TRAMES 1, 1, 1997

Wolfgang Drechsler. On German Geist


This essay first argues that Geist, in the connex with "German", can be translated, following N. Hartmann, as "Spirit". Elements stemming from J. Lotman, J. Locke, and J.W. v. Goethe are added, resulting in the meaning of German Spirit as specific moments in Germans at a given point in time. The one moment which today determines German identity is argued to be the Holocaust. This is confirmed, aided by the polis-theory of L. Strauss, by an analysis of the 1986 Historikerstreit. The essay then proceeds to argue that for contemporary Germany, assuming that a sound national identity is the best safeguard of a pluralistic-democratic country, this is only an option if one can see National Socialism as somewhat un-German, which is claimed to be possible. Following the argument of Count Krockow, this then leads to the realization that German Spirit is actually to a large extent German-Jewish Spirit.

Wolfgang Drechsler Ph.D. (Marburg) is Professor and Chair of Public Administration and Government at the University of Tartu. He is a founding editor of "Trames".

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