German Kultur, the Bildungsbürgertum, and Its Susceptibility to National Socialism

by Georg Bollenbeck
German Kultur, the Bildungsbürgertum, and Its Susceptibility to National Socialism
Georg Bollenbeck
The German Quarterly
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GermanKultur, the Bildungsbiirgertum, and its Susceptibility to National Socialism

In 1949, upon his return to Germany from exile in the United States, the literary critic Richard Alewyn was alarmed to find a carefree Goethe cult, "allerorten schon wieder anschickt, Goethe zu feiern, als ob dies fiir einen Deutschen die naturlichste Sache von der Welt ware, als ob gar nichts geschehen ware, oder als ob irgend etwas damit ungeschehen gemacht werden konne"' Dismayed and annoyed, Alewyn warned his compatriots: "Zwischen uns und Weimar liegt Buchenwald, [...I Was aber nicht geht ist, sich Goethes zu ruhmen und Hitler zu leugnen." How did Auschwitz come about? Are Buchenwald and Weimar really so near to each other? Why was the German variation of fascism, National Socialism, so particularlybrutal?

These and similar questions have been raised and answered in myriad ways time and again. Yet, as diverse as the debate has been over the exceptionalism of Germany's road to modernity, the intensity of the dispute itself indicates a common point of reference. The Sonderweg thesis is not a matter of the mere details of academic re- search; rather, it lies at a point of intersec- tion between the historical development of a nation and its simultaneous self-inter- pretation. Critics of the Sonderweg thesis warned famously of the dangers of a teleo- logical and polarizing orientation, beyond reality, to National Socialism. England and France, said these critics, must not provide standards for normal development. The concept of bourgeois revolution is a myth: other countries have had their own tradi- tions of authoritarianism and their deficits regarding democracy. In addition, orient- ing German history to "bad times" was supposed to hinder the development of a "normal" sense of national identity.

Supporters of the Sonderweg thesis, on the other hand, called attention to the fail- ures of German revolutions, to the de- layed formation of the nation-state, and to certain specifically German strengths in bureaucratic, authoritarian institutions, together with notable parliamentary weak- nesses. Generally, supporters of the Son- derweg thesis would take the historical course ofwestern Europe to be normal and exemplary, and, as the reader is no doubt aware, would often cite evidence beyond institutional developments, reaching to in- tellectual history and the history of states of mind. Such arguments present a path of specifically German authoritarian mental- ities, from Luther to Hitlervia Nietzsche, a path laid with "the destruction of reason," political incapacitation, abstract intellec- tuality, and pre-modern ways of thinking.

Admittedly, the intense dispute over the Sonderweg has long since abated. The expression itself has become somewhat un- fashionable. More cautious language of a specific path to modernity, or Eigenweg, or of the consciousness of a Sonderweg, eases the evidence's burden, as then no philoso- phy of history will dictate that exemplary normal development be exhibited, more or less, by the Western European states. But while the debates have subsided, this does not mean at all that the issue has been set- tled as to whether any specifically German conditions, beside immediate political and

The German Quarterly 73.1 (Winter 2000) 67

historical events, played a part, in the long run, in making possible the success and ac- ceptance of the Nazi regime.

I would like to argue that such lon- ger-term potentialities included an element which has not received much schol- arly attention so far, and which may only be understood as part of a new kind of trans- disciplinary exploration. My topic includes first, the reactions of the German learned and academic elites, the Bildungsburger- tum, to a triumphant cultural modernism, as detected in linguistic traces, and second, closely related to this, a certain susceptibil- ity to National Socialism, which did indeed present itself as the rescuer of German cul- ture. With these remarks I hope to make it easier to understand why Weimar and Buchenwald are not very far apart. For this precise locality symbolizes a specifically German sequence, the attainment of a nor- mative peak followed by a plunge into the depths, a succession that developed among the dynamic interplay of semantic ele- ments in the arts discourse among the Bildungsbiirger, artistic productivity, and political destructiveness.

It was Hannah Arendt who first raised the objection that to make historical con- structions along the lines of the history of ideas was to grant National Socialism "unnotigerweise nationale Respektabili-tat" and to ignore its disruptions of tradi- ti~n.~

This helps explain the arbitrary na- ture of Nazi propaganda, for Nazism gained its programmatic attractiveness from a semantics which, while universal, consisted of extremely heterogeneous ele- ments, and thereby could gain influence over extremely diverse social groups. Thus, National Socialism, at any rate ambivalent and from certain perspectives even attrac- tive, presented itself at .the same time as antimodern and dynamic, as anticapitalist and antisocialist, as a sustainer of tradition and yet revolutionary. As a result, its sup- porters varied widely socially and economi- cally. A construction of the history of ideas going back continuously to Nietzsche,

much less Luther, cannot account for this

patchwork character of Nazi ideology.

On the other hand, 1933 cannot simply be written off as a sort of catastrophic anomaly within the course of German po- litical history. There are, of course, conti- nuities that extend to 1933--continuities, one should add, that can be found in the collective consciousness of the Bildungs- burger. Even the critics of the Sonderweg thesis speak of a "politics of cultural de-

pair,"^ or note the influence of the "wor- ship of the arts" in Germany, an influence more powerful there "wie nirgendwo sonst auf der Weltu4 It would certainly miss the mark to dismiss the German Bildungs- burger as Goethians at a standstill who, with their antimodernist prejudices, would never go beyond Spitzweg, Storm, or Brahms. Cultural modernism was a prod- uct of the bourgeoisie's cultural hegemony and was formed in accordance with corre- sponding objectives. Autonomy and diver- sity, uninhibited development, and a gen- eral public deliberation over cultural is- sues were all part of the conditions for cultural modernism. Indeed, even until the provocations of the avant-garde movements, the bourgeoisie supported and sus- tained cultural modernism, except for in the popular arts. As Thomas Nipperdey maintains, "Die moderne Kunst hat sich nicht trotz der Biirger, sondern mit ihnen dur~hgesetzt."~

At the same time, though, modern art undermined the Bildungsbiirgertum's cul- tural hegemony. Not only did the artists behave in non-bourgeois or even antibourgeois ways, but the art they produced also ignored the defining authority of the Bildungsbiirgertum. A widespread foreboding was articulated, threatened where the "Entwicklungsgeschichte der moder- nen Kunst" became the "Entartungsgeschichte der Ep~che."~

In the words of Eric Hobsbawm, contemporaries assumed that "the crisis of the arts reflected the cri- sis of [...I liberal bourgeois society [...I in the process of destroying the bases of its ex-

BOLLENBECK:Kultur, Bildungsbiirgertum, and Susceptibility

istence, the systems of value, convention, and intellectual understanding which structured and ordered it."7 Thus, cultural modernism originated within the educated middle class, but also withdrew from it, and at the same time, questioned its cul- tural hegemony.

This intertwining of "bourgeois origin" and "anti-bourgeois function" developed a particular dynamism and explosiveness in Germany. The analysis of this involves two discrete factors. First, a popular discourse on the arts emerged in Germany that, al- though raised to the level of nobility in philosophical reflection, was often trivi- alized thereafter. This discourse was char- acterized by a constant use of three argu- mentative tropes: that art originates in the Volk; that art educates and forms both indi- viduals and the nation; and that art retains a commitment to beauty. Second, social, cultural, and national identity developed in a uniquely close coalition in Germany, following the latter part of the 18th cen- tury, and thereafter the arts were thought to enhance this identity, as much as lan- guage and even more so than the sciences. The arts not only functioned as a demon- stration of one's own learnedness, they also testified to a "German greatness," as Schiller, one of the more significant prompters, expressed it--originally to a national or cultural greatness, invoked re- peatedly, both to compensate for the endur- inglack of a nation-state and to promote its realization.

