after coming to power to curtail the actions of the SA and place anti-Semitic boycotts on a more legal basis indicates that, although many Germans agreed with Hitler’s assessment that Jews had a too prominent role in German economic and social life, they did not necessarily support haphazard, extralegal and sporadic anti-Semitic attacks on a daily basis. The Nazi leadership hence adjusted their policy and from now on favoured a slower approach to eliminating Jews from German public life. Graml notes that a process took place that may be termed the ‘disciplining the persecution of Jews’. He writes:
‘Disciplining the persecution of the Jews meant above all a move away from the terror of the stormtroopers to formal anti-Semitic legislation.’[10]
Another significant difference in anti-Semitic policy is equally overlooked by Goldhagen but of great relevance to the question of why Germans supported Nazi policy. With the start of the war in 1939 and the occupation of Poland and other Eastern European countries is became clear that Nazi policy towards Jews distinguished sharply between assimilated German Jews and Sephardic Eastern European Jews. While the former were gradually frozen out of German public life, East European Jews suffered from exterminationist policies almost immediately after the start of the war. The goal of the Nazi leadership with respect to them was immediate and radical obliteration of any Jewish culture and life in this area, something that was eventually extended to the German Jewry as well but only as late as 1943. The difference of treatment is significant since it may indicate that Germans harboured different attitudes to their widely assimilated neighbours and Eastern European Jews. Eventual extermination of German Jews may have been anticipated by the Nazi leadership fairly early on, but the regime lacked the popular support to introduce any radical measures to initiate this process. In fact, historians point out that the progrom of 1938 (Reichskristallnacht) was received with widespread horror and disapproval amongst the German population.[11] The government never engaged in similar boycotts and overt actions against German Jews until the beginning of the war. Graml writes:
‘[to implement] the anti-Semitic message into policy was not simple, other priorities existed, amongst others to solidify their [the Nazi’s] power base. The brutal and open anti-Semitic agitation practiced by the Nazi party failed to make any positive impression at all on the majority of the population.’[12]
That does not mean that German Jews did not suffer a horrifying slow marginalisation in German society which culminated in the visible stigmatisation and discrimination of Jews in all parts of public life. Jews were rapidly becoming second class citizens and this process was visible and obvious to every German. It is this process of gradual marginalisation of Jews in German society that probably received most support from ordinary Germans, and which eventually led to a broader acceptance of their ‘final destination’: physical extermination. The broad catalogue of discriminatory measures against German Jews were in effect removing them from German society and ensured that the final step, their physical obliteration, was accepted as inevitable fate as they were increasingly associated with the guilt for war in Nazi propaganda.[13]
To summarise, the differences in policy vis-à-vis Jews in Germany and the occupied territories after the start of the war also elicited different responses by Germans and hence indicate different levels of support. Kulka notes that Germans probably viewed ‘racial legislation as a permanent solution of social, cultural and biological segregation but conditional upon the preservation of public law and order.’[14] Thus Germans distinguished between Eastern European and German Jews, although this differentiation grew less and less significant as the war progressed and as Nazi ideology managed to portray German Jews as similar to those of the Sephardic Jews.
The second important issue concerns the constituency of supporters of Nazi ideologies and policy. Who were they? Did they all equally endorse anti-Semitic policies? Goldhagen claims that all ordinary Germans were in fact anti-Semites, and bases this claim on his account of the role of ordinary Germans in the mass killings that occurred in Eastern Europe. His conclusion is a swift and methodologically flawed one: ordinary Germans did the killing, so every ordinary German must potentially be a killer. In this logic, all ordinary Germans would be supportive of the most radically eliminationist policy. A closer look at the evidence reveals a different picture however.
Goldhagen was not the first who looked at ‘ordinary Germans’ and emphasised their voluntary and at times sadistic attitude to mass murder. In fact not even the particular focus of his inquiry, the Police Battalions operating in the hinterland of the Eastern front were original. Christopher Browning already published a book on the unparalleled brutality of the Police Battalion 101 and attempts similarly to identify a plausible explanation for the behaviour of the policemen. Although Browning is equally perplexed by the cruelty and viciousness that the policemen displayed throughout the murderous procedures, he rejects any simplistic explanations but instead argues that a whole range of factors may are contributed to the callousness of the men. He stresses in stark contrast to Goldhagen, that at the root of every action lies an individual decision which must be accounted for in individual not generalist terms; an explanatory approach that deeply resonates with the opinion of other scholars.[15] Therefore, dealing with a whole group of murderers, explanations can only sketch some of the most significant factors which may have played a role in stripping the men of their humane and cultural inhibitions. Browning does not shy away from references to the wider German society, but the tone of his propositions is remarkably different to that of Goldhagen. Browning writes:
‘The men of the Reserve Police Battalion 101, like the rest of German society [sic], were immersed in a deluge of racist and anti-Semitic propaganda.’[16]
However, he declines to extrapolate from his evidential base to German society as a whole. Instead he is sympathetic to a complex social explanation of their actions.
‘Insidiously, most of those who did not shoot only re-affirmed the ‘macho’ values of the majority according to which it was a positive quality to be ‘tough’ enough to kill unarmed, non-combatant men, women, and children – and tried not to rupture the bonds of comradeship that constituted their social world.’[17]
According to Browning, the men were motivated by a raft of socio-psychological aspects not by simply being German. This should illustrate that talking about Germans as a collection of individuals who feature that same preternatural anti-Semitic disposition makes little sense. It fails to acknowledge the variance of opinion on Nazi ideology and policy as well as cannot explain why some become inhibited murderers and others do not. Their ethnic identity (being German) does not add up to be a plausible explanation of their allegedly eliminationist anti-Semitism since it cannot take account of the fact the Germans frequently intermarried with Jews since their emancipation in 1867. German had long ceased to be a homogenous ethnic group, tied together by ‘purity of blood lines’ as Nazi ideology suggested.
Now let us proceed to the last issue, the forms in which Germans may have expressed their support for anti-Semitic policies. Again, a methodologically difficulty lies at the heart of this issue. How to distinguish between those who gave their tacit support and those who engaged in demonstrative actions of support? Which form was a more accurate reflection of endorsement for Nazi policies? Historians have pointed out that about half a million Germans were actively involved in the Final Solution, the physical extermination of Jews after 1943. This included administrative work as well as the actual killings. Important sections of the economy and government were directly involved in the killings by providing crucial assistance in terms of resources, material and time to the Holocaust.[18] Interestingly, we do not have to engage in a flight of fancy guess work but have some hard facts that may shed some light on the forms and extent of support for anti-Semitic policies amongst the German population. Nazis as well as the victorious armies conducted extensive surveys that were supposed to demonstrate the extent to which anti-Semitism messages were favourably received by the German population. Kulka sums up the evidence:
‘the post 1945 surveys… give [us] a reliable indication of attitudes amongst Germans: twenty percent were supportive of Nazi policies towards Jews; nineteen percent were generally in favour [of anti-Semitic policies] but said that Hitler had gone too far. Overall the surveys found that identification with the Final Solution was quite widespread among the public in the Third Reich.’[19]
The question however remains whether the silence on the Holocaust was due to indifference or reflected endorsement of physical elimination of Jews. Norbert Frei argues that the extent to which workers had been won over by Nazi policies may give us a reliable clue as to the amount of support. He argues that the Nazi slogan of Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community) somehow captures the essence of anti-Semitism and the gradual acceptance of this idea would in turn show how far Germans had consented to discriminatory measures against Jews. By the mid 1930s, Frei argues, the German workers had virtually be convinced the idea of people’s community was constitutive for German society, a concept that would preclude any participation of Jews in German public life.[20]
This hints at those pockets of resistance to Nazi propaganda which many historians conventionally identify as conservative, catholic milieus and whose resilience to Nazi propaganda can only be explained by social and cultural factors, an explanation that Goldhagen explicitly rejects.
Overall, to what extent were Germans really supportive of anti-Semitic policies? The question evokes a complex answer. Policy changed throughout the regime and hence the degree of support differed. Also, policies varied with regard to different ethnic groups of Jews throughout Europe, and so did the response and support of Germans for these policies. And finally, German people were not a unitary entity. Their responses to Nazi policy was influenced by their educational, cultural, religious and social background, by the different level of sympathy for the wider Nazi ideology, as well as by the way in which they were affected themselves by Nazi policies throughout the regime. Given this wide range of variances, no serious historian can offer only one universal portrait of German support for anti-Semitic measures.
Bibliography
Christopher R. Browning. Ordinary Men. Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. New York: Harper Collins 1992.
Norbert Frei. People’s Community and War: Hitler’s Popular Support. In Hans Mommsen (ed.). The Third Reich between Vision and Reality. New Perspectives on German History 1918-1945. Oxford New York: Berg 2001.
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. Hitler’s Willing Executioners. Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. London: Abacus 1996.
Hermann Graml. Anti-Semitism in the Third Reich. Oxford: Blackwell 1992.
Josef Joffe. ‘The Killers were ordinary Germans, ergo the ordinary Germans were killers’: The Logic, the Language and the Meaning of a Book that conquered Germany. In Robert R. Shandley (ed.). Unwilling Germans? The Goldhagen Debate. London: University of Minnesota Press 1998.
Otto Dov Kulka. The German Population and the Jews: State of Research and New Perspectives. In David Bankier (ed.). Probing the Depths of German Anti-Semitism. German Society and the Persecution of the Jews, 1933-1941. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem 2000.
Hans Mommsen. From Weimar to Auschwitz. Essays in German History. Cambridge: Polity 1991.
P.G.J. Pulzer. The Rise of Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria. New York e.a.: Wiley 1964.
Roger W. Smith. ‘Ordinary Germans’, the Holocaust, and Responsibility: Hitler’s Willing Executioners in Moral Perspective. In Franklyn H. Littell (ed.). Hyping the Holocaust. Scholars answer Goldhagen. Merion Station 1997.
Footnotes
[1] Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. Hitler’s Willing Executioners. Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. London: Abacus 1996.
[2] Goldhagen, Willing Executioners, p.375.
[3] Goldhagen, Willing Executioners, p.375.
[4] Goldhagen, Willing Executioners, p.375.
[5] Goldhagen, Willing Executioners, p.389.
[6] Goldhagen, Willing Executioners, p.389.
[7] Goldhagen, Willing Executioners, p.392.
[8] Cf. Roger W. Smith. ‘Ordinary Germans’, the Holocaust, and Responsibility: Hitler’s Willing Executioners in Moral Perspective. In Franklyn H. Littell (ed.). Hyping the Holocaust. Scholars answer Goldhagen. Merion Station 1997, p.48-49.
[9] Josef Joffe. ‘The Killers were ordinary Germans, ergo the ordinary Germans were killers’: The Logic, the Language and the Meaning of a Book that conquered Germany. In Robert R. Shandley (ed.). Unwilling Germans? The Goldhagen Debate. London: University of Minnesota Press 1998, p.217.
[10] Hermann Graml. Anti-Semitism in the Third Reich. Oxford: Blackwell 1992, p.96.
[11] Hans Mommsen. From Weimar to Auschwitz. Essays in German History. Cambridge: Polity 1991, p.241.
[12] Graml, Anti-Semitism, p.89.
[13] Otto Dov Kulka. The German Population and the Jews: State of Research and New Perspectives. In David Bankier (ed.). Probing the Depths of German Anti-Semitism. German Society and the Persecution of the Jews, 1933-1941. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem 2000, p.274.
[14] Kulka, Population, p.273.
[15] Cf. P.G.J. Pulzer. The Rise of Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria. New York e.a.: Wiley 1964, p.31.
[16] Christopher R. Browning. Ordinary Men. Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. New York: Harper Collins 1992, p.184
[17] Browning, Ordinary Men, p.185.
[18] Mommsen, Weimar, p.225.
[19] Kulka, Population, p.279f.
[20] Norbert Frei. People’s Community and War: Hitler’s Popular Support. In Hans Mommsen (ed.). The Third Reich between Vision and Reality. New Perspectives on German History 1918-1945. Oxford New York: Berg 2001, p.63.
 

