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Concepts Index: Germany

Concepts Index: Germany


Art Deco - History and Concepts

By the end of the 19 th century in France, many of the notable artists, architects, and designers who had played important roles in the development of the Art Nouveau style recognized that it was becoming increasingly passé. At the close of a century that saw the Industrial Revolution take hold, contemporary life became very different from a few decades earlier. It was time for something new, something that would shout "20 th Century" from tasteful, modernist rooftops.

The Society of Decorative Artists in France

From this desire to move into the new century in step with innovation rather than being held back by nostalgia, a group of French artistic innovators formed an organization called the Societé des Artistes Décorateurs (The Society of Decorative Artists). The group was comprised of both well-known figures such as the Art Nouveau-style designer and printmaker Eugene Grasset, and the Art Nouveau architect Hector Guimard, along with emerging decorative artists and designers such as Pierre Chareau and Francis Jourdain. The French state supported and fostered this direction of artistic activity.

One of the major goals of the new group was to challenge the hierarchical structure of the visual arts that relegated decorative artists to a lesser status than the more classical painting and sculpting media. Jourdain is famously quoted as saying, "We consequently resolved to return decorative art, inconsiderately treated as a Cinderella or poor relation allowed to eat with the servants, to the important, almost preponderant place it occupied in the past, of all times and in all of the countries of the globe." The plan for a major exhibition presenting a new type of decorative art was originally conceived for 1914, but had to be put on hold until after World War I ended and then pushed back for various reasons until 1925.

The Exhibition that officially launched the movement

The French government, which hosted the exhibition between the esplanade of the golden-domed Les Invalides and the entrances of the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais on both sides of the Seine River, endeavored to showcase the new style. Over 15,000 artists, architects, and designers displayed their work at the exposition. During the seven months of the exhibition, over 16 million people toured the many individual exhibits. This exhibition was the catalyst for the beginning of the movement.

Art Nouveau and Art Deco

Art Deco was a direct response aesthetically and philosophically to the Art Nouveau style and to the broader cultural phenomenon of modernism. Art Nouveau began to fall out of fashion during WWI as many critics felt the elaborate detail, delicate designs, often expensive materials and production methods of the style were ill-suited to a challenging, unsettled, and increasingly more mechanized modern world. While the Art Nouveau movement derived its intricate, stylized forms from nature and extolled the virtues of the hand-crafted, the Art Deco aesthetic emphasized machine-age streamlining and sleek geometry.

Art Deco and Modernism

The Exposition Internationale brought together not only works in the Art Deco style, but put crafted items near examples of avant-garde paintings and sculptures in styles such as Cubism, Constructivism, Bauhaus, De Stijl, and Futurism. By the 1920s, Art Deco was an exuberant, but largely mainstream, counterpoint to the more cerebral Bauhaus and De Stijl aesthetics. All three shared an emphasis on clean, strong lines as an organizing design principle. Art Deco practitioners embraced technological innovation, modern materials, and mechanization and attempted to emphasize them in the overall aesthetic of the style itself. Practitioners also borrowed and learned from other modernist movements. Art Deco came to be regarded by admirers who were in-step with the forward-looking perspectives of contemporary avant-garde movements. Ironically, modernist painting and sculpture played a secondary role in the exhibition with the few exceptions of the Soviet pavilion and Le Corbusier's Esprit Nouveau pavilion.

Art Deco After The Great Depression

The onset of the second phase of Art Deco coincided with the beginning of the Great Depression. Austerity, in fact, might be the core aesthetic for both pragmatic and conceptual reasons for this second development of Art Deco. Whereas Art Deco architecture, for instance, had been vertically oriented with skyscrapers climbing to lofty heights, the later Art Deco buildings with their mostly unornamented exteriors, graceful curves, and horizontal emphases symbolized sturdiness, quiet dignity, and resilience. During the worst years of economic disaster, from 1929 to 1931, American Art Deco transitioned from following trends to setting them.

Streamline Moderne

Streamline Moderne became the American continuation of the European Art Deco movement. Beyond the serious economic and philosophical influences, the aesthetic inspiration for the first Streamline Moderne structures were buildings designed by proponents of the New Objectivity movement in Germany, which arose from an informal association of German architects, designers, and artists that had formed in the early-20 th century. New Objectivity artists and architects were inspired by the same kind of sober pragmatism that compelled the proponents of Streamline Moderne to eliminate excess, including the emotionality of expressionist art. New Objectivity architects concentrated on producing structures that could be regarded as practical, as reflective of the demands of real life. They preferred their designs to adapt to the real world rather than making others adjust to an aesthetic that was impractical. To that end, New Objectivity architects even pioneered prefabrication technology (helping quickly and efficiently house Germany's poor).

Devoid of ornament, Streamline Moderne architecture featured clean curves, long horizontal lines (including bands of windows), glass bricks, porthole-style windows, and cylindrical and sometimes nautical forms. More so than ever, there was an emphasis on aerodynamics and other expressions of modern technology. The more expensive and often exotic materials of Art Deco were replaced with concrete, glass, and chrome hardware in Streamline Moderne. Color was used sparingly as off-white, beige, and earth tones replaced the more vivid colors of Art Deco. The style was first introduced to architecture and then expanded to other objects, similarly to the traditional Art Deco style.

