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Friedrich W. Kantzenbach

Erfundenes Glück

Der Autor beschäftigt sich auf lyrischem Weg mit den essentiellen Dingen des Lebens. Er reflektiert seine reichen literarischen Begegnungen und verarbeitet Reiseerlebnisse und persönliche Bekanntschaften mit Menschen, die ihn beeindruckten. Zunehmend durchdringen die Themen Krankheit, Tod und Vergänglichkeit seine Texte.



Where is „Unity“?

Translation by Christoph Werner (Weimar, Thuringia) and Michael Leonard (Petaluma, California)

Flagge USA

With his 10 Theses on a German Leitkultur in Germany’s largest-selling Sunday newspaper, “Bild am Sonntag”, Thomas de Maizière, German Interior Minister has given new impetus to the discussion about the idea of a national guiding culture, which has received approval from some important voices as well as criticism from others. First, he was reproached for interfering with the coming election campaigns on both the state and federal levels, and second, his critics said there is no need for a German leitkultur because all that has to be said is contained in the German constitution, the Basic Law.

As to the first point it should be remarked that election campaigns are meant to let personalities, ideas and programs compete with each other so that the voters can make up their minds. Concerning the second, it should be stated that our Basic Law, though in many parts exemplary, was not written to interfere with German cultural life. The object of the Basic Law is to organize and protect Germans so that they can live together in peace. In that, it is the foundation of a legal system. This can clearly be seen by the fact that of the three fundamental concepts of the French Revolution, liberty, equality, fraternity, only the first two are contained among the regulations of the Basic Law, but not fraternity, or, as we would rather say today, solidarity.Wartburgfest 1817

In the “Deutschlandlied” (Song of Germany), later the German national anthem, the author August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben in 1841 expressed his desire for the national unification of Germany using the words “unity and justice and freedom for the German fatherland”. And about this unity little is said in the Basic Law, though it is indispensable if a society or nation is to live together in peace. In our history lessons teachers used the conflict in Northern Ireland to explain that without solidarity, without a fundamental consensus, people cannot live together peacefully. This is exemplified by the present conflicts between different religions in various countries in the world. Many societies are internally divided with differing factions threatening each other or fighting or simply making life difficult for the opposing party. In extreme cases it can lead to terrorism and civil war (e. g. in Syria and Yemen). But such divisions can also be observed in countries enjoying the fundamental principles of the rule of law comparable to our own country.

Fraternity, solidarity and unity are the fundamental requirements for the coherence of any community. Whatever creates, maintains or furthers it can be called “leitkultur”, fundamental consensus or otherwise. The essential tasks of leitkultur are unity and solidarity.

Gedenkmünze „125 Jahre Deutschlandlied“We should be glad that in Germany we can talk openly and freely about questions such as this. The Interior Minister has said that with his initiative he wanted to start a broad debate in Germany. It would be very appealing if all social forces and interested citizens would compile what they think are the prerequisites and and foundations of solidarity. From this compilation one could then form plans and programs to further clarify issues. Essential themes would be respect for one another, friendly and safe neighborhood, readiness to help and the right of self-determination. What is agreed upon need not be rigid and inflexible, but should be open to reform and adaptation if new developments demand it. The agreements would be successful if they met with broad approval, produced trust and motivation. Individuals and social groups would not feel threatened and thus be alienated from each other. Today, in view of world-wide terrorism, hate speech in social networks and the self-serving of politicians this seems more important than ever.


Bildnachweis: - Vorschaubild „Händeschütteln“: von Rufino (hermandad - friendship) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons - Wartburgfest 1817 (gemeinfrei) - Gedenkmünze „125 Jahre Deutschlandlied“: von Perseus1984 (Eigenes Werk) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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