G:  aufsätze 

The Cult(ure) of Violence: Recent German Reflections
Jay Rosellini


Much has changed in Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall in November, 1989 and the official reunification of the country in October, 1990. The one aspect that has received the most international media attention is the number of violent acts perpetrated on German streets in the past few years. In the context of this essay, the term "violent acts" does not refer to "criminal" violence in the usual sense of the word. (For decades, the number of murders in the former West Germany was about the same as that of Detroit or Houston. In the East, murders were extremely rare. Even now, the murder rate in Germany as a whole is about one tenth that of the US.) It denotes acts of violence against non-Germans, mainly so-called "guest workers" (Gastarbeiter) and asylum seekers.(1) Some of these incidences have come to represent the very essence of brutality and xenophobia. In September, 1991, 150 young neo-Nazis attacked an apartment building occupied by foreigners in Hoyerswerda. In August, 1992, skinheads and local youths lay siege to a building in Rostock occupied by asylum seekers. This went on for five nights, and the police did little about it. In November,1992, an arsonist set fire to a building in Mölln occupied by Turkish families. A woman and two young girls were killed. In May, 1993, the home of a Turkish family in Solingen was set aflame, killing four children and a young woman.(2) The first two incidents took place in the East, the last two in the West. These have been the most spectacular cases, but the final chapter has yet to be written, as two other less publicized examples illustrate: In October, 1995, four youths attacked a man from Togo, kicking him and beating him with baseball bats. This happened in Nordhausen, a town near the Harz mountains in the former GDR. About a month later in the university town of Greifswald, ten youths ambushed a student from Afghanistan, kicked him repeatedly and wounded him with a knife.(3) A less random act was the (second!) firebombing of the Lübeck synagogue on May 7, 1995, just before the ceremonies marking the fiftieth anniversary of the defeat of the Third Reich.(4)

In light of such horrors, the results of an opinion poll conducted in Germany fifty years after the end of World War II are not without interest. 79% of the Germans see May 8, 1945, as a day of liberation rather than defeat. 92% say the Nazis were able to commit their crimes because they were unopposed by large parts of the bureaucracy. Only 5% say that only a small clique was responsible for the injustices of the Third Reich. A full 95% reject the so-called "Auschwitz lie" that the victorious Allies made up the story of the Holocaust. Only 5% of youths would ever vote for an extreme right-wing party and only 1% could imagine joining such a group. There is a generational divide, however. 87% of the people under 30 think of May 8 as a day of liberation, but only 67% of those over 50.(5) Despite these figures, violence and right-wing politics in Germany are never portrayed exclusively as present-day phenomena in the media--there is always a historical dimension or echo as well. There are at least three main reasons for this.

First of all, symbols and relics of the Nazi past are constantly coming into view. An Amtrak train is sabotaged in Arizona, and the saboteurs leave behind a note signed "Sons of the Gestapo."(6) Israeli historian Moshe Zimmermann is denounced as a demagogue and parasite for having said that the "little Nazi" is lurking in everyone--even in Israel.(7) American Gary Lauck is arrested in Denmark at a neo-Nazi gathering. The German government succeeds in having him extradited to Germany, where he stands trial for disseminating Nazi propaganda from his home base in Nebraska. (Lauck's newsletter, the Kampfruf is being distributed on the Internet by means of an America Online account.) At the same time, Danish neo-Nazis begin broadcasting on their own radio station.(8) A Sunday edition of the New York Times prominently displays a long article about neo-Nazis in cyberspace.(9) New York Times reporter Alan Cowell, writing about the deployment of German warplanes in Bosnia, emphasizes that the missions are "heavy in symbolism."(10) A German WW II veteran comments that these planes have as much place in Bosnia as some old Waffen-SS tourists in Auschwitz.(11) Adolf Eichmann's deputy Alois Brunner is sought in Latin America, and SS officer Erich Priebke is tried for the murder of Italian prisoners in 1944.(12) Eric Borel, a 16-year-old French schoolboy from Toulon, murders his family, his best friend, and eight others before committing suicide. After his death, police search his room and find swastikas, racist graffiti, and a red flag with a stylized swastika---as well as videos like The Silence of the Lambs and the Terminator (starring perhaps the most famous Austrian of the postwar period).(13)

Secondly, there is, among Europeans and others, an undercurrent of anxiety regarding Germany's economic and political ascendancy. Many Europeans will recall the famous statement by François Mauriac: "I love Germany so dearly that I hope there will always be two of them."(14) A more recent formulation appeared in a New York Times article about Helmut Kohl: "The fear for some Europeans ... is Teutonic knights in three-piece suits." (An unnamed diplomat is being quoted here.)(15) The new European currency will also probably be called the "euro" and not the "euromark" as proposed by German finance minister Theo Waigel.(16) Under the guise of criticizing EC policies banning British beef possibly affected with BSE or "mad cow disease," the yellow press in the UK launches an all-out offensive against the "Krauts," engaging in defamation of the German national character, to put it mildly.(17)