Art Deco is Named Retroactively

Originally, the term "Art Deco" was used pejoratively by a famous detractor, the modernist architect Le Corbusier, in articles in which he criticized the style for its ornamentation, a characteristic that he regarded as unnecessary in modern architecture. While proponents of the style hailed it as a stripped-down, modernist response to the excessive ornamentation, especially in comparison to its immediate predecessor, Art Nouveau, as any decoration was superfluous for Le Corbusier. It wasn't until the late 1960s, when interest in the style was reinvigorated, that the term "Art Deco" was used in a positive manner by British art historian and critic Bevis Hillier.

Art Deco and the United States

In the U.S., the reception of the Art Deco movement developed in a different trajectory. Herbert Hoover, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce at the time, decreed that American designers and architects could not exhibit their work at the Exposition Internationale as he contended that the country had yet to conceive of a distinctly American style of art that was satisfactorily "new enough." As an alternative, he sent a delegation to France to assess the offerings at the Exposition and then to apply what they saw to a contemporary American artistic and architectural style. Included in the contingent of aesthetic emissaries sent by Hoover were important figures from the American Institute of Architecture, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The New York Times. The mission inspired an almost immediate boom in artistic innovation in the U.S.

By 1926 a smaller version of the French fair called "A Selected Collection of Objects from the International Exposition Modern, Industrial and Decorative Arts" traveled through many U.S. cities such as New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Boston, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia. The American World Fairs in Chicago (1933) and New York City (1939) prominently featured Art Deco designs while Hollywood embraced the aesthetic and made it glamorous across the country. Even American corporations such as General Motors and Ford built pavilions in the New York World Fair.

Among the best-known examples of the American Art Deco style are skyscrapers and other large-scale buildings. In fact, the American iteration of Art Deco in building designs has been referred to as Zigzag Modern for its angular and geometric patterns as elaborate architectural facades. However, overall American Art Deco is often less ornamental than its European predecessor. Beyond the clean lines and strong curves, bold geometric shapes, rich color, and sometimes lavish ornamentation, the American version is more stripped-down. As important influences such as the New Objectivity and the International Style of architecture as well as the serious economic setbacks of the late 1920s and early 1930s began to exert themselves on the Art Deco aesthetic, the style became far less lavish. For instance, this transformation might be symbolized by the replacement of gold with chrome, of mother of pearl with Bakelite, of granite with concrete, etc.

The American Art Deco style developed as a celebration of technological advancement, including mass production, and a restored faith in social progress. In essence, these achievements could be considered a reflection of national pride. In the 1930s under Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration (WPA), many of the works that were created were Art Deco, from municipal structures like libraries and schools to massive public murals. The WPA was intended to jumpstart the post-war U.S. economy by creating jobs in public works, and sought to serve the community by creating jobs and instilling American values within design. The use of American Art Deco thus brought forth an expression of democracy through design. Some materials often used in the Art Deco creation were expensive and therefore beyond the reach of the average man. However, the use of inexpensive or new materials made it possible to produce a broad range of affordable products, and thus brought beauty into the public sphere in a new way. Art Deco inspired the design and production of an array of objects - from magazine covers and colorful advertisements to functional items such as flatware, furniture, clocks, cars, and even ocean liners.

Global Growth of Art Deco

The Art Deco style took hold in world capitals as diverse as Havana, Cuba, Mumbai, and Jakarta. Havana boasts an entire neighborhood built in the Art Deco style. The London Underground railway system heavily incorporates the style. The port of Shanghai contains more than fifty Art Deco structures, most of which were designed by the Hungarian Laszlo Hudec. From war monuments to hospitals, cities as far reaching as Sydney and Melbourne in Australia have absorbed the phenomenal style as well.


German Culture

Germany (officially the Federal Republic of Germany) is a central western European country with the second biggest population in the region. 1 It was split into ‘East Germany’ and ‘West Germany’ until 1990 when the two states reunified to form a greater continuation of West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany). The German people have remained stoic through the massive changes of the last century, adapting to the evolving social climate of the country as needed. One can attribute much of Germany’s recent prosperity to its mastery of organisation and critical thinking (kritisches Denken). These qualities have arguably helped the society reconcile the impacts of the World Wars and the Cold War. Germans have been distinguished as particularly pragmatic (pragmatische) and honest (ehrliche) people. However, generalisations of the standard German character have their limits when one takes into account the strong regional differences of the country and the different experiences individuals have had in the East compared to the West. Regional identities usually affect people’s socio-cultural understandings. However, most Germans have strong moral sensitivity based on lessons of the past that have taught them to understand and respect these differences.

The official language of Germany is ‘Deutsch’ (German). Most Germans are taught ‘Standarddeutsch’ (standard German) in school, also known as ‘Hochdeutsch’ (high German). However, there are varying regional accents and dialects across the country. For example, those in many areas of northern Germany speak a West Germanic variation known as ‘Plattdütsch’ (low German). The pronunciation and features of this dialect have similarities with the language spoken in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, the Germanic dialect of the southern border, ‘Bayrisch’ (Bavarian), is similar to the Austrian Germanic dialect. Despite some differences in phrases and meanings, Germans from all regions can usually understand one another.

Regional Diversity and Local Patriotism

A foreigner’s visualisation of the ‘typical German’ often conjures images of beer, lederhosen, Oktoberfest and bratwurst. However, these are actually cultural emblems particular to one state (or principality) in the south of the country (Bavaria). Such cultural characteristics differ between regions and cities within Germany, visible in the way traditional heritage, foods, architecture and celebrations vary across the country. Germans may also talk of social distinctions based on stereotyped personality traits attached to each region. For example, Germans often describe people from the southwest as stingy . Meanwhile, Rhinelanders in the west are generally thought to have a more laid back attitude.

