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In this issue: Shaul Bakhash, Claudia Koonz, Anson Rabinbach, Larry Tribe,

Rosanna Warren, and others

The Berlin Journal
A Magazine from the American Academy in Berlin | Number Twelve | Spring 2006
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Number Twelve | Spring 2006
The Berlin Journal
Islam in Europe
5 Claudia Koonz describes how a new genre
of explosive nonction narratives by
Muslim and ex-Muslim women living
in Europe is bringing together unlikely
political bedfellows.
9 H.D.S. Greenway, Barbara John, and
others have a cordial discussion about
secularization, the roots of social unrest,
xenophobia, and how Europeans react to
the migrants in their midst.
12 Zeyno Baran writes that Europe must
address the sense of spiritual alienation
among its Muslim immigrants especially
the young and strengthen moderates
while mitigating the appeal of radicals. Can
the Turkish model point the way?
Reform and Renewal in the Middle East
16 Dan Diner charts the difcult path of
modernization in a region permeated by
religion and sees that several preconditions
for reform are lacking. Is Islam lost in the
sacred? A historians view.
22 Shaul Bakhash looks for a Muslim Martin
Luther among Irans public intellectuals.
The rise, fall, and possible rebirth of the
reformist experiment.
Academy News
27 Notebook of the Academy: The Academys
new president Norman Pearlstine; a
splendid Carnegie Hall debut; three new
members of the board; our rst dean of
fellows; a timeline of Academy events; and
more news from the Hans Arnhold Center.
32 Life and Letters: A description of this
springs fellows and their Berlin projects,
plus a list of the latest alumni publications.
37 On the Waterfront: A sampler from the
German and American press, with guest
appearances by Academy trustee Fritz
Stern, icc President Philippe Kirsch, New
York Times Berlin Bureau Chief Richard
Bernstein, and White House Under
Secretary for Public Dilplomacy and Public
Affairs Karen Hughes.
The Imperiled Constitution
41 Laurence H. Tribe warns that
misinterpretation of the Constitution may
squander Americas legacy of individual
liberty. Will the Supreme Courts rightward
shift invest too much power in the executive
Anti-fascism and Fascism
46 Anson Rabinbach re-reads the sensational
book that shaped the worlds understanding
of the 1933 Reichstag Fire for generations.
A tale of two conspiracy theories.
52 Robert O. Paxton considers why the
French are haunted even today by the bitter
aftertaste of Nazi occupation and Vichy
Arts and Belles Lettres
56 Charles Molesworth chronicles an early
episode in the history of African-American
dance, the artistic vision of philosopher
Alain Locke, and the cultural milieu of the
Harlem Renaissance.
60 Rosanna Warren unearths the gothic forms
in Thomas Hardys poetry and reveals the
power of the negative prex.
64 Anne Verveine, Rosanna Warrens French
alter ego, contributes an original poem to
our back page, and artist Maya Lin rewrites
the Swedish countryside.
65 Donations to the Academy
Kerry Tribe, film still from Near Miss (2005), 35 mm color film with sound
Number Twelve | Spring 2006
Directors Note
No Easy Answers
At a recent Academy meeting between former American
national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and young
German policy professionals, there was much casual talk of
living with a nuclear Iran and a Hamas destined to become
more practical minded and moderate. The view that Islamic
militancy may not be as threatening as is commonly perceived
is now frequently heard within European salons, and it raises
an important question: what is analysis and what is wishful
thinking? Are we reading backward from desirable goals and
ending up with an unrealistically hopeful vision of the world?
The current issue of the Berlin Journal, in addition to pro-
viding a cross section of brilliant work by the Academys fel-
lows, guests, and alumni, focuses on several pressing issues,
including reform in the Middle East and the acculturation of
Muslim Europeans.
The Wests surprise at vehement Muslim reactions to the
Muhammad caricatures this spring made all too clear how
facile our understanding of Muslim sensibilities and politics
can be. The essays that launch this issue probe Muslim self-
understanding both in Europe in essays by Claudia Koonz,
David Greenway, and Zeyno Baran and abroad with com-
ments by Dan Diner and Shaul Bakhash. The Iranian-born
political scientist Bakhash, whose Reign of the Ayatollahs
remains the canonical study of the Iranian revolution, offers
a sobering assessment of reform in the Khatami years. His
piece is preceded by a provocative meditation by Dan Diner on
the ubiquity of the sacred across temporal, social, and political
spheres in the Arab world. Further contributions to this issue
come from the brilliant and acerbic legal scholar Larry Tribe,
Academy alumnus Anson Rabinbach, historian Robert O.
Paxton, and fellows Charles Molesworth and Rosanna Warren.
Our contributors belong to the charmed circle on the
Wannsee, where chance meetings with one another and
with scores of Berliners serve as sources of mutual inspira-
tion very much like that encounter some decades ago when a
gifted law student named Norm Pearlstine listened closely to
the discreet disquisitions of his corporate law professor, Bob
Mundheim, in a Philadelphia classroom. Neither imagined
they would meet much later at the American Academy in
Berlin. We welcome the reunion of teacher and student, thank
Bob Mundheim effusively for ve years of careful mentorship,
and greet his successor with the greatest enthusiasm.
Gary Smith
The Berlin Journal
A Magazine from the Hans Arnhold Center
published twice a year by the American
Academy in Berlin
Number Twelve Spring 2006
Publisher Gary Smith
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On the cover: Edward Koren, Berlin Boogie
Woogie (2006), pen and ink on paper. Gift
to the Academy by the artist, who was a
distinguished visitor in the fall of 2003.
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Trustees of the American Academy
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Richard von Weizscker
Richard C. Holbrooke
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Norman Pearlstine
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Franz Haniel
Karl M. von der Heyden
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Christopher von Oppenheim
Norman Pearlstine
Heinrich v. Pierer
Robert C. Pozen
Neil L. Rudenstine
Volker Schlndorff
Fritz Stern
Tilman Todenhfer
Jon Vanden Heuvel
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The Berlin Journal
ith the coll apse of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, it seemed that
the Evil Empire had vanished and Europeans would begin to enjoy a more har-
monious future. But, as communism slid into the past, global Islamism began
to loom in the future. The Muslim population in Western Europe doubled
between 1995 and 2005, to nearly fourteen million. Terrorism struck Istanbul, Madrid,
and London, and cold-war strategists have remained as divided as ever about how to address
the danger. Hard-liners, who argue that Islam cannot adapt to modern norms, believe it
must be rolled back, while advocates of dtente favor the integration of Muslim moderates.
Has a policy of accommodating immigrants from outside the EU become counterproduc-
tive? Has multiculturalism run its course?

Unmasking Multiculturalism
Muslim Memoirs Probe the Limits of Tolerance
by Claudia Koonz