Finally, the Third Reich has become more than a historical episode. It is now a symbol of evil per se. In earlier times, one might have heard names like Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Ivan the Terrible, Robespierre, or "the Kaiser,", i.e., Wilhelm II. None of these can compare with Hitler--not even Stalin, despite the Gulag. "Stalinist" has never been a powerful epithet. Those who wish to shock invoke Hitler as a great man, as Louis Farrakhan has done on occasion.(18) According to Joachim Fest, whose Hitler biography has been reissued in Germany, Hitler has become a myth encompassing everything sinister and repugnant in the history of humankind. From Fest's vantage point, our secularized world has bid farewell to the devil as the personification of evil, but the abstract concept of evil still needs a visual expression, so Hitler is indispensable.(19) Needless to say, the choice of Hitler for this role is a source of no little discomfort for today's Germans, many of whom have publicly and privately agonized over the past for decades. The new nationalism presently being articulated by certain intellectuals in Germany is clearly an attempt to make a clean break with the past and to normalize the perception (also the self-perception) of Germany and the Germans. Behind this attempt is the need to create a national identity of which one need not be ashamed. To put it simply, it is still difficult to be a German, and this is even true of the post-fascist generations. A brief passage from the liberal weekly Die Zeit illustrates this phenomenon. In a 1994 article about multiculturalism in the US, reporter Robin Detje wrote the following about his stay in San Francisco: He was able to disappear "in der Menge der Menschen verschiedenster Ethnien, denen ihre Verschiedenheit auf fröhlichste Weise wurst zu sein scheint," and, even more significantly, he could be "nicht mehr so deutsch ..., sondern mehr Mensch. Das erleichtert.(20) It is hard to imagine any other Western Europeans saying such a thing. (Along this line, anyone visiting a German elementary school would hardly find young girls named Ingeborg, Irmtraud, or Sieglinde, but there would be a plethora of Jennifers, Jessicas, and Nicoles. Siegfried, Volker, and Adolf have of course also given way to less Germanic sounding names.)(21)

The acts of non-Germans also do not produce the sort of outcry which would be de rigueur if they were Teutonic in origin. A few examples: The newly-elected mayor of Toulon, Jean-Marie de Chevallier of Le Pen's National Front, has demanded that the children of foreigners be put in separate schools away from French children.(22) If the mayor of Freiburg, a city of comparable size, had made such a statement, there would have been calls for his immediate resignation from across the globe. The same is true for Aimone Finestra, mayor of Latina, a city of ca. 90,000 south of Rome. Mayor Finestra recently decided to name a new city park after Arnaldo Mussolini, the Duce's younger brother.(23) A "Hitler Park" on the edge of Greater Berlin would be unthinkable. In a similar vein, no German intellectual could have shrugged off the dangers of nuclear testing like "new philosopher" Bernard-Henri Lévy did. Despite world-wide protests against French tests in the South Pacific, Lévy could calmly state: "Nuclear tests: Why not?"(24) As a footnote to this, one might point out that the Austrians have apparently succeeded in uncoupling themselves from the Germans in public perception. If they had not, there would now be an international media blitz directed toward the picturesque Alpenrepublik, since self-styled "right-wing populist" Jörg Haider of the Freedom Party is a major player on the political stage there. Although he did not realize his dream of a share in national power in the 1995 Austrian elections, he still commands about 22% of voter support, a figure which would make even Le Pen--let alone Germany's Franz Schönhuber--envious. No German politician could survive the scandal surrounding Haider's speech at a meeting of Austrian Waffen-SS veterans.(25) One must conclude that Austria has successfully marketed its postwar self-image as the first victim of National Socialism, rather than its primary collaborator.


As one would expect, the events in Hoyerswerda, Rostock, Mölln, Solingen and elsewhere have forced German writers to once again come to terms with the past--or rather its apparent perpetuation in the post-unification present. Writers were involved in the Lichterketten, or candlelight vigils, which brought tens of thousands of anti-racist demonstrators to the streets of Munich, Hamburg, and elsewhere a few years ago. Several anthologies have also appeared, with titles like Schweigen ist Schuld or "Denk ich an Deutschland ..." - Stimmen der Befremdung.(26) In the fall of 1995, Austrian writer Robert Menasse began his opening speech at the Frankfurt Book Fair with the following words: "Im 16. Jahrhundert schrieb ein Amsterdamer Rabbi den Satz: `Was einmal wirklich war, bleibt ewig möglich.' Er bezog sich mit diesem Satz auf die kurz zuvor den Juden widerfahrenen Greuel im Zuge ihrer Vertreibung von der iberischen Halbinsel."(27)

Menasse then mentioned, almost as an aside, that the same sentence can be found in Theodor Adorno's reflections on Auschwitz. In the context of this essay, I will limit myself to an analysis of two essays and two dramas which revolve around the nexus between violence and the German character.

By far the most controversial of these is "Anschwellender Bocksgesang", an essay by dramatist and poet Botho Strauß (b. 1944).(28) The title means something akin to "impending tragedy." ("Bocksgesang," a word not found in most German dictionaries, is a literal and humorous translation of the word tragedy, namely "song of the billy goat.") Critic Thomas Assheuer has characterized this piece as "ein unerhörtes Dokument - das erste aus dem Neuen Deutschland,"(29) whereas others have been a bit more blunt, asking the question: "Ist Botho Strauß ein Faschist?"(30) Such reactions were provoked by desultory musings written in a highly convoluted style meant to be comprehensible solely for the chosen few. This is a polemic against the left (even the term "left" has purportedly been a synonym for "wrong" since time immemorial)(31), specifically against the "generation of `68," whose rejection of the past has supposedly led to "die Verhöhnung des Eros, die Verhöhnung des Soldaten, die Verhöhnung von Kirche, Tradition und Autorität." 203  In a passage reminiscent of Neil Postman, Strauß also attacks the mass media for trivializing all of human experience and making true communication and edification impossible. 207 German intellectuals are castigated for embracing everything foreign, including foreigners themselves, in the hope that the foreign element will destroy Germany once and for all. 203 (Even Günter Grass, who is not mentioned by Strauß, wrote a utopian--or dystopian, depending on one's perspective--novel in which the eventual extinction of the Germans is seen as the only way to make people forget Auschwitz and remember the positive aspects of German culture.)(32) According to Strauß, the spirit of tolerance and xenophilia conjured up by many German intellectuals and politicians is ultimately an expression of self-hatred, and anti-fascism is often a manifestation of mental disorder rather than political consciousness. 204 It is not that such things have not been said in Germany since 1945. What lends these words impact is the fact that they are being uttered by a respected, hitherto `enlightened and progressive' writer, not an incorrigible representative of an SS solidarity group. (Strauß himself had actually touched on similar themes in his dramas and poems of the 1980's, but on this occasion, he spoke for the first time not as an imaginative writer, but as a cultural critic.) Echoing right-wing criticism of Germany's liberal political asylum law--which has since been made much more restrictive--, Strauß states: "Es ist verwerflich ohne jede Einschränkung, sich an Fremden zu vergreifen - es ist verwerflich, Horden von Unbehausbaren, Unwirtbaren ahnungslos hereinzulassen."(33) This has been interpreted as a gesture of support for those youthful vandals who have taken the law into their own hands. Strauß even goes on to assert that enlightened intellectuals are at a loss to understand such youths, because they no longer understand the concept of "Verhängnis." 204 This word can be translated as misfortune, destiny, or tragic fate. Since Strauß also laments the loss of such Prussian virtues as sacrifice and service, one can imagine how German readers could see the ghosts of 1933 on the horizon. This is ultimately a misunderstanding, however, because Strauß actually dreams of returning to the world as it was before the Enlightenment, not just before the collapse of National Socialism. His juxtaposition of elitism and conservatism is not new in German cultural history.(34)