It is probably not surprising that the predominance of the Bildungsbiirgertum in institutions of secondary and higher ed- ucation, as well as within the realm of "public opinion," represented an influen- tial sort of competence regarding the arts. One is tempted to submit this idealizingfo- cus on art to ideological critique, and, like Nietzsche or Herbert Marcuse, refer to the affirmative nature of a merely glorifying artistic praxis, or call attention to the feck- lessness of works of art as heralds of possi- ble truths, and to their nature as mere palliatives for an inspired kind of enjoy- ment. However, while the arts could not take control over one's life, they appeared as a life-force to the Bildungsbiirger even after the demise of the exuberant eman- cipator~claims to which they had been at- tached. For art consolidated their social and national identity. It was comprehensi- ble to them; it reaffirmed their definingau- thority, and in a twofold sense, relating to the national and the social, they could be considered to be "intangible assets" (in the sense that Gustav Freytag spoke of ideale Habe).

Another significant fact pertaining to the far-reaching influence of the semantics of the arts discourse of the Bildungs- burgertum should not be overlooked. The sociological insight that social standing and cultural patterns must be considered separately also holds true for the influence of the aesthetic value systems and norma- tive schemata of the Bildungsbiirgertum. In 1914, the Bildungsbiirger, together with their family members, amounted to hardly one per cent of the entire German population of 65milli~n.~

Nonetheless, the value systems and normative models artic- ulated in the Bildungsbiirgertum's arts discourse dominated the reflections on cul- tural issues in the public sphere. Justifica- tion of one's own position by reference to Bildung and Kultur, to deutsche Kunst or deutscher Geist, could be found among middle-class entrepreneurs, well-educated workers and white-collar employees, mem- bers of associations espousing alternative lifestyles such as the Diirerbund, members of the imperialist Pan-German League, representatives of all political parties, and traditionalists as well as members of the avant-garde.

Even though the forces originally pro- mulgating the semantics of the Bildungs- biirgertum's discourse on the arts eventu- ally dissolved as a social stratum, the semantics did outlive the Bildungsburger- tum's heyday. This demonstrates its suc- cess as an offer for all to participate. The privileged position of the arts in collective consciousness should not be underesti- mated. This privileged position helps ex- plain why cultural modernism had such ir- ritating and ultimately threatening ef- fects. Especially in Germany, cultural modernism was interpreted as the writing on the wall foreboding the breakdown of society and cultural expr~priation.~

For this reason, reactions to the international phenomenon of cultural modernism were more extreme in Berlin than in Paris, Lon- don, or New York. And thus, precisely in Germany one finds such agitated debates on matters that now seem quite harmless to us: compositional techniques, theater productions, flat roofs, the saxophone, and SO on.

Admittedly, at first glance there are no German peculiarities which immediately capture one's attention in the debates on cultural modernism. The "historisches Gesetz der Verschleppung,"1° the rejection of novelties stemming from conventional taste, holds true on an international level. In this sense, the rejection of a more or less anti-bourgeois art which is indifferent to popular taste and traditional forms of per- ception is not a specifically German phe- nomenon.ll The Fauves, as they came to be known under the pejorative label applied to them by the art critic L. Vauxcelles, caused a scandal at the Fall Exhibition of 1905.12 Whatever was contrary to conven- tional taste could become connected with pathology. Accordingly, Cezanne had faulty eyesight and Picasso painted like a child. Futurism was not only subject to ridicule on the part of the public and the press in Berlin13-the British press reacted with as- tonishment when 40,000 people chose to see a futurist exhibition in London in 1912: the Pall Mall Gazette spoke of a "Night- mare-Exhibition in the Sackville Gallery"; the Daily Express headlined "New Terror." The Morning Post refused to run a critique of an exhibition which, it maintained, was so "immoral [...I that one should not even take notice of it."'*

The first exhibition of modern art in the U.S.A., the Armory Show in New York, opened its doors to some 80,000 people in February of 1913. Incidentally, Arthur B. Davies, who played a decisive role in the conceptualization of the exhibition, used the 1912 Sonderbund exhibition in Co- logne as a model for his work. The Armory Show did not actually put the latest provoc- ative fad, futurism, on exhibition. None- theless, it did evoke averse reactions. Cri- tiques in the press labeled the artists as "decadent" and "fraudulent," as "incapa- ble" or "insane." The exhibition did in fact have a stimulating effect on American art- ists, but "the propagated image of de- formed insanity"" enjoyed greater accep- tance among the general public. In the Netherlands, even someone of the stand- ing of Huizinga judged the modern arts to be a syndrome of the "cultural crisis."l6 In fact, one might even maintain that the la- ment over modernism's incomprehensibil- ity is a quintessential feature of cultural modernism's own self-reflexive repertoire. This was clearly the case for Paul Valery, when he believed to have noticed a "geistige Verwirrung" "fiir das gebildete Europa," as a result of, among other things, the "verschiedensten Dogrnen, Philosophien und Ideale." '7

It is more complicated yet. Discontent with the liberal era, and due to the arts' loss of function, was predominant even among proponents of cultural modernism, giving rise to authoritarian and proto- fascist longings for "order and harmony."l8 To mention only a few of the many possible names, this was true for W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, Knut Hamsun, and, to illustrate the point with examples from France, for Paul Claudel, Paul Morand, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, and Drieu La Rochelle. It also held true for the futurist avant-garde, even if their status should be enhanced to that of a "radical cultural revolution."lg The European in- telligentsia's preference for Nietzsche, the stimulating exclusivist fantasies of On the Genealogy of Morals or The Gay Science, had their impact on the thought and speech of leading British intellectuals, concerning cultural modernism, new media, and the power of the masses. They also saw cul- tural modernism as producing their own marginalization and loss of competence. By concentrating on singular quotations and ignoring more embracing contexts in the histories of traditions, it is easy to draw a line from Nietzsche to Hitler. The latter, thus practically ennobled by intellectual history, then appears with hisMein Kampf, as John Carey puts it, to be "firmly rooted in European intellectual orthod~xy."~~

But nowhere else is there such an explo- sive dynamic of artistic productivity and political destructiveness as in Germany. How can this be explained? It seems to me that this dynamic originates from a dialec- tic-please excuse the somewhat old-fashioned term-in the process of which the conflict between successful modernism and the criticism of modernism, between aesthetically oriented rejection and politi- cally guided identification of enemies, achieves a qualitatively new level, near the end of the Weimar Republic. For at this point the Bildungsbiirgertum became sus- ceptible to National Socialism. It was pre- cisely in their pseudo-religious zeal over the arts that the Bildungsbiirgertum, through their influence over the actual protagonists of modernity, e.g., the entre- preneurial patrons, museum directors, publishers, and antibourgeois intellectu- al~,~~

effectively promoted the very art which evaded the artistic idealism of the learned, their defining authority and self-ascribed position, and thereby pro- vided impetus towards their own cultural expropriation.

It is hardly without reason that cultural modernism was particularly successful in Germany. The disputes over international modernism became charged here with unique features of a specifically national sort. In Germany, modernism obtained an additional motivational thrust from the Bildungsbiirgertum's zealous preoccupa- tion with the arts, but at the same time the new works of art proved elusive to the Bildungsbiirgers' obsolete ideas. In addi- tion, the high arts of modernism were in- deed promoted by a minority; nonetheless, a majority which constituted, so to speak, a negative sounding board, had little regard for them.