To what extent were Nazi anti-Semitic policies popular with the German public in the years 1933-1939?

To begin with, Nazi had gone through a series of anti-Semitic policies, from minor scheme like ghetto, economic isolation to serious scheme such as holocaust, concentration camp etc. Many people think these incidents could not happen without the support of the citizen. So, in this essay, we will analyse how popular are these anti-Semitic policies with the German public. In the period of 1933 to 1939 which directly affect the occurrence of racism. Anti-semitism existed in Europe before the inter-war period, to trace, the Axis countries had done ethic cleaning during the First World War as well. For example, the Jews of Uman were inflicted to pogroms in 1919, being expelled from all different countries in Eastern Europe during the 20th century. With favourable cultural environment, it was not surprising that Nazi would promote anti-Semitism. But in my opinion, to a small extent such policies were popular with the German public.

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Nevertheless, according to the book, Geschichte eines Deutschen: Die Erinnerungen 1914-1933, many Germans also did not understand why they joined Nazi and commit those crimes. They claimed they was not very clear about the concentration camp and ethnic cleansing. The writer was one of the ‘Aryans’ living in Germany since the World War One. He described how the failure of Weimar Republic and also how Hitler had risen up. This book is written in 1940 which is a quite convincing evidence for understanding the German public’s attitude towards anti-Semitic policies. He said, the most important factor leaded Hitler to rise, was the anxiety of the youth. The politics, currency inflation and the defeat of World War One were confusing and the youth did not understand why such situation happened. The failure of the first democratic government in Germany, Weimar Republic, created such favourable environment letting Nazi to take over.
As soon as the German knew the Nazi are gaining more power, yet they underestimate the destroying power of it. They voted opposition to the NSDAP, but after a series of policies the party suggested, such as promises of better pensions and increased employment, the youth and some traditional socialist saw hope from the party. In the end, they accepted Nazi to dominate their parliament. This pathed the start of extreme nationalism era in Germany. However, in the book, he repeatedly confesses he was disguised by the idea of anti-Semitism, but the German had chosen the way of escaping the country or lying to themselves that it would not be as bad as predicted. From this, we can see that the reasons for German youth to support Nazi was mainly due to how the flow was going and confused with their future and existed government. To some extent, the German youth supported Nazi blindly only because the bright future Hitler could bring them, and selective ignore the harm of anti-Semitic policy could bring.
Trace back the history of relationship of Jews and non-Jews in Germany, it hinted why would the German public supported anti-Semitic policies. The Jews were mostly populated in large city, where the others were mostly in extensive regions and suburban area of Germany. They have limited physical connections and activities with each other.[1] Other than unimportant places like tourist places and spas, farming districts became the only business centre the both race would meet. And as Jews were good at doing businesses, this made them dominate in the cattle trade sector. With such impression, when Nazi took place, it was easy to make the German felt what Hitler had described the Jews are quite realistic and fits the stereotype. Yet, this did not become a reason for the German public to hate Jews or support anti-Semitism policies.
There is some part of the public did hate the Jews but remained a small amount. Under the study from NSDAP, the popularity could not sustain an anti-Semitic party. Only the new generation were taught to be very proud of their own race and said by Hermann Rauschning, they were the ‘generations of antisemitism had prepared the Germans to accept Hitler as their redeemer’.[2] Such phenomenon could be counted for success of Nazi propaganda. To explain why did the anti-Semitic policies could still be launched, it is partly because of the terror Nazi created and brainwashing people, especially the youngster, to worship Nazism. For instance, the Sopade reports of the 1930s acknowledged that the opportunities for participation, the comradeship and enthusiasm, also with its anti-intellectualism, generally attracted the support of youngster in Germany.[3] From the above, we can see some clue that anti-Semitism was not very popular among the German public.
As mentioned in the introduction, there was a favourable cultural environment in the Eastern and Central Europe, which is the Herren-mensch. Ian Kershaw, an English historian and author who focus on 20th century Germany’s social history, had written that, German had its unique culture of military culture, Herren-mensch, which could be seen as characteristic of them.[4] Such culture had dominant the central and eastern Europe, which makes Nazism easily influenced Germany. Also, in Hitler’s Willing Executioners, it stated that ‘the unique and longstanding German desire to eliminate the Jews could be seen as a peculiarity of German character’[5]. Besides, Emil Ludwig, a German-Swiss author, stated that German are very obsessed with their military uniform. That is one of the reasons why the public supported Hitler as he relaunched the military and uniform system. This made them felt like they were back into their golden era.
Moreover, with their tradition, they were quite passive and leave the situation as it is. It is rare for them to have any revolution or overthrown the king in their history. This had led to the situation stated above, which is they either accepted how Hitler take over or just escape from the country instead of fighting against. With such blind, ignorant culture, they chose to disregard how anti-Semitic policies affect the Jews and other minorities. From this we can see, this lead to the public to obey with what Hitler had proposed, including the anti-Semitic policies. And with their trust in ‘better race’, the public was not resist to hierarchy concept, yet they might not imagine it will be an ethic cleaning. From the above, we can see the long-existed culture got people into the illusion of the German public were supporting the policies, but the truth is they did not do it because of pure belief in anti-Semitism.
Besides, the propaganda and controlled media have a very important role in making the German public to support anti-Semitic policies. It was difficult for historian to measure how effective Hitler’s propaganda was as people will be punished having opposite views. Hitler understands how powerful and vital propaganda is to control the public and unify their opinion and action. Not only with the above measurement, Hitler also established the Secret Police to learn about the people mood towards the reports. According to David Welch, a historian specialising in twentieth-century propaganda, terror and coercion were infiltrated in the society. Moreover, the Völkisch ideology was vital to the propaganda of building Third Reich. It promoted the need for racial purity and a hatred of enemies especially towards Jews and Bolsheviks.[6] Hitler claimed he is the first nation worker, which he had been a student, construction worker and an artist, to gain the working class and youth’s trust and intimacy. This proved how Nazi took anti-Semitism as their main objective in building Third Reich.
To be exact, the effectiveness of propaganda could be seen on the second wave of anti-Semitic policies, which were the implement of Boycott of Jewish businesses in 1933, Nuremberg Laws in 1935, and the number of intimidation from SA, SS and HJ had reached its peak. Such campaigns were not attractive to the German public at first, as this is not related to them and no reason for them to against Jews. This is when the Nazi had decided to effectively make use of propaganda and the controlled media. Many of the Jewish journalist and editors were dismissed in the year of 1933. While the public was focused on the unsatisfying socio-economic condition, Nazi wanted the public to against Jews. Hitler made speeches and writing inciting articles on newspaper to divert the public’s anger and frustration into Jews. However, this campaign also failed. There were no any specific social group mobilised because of the propaganda.
Also, the Nazi had attempted to boycott Jewish business, which is a total fail as well. Although the owners had been terrorised, customers being harassed, and other physicals attack to the Jews, the German public did not really participate into these movements. Newspaper, and poster were posted to tell the public to avoid trading or having business with Jews, yet the NSDAP found out that large number of German public were still going to Jewish shop by 1935. That included workers, wealthy people in bourgeoisie, even Beamte and Party Members, and rural population.[7] With a better choice and cheaper in price, it attracted many people as they are dealing with poverty and tight budget to feed the family. Not only Hitler did not successfully make the Jewish bourgeoise bankrupt, Jewish department store and shops were overwhelmed with people and made better money after the boycott launched. From this, it proved that even the propaganda was overwhelming, the German public were not brainwashed. So, the anti-Semitic policies were not popular with the German public.
After the boycott, as the officer had pointed out that they have difficulty to persuade German rural population to disconnect with the Jews. Maybe a problem due to the lack of education and culture backgrounds, they have little understanding of racism and ‘problems’ bought by Jews. The tourist areas were filled with racial propaganda as well, yet the ‘Aryans’ still make dealing with Jews. Even the worker would not ask if their owner whether they are Jews or ‘Aryans’ as what they care is to maintain their life and family. This proved that economic status was much important than other to the German public at 1935. But this did not maintain long, Jews businesses were slowly getting to the down slope as the Church did not oppose to any anti-Semitic policies, and German undertakers gradually stopped dealing with the Jews. And they either moved out of the country or other big cities, and continue threaten, terrorised, harassed.
Among the year of 1937-1939, Nazi had taken the terrorism in the country to its peak. German public who were disgusted with the anti-Semitic policies would be taken into prison. For example, there was a Jews being accused of ‘Rassenschande’ and humiliated in public; a man expressed its disapproval of Nazi slogan and was arrested. Under the Nuremberg Law, the marriage and sexual interaction of ‘Aryans’ and Jews were limited or forbidden, and not all the German public followed, it resulted in the public harassment of being ‘Rassenschander’. Although under numerous report, there are quite a lot of German indigitated about the anti-Semitic policies, reactions were divided surprisingly. People were apathetic and neutralized towards such policies. They felt pathetic to the working-class Jews as they were being punished even though they were not the one who should be blamed for ‘monopolize’ businesses in Germany. From the above, we can see German public are slightly transforming in terms of the attitude towards Jews, but they were not supporting the Nazi policies. Therefore, anti-Semitic policies were only popular to a small extent.
Still it was impossible to implement massive holocaust and different anti-Semitic policies without public support. Before the breakout of World War Two, people in Germany are divided into two types, anti-Semitist or ‘decent’ citizens. People started to lose their neutrality under the propaganda, socio-economic condition and terrorism. They felt that Hitler was correct about in their struggles, which the Jews were the people who ruined their economy. Moreover, Hitler rose the employment rate by giving jobs of building concentration camps and extra infrastructure (fences for ghetto). All these policies made the German believed Nazi were correct. However, even the founder of Swiss NSDAP, Wihelm Gustloff, was killed by a Jewish student. But the German public was quiet, showing little interest in revenge. It was hard to determine if it is true that the German were in deep sadness or the support of anti-Semitic policies were just illusion made by the Nazi.
Although there were not much resources to directly reflect the public attitude towards anti-Semitic policies, from some indirect resources it can clearly showed that most of the German public had no racism towards the Jews at first, but with the high-pressure policies of Nazi people were terrified to make connection with the Jews at the end. Yet, the main supporter of anti-Semitic policies were mostly party members, SA, SS, and churches, which they make influence or intimate people to agree with anti-Semitic policies. In the end, German public were brainwashed under Hitler campaigns, such as Jews were allowed to live here but correct to deprive Jews of their civil rights and being separated.[8] Thus, the public could not voice their opposition but only obey to the Nazi or they might get jailed. It is not their original will to being racist to the Jews. Therefore, to a small extent, Nazi anti-Semitic policies were popular with the German public in the years 1933-1939.
Bibliography

David Welch, ‘Manufacturing a Consensus: Nazi Propaganda and the Building of a ‘National Community’’, Contemporary European History, Vol. 2, No. 1, (1993), pp. 1-15.
Frank Bajohr, ‘The “Folk Community” and the Persecution of the Jews: German Society under National Socialist Dictatorship, 1933–1945’, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol. 20, Issue 2, (2006), pp.183-206.
Gellately, Robert [review], ‘David Bankier, The Germans and the Final Solution: Public Opinion under Nazism’, The American Historical Review, Vol. 98, No. 4, (1993), pp. 1279-1280.
Hans Renders, Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany, American Journalism, Vol. 18, Issue 4, (2001), pp.89-91.
Ian Kershaw, ‘Hitler and the Uniqueness of Nazism’, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 39, Issue 2, (2004), pp. 239-254.
Ian Kershaw, ‘The Persecution of the Jews and German Popular Opinion in the Third Reich’, The Leo Baeck Institute Year Book, Vol. 26, Issue 1, (1981), pp. 261–289.
Michael H. Kater, ‘Every day Antisemitism in prewar Nazi Germany- the Popular Bases’, Yad Vashem Studies XVI, (Jerusalem, 1984), pp. 129-159.
Oded Heilbronner, ‘German or Nazi Antisemitism?’, in Stone D. (eds), The Historiography of the Holocaust, pp. 9-23.
Sebastian Haffner, Defying Hitler: A Memoir, (W&N, 2003).
Victoria Barnett, For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler, (Oxford University Press, 1992).