Hans Magnus Enzensberger, a leading representative of the intellectual avant-garde in Germany since the 1950's, also published a controversial essay in 1993. Enzensberger, whose roles have included gadfly of the oppressive Wirtschaftswunder era, spiritus rector of the student movement, and skeptical analyst of the television culture, had already shocked the left-liberal camp in 1991 with an article equating Saddam Hussein with Hitler, thus justifying the Gulf War.(35) His 1993 essay, "Ausblicke auf den Bürgerkrieg,"(36) describes the "New World Order" as a chaotic state of affairs in which civil war is the norm rather than the exception. Now that the rhetoric of the Cold War has vanished, none of the combatants can justify their actions with respect to political philosophy or even propagandistic boilerplate. They seem to be devoid of beliefs, he maintains. Enzensberger goes so far as to say that these mindless warriors are "autistisch," driven by a strange longing for "kollektive Selbstverstümmelung," and incapable of distinguishing between destruction and self-destruction. 171-172

Beyond such global pronouncements, which are certainly debatable,(37) Enzensberger does not ignore the recent eruptions of savagery on German soil. Given the observations quoted above, it should come as no surprise that he refuses to call the perpetrators of violence against foreigners "Rechtsradikale" or "Neonazis:" "Vom Nationalsozialismus weiß er nichts. Die Geschichte interessiert ihn nicht. Hakenkreuz und Hitler-Gruß sind beliebige Requisiten. Seine Klamotten-, Musik- und Videokultur ist durch und durch amerikanisch. ... `Deutschtum' ist ein Slogan ohne jeden Inhalt, der nur dazu dient, die Leerstellen im Gehirn zu besetzen."172 One should not assume, however, that ignoring such people is an option for Enzensberger. Eliminating the anti-social violence from German society is, in fact, at the top of his political agenda. If the Germans were to simply look the other way, they would hardly be credible critics vis-à-vis injustices abroad: "Es steht den Deutschen schlecht an, sich als Garanten des Friedens und als Weltmeister der Menschenrechte aufzuführen, solange deutsche Schläger- und Mordbrennerbanden Tag und Nacht Furcht und Schrecken verbreiten."175 This is not the voice of a neoconservative à la Strauß. It is an expression of resignation stemming from the realization that the universalist morality of the Enlightenment cannot--or has yet to be--accepted as a code of personal, political, and societal behavior. Unlike Strauß, Enzensberger can find no solace in an idealized past or in a feeling of splendid isolation. He can concur with Hannah Arendt's analysis of totalitarianism, but only with respect to the past. The cultural pessimism we find here is not coupled with a call to return to traditional values and/or the cultural leadership of the Bildungsbürgertum. It is an appeal to Germans from all parts of the political spectrum to save what is left of civil society before it is too late. This is quite a limited agenda in comparison to the utopian visions of the student movement which Enzensberger once helped to inspire.

The 1994 play Jagdzeit  (38) is in part a dramatic illustration of Enzensberger's views. The author, acclaimed actress Gundi Ellert (b. 1951), is not content to discuss violence--she attempts to shock her audience by filling the stage with violent acts, blood, and gore. It is ironic that the administrators of the Munich Residenztheater, where the premiere performance was held in September, 1994, decided to invite not graying season-ticket holders, but rather a group of young people to the theater, assuming that they were more `accustomed' to violent images.(39)  Ellert portrays a society built on violence and lies, one in which the older generation battles both the younger generation and foreign infiltration, the younger generation despises the older generation, and would-be saviors attempt to take control. Ellert has emphasized that she wanted to write neither a documentary play nor a didactic one ("Zeigefingerdrama"). Instead, she hoped to illustrate the potential for violence in all of us--a potential that can be tapped under oppressive conditions in the family and the society as a whole.(40) In the framework of the post-1989 debate about perpetrators and victims in Germany (Täter-Opfer-Debatte), Ellert portrays brutalized victims who become violent themselves. In her play, the victims are mainly youths, and the females are no less violent than the males.(41)

The action takes place in a border town run by the Christian Democrats, where the powers that be are xenophobic and nostalgic about the old days, i.e., the Third Reich. A number of their children (in their late teens and early 20's) meet in secret, carrying out burglaries and dreaming of a new heroic era. Their group is dominated by a charismatic leader, Robert (in his mid-30's), who has political ambitions. Robert's Weltanschauung is a hodgepodge of millenarianism and visions of German greatness:

