«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 ...»
51. Lutz Rosenkötter, “The Formation of Ideals in the Succession of Generations,” in Generations of the Holocaust, ed. Martin S. Bergmann and Milton E. Jucovy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 182: “The adolescent children of such parents can either share their right-wing ideals and, thus, openly oppose present-day society; or they may break with their parents, who, in their rigor, cannot bear to be questioned; or they may leave the matter open and go on living with conﬂicting ideals.”
52. For this paragraph I rely on the helpful analysis of Alexander L. Hinton, “Agents of Death:
Explaining the Cambodian Genocide in Terms of Psychosocial Dissonance,” American Anthropologist, n.s., 98 (1996): 818–31.
53. Cf. Charlotte Kahn, “The Different Ways of Being a German,” Journal of Psychohistory 20 (1993): 391.
A. Dirk Moses 59 clothe this temporal-moral impulse for a new beginning call such an identity “postconventional,” a synonym for “postnational.” These non-German Germans should not be confused with the few Germans who converted to Judaism to escape their national identity. Nor do they resemble the German refugees for whom the professor of German literature Hugo Kuhn coined a new term after he encountered them on his study tour of Australian universities in 1960. “In the concert halls of Melbourne and Sydney, we felt as we used to in Breslau.
What a forced-export of cultivated and culture-conscious Germans has gone across the entire globe! Hitler has indeed brought together German and German-conscious Europeans in all the world—but as German anti-Germans [deutsche Gegen-Deutsche].”54 This orientation may have even preceded the Nazis: we know from Thomas Mann that a “German self-antipathy” (deutscher Selbst-Antipathie) has existed for over a thousand years!55 Finally, non-German Germans are not to be conﬂated with the so-called anti-Germans (Antideutsche), for whom “Germany must die so we can live” and who insist that “after Auschwitz, we have no right to be German.”56 For this sect of the German Left, the average German is “Otto Normalvergaser” (Otto Normal-gasser), a petit bourgeois with barely concealed genocidal and antiSemitic urges.57 Incarnating the “self-hating German,”58 like those young Germans who hide their nationality during travels abroad, the anti-Germans regard the German problem in terms of the country’s fascist reaction to the crises of capitalism. They support anything that negates German nationalism and, now, Islamism and for that reason are ﬁercely critical of German and European antiZionism, particularly on the left. Solidarity with Israel is paramount.59
54. Hugo Kuhn, “Europäische Reﬂexionen in Australien,” Die Zeit, March 17, 1961. I thank my father, John A. Moses, for furnishing me with this long-forgotten article that he clipped while studying in Germany in the early 1960s.
55. Thomas Mann, Doktor Faustus, vol. 6 of Gesammelte Werke (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1960), 51.
56. Cited by Richard Schroeder, “Verführtes Denken? Zur Rolle der Ideologie in der DDR,” in Deutsche Entfremdung: Zum Beﬁnden in Ost und West, ed. Wolfgang Hardtwig and Heinrich August Winkler (Munich: Beck, 1994), 158.
57. Eike Geisel, Die Banalität des Guten: Deutsche Seelenwanderungen (Berlin: Tiamat, 1992), 17. This term is a play on Otto Normaverbraucher, the average citizen, as in “the man on the Clapham omnibus.”
58. This term is used in an angry settling of accounts with former, fellow leftists by Klaus Rainer Röhl, “Morgenthau und Antifa: Über den Selbsthaß der Deutschen,” in Die selbstbewußte Nation: “Anschwellende Bockgesänge” und weitere Beiträge zu einer deutschen Debatte, ed.
Heimo Schwilk and Ulrich Schacht (Berlin: Ullstein, 1994), 85–100.
59. Vigilant in combating contemporary manifestations of the problem, they now identify
Islamism as a form of National Socialism and condemn “Old Europe’s” stance of diplomatic solutions to Iran’s nuclear aspirations as a form of “collaboration.” See the new journal Promodo:
60 Dilemmas of Identity after the Holocaust As this example shows, identity dilemmas cannot be reduced to questions of the Left and the Right. It was the Greens and peace movement, after all, that in the early 1980s raised the issue of German national sovereignty against NATO and the USSR, as an earlier peace movement had in the 1950s.60 And an anti-Israel reﬂex, replete with Nazi analogies, in relation to the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, was equally evident in sections of the Left at the same time.61 Non-German Germans, by contrast, are not constituted purely by negation.
