Academic journal article German Quarterly

Beyond Exile and Inner Emigration: Rereading Max Horkheimer on Theodor Haecker's der Christ Und Die Geschichte (1935)

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Beyond Exile and Inner Emigration: Rereading Max Horkheimer on Theodor Haecker's der Christ Und Die Geschichte (1935)

Article excerpt

in his 1941 essay "art and Mass Culture," the exiled Max Horkheimer imagines his return to a postwar Germany. He wonders whether the apparent stupor of his compatriots under National socialism might actually reflect a deliberate choice to close eyes and ears to the regime's deceptions: "one day we may learn that in the depths of their hearts, the masses, even in fascist countries, secretly knew the truth and disbelieved the lie, like catatonic patients who make known only at the end of their trance that nothing has escaped them. therefore it may not be entirely senseless to continue speaking a language that is not easily understood" (290). Horkheimer wrote this at a crucial moment in the development of the frankfurt institute for social research's critical theory and critique of the culture industry, which would later form the heart of his and theodor adorno's Dialektik der Aufklärung (1947). Horkheimer's imagined re-encounter with German culture-or its catatonic remnants-retains hope that critical theory, nurtured in exile, might yet offer an antidote to the pathologies of the third reich.1

four years earlier, friedrich von reck-Malleczewen, an anti-Nazi conservative writer who remained as an inner emigrant in Germany after 1933 and who would die in Dachau in 1944, recorded a similar moment of imagined "remigration" in his journal.2 reflecting on news that the Gestapo had searched the home of his friend and fellow inner emigrant theodor Haecker for anti-Nazi manuscripts, reck-Malleczewen apostrophized the exiled German intelligentsia.

es ist seltsam, an euch zurückzudenken, es ist seltsam, aus den Ätherwellen, hinweg über die tiefen der ozeane und aus der uns so lange schon verschlossenen Welt gelegentlich eure stimme zu hören, [...] orte zu betreten, an denen man vor einigen Jahren noch mit euch plauderte! ihr fehlt mir und fehlt mir auch dann, wenn ihr, wie es ja mit den meisten von euch der fall gewesen ist, meine opponenten und politischen Gegenspieler wart. (37-38)

Despite the elegiac tone, he concedes that the restoration of a public sphere will be challenging "nach diesen Jahren." Will a common language for dialogue exist? Will the exiles accept the hard-won perspicacity of inner emigrants, like him and Haecker, who have endured "dieses illegale und beobachtende Verbleiben in der Barbarei" (38)? reck-Malleczewen's lament for lost freedoms blurs with a preemptory defence of inner emigration, already running counter to Horkheimer's assumption that exiles would return to Germany with clearer sight than those who had remained. if the two men were attempting to envision post-Nazi cultural dialogue, the imagined scenarios also intimate mutual incomprehensibility and self-justification.

at first reading, the juxtaposition of these two passages exemplifies the commonplace account of the relationship between German exile literature and the non-Nazi writings of those who remained in the third reich after 1933. in this framework, exile and inner emigration represent discrete experiences. after the war, the geographical distance between the two literatures would morph into a critical distance. thomas Mann's famous 1945 reproach that "Blut und schande" tainted all cultural production within the third reich sounded the defining note for what Hans Mayer termed the "total alienation" between inner and outer exiles. Mann rejected the possibility of mutual understanding between those who experienced the "Hexensabbat von außen" and those who had "mitgetanzt" (Grosser 30).3 likewise, in January 1945, the exiled Hannah arendt categorically rejected "inner" opposition to totalitarianism, claiming that being hanged was the only reliable token of anti-Nazi convictions ("organized Guilt" 228). the literaturstreit that ensued after 1945 continued to radiate the heat of the historical and political problem of how to classify anti-Nazi, non-Nazi, or "inoculated" ways of existence under Nazism, a persistent problem even in recent studies. …

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