The Other Germany

Programme: The Other Germany
Programme of an anti-Nazi cultural evening for German prisoners-of-war under the title The Other Germany in the American camp at Fort Devens, January 1945. The programme included texts from Thomas Mann and Johannes R. Becher among others.
Akademie der Künste, Berlin, E.R.-Greulich-Archiv, Nr. 261

The Other Germany

Das andere Deutschland konnte Hitler nicht aufhalten, und in dem gegenwärtigen Krieg, der die Großmächte in Konflikt mit ihm gebracht hat, hat man das andere Deutschland fast vergessen. Viele zweifelten, ob es wirklich existierte oder sie bestritten zumindest, daß es überhaupt eine Bedeutung habe.     

[The other Germany could not stop Hitler, and in the present War which has brought the great powers into conflict with him, the Other Germany has almost been forgotten. Many doubted if it really existed or at least denied that it had any significance. (ed. trans.)]                            

Bertolt Brecht, Das andere Deutschland, 1943/44


The very differing lifestyles and reasons for taking flight meant that German exiles after 1933 were not able to unite in one political formation. The many sections of society the Nazis discriminated against were reflected in the very heterogeneous composition of the refugees. With the exception of opposition to the Nazi regime there was no shared political agenda. This had the result that the exiles – just like the German resistance movements – had very little effect as a morally correct and political alternative to Hitler. Abroad, political action initiated by refugees were largely treated with mistrust, particularly as the war crimes that were gradually coming to light led to a general appraisal of Germans as “mentally sick people” (US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau).

The imposing title, “The Other Germany”, suggest a consensus among exiles, who in fact often had contrasting interests. Conscious of speaking as the “voice of a people who have fallen silent” (Heinrich Mann), the exiles regarded themselves as the real custodians of German cultural traditions. This anti-fascist thinking, which remained closely linked to the concept of national identity, can also be found in the return migration debate after 1945 and as one of the central myths of the foundation of the German Democratic Republic. “The Other Germany” was a much-used catchword in many areas of exiled life: as the title of an anti-Nazi, non-fiction books by Erika and Klaus Mann (1940), Heinrich Fraenkel (1942) and an essay by Bertolt Brecht (1943/44) or as the name of a socialist aid committee in Argentina (1937), which later published a newspaper with the same name. The name originally came from a banned German newspaper with a pacifist and republican standpoint, whose contributors included Kurt Tucholsky and Erich Kästner. Today's exile research takes a critical view of the term.

Further reading:
Bischoff, Doerte / Komfort-Hein, Susanne: Vom anderen Deutschland zur Transnationalität. Diskurse des Nationalen in Exilliteratur und Exilforschung. In: Krohn, Claus-Dieter / Winckler, Lutz / Rotermund, Erwin (ed.): Exilforschungen im historischen Prozess. Jahrbuch für Exilforschung 30/2012. München: Edition Text + Kritik 2012, p. 242-273
Fröschle, Ulrich: Das andere Deutschland. Zur Topik der Ermächtigung. In: Nickel, Gunther (ed.): Literarische und politische Deutschlandkonzepte 1938-1949. Göttingen: Wallstein 2004, p. 47-85
Papcke, Sven: Das Andere Deutschland. Exil und Widerstand als Verpflichtung. In: Gewerkschaftliche Monatshefte. 5th volume (1995), p. 282-295