2014/3–4 (23)

Special Issue ‘Debating German Heritage: Art History and Nationalism during the Long Nineteenth Century’
Edited by Kristina Jõekalda and Krista Kodres

Debating German Heritage: An Introduction. Kristina Jõekalda, Krista Kodres


Hubert Locher.
The Idea of Cultural Heritage and the Canon of Art

This contribution aims at a basic re-evaluation of the idea of a national cultural heritage in contrast to the concept of world heritage: a corpus of artefacts said to belong not to one nation but to humanity as a whole. Starting from the premise that the history of art is often motivated by the feeling of loss or deprivation, I will proceed to demonstrate how historians contribute to compensate for this loss, attempting to intellectually and ideologically regain, appropriate and even consecrate works of art as national monuments. My argument is that such appropriation is connected to ranking these national monuments within a larger body of works of art deemed to be important for all of humanity. Developing my argument systematically as well as historically, I will discuss the points of view and the choices of topics and objects of some German and one Swiss author with regard to their specific understandings of heritage and their conceptions of national identity.

Winfried Speitkamp. Heritage Preservation, Nationalism and the Reconstruction of Historical Monuments in Germany during the Long Nineteenth Century

In the course of the nineteenth century, the predominant politics of heritage conservation strongly promoted the reconstruction of historical monuments. A new historical landscape was constructed, which became part of the popular image of German history, and which helped shape German collective memory. Different periods of German history each interpreted the historical monuments and their message anew. The monuments acted as reservoirs of memory for different social groups and generations. As landmarks, historical sites and tourist destinations, they became part of popular history and worked their way into the histories of individual families, and thus remained core components of German collective memory. The popular image of the past survived even the great historical ruptures that ensued in the twentieth century. The paper explores these notions first by means of a survey of individuals, organisations and ideas involved in historically orientated movements in nineteenth-century Germany. It then discusses core features and representative cases of historical restoration in practice, and finally focuses on one specific example: the Hohkönigsburg in Alsace-Lorraine.

Ulrike Plath. Heimat: Rethinking Baltic German Spaces of Belonging

The paper aims to start a discussion of the notion of the Baltic German Heimat in the long nineteenth century, from the end of the eighteenth century up to 1918. In this period of time, Baltic German cultural domination reached its peak, but also started to decline due to the constant growth of nationalism, followed by the final migration of Baltic Germans back to Germany between 1905 and 1941. Baltic German history interpreted as a part of the German history of migration developed special features and layers of imagined spatial belonging. After highlighting the main steps in the development of the Baltic German notion of Heimat, ‘fatherland’ and ‘motherland’ in nineteenth-century literature, journalism and politics, the paper proposes an actionbased approach towards understanding spatial belonging. In this sense, Heimat is not only constructed from above, but also as an individually and socially constructed space created by different and sometimes clashing ‘ways of being’ and ‘ways of belonging’. In the conclusion, there is a discussion of whether the Baltic German Heimat was a national, a transnational or an indifferent, de-territorialised space of ‘being between’.

Kristina Jõekalda. Baltic Identity via German Heritage? Seeking Baltic German Art in the Nineteenth Century

The paper investigates the Baltic art historiography concerned with the heritage of medieval architecture in what is now Estonia and northern Latvia, aiming to detect possible conflicts and collisions – or at least a tense relationship – between a specifically Baltic identity and an inevitably German heritage. Against the background of the cultural and national aspirations of the German ‘motherland’, tsarist Russia and native Estonians/Latvians, the Baltic German identity constructions gradually became more and more pronounced in the course of the long nineteenth century. Asking when the need to differentiate between a German and a Baltic German heritage was first sensed, and when the research on this heritage was placed in the context of art history, the writings by the German-born, but Riga-based art historian Wilhelm Neumann serve as a case study. The focal point of the paper is the interrelation between the ‘discovery’ of the local heritage and the emergence of art history: the texts examined mirror the constructions of a Baltic identity, as much as they mirror the influence of the (German) discipline of art history. Can the fact that the roots of both of these were in Germany be considered a situation of double colonialisation? How independent were Baltic German authors in their opinions and conceptions? Can studies on these issues benefit from the theories of postcolonialism?

Mārtiņš Mintaurs. Heritage for the Public? The Gesellschaft für Geschichte und Altertumskunde in Riga and the Protection of Architectural Monuments in the Baltic Provinces, 1834–1914

The paper deals with the activities of architectural heritage protection carried out in the Baltic provinces during the long nineteenth century within the social and political context of the age. The preconditions for these activities are briefly examined, with the focus on the work performed in the field of conceptual ideas and practical measures taken to identify and preserve significant historic buildings following the actual trends of the day, as well as considering the specific circumstances characteristic to the Baltic provinces in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The protection of architectural heritage was linked to the development of ethnic nationalism in the late Russian Empire, expressed mainly in the activities of Baltic German voluntary associations dealing with local history and architecture, and laying the foundations for a modern approach to architectural heritage protection in present-day Estonia and Latvia. This paper is devoted to architectural heritage protection activities carried out by the Gesellschaft für Geschichte und Altertumskunde der Ostseeprovinzen Russlands, founded in 1834 in Riga, an association for local history studies that became the most influential public institution working in the field of historical research in the three Baltic provinces during the long nineteenth century.

Marta Filipová. Writing and Displaying Nations: Constructing Narratives of National Art
in Bohemia and Austria-Hungary

In the nineteenth century, Bohemia, as a part of Austria-Hungary, enjoyed lively interaction between the two main ethnic groups, Germans and Czechs, at various levels of politics and culture. Discussions of what constituted the national art and culture of each ethnic group were particularly important as they provided opportunities to demonstrate the group’s claims regarding its past and present. This text focuses on two key aspects of the conscious creation and re-creation of narratives about Czech and German national heritage and culture in Bohemia; it examines art-historical writing by both Czech and German authors and it investigates tangible displays of art and cultural heritage at regional and national exhibitions. Both of these areas helped to form the Czech national culture, as well as Czech art history, as they were very much influenced by their opposition to the foundations of German heritage in Bohemia.

Beate Störtkuhl. Art Historiography during World War I: Kunstschutz and Reconstruction in the General Government of Warsaw

Within weeks of the outbreak of World War I, major losses of buildings and art monuments had already occurred. German troops were responsible for the destruction of the historic centres of Leuven in Belgium and Kalisz in the Russian partitioned area of Poland, as well as the shelling of the Reims cathedral. Russian offensives laid waste to small towns and villages in East Prussia and Galicia. Events in the Eastern theatres of the war barely struck a chord among the Western European population. However, in Belgium and France violations of international regulations of the Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907) ‘for the preservation of cultural heritage during hostilities of war’ were harshly condemned in the Entente states’ war propaganda. As a result of growing international pressure, the Reich government implemented the approach of Kriegsdenkmalpflege, a plan that was substantially developed by Paul Clemen, a university professor from Bonn. This paper contains initial observations about the activities of the Kunstschutz from 1915 to 1918 in the General Government of Warsaw under German civil administration. The paper will then formulate research questions for a comparative analysis of the programme’s activities in the various European theatres of war.