Number Twelve | Spring 2006
Since September 11, 2001 hard-liners
have blamed a tolerant society for allowing
terrorists to ourish in Europe. The popu-
lar Italian author Oriana Fallaci has called
Islam a fraud, and in her latest book, The
Force of Reason, she predicts that increasing
numbers of immigrants with high birth
rates will transform Europe into Eurabia.
In an essay this February in Der Spiegel, the
controversial German playwright Botho
Strauss ridiculed feckless Europeans for
their inability to defend core Western val-
ues against Islamists who are prepared to
ght for their faith. During the riots last fall,
French journalists quipped that Muslim
youth had created their own Paristan.
In a new book called While Europe Slept,
Bruce Bawer, an American writer who has
spent years in Amsterdam and Oslo, warns
against multiculturalism and the Muslim
self-segregation it has fostered.
Against such dire warnings liberals
stand rm, insisting that all non-Western
cultures be respected, including Islam.
After September 11, Edward Said argued in
the Nation that a small group of deranged
militants is not representative of the
Muslim world and ought to be treated
like any other group of crazed fanatics.
Skilled police work, tough anti-discrimina-
tion laws, and equal opportunity are the
most effective means of undermining the
inuence of fringe groups, insists James
A. Goldston, director of the Open Society
Justice Initiative. And of course the bien
pensants on Europes left have become more
multicultural at least in their appreciation
of the cuisine, lms, fashions, and music of
the migrants in their midst.
Thus, conservatives who defend Euro-
pean core values against a hostile Islam
disagree vehemently with liberals who wish
to integrate newcomer Muslims. The battle
lines between roll back and dtente remain
as xed as ever.
new genre of popular nonction
has opened up in the no-mans-
land between the two sides. Best-
selling memoirs by Muslim and
ex-Muslim women about their encounters
with Islam in Europe have destabilized
both conservative and liberal standpoints
by appropriating elements of each position.
Like conservatives, they decry a multicultur-
alism that blinds Europeans to the violence
within many Muslim families. Like liber-
als, they appeal to human rights doctrine
and deplore the patriarchal principles of
Islam. They call for less tolerance of Muslim
misogyny and more rights for Muslim
women. Unlike the highly educated pundits
who debate the merits of roll back or dtente,
these women speak with the authority of
their own experiences. Their lives have been
torn apart by a clash of civilizations.
Most of these writers belong to the sec-
ond generation of Muslim immigrants
who have assimilated to a far greater extent
than their parents. Born in the 1970s, they
experienced the contradictions between
family customs and Western cultures
as teenagers. Deprived of the freedoms
enjoyed by their brothers and classmates,
Muslim daughters chafed against their
connement. With puberty, they felt the
full force of paternal authority, often strug-
gling for years to escape. The genre has a
few rags-to-riches narratives, such as those
of the popular singers Senait Mehari and
Djura, who overcame great obstacles to
achieve fame and fortune in Germany and
France respectively. For most, however, the
ability to live an ordinary life constitutes a
triumph. A few writers have not even man-
aged to achieve this and fear to write under
their own names: The Austrian author
Sabatina moves constantly to escape death
threats; Aysl struggles in Germany simply
to become literate; and Inci Y., the author
of Choke on Your Own Lies (Erstickt an euren
Lgen), has not dared to tell even her chil-
dren that she wrote the book.
The pattern of these personal narratives
may be all too familiar, but the breaking
point in each authors life is distinct. The
Kosovar-Albanian Hanife Gashi could not
prevent her husband from murdering their
eldest daughter because he believed she dis-
honored the family by hanging out with her
friends. Several authors attempted suicide,
and one almost killed her child. At age 14,
Algerian-born Samira Bellils boyfriend
turned her over to his friends to be gang-
raped after she rejected him. Human rights
lawyer Seyran Ates barely survived an assas-
sins bullets. Imprisoned for ten years as a
young bride in Pakistan, Nasima Nazar out-
witted her family and returned to Germany,
the country of her birth. These accounts are
hair-raising, and the authors courage is awe-
At rst glance, the genre seems to be
part of a ood of recent memoirs in the
tradition of Betty Mahmoodys Not without
My Daughter and Mary Quins Kidnapped
in Yemen that document womens ght
against Islamic tyrants in the Middle East.
But European Muslim authors describe
their tribulations in the lands of Recht und
Freiheit, libert et galit. Their books have
colorful covers, usually bearing an iconic
veiled woman, and attention-grabbing
titles like the French best-sellers Forced
Marriage; Dishonored; Burned Alive;
Disgured; and In the Hell of Gang Rape,
and the popular memoirs in German Dead
among the Living; My Pain Carries Your
Name: an Honor Killing; Nobody Even Asked
Me; Veil of Silence: Condemned to Death by
Her Own Family; and You Must Die for Being
Happy: Imprisoned between Two Worlds.
Written in fast-paced, rst-person prose, the
narratives chronicle devastating tragedies
caused by fathers who beat their daughters,
terried mothers who acquiesce, and in-
laws who tyrannize everyone in the name
of family honor. Blurbs like Her familys
quest for vengeance ultimately struck her
reinforce the sensationalism implicit in
such titles.
Writing their memoirs has helped these
authors assuage their trauma and provided
hope to girls and women trapped in similar
situations. But their harrowing accounts
have also found audiences much farther
aeld: in the anti-immigrant camp. In the
hands of certain readers, such life stories
invite a kind of voyeurism that, if anything,
reinforces the prejudices of those already
hostile to the others in their midst. As one
self-appointed reviewer put it, The readers
eyes will be opened to an inconceivably
gruesome and loveless world.
In the last decade in Germany about forty women have fallen
victim to so-called honor murders by male relatives, most
of which remain unsolved.
Unlike the highly educated
pundits who debate the
merits of roll back or dtente,
the writers of these memoirs
speak with the authority of
their own experiences. Their
lives have been torn apart by
a clash of civilizations.
The Berlin Journal
But the authors aim to do more than
play to stereotypes of misogynistic Muslim
patriarchy. They call for European govern-
ments not to countenance terrible violations
of human rights in the name of cultural
tolerance. The authors want to reach large
audiences and uphold core European values
of justice not contribute to Islamophobia.
This is a delicate balance to achieve.
Like xenophobic politicians, these criti-
cal Muslim authors call attention to atypical
cases and rarely mention the millions of
Muslims in Europe who lead unremarkable,
and possibly even happy, lives. The former
fulminate about Islamist sleeper cells in
mainstream society, while the latter expose
the invisible crimes committed in the name
of honor by Muslim men. Needless to say, it
is unusual for cultural conservatives to nd
themselves in the feminist camp. Indeed,
they typically admire the strong patriarchal
authority and large families of Muslim
men precisely those traditions feminist
Muslims deplore.
handful of writers living in
France and Germany have man-
aged to gain sufcient education
and self-condence to move beyond
the inspirational tone of survival narratives
and to make their political message explicit.
Of course, authors like Chahdortt Djavann
and Amela Federa in France and Necla
Kelec in Germany deplore the Muslim patri-
archy in which they grew up. But they direct
their deepest outrage at European multicul-
turalism for turning a blind eye to violence
in the Muslim community.
These writer-activists strategies vary
according to the contrasting political con-
texts in France and Germany. One obvious
difference is demographic. France is home
to Europes largest Muslim population,
estimated at between four and ve million
(about 10 percent of the population), most of
whose forebears came from Northern Africa.
About 2,500,000 Muslims (about 3 percent
of the population), mostly with Turkish
backgrounds, live in Germany. The contrast
between the two civil societies, though less
obvious, is decisive. France has the highest
naturalization rate in Europe, whereas citi-
zenship in Germany is difcult to achieve.
French tradition has created a monocul-
tural political regime, while Germany has
embraced multiculturalism.
In France, where separation of church
and state forms the bedrock of the French
political order, the ethnic or religious
identities of citizens cannot ofcially be
acknowledged. To be an equal citizen
in secular France means to be the same.
Consequently, no census records ethnicity
or race; it is impossible to count the number
of minorities in police and civil service jobs,
managerial positions, or other professions.
Afrmative action, of course, is out of the
question. Since the mid 1990s, feminists
from Muslim backgrounds have accorded
top priority to promoting a ban on Muslim
headscarves in public schools, arguing
that family pressure must not impede
girls access to the French values taught in
school. Down with the Veil!, by Iranian-born
Parisian Chahdortt Djavann, makes its
political point in an authentic voice: I wore
the veil for ten years. It was the veil of death.
I know what Im talking about. Having
been imprisoned in the darkness of the
veil, she lashes out at a bizarre form of
ecumenism that expects Islam to adapt to
modern society.
Activist Amela Federa writes about grow-
ing up as one of ten siblings in a devout
Muslim family living on the outskirts of the
French industrial center Clermont-Ferrand.
Until she was told to raise her hand when
a teacher asked how many foreign stu-
dents were in the class, Amela saw herself
as French. Suddenly, she felt excluded from
La France de la Libert, de lgalit et de la
Fraternit. If descendents of immigrants
expect their countrymen to ignore their
ethnic differences, she reasons, then they
must shed signs of their ethnic origins.
A classroom devoid of religious symbols
represents an important rst step toward
giving girls an opportunity to absorb
French values. In March 2003, the cam-
paign against headscarves resulted in an
immensely popular law banning religious
apparel from public schools.
But feminists from Muslim-French back-
grounds do demand that ethnic difference
be acknowledged when it comes to protect-
ing women and children from the patriar-
chal customs of village Islam. To achieve
those goals, Federa asks that Muslim
slums receive adequate police protection
and public services. Samira Bellil, in her
memoir about family violence, homeless-
ness, educational deprivation, and sexual
victimization, provides a chilling portrayal
of the consequences of the misogyny ram-
pant in the slums and praises the curative
power of friendship, French literature, and
psychotherapy. By breaking the code of
silence among Muslims she alerts main-
stream readers to the plight of Muslim
women. After a hard-fought battle, Bellil
won her legal case against the men who
raped her, which inspired the optimism of
the last words in her book. I am Samira. I
am 29 years old. I believe in life, and I hope
for happiness. Together with Amara, she
organized a national campaign to improve
the lives of women who live in the impover-
ished enclaves known to most non-Muslims
as no-go zones. Although it might seem
inconsistent, these authors promote equal-
ity by erasing difference in the secular public
sphere at the same time that they call atten-
tion to difference in order to combat violence
against women and girls.
In Germany, where the constitution
mandates equal treatment of all religions,
statisticians gather data on ethnicity, reli-
gion, and race. Because the memory of the
Holocaust has sensitized Germans to the
dangers of prejudice, the state has advocated
a tolerant, multicultural civil society in
which bigotry has no place. Muslim femi-
nists break these taboos when they speak
out against misogyny in the Koran and
Muslim mens abuse of women and girls.
While French Muslim activists have made
a priority of the ban against the Muslim
headscarf, in Germany domestic violence
heads the list of top concerns. Too often,
activists charge, police simply do not inves-
tigate crimes against Muslim women. Even
when the perpetrators are apprehended,

The pattern of these personal
narratives may be all too
familiar, but the breaking
point in each authors life is
distinct. Their accounts
are hair-raising, and their
courage is awe-inspiring.
Although it might seem inconsistent, these authors promote
equality by erasing difference in the secular public sphere
at the same time that they call attention to difference in order
to combat violence against women and girls.
defense lawyers

have argued that a cultural
decit constitutes a mitigating circum-
stance. As Necla Kelec, author of The Foreign
Bride, puts it, the lawyers shrug their shoul-
ders and say thats just how they are. A
1999 legal case illustrates what Kelek calls
false tolerance. A Bremen court found
Turkish assassins guilty of killing a couple
whose marriage deed the orders not only
of their parents but also of a local Kurdish
political leader. But the murderers believed
they had committed an execution ordered
by authorities they respected. The defense
lawyer argued successfully for a lenient sen-
tence, saying that because of their strongly
internalized native worldviews, they had
not been conscious that their motives
would be considered especially reprehen-
sible and socially reckless.
Although statistics on domestic vio-
lence in Germany are fragmentary, sur-
veys suggest that as many as half of all
Muslim wives did not choose their hus-
bands, and most of them probably had
been living in remote villages until they
married their husbands in Germany. Most
adapted quietly to their fate. But Muslim
women constitute a disproportionate share
of the women in shelters. When they run
away, they incur the wrath of male rela-
tives who blame them for besmirching
family honor. In the last decade about forty
women have fallen victim to so-called
honor murders, most of which remain
The lawyer and writer Seyran Ates,
author of The Great Journey into the Fire,
asks her German readers to wake up from
the false dream of tolerance and stop
being hypersensitive about offending
ethnic minorities. Necla Kelek charges
that a fty-year experiment with integra-
tion has allowed Islam-Fascism to gain
strength. The generation of 1968 has been
so preoccupied with expiating the guilt for
Nazi crimes, she says, that it has ignored
the injustice before its eyes. Somehow the
vicious cycle of nave tolerance and silence
about family violence in minority cultures
must be broken. Serap Cileli, author of We
Are Your Daughters, Not Your Honor and
recipient of the 2005 Federal Republics
Cross of the Order of Merit, insists it is only
logical to expect that people who come to
our country respect our values.
In many of the memoirs by Muslim and
ex-Muslim women, anger at parents who
placed obedience to clan elders ahead of
their childrens well-being is balanced with
contempt for Western liberals who worry
more about offending Muslims sensibili-
ties than about girls and womens rights. At
the same time that the conservative nostal-
gia for strong (i.e. patriarchal) family values
exposes the most vulnerable members of
immigrant communities to danger, the lib-
eral attachment to abstract principles be it
monoculturalism in France or multicultur-
alism in Germany ignores womens and
childrens human rights. According to the
logic of these writers, the time has come to
break the deadlock between Islamophobic
conservatives and idealistic liberals.