Accents, social attitudes, religious affiliations, traditions and practices also vary between those living in the cities and those living in rural areas. For example, some of Germany’s metropolises are renowned for their alternative lifestyles and tolerant social attitudes. They tend to attract more unconventional Germans, as well as migrants. Meanwhile, rural townships generally receive less internal migration and follow more conventional lifestyles in accord with their tradition. The capital of Berlin is particularly noticeable for being a cultural outlier within the country. This unique hub differs significantly from the areas surrounding it.

Germans are generally very proud of their regional identities. It is quite normal for people to show more patriotism and loyalty to their local area than their nation. Each of the cities and states of Germany have their own emblems. There are over 50 coats of arms for urban and rural districts within the state of North Rhine-Westphalia alone. It is often more common to see regional flags and coats of arms in public than the national flag.

Social Distinctions Between the East and West

Some of the most pronounced social distinctions are noticeable between the western two-thirds of Germany, and the other eastern third. From the end of World War II until 1990, the nation was divided as two separate countries under different systems of rule. West Germany was administrated under a capitalist system as the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG/BRD), whilst East Germany was occupied under Soviet Communist rule as the German Democratic Republic (GDR/DDR). West Germany became more cosmopolitan and industrialised, aligned with Western Europe and North America. Meanwhile, East Germany was ruled under a strict socialist ideology.

The two states reunified in 1990 to create a larger version of West Germany (FRG). As modern-day Germany has been unified for less than 30 years, the dividing line of the inner German border that once separated the East from the West is still visible in the geography of some places, and the remaining communist architecture often shows which towns were in the former GDR. Temporary separation has also entrenched language differences that are subtly noticeable in the different names used to describe single objects. For example, the word for plastic is ‘Plastik’ in the West and ‘Plaste’ in the East.

There is also a faint cultural division noticeable in the social differences between the East and West. For example, the Eastern population is markedly less religious, older on average and is less multicultural . 2 Social attitudes regarding political ideals can differ significantly depending on whether one lived in East or West Germany. For example, some people’s experience under communism has influenced them to be strongly opposed to leftist world views.

The economic disparity between the East and West is also still quite obvious and pronounced. It is perhaps one of the differences spoken about most frequently, as West German states pay a financial support tax to East Germany. East Germany suffered more material hardship over the course of its Soviet rule. After the reunification of Germany, most of the young and skilled East Germans migrated to the prosperous West. This continued to drain the East’s economy, which remains slightly weaker today. The East has a higher unemployment rate and less disposable income on average per person (Statistisches Bundesamt, 2014). Some Germans may express resentment about this disparity and the measures to amend it. The differences between East and West Germany often lead people to draw certain social conclusions about one another.

Germans tend to differentiate one another on the basis of their social ranking. People generally pay more respect to those with expertise, evidence of a higher education and experience. One usually finds that the social hierarchy structures authority around these qualities. Germans may also reflect on a person’s accent, region of origin and occupation to make conclusions about their social status and circumstances. However, class barriers were largely broken down after World War II. Most Germans had to rebuild their lives from scratch after losing most of their possessions or being displaced. Therefore, the class system is not deeply stratified most Germans share the benefits of the strong middle class and receive a comprehensive, classical education.

As in every society, there are those who do not have as much privilege a proportion of the population is unemployed (or underemployed). Recent refugee and immigration arrivals from the Middle East and North Africa also tend to find themselves in lower-paying occupations. Nevertheless, the dominant German attitude tends to aspire towards ensuring that everyone has equal access to opportunity regardless of their social background. According to Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, Germany has a low power distance score, indicating that there is an expectation of equality among society (regardless of whether this is the case).

Privacy and Socio-Relational Boundaries

Privacy is highly valued in Germany. People tend not to divulge a lot of personal information about themselves or discuss their political and social views when first meeting strangers. Some people may also prefer not to invite acquaintances to their homes on a regular basis, unless they have a close relationship. To foreigners, this can make Germans come across as distant. However, one can understand why privacy is so important when considering how it has been invaded by governments in the past. For example, those living in Germany during the Cold War were subjects of one of the most expansive and repressive secret citizen surveillance networks in human history (the Staatssicherheit or Stasi). As such, some people are sensitive to sharing their personal information and take precautions to protect their privacy to the degree they feel personally comfortable with.

Personal privacy is also important to maintain the socio-relational boundaries between people's professional and personal lives. Germans tend to compartmentalise leisure and work time, distinguishing their relationships with people into one of these spheres. The social boundaries in this sense are quite strong. People generally keep a certain social distance from those they work with. For example, if talking about something personal in a colleague's life, one may hear a German say “Das geht mich nichts an” (That’s not my business). Individuals are expected to downplay any personal friendships they have with colleagues whilst in the office to detach their emotions from business. It can take some time for people to break through this social perimeter of privacy and the formality of the professional realm. This may give foreigners the impression that Germans are quite aloof. However, these boundaries dissipate among friends.

Germans are renowned for being very honest people, sometimes to the point of being bluntly critical of others’ actions. This assertiveness combined with their reserved approach to strangers can produce a misjudgement of them as having a standoffish public demeanor. Nevertheless, Germans usually become very open and personal once they find a common denominator with someone. From a German viewpoint, reserving warmth and friendly energy for those who are truly important to them gives their relationships greater integrity and value. Personal friendships are deeply prized. The time and sincerity involved in building such relationships can make them particularly durable and loyal.

