Abgrenzung oder Assimilation. Überlegungen zum Wandel der deutschbaltischen Ideologien 1918-1939 anhand der "Baltischen Monatsschrift"

David Feest


Although the resettlement of the Germans from Latvia and Estonia in 1939 must principally be regarded as a flight from the expansion of Bolshevism, this decision was facilitated by the fact that until then a large number of them had had difficulties in integrating themselves into the two republics as a minority with equal rights. Besides, Germany-centred views had become more and more dominant, especially during the 1930s.
Focusing on the Baltische Monatsschrift (Baltic Monthly), this article examines the ideologies of those German Baltics who increasingly oriented themselves towards Germany in the period between the wars. It can be observed that their views undergo a change, characterized by the endeavour to maintain old Baltic class values in the new situation.
In the hierarchical society of the Baltic States, which continued to exist well into the 20th Century, fundamental values such as "class exclusiveness", "aspirations for autonomy", the "sense of Community", "conservatism", the notion of being the "support of civilization" and the "Christian sense of mission" were taken for granted. Under the conditions of the new republics, however, they seemed to be at risk. Retaining these values therefore demanded new ideologies which, functionally equivalent to the class thinking, would guarantee their continuation.
At first glance, it may seem that an anational ideology centered around ethnic traditions came closer to the original Baltic patterns of thought than a national one. However, the closeness of older views - such as the concept of the "Eastern outpost", the (initially class-conscious) "feeling of superiority", or the notion of "rootedness" - to the contents of corresponding n a t i o n a l ideologies facilitated the smooth transition to Pan-Germanic nationalism. It seemed capable of taking over functions of the class ideology in so far as it provided a new justification for the preservation of traditional elitism, and furthermore promised the maintenance or renaissance of old values.
Liberal concepts such as Paul Schiemann's theory of "the anational State", on the other hand, did not gain acceptance, because they would have resulted in the complete loss of essential Baltic values.