This dialectic developed within what Foucault would have called an historically variable field of attendant circumstances. As long as the Bildungsbiirgertum's cul- tural hegemony was still a matter of course, there were disputes about individ- ual artistic movements, works, and artists, but the national and cultural significance of German art was not in doubt. With the conclusion of the liberal era around 1880 and the beginnings of cultural modernism, this consensus of a nationalism centered on art dissolved. Strictly speaking, only at this point did "German art" require re- course to argumentation. The modes of ar- gumentation underwent change along with the course of German history, al- though the vocabulary remained almost constant: the Goldmark security of the Wilhelminian Kulturstaat produced a more conciliatory atmosphere; the "un- leashed modernism" of Weimar, character- ized by crisis as the republic was, polarized and politicized the modes of argumenta- tion; and National Socialism was able to extract "alle Parolen" "aus der Tradition der Debatten um die deutsche Kun~t."~~

It destroyed the public sphere that had seen so much deliberation on cultural matters, and it accelerated the devaluation of the Bildungsbiirgers' arts discourse by its re- actionary modernism. In the last analysis, Nazism defused this explosive mixture of traditional and modern elements.

In the Wilhelminian authoritarian state, the diversity mentioned above re- sulted in fierce debates over art and contro- versies about artistic movements, but by no means in political polarization or, in- deed, radicalization. We should not over- look the fact that the imperialist state was widely accepted as the guarantor of mate- rial security and national identity, even though the head of state, his behavior rem- iniscent of operetta, occasionally aroused displeasure. This is one of the reasons why Helmuth Plessner can call the prewar pe- riod "einen langen ungestorten Konsoli- dierungsprozelj einer zukunftsgewiljen geistigen S~hicht")."~Widespread

neologisms such as "aesthetic culture," "har- monic culture," and "new style," testify to attempts to incorporate the highly-regard- ed traditional concepts into modern devel- opments and to reformulate the project as- sociated with "German art," or indeed, with a society characterized by "synthesis and harm~ny."~"

This reform-oriented adaptation to modernism and the affirmation of modern- ism were nowhere more obvious than in the Deutscher Werkbund, that influential organization composed of politicians, fac- tory owners, journalists, and artists, which presented an early indication of what would later be the Bauhaus. While the Werkbund was politically much more con- formist than the avant-garde movements of the '20s, its concept of design was revolu- tionary. Against the powerful traditions of aesthetics centered on high art, the Werkbund enhanced the aesthetic value of industrial design and everyday practical items. Considering the apparently threat- ening increase in the popularity of the So- cial Democrats, it developed reform-ori- ented concepts of social integration, yet still remained committed to those "drei Bezugsgroljen Staat, Nation und biirger- liche Werthaltung. "25

The concept of cultural Bolshevismz6 emerged at the outset of the Weimar Re- public, around the near completion of a "semantic arsenal" that would provide much material for controversies surround- ing cultural modernism. To idealize some- what plainly, at the center ofthis "semantic arsenal" lay two conceptual ensembles, one positive and one negative. These con- troversial debates made frequent use of phrases such as deutsche Kunst, deutscher Geist, deutsche Bildung (deutsche Kultur), and deutsche Art, i.e., "German art," "Ger- man spirit," "German culture" and "Ger- man nature." The semantics of these inter- related expressions created an ensemble of evaluative and identificational concepts which were controversial in meaning, readily available in a quantitative sense, and possessed of a particular socio-his- torical relevance.

In such contexts, use of the attribute "German" effected a conceptual modifica- tion. "Deutsche Kunst" did not simply mean arts from the geographical Germany. Where German art was seen as an expres- sion of the Volksgeist, as an enhancement of the symbolical self-socialization of a na- tional culture, or as evidence of "German greatness," the deep programmatic satu- ration of "German" into these nouns transformed a simple category of classifi- cation into a category of meaning and ori- entation. The concepts became successful linguistic representations of aesthetic, so- cial, and political relevance structures. Past, present, and future developments in the arts were evaluated on their behalf. They spanned various forms of praxis, from use as catchwords to the academy. They were receptive to temporalizations, when, for instance, there was talk of "de- cay," "rescue," "breakdown," or the "cleansing" of the arts. Finally, as meta- political concepts, they were capable of be- ing incorporated into ideologies in many different ways. They passed into a radically nationalist or even racist context, where German art was to be defended against some Other, the French, the Jews, or the Bolsheviks. However, they also passed into a socialist or even communist context, where German art was to have a status equivalent to the arts of other nations, championed by its true advocate, the Ger- man labor movement.

Normally, these concepts had an unam- biguously positive content. Whatever was ascribed to them seemed to be valuable in itself. The question of who was to assign or deny these concepts to what remained open. In any case, it was possible to make judgments and propagate exclusivity on their behalf. Exactly this happened in 1933, and not only to Thomas Mann. In ex- ile, he would come to a self-awareness ofbe- ing the true representative of the "intangi- ble assets": "Wherever I am, there is Ger- man Kultur." And he would deny any legitimate claim to representative status to those who ostensibly sustained German culture while remainingin Nazi Germany.

The concepts are analytically vague and nominally ambiguous. This is one of the reasons why practically everyone could appeal to German art: Thomas Mann and Will Vesper; Arnold Schijnberg and Hans Pfitzner. These concepts are apt to what Jean Starobinski calls "immanentization"; that is, they provide modes of argu- mentation for the possibilities of "German art" (etc.) to be played off against actual conditions. The separation of meaning from designation could function as a sort of semantic preservative for dated ideas, for unshakable reservations with regard to cultural modernism, the success of which nonetheless evoked insecurity, and, in re- gard to the practically chimerical expecta- tions for German art, invoked the "rescue" or "cleansing" by the new state which was expected in 1933. For such reasons, the general public swayed "zwischen Minder- wertigkeitsgefiihlen und Grofienwahn"27 when the Nazis came to power.

Thus, anything that did not correspond to these concepts could be denigrated. In this way, various adjectival attributes came to render expressions more concretely and to establish a polarization. To mention only the most common characterizations, this was the case when art was called "Ger- man," "appropriate to German nature (arteigen)," or "Aryan," or, on the contrary, "un-German," "alien," or "degenerate." But discontent over cultural modernism could also be expressed in other ways: since the latter part of the 19th century, the con- sciousness of a threat to the cultural hege- mony of the Bildungsbiirgertum had given rise to an ensemble of concepts expressing Angst, disparagement, and exclusion, con- cepts such as "degeneracy," "decadence," "cultural decline," and "cultural decay," or at a later date "artistic Bolshevism" and "cultural Bolshevism," or, with reference to the popular arts, simply "trash" and "filth" (Schmutz und Schund). These con- cepts were not restricted to the arts, but they indicate the consolidations of pejora- tive opinions about cultural modernism that arose in reaction to a perceived threat from modernity to "German art." Although there were definitely polemical at- tacks on "modernity," and an explicit rejec- tion of the term "m0dern,"~8 criticisms of cultural modernism were more often artic- ulated implicitly through the use of con- cepts expressing Angst, disparagement, and exclusion.

At this point we must call to mind the following truism of historical semantics: no mere material continuity for a word jus- tifies the assumption that meanings have remained unchanged regardless of differ- ences in the field of attendant circum- stances. The relationship between linguis- tic representation and historical constella- tion underwent a notable fundamental change under the crisis-like instabilities of the Weimar Republic, when the discursive rejection of modernity tended more and more to form a coalition with authoritarian political options. The disorienting poten- tial of cultural expropriation attained new heights in the 1920s, as the loss of learned competence with regard to high art accel- erated, and the loss of defining authority with respect to the popular arts became en- tire.