Organisation and Directness

Germans are known for being industrious, orderly and punctual. The German expression “Ordnung muss sein” (“there must be order”) reflects the cultural preference for organisation and methodical planning. Indeed, it also explains the preference for having one’s socio-relational boundaries clearly defined. People generally like to understand the context to interactions and what is required of them in certain scenarios. Germans generally arrange to meet one another by clarifying exactly when and where they will be meeting, for how long and what they will be doing. Things are rarely left to chance. Matters that proceed without a scheduled plan are likely to be directed by a relevant rule, regulation or social norm. This aspect of the culture is not so different from many industrialised cultures wherein people lead busy lives. However, it has produced a cliché of the typical German as highly efficient and matter-of-fact. This is likely due to the fact that such organisation is coupled with a very direct approach. In task-oriented cultures such as Germany, people do not always feel the necessity to build personal relationships in order to achieve a joint goal (see more information in Business Culture). While they are still courteous, they generally do not linger on small talk. Germans tend to be exceptionally honest and straight-to-the-point.

Germany classifies its citizens between ethnic Germans (meaning people with two parents of mostly or full German ancestry) and those of a migrant background (Migrationshintergrund). According to the Federal Statistical Office, the portion of the population with a migrant background has peaked for the fifth time in recent years. The 2016 microcensus reported that 22.5% of the country's residents, or more than 18.6 million people, were of immigrant or partially immigrant descent. 4 However, it must be noted that ethnic German repatriates are included in this figure. Most Migrationshintergrund people reside in the western states of Germany and Berlin. The eastern portion of Germany has fewer foreigners relative to the total population.

Germany has generally embraced its identity as a multicultural (Multi-Kulti) country. The nation has undergone some very big population shifts in the past 30 years. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, roughly 3 million ethnic Germans have returned from former Soviet countries. The country has also received big influxes of non-German migrants and refugees, particularly from Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Indeed, Germany is the second biggest migration destination in the world. 5 The country has been a key flashpoint in Europe’s migrant crisis, receiving over a million asylum seekers since 2015. Such migration has been putting social and political stress on the country. The country is struggling to balance its national interests with international obligations. Ultimately, one cannot assume a German’s position on this matter or the current shifts occurring throughout Europe.

Past Experiences and Current Attitudes

In the past few decades, Germany has become recognised as an outward-looking nation, seeking to keep Europe united and help other countries and people in need. Indeed, Germany has transformed itself into a largely peaceful, forward-thinking and productive member of the global community of nations. However, the country may never be completely free of the spectre of its roles in the World Wars. It has undertaken a long process to overcome the guilt of its past. The word ‘Vergangenheitsbewältigung’ describes this struggle to come to terms with the country’s negative history. Many Germans continue to be acutely aware that foreign perceptions of them take into account their country’s history. However, the ethos of German character has changed considerably from what it was during the early 20th century.

A strong focus on the value of critical thinking (kritisches Denken) and tolerance has been formulated and ingrained into most Germans following the tragedy of World War II. From a young age, people are taught about the consequences of the population's past mistakes and the deadly side of nationalism that fuelled the Third Reich. They are encouraged to view everything with the lessons of the past in mind and assess the consequences of certain situations, as well as their responsibility to respond to them. As such, the population has developed quite strong pacifist ideals in reaction to their history. Many older Germans that have lived through the Cold War are also particularly aware of the importance of democratic freedoms. Most people regard situations with a strong moral sensitivity in light of the country’s past.

As a result of this cultural attitude, there tends to be a cultural resistance to showing too much national pride. Many people feel sceptical or uncomfortable with patriotism, unable to detach it from the devastating effects of nationalism. Soccer tournaments often provide a safe environment that is dissociated from political and military contexts where Germans can display their patriotism proudly. However, people generally tend to be quite modest about their country’s capabilities. Repeated surveys by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center have found that Germany is one of the least patriotic countries in the world. 6

Nevertheless, this aspect of the culture is arguably undergoing change. Some among the younger generation of Germans tend to be slightly more outgoing and less reluctant as they do not feel the taboo of the past is as relevant to them. Many Germans are also looking at the future direction their country should take, and saying that they need to move away from compensating for the past and start looking at their own domestic interests again. Meanwhile, the East German population is showing stronger nationalistic inclinations as many people who lived under Soviet rule are searching to reclaim their cultural traditions and pride in their identity.

1 Following Russia, which is transcontinental and largely located in Asia.


Federal Government of Germany Selects S&P Dow Jones Indices to Create EU Climate Transition Index

FRANKFURT and LONDON , May 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- S&P Dow Jones Indices ("S&P DJI"), the world's leading index provider, announced today that it has been selected by the Federal Government of Germany to develop an innovative Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) index which will serve as a performance benchmark for four of the government's Federal Special Pension Funds.

S&P DJI is collaborating with the German government to launch the S&P ESG Eurozone 60 Bund-SV Index, a customized index which incorporates the minimum standards for EU Climate Transition Benchmarks as described in Regulation (EU) 2019/2089 and aligned with the landmark Paris Agreement.

This unique index collaboration comes at a time when the German government is moving to implement its Climate Action Plan to tackle climate change and achieve net-zero emissions. As part of the country's sustainability goals, the German government aligns its pension fund investments with its efforts to curb global warming to no more than 1.5°C.

"We are proud and honored to have been selected by the Federal Government of Germany to develop an index for their pension funds, enabling them to measure and capture the financial risks associated with climate change, generate actionable insights, support their goals for a secure financial future and help advance a more sustainable society," said Dan Draper , Chief Executive Officer at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

"This important milestone reinforces S&P DJI's view that ESG-focused indices are becoming more mainstream as European and global investors recognize that sustainability targets can complement and help achieve their goals for long-term asset protection and growth," Mr. Draper added.

