Writing and Slaughter

I The Thousand Year Reich had come to an end after twelve bloody years. The “belated nation,” which had drawn the short straw when it came to dividing up the overseas colonies of the world and so colonized inwards with the expulsion and destruction of the Jews (this was the writer Heiner Müller’s thesis), had become the scourge of the world, a disgrace among nations. Germany’s dream of expanding eastwards, with military villages and farming communities all the way to the Urals and protectorates everywhere, the evil utopia of world domination envisaged by its Führer, was over. It happened so fast that all anyone could do was rub their eyes. Had these Germans lost their minds? After the war, the previously hyperactive nation with its vision of world domination turned inwards. Now the Volk ohne Raum, the nation deprived of its longed-for Lebensraum, was to focus instead on the last unspoiled bit of Heimat, or homeland, left to it — the Feldweg, “the field path” or “country path” extolled by Martin Heidegger, the philosopher of the hour, in a short but widely read essay in 1953. Martin Heidegger, forerunner of the eco-movement, secret hero of the Greens? Something abiding had to be found, something tried and tested,  unspoiled, something that by its very nature spoke of Heimat and made defeat bearable as a kind of renunciation. Because, as the philosopher declared, “The Renunciation does not take. The Renunciation gives. It gives the inexhaustible power of the Simple. The message makes us feel at home in a long Origin.”  This was the new program, an ecological manifesto avant la lettre, in a mixture of romanticism and the objectivity of the moment, as only a German could write it. There was the lark on a summer’s morning, the oak tree on the

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