[1] Esra Bennathan, ‘Die demographische und wirtschaftliche Struktur der Juden’, in Entsch.eidungsjahr, (1932).
[2] Hermann Rauschning, Hitler Speaks, (London, 1939), pp. 233-234.
[3]  Cf. Sopade-Berichte, Vol. 1 (1934), pp.117-18; Vol. 2 (1935), pp.1374-6; Vol. 5 (1938), p.27.
[4] A.J.P. Taylor, The Course of German History, (London, 1945), p.260.
[5] Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, (New York, 1996).
[6] David Welch, ‘Manufacturing a Consensus: Nazi Propaganda and the Building of a ‘National Community’’, p.3.
[7] Ian Kershaw, ‘The Persecution of the Jews and German Popular Opinion in the Third Reich’, p.266.
[8] Ian Kershaw, ‘The Persecution of the Jews and German Popular Opinion in the Third Reich’, p.274.
 

German Expressionism: A Crystalline Utopian Society

“Today there is no art. The various disrupted tendencies can find their way back to a single unity only under the wings of a new architecture…Everything will be one thing: architecture”. Bruno Taut, A Programme for Architecture

This was the ideology of Bruno Taut, a German Expressionist architect who pushed the idea of a utopian architecture; an architecture that would bring together all of the arts in a time of turmoil.  At the beginning of the 20th century, artists, writers and creative professionals started to express themselves through their work, with a tendency towards pieces that were “escapist, visionary, or festive.”[1] This influenced architecture and led to designs that reflected personal experiences. Architecture and art were to redeem its spiritual and social role from the chaos of the First World War. Many architects had fought in the war and their experiences, combined with the political struggle and social upheaval in Germany, resulted in a utopian outlook.[2] This can be seen in all creative fields such as Franz Marc’s Dreaming Horses, Hans Poelzig’s film set for Golem and Paul Scheerbert’s novel Lesabéndio. Scheerbert was described by Bruno Taut as “the only poet in architecture,”[3] as he understood the impact of the ideas in artwork and architecture in shaping Germany. Scheerbert believed the artist had the ability to overcome these social and national differences as he stated that: “an artist [is] an imitator of Christ and his passions, the artist sacrifices himself for the sake of the world.”[4]

Dreaming Horses by Franz Marc (1913)

Film set for Golem Hans Poelzig (1914)

Expressionist architecture has too much diversity to allow it to be categorized under a unified aesthetic. Expressionists were torn between a “Utopian view of modern technology and a Romantic nostalgia for Volk.”[5] Architects took inspiration from artists and began to develop new ideas that were highly emotive. This led to most of the expressionist projects being executed in the most favourable conditions, as many buildings did not make it past sketches.[6] Taut understood the need for this imaginary architecture, and speculated ideas for “a new age of social harmony.”[7] He understood the need for a new cultural structure, a utopian architecture that would lead to a civilized society. Taut also understood the need for Crystalline architecture and the importance of new materials in forming this new utopian realm.

Principles of Architecture by Hans Scharoun (1919) a post-war crystalline architectural concept

The Crown City (1918) elevation showing the rising sun reigning over the new utopian city/realm.

The idea of creating a utopian city was an attempt to reply to the Great War and the turmoil of the German Reich by creating a better social structure for Germany. Taut expressed his frustration for the social circumstances through the idea of bringing together architecture and art by “capturing the essence of the medieval city in modern terms”[8] to discover the source of origin in German architecture: the Volk. This allowed Taut to find a cultural connection with the inner spirit, internal thoughts and the realm.[9] Taut’s project Die Stadtkrone (The City Crown) 1918, began to explore these ideas through urban planning concepts that promoted an agrarian way of life that would “transform old Europe’s Habits of thought and feeling.”[10] The city is centred around a “city crown,” which is a large crystalline structure that reigns above the site as a pure architecture. The crystal house reigns over the entire city like a “sparkling diamond”[11] that would become the “carrier of cosmic feelings, a religiousness”[12] and “like a sea of colour, the municipality spreads itself around the crown, as a good sign of fortune.”[13] Taut described himself as “a solid cliff in a restless sea,”[14] linking himself to a Godly figure that had the ability to recreate the world in at a time of chaos. He believed that his work would “convince us that the early dawn of a new culture is already emerging on the horizon,”[15] and this can be directly seen in the elevation of Die Stradtkrone with the sun rising behind the crystalline house that shimmers over the city spreading “good fortune of a new life.”[16] Motivated by his disgust of the social circumstances, Taut’s designs projected a complete reconstruction of the world which was an attempt to discover the architect’s ability to alter life and nature, which can be further seen in his obsession of crystalline forms.

The Crown City begins to define Taut’s idea of a utopian city using crystalline structures.

Crystalline architecture had a major influence in expressionist architecture which was formed by the use of new materials of glass, steel and concrete. These new materials allowed for architects to express their ideas beyond the classical ideal of harmony, assisting architects in their aspirations of a new heralding of the arts, with more abstract built forms and ideas.[17] These materials allowed for a new fluidity as walls no longer had to be vertical. Steel allowed for concrete to be used in a thin articulation and glass opened up structures to the environment, as architects believed that “glass architecture will bring a new culture.”[18] Glass architecture specifically influenced the work of Bruno Taut which allowed for him to experiment with crystalline forms. The collaboration of Taut and Scheerbart attempted to address the problems of German society through glass architecture. Scheerbart wrote about the influence of glass in his manifesto: Glass Architecture stating that “culture is in a sense of the product of architecture”[19] and that “sunlight and the light of the moon and stars must be let into as many rooms as possible.”[20] Learning from this, Taut designed his 1914 Glass Pavilion at the Werkbund exhibition. This pavilion was a utopian realm of spiritual regeneration through architectural design that played with light, colour and spiritual qualities. The building was described to be similar to a Kaleidoscopic image projection, as entering this structure gave the feeling of entering another world.[21] There were inscriptions by Scheerbart about the wonders of glass architecture such “coloured glass destroys hatred”[22] and “building in brick only does us harm.”[23] Taut’s ideas of crystalline architecture were further explored in his Alpine Architecture. He saw the mountains as a location for architectural transcendence, which transformed the surface of the earth, as in Scheerbart’s utopian novel Lesabéndio that describes life on an asteroid.[24] Taut imagined these crystal forms as “architecture that would dominate the world, and transform mountains into buildings existing for the beauty alone and virtually ceasing to serve any useful purpose.”[25]  In Taut’s Alpine Architecture, especially in Firns in Ice and Snow, he is returning to the idea of medievalism, where architecture represented all of the arts in these glass superstructures located in the European Alps. These structures would be “the crystal needles of the mountaintops”[26] forming “cliff cathedrals”[27] that are implicitly defined by Taut as the absolute limit of architecture.

Glass Pavilion by Taut (1914)- Elevation and Plan: a prismatic glass dome constructed from concrete and glass.

Inside the Glass Pavilion showing the use of glass and the transcendental nature of the room similar to a Kaleidoscope. (note: the glass was coloured)

Through Crystalline architecture and Utopian urban designs, Taut was able to generate ideas of an architecture that would be able to bring the union of paintings, sculptures, and architecture, resulting in a society that could overcome national and social difference. Taut was able to influence many artist and architects through his work and collaborative groups such as the Glass Chain, which led to the development of Expressionism in Germany. In my opinion, Taut’s ideas of architecture influenced a society that was in extreme turmoil giving hope to a country that had just lost the war. Furthermore, his belief in the importance of glass allowing light to enter a building is something that is at the forefront of modern architecture and will always be important. As stated by Taut: “Hurray for the transparent, the clear! Hurray for purity! Hurray for the everlasting architecture!”[28]

Firns in Ice and Snow by Taut- a coloured glass city located high in the alps silhouetted by the rising sun

Bibliography:

Books:

Beil, Ralf, Dillmann, Claudia (2011). The Total Artwork in Expressionism : Art, Film, Literature, Theatre, Dance, and Architecture, 1905-25. Ostfildern, Germany : Hatje Cantz

Colquhoun, Alan (2002). Ch ‘Expressionism and Futurism.’ in Modern Architecture. Oxford; New York : Oxford University Press.

Conrads, Ulrich, (1970). ‘Bruno Taut: Down with Seriousism! (1920)’, in Programs and manifestoes on 20th-century architecture. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Conrads, Ulrich, (1970). ‘Bruno Taut: Fruhlicht (Daybreak) (1921),’ in Programs and manifestoes on 20th-century architecture. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press,

Conrads, Ulrich, (1970).  ‘Erich Mendelsohn: The Problem of a New Architecture (1919)’, ‘in Programs and manifestoes on 20th-century architecture. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Conrads, Ulrich, (1970). ‘Paul Scheerbart: Glass architecture (1914)’, in Programs and manifestoes on 20th-century architecture. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Frampton, Kenneth (2007), Part II. ‘A Critical History 1836-1967: The Glass Chain: European architectural Expressionism 1910-25’ in Modern Architecture: A Critical History. London: Thames and Hudson, revised and enlarged edition.

Kostof, Spiro (1995), Ch 26. ‘The Trials of Modernism’ in A History of Architecture: Settings and Rituals, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kruft, Hanno-Walter (1984), Ch 25 ‘Germany and its Neighbours 1890s-1945’ in A History of Architectural Theory from Vitruvius to the Present, translated by Ronald Taylor et al, New York: Zwemmer and Princeton Architectural Press, pp 364-392

Mallgrave, H.F. (Ed) (2006). Part III: D. German Expressionism and the Bauhaus – ‘Bruno Taut, letter announcing the “Crystal Chain”(1919) in Architectural Theory Vol II, Malden Mass.: Blackwell, pp 202-203.

Pehnt, Wolfgang (1985). Expressionist architecture in drawings. London: Thames and Hudson

Schirren, Matthias (2004). Bruno Taut, Alpine architektur: Munchen; Lakewood, N.J.: Prestel Publishing

Taut, Bruno (2015). ‘The City Crown by Bruno Taut’. Ashgate Publishing Limited

Internet:

Lecture:

Hamann, Conrad. 2018. “Expressionism in the Netherlands, Austria and Germany, from late-Art Nouveau.” Lecture. RMIT

[1]Kostof, Spiro (1995), Ch 26. ‘The Trials of Modernism’ in A History of Architecture: Settings and   Rituals, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 688.

[2] Schirren, Matthias (2004). Bruno Taut, Alpine Architektur: Munchen; Lakewood, N.J. : Prestel Publishing, 6.

[4] Conrads, ‘Paul Scheerbart: Glass Architecture’, 14.

[5] Colquhoun, Alan (2002). Ch ‘Expressionism and futurism.’ in Modern Architecture. Oxford; New York : Oxford University Press, 87.

[6] Pehnt, Wolfgang (1985). ‘Expressionist Architecture in Drawings’. London : Thames and Hudson, 6.

[7] Colquhoun, ‘Expressionism and Futurism’, 91.

[8] Colquhoun, ‘Expressionism and Futurism’, 91.

[9] Hamann, Conrad. 2018. “Expressionism in the Netherlands, Austria and Germany, from late-Art Nouveau.” Lecture. RMIT.

[10] Conrads, ‘Paul Scheerbart: Glass Architecture’, 32.

[11] Colquhoun, ‘Expressionism and Futurism’, 91.

[12] Taut, Bruno (2015). ‘The City Crown by Bruno Taut’. Ashgate Publishing Limited, 67.