The S&P ESG Eurozone 60 Bund-SV Index will utilize S&P Global's ESG Scores to determine eligibility. Index constituents will be selected and weighted to be collectively compatible with a 1.5°C global warming climate scenario and to meet other climate-focused objectives. Companies involved in certain business activities, including those that are not aligned with the principles of the United Nations' Global Compact and those that are involved in ESG controversies, will be excluded from the index.

S&P DJI is a pioneer in ESG indexing and benchmarking for more than two decades starting with the launch of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index in 1999. Today, S&P DJI offers a wide range of ESG indices and benchmarks globally including sustainable versions of its flagship core equity indices such as the S&P 500, S&P MidCap 400, S&P SmallCap 600 and S&P Europe 350. In addition, S&P DJI offers a series of Paris-Aligned Climate Transition (PACT) indices to capture risks, returns and opportunities in the move towards a low-carbon global economy.

For more information about S&P Dow Jones Indices, please visit https://www.spglobal.com/spdji/en/.

ABOUT S&P DOW JONES INDICES

S&P Dow Jones Indices is the largest global resource for essential index-based concepts, data and research, and home to iconic financial market indicators, such as the S&P 500® and the Dow Jones Industrial Average®. More assets are invested in products based on our indices than products based on indices from any other provider in the world. Since Charles Dow invented the first index in 1884, S&P DJI has been innovating and developing indices across the spectrum of asset classes helping to define the way investors measure and trade the markets.


Germany - House Price Index

Hypoport have recently released a new house price index (HPI) for Germany.  It describes apartments and free-standing homes (new and existing), starting at January 2005.  In addition to the HPI, supplemental indicators are the average price, the average living space, and the average plot size (for "homes," which are defined as free-standing structures).

The index has a base period of August 2005 and a base value of 100.  Prices are in euros (EUR) and areas in square meters (Sqm).  All figures are unadjusted (NSA).

Methodology

The data is extracted for anonymous transactions on the EUROPACE-platform.  The Hypoport AG, with no institutional investors invested, is operating the EUROPACE-platform, which is the only independent marketplace in Germany.  As of today, roughly 10 % of all real estate financing for private customers in Germany is executed using this platform.  The database is expanding by 4.000 to 7.000 real estate objects per month.

The index is based on sales prices of real estate object per square meter, according to the mortgage application.  The index  base is August 2005, since this month represents the relationship between price per square meter of the three real estate object groups since August 2003 especially well and the transaction volume reached a representative order of magnitude.


Was Germany Doomed in World War I by the Schlieffen Plan?

The Schlieffen Plan, devised a decade before the start of World War I, outlined a strategy for Germany to avoid fighting at its eastern and western fronts simultaneously. But what had been meticulously designed to deal a swift “right hook” attack on France and then advance on Russia, dragged on to become an ugly, brutal war of attrition.

“The Schlieffen Plan didn’t work because it was based on everything going right and it had no contingencies for the fog of war,” said Peter Fritzsche, professor of history at the University of Illinois.

The Schlieffen Plan got its name from its creator, Count Alfred von Schlieffen, who served as chief of the Imperial German General Staff from 1891 to 1906. Count Schlieffen drew up the operation between 1897 and 1905 after an alliance established between Russia and France in 1891 meant that Germany could face a two-front war.

The Schlieffen Plan assumed Russia was slow and France was weak.

Schlieffen’s strategy assumed that Russia, having recently lost the Russo-Japanese War, would take at least six weeks to mobilize its troops and attack Germany from the East. In that time, Germany would stage an attack on France by marching west through neutral territory of the Netherlands and Belgium.

This route avoided the heavily fortified direct border with France. Then German forces would swoop south, delivering a hammer blow through Flanders, Belgium and onward into Paris, enveloping and crushing French forces in less than 45 days.

Once France was defeated, according to the plan, Germany could transport its soldiers east using its railroad network and deploy them against the Russian troops, which Schlieffen believed would require six weeks to mobilize and attack Germany’s eastern border.

Helmuth Johannes Ludwig Von Moltke, Director of German strategy of World War I. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

The original Schlieffen Plan was later modified by other military leaders.

Schlieffen’s plan was adopted by Helmuth von Moltke, chief of the German General Staff when war broke out in 1914. Moltke made some critical modifications to the plan, including reducing German forces making up the right hook attack into France and invading through Belgium, but not the Netherlands, during the initial offensive.

The problem, says Prof. Fritzsche, is the Schlieffen blueprint proved inflexible. First, Belgium refused Germany free passage and fought the incoming German soldiers.

The English army got involved immediately.

Moreover, the violation of Belgium’s neutral territory drew England into the war since they had promised to defend Belgium under the Treaty of London of 1839.

After facing fierce resistance in Belgium and with soldiers from the British Empire in the fight alongside France, Germany’s planned swift offensive was slowed.

The front page of the Birmingham Evening Despatch on August 4th 1914 when Great Britain declared war on Germany. Britain, led by Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, had given Germany an ultimatum to get out of Belgium. (Credit: Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Russia was quicker to respond than Schlieffen had assumed.

Russia also proved to be more adept at mobilizing its army than German military leaders had expected. Russia managed to attack East Prussia within 10 days in August 1914 – not six weeks as was earlier assumed.

The Russian initial offensive was defeated, but their advances prompted Germany to send corps from France to East Prussia, bleeding Germany’s forces on the Western Front of essential fighting manpower.