Claudia Koonz is a professor of his-

tory at Duke University. Currently
the Haniel Fellow at the Academy,
she has been the author or editor of
four books, including Mothers in the
Fatherland: Women, the Family, and
Politics in Nazi Germany, which was
a National Book Award nalist.
At the Heart of Europe
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Writer Seyran Ates asks her
German readers to wake up
from the false dream of
his discussion followed H.D.S.
Greenways lecture at the American
Academy in Berlin on February 14,
Barbara John: Did you ever meet anybody from
the Muslim community or other communi-
ties who complained that secularism is hav-
ing an impact on young Muslims in Europe?
This has been my own observation. I dont
see them becoming more religious than their
parents. They have the freedom to be religious
here, but secularism is making an impact. If
you go to a mosque, you see elderly people
there. You hardly see young people. The same
thing is happening in Christian churches.

Islamic Citizens,
Secular Societies
A Conversation
H.D.S. Greenway, with Barbara John,
Ian Johnson, and Others





10 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
H.D.S. Greenway: Its impossible to general-
ize about Islam because what you just said
is absolutely true in some cases, but in other
cases it isnt. Yes, I have talked to people
who worry that secular Europe is going to
rob their children of their religion. And of
course there are tendencies in Muslim com-
munities to try to isolate themselves. It is
not unlike the Nation of Islam in America,
which wanted in some way to isolate itself
from white society. I have talked to people
in Europe who think that their children are
going to be robbed of their religion, and they
worry about it. I remember one Muslim in
Britain who said, We hoped the churches
would ally with us to ght atheism, but we
nd they havent. Ian Johnson is the man
who really knows a great deal about this. He
has written a wonderful series on Islam in
Europe for the Wall Street Journal, which I
clipped before I came. Ian, on this question
of secularism, do you nd in your research
this factor of the second generation being
more religious than their parents? Or would
you say that the greater trend is for Muslims
to become secular?
Ian Johnson: Of course its hard to general-
ize. A lot of people are secularizing, but there
is an interesting development among the
very pious. Young people will say, Im not
Moroccan or Im not Algerian, Im Muslim.
But I dont think you can say that this is the
trend across the board by any means.
But let me turn the question around to
you. When you were summarizing these dif-
ferent countries in Europe, I couldnt help
interpreting that you thought the British got
it more right and that the French got it the
most wrong, and that Germany was sort of in
the middle in a wishy-washy position.
Greenway: Well, the French insisted on
assimilation. You can come in but you have
to be just like us. The British tried integra-
tion in the sense that they tried to t the
Muslim parts into the British whole. Until
1999 the Germans tried accommodation,
one dictionary denition of which is provid-
ing a room for the night. Germany hung on
to the myth of eventual repatriation longer
than most, saying You can come in but
dont even think about becoming German.
Citizenship is a matter of German blood,
not where people happened to be born or
where they have lived for generations. Thats
changed now, and Germany is going more
toward the British model than the French.
The British have allowed more space for
Islam than the French, because the French
ideal of galit, inherited from the French
Revolution, did not allow for separateness.
Germany is somewhere in between France
and Britain in this regard.
But then Olivier Roy, the French expert on
Islam, says its wrong to think that creating
more space for Islam is the answer. These
are already secularized and urbanized young
kids. In Roys opinion, alienation isnt really
a matter of being Muslim. Its simply not
being accepted as truly French and being
discriminated against in the job market.
Perhaps it is more a matter of racism.
Johnson: Let me push you to make a value
judgment then. Which of the countries do
you think has offered the best solution?
Greenway: I am trapped by my own upbring-
ing in America, which forces me to think
that the German and British models are
probably going to be more successful in the
end. But the French model is the ideal. That
would be the ultimate melting pot if they
could pull it off. So far they havent. As for
the American model, its hard to say since we
dont really have a Muslim problem. There
are so few Muslims in America: four to seven
million in a country of nearly 300 million is
only about 1.5 percent.
John: Well, in Germany we have 3 percent,
but only 20 percent of those are practicing
Greenway: The question of just where
Muslims are going to t into American
society hasnt become part of the national
conversation as it has in Europe. I think this
is because the immigrants in the US come
from backgrounds that differ from those
of immigrants to Europe. There are not so
many from the rural poor. Also, because we
are obsessed with the problem of absorb-
ing Latin Americans, for dozens of reasons.
Im not saying we would do it any better if
those immigrants were Muslim. Maybe we
wouldnt. But Muslim immigration in the
US just hasnt really become a big issue. My
basic point is that, regardless of the num-
bers, Muslims simply do not loom large on
the American scene when the talk turns to
problems with immigration. The millions
pouring into Europe from Africa are largely
Muslim. Ours, pouring over the Mexican
border, are Latin American Catholics.
Muslims do not dominate the national con-
versation as they do in Europe.
Steve Chapman: Do you have a sense of which
European country has the highest incidence
of political or religious extremism within its
Muslim population?
Greenway: Thats a great question and I tried
to nd that out. I never came up with a satis-
factory answer because its very hard to mea-
sure extremism. You can have strict funda-
mentalist Muslims who have nothing to do
with terrorism. Not every fundamentalist is
a potential terrorist. And so I never could get
anything straight on that.
Claudia Koonz: What lessons, if any, do you
think French Muslims and non-Muslims
have learned from the riots that took place in
the country last November?
Greenway: Well, I came back convinced that
the riots in France were really not an Islamic
phenomenon, and that if you talk to people
youll hear that it really was a social upris-
ing. Lack of jobs and the like. Now of course
most of the people who were rioting were of
Muslim background, but I dont think they
did it for particularly Islamic reasons. I talk-
ed to the mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois where all
the trouble started. He was very pessimistic.
He said that everything has gone back to
normal. We got all these promises. They
said weve learned our lesson, but we havent
learned our lesson and nothings happen-
ing. In that town, he told me, we have all
these unemployed people but we dont have
a tram to take them out of the town. The
regional train is in the next village. Well
need a tram. We also need a police station.
Youd think after what happened in Clichy-
sous-Bois youd want a police station nearby,
but, no, the police station is in the next town.
So he was very discouraged about the lesson
being learned.
From the Audience: You just said that the
riots in France can be traced back to social
problems. Would you interpret the fact that
we didnt have riots in Europe following the
A lot of people are secularizing, but there is an interesting
development among the very pious. Young people will say,
Im not Moroccan or Im not Algerian, Im Muslim.
I came back convinced that the riots in France were really not
an Islamic phenomenon. If you talk to people youll hear that
it really was a social uprising.
The Berlin Journal 11
Danish cartoon controversy as a positive
sign? Is it an indicator that we have created a
different platform for dialogue, for interfaith
Greenway: I think one of the big stories in
Europe is the lack of violence over the car-
toons here. I think its very encouraging.
John: I agree with you, although very few
people have mentioned this. I think its note-
worthy. Because everybody thought that inte-
gration hasnt been working and that a crisis
like this would inevitably result in riots and
violence. Nothing happened.
Greenway: Nothing has happened so far.
From the Audience: Mr. Greenway, when
you mentioned in your speech the Hoover
School in Berlin and its rule that all stu-
dents speak German even during breaks,
I had the feeling you were recounting it a
little bit ironically. Isnt it good for a country
in which a lot of Muslims are living to ask
them to learn the language of the majority?
French Muslims speak French. They already
learned it in Algeria. The same is true for
British citizens from India and Pakistan.
But Turkish Muslims often dont speak
German when they arrive, and I would like
to know whether the way we integrate them
in terms of language is appropriate or not.
Greenway: I didnt mean to sound critical
of that decision. I thought the important
thing about that story was that the parents
and students agreed to the all-German
language rule. I would have thought
that maybe the parents would object to
it, but apparently they did not. So, yes of
course I think that people who want to be
German citizens should learn the German
language. We have the same debate in
America with Spanish. America has in its
history absorbed almost every language in
the world. The famous publisher Joseph
Pulitzers newspapers were rst in German.
But Spanish is the one language where you
could get such a critical mass of people
speaking it that not everybody feels it nec-
essary to learn English. And you nd this
in parts of Miami where people say, Well I
dont need English to get along. And I think
this is a fatal mistake because if you dont
know the language of the host country, ulti-
mately you are condemned to a lower status.
Yes, I am all for everybody who is living in
Germany speaking German. I think its a
good idea. Not just a good idea: a necessary
From the Audience: In the long term, its
important to integrate children through edu-
cation into their society. Did you examine the
different educational systems and the reac-
tions of the parents in the European coun-
tries you looked at?
Greenway: I think that in general Muslims
in France, Germany and Britain would like
to have Islam taught in the school systems.
Instead of talking about a Judeo-Christian
tradition, Muslims would like to have us
expand that to an Abrahamic tradition
taking in all three of the great monotheisms.
Sarmad Hussain: There is a paradox that I
have experienced personally as a German
of Pakistani descent. The German constitu-
tion is very tolerant toward all religions, but
Germans can be quite psychologically hos-
tile toward Muslims. What can be done to
overcome that hostility and to achieve a cer-
tain kind of peaceful coexistence?
Greenway: I dont mean to duck that question.
Its a very good and important one. But I dont
think Ive been here long enough or know
enough to give you a real answer. Barbara?
Youve been doing this for twenty years.
John: We can learn from our mistakes. We
can observe day by day that the gap between
Muslims and non-Muslims is somehow
widening. While we are becoming proud to
be a country of immigration, we dont allow
for the appropriate follow-up. Namely, for
greater pluralism of ideas, of religions, of
cultures, and so on. But let me turn this into
a question for Mr. Greenway: it came as a
surprise to me to see the American stance on
the issue of the Danish cartoons, and espe-
cially that of the American president. This
was quite different from what we saw here in
many European countries. While Americans
generally say that freedom of speech is an
absolute value and shouldnt be bargained
against any sort of compromise, they reacted
more cautiously this time. Why was the
American mood so different from what we
saw here in some of the European countries?
Greenway: I dont know why it was differ-
ent. Maybe the American administration is
beginning to realize what a problem it has
in terms of anti-American sentiment among
Muslims. I did think that the best com-
ment made on this whole situation was: just
because you have a right to say anything you
like doesnt mean you always say everything
you have a right to. I didnt think it necessary
to poke this in the Muslims eyes.
When I was running the editorial pages of
the Boston Globe, I always had problems with
the cartoons. The cartoons would always get
the most readers angry. They would call up
and shout. The effect of such strong visual
comments would also completely diminish
the editorials. I once wrote what I thought
was a balanced editorial about China and its
human rights problems and how we nonethe-
less have to keep relations with them. And our
cartoonist drew a cartoon of some dissidents
being hung by their thumbs in a Chinese jail.
Well, guess how readers interpreted the edito-
rial opinion of the paper? I nally had to say to
the cartoonist, Look, Im not going to censor
you, but please dont trash our editorials on
the same day we print them. You know, wait
till the next day. Looking back, I remember
that whenever a cartoon would run of the
pope, we would get very strong reactions
from Boston readers, which is probably the
most Catholic city in America. You could
make fun of the pope a little, but if he looked
grotesque there were really furious phone
calls. So it isnt just Muslims who get mad at
cartoons poking fun of religious gures. The
cardinal of Boston once held a press confer-
ence to denounce me for allowing a cartoon
that showed two Irishmen an ira guy and
a Protestant sitting together at a bar and
deciding that theyre really together because
they both like violence. And the cardinal
thought this was an outrageous slur against
Catholics, and he demanded an apology. It
isnt just the Muslim world that can get very
touchy about these things.
I did have to laugh at one cartoon in France,
though. It showed Muhammad looking at the
cartoons and saying, This is the rst time
the Danes have made me laugh.