[13] Taut, ‘The City Crown by Bruno Taut’, 67

[14] Pehnt, ‘Expressionist Architecture in Drawings’, 11.

[15]Pehnt, ‘Expressionist Architecture in Drawings’,8.

[16] Taut, ‘The City Crown by Bruno Taut’, 67.

[17]Colquhoun, ‘Expressionism and Futurism’,,89.

[18] Kostof, ‘Trials of modernism’, 690.

[19] Conrads, ‘Paul Scheerbart: Glass Architecture’, 32.

[20] Conrads, ‘Paul Scheerbart: Glass Architecture’, 32.

[21] Miller, Tyrus. 2017. “Expressionist Utopia: Bruno Taut, Glass Architecture, and the Dissolution of Cities.” Accessed September 17 2018., 16.

[22]Wikipedia. 2018. “Expressionist Architecture.” Accessed September 17 2018

[23] Wikipedia. 2018. “Expressionist Architecture.” Accessed September 17 2018

[24] Miller, ‘Expressionist Utopia: Bruno Taut, Glass Architecture, and the Dissolution of Cities.’, 16.

[25] Kruft, Hanno-Walter (1984), Ch 25 ‘Germany and its Neighbours 1890s-1945’ in A History of Architectural Theory from Vitruvius to the Present, translated by Ronald Taylor et al, New York: Zwemmer and Princeton Architectural Press, 373.

[26] Pehnt, ‘Expressionist Architecture in Drawings’, 7.

[27] Pehnt, ‘Expressionist Architecture in Drawings’, 7.

[28]Conrads, Ulrich, (1970). ‘Bruno Taut: Down with Seriousism! (1920)’, in Programs and manifestoes on 20th-century architecture. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press,1.

 

Comparison of Anglo Saxon and German Capitalism Models

After the collapse of the Soviet regime the question of types and models of capitalism is widely considered by many economists. All countries have their own approaches and characteristics of the market economy. There are distinguished several models of capitalism on the basis of which the economic policy of the modern states is conducted. This paper focuses on two most common and typical models of capitalism used in modern conditions: Anglo-Saxon and German models. This paper reviews and analyzes two models of capitalism in the sphere of economic relations: corporate governance, financial system, inter-firm relations and the competitive environment, labor relations and employment, workers’ training and education, social policy and also innovations.

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Typologies of Capitalism: Comparison of Anglo-Saxon and German Models
In modern world economic systems of developed countries, which are called “capitalist” or “market”, are not the same and differ politically, socially, and economically. In economic science the question often arises on how many models of capitalism there are? The national economy of any state is unique, but there are general principles of economic organization that help to single out several models. Moreover, these models are called differently by various authors, and their number varies from two to five. But the most studied and recognized are the two models of capitalism: Anglo-Saxon and German. Each of these models of capitalism differs by the types of economic agents, organizational design and approaches to solve socio-economic problems.
The comparison of these models involves studying the model of institutional decisions. How are the relationships between the employee and the employer regulated? What are the main sources for investment of the firms? Who pays for the employee’s skill trainings and their further improvement? Within the limits of economic processes characteristic of economy of any country there are recognized some basic spheres of economic relations. Their institutionalized registration distinguishes one type of capitalism from the other. This paper analyzes two models of capitalism – Anglo-Saxon and German ones, and the main line of comparison here is the scope of economic relations: corporate governance, financial system, inter-firm relations and the competitive environment, labor relations and employment, workers’ training and the system of trainings, social policy as well as innovation.
The emergence of the different types and models of capitalism became particularly acute after the collapse of the Soviet regime. The first models of capitalism have been presented in the book of the French economist Michel Albert Capitalism Versus Capitalism and later on the typology of capitalism has been more thoroughly explored and substantiated in the book of Peter Hall and David Soskice Varieties of Capitalism. According to Hall and Soskice (2001) there are two types of market economy – liberal and coordinated. Liberal economic is inherent in the American model of capitalism, and the coordinated one is in the German model. Hall and Soskice treat in detail each of the two models in the framework of economic agents-firms, they conduct a comparative analysis of American and German companies and consider the main areas of their business. In modern economic science there is a broad classification of models of capitalism on certain grounds. Thus, for example, after M. Albert certain researchers assigned the names of countries to some economic models depending on what country this model is more characteristic of. Therefore there appeared such terms as “Anglo-Saxon”, “Japanese”, “American”, and “Rhine” models of capitalism. Hall and Soskice single out a special group of the countries – France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Turkey which they define as “the Mediterranean” type of capitalism: “…marked by a large agrarian sector and recent histories of extensive state intervention that have left them with specific kinds of capacities for non-market coordination in the sphere of corporate finance but more liberal arrangements in the sphere of labor relations” (Hall & Soskice, 2001, p.21). M. Orru, N.W. Biggart and G. Hamilton (1997) in the book The Economic Organization of East Asian Capitalism consider features of economic systems of the Asian countries and enter the term “Asian capitalism”. According to the principle of dominance of economic ideology there is distinguished liberal and non-liberal capitalism, the latter one was widely considered at the example of Germany and Japan case in the book of W. Streeck and K. Yamamura The Origins of Non-liberal Capitalism. Germany and Japan in Comparison. In terms of economic ideologies Boyer R. underlines the term statism, which belongs to the economies of such countries as France and Italy and is characterized by a large government role played in the economy of the state (Boyer R., 1997). From a position of coordination of economic activities there is distinguished coordinated and uncoordinated market economy. As Soskice noted (1999) in coordinated market economy there is an interaction between economic agents and the state in the course of regulation, but the uncoordinated market economy is characterized by self-regulation of the market. In frameworks of coordinated market economy Hall and Soskice (2001) distinguish industry-based coordination in Germany and group-based coordination in Japan and South Korea (p. 34). The questions of standardization, technology, and labor relations in Germany are solved by business associations and trade unions, which according to Hall and Soskice (2001), “…are organized primarily along sectoral lines…by contrast, the business networks of most importance in Japan are built on keiretsu, families of companies with dense interconnections cutting across sectors…”( p. 34). Thus, in Japan and South Korea economic questions are solved within business – groups.
Corporate governance is carried out by managers and employees of the company in order to achieve effective operation of the company and ensure their own interests. Corporate governance in the Anglo-Saxon model is conducted in the interests of shareholders. It aims at maximizing the profits of the company. In the Anglo-Saxon model the structure of ownership is greatly diversified and blurred; the small shareholders dominate. A large proportion of shares ownership belongs to individuals. In the German model the interests of not only shareholders but also other interested groups are taken into account, i.e. managers, employees of the firm, the state, and also business partners who the firm cooperates with. If in the Anglo-Saxon model the governance is in a dispersed ownership, i.e. the owners of shares are not only small shareholders, but also institutional investors – insurance, retirement, investment and other funds, then in Germany owners of shares are the major shareholders who are directly involved in the management of a company (Hall & Soskice, 2001). “Thus the types of investors generally taking smaller share-holdings account for 80 per cent of shareholdings in Britain” – indicate Hall and Soskice (2001, p. 342). Small shareholders are interested primarily in maximizing their own dividends, which does not always correspond to the needs of the company for successful development. If we compare the activities of American companies that develop business which primarily take into account the interests of shareholders, the companies in Germany operate on the basis of social responsibility for the employees which is the hallmark of the German model of capitalism.
The financial system is a set of institutions and plays a major role in financing businesses. Financial institutions include banks and stock markets, which act as intermediaries in the transformation of monetary assets in the investment. In German model the financial system is focused mainly on banks, in Anglo-Saxon model it is focused on the share markets. Even during the 1980s the concept of “one firm – one bank” relationship existed in Germany (Allen, 1994, p.11). So as Vitols S. (2001) informs the share of the banking system in total financial assets of the economy is 60-70% in Japan and Germany, while in the U.S. it is less than 25% ( p.173). Unlike American companies, in German companies the main sources of financing are long-term bank loans. In German model, as claims Allen (1994), “the financial system – has been dominated for years by a small number of huge universal banks (Deutsche, Dresdner, and Commerz are the largest) – universal because they perform all financial functions…” (p.11) In the Anglo-Saxon model the enterprises depend more financially on securities markets, “where dispersed investors depend on publicly available information to value the company. This applies both to bonds, share issues, and bank lending” – explain Hall and Soskice (2001, p.28). The stock market is more liquid than the market of promissory notes. The efforts of managers are mostly focused on increasing the market value of shares of the company as the main criterion for success of the company is the growth rate of shares. In the Anglo-Saxon countries the stock market, as a rule, is the market of small shares that affects the volume of trade in equity securities and their liquidity. The main disadvantage of targeting the stock markets is that the stock markets are not always able to objectively evaluate the financial condition of the firm – the problem of asymmetric information.
The system of industrial (labor) relations includes institutions that are involved in hiring employees and the use of labor. The German model is characterized by the big role of trade unions played in regulation of industrial relations. The collective negotiations at branch and national levels are conducted between trade unions and employers. Thus, unions act as the representatives of the working class and respect their interests. One of the most important tasks in the sphere of labor and social relations for a social market economy is to avoid the process of turning a person, as a factor of production in the economy, into a tool. It is necessary to observe and improve the personal non-property and moral rights in the process of economic activities. Therefore, the order of labor and social relations requires the protection and care of health, human dignity and the right to self-realization. All above mentioned is governed by the norms of social protection. For example, there are rules concerning assurance with regard to working time and space, safety, protection from hazards, etc. There are two parallel systems that regulate labor relations between workers and employers in Germany. According to Allen (1994, p.7), these are institutionalized and legally enshrined systems that allow employees to participate in the ownership and management of enterprises, and also the system of strategic “codetermination”, which means representation of employees in the supervisory board. These systems apply to all employees, regardless of their belonging to trade unions, and workers’ representation on the board can reach half of its composition. In Germany institutes regulating labor relations are represented by such organizations as Federal Association of German Industry, Federal Association of German Employers, and the Chamber of Commerce (Allen, 1994). The body representing the interests of hired workers – work council – is also established. The Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism is characterized by flexible labor markets and the provision of an individual employee’s salary, at the same time there is a high differentiation between the wages of employees and senior staff – managers of the company. As Hall and Soskice explain (2001):
In the industrial relations arena, firms in liberal market economies generally rely heavily on the market relationship between individual worker and employer to organize relations with their labor force. Top management normally has unilateral control over the firm, including substantial freedom to hire and fire (p. 29).
Thus, unlike the German model the Anglo-Saxon one is characterized by the decentralization of labor relations, short-time hiring of the employees and weak acting of trade unions and work councils.
Forms of inter-firm relations determine the nature of competition in the market. The German model known for its non-liberal views on the economy is characterized by closer inter-firm linkages, long-term cooperation, and coordinated interaction. In Germany and other European countries business self-regulation function is carried out by professional associations, while in countries with liberal capitalism the inter-company relations, as Hall and Soskice argue (2001) “are based, for the most part, on standard market relationship and enforceable formal contracts” (p. 30). In Germany banks are involved in the ownership and management of enterprises, and in the United States it is prohibited by law. The Anglo-Saxon model is the model of liberal capitalism, which treats businesses and companies as independent, autonomous economic agents characterized by highly competitive relationship in the market. U.S. firms carry out one-time deals, avoiding long-term commitments. Therefore, the labor market is more flexible in the conditions of changing market, and is also characterized by larger turnover of staff.
With the emergence of modern capitalism, with the development of market relations the role of social protection increases and new institutions appear that provide social protection of the citizens. Polanyi argued “that social protection rescues the market from itself by preventing market failures” (as cited in Hall & Soskice, 2001, p. 145). In the XX century in the modern market economies there takes place the establishment of the welfare state, which represents a set of institutions whose primary purpose is to provide social protection of population through the redistribution of income. The Danish sociologist Gosta Esping-Andersen has developed a general typology of models of the welfare state; along with liberal and conservative models he also highlights the social-democratic one. According to him in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands there is a social-democratic model characterized by high costs from the state, redistribution of the incomes to the poor by maintaining a strong fiscal policies to equalize incomes of population (Esping-Andersen, 1990). Attitude to social protection radically differs in two models of capitalism: Anglo-Saxon and German. In the Anglo-Saxon model the degree of social protection is at the minimum level, contemporary liberals see the violation of the laws of the market and individual freedom in the excessive social protection. Therefore, the state’s role played in the social protection of citizens is minimal, and is directed only towards the neediest. And as a consequence the liberal countries have a high level of social stratification of the population. Achieving wealth is generally provided by maintaining an efficient economy in the country and the development of systems of private insurance. The German model is a model with a socially oriented market economy. Unlike the Anglo-Saxon model the special attention is paid to the social protection, since it is a basic prerequisite for effective economic policy and mechanism for investment in human capital. Such countries as Germany, Austria, France, Italy and others are characterized by a large differentiation in rendering social assistance, for example, depending on seniority, or the industry which the employee is engaged in (Esping-Andersen, 1990). The social market economy in the German case has demonstrated its effectiveness and we can say with certainty that it provides a more technical, civilized, economic and social progress than any other less free and socially-oriented economic structures.
The system of education and training is an important element in the economic sphere and is responsible for training of workers and professionals. As the system of educational institutions, it provides the economy with the necessary skill formation. In the German model of capitalism, the education system is characterized by strong vocational training of staff and their acquiring all necessary knowledge and skills within the firm. The vocational training sphere also includes standardization and certification of skills within branches. According to Hall and Soskice (2001) “Germany relies on industry-wide employer associations and trade unions to supervise a publicly subsidized training system” (p. 25). In the Anglo-Saxon model the education system has formal character when it is possible to receive general professional skills (Hall & Soskice, 2001). They are available to everybody and are well represented in the labor market characterized by high turnover of labor. Therefore, in liberal countries, employers are not interested in investing in their employees so that they could obtain special education. This is a personal initiative of the employee interested in his/her professional growth and further promotion. Thus, unlike the German model which is characterized by a restricted vocational training of the employees, by the high proportion of investment by firms and enterprises, the Anglo-Saxon model is characterized by getting generic skills through formal education. Investments into educational preparation of the worker are made by personal investments of the individual.
Organization of the innovation process plays an important role in the economic policy of modern states. Within Anglo-Saxon model the management system is focused on radical innovations which entail high risks. In such fast-growing and high-tech industries such as corporate finance, telecommunications, advertising, entertainment, biotechnology, semiconductors, computer soft and others it is characteristic to use radical innovations, which are implemented in countries with liberal economies (Hall & Soskice. 2001). Realization of business ideas in innovative process is carried out at the expense of venture financing. It seems to be one of the reasons that can explain a large proportion of venture capitalists in these countries. The German model is characterized by orientation to the long-term projects, which results in the development and application of improving innovations. At the same time the introduction of improving innovations is effective in manufacturing technology, equipment and long-term use goods. In the process of realization of improving innovations the workers and employees of the enterprises are also involved along with other interested parties.
Thus, on the basis of the comparative analysis mentioned above it is possible to list distinctive features in the process of management between the German and Anglo-Saxon models of capitalism. The Anglo-Saxon model is primarily a public company with lots of small shareholders, where the corporate governance is conducted in the interests of minority shareholders in a dispersed ownership. This model is characterized by risk-taking decisions, less business dependency on the state, open economic borders, great significance of the stock market in financing businesses. At the same time the financing depends on market conjuncture. Stand-alone companies are focused on one-off transactions in inter-firm relations. Other features are the maintenance of intense competition and the application of antitrust actions governed by the law. In sphere of industry relations there is a high level of decentralization, short-term hiring, and flexible labor markets. Vocational training of workers is carried out at the level of general knowledge and skills obtained within the limits of formal education. The further specialization of employees depends on the individuals themselves and their possibilities to invest in their own education. The basic difference is the minimum role of the state played in social protection, and also a low level of activity of the basic institutes of the welfare-state. The innovative and scientific process is carried out by radical methods and is concentrated basically in highly developing and hi-tech branches.
The German model is a non-liberal, coordinated and socially oriented model of capitalism. Within the firm the corporate governance is carried out both in interests of shareholders, and interested groups – hired workers, business partners, local communities, the state, etc. In financing the enterprises the main role is played by the banks, meanwhile the central bank has the full autonomy. In the sphere of inter-firm relations business – associations and business networks play the important role in definition of the character of the competitive environment.
German firms differ by high level of cooperation. The characteristic feature is the regulation of labor relations by the developed institutes, in particular trade unions, and social norms. The big role is assigned to vocational training of employees. The enterprises are interested in financing of education and the further specialization within the limits of professional preparation of the employees. Innovative process is focused on improvement of available technologies. The German model differs by the socially focused economy, strong social policy, developed systems of social protection of citizens and high level of redistribution of incomes.
 

