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Naming, myth and history

Naming, myth and
history
Berlin after the Wall
Gordon Finlayson

Whoever believe that certain things are of no concern
to them frequently deceive themselves, e.g.

philosophers about history.

Immanuel Kant, Reflections on Logic
What has happened to history since the Berlin Wall fell?

If Susan Buck-Morss is to be believed, fashion parades
in its ruins; not in the ruins of the wall, but in the ruins of
history. I Only something is missing.

On Pariser Platz … vendors sell souvenirs of the
fallen Wall and mementos of the fallen regime. To
the north, above the tree-line, the German flag flies
over the ruins of the Reichstag that was burned in
1933 and bombed during the war.

Two photographs are juxtaposed: one of the newly
opened Brandenburg Gate, one of the Reichstag in ruins.

Nowhere does she mention that between these two still
images twenty-eight years of history have elapsed. 2 The
restoration of the Reichstag was completed in 1971.

Later, commenting on Jiirgen N agel’ s study of Berlin,
Buck-Morss writes that the photographer
arranges the photographs chronologically, and
precisely thereby one becomes aware that the dates
are totally irrelevant. 3
Where there is a genuine concern for history, dates are
anything but irrelevant. As Pierre Vilar puts it:

To date intelligently remains a duty for historians.

For the consciousness of succession in time and of
relative durations is anything but naively given
datum. It does not arise out of nature and myths,
but against them. 4
I will return to the question of history and myth presently.

For the moment let us concentrate on a significant date:

by a twist of fate, the Berlin Wall fell on 9 November
1989. On 9 November 1918, after the abdication of the
Kaiserreich, the Weimar Republic was proclaimed. On 9

November 1923, Hitler’s attempted puts ch in Munich
failed. 9 November 1938 is known as Reichskristallnacht. One would be hard put to find a date in
German history more imbued with significance. 5
The problem of how to interpret this momentous event
poses some searching methodological and theoretical
questions. Buck-Morss attempts to make sense of the fall
of the Wall with the help of her extravagant and
provocative thesis that nowadays ”’fashion” rather than
“history” provides the conceptual orientation adequate
to the present moment.’ 6 It is not clear whether her thesis
is that fashion – ‘the temporal notion of transience, fading
and loss’ – usurps historical continuity, as in Althusser’ s
structuralist reworking of Marx, 7 or whether fashion
merely inflects linear historical narrative from within.

What is certain is that Buck-Morss attacks ‘the Hegelian
notion of history’ , whereby a chaotic surface of events is
interpreted in terms of a deep continuity (the teleological
development of spirit), and that she proposes in its stead
an inverse scheme whereby the surface continuity of
historical narratives is interpreted with reference to a
deep-structural discontinuity. 8 This is not the place to
develop all the theoretical difficulties that are presented
by the assumption of radical and determinant
discontinuityY More to the point is that the assumption
of a radical discontinuity in, or instead of, history simply
short-circuits the possibility of historical explanation.

Thus Buck-Morss is misled into a needless
mystification of the events which precipitated the fall of
the Berlin Wall. She argues that the fall of the Wall- the
‘cornerstone of Cold War discourse’ – had nothing to do
with ‘social movements’ nor with Mikhail Gorbachev,
but was the sudden manifestation of structural
discontinuity. The Wall fell, like the Cold War discourse,
‘almost by accident’; it simply ‘ceased to exist …

dismantling itself from within and seemingly without
agency’ .10

Radical Philosophy 74 (NovlOec 1995)

5

The suddenness and extraordinariness of historical
events need not blind us to the ordinariness of their
possible causes. There is a lot of evidence to show that it
was social movements and political dissidents that gave
impetus to events which mushroomed into the ‘peaceful
revolution’ of 1989. 11 At a crucial stage prior to the fall,
opposition coalesced around a small alliance of
dissenting voices called New Forum, who were mooting
the idea of a democratic, independent DDR.12 BuckMorss is equally wrong to deny the significance of
Gorbachev’s role in the complex of events which led to
the fall of the DDR, for it was decisive. The assumed
identity of the DDR had been that of an anti-fascist state
liberated from the wreckage of National Socialism by
the Soviet Union. 13 But this identity became increasingly
remote from the generations who had not experienced
the war. When the Soviet premier began to institute
political reform – glasnost – the like of which had never
been seen in the DDR, it was as if the central pillar of the
legitimacy and authority of the ruling SED had become
an ally of the protest movement. Gorbachev’s visit to the
Republic weeks before its collapse, his express warning
against the dangers of avoiding of postponing reform,
had a catalytic effect on events.

At the risk of being unfashionable, I will argue here
that the explanatory resources in the ‘Hegelian notion of
history’ which Buck-Morss rejects are much richer than
those of the structuralist tradition to which she turns,
because the former is not blind to historical agency. I do
not deny that at his most uncompromising Hegel presents
history as the unilinear development of a monological
subject (Spirit), and holds this development to be actual
and objective – not so much an interpretation of history
by Hegel as the adequate self-interpretation of Spirit.

There is no reason, however, why we should not hold on
to the notion of historical continuity, whilst denying that
it need be construed as the unilinear and objective
development of a single subject of history.

Reinhard Koselleck gives an interesting historical
account of the emergence of the singularity or unity of
history.14 For the modern collective singular noun
‘history’ is a relatively recent concept, dating
approximately from the era of the French Revolution.

Hitherto, from the time of Cicero to the threshold of
modernity, the term ‘history’ like its cognate noun ‘story’

was rarely to be found in the collective singular and
referred primarily to the narration, or rhetorical
achievement of the historiographer. Around the time of
the French Revolution, however, the term ‘history’ began
to accrue the meaning of an objective happening or
context of events. By the time Hegel writes his lectures
on the Philosophy of History, the established dual

6

meaning of history, noted by Koselleck, is ripe for
dialectical development.

In our language ‘history’ [Geschichte] unites this
objective and this subjective aspect. It denotes as
much the historian rerum gestarum as the res
gestas itself. History is what has happened, no less
than the narration of what has happened. IS
Hegel is very aware of this distinction between
historiography on the one hand, a narrative form which
is wrought on events by, rhetor or rhapsode, and history
or a narrative sequence or context of events themselves.

One need not be overly realist about history qua res
gestas and make it into what happened, independently
of any account of what happened. One can think of
history as a sedimented interpretation which is embedded
in the life-world, which differs from historiography in so
far as its authority is independent of any single narrator
or narrative act. Historiography and history, history
which is written and history which happened, can be
further distinguished by the observation that
historiography tends, by its very nature, to be plural there are as many historiographies as there are
historiographers. History, on the other hand, tends, from
the late eighteenth century onward, to become singular
along with its sister concepts ‘justice’, ‘morality’ and
‘law’. This collective singularization, argues Marx, has
more to do with the expansion and convergence of
capitalist economies than with the unifying labou; of
absolute spirit.