Germany obtained a new center of cul- tural modernism with the republic. Capi- tals of local dynasties such as Munich, Dresden, and Darmstadt, no longer had a significant role to play. Berlin, with its in- ternational glamour, now became the cita- del of a programmatically modern metro- politan art. This widened the gap danger- ously between the capital and the provinces, between claims to a national "German art" and the international char- acter of modernism. The polemic against the "spirit of Berlin," already familiar from the time of the Kaiserreich, was intensi- fied, as was the corresponding anti-urban nationalist prejudice. Even one who, like Adorno, considers the period around 1910 to be "heroische Zeiten der modernen Kunst," and unmasks the later myth of the

"Golden Twenties" as a fashionable re- vival, should not overlook the fact that Weimar, from a perspective not focused on art, appears as a time of crisis for moder- nity unleashed.29 So-called "nigger jazz," and "nigger dances," Dada, documentary style, the Tiller Girls, and functionalism; film and radio, commercialization, new media, the total revision of representa- tional techniques-to the traditional un- derstanding of art, all of this appears as "cultural decay," a "cultural crisis," the end of the "German spirit," or, as Egon Friedell put it, "Selbstmorde der Kunst."30 In 1927, in an account of the literature of the time, the critic Friedrich von der Leyen lamented "die Verflachung, Zerstreuung und Verrohung, die Kino, Sport, Auto, Rundfunk und Revue iiber uns bringen," the "Uniformierung und Typisierung des Geistigen" and "Ausartungen des Ameri- kani~mus"~~

This sort of sentiment can be found in many newspaper articles, pam- phlets, and books of the time: "German art," or "German culture," was supposedly being threatened by alien influences which were to be repelled, by "Francophilia" and "Americanism," yes, but above all, naming the two principal enemies: "alien Jew- ish-Bolshevist forces."

Apparently, the intellectual atmosphere of the Weimar Republic displayed starker conflicts than that of the prewar period. Dated ideas, modern art, politiciz- ing and polarization-all of these tended to increase the perceived threat to the trust- ees of the "intangible assets." The greater the triumph of modernism, the greater was the yearning for "genuine" German art that could inspire and lead the German Volk. Contrary to appearances, the grow- ing appeal to traditional evaluative and identificational concepts such as "German culture," "German spirit," and "German art" did not stem from success, but ex- pressed failure, the loss of points of refer- ence from the international character of modernism. Thus, the conflict betweenun- leashed modernity and outdated aesthetic ideas promoted an identity crisis, and this interacted with the experiences of national expropriation arising from the Treaty of Versailles, and the material expropriation from inflation and the Great Depression, in a way that shall merely be mentioned here. The propensity of the Bildungs- biirger to confuse social problems with in- tellectual problems is sufficiently well known.S2 The cultural expropriation due to modernity must have had an even more disorienting effect in combination with this inclination, for it was an expropriation that seemed to rob one of what had for- merly established one's own identity, along with certain others, but also as opposed to certain others, and had established respect by others as one of the learned: "German art."

From a perspective of a history of dis- course it is particularly interesting to note that near the end of the Weimar Republic, a catchword caused a sensation by express- ing and stirring fears of impending disas- ter, creating a semantic front united against the republic, wider than the Harzburg Front, and paving the way for the National Socialists. I am referring to "cultural Bolshevism." This was the cen- tral theme of public controversies related to cultural policy in the last crisis-ridden years of the republic. Time and again, newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets dealt with the issue of what "cultural Bolshevism" meant and how to combat it. In 1930German Radio broadcast a discus-

BOLLENBECK:Kultur, Bildungsbiirgertum, and Susceptibility

sion on the topic between the author Alfred Doblin and the Jesuit priest Friedrich Muckermann. A few weeks later, the new Reich Chancellor Franz von Papen, who was also a politician of the Zentrum party, used the catchword for one of the program- matic items in a government address when he stated: "At the final hour a halt must now be put to the German people's moral deterioration, which has been intensified by the disastrous class struggle adverse to community (gemeinschaftsfeindlich) and expanded by cultural Bolshevism."

The success story of this catchword il- lustrated and promoted the Bildungs- biirgertum's susceptibility to National So- cialism. In designating the supposed threat to German culture, the expression was used as a concept of disparagement and ex- clusion. As one intelligent contemporary observer noted, this usage was widespread, from right-wing positions "bis weit in die Mittelparteien hinein."33 Incidentally, even the critics of the catchword acknowledged its communicative success, extensive range, and power to mobilize. Carl von Ossietzky called the expression "das herrschende Schlagwort von heute," writ- ing: "es ist zum Gemeinplatz fast der gesamten biirgerlichen Presse geworden, mit Ausnahme grol3er liberaler Zeitungen, die ihre geistige Tradition nicht verleug- nen und deshalb selbst der Verdammnis teilhaftig werden."34

Even a preliminary linguistic inspec- tion of the compound noun Kulturbolsche- wismus reveals a novel linkage between the aesthetic and the political. With refer- ence to the basic component, "Bolshe- vism," we are dealing with a sort of "casuis- tic stretching," to use Kenneth Burke's term, an extension by metaphor of a politi- cally stigmatizing word to encompass "aes- thetic" irritations stemming from cultural m0dernism.~5 The modifier "culture," as a highly esteemed evaluative and identifi- cational concept, is incongruous with the basic component "Bolshevism." Thus, the compound combines a programmatical guiding concept with a political term ex- pressing Angst, for the worst threat to cul- ture, nation, and Volk.

Both concepts were of considerable sig- nificance for the intellectual experiential capital of the learned. While Kultur re- mained in high esteem, Bolschewismus ar- ticulated collective fears of threats from Russia, of "destruction," "anarchy," and "suppression." Such fears were nurtured by elements of older traditions, particu- larly notions typical of liberalism and So- cial Democracy in rejection of Czarist au- tocracy, Russian domination, Cossack hordes, and Asiatic backwardness. After the October revolution, such ideas, rein- forced over generations, converged into the stigmatizing term "Bolshevism." The supposed threat of Bolshevism gave a greater affective potential to attempts to ascribe cultural modernism to left-wing movements, such as had been common but unsuccessful in the prewar era.36 During the course of the revolution itself, phrases emerged such as "artistic Bolshevism," "musical Bolshevism," and "orchestral Bolshevism," indicating an interconnec- tion between cultural modernism and the danger of B~lshevisrn.~~

Here, too, the powerful influence of ideas associated with intellectual history, recurring in trivialized form, should not be underestimated. For in the widespread in- clination to perceive in the condition of art a symbol for the condition of the world, remnants of Hegel's content-oriented aes- thetics had an effect that was all the wider for its triviality. Thus, a work of art, as a su- perior form of reality, was taken to be an historical document. Within this tradition we also find the author of Mein Kampf, in 1925,maintaining that, in the arts:

hatte man erkennen sollen, dal3 es sich hier nicht urn neue, wenn auch falsche kulturelle Auffassungen handelt, son- dern urn einen Prozerj der Zerstorung der Grundlagen unserer Kultur iiberhaupt, urn eine dadurch moglich werdende Ver- narrung des gesunden Kunstempfindens -und um die geistige Vorbereitung des politischen Bolschewismus. Denn wenn das Perikleische Zeitalter durch den Part- henon verkijrpert erscheint, dann die bol- schewistische Ge enwart durch eine ku- bistische Fratze. 35

The composite noun Kulturbolschewis- mus came to stand for a Bolshevism that was causing the breakdown of culture, and, conversely, for the "degenerate" condition of culture that was helping establish Bolshevism. With a highly charged conno- tative incongruence, it articulated unprec- edented fears and yearnings for rescue. The "cultural Bolshevism" phenomenon is not exactly linguistic in itself, but rather a phenomenon that, while dependent on lan- guage, was hugely successful in establish- ing an immediate connection between the standards of a radically nationalistic mode of argumentation and a political identifica- tion of adversaries. Only by its use as a catchword did the term become imbued with a threatening quality. Since culture and Bolshevism are mutually exclusive, the composite attained a "hostile ambigu- ity" that spurred on a hostile conflict.39

How can the powerful influence of this catchword be assessed more precisely? In this case, too, the assignment of linguistic characteristics proves to be too abstract to illuminate effectively the concrete histori- cal horizon of cross-references involved. For this reason, the history of the catch- word's usage will be analyzed in what fol- lows on the basis of three characterizing categories, at a medium level of synthesis beneath the level of linguistic-systemic ab- straction but above particular concrete speech acts.