How Aware Were German Citizens of the Holocaust

Plan of Investigation
This investigation assesses the extent of how much the average German knew of the Holocaust during WWII. In order to evaluate this, the investigation examines the situation of Germany at this point in time. First, the cause and effect of the force of extreme anti-Semitism on the people by Hitler will be explored. Also, this investigation will delve into the extensive spread of knowledge between the groups of people that were aware of the genocide with the others that did not. Lastly, the seemingly enormous task of the Final Solution will be considered, as well as challenged in a manner that would suggest awareness in the general German population. These three major factors are the primary focus of this investigation; they will be analyzed by evaluating several essay sources, as well as other internet articles, for their origins, purposes, values, and limitations.

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Summary of Evidence
Prior to WWII, Hitler already possessed hatred for the Jews. He states in his book that he first became an anti-Semite in Vienna, where he attained extreme German nationalism. He strongly believed in a union with the Germans and a violent expulsion of the “inferior” races. During his time as the leader of the Nazi Party, as well as Fuhrer, Hitler delivered many speeches to the masses regarding the Jews as the enemy. In one of his speeches, he declared, “The struggle for world domination will be fought entirely between us, between Germans and Jews. All else is facade and illusion. Behind England stands Israel, and behind France, and behind the United States. Even when we have driven the Jew out of Germany, he remains our world enemy.”[1] This statement suggests that Hitler saw that Jews as the ultimate enemy, and disregards the rest of the world as even mildly relevant. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister responsible for the Night of Broken Glass, in which hundreds of Jews were murdered, was also an essential component in the spread of anti-Semitism at that time.[2] The general German population knew of their government’s extreme hatred toward the Jews, and it was only a matter of time until they figured out what was going to happen next. Furthermore, from the huge size of the army, as well as the thousands of camps located in and around Germany, it was inevitable for information not to spread between the populations. For example, German soldiers would, at the very least, have brought home numerous stories of what was going on in Russia (where the atrocities were well known) or the east.[3]
The stories that the soldiers would have told their loved ones back home would have spread swiftly, and therefore soon after, knowledge of rumours would be instilled into the general population. The many camps that existed then were located inside Germany itself, but there were many more outside the country. A large number of these camps were located near several highly-populated areas, such as Dachau, outside of Munich.[4] However, the major extermination camps, such as Auschwitz and Treblinka, were not set up inside Germany, so it certainly was possible that the average German in the home front had no knowledge of them. Although, it is logical to assume that most people knew that being sent to a concentration was, without a doubt, a death sentence; even if they did not know the details, they had to have noticed that barely anyone ever returned from the camps. Overall, it all boils down to the issue of whether or not the Germans wanted to know more about what was going on, for perhaps they just wanted to turn a blind eye because it did not affect them in any way. Lastly, the monstrous project of the Final Solution (Nazi Germany’s plan to systematically kill off the entire Jewish population in Nazi-occupied Europe) seemed all too massive of a project to have been undertaken only by the Nazis. Konnilyn Feig, a well-respected Holocaust author, suspects that most people did, in fact, know about much of what was going on. In her book, Hitler’s death camps: the sanity of madness, she states that “Hitler exterminated the Jews of Europe. But he did not do so alone. The task was so enormous, complex, time-consuming, and mentally and economically demanding that it took the best efforts of millions of Germans… All spheres of life in Germany actively participated…”[5] As the case may be, therefore, it is not futile to rule out this very possibility.
Evaluation of Sources
Note: Because there were seemingly no readily available traditional resources regarding this investigation’s rather specific question, two significant internet articles will be evaluated in lieu.
One article is written by Will Coleman, and is an extended response to the same question this investigation is attempting to answer. The other source is an essay article written by Theresa Art, named “What Did Most Germans Know about the Nazi Concentration Camp System?” As a response to a similar question posed in the website, www.quora.com, Will Coleman writes an in-depth “report” on the truth that he believes, in which he states that “the large majority of the German public, knew and collaborated willingly with the deportation and extermination of the Jews…”[6] This article was written with the obvious purpose of attempting to answer the question in the website, but to also do so using methodical reasoning. The article’s value lies in the fact that it provides a systematic explanation of Coleman’s perspective on the matter, and this allows the reader to easily interpret and understand the logic behind his bold statement that “all of Germany was responsible”. Coleman does this by ordering his points from least to most significant; first he starts off with basic arguments that reinforce the fact that communication within Germany must have defeated any sort of secrecy about the mass murders simply because of how many people there were, and he ends with an intricate “collective guilt” argument, wherein he explains that the German people felt guilt for the atrocities committed by their fellow countrymen, and could only have done so because they either participated or turned a blind eye to it. There was a minor limitation in this article, in which it would sometimes confuse awareness of the holocaust with direct participation. In Theresa Ast’s article, she aims to focus not on the “culpability or degree of culpability of different segments of the German population”[7], but on general German knowledge of concentration camps. Much like Coleman, Ast suggests that many Germans were aware of the mass killings; she states that “most concentration camp inmates were German or Austrian citizens and many of them served limited sentences before being released. It begs believability to think that these individuals did not discuss their experience with family and close friends.” The value in Ast’s article, as opposed to Coleman’s, is that she took into account several WWII veterans’ first-hand opinions and experiences in her findings. This allowed her to develop a well-formulated conclusion stating that “the typical German response was to deny knowledge of, and disclaim any responsibility for, the concentration camps.” A limitation in this article lies in the fact that it is mostly comprised of evidence, and has a minor lack of detail in its arguments.
Analysis
The importance of this investigation in its historical context is immense, as the question poses the issue of whether or not the Germans should feel guilty for having taken part in the most documented, systematic, industrial slaughter of human beings in all of recorded civilized history. From one perspective, based on the sources, it can be argued that the average German had a rough idea as to what was going on, but did not know the details; this is either because he genuinely did not know, or perhaps because he did not want to know more of his own country’s monstrosities. From another perspective, it can be argued that the average German knew a great deal of what was going on, as Coleman states, “How can a country on total war footing continue to move, house, manage and exterminate millions of people while at the same time, use those sparing resources on war production? They can’t, not without a lot of help. Where was this help? The German nation of course.”[8] From these arguments also arises the question that if the Germans did help undertake the Final Solution, did they do it willingly? Or were they forced to do it by the Nazis? With Adolf Hitler’s entrance into Germany’s politics, so did his theories of racial struggle and the “intent” of the Jews to survive and expand at the expense of the Germans. From 1933-1938, the Nazis staged book burnings, ordered anti-Jewish boycotts, and enabled anti-Jewish legislation.[9] The Jews were defined by race and was totally separated from the Germans by the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. These measures focused on total segregation of Jews from Germans and Austrians, both legally and socially. These new statutes, added with the extremely anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda imposed on the country must have, at the very least, implied something utterly terrible to come for the Jews. Although hundreds of thousands had already been killed by death squads and in mass pogroms[10] (riots aimed at massacre of Jews), the large-scale deportation of the Jews must have spelled disaster for them in the eyes of the Germans. The communication that must have travelled back and forth, from the people that knew to the ones that did not, suggests that even though the full details of the holocaust were not leaked, a general idea of it must have formed within the people. The SS would routinely mix labour battalions, which consisted of thousands of starving Jews, with German nationals who were producing war goods. Without a doubt, these nationals must have shared stories of horribly treated Jews back home. The average Nazi soldier who had seen the atrocities committed in both concentration and death camps most likely would have wrote home letters describing what he had seen. Overall, there was very little chance that a German did not know anything as to what was going on around him, as all signs, including the mass deportation of Jews by train and the mass murders in pogroms, point to the ultimatum that the Jews were being thoroughly purged out of Germany. The amount of work that the Final Solution must have required was much greater than that which the Nazis could hope to accomplish.
As Will Coleman mentioned in his article, Germany could not have afforded to be on total war as well as systematically exterminate millions of people simultaneously without extra help, and this, in all likelihood, came from the general population of Germany itself. German police units, namely the Reserve Police Battalion 101, shot 38,000 Jews and deported 45,000 more to the camps.[11] Bankers often volunteered the names of their Jewish employees to Nazi authorities, most of which ended up in death camps.[12] What all of this is suggesting is that such a massive task could not have been done solely by the Nazis, but with the collective help and cooperation of everyone in the country. E. Conclusion Each and every subtopic that this investigation evaluates all point to the same conclusion. First, the extreme anti-Semitic ideas that had been forced on the people, coupled with the initial attacks on the Jews, implied the beginning of the end for them. Nobody knew exactly what the future held for the Jews, but they just knew it would be disastrous. Second, the substantial network of communication that had been utilized must have at least given the average German a clue as to what the Jews were going through at the time. Whether the information was passed through a letter, orally, or first-hand, the population must have received a basic idea for what was happening, and also, what was about to happen. Lastly, the Final Solution could not have been finished by the Nazis without further help from outside sources. Like Konnilyn Feig stated, “The task was so complex that it took the best efforts of millions of Germans…” Most, if not all Germans were aware of the Holocaust, let alone the ones that participated too. There is no doubt that everyone had the idea, and this alone reinforces the fact that yes, almost everyone was aware of what was happening. Total word count: 1,971 F.
Bibliography
Internet Sources:
Coleman, Will, “To what extent were average German citizens aware of or involved in the Holocaust”. n.d., Quora. 30 March 2014. http://www.quora.com/Nazi-Germany/To-what-extent-were-average-German-citizens-aware-of-or-involved-in-the-Holocaust
Ast, Theresa, “What Did Most Germans Know About The Nazi Concentration Camp System?”. n.d., HubPages. 30 March 2014. http://phdast7.hubpages.com/hub/What-Did-Average-germans-Know-Concentration-Camps
Museum, “ANTISEMITISM IN HISTORY: NAZI ANTISEMITISM”. 10 June 2013. Holocaust Encyclopedia. 30 March 2014. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007167
Connolly, Kate, “Letter proves Speer knew of Holocaust plan”. n.d. The Guardian. 30 March 2014. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/13/secondworldwar.kateconnolly
Douglas, Davis “British bank implicated in Nazi dealings”. 2 April 1999. Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. 30 March 2014. http://www.webcitation.org/5wQnrMwcy
Book Sources:
Rauschning, Hermann. Hitler Speaks (Munich, Germany: Kessinger Publishing, 2006)
Feig, Konnilyn. Hitler’s Death Camps: The Sanity of Madness (California, United States: Holmes & Meier Pub, 1981)
Niewyk, Donald. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust (New York, United States: Harper Collins, 1992)
Gilbert, Martin. Kristallnacht (Oxford, England: Harper Perennial, 2007)