[T]his metamorphosis of history into world-history
is not an abstract achievement of self-consciousness,
world-spirit, or some such metaphysical spectre,
but rather a wholly material, empirically
demonstrable event, an event the proof of which
lies in every individual, his walking, talking,
eating, drinking and even in his way of dressing. 16
Marx wants to show that there are empirical and material
pressures on events which, independently of their
narration by the philosopher of history, transform them
into a single history. It does not follow, however, that
objective history need be singular. This assumes that the
homogenizing pressure of capitalist economy wins out
over the heterogeneity of events. But we do need to be in
a position to assess whether Marx’ s material explanation
of the convergence of history is true, especially in so far
as he is making an empirical claim. For the historian’s
claim to objective validity presupposes the possibility of
competing historical interpretations and thus depends on
the plurality of historiography. The danger is that the
singularization of historiography abolishes the space in
which a valid empirical account of the homogenization

of history can be given. For where there is only one story,
as in the ‘official’ history of the DDR, the claim to
objectivity of such a story can no longer be redeemed
and the distinction between historiography and history
blurs. In such a case, history reverts to myth.

It seems to me that history and historical narrative
must be deployed critically to demythologize politics,
for, to recall Vilar’s claim again, historical narrative
‘does not arise out of nature and myths but against
them’.17 My intention here is not to descry the ‘end of
history’ (as a concept of political analysis) in the ruins of
the Berlin Wall, but rather to point out the erosion of
history and the making of a myth in the restoration of a
united Berlin. For it is in the restoration not in the ruins
that ‘history’ is being made, and is being made into
political myth.

Naming
The subject of historical knowledge is the struggling,
oppressed class itself. In Marx this class plays the part
of the final, enslaved class, the avenging class, which
completes the work of emancipation in the name of the
generations of the defeated. This consciousness which
briefly came to prominence in the ‘Spartacus Group’

was always offensive to social democracy.

Walter Benjamin
What’s in a name? Merely sound and smoke, as Goethe
wrote, or is there more at stake: does the past smell
sweeter by another name? Street names in Berlin contain
the stories of the mUltiple conflicts which have been
played out in the capital over its relatively brief but
extraordinarily divisive history. The period of militarism
and expansionism following the unification of Germany
in 1871 and the construction of the Second Empire saw
extensive renaming of the capital’s streets. Eric
Hobsbawm has analysed this period under the aspect of
‘the mass production of tradition’ .18 The renaming
process under the fifteen-year reign of the Weimar
Republic was a rather more sedate affair. By contrast the
NSDAP zealously set about transforming the
nomenclature of the capital. I9 After the war, in 1945,
there were around 1,800 different proposals for streets in
Berlin to be renamed. Some, like Adolf-Hitler-Platz and
Hermann-Goering-StraBe required and received urgent
attention. 20 Eventually, however, only four hundred were
carried out – a consequences of the crystallization of
Cold War hostilities and of unbridgeable differences
between the authorities in the Soviet Zone of Occupation
in the east, and the French, British and US allies in the
west.

In the East after 1949 the DDR authorities pursued a
twofold strategy. They honoured prominent political

figures of the KPD and SPD, the two parties which
merged to form the SED – the ruling party of the DDR.

For instance, streets in the East commemorated Wilhelm
Pieck and OUo Grotewohl, the first president and
minister-president respectively of the DDR. Their
credentials were not so much their political and
administrative status within the SED as their ideological
kudos as part of the anti-fascist resistance. The names of
Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Kaethe
Niederkirchner and Hans Beimler, none of whom lived
to participate in the founding of the DDR, loomed larger
in the DDR martyrology and adorned far more
prestigious streets. The ideological bias of this policy of
renaming was as clear as its legitimating function for a
purportedly ‘anti-fascist’ state, yet for all that it was not
simply monothematic. The DDR authorities also drew
on a rich tradition of bourgeois German culture: E.T.A.

Hoffmann, Heinrich Heine, Moses Mendelsohn, Thomas
Mann, Ernst ToIler, Kurt Tucholsky, Paul Klee, Dietrich
Bonhoeffer and Alfred D6blin all found their names
written onto the streets of former East Berlin. 2I
Of course, renaming was not a political issue only in
the East. The fanatical opposition by the West Berlin
CDUIFDP coalition to the commemorative renaming of
the bridge from which Rosa Luxemburg’s body was
thrown into the canal testifies to this.22 But it is only in
East Berlin that the streets are currently being renamed. I
see this as part of a wider systematic devaluation and
destruction of the DDR and its history, whicn has been
going on since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The grounds
for this, I will argue, lie deeper than the official reasons that is, to reverse the bias of DDR historiography in the
name of historical objectivity.

Let us take a look at these official reasons as they are
advanced in a report compiled by an ‘independent
commission’ that decided what names were appropriate
to a unified Berlin. The commission was appointed by
the Senator for Traffic and Enterprise after the fiasco over
the renaming of Otto-Grotewohl-StraBe to its former
name WilhelmstraBe, and of Ernst-Thalmann-StraBe
(named after the head of the KPD, who was murdered by
the NS) to IsenburgerstraBe. In the former case the
decision by the Berlin Senate to overturn the democratic
decision of the district council not to rename the street
(which runs on a north-south axis directly behind the
Reichstag’ led to a bitter and protracted dispute in which
the Senate prevailed. 23
The commission’s report criticizes, ‘in the spirit of
pluralism’, the SED historians and politicians for their
blatant and biased glorification ofthe KPD, which, being
partly responsible for the collapse of the Weimar
Republic, ‘contributed considerably to the NS
dictatorship’ .24 To balance out this DDR bias the

7

commission recommends
honouring … supporters of the anti-totalitarian
resistance of the national-socialist dictatorship and
the democratic opponents of the S.E.D.

dictatorship [my emphasis].25
There are two striking and significant points here. The
first is the presupposition of the existence of a tradition
of anti-totalitarian – that is, liberal and social-democratic
– resistance to fascism. The second is the blunt equation
of the SED with the NSDAP. With regard to the former,
this history – the history of constitutional social
democracy before the fact – is the lost history sought by
a unifying Germany. The recent establishment of a
permanent Memorial to German Resistance in
StauffenbergstraBe elicited controversy by devoting a
whole room to the aristocratic Wehrmacht officer Claus
Schenk, Graf von Stauffenberg, giving undue
prominence to the failed assassination attempt of July
1944, whilst relegating the communist and Jewish
resistance to a sideshow. The desire to awaken the
memory of a specifically liberal and democratic
opposition to Hitler is an attempt to escape the widely
held view that the Weimar Republic feebly capitulated
before Hitler, not least because of widespread tacit
support for his nationalist and xenophobic remedy for
Germany’s economic woes.