"Wir sind ein stolzes Volk das keine Schwächen erträgt ... Ihr seid die Erwählten ... Die Gewalt ist nur der Übergang zu besseren Zeiten / Und dann ersteht die Welt in unserem Glanz ... Wir sind die Kreuzritter der neuen Zeit / Wir werden ins Geschichtsbuch geschrieben ... Das Gute wird über das Böse siegen / Das ist der Wille des Herrn / Und für seinen Willen seid ihr das Werkzeug ... Die Masse hat Angst / Der Masse hat man das Rückgrat gebrochen / Doch wir sind der Arm der Bewegung ... Ich zeige euch den Weg / Folgt mir getrost / Ich führe euch ... Wenn wir siegen verändert sich die Welt / Nichts mehr wird sein wie es war" 36

An American audience would be reminded of David Koresh, and it does turn out that Robert sexually exploits the women in the group. In the end, however, he absconds with the stolen money and uses it to co-found a new right-wing party (led by a man named Merkler, who sounds like a Schönhuber clone). The disciples that he leaves behind see themselves not as politicians, but as "Rebellen" and "Räuber."36  In the course of one break-in, an elderly woman is brutally murdered by Marie, one of the young women in the group. The victim, Frau Gruber, had been a guard in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, but this does not make an impression on the murderers. They even read letters from her husband describing his suffering as a soldier on the Eastern Front, and think that such people were "idiots" for dying for the fatherland. Later, the group kidnaps a young woman whom they think is a Gypsy and asylum seeker.  During her captivity, she is brutally tortured and molested. One of her captors parades around in Frau Gruber's old camp uniform from time to time. This would be an example of Enzensberger's comments on the use of "props" devoid of historical meaning. In the end, most of the gang members are rehabilitated by the establishment, since it is opportune to blame the crime wave on foreigners.

Ellert offers neither historical-political analysis nor solutions. Her text is the highly emotional outcry of a tortured soul longing for a humane society.(42) One is, however, left with the impression that German society has no future. The only figure in the play who argues against the neo-Nazis is the Christian-Democratic mayor, who sees everything in purely economic terms:

"In der Wirtschaft denkt man global / Das müßt ihr euch merken / Da gibt es kein Ausland ... Die Gesellschaft im dritten Jahrtausend / Braucht Käufer / Käufer / Keine Arbeitskräfte / Das ist das große Problem / Weltweit ... "32-33

One of the linchpins of the Strauß essay discussed above is a critique of mindless consumerism as the end of all true culture and humanity. Strauß believes that a society that can fulfill only economic needs is on the road to ruin. This assessment has much to recommend it, but it unfortunately implies that present-day Germany is an affluent society from top to bottom. In the harsh climate of the new global economy, many Germans can only dream of the full-employment days of the 1960's, and the "road to ruin" is already lined with almost one-half million homeless, making prosperous Germany the home to almost half of the homeless people in the EC.(43) This is the stuff of which major societal explosions are made.

A microcosmic portrayal of such explosions lies at the center of Tankred Dorst's 1994 play Die Schattenlinie  (44). Dorst is one of Germany's most honored and most prolific playwrights, and he has been fascinated with the relationship of creative artists and critical intellectuals to society since the 1960's. This theme was first treated in his 1968 drama Toller, which is based on the literary career and political activities of poet, dramatist, and cultural critic Ernst Toller (1893-1939). Dorst has never been primarily a political dramatist, however. He is more concerned with the existential dilemmas of individual characters in specific situations.(45) Schattenlinie  is somewhat of an anomaly in Dorst's oeuvre, in that political matters are not submerged in the biographical context. The play is preceded by an untitled preface in which the author's distress is manifest. Dorst is clearly horrified by the acts of violence in his country--and elsewhere--and even more disturbed by the diffidence of his fellow citizens:

"Hört denn niemand das Geschrei ringsumher? Der ganze Erdball ist erfüllt davon. ... Vieles wird gesagt, aber niemand spricht aus, daß in Wahrheit eine immer mehr um sich greifende Lust am Töten, eine fiebrige Gier, alles, was geschaffen ist, wieder zu zerstören, die Ursache ist, daß Städte in Trümmer fallen, Brückenpfeiler einknicken, hundertstöckige Bauwerke in sich zusammenstürzen, zerhackte, zerstückelte Menschen mit Lebenden zusammen in Kalkgruben gekippt werden. Die Geräusche des Schreckens und der Gewalttaten sind während der folgenden Handlung immer wahrzunehmen, manchmal deutlich und von ganz nah, manchmal nur von fern, wie der Nachhall oder der allmähliche Beginn schrecklicher Ereignisse." 9-10 The last phrase of this apocalyptic scenario could be a paraphrase of the title of Strauß' essay "Anschwellender Bocksgesang." There is much in the play to confirm this suspicion.

In contrast to Ellert, who starts from the premise that the breakdown of the traditional family structure is the root cause of violence, Dorst illustrates his view that it is the denial of violence on the part of what some would call "knee-jerk liberals" that is one of the causes of the problem in the first place. (Such a denial is also sharply criticized by Strauß, who quotes from the book Violence and the Sacred by French anthropologist and literary critic René Girard.) Dorst's protagonist, a late-40ish "68er" named Malthus, is the prototype of the politically correct liberal intellectual--at least in his writings and public pronouncements, in which he proclaims the guilt of the "civilized" West vis-à-vis the exploited Third World (his research project is entitled "Harmonie und Gewalt in den Kulturen der Menschheit"). At home, things are quite different. His wife Lil, a Latvian who was `liberated' from the Soviet bloc by Malthus, feels oppressed by her hyperrational and often emotionless husband. Their first child, Benny, suffers from a kind of autism, and his torments have almost ruined their life together. The other son, Jens, is an intelligent and extremely violent youth who has joined a group of xenophobic skinheads. The daughter, Jennifer, has been somewhat more accessible to Malthus' pacifistic, moralizing, anti-consumer child rearing, but even she allows herself to be abused by a disgusting character during a one-night stand at a hotel. The deterioration of civility in the family culminates in a brutal fight between Malthus and the jackbooted Jens.