[1] Hermann Rauschning. Hitler Speaks (Munich, Germany: Kessinger Publishing, 2006) p.234
[2] Gilbert Martin. Kristallnacht (Oxford, England: Harper Perennial, 2007) p.29
[3] Will Coleman, “To what extent were average German citizens aware of or involved in the Holocaust”. n.d., Quora. 30 March 2014 http://www.quora.com/Nazi-Germany/To-what-extent-were-average-German-citizens-aware-of-or-involved-in-the-Holocaust
[4] Will Coleman, “To what extent were average German citizens aware of or involved in the Holocaust”. n.d., Quora. 30 March 2014 http://www.quora.com/Nazi-Germany/To-what-extent-were-average-German-citizens-aware-of-or-involved-in-the-Holocaust
[5] Konnilyn Feig. Hitler’s Death Camps: The Sanity of Madness (California, United States: Holmes & Meier Pub, 1981) p.84
[6] Will Coleman, “To what extent were average German citizens aware of or involved in the Holocaust”. n.d., Quora. 30 March 2014 http://www.quora.com/Nazi-Germany/To-what-extent-were-average-German-citizens-aware-of-or-involved-in-the-Holocaust
[7] Theresa Ast, “What Did Most Germans Know About The Nazi Concentration Camp System?”. n.d., HubPages. 30 March 2014 http://phdast7.hubpages.com/hub/What-Did-Average-germans-Know-Concentration-Camps
[8] Will Coleman, “To what extent were average German citizens aware of or involved in the Holocaust”. n.d., Quora. 30 March 2014 http://www.quora.com/Nazi-Germany/To-what-extent-were-average-German-citizens-aware-of-or-involved-in-the-Holocaust
[9] Museum, “Antisemitism in History: Nazi Antisemitism”. 10 June 2013. Holocaust Encyclopedia. 30 March 2014 http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007167
[10] Kate Connolly, “Letter proves Speer knew of Holocaust plan”. n.d. The Guardian. 30 March 2014. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/13/secondworldwar.kateconnolly
[11] Donald Niewyk. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust (New York, United States: Harper Collins, 1992) p.83-87
[12] Davis Douglas, “British bank implicated in Nazi dealings”. 2 April 1999. Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. 30 March 2014 http://www.webcitation.org/5wQnrMwcy
 

German Essays – Enlightenment and Religious Tolerance

Enlightenment and Religious Tolerance in Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s Die Juden and Nathan der Weise.
Because of the impact of the intellectual revolution, the eighteenth century is frequently referred to as the ‘Age of Reason’. More specifically, the term ‘Enlightenment’ is used because a major feature of this era was the mind’s emphasis on using rationality as a framework within which to view major philosophical issues. According to Benson and DiYanni, ‘the Enlightenment continued an emphasis on secular concerns that began during the Renaissance and continued with the rise of scientific and philosophical thought during the seventeenth century’ (2005: 397). During this epoch, superstition came to be replaced with logical thought and analysis. These influences can be seen in the works of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.

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Lessing is considered by many to be a major representative of the Enlightenment Era. He was well known as a dramatist, critic, and philosopher during this time frame in Germany, and his works remain popular and influential even in contemporary times. In terms of religious tolerance, Lessing’s philosophies are perhaps best represented by two of his dramatic pieces, Nathan der Weise, or Nathan the Wise, and Die Juden, or The Jews. According to one scholar, these two plays by Lessing ‘are instructive examples that demonstrate, when read in light of the historical specificity of their context, the force of critical thinking that drove Lessing’ (Goetschel 2003: 63). Lessing’s impact is still felt today. According to Garland, The Jews ‘had shown [Lessing’s] deep antipathy to the unreasonable hatred directed against that people’ (1962: 191).
In the eighteenth century, the ideas introduced by the Enlightenment had far-reaching effects on Western society. In fact, many of those ideas remain influential to this day. Formerly, much of Europe had been plagued by archaic prejudices towards those whose religious faith was considered to be a minority. This theme is nowhere more evident than in Lessing’s plays, Nathan the Wise and The Jews According to Goetschel, both of these works are evidence of ‘Lessing’s critical concern to rethink both the claims of Christianity and the groundwork of modern national identity’ (2003: 63).
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was born in the quiet country town of Kamenz. His father, Johann Gottfried Lessing, was an educated man, but he was not wealthy. He worked as an assistant pastor in Kamenz It was from him that the younger Lessing got his love of books, something that would last throughout his life. Lessing attended the University of Leipzig. Leipzig was a new world for the young man. It was far different from Kamenz. In fact, it was sometimes known as ‘Little Paris’ because of the level of sophistication that existed there (Garland 1962: 7). Lessing’s early literary works included Damon and The Young Scholar Neither of these works gave any indication that Lessing would eventually come to be known as the father of German literature, although The Young Scholar enjoyed a brief spate of popularity on the stage.
During his youth, Lessing exhibited a tendency to rebel against the status quo. This became particularly clear during his college days. Correspondence between him and his parents shows evidence of a young man of great curiosity, and one for whom a tried and true path would not suffice. His parents wished the best for him, naturally: a steady career that would bring him stability and a modest amount of comfort. It was also hoped that Lessing, as the eldest, would establish himself in order to contribute to the education of his younger siblings. However, this was not the path that Lessing chose to follow. His adventurous spirit, combined with his youth, and the atmosphere of Leipzig, all combined to determine a path that would veer from his parents’ wishes. These experiences led him to become a thinker and writer who was ahead of his time, as well as one of the finest minds of the German Enlightenment.Lessing’s Plays: Nathan the Wise and The Jews.
In many ways, Nathan the Wise can be considered a play that was ahead of its time. According to Wilms, this play is ‘canonized not just in German literature, but also in the liberal Enlightenment reception of that literature and its tradition’ (2002: 306). The central theme is the concept of brotherhood among mankind. Through the vehicle of drama, Lessing puts forth the message that people should be able to exist in harmony despite their religious denomination or group affiliation. For example, it should not matter whether one is a Jew, a Christian, or a Muslim; people should respect each other and coexist peacefully no matter what religious affiliations they have. Lessing’s primary message in Nathan the Wise is that the main consideration should be the value of individuals as human beings, and that group membership is secondary to this. This is the concept that the character of Nathan proposes.
The role of money in this play merits some attention. Lessing uses money as a prop and as a theme. It is an integral part of the discourse of the play. According to Graham, ‘from the first moiment of the pla we are never allowed to forget Nathan’s association with money and the desirable goods that money can buy’ (1973: 179). Money, and the power of money, are apparently very important to Lessing here. It is also significant to note that Nathan is rarely the recipient of money. He is rather, the giver. The suggestion that Nathan is ‘wise’ may play a role here. This may be yet another way in which Lessing underscores the value of giving rather than receiving. As Graham notes, ‘the religious impulse of surrendering the grateful self to the giver of life reverberates in every one of these situations, in varying degreees of consciousness, and in every instance soemthing of the same release of love is experienced and communicated’ (1973: 185).
It can be said that the true villain of Lessing’s play is the insidious hatred that is passed down from one generation to the next. This hatred is a complex mixture of mistrust and ignorance and is so deeply ingrained in people that often it remains unquestioned, simply a part of life. Nathan the Wise is often considered a vehicle in which Lessing’s theological beliefs are given voice. Lessing believed in freedom of thought and was a serious student of theology. In some ways, it appears that Nathan the Wise is a mixture of various theological ideologies, many of which also appear in Lessing’s Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts, or Education of the Human Race, which was published in 1780.
According to Wilms, in Nathan the Wise, ‘rationality successfully overcomes a series of obstacles and works its way into a traditional “Lebenswelt” dominated by prejudice that does not shy away from murder and even genocide’ (2002: 306). The triumph of rationality here is a central theme of Lessing’s work. He takes on the traditional themes of religious dogma in this play and shows how individuals can take a rational approach to them The title of the play refers to the main character, Nathan. The play takes place in Jerusalem, where Nathan lives as a prosperous Jew. The time frame is in the twelfth century. In the play, it is significant that Nathan adopts an orphan. The orphan happens to be Christian, but this does not matter to Nathan, who simply takes her into his home because she was the daughter of a friend. Immediately we see that Nathan is the kind of character to rise above petty details, and to act in the interests of humanity above all else.  Considering the time and setting, this is certainly no ordinary act.
Tension builds, however, when a suitor comes into the picture. Nathan is aware of the inherent danger in this situation. Should the identity of his adoptive daughter be made known, the results would most undoubtedly be tragic for all involved. This use of ‘hidden identity’ was common in the literary works of Lessing’s time, and it is used quite effectively in this play. Ultimately, Lessing’s message in Nathan the Wise is that humanity is far more important than religious affiliation. Lessing asserts that the worth of people should not based on what religion individuals are born into, or on blood relations, but rather on the very fact that they are human.
According to Garland, anti-Semitism had lessened somewhat, but was still considered widespread during the period of time in which Lessing was writing. The theme of the play is that people cannot be judged by their religious affiliations. The plot of the play is simple, ostensibly to allow the theme to stand out. The character of the Baron is clearly full of strong anti-Semitic prejudices. Therefore, when he is attacked by robbers, he immediately concludes that the perpetrators were of the Jewish persuasion, in keeping with his beliefs. It is of course ironic that the attackers are found to be Christian. Furthermore, they are employees of the Baron himself. As for the noble Stranger who rescues the Baron, he is revealed to be Jewish himself. This puts the Baron in a rather awkward situation, as he has promised the hand of his daughter to The Stranger in return for his gallantry. Of course, once the Stranger has identified himself as a Jew, the wedding is now unthinkable. According to Garland, ‘Lessing’s interest is clearly centered on the serious aspects of the play The moral is pointed not only by the action, but is also underlined by frequent passages of dialogue (1962: 111).
Here, as in Nathan the Wise, Lessing effectively uses the tactic of the ‘hidden identity’ to elucidate his point. Once again, the message is that humanity is far more important than religious affiliation. In The Jews, Lessing asserts again that the worth of people should not be based on what religion individuals are born into This is quite apparent when it turns out that the Baron’s attackers are in fact the very servants on whom he relies. The person who saves him, The Stranger, turns out to be a Jew himself, which adds to the irony.
Lessing’s attitude to orthodoxy is rather complex. Much of his beliefs in his early life were strongly influenced by his friend, the freethinker Mylius. Mylius befriended him in Leipzig. Several years older, Mylius had a great deal of influence on his young protégé In a letter to his father, written when he was twenty years old, we can see the evolution of the young Lessing’s thoughts about religion:

‘Time will prove whether he is the better Christian, who has the principles of Christian doctrine in his memory, and on his lips, often without understanding them, who goes to church and observes all the practices (of religion) just because they are customary; or he who has once prudently doubted and has reached conviction by the path of investigation, or at an rate strives to reach it. The Christian religion is not a thing which one should accept on trust from one’s parents’ (quoted in Garland 1962: 151).

Seeds of unrest and a pull towards independent thinking are apparent even at this early stage in Lessing’s development. We can already see this tendency to be skeptical of church-goers whose actions are at odds with their stated beliefs. As stated earlier, anti-Semitism was somewhat less pronounced during this period, although it still clearly existed. The idea that people should not be judged by their religious affiliations seems to have already taken hold in Lessing’s young mind.
According to Garland, Lessing was ‘struck by the obvious divergence between the doctrine of Christ and the mode of life of many of those who passed as Christians’ (1962: 152). He was very much aware of the hypocrisy inherent in many who claimed to be Christians. Even as a young man, he was easily incensed by intolerance towards religious practices. He seemed to have little respect for orthodox theologies that had little room for the beliefs of others. In the eighteenth century, as discussed earlier, the ideas introduced by the Enlightenment had far-reaching effects on Western society. In fact, many of those ideas remain influential to this day. Formerly, much of Europe had been plagued by archaic prejudices towards those whose religious faith was considered to be a minority.
Conclusion
The period of the Enlightenment in Europe signaled a change in thinking. As representative pieces, these two plays by Lessing are examples of these new attitudes towards religion. Because of the impact of the intellectual revolution, the eighteenth century is frequently referred to as the ‘Age of Reason’. More specifically, the term ‘Enlightenment’ is used because a major feature of this era was the mind’s emphasis on using rationality as a framework within which to view major philosophical issues. During this epoch, superstition came to be replaced with logical thought and analysis. These influences can be seen in the works of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.
A recurring theme in the works of Lessing is the concept of brotherhood among mankind. Through the vehicle of drama, Lessing puts forth the idea that people should be able to exist in harmony despite their religious denomination or group affiliation. Whether one is Christian, Muslim, or Jew, is irrelevant One’s connection to a particular religious group should not affect the basic respect that people should feel for one another. People of different faiths and beliefs should respect each other and coexist peacefully no matter what religious affiliations they have. Lessing’s primary message in Nathan the Wise is that the main consideration should be the value of individuals as human beings, and that group membership is secondary to this. This is the concept that the character of Nathan proposes.
This message is also present in The Jews Here, as in Nathan the Wise, Lessing once again makes it clear that humanity is far more important than religious affiliation. In The Jews, Lessing asserts again that the value of a person should be independent of what religion that person is born into. This is quite apparent when it turns out that the Baron’s attackers are in fact the very servants on whom he relies. The person who saves him, The Stranger, turns out to be a Jew himself, which adds to the irony.
Lessing, as we have seen, is considered by many to be a major representative of the Enlightenment Era. He was well known as a dramatist, critic, and philosopher during this time frame in Germany. The fact that his works remain popular and influential even in contemporary times is a testament to his ongoing influence. In terms of religious tolerance, Lessing’s philosophies are perhaps best represented by these two dramatic pieces Each of these works is an example of the critical and independent thinking that drove Lessing from his early days at university in Leipzig and throughout his life. Lessing’s impact is still felt today.
As discussed above, the ideas brought to the fore in the eighteenth century had a tremendous impact on Western society. The concepts introduced during the stage known as the Enlightenment had far-reaching effects. In fact, many of these ideas remain influential to this day. Many of the prejudices that had been formulated regarding religious affiliations were analyzed and found to be wanting. This theme is nowhere more evident than in Lessing’s plays, Nathan the Wise and The Jews. Lessing’s messages in both of these plays call into question both the claims of Christianity and the significance of the underlying national identity.
Many people consider Lessing to be a major representative of the Period of Enlightenment in Germany. His influence is felt in many spheres: he was well known as a dramatist, critic, and philosopher during this epoch, and his works remain popular and influential even in contemporary times. In terms of religious tolerance, Lessing’s philosophies are perhaps best represented by two of his dramatic pieces, Nathan der Weise, or Nathan the Wise, and Die Juden, or The Jews In each of these plays, Lessing makes clear his belief that people should not be judged by their religious affiliations.
In Nathan the Wise, we find a complex mix of ideologies. These same ideologies are present in The Jews, although to a lesser extent. It can be said that the true villain in each of these plays is the insidious hatred that is passed down from one generation to the next. Lessing portrays this hatred as a complex mixture of mistrust and ignorance that is so deeply ingrained in people that often it remains unquestioned. Both Nathan the Wise and The Jews can be considered vehicles in which Lessing’s theological beliefs are given voice. In the eighteenth century, the ideas introduced by the Enlightenment had far-reaching effects on Western society, and those effects are elucidated in these dramatic works. Much of Europe had been riddled with archaic prejudices towards those whose religious faith was considered to be a minority. Lessing focuses on these prejudices in an effective dramatic format. In terms of religious tolerance, Lessing’s philosophies are strongly represented by these two dramatic pieces. In the eighteenth century, the ideas introduced by the Enlightenment had far-reaching effects on Western society. In fact, many of those ideas remain influential to this day. For readers today, these works continue to have an impact. Both of these plays offer a close look at the evolving attitudes towards religion and society of that era.
 

German Essays – Immanuel Kant and Moses Mendelssohn

The interpretation of the enlightenment by immanuel kant and moses mendelssohn.
The Enlightenment, an intellectual movement that considerably influenced scientific and social thinking of the eighteenth century, was exposed to a profound analysis by Immanuel Kant who connected the concept of enlightenment with personal freedom, pondering over ‘private’ and ‘public’ usage of reason, and Moses Mendelssohn who introduced the notions ‘civil enlightenment’ and ‘human enlightenment’ to differentiate between social and individual understanding of enlightenment. While Kant looked for the ways to achieve a balance between public and private usage of reason, Mendelssohn paid attention to the differences between human and civil enlightenment, revealing the difficulties of acquiring this balance. However, in their definitions of enlightenment both Kant, the follower of the German Enlightenment, and Mendelssohn, the originator of the Haskalah, the Enlightenment of Jews, uncovered “the tension between the agenda of enlightenment and the exigencies of society” (Schmidt 5).