SS Officers celebrate the changing of Hohenzollenkorso to
Manfred-von-Richthofen-StraBe

8

The second manoeuvre – the tendency to equate the
DDR and the Third Reich, as did Chancellor Kohl in the
recent election campaign when he referred to the PDS as
‘fascists painted red’ – is more questionable than the first.

However blind their support for the Soviet Union even
under Stalin, however barbaric their shoot-to-kill policy
on their borders with the West, however poor their
human-rights record in other respects, the crimes of the
SED bear no comparison with those of the NSDAP – at
least, none which does not ignore far greater
differences. 26 The political effect of the forced
comparison – a favoured tool of the revisionist Right – is
very effectively to short-circuit the communist role in
the resistance to Hitler. For all the pockets of resistance
amongst liberals and conservatives, it is hard to deny that
the most vociferous, consistent and effective opposition
came from the ranks of the KPD and the left of the SPD,
however their internal feuds may have helped to present
the NSDAP with an opportunity to seize power.

The commission’s report concludes with the salutary
thought that a return to long-lasting historical names
which are ‘independent of contemporary politics’ will
‘spare citizens the unnecessary irritation of frequent
name changes’ .27 This is a peculiar statement indeed. The
more venerable the names, the more permanent the
institutions. The more antiquated the history, the more
removed from political concerns, as if the
pressing political need in Germany today was .

not for a tradition of anti-communist, antifascist, liberal, constitutional democracy, before
the fact – that is to say, beyond the NS era.

One of the first ‘unnecessary irritations’ the
people of Berlin were spared was Leninallee, a
major Berlin artery to the east which was
restored to its earlier name LandsbergerstraBe.

A witty piece of graffiti in the newly named
street asks, ‘Everyone knows who Lenin was?

Who was Landsberger?’ (Alt-Landsberg is a
small town in the region of Brandenburg, lying
to the east of Berlin, where in 1708 Friedrich I
took up official residence.) In the same
retrospective spirit Marx-Engels-Platz, the vast
parade ground in front of the Palace of the
Republic, was broken up into Lustgarten and
SchloBplatz, in memory of the castle which used
to stand there before it was bulldozed to make
way for its modernist replacement. It is still
undecided whether or not the Palace of the
Republic will be demolished on health and
safety grounds, due to the use of asbestos in its
construction, and a replica of the castle built in
its place.

Wilhelm-Pieck-StraBe has reverted to its
previous name TorstraBe. The landmark to
which the name refers and which Hegel would
have known has gone, but perhaps the double
meaning of Tor (gate and idiot) was not lost on
the planners. Wherever possible, so the
rationale of the urban planners goes, return to
the street names of the Hohenzollern era and
before.

The renaming of DimitroffstraBe in
Prenzlauer Berg is a different matter. It was
named after Georgy Dimitroff, a Bulgarian
emigre communist, who, when falsely accused
of fire-raising the Reichstag, skilfully used the

Wilhelm-Pieck-Str (1 st President of D.D.R.)

opportunity to uncover and publicize the
ulterior motives behind the real perpetrators, the NS,
namely to find a pretext for persecuting opponents of the
Hitler regime. After his acquittal Dimitroff lived in the
Soviet Union, where he became the general secretary to
the Communist International. Here Dimitroff worked
closely with Stalin and is held responsible for the
‘disappearance’ of many of his opponents in the
Bulgarian CP. Dimitroff is an interesting case. On the
one hand he had a chequered political career, yet on the
other he is of enormous significance to the history of
modem Germany and to Berlin in particular. Instead of
returning the street to its former name DanzigerstraBe, it
has been divided and named after Matthias Erzberger, a
Weimar liberal, and Rudolf-Hilferding, a Jewish right
Social Democrat.

The renaming of Bersarinplatz in Friedrichshain was
opposed by three members of the seven-strong
independent commission. Nikolai Erastowitsch Bersarin
was the Soviet general who led the first Belorussian front
against Berlin. In April 1945 he was appointed military
governor of Berlin and became responsible for the
running of the city. He died six months later in a
motorcycle accident in Berlin-Lichtenberg. Of all name
changes this is the hardest to justify, since the naming of
BersarinstraBe after the war, in recognition of Bersarin’ s
efforts to keep the ruined city from going under, predates
the existence of the DDR and was agreed by all the
relevant authorities at the time, not just those in the Soviet
Zone of Occupation. To add insult to injury, Bersarin’s
honorary citizenship of Berlin, awarded posthumously
by the DDR in 1975, was revoked in 1992.28 The square
reverts to its former name, Baltenplatz. The term ‘Balten’

originally referred to the Germans in the Eastern
Provinces, but the original name should, according to the
commission, now be understood as a ‘sign of political
sympathy for the struggle of Baltic Republics to maintain
their independence’ from their former Soviet occupiers

and their now Russian neighbours. 29
The renaming of Niederkirchner-StraBe turned into a
cause celebre of the Berlin Left in 1993. The issue
touched on peculiar sensitivities, since the street
concerned was not just any street but the home of the
newly located House of Representatives, the PreuBescher
Landtag. Moreover, under its former address, PrinzAlbrecht-StraBe 8, it had served as the Gestapo
headquarters, the nerve centre from which not only war
strategy was coordinated but also ‘domestic’ matters
such as the extermination of European Jewry. After the
war Prinz-Albrecht-StraBe was named after Kaethe
Niederkirchner (1910-43), a young Berlin Jewess of
Hungarian origin, who, when expelled from Germany in
1933, did not return to her country of origin, where the
fascists were in power, but fled to the Soviet Union where
she worked for the anti-fascist resistance. In October
1943 she was arrested in Poland on an undercover
mission to establish links between the Red Army and
German workers’ organizations. She was taken by the
Gestapo, interrogated and tortured, in Prinz-AlbrechtStraBe 8 itself and elsewhere. Finally she was detained
and murdered in the concentration camp at Ravensbriick.

Naturally she became an important political symbol
under the DDR, though the street to which she gave her
name fell into disuse due to its proximity to the Berlin
Wall and did not enjoy its current centrality.

