German History: Some New German Views

German History: Some New German Views

German History: Some New German Views

German History: Some New German Views

Excerpt

Less than ten years have elapsed since the total breakdown of German national and political life in the greatest defeat which any modern power has ever suffered. In this short time the country has experienced, with Western help, an astonishing restoration of all aspects of her national and economic existence. The German Federal Republic will soon regain equality and sovereignty as a result of the contractual arrangements which she concluded with the United States, Great Britain and France. A German army will be recreated, though in the framework of a European Defence Community. The course which German and European history will take from this point on is uncertain. Thus, it might be appropriate to consider some of the forces influencing the likely further course of German development.

In modern Germany scholars, and above all historians, have always played a great role, indicating the changes in national temper and directing public opinion. Certainly, the future of Germany is being not only, and even not mainly, influenced by her historians; nevertheless, past experience reveals the symptomatic value of a study of trends in German historiography and intellectual life as a guide for gauging the nascent and dominant currents which shape and sway the people's mind. German intellectuals and scholars have carried a great share of responsibility for the anti-democratic and anti-Western attitudes of the German people in the last one hundred and fifty years. Will they now be more helpful in integrating Germany into the democratic community of the West?

Democracy is not a product of legislation or constitutions. If it were, the problem would be simple. Except for the important fact that the election of the parliament was based upon proportionate representation and party-lists of candidates putting their choice into the hands of the central party committees, the constitution of the Weimar Republic was a good constitution. It failed to prevail because it was not rooted in the way of life and the traditions of the people. It was rejected by many of them as an importation from the West and therefore as unsuitable for the German mind and conditions. The deep anti-Western feeling of the Germans was a poor soil for allowing democracy to take root.

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