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Making an attempt to provide his definition of the Enlightenment in the essay “Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?” written as a response to the Reverend Zollner, Immanuel Kant states that “enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage” (83). Thus, according to Kant, enlightenment is achieved through personal freedom that is impossible to acquire without such crucial human traits as courage and intellect (Belas 457-460). However, Kant’s definition of enlightenment expels an open struggle, because it can return people to tutelage, depriving them of the possibility to achieve enlightenment. Proposing to eliminate certain church and state restrictions, Kant applies to two different usages of reason that constitute true enlightenment – ‘private’ usage and ‘public’ usage. As Kant points out, “By the public use of one’s reason I understand the use of which a person makes of it as a scholar before the reading public. Private use I call that which may make of it in a particular civil post of office which entrusted to him” (89). Although the philosopher draws a parallel between these concepts, he points at the fact that the private usage of reason should be subjected to certain limitations, while the public usage of reason should be kept free, because “it alone can bring about enlightenment among men” (Kant 89). In this regard, Moses Mendelssohn’s definition of the Enlightenment is similar to Kant’s definition, but Mendelssohn relies on different concepts in his analysis. Mendelssohn regards enlightenment as the acquisition of particular knowledge that creates the necessary balance between a person as a citizen and a person as a human being. In view of this definition, Mendelssohn differentiates between ‘civil enlightenment’, which corresponds with certain social interests, and ‘human enlightenment’, which deals with individual knowledge of a person and, according to James Schmidt, “paid heed neither to some distinctions nor to the maintenance of social order” (5). However, unlike Immanuel Kant, Moses Mendelssohn admits that there are some particular cases when public aspects of enlightenment should be strongly restricted.
As Schmidt states, “While Mendelssohn was willing to concede that there might be certain unhappy circumstances in which philosophy must remain silent lest it pose a threat to public order, Kant was uncompromising in his insistence that the public exercise of reason should never be restricted” (5-6). To some extent, Kant’s attitude can be explained by that fact that the philosopher interprets enlightenment through the issues of religion, considering the existing religious dogmas as an obstacle towards personal freedom (Lassman 815-820). Thus, regarding freedom as one of the most crucial aspects of enlightenment, Kant simultaneously brings up a question of people’s independence from religion, while Mendelssohn points at freedom within religious faith. In this context, Kant tends to define enlightenment in practical terms, while Mendelssohn analyses theoretical aspects of enlightenment, claiming that “Enlightenment seems… to have to do with the theoretical, specifically with reasoned apprehension of the world in an objective sense” (313). Operating with the notion ‘Bildung’ that means knowledge in a wider sense of the word and combines two social elements – enlightenment and culture, Moses Mendelssohn claims that enlightenment greatly depends on culture. As the philosopher puts it, “Enlightenment is to culture as theory is to practice, as discernment is to morality, as cultural criticism is to virtuosity. When viewed objectively in and of themselves, they exist in the closest possible synergy, even if they can be viewed subjectively as separate categories” (314). In view of this definition it is clear that for a person as a citizen both culture and enlightenment are important, because, according to Mendelssohn, “all practical virtues only acquire meaning in relation to life in the social sphere” (315). However, for a person as a human being enlightenment is more crucial than culture.
On the other hand, Mendelssohn states that enlightenment contributes to theoretical usage, while culture is better applied to practical usage. But those nations that manage to combine both culture and enlightenment achieve the highest level of the Enlightenment, like the Ancient Greeks. Mendelssohn considers that modern societies rarely achieve this standard, as he claims, “Nurembergers have more culture, Berliners more enlightenment, the French more culture, the British more enlightenment, the Siamese more culture and little enlightenment” (314). The similar notion is expressed by Kant who points at the fact that various religious dogmas deprive people of the possibility to achieve freedom and enlightenment; that is why modern people only strive for enlightenment, but they do no live within enlightenment. According to Kant, people find it really difficult to get rid of someone’s guidance, especially the guidance of church or state. But Kant puts major responsibility for such dependence from religion on people who are unable to appropriately use their intellect to acquire true enlightenment. The philosopher thinks that religion destroys people’s selves and deprives them of the possibility to attain the equilibrium of private and public usage of reason.
For Kant, enlightenment is determined by a person’s capacity to freely utilise his/her reason. Theoretically, every person has rights and abilities to utilise his/her reason, but in practice only some individuals reveal power and courage to achieve enlightenment. For instance, Kant states that a priest should restrict his private usage of reason, because he follows the religious dogmas of his church; however, he should not restrict his public usage of reason, if he can make some useful offers and provide new knowledge. In this regard, Immanuel Kant regards enlightenment as a continuous progress, but he states that “a public can achieve enlightenment only slowly” (84). The philosopher acknowledges that some social changes can result in the elimination of certain biases or dogmas, but these old prejudices can be replaced by new biases and rules of behaviour that may slow down the process of enlightenment. However, Kant points out that enlightenment can be delayed only for a short period of time, but “to give up enlightenment altogether, either for oneself or one’s descendants, is to violate and to trample upon the sacred rights of man” (86). Kant considers that the eighteenth century is the age of enlightenment, as various religious issues are exposed to critical analysis by some individuals who apply to reason to enlighten themselves. Discussing the issue of enlightenment, Mendelssohn reveals that “reason could demonstrate the fundamental truths of natural religion” (Arkush xiii). Mendelssohn claims that reason provides new understanding of religious dogmas, and it is this particular understanding that contributes to people’s enlightenment. In this regard, Mendelssohn manages to adjust the Enlightenment’s rationality with religion, although the philosopher realises that enlightenment provides people with free will and thinking, while religion controls people’s actions and thoughts.
In view of this interpretation of enlightenment, Mendelssohn’s viewpoint corresponds with Kant’s vision, as both philosophers support the notion that true enlightenment can be achieved by those individuals who are able to dispute, but at the same time obey. For Mendelssohn and Kant, the ability to dispute reveals people’s reason and courage, while the ability to obey reflects their enlightenment. Thus, enlightenment is more than a simple process of acquiring certain knowledge; rather it is a particular stand, which people may create. However, according to Kant, society can acquire enlightenment more easily than an individual, if taken into account the fact that public usage of reason is not exposed to any restrictions. As Kant states, “it is difficult for an isolated individual to work himself out of a dependency that has become virtually second-nature to him” (84). The philosopher considers that only some individuals manage to overcome this dependency; however, as Kant further claims in the essay, “but that a public at large might manage to enlighten itself is, in contrast, something quite possible” (84). Unlike Kant, Mendelssohn points at the necessity of some limitations and states that enlightenment can be achieved, if every person receives freedom of religious faith.
But Mendelssohn claims that this freedom is possible if two major institutions of power – state and church – are separated. Making an attempt to draw a parallel between the ideas of the Enlightenment and Jewish religion, Moses Mendelssohn regards enlightenment as a crucial aspect of Jews’ emancipation (Shmueli 167-169). In this regard, Mendelssohn’s interpretation of enlightenment is based on the principles of natural religion and reason that contribute to the formation of enlightened society (Meyer 29). Kant’s definition of enlightenment is founded on the connection between reason and modified authoritative laws. However, both Mendelssohn’s and Kant’s ideas of enlightenment are cantered on the concept of freedom, although the philosophers utilise different approaches in their interpretation of the role of freedom in the process of enlightenment. As Immanuel Kant regards enlightenment as both a continuous progress and a particular attitude or responsibility, he considers that a person is able to achieve freedom and enlightenment only if he/she changes himself/herself. In other words, enlightenment serves as a specific tool, through which a person expresses his/her self, and, on the other hand, it is a certain command that a person gives himself/herself and provides to other individuals. Therefore, Kant presents enlightenment as a progress in which people act together and as an individual expression of courage. Taking this interpretation of enlightenment into account, it is clear that Kant differentiates between the usage of reason and the sphere of obedience, but the philosopher clearly demonstrates that both states depend on people’s courage and intellect. For instance, if a person pays his/her taxes, but expresses his/her negative attitude to the taxation system, he/she reveals intellect and courage that speak of his/her maturity. In this case, a person acquires enlightenment that results in his/her inner freedom.
In his interpretation of enlightenment, Mendelssohn points at freedom of conscience; this freedom is closely connected with people’s religious faith. According to Mendelssohn, a state should not influence religious faith of people; it is this particular freedom of choice that constitutes the core of Mendelssohn’s definition of enlightenment. Critically analysing Jewish religious dogmas through the idea of enlightenment, Mendelssohn manages to overcome the existing religious biases and bring together Christian and Jewish religions (Beiser 92-93). For Moses Mendelssohn, such changes constitute true enlightenment, reviving humanism and indulgence. Although both Mendelssohn and Kant apply to religious aspects in their interpretations of enlightenment, they utilise different viewpoints. Kant discusses the issue of enlightenment through religion, because he considers that the existing religious institutions are too harmful for people; thus it is crucial to reduce their influence on individuals, utilising reason to challenge church authorities. Kant considers that a person should reject the prevalent religious stereotypes and produce new standards for himself/herself in accordance with reason and free will. 
Unlike Kant, Mendelssohn points at the fact that the process of enlightenment is religious in its essence; that is why the philosopher makes an attempt to conciliate religious issues with rationality of philosophical thinking (Sorkin 35-42). Despite the fact that Mendelssohn regards Judaism as religion that possesses the highest level of reason, he nevertheless criticises some aspects of this religion, destroying traditional understanding of Judaism (Altmann 13-19). Mendelssohn considers that enlightenment can provide people with the logical interpretation of certain religious issues. The philosopher thinks that simple faith in God is not able to prove the existence of God, but, applying to reason, people are able to find answers to all controversial religious aspects. As Arkush points out, in his definition of enlightenment Mendelssohn reveals that “reason could demonstrate the fundamental truths of natural religion; that is, the existence of God, providence, and immortality” (xiii). Kant expresses the similar notion, claiming that reason can both prove and disapprove the existence of God; in other words, reason inspires both people’s beliefs and doubts. But only analysing two sides of the issue with the help of reason, an enlightened individual is able to realise the essence of the universe and his/her own existence. In this regard, Kant reveals the idea that even the striving for enlightenment relieves people of their dependence and provides them with freedom. On the other hand, contrasting such aspects of enlightenment as reason and freedom with immaturity and dependence, Kant opposes Mendelssohn’s appreciation of Judaism. For Kant, Judaism greatly depends on a materialist world; it is a religion that utilises people for its own benefits, depriving them of freedom and enlightenment.  
The differences between Kant and Mendelssohn are intensified even more when the philosophers discuss the dawning of the age of enlightenment. According to Moses Mendelssohn, the era of enlightenment would hardly come, because throughout their history human beings have moved onward and backward, preventing further development of humankind. Moses considers that an individual person is able to acquire a certain level of enlightenment; however, entire humankind creates constant limitations and laws, either religious or state, which hinder the process of enlightenment. In his analysis of enlightenment Kant expresses a different viewpoint; in particular, he claims that humankind always progresses in its development. Although the philosopher acknowledges the existence of some limitations and obstacles, he points at the fact that these limits may only slow down the process of enlightenment, but they can never completely destroy it. As Kant regards enlightenment as a continuous progress, he realises that people, utilising reason and acquiring some knowledge, will continue to strive for enlightenment. And it is this aspiration for profound knowledge and understanding of human existence that Kant interprets as enlightenment. In this regard, Kant thinks that it is really important to draw a parallel between past and present generations, analysing various stages of their development.
On the other hand, Kant reveals an obvious obstacle to the progress of enlightenment; as people usually analyse only separate parts of the universe, they fail to combine these elements into a complete picture. As a result of this inability, human beings may find it difficult to influence each other and fully integrate into the process of enlightenment. However, despite these obvious differences, both Kant and Mendelssohn in their interpretation of enlightenment make attempts to maintain the ideas of rationalism without an open rejection of the existence of God. This is especially true in regard to Moses Mendelssohn who does not challenge the existence of God, but opposes the existing religious laws that create the unchanging truth for believers, depriving them of the possibility to achieve enlightenment. Thus, both Mendelssohn and Kant define enlightenment through the analysis of the practical ways to achieve enlightenment; however, unlike Mendelssohn, Kant bases his definition on certain negations, such as ‘dependence’, ‘immaturity’, ‘shortage of courage’. In this context, Kant demonstrates that the first step in acquiring enlightenment is the elimination of everything that deprives people of reason and freedom; only overcoming the first stage of elimination, a person is able to proceed to the second stage of acquisition.
Analysing the definitions of the Enlightenment by Immanuel Kant and Moses Mendelssohn, the essay has revealed that Kant’s interpretation of enlightenment is based on the concept of freedom and mainly deals with a person’s ability to overcome immaturity and inner fears. Discussing enlightenment, especially through religious aspects, Kant provides two major concepts that constitute his vision – ‘private’ and ‘public’ usage of reason. Mendelssohn’s interpretation of enlightenment reflects a close connection between enlightenment and culture, but the philosopher’s distinction of ‘civil enlightenment’ and ‘human enlightenment’ demonstrates the difference between a person as a citizen and a person as a human being. Although both Kant and Mendelssohn adhere to public and private aspects in their understanding of enlightenment, their interpretations considerably differ. In particular, Kant considers that the public usage of reason should be kept free, while the private usage should be exposed to certain limitations; unlike Kant, Mendelssohn thinks that in some cases the public usage should be restricted, or otherwise it may produce some negative consequences for society. In this regard, Kant’s definition concerns a practical side of the issue, although it is based on the principles of ‘escape’, for instance, escape from inner fears toward maturity. On the contrary, Mendelssohn’s definition is created on a theoretical basis and interprets enlightenment through the principles of ‘achievement’. However, both Immanuel Kant and Moses Mendelssohn point at the necessity of freedom in the Enlightenment, despite the fact that Kant tends to maintain the idea of freedom from religion, while Mendelssohn supports the idea of freedom within religion.
Works CitedAltmann, Alexander. Moses Mendelssohn, A Biographical Study. Alabama: University of Alabama             Press, 1973.Arkush, Allan. Moses Mendelssohn and the Enlightenment. Albany, NY: State University of New             York Press, 1994. Beiser, Frederick. The Fate of Reason: German Philosophy from Kant to Fichte. Cambridge and              London: Harvard University Press, 1987. Belas, L. “Kant and the Enlightenment.” Filozofia. 54 (2000): 457-463. Kant, Immanuel. What is Enlightenment. Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals and What is              Enlightenment. By Immanuel Kant. New York: Macmillan, 1990. 83-90.Lassman, Peter. “Enlightenment, Cultural Crisis, and Politics. The Role of Intellectuals from Kant              to Habermas.” The European Legacy. 5 (2000): 815-828.Mendelssohn, Moses. On the Question: What does “To Enlighten” Mean? Philosophical Writings.              By Moses Mendelssohn. Trans. and ed. Daniel O. Dahlstrom. Cambridge: Cambridge              University Press, 1997. 313-317.Meyer, Michael. The Origins of the Modern Jew. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1967. Schmidt, James, ed. What is Enlightenment?: Eighteenth-Century Questions and Twentieth-Century              Answers. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1996.Shmueli, Efraim. Seven Jewish Cultures: A Reinterpretation of Jewish History and Thought.               Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.   Sorkin, David. Moses Mendelssohn and the Religious Enlightenment. Berkeley: University of                California Press, 1996.