To the ruling CDUIFDP coalition it was unacceptable
to have the Berlin Regional Parliament, restored to its
former seat after reunification, situated in a street named
after the communist daughter of a Hungarian tradesunion activist, even though she was a Jewess who had
given her life in the struggle against fascism. The deputy
leader of the CDU, Volker Liepert, protested: ‘A
communist address for a democratic parliament,
notwithstanding the fate of the person concerned, is not
appropriate. ’30 In her speech to the Berlin parliament the
president of the House, Dr Renate Laurien (CDU), urged

9

that the postal address of the parliament should be neutral
and ‘above party politics’. This condition would not be
met if the parliament’s address preserved the name of a
woman with a ‘passionate conviction in … the
communist system’ who thus ‘clearly prepared the way
for what we later experienced in the DDR’. Despite
Kaethe Niederkirchner’s resistance to fascism, she does
not present an appropriate democratic example ‘on which
to found our parliament’ .31 The House voted by the
narrow margin of 106:96 to keep the said address. At the
behest of her party chief in Berlin, the president of the
House exercised her prerogative to overturn the decision
and readdress the parliament as the PreuBescher Landtag.

Shortly before her execution, Kaethe Niederkirchner
wrote in her diary: ‘I would have liked so much to live to
see the new times. It is so hard to have to go shortly
before they arrive.’ It is rather poignant that these words
could be said to have served for her epitaph twice.

Clara-Zetkin-StraBe runs east-west behind the
Humboldt University. ClaraZetkin (1857-1933) was one
of the foremost women politicians of her generation. As
well as a wife and mother and activist in socialist
women’s groups, she was the editor-in-chief of the
women’s proletarian journal Die Gleichheit from 1891
to 1917. In 1916 she was a co-founder of the Spartakus
Group. In 1919 she left the USPD for the KPD so that
she could ‘fight where there is life’, and the following
year was elected to the German Reichstag. Though
critical of ultra-leftists in her own party, she concluded
her inaugural address to the Reichstag as venerable
president (30 August 1932) with the hope that she would
have the good fortune ‘as president, to inaugurate the
first congress of Soviet Germany’. This excerpt from her
speech was cited by the FPD representative, who tabled
the application for the renaming of Clara-Zetkin-StraBe
and NiederkirchnerstraBe. He commented: ‘This cannot
be the expression of women’s emancipation in a
democratic society’, adding later that he recommended
naming a street after Axel Springer.32
Clara Zetkin’ s political astuteness can be gauged from
her campaign against the Empowerment Laws – the right
to rule by decree in times of emergency, in which
Theodor Heuss (later to become president of the Federal
Republic) lamely assented. Also, in her inaugural address
she warned against the rising tide of fascism and called
for the creation of a broad anti-fascist alliance. It was to
be her last important political speech. Clara-ZetkinStraBe reverts to its former name of DorotheenstraBe,
which takes its name from Dorothea, second wife of the
great Ktirfurst of Brandenburg-PreuBen.

It seems rather harsh, to put it mildly, to condemn the
memory of Clara Zetkin and Kaethe Niederkirchner on

10

the grounds that they would have supported the policies
of a totalitarian regime which they did not in fact live to
judge, had they managed to survive. Harsher still, to
judge them, as supporters of the Soviet Union, to be (by
the law that one totalitarian regime equals another)
complicit with the totalitarian politics which they fought
against. The argument adduced by Dr Laurien and the
‘independent commission’ that a name may stay only if
it belonged to a Western, liberal democrat and
constitutional federalist, or to someone who unambiguously stood in such a tradition, in the Germany of
the 1920s and’ 30s is questionable. It is adduced to ensure
a priori that no Soviets and no communists are
commemorated on the street names of Berlin. Yet the
same argument clearly rules out most of the reversions to
‘traditional’ street names, for no one can seriously claim
that Wilhelm I or Dorothea, wife of the seventeenthcentury Great Kurftirst of Brandenburg-PreuBen, stand
unambiguously in the tradition of modern German
democracy.

In negotiating this contradiction in its criteria the
commission throws up some amusing discrepancies in
the naming policy. For instance, the commission
recommended that Karl-Marx-Allee be cut into two
sections, and that the section nearest the town centre
henceforth be called Hegelalee. One presumes that this
cannot be the same G. W. F. Hegel who, whilst professor
at the university in Berlin, wrote in §279 of the
Philosophy of Right that:

In the oppositional sense, popular sovereignty is
one of those confused thoughts, which are based
upon a garbled notion of the people. Without its
monarch and that articulation of the whole which
is necessarily and imlllediately associated with
monarchy, the people is aformless massY
And the Marx whose unduly prominent profile in the
capital is to be trimmed could not be the same Karl Marx
who delivered the withering critique of Hegel’s defence
of constitutional monarchy.

Democracy is the truth of monarchy, monarchy is
not the truth of democracy. Monarchy is by
necessity democracy in contradiction with itself.

. ” Democracy is the solution to the riddle of every
constitution. 34
Of course it is obvious that Hegel is not being honoured
for his political convictions but for his undisputed
importance to the capital’s history as its most notable
professor of philosophy.

The same is true of the nineteenth-century painter,
architect and town planner Karl Friedrich Schinkel, who
lived and worked in Berlin alongside Hegel, and to whom

Berlin owes so many of its finest buildings and
monuments. In belated recognition of Schinkel’s
contribution to Berlin, the most central part of KarlLiebnechtstraBe is to be renamed SchinkelstraBe. The
irony here is that neither Schinkel nor Hegel would have
happily accepted the role of a representative of a
‘tradition’ of past Prussian greatness. In 1834 in a letter
to Crown Prince Maximilian of Bavaria, Schinkel wrote:

In order to produce a truly historical work, one
must not resort to a myopic and exclusive
reiteration of the historical, through which history
is not itself created, rather something new has to
be made, something which is able to give real
impetus to history. 35
This would be a pertinent and powerful rejoinder to the
seekers of authenticity who advocate restoration of the
Berlin Castle. Equally, Hegel felt at home in Berlin not
because of the history that it had, but the history it was
making, as a modern, reforming state. Indeed the whole
Prussian ‘tradition’ which Schinkel and Hegel honour
was largely self-created, in no small measure through the
modernizing and reforming efforts ofthemselves and their
contemporaries. Prussia, writes Rosenkranz, Hegel’s
student and biographer, was,
through and through an artificial, created state,
which achieved unity through the mediation of
culture and self-conscious reason. 36
One suspects that in some ways the self-understanding
of the capital city in the 1820s was more modern than the
nostalgic German capital-in-waiting of the 1990s.

I want to conclude this section with two observations.

First, in underwriting the ‘history’ of the DDR and the
German Left, the urban planners reduce the inherent
plurality ofhistoriography. The nefarious simplifications
of the complex and mediated relation between
historiography and history result from the political use
of revisionist historiography to fill the legitimation gap.

We have seen how history, whilst masquerading as one
interpretation of history amongst others, at the same time
eradicates other, competing interpretationsY That
history attempts to make good the loss of myth, or to
become myth, was first noticed by Nietzsche. In this
sense I have designated the process by which the several
strands of history, visible only through its various
interpretations, are woven into a single one as the
mythologization of history.