First of all, to use "cultural Bolshe- vism" as a catchword inclined one towards a construction which was meta-political, i.e., specified without relation to party poli- tics but serving to establish an anti-republic standpoint nonetheless. Propo- nents of intellectualism, often elitist and presumed to be apolitical, could take a stand against cultural Bolshevism while looking down on interparty quarrels with contempt, as the George circle did.40 Dem- onstrating its affinity to cultural criticism, "cultural Bolshevism" stood for rejecting many widely diverse phenomena of moder- nity, always "from the outside" and on be- half of German culture, German art, and morality. Anything that might involve un- pleasantness in some particular case might be taken to prove the subversive effects of cultural Bolshevism, making the designa- tion evident, yet generalizing nonetheless. As posed in the newspaper Der Tag:

What does cultural Bolshevism mean if it includes Bruckner's Verbrecher,Tucholsky's juice in his columns written for the Weltbuhne,Magnus Hirschfeld's Wissenschaft, Piscator's stage productions, the style of the Bauhaus, revues with women undressing, and histories as authored by Emil Ludwig and Remarque? Apparently, the common denominator in this kalei- doscope is the negation and critical under- mining of all traditional values, regard- less of whether these are of a reli 'ous, moral, political, or artistic nature. 49

Obviously, as an all-encompassing con- struction, "cultural Bolshevism" served as a denigration schema of extremely wide scope. In this way, it could refer to quite dis- parate individual phenomena, while still indicating the "Gesamtheit der negativen Erscheinungen."42 Again and again we read of the assumption that cultural Bolshevism was pursuing the "destruction of all culture." Incidentally, critics of the campaign against cultural Bolshevism were quick to notice and expose the absurd consequences of the arbitrariness and elas- ticity of the concept's range. As Tucholsky put it, "'Kulturbolschewismus' -das ist bekanntlich alles, was einem nicht pa13tn* But it was precisely the vague "all-encom- passing construction" that guaranteed the catchword its necessary discursive turbu- lence, as disputes arose over what consti- tuted cultural Bolshevism. This made it possible to amass widely diverse interests: those wanting to uphold public morality could attribute short skirts or revues in- volving nakedness to the destructive work of cultural Bolshevism; those considering themselves responsible for German art could perceive Schonberg or Piscator as agents of Moscow.

Thus, the nominal ambiguity of the catchword provided for its enormous social extent. As always, one did not have to mean the same things by the same words. Some- times it seemed to provide the evident des- ignation, and it remained unambiguous in a programmatic sense. For it did indeed identify in Bolshevism an internal and ex- ternal enemy with whom no reconciliation or understanding could be reached, since it was pursuing its "subversive work," either in secret or openly. Anyone interested in combating cultural Bolshevism bade fare- well to liberal traditions and called for cen- sorship, thus abolishing the separation be- tween the state and the arts. In addition, he or she denied the possibility of establishing a consensus by freedom to express one's opinions.44 In this sense, the party program of the liberal DVP for 1931included a can- did rejection of the traditions of liberalist thought, demanded "state protection against the contemporary frantic activity destroying the moral force of the people, against Unkultur, trash and filth on the ra- dio, in the theater and in film."

This brings us to the second character- istic of the history of Kulturbolschewis- mus, that it was an all-encompassing con- struction of social affairs that divided the broad expanse of these phenomena into a merely binary or, more appropriately, po- larized pattern of valuation, through reli- able quasi-religious or quasi-mythological explanations. Pamphlets, magazine and newspaper articles, speeches, and carica- tures all presented a schema of good and evil with an image of the enemy that was variable and yet unambiguous. This was also important to the catchword's commu- nicative success. The enemy was someone who came "from without" and proceeded according to a detailed plan. In a text pub- lished in 1931,Der Kulturbolschewismus und die deutsche Jugend ("Cultural Bolshevism and the German Youth"), Karl Foertsch, the director of the national par- ents' association, presented an illustration that identified a "communist headquar- ters" in Moscow which was supposedly in the process of infiltrating the "cultural centers" of Germany by "cells," the media, and certain institutions. Foertsch was con- vinced that the situation was drastic: "If the general offensive leads to victory, then German culture will collapse; annihilation will be the result. Then, Soviet-Germany will arise from the ruins of the German Reich and a perfect form of cultural Bolshevism will emerge above the grave of German nature." This enemy was suppos- edly right in the middle of the "father- land." Foertsch maintained that the same course of developments that took place in the Soviet Union was "also being striven for in Germany" by the German commu- nist party. In a similar vein, another author asserted, "Der Bolschewismus ist nicht nur ein russisches Schreckgespenst, son- dern wir haben ihn mitten im eigenen Land."44

This image of the enemy was not re- stricted to communism or Bolshevism in a strict sense. It proved to be highly variable, eliding political differences and expanding the group of possible accomplices. In this way, socialists, liberals, and Jews could all be slandered as cultural Bolshevists. As one author observed, it was necessary "nicht erst zimperlich in Kommunisten und Sozialisten zu ~nterscheiden."~~

Where Marxism was taken to be a "proletarische[rl Bruder des Liberalismus," even a genuinely bourgeois ideology could be ac- cused of setting the pace for Bolshevism. "The Jew" was also supposedly behind cul- tural Bolshevism, and was suspected of furthering "die Entgeistigungund Entsitt- lichung der arischen Ra~se."~6

The politi- cal effects of this variable but unambigu- ous designation should not be underesti- mated, for it proved to be a means to stigmatize supporters of cultural modern- ism and of the republic, across social strata far beyond the organizations of the Ger- man Communist Party. Even such a lumi- nary of the German Bildungsbiirgertum as the liberal Prussian minister for education and cultural affairs, Carl Heinrich Becker, was branded as the "patriarch of cultural Bolshevism."47

Although it was surely not by necessity, neither was it mere chance that the first re- corded occurrence of Kulturbolschewismus is from a March 24, 1927, Deutsche Zeitung critique of Piscator's staging of Ehm Welk's play Gewitter iiber Gottland. Even at this early date, a threatening sce- nario was conceived that called for a united defense, as the young theater critic Alfred Muhr expressed his fear: "If this leftist in- tellectual activity and rightist intellectual passivity continue, then, within a few years cultural Bolshevism will flood the entire country." Muhr appealed to the "people," the "middle class," the "peasants," and the "nobility" to defend themselves against such an onslaught.