The French and English armies were a lot tougher than expected.

The Schlieffen Plan’s strategy required that France be defeated swiftly – but this didn’t happen. That failure led to sustained trench warfare on the Western Front. In those grim battles of attrition, such as the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Verdun, Allied forces ultimately outnumbered the Germans.

As Moltke told Kaiser Wilhem II after exhausted German forces were defeated at the Battle of the Marne, “Sir, we have lost the war.”


The Horrifying American Roots of Nazi Eugenics


But the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race didn't originate with Hitler. The idea was created in the United States, and cultivated in California, decades before Hitler came to power. California eugenicists played an important, although little known, role in the American eugenics movement's campaign for ethnic cleansing.

Eugenics was the racist pseudoscience determined to wipe away all human beings deemed "unfit," preserving only those who conformed to a Nordic stereotype. Elements of the philosophy were enshrined as national policy by forced sterilization and segregation laws, as well as marriage restrictions, enacted in twenty-seven states. In 1909, California became the third state to adopt such laws. Ultimately, eugenics practitioners coercively sterilized some 60,000 Americans, barred the marriage of thousands, forcibly segregated thousands in "colonies," and persecuted untold numbers in ways we are just learning. Before World War II, nearly half of coercive sterilizations were done in California, and even after the war, the state accounted for a third of all such surgeries.

California was considered an epicenter of the American eugenics movement. During the Twentieth Century's first decades, California's eugenicists included potent but little known race scientists, such as Army venereal disease specialist Dr. Paul Popenoe, citrus magnate and Polytechnic benefactor Paul Gosney, Sacramento banker Charles M. Goethe, as well as members of the California State Board of Charities and Corrections and the University of California Board of Regents.

Eugenics would have been so much bizarre parlor talk had it not been for extensive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune. They were all in league with some of America's most respected scientists hailing from such prestigious universities as Stamford, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. These academicians espoused race theory and race science, and then faked and twisted data to serve eugenics' racist aims.

Stanford president David Starr Jordan originated the notion of "race and blood" in his 1902 racial epistle "Blood of a Nation," in which the university scholar declared that human qualities and conditions such as talent and poverty were passed through the blood.

In 1904, the Carnegie Institution established a laboratory complex at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island that stockpiled millions of index cards on ordinary Americans, as researchers carefully plotted the removal of families, bloodlines and whole peoples. From Cold Spring Harbor, eugenics advocates agitated in the legislatures of America, as well as the nation's social service agencies and associations.

The Harriman railroad fortune paid local charities, such as the New York Bureau of Industries and Immigration, to seek out Jewish, Italian and other immigrants in New York and other crowded cities and subject them to deportation, trumped up confinement or forced sterilization.

The Rockefeller Foundation helped found the German eugenics program and even funded the program that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.

Much of the spiritual guidance and political agitation for the American eugenics movement came from California's quasi-autonomous eugenic societies, such as the Pasadena-based Human Betterment Foundation and the California branch of the American Eugenics Society, which coordinated much of their activity with the Eugenics Research Society in Long Island. These organizations--which functioned as part of a closely-knit network--published racist eugenic newsletters and pseudoscientific journals, such as Eugenical News and Eugenics, and propagandized for the Nazis.

Eugenics was born as a scientific curiosity in the Victorian age. In 1863, Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, theorized that if talented people only married other talented people, the result would be measurably better offspring. At the turn of the last century, Galton's ideas were imported into the United States just as Gregor Mendel's principles of heredity were rediscovered. American eugenic advocates believed with religious fervor that the same Mendelian concepts determining the color and size of peas, corn and cattle also governed the social and intellectual character of man.

In an America demographically reeling from immigration upheaval and torn by post-Reconstruction chaos, race conflict was everywhere in the early twentieth century. Elitists, utopians and so-called "progressives" fused their smoldering race fears and class bias with their desire to make a better world. They reinvented Galton's eugenics into a repressive and racist ideology. The intent: populate the earth with vastly more of their own socio-economic and biological kind--and less or none of everyone else.

The superior species the eugenics movement sought was populated not merely by tall, strong, talented people. Eugenicists craved blond, blue-eyed Nordic types. This group alone, they believed, was fit to inherit the earth. In the process, the movement intended to subtract emancipated Negroes, immigrant Asian laborers, Indians, Hispanics, East Europeans, Jews, dark-haired hill folk, poor people, the infirm and really anyone classified outside the gentrified genetic lines drawn up by American raceologists.

How? By identifying so-called "defective" family trees and subjecting them to lifelong segregation and sterilization programs to kill their bloodlines. The grand plan was to literally wipe away the reproductive capability of those deemed weak and inferior--the so-called "unfit." The eugenicists hoped to neutralize the viability of 10 percent of the population at a sweep, until none were left except themselves.

Eighteen solutions were explored in a Carnegie-supported 1911 "Preliminary Report of the Committee of the Eugenic Section of the American Breeder's Association to Study and to Report on the Best Practical Means for Cutting Off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the Human Population." Point eight was euthanasia.

The most commonly suggested method of eugenicide in America was a "lethal chamber" or public locally operated gas chambers. In 1918, Popenoe, the Army venereal disease specialist during World War I, co-wrote the widely used textbook, Applied Eugenics, which argued, "From an historical point of view, the first method which presents itself is execution… Its value in keeping up the standard of the race should not be underestimated." Applied Eugenics also devoted a chapter to "Lethal Selection," which operated "through the destruction of the individual by some adverse feature of the environment, such as excessive cold, or bacteria, or by bodily deficiency."

