Helmut J. Schneider

‘»Kulturkrieg«: Germany’s Crusade Against »Civilization«’ Abstract:

Culture Wars ...

The outbreak of the First World War 1914 produced a veritable flood of speeches and writings in Europe, which for the most part sided with the “just cause” of one’s home country. In Germany in particular, notable and widely respected intellectuals, writers and scholars engaged in an often fierce, even militant justification of what they regarded as a battle to defend German Kultur against a potentially depraved Western Zivilisation. Thomas Mann is only the best-known representative of an ideological opposition that reaches far back into the German intellectual tradition. This lecture will present examples of the disturbing alliance of intellectual brilliance and political blindness in Thomas Mann and additional luminaries such as Werner Sombart, Ernst Troeltsch, Max Weber, and Georg Simmel. After the intoxicating initial moment of the summer of 1914, many of them revised their position, without, however, giving up their deeply held cultural conservatism.