This neo-Ibsenite family drama is complemented by scenes which take place on another plane. A mysterious black man--it is never clear whether he is a figment of the European family's imagination or a real economist from Sierra Leone--appears from time to time and interrupts the action. In a surrealistic twist to the first scene, for example, this man begins to sing and dance while running after his own head. Here he is obviously the European's idea of the instinctual primitive. In the middle of the play, he becomes a sort of post-modernist docent, lecturing Malthus about "degenerate whites" who suffer from the disease of monocausal thinking: "Es gibt aber doch so viele Wahrheiten über jedes Ding, sie sind unzählig, wie Regentropfen!" 39(46) Finally, he is murdered by skinhead Jens, who fantasizes about using Zyklon B against all the black "Kakerlaken." 57(47) In a grotesque courtroom scene analogous to the trial in Solingen that concluded in October, 1995, a chorus of black mothers laments the African's death in a highly emotional fashion, only to be called to task by the judge, who accuses them of perpetuating "die Klischees vom primitiven Schwarzen."66  (Strauß railed against xenophilic Germans, one recalls.)  In the end, Malthus decides to drop out of society, living in an old trailer at a garbage dump and calling himself "Nigger zwei." He departs on an inner journey, submitting voluntarily to reeducation--as opposed to the Germans in 1945, who were `pushed' back into the West, as it were.

It is unclear if Dorst sees this as a real alternative, but the atmosphere of destructiveness and murderous mania described in the preface prevails until the final curtain. He leaves it to us to decide whether this atmosphere is indeed the last remnant or the mere herald of individual and societal tragedy. Many books have already been written about this question, and many more will be written, but the ultimate answer will be found in Germany's corporate boardrooms, factories, living rooms, neighborhoods, parliament, playgrounds, schools, and streets. It remains to be seen whether the cries of the literary Cassandras will be heard and reflected upon in these venues. Xenophobia and the breakdown of social order are not exclusively German concerns, but in light of their recent history, the Germans have a special obligation to stand up against such developments. Were they to do so, they would not only render a great service to humankind, but also contribute to the reconstruction of a German identity that would be less of a burden for future generations. One thing is clear: ignoring or rejecting said obligation, as some have done, could have disastrous consequences.

*All translations from German into English are my own.

1 A related phenomenon, one that will not be discussed here, is the frequency of attacks on homosexuals and those with disabilities. These two groups represent a discernible other just as the foreigners do.

2 After the arson in Mölln, a French commentator spoke of historic errors (erreurs historiques) committed by the government and the police. He also asserted that an antidemocratic spectre  (le spectre antidémocratique) was haunting the Federal Republic more than at any other time in the past forty years. Cf. Lucas Delattre, Allemagne: "L'état contre les racistes," L'Express, 11 December 1992, 9-10.

The following articles deal with the verdict in the Solingen case:

"Hohe Strafen für Solinger Brandanschlag," Die Welt, 14 October 1995. Online; Joachim Neander, "Die Leiden des Strafrechts bei politischen Verbrechen," Die Welt, 14 October 1995. Online; Hans-Werner Loose, "Schuld im Übermaß," Die Welt, 14 October 1995. Online; "Überlebende: Solingen-Urteil gerecht," Die Welt, 16 October 1995. Online; Alan Cowell, "Germans Sentenced in Arson Killing of Turks," New York Times, 15 October 1995. Online; Walter Jakobs, "Bis zum Urteil bleibt nur beten," taz (=die tageszeitung), 13 October 1995. Online; Walter Jakobs, "Höchststrafen für Solinger Mörder," taz, 14 October 1995. Online; Bernd Neubacher, "Was passiert ist, ist passiert," taz, 14 October 1995. Online; Walter Jakobs, "Geschlagen, behütet, abgerutscht," taz, 14 October 1995. Online; hwl, "Vier Verurteilungen, viermal Revision," Die Welt, 11 March 1996. Online; Hans-W. Loose, "Man hat mir nur die Lügerei geglaubt," Die Welt, 11 March 1996. Online. The arson in Solingen is the starting point for a play which I unfortunately have not been able to obtain. The author is one John von Düffel, and the play (Solingen) had its premiere at the Staatstheater Oldenburg in 1995. Cf. kc, Solingen, Kulturchronik 6/1995, 17.

3 German News, 29 October and 22 November 1995. Online.

4 "Erneuter Brandanschlag auf Lübecker Synagoge," Deutschland Nachrichten, 12 May 1995, 2. After the fire at a home for asylum seekers in Lübeck (10 residents died, and over 30 were injured) on 18 January 1996, the taz published a chronicle of arson in Germany: "Folgenschwere Brandanschläge mit fremdenfeindlichem Hintergrund," taz, 19 January 1996. Online. At this writing, the Lübeck case had not yet been solved. Some were quick to assign blame, however. Cf. Diehart Goos, Juso-Flugblatt: "Das ist Kohls Deutschland," Die Welt, 30 January 1996. Online.

5 Reuter dispatch, 4 May 1995. Online. The statistics were taken from a Forsa study originally published in the weekly Die Woche. Similar results are found in the Emnid poll conducted for Der Spiegel. Cf. "Die Jungen denken anders," Der Spiegel, 8 May 1995. 76-77.

6 Ronald J. Ostrow and David Willman, "Strangers in land of terrorism," Journal and Courier (Lafayette, Indiana), 10 October 1995. The article was taken from the Los Angeles Times.