H.D.S Greenway has served as foreign

editor, national editor, and editorial page
editor of the Boston Globe. Currently a
freelance foreign affairs columnist, he
was a Bosch Fellow at the Academy for
two months this spring.

Barbara John, the evenings modera-
tor, served as the Berlin Commissioner
for Foreigners Rights from 1981 to
2003. John was responsible for devis-
ing policies and programs to integrate
immigrants into the community.
America has in its history absorbed almost every language
in the world. But Spanish is the one language where you
could get such a critical mass of people speaking it that not
everybody feels it necessary to learn English.
estern Europe has become a
central battleeld in the war of
ideas within Islam. For decades,
radicals have taken advantage of
Western Europes legal and societal open-
ness to strengthen their organizations
and spread their ideas at the expense of
moderates. The continuing inability of the
West to differentiate between moderates
and radicals is resulting in the legitimiza-
tion of radicals and the isolation of moder-
ates. If Europe fails to effectively integrate
its Muslim citizens, the result will be even
more serious problems in the future, both
for Europe and for the United States.
Since the 1970s, Europe has become a
safe haven for radicals. Unable to develop
their organizations in their home countries
due to repressive government policies, radi-
cal imams and activists moved to Europe.
Once in Europe, they exploited the protec-
tions of European laws, notably the free-
doms of speech and assembly, and heavily
recruited followers in mosques and schools.
In time, they were able to reexport their radi-
cal ideology back to their countries of origin.
Until recently, Europeans tacitly per-
mitted this activism. Under the implicit
covenant of security, radicals could do
whatever they wished in the Islamic world
so long as they did nothing to destabilize
Europe itself. London in particular served
as a nerve center for such groups. Believing
that the Muslim immigrants would eventu-
ally go back home, European policymak-
ers ignored the fact that radical imams were
inuencing their own citizens.
But they have not simply gone back home.
Today Muslims make up about 5 percent
of the EU population of 460 million, and
represent the fastest-growing demographic
group within that 25-nation bloc. It is within
this growing population that the internal
Muslim war of ideas is being fought and
currently being won by the radicals. They
are winning not solely because governments
have failed to combat the rise of extremism,
but also because of the widespread inability
of European states to promote the lasting
integration of their Muslim citizens.
In Varietate Concordia
Reaching out to Europes Moderate Muslims
By Zeyno Baran
Europes difculty in absorbing Muslim
immigrants has left many without a sense
of belonging and purpose. In the virtually
all-Muslim neighborhoods, Muslim youth
learn religious traditions and values, while
at school and in other social settings they
learn the ways of secularism. Confused
about their identity, they may become
attracted to the Islamist groups and the
answers these groups provide.
This is exacerbated by the dearth of mod-
erate imams who can reach out to those who
feel alienated. The increasingly anti-Muslim
mood in Western Europe further leads
Muslims to feel they must adopt an identity
that is prescribed by others. If they are per-
ceived rst as Muslims and only second (if
ever) as Europeans, and if that identity is
equated with terrorism, radicalism, and even
backwardness, then European Muslims are
further tempted by the pride promised by
radical ideology thus turning from rebels
without a cause into rebels with one.


The Berlin Journal 13
A recent government report in the
Netherlands identied many of the condi-
tions that have fostered violence among
Muslim minorities in recent years. These
included the presence of a destructive,
exclusive ideology; the widespread percep-
tion of injustice; the absence of a shared nar-
rative between the minority and the major-
ity; the prevalence of dehumanization of the
other; and mutual feelings of anger and
victimization on both sides along with the
resulting desire for revenge.
In this context, the eventual return of
the European jihadists currently in Iraq will
undoubtedly complicate matters further.
There are various estimates of the number of
European passport holders ghting in Iraq;
most indicate it is at least several hundred.
Given the ease with which citizens can move
within the EU, these jihadists will pose huge
security risks to the continent when they
return. They also pose a risk to the US, since
European passport holders usually enjoy
visa-free access. Like the mujahideen in
Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya, these
ghters are so ideologically transformed
by their wartime experience and so deeply
believe that the US and its allies are ene-
mies of Islam that they are eager to use their
guerrilla tactics in new combat zones.
As the July 2005 London bombings
demonstrated, terror attacks can be carried
out by assimilated, middle-class European
Muslims. In fact, what is painfully clear is
that the West is not able to handle the prob-
lem at hand. In an mi5 document leaked
to the Sunday Times this January, the Joint
Terrorism Analysis Centre admitted that
it knows little about how and when the
attackers were recruited, the extent of any
external direction or assistance, and the
extent and role of any wider network. How
is this lack of knowledge possible over four
years after September 11?
First of all, Western policymakers and
security analysts have trouble understand-
ing extremism, and thus do not know how
to respond to it. They are faced with conser-
vative Muslims who do not actively take part
in politics and with Muslim extremists who
regard liberal democracy itself as haram a
system forbidden by God and destined for
destruction. As one of the suspected mem-
bers of the Dutch Hofstad terrorist group
declared in court, We reject you. We reject
your system. We hate you and thats about it.
The Western secular framework has inher-
ent difculty comprehending and respond-
ing to a threat posed by extreme interpreta-
tions of religion.
Secondly, European policymakers have
not adequately recognized the need for their
Muslim citizens to play a meaningful and
respected role in the civic and political life of
their countries of residence. Many European
countries are only now beginning a painful
debate over the effectiveness of multicul-
turalism, the policies of which have often
served to sweep the social needs of Muslim
communities under the rug reecting a
deep prejudice that European values must
be applied only to native Europeans. The
continent still faces a long-term struggle to
reconnect with its marginalized communi-
ties, one similar to that of the US during the
century stretching from the Civil War to the
civil rights movement.
Thirdly, Europeans have been even
slower to address the sense of spiritual
alienation among Muslim immigrants.
European ofcials lack the knowledge and
theological authority to shape religious
attitudes within Muslim communities,
and are often incapable of distinguish-
ing moderates from extremists who cloak
themselves in tolerant rhetoric.
It is often argued that neither the origin
nor the cure of this issue is in Europe and
that it would be futile to focus on European
Muslims because Islams future will be
determined in the Middle East. Such views
reect a common error: conating the con-
cepts of the Middle East and the Muslim
world. It should be noted that only 18 per-
cent of Muslims live in the Middle East. The
vast majority live in societies far removed
from the broader Arabian Peninsula, such
as Indonesia, Turkey, and the Indian sub-
continent. However tangible the local griev-
ances in Arab countries like Syria and Saudi
Arabia, they should not be confused with
the long and rich tradition of the multi-
national and multi-cultural religion that is
Indeed, the Middle East has not had an
exclusive hold on a leadership role within
the broader Islamic world. From the medi-
eval kingdom of al-Andalus in Spain to
that of Bukhara in Central Asia; and from
the Muslim societies of India, Indonesia,
and Malaysia to those of Turkey and the
Balkans, there have long been centers of
reformation, renaissance, and enlighten-
ment within Islam that are outside the tradi-
tional Islamic Middle East. Recognizing
the need to coexist and to understand
the other in order to facilitate trade and
interaction, these Muslim societies made
great advancements in economics, science,
technology, and theology. As heirs to all of
these traditions, especially that of Ottoman
Turkey, European Muslims can very well
contribute to a new renaissance in the
Islamic world as they discover new ways
of reconciling their faith with the modern
European context.
The relationship between European
Muslims and their countries of origin is
dynamic and interactive and has the
potential to become even more so. For
example, Europe serves as an attractive
refuge for prominent Muslims, such as the
Egyptian scholar and distinguished human-
ist Nasr Abu Zayd, who
have made notable
contributions to the
broader debate within
Islam. Moreover, many
Muslims especially
Iranians have left
their repressive societ-
ies and gone to Europe
to practice their version
of Islam. If Muslims in
Europe can nd a way to achieve active inte-
gration into European societies, the benets
will ow back to the Middle East along the
same international networks that currently
spread messages of extremism and hate.
Given the urgency of the problems posed
by radical extremism, Europeans have no
option but to nurture the birth of a more
moderate European Islam by integrating
their own citizens into a tolerant, multi-
ethnic society. European governments that
have been confronted with crises like the
Madrid and London bombings, the riots
in the French suburbs, the murder of the
Dutch lmmaker Theo van Gogh, and the
recent Danish cartoon incident, realize that
they have to improve their efforts to address
immigration, integration, and extremism.
Yet, in doing so, they nd it extremely dif-
cult to maintain a careful balance in the
triangular relationship between the state,
mainstream majority society, and minor-
ity communities, as mutual mistrust and
fear have grown substantially. It is not easy
to promote integration and at the same

