German Terminology and Conceptual Explanations

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Feb 12, 2018
Translations and Definitions of 19th and 20th Century German Policies
I'll be updating this list as I go, and I'll do my best to keep it in alphabetical order.

Bündnispolitik: Carried out from the end of the Franco-Prussian War until the establishment of the German Empire, this policy was Otto von Bismarck's attempt to unite Germany into a whole country. (Side note: Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) was a German statesman, who in the 1860s conducted three wars that resulted in the coming-together of the German states.) It's an interesting fact that Bismarck recognized other European states' concerns about further German expansion and declared the Germans 'saturiert' (saturated): "Die Tage der Einmischung in das innere Leben andrer Völker werden, so hoffen wir, unter keinem Vorwand und in keiner Form wiederkehren." (We hope that our days of interfering in the inner workings of other peoples will not be repeated under any pretext or in any form.) Source

Kraft durch Freude: Strength through joy. The KdF was a Nazi organization for the promotion of tourism in the German economy, and the tours it provided were determinedly class-inclusive; all Germans were encouraged to participate and picked through the drawing of lots, not according to any other social factor. It included such things as theFeierabendgestaltung (after-work organization), which aimed to plan out the free time of workers; this specific policy was run by offices within the KdF such as the Amt Feierabend (Office for After-work Activity) and the Amt Volksbildungswerk (Office for Public Education). Source

Lebensraum: Living space. This policy involved the resettlement and population of other lands by Germanic peoples in the name of German expansion and the proliferation of the superior Aryan race (Herrenvolk, or master folk) at the expense of the Untermenschen (lower people). This latter form of the concept was practiced most severely during the Nazi regime, but milder forms of the same desire had been present ever since the first German evaluations of The Origin of Species. Source

Platz an der Sonne: Literally place in the sun. Mentioned in Bernhard von Buelow's 1897 speech to the Reichstag, where he stated "With a word: We do not wish to leave anyone in the shadows, but will ask nevertheless for our place in the sun." (Mit einem Worte: wir wollen niemand in den Schatten stellen, aber wir verlangen auch unseren Platz an der Sonne.) Buelow was then state secretary of foreign affairs in the German Empire. His words later became part of Lebensraum paraphrenelia along with similar statements of the time. Source

Translations and Definitions of German Philosophy and Conceptualisms
Der Krieg ernaehrt den Krieg: Featured in Schiller's drama Wallenstein, this translates to War feeds upon war. The quote originally belongs to Roman statesman Cato the Elder (bellum se ipsum alet) and has since been used in different languages and various contexts. It refers to the strategy of utilizing conquered lands to feed soldiers and gather military resources. Source

Der Krieg ist nichts anderes als die Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln: War is nothing but the continuation of politics through different methods. Attributed to military author Carl von Clausewitz, this means to say that war is simply the use of military power or violence to solve existing problems, and is always subordinate to politics.

Kampf ums Dasein: The fight for existence. Derived from Darwin's work The Origin of Species, this concept refers to each creature's struggle to survive. Bertrand Russell (German philosopher and mathematician) interpreted the concept as " Das was die Menschen den Kampf ums Dasein nennen, ist nichts anderes als der Kampf um den Aufstieg." (That what people call the struggle for life is nothing else than the struggle to improve.) This would later be related to theLebensraum debates: The theory of separate human races became one of the keystones of National Socialist ideology, and this particular brand of social Darwinism still features in far-right arguments (survival of the fittest in society, the rights and prevalence of the strongest, etc.) Source 1 Source 2

Krieg aller gegen alle: Translated from Thomas Hobbes' "Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in that Condition which is called Warre; and such warre, as is of every man, against every man," this concept is not German but British. In Latin the phrase becomes bellum omnium contra omnes. The quote stems from the time of the English civil wars of 1642-1651; compare Hobbes' social contract theory.Source

Kriege moegen andere fuehren: Derived from the poem about Protesilaos, the first Greek to die in the Trojan War, and his lover, in which the lines "Moegen Kriege andere fuehren, Protesilaos soll lieben!" (Bella gerant alii, Protesilaus amet. // Others may lead wars, but Protesilaus loves.) are featured, this phrase applies to Austrian politics in the seventeenth century: "Krieg mögen andere führen, du, glückliches Österreich, heirate! Denn was Mars den anderen, gibt dir die göttliche Venus." (Others may war; you, joyous Austria, marry! For what Mars lacks, the divine Venus supplies.) refers to the Habsburgs' marriage policies. Source

Kuehl bis ans Herz: From Goethe's poem The Fisherman, which begins with the verse

„Das Wasser rauscht, das Wasser schwoll,
Ein Fischer saß daran,
Sah nach dem Angel ruhevoll,
Kühl bis ans Herz hinan.“
The water ran, the water swelled,
A fisherman sat and watched,
Looked after his fish-hook
Calm and cool to the heart.
Verbrannte Erde: Literally scorched earth, this refers to a military strategy in which invading armies utterly destroy agriculture, infrastructure, communications and transportation in conquered territories, wreaking immense damage upon enemy land. This is the policy instituted by William Tecumseh Sherman near the end of the Civil War in his infamous March to the Sea; during the Second World War the Germans applied it in various ways, including the use of men in captured Soviet territories in trench work and the plunder of human and natural resources. Source