They want to transform their social environment by making it nonnational.
But why use this speciﬁc term? The non-German German is of course an adaptation of the famous coinage the “non-Jewish Jew” by the Polish Jewish historian Isaac Deutscher. The link between the two identities is more than semantic. A universalist, postnational orientation constitutes their inner afﬁnity. The non-Jewish Jew is the Jewish heretic, the rebel, perhaps especially for the Marxist Deutscher, the revolutionary. His heroes were Baruch Spinoza, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Leon Trotsky, and Sigmund Freud. It is true that many of them left not only Judaism but any Jewish identity behind, yet, Deutscher insisted, they belonged to a venerable Jewish tradition.62 Precisely because Jews did not have their own nation-state and always had to contend with the other, even in Galician shtetls where he grew up, they were not permitted, as he put it, “to reconcile themselves to ideas which were nationally or religiously limited, [which] induced them to strive for a universal Weltanschauung.”63 By leaving tradition behind, these non-Jewish Jews resolved a tension in Jewish identity in the cosmopolitan, universalistic, and international direction that Deutscher preferred. That tension, he argued, inhered in the Jewish god who is unitary yet universal, indeed who is universal but reveals himZeitschrift in eigener Sache 1 (2005): 46, www.promodo-online.org, which carried an announcement for an “antideutsche Konferenz”: “Kritik und Parteilichkeit Aufruf zur antideutschen Konferenz am 18. und 19. November 2005 in Berlin.” See also www.redaktion-bahamas.org and www.jungleworld.org. I am grateful to Norbert Finzsch for drawing my attention to these references. A critique by a former anti-German is Robert Kurz, Die Antideutsche Ideologie: Vom Antifaschismus zum Krisenimperialismus (Münster: Unrast, 2003).
60. Andrew Oppenheimer, “West German Paciﬁcism and the Ambivalence of Human Solidarity, 1945–1968,” Peace and Change 29 (2004): 353–89.
61. Susann Heenen, “Deutsche Linke, linke Juden und der Zionismus,” in Die Verlängerung der
Geschichte: Deutsche, Juden und der Palästinakonﬂikt, ed. Dietrich Wetzel (Frankfurt am Main:
Verlag Neue Kritik, 1983), 109, cited in Anson Rabinbach, “Introduction: Reﬂections on Germans and Jews since Auschwitz,” in Germans and Jews since the Holocaust: The Changing Situation in West Germany, ed. Anson Rabinbach and Jack Zipes (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1986), 10.
62. Isaac Deutscher, The Non-Jewish Jew, and Other Essays, ed. Tamara Deutscher (London:
Oxford University Press, 1968), 27.
63. Ibid., 30.
A. Dirk Moses 61 self to a single chosen people. The tension was resolved by ﬁgures like Spinoza, whose ethics, Deutscher wrote, remained Jewish “except that his was Jewish monotheism carried to its logical conclusion and the Jewish universal God thought out to the end; and once thought out to the end, that God ceased to be Jewish.”64 The non-Jewish Jew was important for world history because, he argued, “the genius of the Jews who have gone beyond Jewry has left us the message of universal human emancipation.” Later, he wrote less of a total ﬂattening out of national or cultural differences than of “supra-national forms of social existence.” Writing in the 1960s, he was convinced that the age of the nation-state was coming to an end.65 There are obvious connections to Germany. They are not that Deutscher’s Polish Jewish family was originally from Nuremberg and that his father remained in thrall to German culture. Or that his son Isaac was fascinated by Yiddish and Polish culture. The connection is that the articulator of the nonGerman German idea, Habermas, was thinking in similar terms at the same time as Deutscher was writing in the late 1950s. Like Deutscher, he moved from particularism to universalism. And like Deutscher, he favored a world released from national egoism, contending that world history was rendering the nation-state obsolete.
Jürgen Habermas’s Non-German Germanism How did Habermas, born in 1929 and onetime member of the Hitler Youth, come to this conclusion? He writes that he experienced the war’s end as a liberation. A few weeks after Germany’s surrender, he saw the Allied ﬁlms on the concentration camps and realized that he had been living in a system run by criminals. It was a great moral shock.