If young European Muslims are perceived
first as Muslims and only second (if
ever) as Europeans, and if that identity is
equated with terrorism, radicalism, and
even backwardness, they may turn from
rebels without a cause into rebels with one.
14 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
time counter extremism when extremists
are perceived to be receiving passive support
from Muslim communities.
Thus, what is now needed is a third
approach that simultaneously works
along the two tracks of multiculturalism
and assimilation to develop a genuinely
European Islam. The rst track recognizes
the need for European societies to actively
reassert their basic values and laws as well
as the need to defend those laws through
cultural, educational, judicial, police, and
military means. The second track focuses
on integration by building an inclusive
culture based on the common European
cement of democracy, the rule of law, and
human rights. In the new approach, Europe
must move away from the exclusive shared
narratives of its nationalist past and allow
for differences of religion and outlook to
be included under a broader conception of
what it means to be European. It should
have a rm core of political and social prin-
ciples, but should also feature an outer shell
porous enough to allow us and them to
come together. Although it will be a difcult
balancing act, the essence of the European
project is reected in its motto: In Varietate
Concordia (Unity in Diversity) a motto
that should also resonate in a country
framed according to the principles of
E Pluribus Unum.
The US can help Europe in this historic
challenge in two key ways. It can share its
own experience of successfully integrating
its small Muslim population thanks to the
concept of what it means to be an American
and the possibilities offered to people of all
ethnic, religious, and national backgrounds
by the American Dream. The US can also
help Europe look at Turkey in a new light. As
the country of origin for almost four million
of Europes Muslims, as a trusted nato ally
that twice commanded natos operation
in Afghanistan, and as a candidate for EU
membership, Turkey has several valuable
lessons to offer Europeans Muslims and
non-Muslims alike.
For one thing, the liberal approach to
Islam taken by the Ottomans in Turkey
is not very well known in Europe. The
Ottoman caliphate did not resemble the
extremist utopian vision promulgated by
groups like al-Qaeda today. In the Islamist
view of an ideal society, non-Muslims
should at best hold the status of second-
class citizens. The Ottomans, on the other
hand, granted non-Muslims the status of
dhimmi (protected people), preserving
the Christian communities of Greece and
the Balkans and later becoming a haven for
Jews eeing the Spanish Inquisition. Later
on, as it reformed, the Ottoman state abol-
ished the dhimmi status entirely, extending
full citizenship to all non-Muslims. These
changes were undertaken with the approval
of Ottoman religious leaders. Full knowl-
edge of these historical facts is important to
Europeans and Americans as they seek to
defeat the propaganda of radical groups.
Secondly, Turkey and its history pro-
vide an essential example to counter the
pan-Islamist rejection of integration into
European society. Currently, Islamists tell
Muslims that they are permitted to steal
from the indels and
to ignore European laws,
which are not based in
sharia. However, this
notion is not based
on Islamic teachings.
Rather, its roots lie in
postcolonial resent-
ments in the North
African and South Asian communities.
Because Turkish Muslims do not share this
colonial past, and have instead enjoyed sev-
enty years of relative prosperity and stability
under a Western legal system in their own
homeland, they are capable of demonstrat-
ing the compatibility of Western democracy
and Islamic faith.
Thirdly, the unique organizational sys-
tem of Turkish Islam is potentially relevant
to European Islam. For over eighty years,
Turkish Islam has coexisted with a secular
state, a situation largely due to the unique
institution of the Diyanet, the organization
that oversees Islamic religious facilities and
education. At once public, independent, and
civic, the Diyanet is not very well under-
stood in the West. Enjoying freedom of
inquiry, it derives its authority and respect
from its expertise in Islamic scholarship.
Responsible for 75,000 mosques within
Turkey as well as the religious communi-
ties of the Turkish diaspora, the Diyanet
promotes a moderate interpretation of Islam
via its training programs for imams and in
its religious scholarship. All Diyanet imams
are required to complete a college education
and to pass cultural and linguistic examina-
tions thus protecting Turks against the
dangers of radical preaching. Although
Europeans have raised several objections
to the Diyanet model from its close links
to the government to its often rm control
over Turkish mosques within Europe itself
these concerns may be alleviated as the
Diyanet continues its own internal reform
process. As Turkey proceeds in its accession
negotiations with the EU, Europe will also
be able to provide input into these reforms.
In turn, however, it would also be benecial
for Europeans to allow the Diyanet, with its
rich store of theological expertise, input into
the development of European Islam.
It is certainly true that some aspects of
the Turkish case cannot, for reasons of his-
tory and local circumstances, be replicated
either in Europe or in other Islamic coun-
tries. However, some elements have the
potential to be applied elsewhere. For exam-
ple, unlike many of its counterparts, Turkish
Islam has traditionally held that there is
no fundamental incompatibility between
the teachings of Islam and the principles
of democracy. Standing rm against those
calling for sharia, Haci Karacaer, leader of
the Turkish-Dutch organization Northern
Milli Grs , has publicly declared that, As
I believe in Allah, I believe in Dutch justice;
the Dutch Constitution is my sharia. It is
critically important for Europes future that
such views become mainstream Muslim
The best allies in the struggle against
radical Islamists are moderate Muslims.
They need to be given political space so that
mainstream Islam is no longer in the hands
of the radicals, with the moderates pushed
to the sides of the debate. Neither the US
nor European countries can engage in a
battle of ideas within Islam; they can, how-
ever, support the real moderates so these
people can, as former Indonesian president
Abdurrahman Wahid argued in a 2005 Wall
Street Journal article, propagate an under-
standing of the right Islam, and thereby
discredit extremist ideology.

Zeyno Baran is director of the

International Security and Energy
Programs at the Nixon Center and
was a C.V. Starr Distinguished Visitor
at the Academy in January. She pre-
sented this material to the US House
of Representatives Committee on
Armed Servicess Subcommittee on
Terrorism, Unconventional Threats,
and Capabilities on February 16, 2006.
Europe still faces a long-term struggle
to reconnect with its marginalized
communities, as the US did in the century
stretching from the Civil War to the civil
rights movement.
K 16.02.2006 13:00:49 Uhr
16 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
n a recent study on the Koranic
injunction commanding right and for-
bidding wrong i.e., the canon of duties
and obligations in Islam the eminent
Islamicist Michael Cook discusses three
legal views on the appropriate public behav-
ior of Muslim women. One was established
in the ninth century; another stems from
the fourteenth century; while the third
was issued in the early twentieth century.
Indeed quite a spread in time.
The fact that such a highly respected
scholar in his eld apparently sees noth-
ing improper in citing legal sources span-
ning about 1,200 years in order to shed
light on one and the same phenomenon
seems somewhat surprising to historians
accustomed to the proper primacy of the
Is it indeed conceivable that there was so
little alteration from the ninth to twentieth
centuries within the domain of Islam
that the otherwise standard questions of
historical change and social transformation
can be comfortably ignored? Or does this
presentation of legal opinions concerning
similar cases in different periods suggest
a kind of underlying proposition, namely
to draw on Hegels and Rankes dubious
nineteenth-century discourse on the East
that Muslim civilization is essentially static
by nature; that it does not even deserve to
be considered historical?
The proverbial anti-temporal con-
servatism of Muslim jurists may have
had its impact on the deceleration of time,
as the French Oriental scholar Robert
Brunschvig once showed, reecting the
inspiration of the legal codex of Islam, so
intensely infused with the sacred. And
the sacred, as a form of taboo and not,
as some would believe, the religion as
such retards time. It withholds changes
wrought by humans and harnesses the
latter to a canon of duties and obligations
commanded by God.
Such and similar arguments may
arouse suspicions of Orientalism, the
highly questionable perception of the
other by the traditional Western canon of
In the Sphere of
the Sacred
Modernitys Predicament in the Middle East
By Dan Diner










