The Germans as a Chosen People: Old Testament Themes in German Nationalism by Hartmut Lehmann

The Germans as a Chosen People: Old Testament Themes in German Nationalism by Hartmut Lehmann

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In the article, “The Germans as a Chosen People: Old Testament Themes in German Nationalism,” Hartmut Lehmann attempts to show to what extent the Protestant denominations of Germany contributed to the rise of German nationalism. He focuses on religion, theology, and how various Protestant groups developed the idea that major events in Germany were directly influenced by god. This idea of divine intervention among Protestants eventually transformed into the notion that Germans had developed a special connection with God, and that they were the “chosen people.”
He argues that there were four distinct phases in which the chosen people theme spread throughout Germany. The first phase began at the end of the Napoleonic Wars and lasted until the Revolution of 1830. In this phase, he argues that protestants were working to build God's kingdom by sending missionaries worldwide, helping the disadvantaged, as well as distributing bibles and pamphlets – in doing this, they believed they would obtain salvation by fighting the evil Enlightenment ideas that had developed.(FN). Phase two occurred between the revolutions of 1830 and 1848. He argues that the revolution shocked the German protestants, who saw it as a severe setback to their construction of God's kingdom. This phase is crucial to Lehmann because he argues that it was the first instance that Protestants developed a disdain toward French enlightenment, while holding themselves, as Germans, in higher regard.
The third phase was within the period of 1848 and early 1860s. In this phase, the German Protestants were appalled that revolution was happening again, especially on their own soil. This resulted in a surge of domestic missions, believing that the reward would be social change...


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...tively small minority, that only opposed it because they viewed French ideas of freedom as oppressive compared to what they considered as true liberty in their respective states. Kohn argues that only when Napoleon started to invade other countries and directly influence Germany, is when Germans slowly started to gain some notion of national consciousness, though this patriotic sentiment was very rare. He argued that only the smaller states looked for political unification for protection, but the larger states still had no longing for unity and wished to live in peace.(Content footnote about prussian peace treaty). This article is a good place to start when looking at the conditions before German nationalism. It documents the lack of national awareness in the German States, and reinforces the argument that German nationalism crystalized during the Wars of Liberation.

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