The catchword's polarizing valuation pattern had enormous integrative poten- tial. Those who spoke of the impending danger of cultural Bolshevism joined a front united against cultural modernism and the republic. The socializing effects of the catchword were symbolic, and it over- came both party differences in politics and separations along diverse socio-moral lines. It promoted, in Eckhart John's words, a "merger between the Nazi move- ment and the fascist spirit of ecclesiastical provenience." Ossietzky observed that "[als far as cultural Bolshevism is concerned, Wirth and Goebbels are in agreement." This formation of a front was a subject of de- tailed discussion for contemporaries, those who combated cultural Bolshevism and those who were combated as cultural Bol- shevists. The young Walter Dirks, later to be one of the founders of the Frankfurter Hefte,made a perceptive observation in the Zeitschrift fur Religion und Sozialismus in 1932: "Die eigentliche Gefahr dieses Schlagwortes ist, dal3 es als ideologischer Kitt eine wirkliche einheitliche Aktions- front zusammenbringen hilft, von der wir wissen, dal3 sie verhangnisvoll ware." Dirks realized that the "front against cul- tural Bolshevism" united both major de- nominations, and that thus a new "opera- tional front" arose: "Der Antikulturbolschewismus ist negativ formuliert das, was man positiv formuliert Faschismus nennt -zum mindesten die fur das christliche Burgertum und die christliche Arbeiterschaft geeignete ideologische Ausgabe des fa schism us."*^

The third characteristic element of the history of the catchword's usage, its temporalization, also derives from familiar interpretatory possibilities of cultural crit- icism. Terms indicating processes of de- composition, such as "breakdown," "disin- tegration," "degeneration," "decadence," "decline," and "decay," were used to de- scribe the historical development of cul- tural Bolshevism, but they gained an in- creasingly threatening temporal dimen- sion under the polarized valuation pattern. Cultural Bolshevism presented a familiar three-stage model, of idyllic past, threat- ened present, and future rescue, bringing it up to date and dramatizing it. It "nar- rated" the story of an enemy, attacking on all fronts and engaged in an "annihilating struggle" against German culture, in the open or in secret subversive activities.

To cite only a few examples, cultural Bolshevism appeared as "destruction roll- ing this way with the force of an ava- lanche," the "decline of German nature," a "red flood," a disease, and a poison. Still, the basic mood of impending catastrophe did not lead to a paralyzing sort of pessi- mism. "Wherever there is danger, Salva- tion is also near at hand2'-thisquotation from Holderlin served Ernst Robert Curtius as the motto of his book Deutscher Geist in Gefahr in 1932. The majority ofthe

BOLLENBECK:Kultur, Bildungsburgertum, and Susceptibility

disoriented Bildungsbiirger yearned for an "imminent rescue" or for a "revival of Ger- man~."~g

Thus the narrative of impending threat is incomplete without the narrative of future rescue.

With the use of this catchword, the con- flict between successful modernism and the criticism of this modernism consoli- dated into an attitude of us-versus-them with a rigid inclusion and exclusion. In the last crisis-ridden years of the republic, the catchword developed an enormous politi- cal dimension, due to its power to emo- tionalize, polarize, appeal, and integrate. It articulated and intensified fears both of the success of cultural modernism and of the threat of Bolshevism. With its use, the Bildungsbiirgertum's worship of the arts became a sort of Manichaeism, a strict du- alism between good and evil with an idea of an apocalyptic final struggle and a hope of a rescuing leader. This construction of a great, rescuing figure with a special cha- risma is not new; it is part of the na- tionallcultural "invented tradition," of the memory of the heroic past of such figures and the hope for the return of heroes and future saviors, figures such as the Cherusci chief Arminius and Frederick Barba ro~sa.~O

In the collective consciousness no one embodied this type of charismatic, monumental, mythologically transfigured, and rescuing figure better than Bismarck. During the Weimar Republic, that era of parties and parliaments, but without em- perors and Leaders, the yearning for a res- cuing Leader gained even more appeal. This was not a phenomenon restricted to right-wing parties, sects, orders, and asso- ciations. The Leader idea was to be found in all middle-class parties.51

Hitler inherited the familiar idea of the great, rescuing historic figure. With regard to German culture, he was particularly successful in this sense because here he used the familiar vocabulary of the radi- cally nationalistic mode of argumentation. The yearning for the Leader intensified a basic mood of catastrophe that the catch- word "cultural Bolshevism" stimulated. In any case, National Socialism laid claim to being a "cultural movement," and, voicing an appeal to German art, its Leader loudly denounced international cultural modern- ism, Dadaism, futurism, and cubism. Many of those who found Hitler and his movement "primitive" or "disagreeable" were apparently in a position to welcome him as the rescuer of German culture. "Nach dem Eindruck, den ich habe, "wrote a young teacher who had earned the rank of professor, "gibt es unter den Gebildeten viele, die mit seiner Bewegung sympathi- sieren, wahrend die Sozialdemokratie es nicht verstanden hat, Gebildete in irgend- einer nennenswerten Zahl zu sich her- iiberzuziehen [...] Es ist ein Experiment, dem wir entgegengehen. Hoffen wir, dalj es gelingt. Es ist unsere einzige Hoffnung wie die Dinge liegen"52

There were considerable differences among those opposed to cultural Bolshe- vism, in their intellectual positions, mo- tives, and intentions. But the enormous integrative power of the term became man- ifest when aestheticizing escapists, politi- cizing activists, the George circle, support- ers of the youth movement, clergymen, schoolmasters, writers, and artists alike invoked the dangers of which it warned. Thus, it owed its success to its ability to make evident fearful threats. The way out appeared as a course of first construing the supposed alien as absolute negativity, com- bating it, and eventually annihilating it. National Socialism profited from such a scenario by defining its totalitarian ideol- ogy in reference to an adversary created via the catchword Kulturbolschewismus. With the creation of this adversary, a coalition against the republic arose, a coalition among whose members we also find those who by no means wanted Nazism, but paved the way for it n~netheless.~~

Thus, Kulturbolschewismus formed the self-made semantic bridge which a disoriented Bildungsbiirgertum crossed over on its way into the Third Reich.

(Translated from German by Thomas La Presti)


lRichard Alewyn, "Goethe als Alibi," Hamburger Akademische Rundschau 3.8-10 (1948-49).

2Hannah Arendt, "Das 'deutsche Prob- lem,"' Zur Zeit. Politische Essays (1945; Berlin: Rotbuch, 1986) 25.

3With reference to Fritz Stern's "cultural despair" see Geoff Eley, "Conservatives and radical nationalists in Germany: the produc- tion of fascist potentials, 1912-1928," Fascists and Conservatives. The Radical Right and the Establishment in Twentieth-Century Europe,

ed. Martin Blinkhorn (London: Unwin, 1990) 50-70.

4Stefan Breuer, ~sthetischer Fundamenta- lismus. Stefan George und der deutsche Antimodernismus (Darmstadt: Wiss. Buch- ges., 1995) 15.

5Thomas Nipperdey, Wie das Biirgertum die Moderne fund (Berlin: Siedler, 1988) 63.

6Theodor Alt, Die Herabwertung der deutschen Kunst durch die Parteiganger des Impressionismus (Mannheim: Nemnich, 1911)

364. 7Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, 1875-1914 (London: Weidenfeld, 1989) 235.

8Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte. Bd. 3: Von der "Deutschen Doppelreuolution" bis zum Beginn des Ersten Weltkriegs 1849-1 91 8 (Munchen: Beck, 1995)


gDieter Langewiesche was the first to intro- duce the term "kulturelle Enteignung" into historical research. For him, cultural expropri- ation commences as early as sometime during the Wilhelminian epoch. "Bildungsburgertum und Liberalismus im 19. Jahrhundert,"

Bildungsbiirgertum im 19. Jahrhundert. Teil ZV Politischer EinfZuP und gesellschaftliche Formation, ed. Jurgen Kocka (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1988) 95-121.

lOFranz Roh, Streit um die moderne Kunst. Auseinandersetzungen mit Gegnern der neuen Malerei (Munchen: List, 1962) 46.

llThis rejection can be related to various domains: national identity, hegemonic socio-cultural identity, and identity based upon social standing. Modernism causes the least difficulties for the domain of social standing, that is, for the "sense of distinction," in Bordieu's term. Modernist works could serve as proof of cultural capital in much the same way that antiques could. But in Germany this no longer had anything to do with the former cultural hegemony or with an emphatic con- cept of art oriented to autonomy and to the transformation of reality. Pierre Bourdieu,

Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judge- ment of Taste (London: Routledge 1984).