The Berlin Journal 17
knowledge, so fundamentally criticized by
Edward Said in his iconic study of the late
1970s. And, indeed, much in the arsenal of
Western knowledge on the East and Islam
did indeed require critical review. This has
occurred in notable profusion, occasionally
going, I would contend, too far.
The problem Said has left to academic
posterity is the fact that his deprecation
of the Western image of the Orient has
gained excessive dominance. It has proven
all too successful.
This success is not necessarily advanta-
geous for the peoples dwelling in the
Middle East. On the contrary, Saids public
objections helped to encourage a prob-
lematic alliance between the pre-modern
conditions still largely holding sway in
the region and an apologetic postmodern
discourse that enjoys widespread acceptance
in the West. This alliance has come to
dominate thought and action. Conse-
quently it tends to deprive ordinary people
in the Muslim, especially the Arab, world
of achievements associated with modernity.
Indeed, in a sense it deprives them of their
very present.
In recent years other voices have been
heard. The Arab Human Development
Report (ahdr) for instance, published
annually since 2002 under the auspices of
the United Nations, makes all too clear how
deplorable conditions in the region actually
are and how sorely, in fact, modernization
is needed. The document is compiled by an
array of Arab social scientists, economists,
and technology experts. Their prognosis
is sobering: the region is in dire straits
indeed, one might conclude, in the grip of
downright calamity. The report has become
an authoritative voice shaping informed
discourse on the Arab predicament. After
about a quarter of a century of ascendancy,
Saids deconstruction of Orientalism may
be making way for a constructive Arab
discourse of self-criticism that announces
the urgency of fundamental change.
What are the reasons for the hampered
development in the Muslim East, especially
in its Arab core countries? This complex
question cannot be sufciently resolved
here, though it deserves relentless scholarly
attention. First and foremost among the
explanations that one may put forward,
however humbly, is the argument about the
primacy of the sacred.
The sacred is by no means limited to the
realm of religion proper, of rite and liturgy,
but rather extends far beyond it. It seems
to be socially ubiquitous and by and large
mediated by the realm of law. And this
presence of the sacred especially undercuts
and upends the distinction between
different spheres of life the distinction
between the private and the public, for
instance, or that of state and religion, of
politics and economics. According to its
prevalent Western mode, this distinction
of spheres of life and means of social
communication is a matter of course
and crucial for the ongoing process of
secularization. Indeed, it is the very
precondition of modernity.
oday the crisis of the Muslim
world, especially of its Arab core
countries, has become extremely visi-
ble. Two historical dates have come to
law, which
all spheres
of life,
public and
and eco-
nomic, is
serve as crucial watersheds: the year 1989
1990, which marked the end of the cold
war, and going further back the year
19231924, which was bound up with the
breakup of the Ottoman Empire, the estab-
lishment of the Turkish Republic, and the
abolition of the caliphate as well as of the
ofce of the sheikh al-islam the supreme
legal arbiter in the world of Sunni Islam.
This had far-reaching consequences.
The Turkish reformers severed the sym-
bolic bond between God and this world. For
pious Muslims, these events constituted
not only a sacrilege but also a crucial turn-
ing point for a subsequent era of decline,
fraught with humiliations and other perils.
The events of 1924 and their aftermath
affected Indian Muslims in particular.
At the time, they were the largest single
Muslim population in the world although
outnumbered in British India by Hindus, a
demographic as well as political condition
that distinguished them from the Muslims
in Islams core countries. This specic
Muslim experience of frontier and diaspora
provided a powerful impetus for an
especially radical interpretation of Islam of
the sort advanced by Maulana Mawdoodi.
About the same time in Egypt, the
Muslim Brotherhood, founded by the
young teacher Hassan el-Banna in
Ismailiyya in 1928, was proliferating into
a mass movement with a strong social
program. The fundamentalist Egyptian
scholar Sayyid Qutb stemmed from this
circle and vigorously condemned in his
writings the tendencies of secularism
and nationalism triggered by Kemalist
Turkey. He called for a radical return








18 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
to original, authentic Islam before being
executed in 1966 by Gamal Abdel Nassers
regime. Entire libraries have been written
about Mawdoodi and Sayyid Qutb, both
of whom have since become icons for a
position that interprets Islam in theological-
political terms.
The sacrileges of Ataturk were extended
in 1928, the year the edgling Republic
of Turkey introduced Latin orthography
in place of traditional Arabic script. This
change was in fact not so surprising. One
already heard repeated complaints in
Ottoman times that Arabic orthography
was ill-suited to Turkish phonology. In
addition, the Arabic letters were considered
especially difcult to grasp, a circumstance
that was often alluded to in order to explain
the countrys chronic illiteracy.
Yet Arabic characters are imbued with
more than just proverbial complexity. They
are seen as a veritable vessel of the sacred
especially when it comes to classical
Arabic, the language of the Koran. This
aura of sacredness has had far reaching
consequences for the appropriation of
knowledge as a fundamental means of
chol ars have long wondered
why printing was not introduced
into the lands of Islam until three
hundred years after the invention
of metallic moveable type in Europe in the
mid fteenth century. If one agrees with
the historian Elisabeth Eisenstein that
the mechanical reproduction of books in
the West led to a far-reaching revolution in
knowledge, and profound changes in social
relations, one can readily guess the extent
of potential developments that came with
it, including the phenomenon of secular-
ization. These, quite literally, passed the
Muslim world by.
What sparked that worlds defensive
resistance to metallic moveable type?
Were there prohibitions handed down
from on high, and perhaps successfully
implemented? Was it, as some believe, due
to the omnipresent inuence of religious
scholars and judges the ulema and
quadat who controlled all text and its
It is hard to say. I think the causes
and their consequence the hampered
dissemination of knowledge result from
a profoundly internalized expression of
the sacred. For centuries, the traditional
mode of transfer of the word in the domain
of Islam had been largely anchored in the
tradition of orality supported by script.
Only the isnads the oral chains from
teacher to disciple infuse the text with
authenticity and proper authority.
In order to understand the primacy
of the oral tradition in the realm of
Islam, one should bear in mind that, like
Hebrew, Arabic is essentially a language
in which words have to be heard before
being read. Without rst having heard
the word correctly pronounced, its
semantic identication on the basis of
the consonantal symbols is certainly
difcult, and often even leads to incorrect
The tradition of orality in Islam
leads through the centuries to a state of
discursive affairs in which written texts are
actually held in lower esteem. Moreover,
Islams strict monotheism extends to
the singularity of the Holy Book. Even
in the classical period of Muslim history,
the so-called Islamic Middle Ages, the
multiplication and spread of written works
was considered to challenge the one and
only book, the Koran.
Printing, emerging in Europe in
the early modern period, constituted
an even greater threat to the modes of
orality and the spoken words authenticity
and authority. A well-known secret of
the Reformation was that the spread of
printing in the West enabled individuals
in possession of mechanically reproduced
Bibles in vernacular languages to
communicate with God individually.
This was an important form of proto-
For Muslims, by contrast, the touching
of the holy letters by metallic movable type
was in the past something tantamount
to sacrilege. There is something here of
Walter Benjamins core argument about the
loss of the aura in technically reproduced
works. Indeed, the auratic has something
of the sacred about it. Even today the sacred
is immanent to Arabic script and Arabic
language. Fundamental changes in the
structure of this language are difcult to
The ahdr recommends that the Arabic
language be fundamentally reformed
in its grammar and syntax to meet the
demands of modernity. That is especially
true of Arabics capacity for storing and
disseminating knowledge. A salient
dimension here is the fact that Arabic is
have long
wondered why
printing was
not introduced
into the lands
of Islam until
three hundred
years after the
invention of
moveable type
in Europe.




The Berlin Journal 19
marked by what linguists call diglossia.
The spoken language is quite different
from the written form. The vernacular, the
language of daily life and daily experience,
cannot be committed to writing. Written
discourse, on the other hand, demands the
formal language. As the anthropologist
Niloofar Haeri has shown, this is a highly
complicated task for ordinary people.
The sacred delimits the preconditions of
And yet desacralization of a holy
language is one of the preconditions
for modernity. The Jewish experience
in the age of Enlightenment suggests
something of the tremendous difculty
that accompanies such an endeavor.
Moses Mendelssohns late eighteenth-
century translation of the Hebrew Bible
into German furnishes a good example.
Less well known than the undertaking
itself is the fact that Mendelssohn used
Hebrew orthography for his German
translation. This may well have had
pragmatic reasons. Many Jews were
familiar with the Hebrew alphabet but
did not have a procient knowledge of
the Hebrew language. Yet it is surprising
that it took another half a century for
the work to be published completely
in Latin orthography. We do not know
why, but it could well be that many Jews
saw translation into German as a step
into the world of the profane and only
accepted it with great hesitation. That
may also help to explain the hiatus
between language and orthography: rst
translation into the German language
and then, many years later, the use of
Latin letters.
Mendelssohns adherence
to Hebrew orthography marks a threshold
in the painful transition from the world
of tradition to post-traditional modernity.
One can also draw conclusions about
similar difculties in connection with
Arabic, another language permeated by the
he process of secularization by
which Christianity became Western
civilization begins somewhere at
the primal juncture of Renaissance
and Reformation. Time was accelerated by
the mechanics of printing and the spread
of knowledge. The process of ultimate
change was endorsed by the appearance of
a momentous new space: the New World.
The discovery of the Americas forced
Europe to read the world anew.
These changes were barely registered
inside the Ottoman empire, the dominant
Muslim power that commanded
widespread respect and subjugation in
the Middle East and beyond. Only two
documents of importance reected the
existence of the New World: the great
cartographic composition of the Ottoman
admiral Piri Reis of 1513, which contains
the oldest extant copy of the map of
Columbus, and a book about the West
Indies completed anonymously in 1580
1 It is worth noting that the Yiddish and
Judeo-German term for Latin letters was
galkhes, and that galkhes derived from the
word galakh, the somewhat derogatory
term used to denote a Christian priest. In
the eyes of the Jews, Latin letters were thus
somehow contaminated by the rite and lit-
urgy of Christianity.
and obviously compiled from Spanish
and Italian sources. The text, copied
again and again in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, remained after its
rst appearance apparently the one and
only Ottoman work for three hundred years
on the subject of the Americas.
Paradoxically, the Ottomans had no
substantive reason to pay much notice
to the discovery of the New World. More
precisely, they were absorbed in far more
important endeavors: achieving their
pinnacle of power. The Ottoman conquests
in the rst third of the sixteenth century
were in any case monumental, both in the
West and the East, on land and at sea.
From that point on, the Ottomans
controlled the key global transit routes
at the intersection of three continents
and had acquired a virtual monopoly on
commerce worldwide. For that reason, the
rather accidental circumstance that Piri
Reis presented his maps to Sultan Selim
the First in 1517 in Cairo, Egypt a space
that the Ottomans had just wrested from
the Mamluks takes on a kind of epistemic
signicance. The Europeans, in their
seemingly insatiable hunger for precious
metals, were compelled to search for a
sea route to India and wider Asia in order
to circumvent the uncontested Muslim
control of the known continental trade
For the Europeans America compen-
sated for being cut off from Asia. For the
Ottomans America meant nothing.
The New World would soon turn out
to become a supplementary space and a
hothouse for further development,





