Ernst Moritz Arndt
Ernst Moritz Arndt was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 nationalistic and antisemitic author and poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

. Early in his life, he fought for the abolition of serfdom
Serfdom is the status of peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to Manorialism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted to the mid-19th century...

, later against Napoleonic dominance over Germany, and had to flee to Sweden for some time due to his anti-French positions. He is one of the main founders of German nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and the movement for German unification. After the Carlsbad Decrees
Carlsbad Decrees
The Carlsbad Decrees were a set of reactionary restrictions introduced in the states of the German Confederation by resolution of the Bundesversammlung on 20 September 1819 after a conference held in the spa town of Carlsbad, Bohemia...

, the forces of the restoration counted him as a demagogue and he was only rehabilitated in 1840.

Arndt played an important role for the early national and liberal Burschenschaft
German Burschenschaften are a special type of Studentenverbindungen . Burschenschaften were founded in the 19th century as associations of university students inspired by liberal and nationalistic ideas.-History:-Beginnings 1815–c...

 movement and for the unification movement, and his song "Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland?" acted as an unofficial German national anthem.

Long after his death, his anti-French war propaganda was used again by nationalists in both World Wars and also by the National Front of the GDR 1949-1989. This together with some strongly antisemitic statements has led to a rather ambivalent view of Arndt today.

Early life and studies

Arndt was born at Groß-Schoritz (a part of Garz/Rügen) on the island of Rügen
Rügen is Germany's largest island. Located in the Baltic Sea, it is part of the Vorpommern-Rügen district of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.- Geography :Rügen is located off the north-eastern coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea...

 in Swedish Pomerania
Swedish Pomerania
Swedish Pomerania was a Dominion under the Swedish Crown from 1630 to 1815, situated on what is now the Baltic coast of Germany and Poland. Following the Polish War and the Thirty Years' War, Sweden held extensive control over the lands on the southern Baltic coast, including Pomerania and parts...

 as the son of a prosperous farmer, and emancipated serf
A spin exchange relaxation-free magnetometer is a type of magnetometer developed at Princeton University in the early 2000s. SERF magnetometers measure magnetic fields by using lasers to detect the interaction between alkali metal atoms in a vapor and the magnetic field.The name for the technique...

 of the lord of the district, Count Putbus; his mother came of well-to-do German yeoman stock. In 1787 the family moved to the neighbourhood of Stralsund, where Arndt was able to attend the academy. After an interval of private study he went in 1791 to the University of Greifswald as a student of theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 and history, and in 1793 moved to Jena, where he came under the influence of Fichte.

After the completion of his university studies he returned home,for two years was a private tutor in the family of Ludwig Koscgarten (1758–1818), pastor of Wittow, and having qualified for the ministry as a candidate of theology, assisted in church services. At the age of twenty-eight he renounced the ministry, and for eighteen months led a life of traveling, visiting Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

. Turning homewards up the river Rhine, he was moved by the sight of the ruined castles along its banks to intense bitterness against France. The impressions of this journey he later described in Reisen durch einen Teil Deutschlands, Ungarns, Italiens und Frankreichs in den Jahren 1798 und 1799 (1802–1804).

Opposition to serfdom and Napoleonic rule

In 1800 he settled in Greifswald as privat-docent in history, and the same year published Über die Freiheit der alten Republiken. In 1803 appeared Germanien und Europa, a fragmentary ebullition, he himself called it, of his views on the French aggression. This was followed by one of the most remarkable of his books, Geschichte der Leibeigenschaft in Pommern und Rügen (Berlin, 1803), a history of serfdom in Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

 and on Rügen
Rügen is Germany's largest island. Located in the Baltic Sea, it is part of the Vorpommern-Rügen district of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.- Geography :Rügen is located off the north-eastern coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea...

, which was so convincing an indictment that King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden
Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden
Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden also Gustav Adolph was King of Sweden from 1792 until his abdication in 1809. He was the son of Gustav III of Sweden and his queen consort Sophia Magdalena, eldest daughter of Frederick V of Denmark and his first wife Louise of Great Britain. He was the last Swedish...

 in 1806 abolished the evil.

Arndt had meanwhile risen from privat-docent to extraordinary professor, and in 1806 was appointed to the chair of history at the university. In this year he published the first part of his Geist der Zeit, which, he flung down the gauntlet to Napoleon and called on countrymen to rise and shake off the French yoke. So great is the excitement it produced that Arndt was compelled to take refuge in Sweden to escape the vengeance of Napoleon.

Settling in Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, he obtained government employment, and devoted himself to the great cause which was nearest his art, and in pamphlets, poems and songs communicated his enthusiasm to his countrymen. Schill's heroic death at Stralsund compelled him to return to Germany and, under the disguise of Aßmann, teacher of languages, be reached Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 in December.