My second observation is that the link between the
renaming of streets and the making of political myth does
not rest entirely on the singularization of history. It has
also to do with the very nature of naming. Not for nothing
do we see the making of a myth in the naming of the

streets. The street names are not a mere example of the
wider process of the German search for ‘lost history’

(StUrmer); they represent, more than even the demolition
of DDR monuments and the rebuilding of the new
capital, the most significant aspect of the search. Their
significance lies in the ancient propinquity between
naming and myth, from the mythical power of the name.

It is well known that in the book of Genesis, Adam
achieves domination of the animal kingdom by naming
it. 38 In the New Testament, too, the ancient power of the
name is at work. In Jewish and Ancient Greek religious
thought the name is so closely bound up with the being
and life of a person that to speak the name is to make the
person present. This trope also characterizes Christianity.

Thus Christ claims (Matthew 18:20): ‘Where two or
three are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of
them.’ According to this ancient logic of naming,
obliterating the names of communists obliterates
communism, drawing its sting by erasing its memory.

Conversely, enunciating a unified German past creates
it. ‘In the beginning was the name’, as Goethe’s Faust
says, and the name was history.

Myth
And so, Glaucon, the myth was saved, and not lost.

And ifwe believe in it, it may save us too.

Plato,. Republic
I began by arguing against the premature rejection of the
concept of history, and even against the radical
reconception of history, where this radicality entails
sacrificing historical continuity to discontinuity. Instead
I maintained that historical continuity and the plurality
ofhistoriography can and must coexist if a genuine claim
to historical validity is to be raised. It is the eye for
historical continuities which can prevent a homogenized,
single version of history being passed off as nature or
myth. All history, including the philosophy of history,
must guard against this danger: the danger of being used,
not for the purpose of legitimation, but instead of
legitimation, namely, as myth. I have attempted to
present this argument not as an abstract thesis about
history, but as a concrete insight which emerges from a
particular history, the naming of the streets in Berlin.

Behind the changing of the street names in former
East Berlin we have seen the creation of a uniform history
of non-Soviet, non-communist, anti-fascist, antitotalitarian, authentic German social democracy, the
roots of which extend back way beyond the twelve-year
blot of the NS years. Behind the rebuilding and renaming
of the city, behind the singularization of its history, lies a
myth in the making. That myth is inimical to history, I

11

take to be obvious. We have seen the denial of other
histories at work, in this case the denial of the communist
and Soviet role in the fight against Hitler and in his
eventual defeat, a denial which is contained in the
systematic devaluation and obliteration of the memory
of the DDR. My point has been that this denial is not the
product of mere anti-communism; it is not just the
continuation of the Cold War by other means, although it
is also this. Rather, I want to argue the stronger thesis
that the making of myth out of history entails the denial
of the historicality of the present as such.

In order to make this stronger claim it is necessary to
say more about what I understand by myth. A myth is a
unified story leading from a single origin to a determinate
end. A political myth will present the founding of a state
in terms of an aetiology from a single origin or cause to
an existent state of affairs. Such is the case, for instance,
in the story of Cadmus and the founding of Thebes.

Cadmus is told by Apollo (Phoebus) that he should
follow a white ox until it stops to graze and there to found
a city. Cadmus sends his soldiers in search of water, but
they are killed by the dragon which guards the fountain
of Ares in what is to be Boeotia. Later Cadmus comes
looking for them and finds the dragon feeding on their
flesh. He slays the dragon and, on the advice of Athena,
sows its teeth into the earth. A whole army of warriors
grows up before him, and begins to fight. The five
If

surviving warriors are commanded by Athena to stop.

These were the friends that homeless Cadmus had
To build the city of Phoebus’ oracle. 39
The sowing of the teeth into the earth and the springing
from the soil of armies represents the single, natural
origin of the autochthonous Theban race. By proceeding
thus from a single natural origin, or first cause, to a
determinate present reality, myth overdetermines that

12

reality. Nothing is left to chance; the
whole process is predetermined by the
oracle. In this manner myth denies the
historicity of the very institution it
claims to ground once and for all.

In the context of the newly unified
Germany, the political myth of an
authentic and venerable tradition of
German social democracy satisfies a
particular political need, which does
not arise, as it still did in Nietzsche’ s
time, from the mythless condition of
the modems alone. I have touched on
the curious revisionist logic that one
totalitarian regime equals another
whatever the de facto extent of their
crimes. In the context ofthe right-wing theses of historian
Ernst Nolte, no less dangerous because crudely political,
namely that the perpetrators of NS atrocities were also
victims of those atrocities,40 and moreover that
Auschwitz was a ‘copy’ of the ‘original’ genocide
perpetrated by the Bolsheviks,41 the trajectory of the
revisionist logic emerges very clearly, to represent the
united German people, and Berlin as their emblematic
home, as victims not of Nazism but of the diremptions of
commUnIsm.

This absurd but insistent revisionist logic, which
milks the pathos of the traumatic division of Berlin, can
easily blind one to the obvious fact that the 16 million
inhabitants of the East are not the only Germans with a
problematic past. What is happening is that a revisionist
movement, encouraged by the Bonn government and led
by ideologues such as StUrmer, is trying to unburden the
‘context of guilt’ which has become a nuisance to
German foreign-policy interests, by burying the NS past
of the Federal Republic under the rubble of the former
DDR. Here lies the irony behind the date of the lifting of
the border, 9 November, which of all days in the political
calendar is unfit for an anniversary celebration and the
inauguration of tradition.

I now want to make an unfashionable and qualified
apology for the modern philosophy of history since Kant. It
will help to sharpen the distinction between two uses of
history: the fact that (1) history can be invoked mythically
instead of legitimation; (2) history can be construed
philosophically as legitimation. The philosophy of history
can be and has been deployed in both of these ways.

(1) We have already seen that the political use of
history does lead to its homogenization or
singularization. We have not explained why it does.

Broadly speaking, a legitimation gap arises when an
explanation is needed to reassure those who want to

know that the force exercised by the state in the
maintenance of political order is preferable to the state of
affairs that would obtain otherwise. Legitimation is
simply the giving of an acceptable explanation.

Historical narrative becomes necessarily singular, not
when it is adduced as, but when it is invoked instead of
such legitimation, for it can only supplant legitimation if
it is the only history around. According to this view the
present is preferable because it results naturally and
inevitably from this history, and there is no evidence that
this history or the resultant present could have been
otherwise. The existence of alternative histories would
reopen the demand for the legitimation of the present
political order, by destroying its claim to validity based
on self-evidence.