20 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
plunging Europe into a previously
unknown state of economic dynamism,
combined with a new economic order.
Mercantilism constituted a further
advance in secularization, unleashing the
human drive and greed for wealth while
disconnecting it from moral limitations.
Simultaneously, the spheres of politics and
economics grew further and further apart.
The different spheres began to lead lives of
their own.
The vast Ottoman Empire was spared
these changes. It continued with its
centrally controlled and largely self-
contained economy, impregnated with
sacred rules, maintaining the ideal of
internal balance. The various occupational
categories, particularly the traders and
artisans in the towns, had been assigned
strictly regulated duties by the state. Prices
were set and carefully watched; the quality
of goods and produce was scrupulously
controlled and monitored. The desire
for self-enrichment remained morally
suspect. In any event, supervision of the
market was geared to the precepts of the
Islamic canon of duties and customs.
Control and supervision of the associations
of merchants and artisans, similar to
guilds, were the responsibility of the clergy,
entrusted by the state bureaucracy with
the administration of justice. Not only was
governance indistinct from the economic
sphere, but their fusion was actually
infused with sacredness.
Meanwhile, waves of ination generated
by the streams of silver that owed from
the Americas to Europe undermined the
central control and authority of Ottoman
rule. By the end of the sixteenth century,
the monetary balance and regulating power
of the state had been shaken.
Contemporary Ottoman observers
historians, chroniclers, and bureaucrats
perceived the empire in a state of decline.
This discourse of decline nudged its way
into the consciousness of the political elite.
Perhaps contemporary historians are right
to doubt the reliability of the Ottoman
elites discourse of decay. Perhaps there
was no decay per se, but there was no
development either, certainly no modes
of development comparable with the
West where the separation of the political
and economic spheres, the public and
the private, as well as the transformation
of religion into faith, into a variety of
denominations was well underway.
he paradoxes of the central-
ized state have always contributed
to the unique character of Middle
Eastern civilization. On the one hand,
centralized power provides vital security
for urban culture and agricultural settle-
ment that otherwise would be defenseless
against nomadic incursions from steppe
or desert into a region with few natural
barriers. On the other hand, its apparatus
of state bureaucracy, situated in the urban
centers, strangles any autonomous urge of
the urban strata as merchants and artisans
tendencies embodying self-interest and
associated generally with prerequisites of
modern liberties and, subsequently, with
development. It seems that the crux of
Middle Eastern civilization is the states
undisputed presence in the cities.
Why in the much-lauded classical
period of Islamic civilization didnt urban
culture succeed in freeing itself from the
bonds of government and achieving, for
instance, corporative rights? True, the plane
of developed urban culture was high from
the ninth to twelfth centuries. There was
a differentiated division of labor. Foreign
trade owered and scientic achievement
was at an admirable level. But merchant
capital in the Muslim East was forced,
due to the obviously weak disposition of
private property, to join hands with the
state bureaucracy and legal and religious
authorities. The functions of power, of
religion, and of economic interest did not
disentangle at the peak of the classical era.
Wealth gained by business activities could
be easily conscated from the owners by the
state. Merchants who had acquired highly
sought-after administrative positions were
deprived of their accumulated assets when
they lost ofce. What looked at rst glance
like capital was actually a form of sinecure.
Its transformation into waqf and regulation
as a religious foundation generated a certain
protection. As Gods property, the object
was in part secured by dint of its sacredness.
But this impeded conversion of its value into
another, and perhaps more protable, object.
Close family ties through marriage between
those involved in trade and business
with the ulama, the religious and legal
authorities, might have let them preserve
accumulated wealth.
The intersection of rule and gain not
only conned the agents of wealth but also
affected the agents of power. The ruling
dynastic force the dawla is unable to
The Ottomans
had no sub-
stantive reason
to notice the
of the New
World. They
were absorbed
in far more
important mat-
ters: attaining
their pinnacle
of power.







elude the temptations emanating from
urban culture and, a victim to its attraction,
is exposed to decay after a few generations.
Governance declines and uncorrupted
nomads from the steppes or desert
penetrate civilization in order to form a
new, young dynasty. A further cycle of rule
follows in an apparently endless round of
the establishment and ebb of power.
Ibn Khaldun, the fourteenth-century
cultural anthropologist avant la lettre,
established his cyclical theory of history
according to this repeated experience of
the rise and fall of power. Although he
obviously declined to argue with Gods
interference in worldly matters, his cyclical
understanding demonstrates by virtue
rather than causality. It reveals a strong
formal afnity with a sacred understanding
of time. Paradoxically, Ibn Khalduns
agnostic argumentation therefore ts quite
well with the modes of traditional Islamic
utopia a utopia oriented to repetition, to
imitation of that ideal condition of pious
life that existed at the time of the Prophet
and the four righteous Caliphs. And the
path leading into the utopia of the past is
prepared by strict observance of Islamic law.
Compared with historical, linear time
with time that progresses in motion
Islamic law is by and large time-retarding.
It impedes development as it penetrates all
spheres of life. In this it differs from the
rules and precepts of the other religion of
the law: Judaism. This is of an epistemic
interest insofar as Judaism caught up
in the cultural space of a Christendom
transformed by secularization into
Western civilization long ago anticipated
those questions with which Islam nds
itself now confronted.
Halachic law, i.e. religious, sacred
law in Judaism, also seeks to halt time
and thus history. But in contrast with
Islam, Jewish diasporic existence made it
obviously impossible to place the yoke of
Jewish law in its entirety upon the Jews, in
particular with regard to laws relating to
As a diasporic population, the Jews
dwelt constantly in other lands, i.e. in
lands ruled by others. That is their most
primal and distinctive pattern of life. The
formula in Jewish religious tradition,
conveyed in Aramaic as dina demalkuta
dina, states that the law of the land is the
binding law by denition. This required
a constant accommodation of Jewish laws
through interpretation to the law of the
land. Despite the strictness of religion
grounded on law, Jews exist in two spheres:
the sphere of Jewish law and that of the
land they dwell in. Since law in a sense also
stands for time, they lived simultaneously
in two temporal domains.
Islam is, in contrast, din va-dawla,
religion and state rolled into one. Islamic
law has to conform to Muslim space.
Traditionally, Muslims are commanded
to dwell in the Dar al-Islam, the house
of Islam. The rule of the sacred is thus
preserved in the unity of time and space.
And the sacred rejects the historical
understanding of time, its acceleration by
humans, and its profanation.

Dan Diner directs the Simon Dubnow

Institute for Jewish History in Leipzig
and is the author, most recently, of
Versiegelte Zeit ber den Stillstand in
der islamischen Welt, which Princeton
University Press will publish in 2007.
This essay is derived from a lecture
given at the Academy in the fall of 2005.
Commerzbank AG, Berlin Branch: Potsdamer Strasse 125, 10783 Berlin, Tel. +49 (0)30 2653-3762, Fax +49 (0)30 2653-2746
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22 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
n the autumn of 2002, the Iranian
academic Hashem Aghajari went
on trial in the provincial capital of
Hamadan, in western Iran, on charges
of blasphemy, insulting the Prophet and
his rightful successors, questioning the
monopoly claimed by the high clergy over
the interpretation of the sacred texts, spread-
ing secularism, and undermining peoples
faith in Islam. The charges carried a death
sentence. And Aghajari was in fact sen-
tenced to death at his rst trial, although
the sentence was later reduced to a short
prison term. Aghajaris supposed offense
derived from a talk he gave to university
students in Hamadan in which he called
for a Protestant reformation in Islam and
for an Islamic humanism, drew a distinc-
tion between a traditional and a reformist
Islam, and remarked that Shiism does not
expect believers to follow the directives of
their religious leaders blindly, as if they were
monkeys. Iranians were witness to what was
in some ways an astonishing spectacle. At a
trial in a provincial Iranian city, the public
prosecutor and defendant argued not only
about the charges against the accused, but
also about events wholly European: the
Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation,
Martin Luther and his challenge to the
Church dogma, clerical privileges in pre-
Protestant Europe, and the role of the pope in
the Catholic Church.
Aghajari and the prosecutor were arguing,
in code, not about Europe and Christianity
but about Iran and Islam. To Aghajari,
Martin Luther had freed Europeans from
the shackles of a Church and clergy hostile
to individual freedom, rationalism, science,
and progress. To the prosecutor, the call for
a Protestant Reformation in Islam was a
thinly disguised attack on the very founda-
tions of faith. To Aghajari, there was a paral-
lel between the doctrine of papal infallibility
and the claims made for the authority of
The Rise and Fall
of Reform in Iran
An Assessment of the Khatami Years
By Shaul Bakhash