In 1810 he returned to Greifswald, but only for a few months. He again set out on his adventurous travels, lived in close contact, with the first men of his time, such as Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Fürst von Wahlstatt , Graf , later elevated to Fürst von Wahlstatt, was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall who led his army against Napoleon I at the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in 1813 and at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 with the Duke of Wellington.He is...

, August von Gneisenau
August von Gneisenau
August Wilhelm Antonius Graf Neidhardt von Gneisenau was a Prussian field marshal. He was a prominent figure in the reform of the Prussian military and the War of Liberation.-Early life:...

 and Heinrich Friedrich Karl Stein, and in 1812 was summoned by the last named to St Petersburg to assist in the organization of the final struggle against France. Meanwhile, pamphlet after pamphlet, and his stirring patriotic songs, such as "Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland?" "Der Gott, der Eisen wachsen ließ," and "Was blasen Trompeten?" were on all lips.

When, after the peace, the University of Bonn
University of Bonn
The University of Bonn is a public research university located in Bonn, Germany. Founded in its present form in 1818, as the linear successor of earlier academic institutions, the University of Bonn is today one of the leading universities in Germany. The University of Bonn offers a large number...

 was founded in 1818, Arndt was appointed to impart of his Geist der Zeit, in which he criticized the reactionary policy of the German powers. The boldness of his demands for reform offended the Prussian government, and in the summer in 1819 he was arrested and his papers confiscated.

Although speedily liberated, he was in the following year, at the instance of the Central Commission of Investigation at Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

, established in accordance with the Carlsbad Decrees, arraigned before a specially constituted tribunal. Although not found guilty, he was forbidden to exercise the functions of his professorship, but he was allowed to retain the stipend
A stipend is a form of salary, such as for an internship or apprenticeship. It is often distinct from a wage or a salary because it does not necessarily represent payment for work performed, instead it represents a payment that enables somebody to be exempt partly or wholly from waged or salaried...

. The next twenty years he passed in retirement and literary activity.

In 1840 he was reinstated in his professorship, and in 1841 was chosen rector of the university. The revolutionary outbreak of 1848 rekindled in the venerable patriot his old hopes and energies, and he took seat as one of the deputies to the National Assembly at Frankfurt. He formed one of the deputation that offered the Imperial crown to Frederick William IV, and indignant at the king's refusal to accept it, he retired with the majority of von igerns adherents from public life.

He continued to lecture and to write with freshness and vigour, and on his 90th birthday received from all parts of Germany good wishes and tokens of affection. He died at Bonn. Arndt was twice married, first in 1800, his wife dying in the following year; a second time in 1817. His youngest son drowned in the Rhine in 1834.

There are monuments to his memory at Schoritz, his birthplace, at the University of Greifswald, and in Bonn, where he is buried.

Anti-French resentments and antisemitism

Originally an enthusiastic supporter of the ideas of the French revolution, Arndt dissociated himself from them when the Reign of Terror
Reign of Terror
The Reign of Terror , also known simply as The Terror , was a period of violence that occurred after the onset of the French Revolution, incited by conflict between rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins, and marked by mass executions of "enemies of...

 of the Jacobins
Jacobin Club
The Jacobin Club was the most famous and influential political club in the development of the French Revolution, so-named because of the Dominican convent where they met, located in the Rue St. Jacques , Paris. The club originated as the Club Benthorn, formed at Versailles from a group of Breton...

 became apparent. When Napoleon began to conquer Europe, this renunciation was transformed into hatred.

Like Fichte and Jahn
Friedrich Ludwig Jahn
Friedrich Ludwig Jahn was a German gymnastics educator and nationalist. He is commonly known as Turnvater Jahn, roughly meaning "father of gymnastics" Jahn.- Life :...

, Arndt began to define a German nation as a society of homogeneous descent, drawing on the history of the Germanic peoples
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 and the "teutonic" Middle Ages. Yet while his writings lack a specific political pogramme, they define external enemies instead. While freedom is often cited, it used in a diffuse context, just like the terms nation, home country and people. It has been noted, that the freedom Arndt envisioned was not that of a modern pluralistic
Cultural pluralism
Cultural pluralism is a term used when smaller groups within a larger society maintain their unique cultural identities, and their values and practices are accepted by the wider culture. Cultural pluralism is often confused with Multiculturalism...

 society but a freedom of an archaic and Protestant
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 tribal community. The Frenchmen are called weakened, womanish and morally depraved by Arndt while he praises German virtues which should be preserved:

These ideas lead Arndt to produce a harshly critical anti-French propaganda during the Napoleonic occupation of the German states whereby he incited the Germans to hate the French people:
He also warned of too close contact with Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. While he reasoned that "the seed of Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

" was hardly predominant in a second generation after conversion to Christianity, he still warned of the "thousands which by the Russian tyranny will now come upon us even more abounding from Poland", "the impure flood from the East". Moreover he warned of a Jewish intellectual plot, claiming that Jews had "usurped" a good half of all literature.