Such a position amounts to the crudest kind of
political realism, which does not acknowledge the need
for legitimation, but presents what is as its own
justification. But where history overextends itself by
taking on the task of forging the natural national identity
and social cohesion which modern life has corroded, it
risks tipping over into nationalism. Remember that the
pogroms of Rostock and Hoyerswerda followed hot on
the tail of the nationalist euphoria of German unification.

Kohl’s rewording of the chant of protesting DD R citizens
– ‘we are the people’ into ‘we are one people’ – invoking
an autochthonous German unity, threatened briefly to set
light to the torch of nationalism, which is always easier
to ignite than to extinguish.42
(2) When history is construed as legitimation, it
recognizes that the explanation for the legitimacy of state
power must preserve a living relation to a past tradition,
but must be supported by reason and nourished by
reinterpretation and reflection. It is in this sense that I
have criticized the self-understanding of the authorities
in Berlin, for dropping the threads of history, and
abandoning continuities with an albeit ambiguous and
antagonistic past. There is no contradiction in rejecting
history and philosophy of history where it degenerates
into myth, whilst holding on to a positive or affirmative
sense of historical legitimation.

For, unlike myth, the threads of history rarely lead
back to a single origin of nations, states or institutions. If
anything, history betrays the multiplicity of conflicts and
contingencies, the chaotic and barbaric way in which
political institutions are born. This is why in Kant and
Hegel it is not the miasma of historical events but the
philosophy of history, namely the idea of reason, that
provides the basis of political legitimacy. It is not the
authenticity or longevity of institutions that recommends
them to us, so much as the emergence of their inner
rationality. Of course the principles on which the

legitimacy of institutions is based must be defensible a
priori, which does not detract from the fact that the
principles, and our ability to defend them, emerged
historically, and are embedded in life-practices.

Taking cognizance, as we must, of the inflated claims
made on behalf of reason in history, after and because of
Hegel, it is worth reminding ourselves that Hegel, the
philosopher of history par excellence, was far from
sanguine about his own teleological construal of the
progress of spirit. Many people know that he describes
history as a ‘slaughterbench’; few people pay attention
to the context of this remark. 43 History, writes Hegel,
presents the most terrifying picture, which gives rise to
the ‘most profound and perplexing grief [Trauer], which
is compensated by no reconciliating result … ‘. The only
defence against this disturbing image of history is a kind
of stoicism: to construe history as ‘fate’, as something
which we could not alter and to get back to the
‘selfishness’ of our individual lives. Hegel’s point about
the ‘slaughterbench’ of history is that we ask the question
‘What has this “monstrous sacrifice” been forT in spite
of history and not because of it. For Hegel, reflection on
the end or purpose of history is not only heuristic and
methodological, but, pragmatically speaking, a way of
coming to terms with a history too barbaric for reason to
comprehend. Thus, world history is not ‘merely
observed’, it is construed, from the pragmatic point of
view of human concerns. Hegel’ s position is not, after
all, so far from Kant’s ‘Idea towards a Universal
History’, and its more guarded aim to write a history
‘according to an idea of how the world might run its
course, were it to conform to rational purposes’ .44 The
difference is that Kant’s biconditional construal of
history is supposed to open a ‘consolatory’ perspective
on the future, whilst for Hegel the present is the only
consolation.

Hegel does not reflect adequately on how certain
features of ethical life (reason in history) can be both a
priori and universal on the one hand, and can have
emerged historically on the other. But he does not duck
the contradiction either. Hegel recognizes the element of
contingency in the historical emergence of the modern
state. This is what distinguishes the philosophy of history
from the discourse of providence. It is important that
Hegel’s philosophy of history, in particular his
reflections on the beginning of Western political culture
and rational thought in Athens, are not conflated with the
often caricatured romantic tendency to mythologize
origins.

Recently Simon Critchley questioned the history of
philosophy from Hegel to Gadamer and the ‘entire
German to English romantic tradition’ for the story it

13

tells about its exclusively Greek beginning.45 Philosophy
tells its own story, invents its own tradition; logos is
grounded on mythos. This is the familiar Nietzschean
insinuation that the philosophy of history is make-do
mythology. On the contrary, Hegel insisted frequently
that Athenian culture and character, in which modern
philosophy and politics were born, was anything but
natural, and anything but pure; rather, it was a construct,
‘a coliuvies, a confluence of a diverse array of nations’ .46
.For the Greek people first and foremost became
what it was. When considering the originality of
national unity, the main factor must be separation
[Zerteilung] itself and heterogeneity [Fremdartigkeit].

Heterogeneity for Hegel is not just an element of the
Greek spirit, but the ‘beginning of culture’; it is the
arrival of strangers in Greece, which acts as the catalyst
for political education and cultural change. Hegel’s
words can serve as a timely reminder that German unity
will not spring from the soil or from a common history.

This is why we should speak of a uniting not a united
Germany; for national unity is a task not a fact. The
political myth of a single nation, cruelly torn asunder,
not through its own internal political antagonisms but
from without, a nation which spent forty years
desperately seeking unity, like Aristophanes’ protohumans, is not history but the denial of history. The
mythologeme which can be read from the ‘new’ street

If

Cranes on FriedrichstraBe, October 1994

14

names of the former East Berlin denies history by
constructing an always extant tradition of German socialdemocratic federalism, which persists in spite of, but in
no way because of, the political antagonisms of modern
German history. Thus myth unwrites the plurality of
history and its competing interpretations by winding its
several strands into a single thread. Myth overdetermines
the present political order by presenting it as the result of
a natural aetiology, stemming from a single origin, which
occludes the role of contingency in beginning and
heterogeneity in becoming. What lies behind the urban
planning of 1990s Berlin is not historiography but mythmaking, and what is being made is a myth of modern
nationhood. But, as Hegel knew only too well, German
history is no more authentically German than Greek
history is authentically Greek.

It is a superficial stupidity to suppose that a
beautiful and truly free life could be produced by a
process so crude as the development of a race,
within the parameters of blood relations and
friendship alone. 47
The task of the historian today is to unpick the process by
which history becomes myth, to untwine the several
strands of history and to preserve the plurality of
historical interpretation. Political philosophers who think
that history is of no concern to them are often only
deceiving themselves.

Notes
1. Susan Buck-Morss, ‘Fashion in Ruins: History after the
Cold War’ , Radical Philosophy 68, pp. 1Off.

2. This is obviously an error. There is no footnote or
indication that it is done on purpose. Ibid., p. 10.

3. Ibid.

4. Pierre Vilar, ‘Marxist History: A History in the Making’,
in G. Elliott, ed., Althusser: A Critical Reader, Oxford,
Blackwell, 1994, p. 20.

5. Walter Benjamin would have called it a ‘monad’.

Leibnizian monads are pregnant with their future,
Benjaminian monads are pregnant with their past.