At the age of 15 or 16, we sat before the radio and experienced what was being discussed before the Nuremberg tribunal; when others, instead of being struck silent by the ghastliness, began to dispute the justice of the trial, procedural questions, and questions of jurisdiction, there was that ﬁrst rupture, which still gapes. Certainly, it is only because I was still sensitive and easily offended that I did not close myself to the fact of collectively realized inhumanity in the same measure as my elders.66
65. Above all, Deutscher rejected the imperative that his “dominant emotion” must be “belonging to Jewry,” by which he meant feeling compelled to support Israel, to which he referred as “this new [nationalist] Hebrew mutation of the Jewish consciousness” (Non-Jewish Jew, 92, 56).
66. Jürgen Habermas, “The German Idealism of the Jewish Philosophers” (1961), in Philosophical-Political Proﬁles, trans. Frederick G. Lawrence (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983), 41.
62 Dilemmas of Identity after the Holocaust Disgusted with his country’s depravity and thoroughly alienated by its provincialism and atmosphere of self-pity, he has been unable to possess a basic trust in his social environment ever since. His large-group identity as a German had been soiled.67 By 1956 Habermas successfully approached Theodor W.
Adorno about becoming his assistant at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt. The move to Frankfurt was more than a new intellectual home for the brilliant young social philosopher. Because the institute’s most famous lights were German Jews, it offered leftists like Habermas the chance to stand with the victims of Nazi persecution. Run by the living embodiments of an intellectual tradition with which he could personally identify, the institute offered a project that he could make his life’s work. As Albrecht Wellmer observed of critical theory’s importance to the “second generation” like Habermas, Ludwig von Friedeburg (b. 1923), and himself, it “was the only position represented in Germany after the war that made conceivable a radical break with fascism without a just as radical break with the German cultural tradition, and that meant a radical break with one’s own cultural identity.”68 This source of identiﬁcation was most apparent in Habermas’s 1961 radio lecture, “The German Idealism of the Jewish Philosophers.” German idealism was actually indebted to Jewish mysticism, he claimed, because Jakob Böhme had been inﬂuenced by the kabbalah, and in turn his Swabian pietism had inﬂuenced the Tübingen seminarians G. W. F. Hegel, Friedrich Schelling, and Friedrich Hölderlin. The content of this mysticism was the human fulﬁllment of the “new age of the world,” as he put it, the “ancient goal of the redemption of humanity, of nature, and indeed of the God knocked off his throne.”69 In other words, Jewish messianism posited a divine culmination to history, a belief that underlay political utopianism. It was no surprise, Habermas averred, that the young Hegelian insight that “the ongoing beginning opens up a view of the still outstanding end” was taken up by Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, and the early Georg Lukács. “The German Idealism of the Jews produces the ferment of a critical utopia.”70 Making a case for the intellectual signiﬁcance of the disputed “GermanJewish symbiosis,” Habermas contended that the German spirit and Jewish spirit were mutually dependent, for it was in Germany that Jews were able
67. Peter Dews, ed., Habermas: Autonomy and Solidarity; Interviews with Jürgen Habermas (London: Verso, 1986), 126.
68. Albrecht Wellmer, “Die Bedeutung der Frankfurter Schule heute,” in Die Frankfurter Schule und die Folgen, ed. Axel Honneth and Albrecht Wellmer (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1986), 25–34, 27.
69. Habermas, “German Idealism,” 39.
70. Ibid., 42.
A. Dirk Moses 63 to emancipate themselves from the ghetto and medieval religion and make Jewish mysticism philosophically reﬂective. Here in particular there is a parallel with Deutscher’s argument, although there is no evidence that Habermas knew about Deutscher’s ideas at the time. What is important to note is that Habermas thought that the spirit of the Germanized Jewish messianism would be Germany’s salvation after the attempt to exterminate it: “Meanwhile, the question of anti-Semitism itself has been disposed of—we have disposed of it by physical extermination. Hence, in our deliberations it cannot be a matter of the life and survival of the Jews, of inﬂuences back and forth; only we ourselves are at stake. That is to say, the Jewish heritage drawn from the German spirit has become indispensable for our own life and survival.”71 In other words, the tradition of the non-Jewish Jews becomes the model for the new Germans, that is, the non-German Germans! Surveying what he regarded as the reactionary political culture of the Federal Republic in the early 1960s, he looked to it to rescue the country from its past. “If there were not extant a German-Jewish tradition, we would have to discover one for our own sakes.