More interesting in this context is the ele- ment of national identity, and the related rejec- tion of international modernism, which in most instances was informed by a presumed "foreign domination of national tradition." The "Georgians" deserve further inquiry, as do the views expressed by later Victorians, such as Thomas Hardy in England and the "action francaise" in France, but also the "revue universelle," particularly Henri Massis's rejec- tion of modernism with recourse to Western values ("Defense de I'Occident" 1927, German translation 1930). For the United States, con- sider the reactions to the New York presenta- tion of modernism in the Armory Show of 1913, Wyck Brooks's "America's Coming of Age" (1915), and the position expressed by the Agrarians in the South such as John Crowe Ransom and Allen Tate.

12See also Roh.

l3Eva Hesse, Die Achse Auantgarde-Faschismus. Reflexionen iiber Filippo T Marinetti und Ezra Pound (Zurich: Arche, 1992) 29. It did however make a strongimpres- sion on some artists and authors such as Gottfried Benn or Franz Marc. Johanna Eltz,

Der italienische Futurismus in Deutschland 1912-1922. Ein Beitrag zur Analyse seiner Rezeptionsgeschichte (Bamberg: Selbstverlag, 1986).

14Hesse 31. Apparently, the provocation caused by futurism was so enormous that "spater, im Jahre 1914, pauschal alle Arbeiten, die die zeitgenossische Orthodoxie heraus- forderten oder auch nur als neu wahrgenommen wurden, als 'futuristisch' beschrie- ben wurden." Andrew Wilson, "Rebellen und Vortizisten: 'Unsere kleine Bande'," Vortizismus-Die erste Avantgarde in England 1914-1918, ed. Karin Orchard (Hannover: Ars

Nicolai, 1996) 74. 15Milton W. Brown, The Story of the Armory Show (1963; New York: Abbeville, 1988) 45.

The newspaper Press was content to publi- cize a view considering modern art to be an ex- pression of European degeneracy: "Some crit- ics see in this general movement nothing but European intellectual degeneracy carried to its lowest depths." Brown 164.

16Johan Huizinga, Im Schatten von morgen (Bern: Gotthelf, 1935) 157-66. 17Paul Valery, Die Krise des Geistes (1924; Frankfurt a. M.: Insel, 1976) 7-8.

laGeorge L. Mosse, "Faschismus und Avantgarde," Faschismus undAvantgarde, ed. Reinhold Grimm and Jost Hermand (Konig- stein: Athenaeum, 1980) 141.

IgHesse 217.

20John Carey, The Intellectuals and the Masses. Pride and Prejudice among the Liter- ary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939 (London: Faber, 1992) 208.

21Henrike Junge, ed., Avantgarde und Publikum. Zur Rezeption avantgardistischer Kunst in Deutschland 1905-1933 (Koln: Bohlau, 1992).

"Die Tragerschicht der Kunst der Moderne blieb auf schmale Gruppen der burgerlichen Oberschichten und daruber hinaus der Intellektuellen beschrankt." Wolfgang J. Mommsen,Burgerliche Kultur und kunst- lerische Avantgarde 1870-1918. Kultur und Politik im deutschen Kaiserreich (Frankfurt a. M.: Ullstein, 1994) 103.

22Hans Belting, Die Deutschen und ihre Kunst. Ein schwieriges Erbe (Miinchen: Beck, 1992) 41.

23Helmuth Plessner, "Die Legende von den zwanziger Jahren," Diesseits der Utopie (1962; Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1974) 101.

24Panajotis Kondylis, Der Niedergang der burgerlichen Denk- und Lebensformen. Die liberale Moderne und massendemokratische Postmoderne (Weinheim: VCH-Acta Humano- ria, 1991) 15.

25Wolfgang Hardtwig, "Nationale und kulturelle Identitat im Kaiserreich und der umkampfte Weg in die Moderne. Der Deutsche Werkbund," Nationales Bewuatsein und kollektive Identitat: Studien zur Entwicklung des kollektiven Bewuatseins in der Neuzeit, ed. Helmut Berding (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1994) 529.

For the concept of Neuer Stil see Georg Bollenbeck, "Stilinflation und Einheitsstil. Zur Funktion des Stilbegriffs in den Bemuhungen um eine industrielle ~sthetik,"

Stil: Geschichte und Funktion eines kultur- wissenschaftlichen Diskurselements, ed. H. U. Gumbrecht and L. Pfeiffer (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1986) 215-29.

26A. v. Saldern and Sid Auffahrt, ed.,

Wochenend und schoner Schein. Freizeit und modernes Leben in den zwanziger Jahren: Beispiel Hannover (Berlin: Elefanten Press, 1991) 37.

For concepts such as Kulturbolschewismus, Kunstbolschewismus and Musikbolschewismus see Eckhard John, Musik-Bolschewismus: die Politisierung der Musik in Deutschland1918-1938 (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1994).

27Belting 41.

2~0ccasionally, opponents of modernism have attempted to declare it to be defunct. Thus in 1909 Samuel Lublinski, having pub- lished a "Sum of Modernism" (Bilanz der Moderne)five years earlier, now spoke of "The End of Modernism" (Ausgang der Moderne). At this point, he was disappointed with the "Neo-Romanticism" he had previously fa- vored. Samuel Lublinski, Ausgang der Moderne (Dresden: Reissner, 1909). Of course, one must acknowledge that in such cases the concept of modernism was primarily used in reference to aesthetics. This confirms an ob- servation made by Rudolf Borchardt, who as- sumed in 1905 that the debasement of the con- cept of modernism was caused by a shift from the "temporal sphere" to the "realm of aes- thetics." (Translator's note: depending on the context, the German word Moderne can mean either modernity or-in the more strictly cul- tural sense-modernism.) Rudolf Borchardt, "Rede auf Hofmannsthal," Die literarische Moderne. Dokumente zum Selbstverstandnis der Literatur um die Jahrhundertwende, ed. Gotthart Wunberg (Frankfurt a. M.: Athenae- um, 19711, 141.

The earliest use of the word "postmodern" can be found in Rudolf Pannwitz, Die Krisis der europaischen Kultur (Nurnberg: Carl, 1917) 65.

29Theodor W. Adorno, "Jene zwanziger Jahre," Eingriffe. Neun kritische Modelle, (1962; Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1968) 59.

30Egon Friedell, Kulturgeschichte der Neuzeit (1927-1931) (Munchen: Beck, 1989) 1507.

31Cited in Uwe K. Ketelsen, Literatur und Drittes Reich (Schernfeld: SH-Verlag, 1992).

32Fritz K. Ringer, The Decline of the Ger- man Mandarins. The German Academic Com- munity, 1890-1933 (Cambridge,: Harvard UP 1969). See also Georg Bollenbeck, Bildung und Kultur. Glanz und Elend eines deutschen Deu- tungsmusters (Frankfurt a.M.: Insel 1994).

33Hilarius Berg, "Kulturbolschewismus oder Kulturfaschismus," Sozialistische Bildung 7.8 (August 1932) 162.