7 Gisela Dachs, "Wie in der Hitlerjugend," Die Zeit, 26 May 1995 (overseas edition).

8 Ingrid Raagaard, "Eigenes Radio für Neonazis," Die Welt , 25 July 1995. Online. The leader of the DNSB (Dänische Nationalsozialistische Bewegung), Jonni Hansen, plans to use the station as part of his struggle for "ein rassenreines Dänemark." Here are a few of the many articles about Lauck that have appeared in the German press: Marco Carini and Andreas Speit, "Von Neonazi-Freunden überführt," taz , 8 May 1996. Online; Annette Rogalla, "Diener zweier Herren," taz, 8 May 1996. Online; has, "Gary Lauck verweigert die Aussage," Süddeutsche Zeitung, 10 May 1996. Online; Michaela Haas, "Der Großlieferant des rechten Wahns," Süddeutsche Zeitung, 13 May 1996.

9 Alan Cowell, Neo-Nazis Now Network on Line and Underground, New York Times, 22 October 1995, 3. Of related interest: Peter Scherer, "Wir drin, der Staat draußen. Deutsche Rechts-extreme kommunizieren bundesweit via Mailbox," Die Welt, 19 December 1995. Online; Axel Mergler, "Kindersicherung im Internet.  CompuServe bietet jetzt Filter gegen Rechtsextremismus und Pornographie an," Süddeutsche Zeitung, 17 February 1996. Online.

10 Alan Cowell, "German Air Force Planes Fly Reconnaissance Over Bosnia," New York Times, 2 September 1995. Online.

11 Rolf Winter, "Perverser Realismus," taz, 28 July 1995. Online.

12 Bernard Edinger, Reuter dispatch, 18 May 1995. Online. Rose-M. Borngässer, "Ich vertraue auf Italiens Justiz," Die Welt, 22 November 1995. Online. Priebke s acquittal caused much consternation in Italy and elsewhere. Cf. the report "Sturm von Zorn und Trauer," Der Spiegel, 5 August 1996, 120-122.

13 Barbara Supp, "Eine Art von Rache," Der Spiegel, 9 October 1995, 186-188. See also Constance Knitter, "Kinder sind Frankreichs jüngste Gefahr. Gewaltbereitschaft der Minderjährigen wächst ...," Die Welt, 14 October 1995.

14 Cited in Walter Isaacson, "Is One Germany Better Than Two?", Time, 20 November 1989, 36. Here is a more recent French formulation, taken from Le Figaro: "... auch Frankreich hat Grund zur Sorge. Seit der deutschen Wiedervereinigung hat Deutschland das doppelte ökonomische Gewicht wie Frankreich. Hinter zäheren Bankiers und besser verkaufenden Industriellen wächst die politische und vielleicht auch die militärische Rolle Deutschlands." Quoted in Le Figaro : "Frankreichs Sorgen gegenüber Deutschland," Germany Live (dpa/eu), 5 June 1996. Online.

15 Alan Cowell, Helmut Kohl, "Germany's Enduring Heavyweight," New York Times, 16 September 1995. Online.

16 "EU's money may have name at last (AP)," Journal and Courier (Lafayette, Indiana), 9 October 1995.

17 In one letter received by the German Embassy in London, the irate writer expressed the opinion that the Germans wanted to kill 11 million British cattle, after having murdered 6 million Jews. Cf. Reiner Gatermann, "Die Deutschen als Sündenböcke," Die Welt, 6 May 1996. Online. The weekly Focus reprinted from The Sun a list of 20 measures to be taken against Germans. They ranged from the harmless (#19: Sind Deutsche in der Nähe, scherzen und lachen Sie so laut wie möglich. Deutsche haben keinen Humor. ) to the provocative (#12: Sollten Sie eine deutsche Fahne besitzen, verbrennen Sie sie und schicken Sie die Asche Helmut Kohl. ). Georg Meck et al., "Kriegserklärung," Focus, 25 May 1996, online.

18 In March, 1994, Farrakhan said: "Hitler was a genius. He was a great man - but he was wickedly great." Ten years earlier, he had said: "Jews don't like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler.  Well, that's a good name. Hitler was a very great man." Cited in "Farrakhan said," Journal and Courier (Lafayette, Indiana), 15 October 1995.

19 Joachim Fest, "Zeitgenosse Hitler," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 7 October 1995. This text is the new forward to Fest's biography of Hitler.

20 Robin Detje, "Ein Stalinist, wer da nicht lacht," Die Zeit (overseas edition), 20 May 1994, 15. Reflecting a conscious editorial decision or simply the Zeitgeist (no pun intended), the following page contains an article by Jürgen Habermas entitled "Die Last der doppelten Vergangenheit."

21 Cf. Elisabeth Höfl-Hielscher, "Grammophon und Doornkaat abgelehnt. Vornamen wie Keanu, Tinina und Alaska verdrängen die Klassiker," Süddeutsche Zeitung, 18 March 1996. In 1994, the most popular names in Western Germany were Alexander, Daniel, and Maximilian for boys and Julia, Katharina, and Maria for girls. In Eastern Germany, the winners were Philipp, Maximilian, and Paul / Lisa, Maria, and Julia. Cf. Alan Cowell, "Wolfgang, Yes; Woodstock Jr., No," New York Times, 3 September 1995. Online. In contrast to this, the online news service Carolina from Prague reported on 12 April 1996 that the most popular Czech names are the traditional Jan and Petr for boys and Jana and Marie for girls. In an article about Nazi-Kinder, the following passage is found at the top of the page: Die Wolframs und Sigrids, die Herwigs und Gudruns, die Kriegskinder: "Sie leben mit der Vergangenheit ihrer Nazi-Eltern und versuchen sich dieser zu entwinden." Sibylle Hamann and Eva Menasse, "Nazi-Kinder," profil, 15 January 1996, 57.

