weimar republic

The Nazis may write like schoolboys, but they’re capable of anything. That’s just why they’re so dangerous. People laugh at them, right up to the last moment…
—  Christopher Isherwood, “Goodbye to Berlin”
Kurt Tucholsky, 1929

(Explanation: I posted this text in German a while ago, because I found it in a book and I was astonished how much it reminded me of the way I think about new right-wing parties in Germany today, like the AFD or movements like Pegida and what it feels like to hear these sorts of people say they are the people or they love this country. @awordwasthebeginning​ has suggested a translation of this text into English, and I thought it was a brilliant idea - firstly, because I’ve seen many discussions here on tumblr about Pegida and stuff and I’ve been asked about this by quite a few people and secondly, because in many countries here in Europe as well as overseas the right-wing is growing stronger and I think that what Tucholsky says does in many ways not apply to Germany alone.) 

Kurt Tucholsky was one of the most important journalists of the Weimar Republic. He was simultaneously a satirist, an author of satirical political revues, a songwriter and a poet. He saw himself as a left-wing democrat and pacifist and warned against anti-democratic tendencies – and the threat of National Socialism. His fears were confirmed when the Nazis came to power in 1933: his books were listed on the Nazi’s censorship as “Entartete Kunst” (“Degenerate Art”) and burned, and he lost his German citizenship. In 1935 he commited suicide in his new home in Hindås, Sweden. 

Jokingly, this book is titled „Deutschland, Deutschland Über Alles“. (Germany, Germany, Above Everything). A foolish line from a big-mouthed piece of poetry.*

No, Germany does not stand above everything and is not above anything, it never is. But what it should be, our country, is be with everyone.

And here you have the testimony, to which this book shall lead:

Yes, we love this country.

And now I want to tell you something:

It’s not true that those who call themselves “nationalists” and who are nothing but bourgeois and militaristic, own this country or its language. Neither the representatives of the government in their frock-coats, nor the well-studied senior teachers, nor the ladies and gentlemen of the Stahlhelm** are Germany all by themselves.

We’re still here.

They open their mouths and shout: “In the name of Germany…!” They yell: “We love this country, only we love it.” It’s not true.

Everyone exceeds us in patriotism – We’re feeling internationally. But no one exceeds our love for our home***. Not even those on whose name the land is registered.****

It’s ours.

And as much as those disgust me, who won’t say a kind word about this country – the reversed nationalists – we’re equally far from sharing the sentiment of a “fatherland”.

We don’t care about the flags – but we love this country. And with the same right the nationalist parties are drumming their way through the streets with – with that same right, exactly the same right, we, who are born here, we, who write and speak better German than the majority of these nationalist mules – with that very same right we claim the rivers and the forests, the beaches and the houses, the clearances and the meadows.

It’s our country. We have the right to hate Germany – because we love it.

One has to consider us as well, when one speaks of Germany, us: The communists, the young socialists, the pacifists, all degrees of those who embrace freedom. One has to think of us, when one thinks of “Germany”. It’s too simple to pretend Germany only consists of nationalist parties.

Germany is a divided country. And we are a part of it.

And between all these contrasts stands – unshakably, without flag, without a barrel organ*****, without sentimentality and without drawn blade – a quiet love for our home.


*(Deutschland Deutschland Über Alles is the The first line of the first stanza of the “Deutschlandlied” - Under the Nazi-regime only this stanza was sung as national anthem. Today the third stanza (Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit – Unity and Justice and Freedom) is sung, Deutschland Deutschland Über Alles is forbidden to be sung in public.)

**Armed members of a right-wing party, later merged with the SA under the Nazi rule

*** I’ve translated Heimat as home, but Heimat is a slightly different concept, between home and homeland, but it’s hard to define. Heimat is all about the personal connection you have with a certain place and its people, its environment, culture, traditions, food, the local dialects – Heimat is strongly connected to this connection and the place you feel at home in and you have fond, nostalgic memories of. So home is probably the closest.

****This one loses a little bit in translation, but I’m not sure how to paraphrase it. What he’s saying is that this love for his home exceeds legal boundaries and it doesn’t matter who owns a piece or part of the land, it’s still part of Germany and therefore part of the Heimat/home. 

*****The barrel organ/Leierkasten is in German often a proverbial symbol for repetitiousness. For example Donald Trump is repeating his slogan “leierkastenartig” - like a barrel organ.

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Romer pistol

Manufactured by Romerwerke in Suhl, Germany c.1924-26 - serial number 1053.
.22LR seven-round magazine, blowback semi-automatic, square trigger guard.

The Weimar Republic’s Colt woodsman. Following the Versailles treaty at the end of World War I, a lot of German firearm manufacturers turned to the few calibers available to continue their work and stay in business, leading to many target pistol models from that era.