34Carl Ossietzky, "Kulturbolschewismus," Die Weltbuhne 27 (1931): 559-60.

351 am indebted to my colleague Clemens Knobloch in Siegen, and not only for calling my attention to the work of Kenneth Burke-Per-

manence and Change. An Anatomy of Purpose (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1977); A Grammar of Motives (Berkeley: U of California 1969). I would also like to acknowledge a num- ber of significant suggestions and references I gained from a master's thesis completed in connection with my research project in Siegen: Bjorn Laser, Kulturbolschewismus. Ein po- litisches Schlagwort in den 20er und 30er Jahren (Siegen 1997). And, of course, John's standard work on the subject should be men- tioned here once more: Musik-Bolschewismus(see note 26).

36The former "Anti-Bolshevist League" (subsequent to 1919 the "League for Preserva- tion of German Culture") issued the following statement in 1921: "Wir wollen vor Hetzreden und doktrinaren Utopien warnen, die mit wirlklichkeitsfremden Schlagworten zu ge- waltsamen Umsturz und gewagten Experi- menten verleiten mochten; denn der voll- standige Zusammenbruch unseres gesamten Wirtschafts- und Kulturlebens ware die Folge solcher Versuche." Manfred WeiDbecker, "Antibolschewistische Liga," Lexikon zur Parteiengeschichte. Die burgerlichen und kleinburgerlichen Verbande in Deutschland (1789-1945), vol. 1, ed. Dieter Fricke et al. (Leipzig: Pahl-Rugenstein, 1983) 72.

37Numerous examples are cited in John 41-46.

38Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf Zwei Bande in einem Band (192511927), (Munchen: Zentral- verlag der NSDAq 1938) 287.

39This was recognized early on by Samuel Haas in his pamphlet Kulturbolschewismus. Ein Zeitspiegel, ed. Bund fur Volk und Heimat (Zurich: Mitten-durch-Verlag, 1933) 4. For Haas, this aspect is by no means the secret to the expression's success; rather, he suspects the term "konnte deshalb leicht als ein konstruiertes Schlagwort abgetan oder nicht so ernst genommen werden, wie er es leider verdient. Schlagworter, fur Massen ausgedacht und in Sprechchoren, mit Lautsprechern und fetten Drucklettern an die Massen herangetragen, zahlen selber zum Kulturbolschewismus."

40Breuer,~sthetischer Fundamentalismus (see note 4). 411wan Iljin, "Was ist Kulturbolschewis- mus?" Der Tag 26 June 1931. 42K~rtTucholsky, "Sigilla Veri," Gesammelte Werke in 10 Banden. Band 9: 1931

(Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1975) 299. 43 Klaus Petersen, Zensur in der Weimarer Republik (Stuttgart~Weimar: Metzler, 1995).

44K~rt Hutten, Kulturbolschewismus. Eine deutsche Schicksalsfrage (Stuttgart: Ev. Volksbund, 1932) 1.

45Haas 13.

46Hans Hauptmann, "Kultur-Bolschewismus," Der Weltkampf 8 (1931): 441. The philosopher Max Wundt from Tiibingen held "Jewish influence" responsible for "Zersetzung deutscher Geistesbildung" and for "cultural Bolshevism." Uwe Jens Wandel, et al., ed., ".. . helfen zu graben den Brunnen des Lebens." Historische Jubilaumsausstellung des Uniuersitatsarchius Tubingen (Tubingen 1977) 325-26.

47"Der Siegeszug des Kulturbolschewis- mus," Griine Briefe fur Politik und Wirtschaft 28 (June 1929).

48Walter Dirks, "Was ist 'Kulturbolsche- wismus'?" Zeitschrift fur Religion und Sozia- lismus 3 (1931): 225. In a sermon published as "The Church's Opposition to Bolshevism," Cardinal Faulhaber preached:

Ihr religiosen Bekenntnisse, ihr Partei-

en im Lande, ihr Volkerkonferenzen,

streitet euch nicht um Dinge, die nicht so

wichtig sind, wie diese Frage! Die beiden

groaten unter den groRen Fragen der

deutschen Gegenwart sind: wie werden wir

dem Geburtenriickgang des Volkes Einhalt

tun, und wie werden wir den Kultur-

BOLLENBECK:Kultur, Bildungsbiirgertum, and Susceptibility

bolschewismus fernhalten? Stecken wir schon zu tief im Kulturbolschewismus? Die abendlandische Kultur darf nicht unter- gehen in der bolschewistischen Unkultur!" ("Die Kirche gegen den Bolschewismus," Der Ring 3.7 [16 February 19301).

Cardinal Pacelli, Deputy Minister of the Vatican, remarked:

Es sei daher zu hoffen und zu wiinschen, da13 wie das Zentrum und die Bayrische Volkspartei so auch die anderen auf christlicher Grundlage stehenden Parteien, zu denen ich gleichfalls die nunmehr stiirkste Partei des Reichstages, die Nationalsozialistische Partei ziihle, alles daransetzen werden, den hinter der kommunistischen Partei marschierenden Kultur-Bolschewismus von Deutschland fernzuhalten. (Georg Denzler and Volker Fabricius, Die Kirchen im Dritten Reich, Bd. I [Franmrt a. M.: Fischer, 19841 28.)

49Richard Benz, Geist und Reich. Und die Bestimmung der Deutschen (Jena: Diederich, 1932) 188.

SoKlaus Schreiner, "'Wann kommt der Retter Deutschlands?'. Formen und Funk- tionen von politischem Messianismus in der Weimarer Republik," Saeculum. Jahrbuch fur Uniuersalgeschichte 49.1 (1998): 121. Kurt Sontheimer, Antidemokratischer Denken in der Weimarer Republik. Die politischen Ideen des deutschen Nationalismus zwischen 1918 und 1933 (Munchen: dtv, 1978) 214-22.

51Hans Mommsen, "Die Auflosung des Burgertums seit dem spaten 19. Jahrhundert," Burger und Burgerlichkeit im 19. Jahrhundert, ed. Jurgen Kocka (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck, 1987) 303-04.

52Letter written March 26, 1932. Notker Hammerstein, ed., Deutsche Bildung-Brief- wechsel zweier Schulmanner. Otto Schumann -Martin Hauenstein 1930-1944, Frankfurt a. M.: Insel, 1988).

In retrospect, Friedrich von der Leyen re- marked in a similar vein: "While still in Mu- nich, I witnessed Adolf Hitler's beginnings. At that time, 1920, my wife returned full of enthu- siasm from an evening speech Hitler had given. She reported that the entire audience had been captivated by his temperament and his bitter mockery of our pitiful conditions. Whenever one saw the zeal, dedication, and en- thusiasm of university students in the years preceding 1923, one could hope for a new, purer future." Friedrich von der Leyen, Leben und Freiheit der Hochschule. Erinnerungen

(Koln: Verlag Der Loewe, 1960) 221.

53With reference to the circle surrounding George, Stefan Breuer writes in ~sthetischer Fundamentalismus:

Der asthetische Fundamentalismus

kann fur sich in Anspruch nehmen, eine

derart miljgluckte Kreuzung von Charisma

und Burokratie, wie sie das NS-Regime

verk&perte, niemals gewollt zu haben; und

es bleibt ihm die Ehre, in der Person

Stauffenbergs dagegen aufgestanden zu

sein, als die meisten schon resigniert


With all due respect, one should not forget Stauffenberg's enthusiasm when the National Socialists came to power, or the fact that there- jections of the republic, the parliament, and the phenomenon of "cultural Bolshevism" numbered among the longer-term conditions of possibility for National Socialism.

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