22 Christoph Winder, "Jean-Marie Le Chevallier. Ein netter Rassist von nebenan," Der Standard, 21 June 1995. Online.

23 "So geht s aber nicht! Faschistischer Bürgermeister von Latina plant Mussolini-Park," taz, 18 October 1995. Online. It would be interesting to compare the international reaction to plans for a supermarket near the KZ Ravensbrück to the response to a Polish entrepreneur's announcement that he would build a supermarket near Auschwitz. Cf. "Ravensbrück: Kein Supermarkt auf KZ-Gelände," Deutschland Nachrichten, 26 July 1991; Philipp Ther, "Schutzzone ohne Sicherung. Warum in unmittelbarer Nähe zum ehemaligen KZ Auschwitz ein Supermarkt entstehen sollte und die einheimischen Polen wieder einmal die Welt nicht verstehen," Süddeutsche Zeitung, 18 March 1996, online; Gabriele Lesser, "Gruppenfoto mit Hitlergruß. Polnische Neonazis marschieren im früheren KZ Auschwitz zu genehmigter Demonstration auf," taz, 9 April 1996, online. In commenting on the ill-fated Ravensbrück project, the Lübecker Nachrichten lamented that it was just such occurrences which conjured up the image of the ugly German.  Cf. "Pressestimmen zu Supermarkt auf KZ-Gelände," Deutschland Nachrichten, 26 July 1991. At this writing, the Polish project is apparently on again--despite the protests against it. Cf. "Bauarbeiten am Supermarkt in Auschwitz," taz, 4 June 1996.  Online; "Streit um Supermarkt," taz, 5 Juni 1996. Online.

24 Lévy's statement, made in his column in Le Point, is quoted in Fredy Gsteiger, "Atomtests: Warum nicht?", Die Zeit (overseas edition), 28 July 1995. Gsteiger compares the intellectual climate in France to that of Germany: "Die europäische, vor allem die deutsche Friedensbewegung blieb den Franzosen stets fremd. Genausowenig überzeugt sie übrigens auch der deutsche Verfassungspatriotismus. Regieren hat hier mit machtvollem Agieren zu tun und nicht mit Sozialmanagement. Die Nation ist nichts Antiquiertes, Überlebtes, Peinliches. In this atmosphere, it was only logical for French police to prevent Danish youths from walking through the streets of Paris wearing t-shirts with the slogan: Chirac, non!" Cf. "Kleiderordnung bombig,"  taz, 18 October 1995.

25 Haider referred to these veterans as "anständig[e] Menschen..., die ihrer Überzeugung bis heute treu geblieben sind." A videotape of the speech (provided by the German television network ARD) was shown on Austrian TV the night before the December, 1995 elections. Cf. Bernhard Küppers, "Schaudern nach Jörgls Gespensterstunde," Süddeutsche Zeitung, 27 December 1995. Online. Also Peter Michael Lingens, "Ein ganz gewöhnlicher Nazibua," Der Standard, 22 December 1995. Online; Haider vor Altnazis: Wir sind geistig überlegen, Der Standard, 16-17 December 1995. Online. For a report on a typical campaign speech by Haider, see Josef Ertl, "Ich werde ausmisten im Land," Der Standard, 13 December 1995. Online.

26 Schweigen ist Schuld. Ein Lesebuch der Verlagsinitiative gegen Gewalt und Fremdenhaß. (München, Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer / R. Piper Verlag, 1993). Denk ich an Deutschland ... Stimmen der Befremdung, ed. Wolfgang Balk and Sebastian Kleinschmidt (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1993).

27 Robert Menasse, "Geschichte war der größte historische Irrtum," Der Standard, 11 October 1995. Online.

28 Botho Strauß, "Anschwellender Bocksgesang," Der Spiegel, 8 February 1993, 202-207. Page references in the body of this paper.

29 Thomas Assheuer, "Was ist rechts? Botho Strauß bläst ins Bockshorn," Frankfurter Rundschau, 10 February 1993. Reprinted with other responses to Strauß in Deutscher Literatur 1993. Jahresrückblick, ed. Franz Josef Görtz et al. (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1994). Assheuer claims that the Strauß essay would have been unthinkable in the pre-1989 Bundesrepublik. It would be more accurate to state that such an essay would have been thinkable, but not from a writer like Strauß.

30 This is the title of an article that appeared in the taz on 13 February 1993. The debate has been raging for over three years, and no end is in sight. An entire conference of the Karl-Arnold-Akademie für politische Bildung (Bonn-Bad Godesberg) was devoted to Strauß in May, 1996. Cf. Tilman Krause, "Die gescheiten Schäfchen. Bewundert und viel gescholten - Botho Strauß unter der Lupe der Germanisten," Der Tagesspiegel, 22 May 1996. Online. The controversy is summarized in nuce in the letters to the editor of Der Spiegel that were published two weeks after the appearance of the "Bocksgesang." Here are the two opposite poles: "Als jemand, der auf die gebetsmühlenartige Phraseologie und das hohle Pathos vieler unserer Links-Intellektuellen zunehmend allergisch reagiert, habe ich die hervorragende Analyse von Botho Strauß mit großem Gewinn gelesen." [Wolfgang Labonde] "Die Botschaft, die uns Botho Strauß mit seinem blutigen Geraune mitteilen will, ist weder neu noch originell: Was da aufdämmert - Blutopfer, Mythos, Tiefenerinnerung, Initiation, Verhängnis, Schicksal, Opfergesänge -, hat vor 60 Jahren Hitler und seiner Partei zur Macht verholfen." [Cornelia Benz] From: Der Spiegel, 22 February 1993, 12.

31 202-203. This is pure folk etymology. The German word "links" originally had a secondary meaning of lame, or weak, but not wrong. Cf. link, Duden Etymologie (Mannheim/Wien/ Zürich: Dudenverlag, 1963), Der Duden in zehn Bänden, Vol. 7, 405. The political connotation has of course only existed since the French Revolution. Strauß is playing with language here, since "das Fehlgehende" (203) is not really a term denoting someone who is lame.