Eugenic breeders believed American society was not ready to implement an organized lethal solution. But many mental institutions and doctors practiced improvised medical lethality and passive euthanasia on their own. One institution in Lincoln, Illinois fed its incoming patients milk from tubercular cows believing a eugenically strong individual would be immune. Thirty to forty percent annual death rates resulted at Lincoln. Some doctors practiced passive eugenicide one newborn infant at a time. Others doctors at mental institutions engaged in lethal neglect.

Nonetheless, with eugenicide marginalized, the main solution for eugenicists was the rapid expansion of forced segregation and sterilization, as well as more marriage restrictions. California led the nation, performing nearly all sterilization procedures with little or no due process. In its first twenty-five years of eugenic legislation, California sterilized 9,782 individuals, mostly women. Many were classified as "bad girls," diagnosed as "passionate," "oversexed" or "sexually wayward." At Sonoma, some women were sterilized because of what was deemed an abnormally large clitoris or labia.

In 1933 alone, at least 1,278 coercive sterilizations were performed, 700 of which were on women. The state's two leading sterilization mills in 1933 were Sonoma State Home with 388 operations and Patton State Hospital with 363 operations. Other sterilization centers included Agnews, Mendocino, Napa, Norwalk, Stockton and Pacific Colony state hospitals.

Even the United States Supreme Court endorsed aspects of eugenics. In its infamous 1927 decision, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind…. Three generations of imbeciles are enough." This decision opened the floodgates for thousands to be coercively sterilized or otherwise persecuted as subhuman. Years later, the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials quoted Holmes's words in their own defense.

Only after eugenics became entrenched in the United States was the campaign transplanted into Germany, in no small measure through the efforts of California eugenicists, who published booklets idealizing sterilization and circulated them to German officials and scientists.

Hitler studied American eugenics laws. He tried to legitimize his anti-Semitism by medicalizing it, and wrapping it in the more palatable pseudoscientific facade of eugenics. Hitler was able to recruit more followers among reasonable Germans by claiming that science was on his side. While Hitler's race hatred sprung from his own mind, the intellectual outlines of the eugenics Hitler adopted in 1924 were made in America.

During the '20s, Carnegie Institution eugenic scientists cultivated deep personal and professional relationships with Germany's fascist eugenicists. In Mein Kampf, published in 1924, Hitler quoted American eugenic ideology and openly displayed a thorough knowledge of American eugenics. "There is today one state," wrote Hitler, "in which at least weak beginnings toward a better conception [of immigration] are noticeable. Of course, it is not our model German Republic, but the United States."

Hitler proudly told his comrades just how closely he followed the progress of the American eugenics movement. "I have studied with great interest," he told a fellow Nazi, "the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock."

Hitler even wrote a fan letter to American eugenic leader Madison Grant calling his race-based eugenics book, The Passing of the Great Race his "bible."

Hitler's struggle for a superior race would be a mad crusade for a Master Race. Now, the American term "Nordic" was freely exchanged with "Germanic" or "Aryan." Race science, racial purity and racial dominance became the driving force behind Hitler's Nazism. Nazi eugenics would ultimately dictate who would be persecuted in a Reich-dominated Europe, how people would live, and how they would die. Nazi doctors would become the unseen generals in Hitler's war against the Jews and other Europeans deemed inferior. Doctors would create the science, devise the eugenic formulas, and even hand-select the victims for sterilization, euthanasia and mass extermination.

During the Reich's early years, eugenicists across America welcomed Hitler's plans as the logical fulfillment of their own decades of research and effort. California eugenicists republished Nazi propaganda for American consumption. They also arranged for Nazi scientific exhibits, such as an August 1934 display at the L.A. County Museum, for the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

In 1934, as Germany's sterilizations were accelerating beyond 5,000 per month, the California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe upon returning from Germany ebulliently bragged to a key colleague, "You will be interested to know, that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought.…I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people."

That same year, ten years after Virginia passed its sterilization act, Joseph DeJarnette, superintendent of Virginia's Western State Hospital, observed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "The Germans are beating us at our own game."

More than just providing the scientific roadmap, America funded Germany's eugenic institutions. By 1926, Rockefeller had donated some $410,000 -- almost $4 million in 21st-Century money -- to hundreds of German researchers. In May 1926, Rockefeller awarded $250,000 to the German Psychiatric Institute of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, later to become the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry. Among the leading psychiatrists at the German Psychiatric Institute was Ernst Rüdin, who became director and eventually an architect of Hitler's systematic medical repression.

Another in the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute's eugenic complex of institutions was the Institute for Brain Research. Since 1915, it had operated out of a single room. Everything changed when Rockefeller money arrived in 1929. A grant of $317,000 allowed the Institute to construct a major building and take center stage in German race biology. The Institute received additional grants from the Rockefeller Foundation during the next several years. Leading the Institute, once again, was Hitler's medical henchman Ernst Rüdin. Rüdin's organization became a prime director and recipient of the murderous experimentation and research conducted on Jews, Gypsies and others.

Beginning in 1940, thousands of Germans taken from old age homes, mental institutions and other custodial facilities were systematically gassed. Between 50,000 and 100,000 were eventually killed.

Leon Whitney, executive secretary of the American Eugenics Society declared of Nazism, "While we were pussy-footing around…the Germans were calling a spade a spade."