Benjamin calls these monads ‘messianic’ and
‘revolutionary’ because they have been ‘blasted out of the
continuum of history’. See ‘Theses on the Philosophy of
History’, in Illuminations, London, Fontana, 1973.

6. RP 68, p. 11 (my emphasis).

7. ‘The real history of the development of knowledge appears
to us today to be subject to laws quite different from this
teleological hope for the religious triumph of reason. We
are beginning to conceive this history as an history
punctuated by radical discontinuities … which, if they
respect the continuity of the existence of regions of
knowledge … inaugerate with their rupture the new reign
of a logic, which, far from being a mere development, the
“truth” or “inversion” of the old one, literally takes its
place.’ Louis Althusser, Reading Capital, London, Verso,
1979, p.44.

8. RP 68, p. 12.

9. Axel Honneth gives a comprehensive account of the
theoretical problems which beset structuralist Marxism in
his essay ‘History and Interaction’, in Elliott, ed.,
Althusser: A Critical Reader, p. 74.

10. RP 68, p. 11. On Buck-Morss’ s account, fashion has to do
with the legibility of discontinuity but not with the
aetiology of social change.

11. The Workers’ Uprising of 17 June 1953 was ruthlessly put
down, and commemorated in the West by the renaming of
the stretch of Under den Linden leading up to the
Brandenburg Gate, the Street of the 17th of June. It is fair
to say that thereafter the DDR, compared to say Hungary
or Poland, never had the experience of dealing with
organized opposition or resistance. This may have
contributed to the paralysis of the state apparatus in face
of the sudden wave of protest. Information gleaned from
Staatssicherheit agents could not have foretold how the
small circle of dissidents would suddenly attract massive
popular support. The months before the fall saw civil
disobedience in the DDR on an unprecedented scale.

Some 70 per cent of the whole population of Leipzig took
to the streets in protest. The opposition coalesced around
the group New Forum, who were demanding freedom of
expression, freedom of movement and free elections. See
T. Garton Ash, ‘Revolution in Hungary and Poland’ New
York Review of Books 13, 1989; S. Meuschel, ‘Vom
Unterschiedlichen AusmaB … ‘ , in Vergangenheitsbewiiltigung
1945 und 1989. Ein Unmoglicher Vergleich?, K. Suhl ed,
Berlin, Yolk und Welt, 1994, pp. 92-109; and P. Hockenos,
Free to Hate, London, Routledge, 1993.

12. The swiftness with which this ideal was buried under the
nationalist euphoria is astonishing. The ruling coalition in
the West swiftly adopted the phrase ‘Wir sind das Yolk’

(We are the people) and soon adapted it to ‘Wir sind ein
Yolk (We are one people). For an explanation of the
upsurge of nationalism in the aftermath of the Wall falling,
of the role of right-wing radicals in the West, but also of
the social conditions in the DDR where nationalism had

been gestating, see Hockenos, Free to Hate.

13. In fact in the DDR the ‘victory over fascism’ became
something of a myth of history, supporting the state (E.

Nolte, ‘Zwischen Geschichtslegende und Revisionismus’,
in Historikerstreit: Die Dokumentation der Kontroverse
um die Einzigartigkeit der national-sozialisitschen
ludenvernichtung, Zurich, Piper Verlag, 1987, p. 17.

14. R. Koselleck, ‘Historia magistra vitae’, in Hermann Braun
and Manfred Riedel, eds, Natur und Geschichte:

Festschrift fur Karl Lowith, Stuttgart, w. Kohlhammer,
1967, pp. 196-219.

15. G. W.F.Hegel, Werke, Vol.12,FrankfurtamMain,STW,
1986, p. 83.

16. Marx-Engels, Werke, Vol. 3, Berlin, Dietz Verlag,
1959-68.

17. See note 4.

18. Eric Hobsbawm and T. Ranger, eds, The Invention of
Tradition, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1983,
pp. 263-307. Hobsbawm points out the failure of the
attempt to raise the profile of Wilhelm I, and the success
of the cult of Bismarck. The effects of this success are still
visible today. In spite of Clause 5 ofthe Berlin Street Law,
outlawing the unnecessary duplication of street names (in
East and West Berlin), in 1988 there were nonetheless still
five BismarckstraBen, two Bismarkplatze, a Bismarckallee
and two Kaiser-Wilhelm-PHitze in West Berlin alone.

19. Examples of their handiwork are the Judenviertel around
Bayerischer-Platz, renamed after Prussian army officers,
and the Fliegerviertel in Tempelhof, which was named
after First World War Luftwaffe heroes. To this day both
these areas retain the names with which the NSDAP
baptized them. The various attempts to rename the
Fliegerviertel after pacifists, which were mooted after the
fall of the Wall, all foundered for bureaucratic reasons. In
Reinickendorf between 1945 and 1948 the Bezirksamt
successfully renamed the nazified,streets after anti-fascist
campaigners; for instance, General-Woyna-StraBe and
General-Barby-StraBe became Hans-Schulz-StraBe and
Rudolf-Grieb-StraBe respectively. However, as the Cold
War became colder the anti-fascist names were revoked
and the NS names upheld.

20. Adolf-Hitler-Platz in Charlottenburg and HermannGoering-StraBe in Mitte were renamed Kanzlerreichsplatz
(1947), subsequently Theodor-HeuB-Platz, and
EbertstraBe (1947) respectively.

21. Sackgassen: Keine Wendemoglichkeit fur Berliner
StrajJennamen, (hereafter SG) Nischen, Berliner
Geschichtswerkstatt, 1988, pp. 9-15 .

22. A discussion held in the Abgeordnetenhaus of Berlin on
13 November 1986, right in the midst of the ‘historian
controversy’, provides an interesting augury of the
rationale behind the current renaming process. An earlier
application by the SDP and AL to christen the recently
rebuilt former Liechtensteinbriicke in Tiergarten ‘RosaLuxemburg-Briicke’ had been voted down. The only
remaining issue was whether or not to permit the erection
of a small memorial statue on the said, unnamed, bridge.

Senators Hanna-Renata Laurien (CDU) and Riidiger
Landowsky agreed, on condition it honored them as
political victims, and not as politicians or political
thinkers. This amendment was unacceptable to most of
the FDP/CDU representatives, who agreed with Hermann
Oxfort (FDP) that both Liebknecht and Luxemburg were
anti-democrats who did not ‘deserve to be honoured by
the democratic decision of the house of representatives’.

Consequently most of the ruling coalition abstained in
protest at the amendment of Laurien and Landowsky,
while the SDP and AL voted for the original motion,

15

.L

which was passed by an unexpected majority of 87 votes
to 43 (Reprint of the protocol of the 38. Sitzung of the
Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin (House of Representatives)
on 13 November 1986, in SG, pp. 97-100).

renaming of Clara-Zetkin-StraBe and NiederkirchnerstraBe. (Axel Springer publishes a tabloid newspaper
called Bildzeitung which is slightly less tasteful than the
Sun.)