32 Günter Grass, Kopfgeburten oder Die Deutschen sterben aus (Neuwied, Berlin: Luchterhand, 1980).

33 This formulation was omitted from the Spiegel version of the essay. It can be found in the original version from the conservative journal Der Pfahl, which has been reprinted in Die selbstbewußte Nation. Anschwellender Bocksgesang und weitere Beiträge zu einer deutschen Debatte, ed. Heimo Schwilk and Ulrich Schacht (Frankfurt am Main, Berlin: Ullstein, 1994; 3rd ed. 1995), 34. A recent editorial from the conservative daily Die Welt puts Strauß views in perspective. Cf. Herbert Kremp, "Deutschland braucht Einwanderer - um zu Überleben," Die Welt, 3 June 1996. Online. Kremp, who is concerned about the low birth rate and Überalterung, makes the following statement: "Die Deutschen brauchen Deutsche. Sie sind nicht Volk ohne Raum, sondern Raum ohne Volk. Die neue Lage erfordert ein Einwanderungsgesetz mit Qualifikationsmerkmalen. Denn eines steht schon fest: Über die Nation entscheidet nicht mehr nur das Blut, sondern auch das Plebiszit - der Wille, Deutscher zu sein."

34 I plan to delve into the historical roots and the present manifestation of this phenomenon in a book-length study.

35 Hans Magnus Enzensberger, "Hitlers Wiedergänger," Der Spiegel, 4 February 1991, 26-28.

36 Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Ausblicke auf den Bürgerkrieg, Der Spiegel, 21 June 1993, 170-175. This is an excerpt from the book-length version, i.e.: Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Aussichten auf den Bürgerkrieg (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1993). Page references in the body of this paper refer to the excerpt.

37 The various sides in the Bosnian conflict, for example, clearly view themselves as carrying out cultural, historical, and religious missions, even if the reality may involve primarily a struggle for land and power. Enzensberger appears to be thinking mainly of the situation in the developing countries, a risky business for a European theoretician.

38 Gundi Ellert, "Jagdzeit." Schauspiel in acht Bildern, Theater heute, 9/1994, 30-42. Page references in the body of this paper.

39 "Ein Fest der Folter," Der Spiegel, 19 September 1994, 204.

40 Gundi Ellert im Gespräch mit der Münchner Produktionsdramaturgin Anke Roeder, Theater heute, 9/1994, 29. Although Ellert portrays the young people as children of the Nazi generation (this is not quite accurate, since the fathers are between 40 and 52), she does not put forward a monocausal explanation for the violence. Such an explanation is more characteristic of a book like Jillian Becker's Hitler s Children: The Story of the Baader-Meinhof Terrorist Gang (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1977).

41 This is much like the position taken by former GDR author Helga Schubert in her 1990 book Judasfrauen: "Mich stört die Frauenveredelung: So sensibel, so zart, so kooperativ, so mütterlich, so mitleidig, so kreativ, so authentisch sind wir nicht. Wir sind auch böse und auch gefährlich, auf unsere Weise." H.S., Judasfrauen (München: dtv, 1992), 19.

42 At least one critic in sympathy with Ellert s viewpoint has found it difficult to accept the level of emotionality in the play. Cf. Benjamin Henrichs, "Es ist ein Weinen in dem Wald," Die Zeit (overseas edition), 30 September 1994.

43 Henning Lohse, "Deutschland hat die meisten Obdachlosen. Hier lebt fast jeder zweite wohnungslose Europäer - Immer mehr jungen Leuten fehlt ein Dach Über dem Kopf," Die Welt, 21 October 1995. Online. Of the 1.1 million homeless in the EC, Germany has 490,700, followed by Great Britain with 283,000. Lohse takes his figures from a Feantsa study done for the European Commission. Although the definition of a homeless person makes the situation in Germany seem worse than it actually is, there is more poverty in Europe s richest country than one might think. Much of this poverty is hidden, because most Germans would be ashamed to admit that they are needy.

44 Tankred Dorst, Schattenlinie (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1994). Page references in the body of this paper.

45 Commenting on Toller, he has said the following: "An den politischen Hintergrund bin ich zunächst eher notgedrungen durch die Biographie gekommen. Ich wollte kein Stück über die Münchner Räterepublik schreiben, sondern über einen Menschen, der eine Rolle spielt und diese Rolle auch braucht, um zu sich selbst zu kommen." Cited in "Wenn wir Zahnschmerzen haben, ist die Politik schon zu Ende." Ein Interview mit Tankred Dorst, Auskünfte von und über Tankred Dorst, ed. Markus Desaga et al. (Bamberg: Fußnoten zur neueren deutschen Literatur, 1991), 12. One critic has characterized Dorst's post-1968 works as follows: "Sein Interesse gilt nun der privaten Biographie im Horizont der Geschichte." Peter Bekes, "Tankred Dorst," Kritisches Lexikon zur deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur, 41. Neulieferung, ed. H.L. Arnold (München: text und kritik, 1978ff.), 7. Put another way: "Tankred Dorst ist ein Tüftler, der die Reflexe großer Entwicklungen im Alltäglichen aufzuspüren und diese in ihrer Konsequenz für das Individuum einleuchtend nachzuzeichnen vermag." Thomas Thieringer, "Stoffsammler und Texttüftler. Dem Dramatiker Tankred Dorst zum 70. Geburtstag," Süddeutsche Zeitung, 19 December 1995. Online.

46 The black man's monologue in this scene is a reversal of the discovery narrative: The blacks discover America and Europe, liberating the pathetic white natives who are obsessed with efficiency on the one hand and depressed "von einer altmodischen, freudlosen Religion on the other."(37-39)

47 In a later monologue, Jens claims that the entire human race is a "Fehlentwicklung," and he phantasizes about cleansing the earth of this "Abschaum" using H-bombs. (68-69) In this scene, he sounds like a prototype of Enzensberger's autistic terrorist.

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