A special recipient of Rockefeller funding was the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics in Berlin. For decades, American eugenicists had craved twins to advance their research into heredity. The Institute was now prepared to undertake such research on an unprecedented level. On May 13, 1932, the Rockefeller Foundation in New York dispatched a radiogram to its Paris office: JUNE MEETING EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS OVER THREE YEAR PERIOD TO KWG INSTITUTE ANTHROPOLOGY FOR RESEARCH ON TWINS AND EFFECTS ON LATER GENERATIONS OF SUBSTANCES TOXIC FOR GERM PLASM.

At the time of Rockefeller's endowment, Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, a hero in American eugenics circles, functioned as a head of the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. Rockefeller funding of that Institute continued both directly and through other research conduits during Verschuer's early tenure. In 1935, Verschuer left the Institute to form a rival eugenics facility in Frankfurt that was much heralded in the American eugenic press. Research on twins in the Third Reich exploded, backed up by government decrees. Verschuer wrote in Der Erbarzt, a eugenic doctor's journal he edited, that Germany's war would yield a "total solution to the Jewish problem."

Verschuer had a long-time assistant. His name was Josef Mengele. On May 30, 1943, Mengele arrived at Auschwitz. Verschuer notified the German Research Society, "My assistant, Dr. Josef Mengele (M.D., Ph.D.) joined me in this branch of research. He is presently employed as Hauptsturmführer [captain] and camp physician in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Anthropological testing of the most diverse racial groups in this concentration camp is being carried out with permission of the SS Reichsführer [Himmler]."

Mengele began searching the boxcar arrivals for twins. When he found them, he performed beastly experiments, scrupulously wrote up the reports and sent the paperwork back to Verschuer's institute for evaluation. Often, cadavers, eyes and other body parts were also dispatched to Berlin's eugenic institutes.

Rockefeller executives never knew of Mengele. With few exceptions, the foundation had ceased all eugenic studies in Nazi-occupied Europe before the war erupted in 1939. But by that time the die had been cast. The talented men Rockefeller and Carnegie financed, the institutions they helped found, and the science it helped create took on a scientific momentum of their own.

After the war, eugenics was declared a crime against humanity--an act of genocide. Germans were tried and they cited the California statutes in their defense. To no avail. They were found guilty.

However, Mengele's boss Verschuer escaped prosecution. Verschuer re-established his connections with California eugenicists who had gone underground and renamed their crusade "human genetics." Typical was an exchange July 25, 1946 when Popenoe wrote Verschuer, "It was indeed a pleasure to hear from you again. I have been very anxious about my colleagues in Germany…. I suppose sterilization has been discontinued in Germany?" Popenoe offered tidbits about various American eugenic luminaries and then sent various eugenic publications. In a separate package, Popenoe sent some cocoa, coffee and other goodies.

Verschuer wrote back, "Your very friendly letter of 7/25 gave me a great deal of pleasure and you have my heartfelt thanks for it. The letter builds another bridge between your and my scientific work I hope that this bridge will never again collapse but rather make possible valuable mutual enrichment and stimulation."

Soon, Verschuer once again became a respected scientist in Germany and around the world. In 1949, he became a corresponding member of the newly formed American Society of Human Genetics, organized by American eugenicists and geneticists.

In the fall of 1950, the University of Münster offered Verschuer a position at its new Institute of Human Genetics, where he later became a dean. In the early and mid-1950s, Verschuer became an honorary member of numerous prestigious societies, including the Italian Society of Genetics, the Anthropological Society of Vienna, and the Japanese Society for Human Genetics.

Human genetics' genocidal roots in eugenics were ignored by a victorious generation that refused to link itself to the crimes of Nazism and by succeeding generations that never knew the truth of the years leading up to war. Now governors of five states, including California have issued public apologies to their citizens, past and present, for sterilization and other abuses spawned by the eugenics movement.

Human genetics became an enlightened endeavor in the late twentieth century. Hard-working, devoted scientists finally cracked the human code through the Human Genome Project. Now, every individual can be biologically identified and classified by trait and ancestry. Yet even now, some leading voices in the genetic world are calling for a cleansing of the unwanted among us, and even a master human species.

There is understandable wariness about more ordinary forms of abuse, for example, in denying insurance or employment based on genetic tests. On October 14, America's first genetic anti-discrimination legislation passed the Senate by unanimous vote. Yet because genetics research is global, no single nation's law can stop the threats.

This article was first published in the San Francisco Chronicle and is reprinted with permission of the author.


DAX PERFORMANCE-INDEX (^GDAXI)

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Glossary of World War II Vocabulary and Concepts (European Theatre)

World War II lasted six years and embroiled more than 50 countries. Death toll estimates go as high as 70 million but the most scholarly sources estimate that a staggering 55 million people were killed, most of them civilians. In France, for instance, 210,000 soldiers, sailors, aircrew and support personnel were killed, but so, too, were 400,000 children, women, and non-military men. In Europe, the Nazis methodically exterminated 14 million persons that their leader, Adolf Hitler, deemed "racial inferiors:" Poles, Slavs, gypsies, and six million Jews.

Visit World War II: The Roots of the Conflict for a helpful synopsis of the causes and course of the War.


This non-profit association has scanned images and transcriptions of over 800 Lutheran registers online from twenty-six parishes. To view the records you will need to join an association and pay monthly dues, as well as an additional fee to access specific records.

Explore digitized church records from the Diocese of Passau, Diocese of Hildesheim, Evangelical Church of the Rhineland, Evangelical Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck, and the Evangelical Central Archive in Berlin. Only data over 100 years is available.


Watch the video: جديد الأخبار والتقارير (December 2021).

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