Arndt also mingles his hatred of the French with antisemitism, calling the French "the Jewish people (das Judenvolk)", or "refined bad Jews (verfeinerte schlechte Juden)". In 1815 he writes about the French: "Jews... I call them again, not only for their Jewish lists and their penny-pinching avarice but even more because of their Jew-like sticking together."

Anti-Polish and Anti-Slavic views

Arndt was also an enemy of the Polish people and published an anti-Polish pamphlet in 1831 where he described Polish "barbarity and wilderness". In 1848 during events of Spring of Nations when Polish issue was raised Arndt declared that "tribes" of Slavs and Wends "have never done or been able to do anything lasting with respect to state, science, or art" and concluded "At the outset I assert with world history that pronounces judgment:the Poles and the whole Slavonic tribe are inferior to Germans"

Poems and songs

Arndt's lyric poems are not all confined to politics. Many among the Gedichte are religious pieces.
This is a selection of his best-known poems and songs:
  • Sind wir vereint zur guten Stunde ("When we are united in happy times")
  • Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland? ("What is the fatherland of the Germans?")
  • Der Gott, der Eisen wachsen ließ ("The god who let iron grow") Melody written by Albert Methfessel (1785–1869).
  • Zu den Waffen, zu den Waffen ("To the weapons, to the weapons")
  • Kommt her, ihr seid geladen ("Come here, you are invited", Evangelisches Gesangbuch (evangelic hymnbook), 213)
  • Ich weiß, woran ich glaube ("I know what I believe in", Evangelisches Gesangbuch (evangelic hymnbook), 357)
  • Die Leipziger Schlacht ("The Battle of Leipzig
    Battle of Leipzig
    The Battle of Leipzig or Battle of the Nations, on 16–19 October 1813, was fought by the coalition armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria and Sweden against the French army of Napoleon. Napoleon's army also contained Polish and Italian troops as well as Germans from the Confederation of the Rhine...

    ", Deutsches Lesebuch für Volksschulen (German reader for elementary schools))

Other works

(A selection.)
  • Reise durch Schweden ("Voyage through Sweden", 1797);
  • Nebenstunden, Beschreibung und Geschichte der Shetländischen Inseln und Orkaden ("Description and history of the Shetland and Orkney Islands", 1820);
  • Die Frage über die Niederlande ("The Netherlands question", 1831);
  • Erinnerungen aus dem äusseren Leben (an autobiography, and the most valuable source of information for Arndt's life, 1840);
  • Rhein- und Ahrwanderungen ("Peregrinations along the Rhine and Ahr
    Ahr is a river in Germany, a left tributary of the Rhine. Its source is at an elevation of approximately 470 metres above sea level in Blankenheim in the Eifel, in the cellar of a timber-frame house near the castle of Blankenheim...

    ", 1846),
  • Meine Wanderungen und Wandlungen mit dem Reichsfreiherrn Heinrich Carl Friedrich vom Stein ("My peregrinations and metamorphoses together with Reichsfreiherr Heinrich Carl Friedrich vom Stein
    Heinrich Friedrich Karl Reichsfreiherr vom und zum Stein
    Heinrich Friedrich Karl Reichsfreiherr vom und zum Stein , commonly known as Baron vom Stein, was a Prussian statesman who introduced the Prussian reforms that paved the way for the unification of Germany...

    ", 1858),
  • Pro populo germanico (1854), which was originally intended to form the fifth part of the "Geist der Zeit".


Biographies have been written by
  • E. Langenberg (1869) and
  • Wilhelm Baur (1882); see also
  • H. Meisner and R. Geerds, E. M. Arndt, Ein Lebensbild in Briefen (1898), and
  • R. Thiele, B. M. Arndt (1894).

See also

  • Greifswald
    Greifswald , officially, the University and Hanseatic City of Greifswald is a town in northeastern Germany. It is situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, at an equal distance of about from Germany's two largest cities, Berlin and Hamburg. The town borders the Baltic Sea, and is crossed...

  • Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald
    Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald
    The University of Greifswald is a university located in Greifswald, Germany.Founded in 1456 , it is one of the oldest universities in Europe, with generations of notable alumni and staff having studied or worked in Greifswald...

    (old German university -former GDR- named after him)

External links

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