23. The structure of local government in Berlin is such that
the democratic decision of a district council, in
consultation with its constituents, can be trumped by the
decision of the Berlin Senate, which in its turn can be
trumped by a decision of the Parliament in Bonn. This is
in fact what happened in the cases of Otto-Grotewohl and
Kaethe Niederkirchner.

33. G.W.F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, § 279,
Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 319.

Hegel’s judgement here is by no means an absolute
rejection of democracy, but a historical and contextual
one. Indeed Hegel held Athenian democracy, in a small
polis with an astonishingly high degree of literacy, to be
exemplary.

24. There is a revealing inference here from the political fallout of the internecine fighting between the SPD and KPD
towards the end of the Weimar Republic to the partial
responsibility of the communists for the crimes of the NS.

This inference would only have any foundation ifthe KPD
had been able to foresee all that would result from their
struggle for supremacy on the left. Ernst Nolte’s more
extreme version of this thesis, which gave occasion to the
‘historian controversy’, was that the Bolshevik crimes
were the ‘original’, and Hitler’s Final Solution the ‘copy’.

‘Was not the Gulag Archipelago more original than
Auschwitz? Was not the class-genocide ofthe Bolsheviks
the logical and factual precondition of the race-genocide
of the National Socialists?’ (Historikerstreit, p. 45).

34. ‘Critique of Hegel’s Doctrine of the State’, § 278, Karl
Marx: Early Writings, translated by R. Livingstone and T.

Benton, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1975, p. 86.

25. Independent Commission on the Renaming of Streets,
Concluding Report of 17 March 1994 (hereafter ICRS),
Preamble, p. 6 (unpublished copy courtesy of the PDS in
the PreuBeschen Landtag, Berlin).

I
)1

36. Otto Poggler, in Hegel in Berlin, Berlin, Staatsbibliothek
PreuBescher Kulturbesitz, 1981, p. 16.

37. Historikerstreit, p. 73.

38. Genesis 2: 19: ‘and whatsoever Adam called every living
creature, that was the name thereof.’

39. avid, Metamorphoses, iii, translated by Horace Gregory,
New York, Viking Press, p. 88.

40. Ernst Nolte makes this claim about the camp guards at
Auschwitz; see Historikerstreit, pp. 13ff. and 33ff. This
equalization is also implicit in the significance of President
Reagan’s visit to the military cemetery at Bitburg, devised
by StUrmer and requested by Helmut Kohl, at which fortynine Waffen SS officers were buried. A conciliatory
handshake between veteran generals in the presence of
the American president served, according to Habermas,
as a belated recognition ‘that the Germans had always
been on the right side in the fight against the Bolsheviks’ .

(ibid., p. 245).

26. The similarities between the two regimes are
overshadowed by decisive differences. The SED
persecuted and imprisoned political dissidents, severely
restricted the freedom of movement of its citizens, and
was the architect of a brutal shoot-to-kill policy which led
to two hundred deaths between 1961 and 1988. In their
twelve-year reign the NSDAP invaded neighbouring
countries, and began a World War which resulted in the
destruction oflarge parts of Europe and millions of deaths.

They devised the policy of the ‘final solution ofthe Jewish
question’, which was systematically to exterminate the
whole race; and they succeeded in murdering six million.

Cf. Erich Loest in Vergangenheitsbewaltigung, p. 157.

41. ‘Auschwitz did not result first and foremost from residual
anti-Semitism … rather, it was a question of a reaction,
born of fright, at the genocide wreaked by the Russian
Revolution.’ Historikerstreit, p. 32.

27. ICRS, p. 7.

42. I owe this phrase by my friend Paul Hockel1os.

28. Part of the ‘revisionist’ programme is to deny the Russians
any role in the German past, apart from the ‘occupation’

of East Germany. In October 1994 all the Allied troops
left Berlin. The French, British and Americans trooped
out under the Brandenburg Gate. The Russians had their
leaving ceremony in Treptow. (To draw an analogy, it is
like NATO troops marching down the Mall and the
Soviets taking leave on Hackney Marshes.) The Western
Allies played virtually no part in the capture of Berlin.

The Russians, on the other hand, suffered heavy casualties
against the better armed, better trained German army.

Some 70,000 Soviet soldiers are buried in Treptow
cemetery alone.

43. G.W.F. Hegel, Werke, Vol. 12, Frankfurt am Main, STW,
1970, p. 35; The Philosophy of History, translated by H.

Sibree, New York, Dover, 1956, p. 21.

29. ICRS, pp. 8-10.

)1

35. Dieter Dolgner, ‘Klassizismus und Romantik – eine
produktive Synthese im Werk Karl Friedrich Schinkels’,
in Schinkel-Studien, edited by H. Giirtner, Leipzig,
Seeman Verlag, 1984.

30. Berliner Zeitung, 27 January 1993.

31. Protocol to the session of 21 January 1993, on the
amendment by SPDlBiindnis 90/Griine (AL)/uFV to the
application to alter the address of the new House of
Representatives. Drucksache 12/2341-1 Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin.

32. Protocol from the 57th session (25 November 1993) ofthe
Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin, on (a) the FDP’s motion of
the naming of a street after Axel Springer; (b) the FDP’s
motion on the renaming of streets in the districts of Mitte
and Prenzlauer Berg; and (c) on the FDP’s motion on the

16

44. Kant, Werkausgabe, Vol. XI, Frankfurt am Main, STW,
1978, p. 49.

45. Simon Critchley, ‘Black Socrates? Questioning the
Philosophical Tradition’, in RP 69, January/February
1995, p. 18, advances a position similar to mine. Critchley
‘ventriloquizes’ a position that he identifies as Husserl’ s,
not his own. However, the conception of the philosophical
‘tradition’ he criticizes does not do justice to Hegel’s
conception of history and the significance of Athens, and
furthermore threatens to collapse history into myth.

‘Philosophy speaks Greek and only Greek, which is to say
that philosophy does not speak Egyptian or Babylonian,
Indian or Chinese and therefore is not Asian or African.

Philosophy can have only one beginning and that
beginning has to be the Greek beginning. Why? Because
we are who we are.’

46. G. W. F. Hegel, Werke, Vol. 12, p. 278; The Philosophy of
History, p. 226. (Note Sibree’s profoundly misleading
translation of Fremdartigkeit, which means heterogeneity,
as ‘distinctiveness’, which could mean just the oppositea quintessence. ‘

47. Ibid., p. 278; The Philosophy of History, p. 226.

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