«A. Dirk Moses Whoever thou art... by ceasing to take part... in the public worship of God, as it now is (with the claim that it is the ...»
183. Jürgen Habermas, Postmetaphysical Thinking: Philosophical Essays, trans. William Mark Hohengarten (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992), 162; Habermas, “Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action,” in New Conservatism, 260–63. Cf. Martin J. Matustik, “Kierkegaard’s Radical Existential Praxis; or, Why the Individual Deﬁes Liberal, Communitarian, and Postmodern Categories,” in Kierkegaard in Post/Modernity, ed. Martin J. Matustik and Merold Westphal (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), 245; Matustik, “Existence and the Communicatively Competent Self,” Philosophy and Social Criticism 24, no. 3 (1999): 93–120; Matustik, Postnational Identity: Critical Theory and Existential Philosophy in Habermas, Kierkegaard, and Havel (New York: Guilford, 1993).
184. “‘Das ist die Fortsetzung des Dritten Reiches’: Was soll, was kann, was hilft das Berliner Holocaust-Mahnmal? Ein Streitgespräch mit Henryk M. Broder und Wolfgang Menge,” Der Tagesspiegel, June 9, 2005.
92 Dilemmas of Identity after the Holocaust Schuldfrage (The Question of German Guilt), described by Anson Rabinbach as “the founding text of the new narrative of the ‘European German,’ of a neutral, anti-militarist, and above all ethical Germany,” was also dripping in Kierkegaardian themes of individual as well as collective sin and redemption.185 “Either acceptance of the guilt not meant by the rest of the world but constantly repeated by our conscience comes to be a fundamental trait of our German self-consciousness—in which case our soul goes the way of transformation—or we subside into the average triviality of indifferent, mere living.”186 Contrary to the assertions of his critics, Jaspers insisted on political communication between Germans in addition to private introspection.187 For such communication to occur, however, Germans needed to respect each other’s consciences by moving beyond the clichéd accusations and denials that began to mark public and private discussions of the Nazi regime immediately after the war. The debate about Walser’s infamous Paulskirche speech showed that Jaspers’s concern was well placed. Walser was either roundly condemned by non-German Germans as someone who wanted to forget Auschwitz and draw a line under the past, or defended by German Germans as a persecuted patriot who allowed them to feel good about being German. Walser’s complaint that “the warners never speak of their own wrestling with guilt” was borne out by the denunciatory tone of his critics who blithely presumed they were on the side of the angels.188 Conclusion The dilemma about the integrity of German conscience reﬂected the underlying structure of national memory. Should it be “instructed” by intellectuals in a secularized version of the Lutheran imperative for the community of worshippers to guide its members? Or did that very instruction represent an intolerable moralization of politics that led to the unjust hounding of public
185. Anson Rabinbach, In the Shadow of Catastrophe: German Intellectuals between Apocalypse and Enlightenment (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 132; cf. Diner, Beyond the Conceivable, 219. Already in the 1960s Jaspers was prophesying that Germany’s “future lay
not in the recovery of the nation-state but in its overcoming” (Freiheit und Wiedervereinigung:
Über Aufgaben deutscher Politik [Munich: Piper, 1960], 53).
186. Karl Jaspers, The Question of German Guilt, trans. E. B. Ashton (New York: Capricorn, 1961), 117.
187. Dagmar Barnouw, Visible Spaces: Hannah Arendt and the German-Jewish Experience (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1990), 161–64.
188. Walser, “Über Freie und unfreie Rede,” 1056.
A. Dirk Moses 93 ﬁgures who breached language games whose rules were made by non-German Germans? The answer boiled down to a question of basic trust. Could Germans be trusted to wrestle with their consciences? Of course, Walser thought they could; it was the public sphere that was corrupted, not the population.189 In a neat symmetry, Habermas thought not, although he was prepared to admit in 1988 that Germany no longer possessed a population whose majority one needed to fear.190 His general anxiety about the uniﬁed Germany was shared by some Jews who thought that what was good for the Germans was bad for the Jews.191 Jaspers might have agreed with them. His optimism about the efﬁcacy of German conscience work in the 1940s lessened with time as he witnessed the apathy of Germans about the “question of German guilt.” Writing twenty years after his Die Schuldfrage, and having migrated to Switzerland, he complained that “the reality was completely different from what I had hoped for in 1945. Very soon there was no more talk of an intellectual reconstruction.... Politically, the will for a democratic reconstruction resulting from an inner conversion was lost. From 1948 a new state began with new assumptions. The years 1945–1948 were ﬁnished.”192 Certainly, Jaspers did not possess basic trust in German political culture in the 1960s, worrying about its militarism and authoritarian potential.193 But what about 2007? The signs are that the fourth generation of Germans after the Holocaust—that generation which has no direct experience of grandparents who lived through the Nazi era—are beginning to place trust in the country’s institutions and political culture. Much of the public culture has been remade by non-German Germans, even the national soccer team of the 2006 World Cup, made up in part of Polish-born stars and coached by an American-based former player married to a Chinese American. NonGerman Germans cheered for them as much as anyone else. Because such a new national feeling was based not on continuities with the generations that experienced World War II but on the achievements and culture of the Federal
189. Müller, Another Country, 175.
190. Habermas, New Conservatism, 194.
191. Moishe Postone, “A Comment: The End of the Postwar Era and the Reemergence of the Past,” in Jews, Germans, Memory: Reconstructions of Jewish Life in Germany, ed. Y. Michal Bodemann (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996), 273–79.
192. Karl Jaspers, quoted in Mark W. Clark, “A Prophet without Honour: Karl Jaspers in Germany, 1945–48,” Journal of Contemporary History 37 (2002): 215.
193. Karl Jaspers, Wohin treibt die Bundesrepublik? Tatsachen, Gefahren, Chancen (Munich:
94 Dilemmas of Identity after the Holocaust Republic, it was possible for them to feel good about their nationality—their “we-ness”—and acknowledge the memory of the Holocaust as an event that was laid at the door of a former Germany, a Germany of existential signiﬁcance to members of the “forty-ﬁver” generation like Walser and Habermas (born in the 1920s),194 but of increasingly less existential signiﬁcance for the youth of the twenty-ﬁrst century. With the development of basic trust, the underlying structure that has marked German memory for sixty years is gradually coming to an end.
194. A. Dirk Moses, “The Forty-Fivers: A Generation between Fascism and Democracy,” German Politics and Society 17, no. 1 (1999): 95–127. This argument is elaborated in my German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).