Revitalizing National Pride and Love for the Homeland
The German term heimat, meaning “homeland,” has a strong emotional connotation. It’s more than the place where one lives or even the associated culture. The term evokes nostalgia, feelings and emotion associated with home. During the days of Adolf Hitler, these feelings were used to unite the German-speaking people to defend their homeland and expand the realm. Many Germans fear expressing such sentiments again. Left-wing politician Gregor Gysi and former political star Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg sought to change that in their July 26 Deutschland Podcast.
Guttenberg started the podcast by discussing the left’s vehement opposition to this term. Gysi recounted the history of National Socialism, and they both agreed it is time to move on, asking: If other countries can have feelings of patriotism, why should a few terribly dark years stop us?
The two pointed to past attempts to revitalize the term, such as when Horst Seehofer became interior minister of Germany and added heimat minister to his title. The great opposition at the time prevented real progress.
Guttenberg recounted how the term heimat gained significance in his eyes after he moved to the United States. He started longing for his homeland, which he now defines as “Europe, Germany, Bavaria, Franconia” and more broadly “the European culture.” He also defined it as one’s territorial homeland, family and the inner self everyone has to find.
The two discussed how new technologies and the example of the pandemic can help revitalize the homeland feeling. For example, working from home could strengthen the bond to one’s home town and may cause more young people to choose smaller towns over cities. Loneliness, Guttenberg noted, could be overcome by strengthening the club culture combined with new virtual realities similar to the Metaverse designed by Mark Zuckerberg. Additionally, the two discussed reviving nostalgic movies from the 1950s and ’60s and programs East Germany had under Soviet rule.
Since the 2015–2016 refugee crisis, this topic has been heavily discussed in Germany and Europe. For example, the German band Frei.Wild sang: “I won’t tolerate any criticism of this sacred land, our homeland. … Language, traditions and religion are the values of the homeland. Without them we will go under.”
In 2018, Guttenberg addressed the topic at the traditional Austrian holiday “St. Leopold’s Day.” The associated history shows how loaded the term heimat is.
Leopold iii, ruler of Austria from 1095 to 1136, forcefully established a Catholic stronghold. He founded several monasteries and contributed to the development of key cities such as Krems, Klosterneuburg and Vienna. Klosterneuburg Monastery is the burial place of Leopold iii. It is marked by an impressive iron crown on its roof representing the crown of the Holy Roman Empire.
Germany’s and Austria’s earliest Catholic roots extend even further back to the time when Charlemagne warred for 45 years to conquer and unite the Germanic peoples into one kingdom. He put to death any who refused to convert to his religion. Subsequent kings of the Holy Roman Empire endeavored to follow in his footsteps, and that empire destroyed millions of lives. That’s part of how Europe’s culture came about and how the boundaries of the homeland were defined.
Can this history serve as a foundation for healthy patriotism?
A people without identity and heritage is lost. Without strong cultural roots, we decay in moral depravity. But the Bible reveals that wrong cultural roots and wrong traditions could be just as dangerous. Daniel 2 and Revelation 17 speak of the empires and kingdoms of this world, which God Himself will destroy and replace with His Empire.
Our book The Holy Roman Empire in Prophecy shows how Europe’s culture has been abused to cause some of the greatest suffering in the world, and it reveals it will happen again. That’s why God calls on those willing to listen: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4). God loves the German people and wants them to forsake the ways of this world and follow Him and His culture.
Our whole world is deceived (Revelation 12:9). That’s why something so beautiful like the feeling of being home could be abused by an evil dictator, and that’s why we need to be warned not to repeat this history.