Reformist MPs on the eleventh day of a sit-in at the Iranian Parliament, Tehran, January 2004.
The Berlin Journal 23
the Supreme Leader in Iran. To the pros-
ecutor, such parallels deserved only scorn
and smacked of unbelief. Aghajari, in his
speech to the Hamadan university students,
lauded the Protestant Reformation and the
Enlightenment for valuing the individual
and placing man at the center of things; the
prosecutor used precisely that view to accuse
Aghajari of undermining belief in the
supremacy of God.
Aghajaris trial graphically illustrates an
Iran suspended between the forces of reform
and reaction. The short-lived reform move-
ment that was launched with the election of
Mohammad Khatami as president in 1997
was the result of complex factors; but it was
also driven made possible by powerful
ideas. These were ideas regarding the rule
of law, individual rights, freedom of speech,
association and assembly, accountable gov-
ernment, and the centrality of civil society to
a humane political system. These concepts
formed the basis of Khatamis election cam-
paign in 1997 and account in large part for
the unprecedented voter turnout in the elec-
tion and the large majority by which Khatami
This cluster of ideas was originally
explored and developed by a small group of
intellectuals writing in one or two journals
of opinion, principally the monthly Kiyan.
But by the time of Aghajaris trial in 2002,
these ideas had gained considerable public
currency. Even a prosecutor in a provincial
town had to address questions dealing with
individual rights and clerical authority, and
to do so in a vocabulary that resonated with
Western terms and concepts. The prosecu-
tor, too, had to talk about sekularism and
address the problem of moderniteh and to
speak about the inuence praiseworthy or
reprehensible of Martin Luther.
The spread of these concepts was due
mainly to the work of a group of academics,
journalists, and political activists. For want
of a better term, I will call them public intel-
lectuals, using the term broadly to include
men and women everything from universi-
ty professors to newspaper columnists who
advanced political ideas in the public arena
and who achieved a degree of prominence
that allowed them to shape and speak for a
larger body of public opinion. These men
and women laid the groundwork for the ideas
that propelled and came to dene the reform
movement. And once Khatami was elected
they popularized these ideas in the daily and
weekly press. These same ideas shaped both
the policies and strategies of the Khatami
government in important ways.
In the rst years of the Khatami presi-
dency, Iran appeared to be poised for a major
political transformation. That did not hap-
pen. But I would like to use the case of Iran
and the Islamic Republic to examine the role
of ideas and intellectuals in making demo-
cratic transition possible.
Irans reformist intellectuals were not,
of course, an organized group. To speak of
them collectively is not to deny that they rep-
resented a spectrum of views. But they did
see themselves as sharing a common body of
goals and ideas. They came to identify them-
selves as reformers, as part of the Second of
Khordad movement, which took its name
from the day in the Iranian month in which
Khatami was elected president. They tended
to coalesce around one or two journals, and
eventually around a number of newspapers
and political leaders. They were not revolu-
tionaries in that they did not want to over-
throw the regime. They certainly did not
favor violent methods. On the contrary, they
were strong believers in peaceful change.
They saw themselves as agents of a demo-
cratic transition, of a transformation of the
Iranian political system. They believed that
if they freed up the press, opened up politi-
cal space, and allowed professional and civil
associations to proliferate, they would create
the conditions for a democratic transition.
Once the Khatami team was in ofce, indi-
vidual ministers and their advisers acted on
these assumptions.
For example, Khatamis rst minister of
culture liberally issued licenses for news-
papers and journals. His rst minister of
interior issued permits for new political
and professional organizations, a policy that
proved effective. One of the leading reform-
ist newspapers was closed down three times
in succession in a matter of a few weeks.
Each time, it reappeared within days under a
new license, name, and masthead, but with
exactly the same editorial staff, reporters,
and editorial policy. Strictly speaking, politi-
cal parties were still not allowed, but sev-
eral of the political associations the interior
ministry sanctioned evolved into something
approximating political parties.
These public intellectuals came from
different backgrounds. A number were
academics like Aghajari or the philoso-
pher Abdolkarim Soroush perhaps the
single most inuential thinker in Iran of
the 1980s and 1990s. But these academics
made it a habit to comment on major public
issues. Even university faculty who did not
normally comment on public affairs played
an indirect role in spreading reform ideas
by introducing students, a number of whom
became prominent players in the reform
movement, to the ideas of Max Weber and
Jrgen Habermas, and to the ideas of lead-
ing British and European eighteenth-cen-
tury political philosophers.
A number of these intellectuals were
clerics. Mohsen Kadivar and Mohammad
Mojtahed-Shabestari, two prominent clerics
identied with the reformist cause, trained
in the traditional curriculum of the semi-
nary but sought to interpret Islamic politi-
cal traditions in a manner compatible with
democratic principles. Before becoming
president, Khatami, himself a cleric, wrote
a book on Western political thought that
prominently features John Lockes advo-
cacy of limited constitutional government
based on the consent of the governed and
the rights of the individual. He depicted
Locke as a religious man who nevertheless
believed in tolerance for different faiths,
separation of Church and State, and the pri-
macy of government over religion.
Some of these public intellectuals were
technocrats or senior civil servants who also
wrote for serious journals or the daily press.
An excellent example is Said Hajjarian,
who emerged as Khatamis principle politi-
cal adviser and strategist. Hajjarian, from
a working-class background, had been a
secondary school Islamic activist under
the monarchy. After the 1979 revolution
he worked in the security services and was
the architect of the law that established the
intelligence agency of the Islamic Republic.
But somewhere along the way he became a
newspaper columnist and an ardent advo-
cate for civil society institutions and demo-
cratic reform.

At this trial the Iranian academic Hashem Aghajari claimed

Martin Luther had freed Europeans from the shackles of a
Church and clergy hostile to individual freedom, rationalism,
science, and progress. The prosecutor read this call for a
Protestant Reformation in Islam as a thinly disguised attack
on the very foundations of faith.
24 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
In numerous newspaper columns
Hajjarian set out to show how the Constitu-
tion of the Islamic Republic could serve
as the basis for a liberal democracy. The
Iranian constitution is based on the concept
of the vice-regency of the Islamic jurist the
faqih who, as heir to the mantle of the
Prophet, wields ultimate authority in the
Islamic state. The constitution vests vast
powers in the faqih (who now also goes by
the title of the Leader). According to one ver-
sion of this theory, the Leader has absolute
vice-regency and is owed absolute allegiance.
But Hajjarian pointed out that the constitu-
tion also provides for freedom of speech
and assembly, protection against arbitrary
arrest, free elections, an independent judici-
ary and the like; he developed the argument
that there was room in the constitution both
for the faqih and for democratic institutions.
Khatami, as president, embraced this idea,
and it became a principle tenet in reformist
thought. It followed that if the constitution
had room for both the absolute authority of
the Supreme Leader and democratic insti-
tutions, then the constitution did not need
to be revised or amended an undertaking
which, if advocated or attempted, would
politically have been extremely risky, if not
As a political columnist, Hajjarian repre-
sents another group that played a major role
in the spread of these new political ideas.
Journalists and commentators, working for
the reformist press, helped make political
ideas rst articulated in intellectual jour-
nals the currency of common discourse.
Reformist newspapers and journals served
as unofcial organs of political parties. They
repeatedly stressed the advantages of the
rule of law, accountable government, and
respect for individual rights, and focused
on what they considered to be the undemo-
cratic discourse of their opponents.
In addition to the cluster of ideas men-
tioned above, two other contributions of the
intellectuals to political debate in this peri-
od are worth mentioning. First, they made
possible the previously inconceivable open
examination and discussion of religion. The
philosopher Soroush introduced the novel
idea novel in the Islamic Republic that
religion, though based on revelation, is only
one eld among many others of human
thought and experience, and that it can and
should be studied like any other eld of
knowledge and experience as history, as a
body of ideas, as a sociological phenomenon.
In one of his essays, in a bold observation
that echoed Socrates, Soroush wrote that it
is not enough to assert that Islam represents
the essence of justice; rather, one must ask
whether a religion that has a particular idea
of justice is worth believing in.
Second, while almost all of these intel-
lectuals spoke as believing Muslims, a
number of them mounted a wholesale attack
on the position of authority that the clergy
had acquired under the Islamic Republic.
Aghajari criticized the privileged status of
the clergy in Iran in the same breath that he
criticized the privileged status of the clergy
in medieval Europe. He also argued that
anyone not just the clergy was qualied
to read and interpret the Koran for himself.
In the same vein, in a well-known essay,
Soroush asserted that under the Islamic
Republic the clergy had constituted them-
selves as a privileged class, unfairly claim-
ing political authority, public ofce, and
nancial reward merely by virtue of mem-
bership in the clerical community.
The early achievements of the Khatami
presidency were considerable. The easing
of press restrictions allowed for vigorous
discussion of Irans major political issues.
Political life revived. Greater control was
imposed over the security services. Due
largely to a press campaign and Khatamis
behind-the-scenes pressure, the ministry
of intelligence was forced to admit that its
own agents were responsible for the serial
killings the assassination of a number of
prominent intellectuals and political dissi-
dents. Such an admission was unprecedent-
ed in the history of the security services.
In addition, the reformist bloc won a
majority in the 2000 parliamentary elec-
tions, and the reformists set out an agenda
for sweeping reform: a new, more liberal
press law; parliamentary oversight of the
security organizations; measures to ensure
the independence of the judiciary and the
broadcast services; investigations into
ofcial corruption and the like. But the
reformist victory in the 2000 parliamentary
elections proved to be the high point of the
reform movement. The hard-liners, believ-
ing they, and perhaps the Islamic Revolution
itself, were at risk, used their control of
the principal centers of power the ofce
of the Supreme Leader, the judiciary, the
Revolutionary Guards and the paramilitary
basij forces, the security agencies, and the
Council of Guardians (which has the power
to veto legislation passed by the parlia-
ment) to reverse the reformist tide.
Beginning in 2000, dozens of newspa-
pers and magazines virtually the entire
reformist press were shut down. Leading
reformist journalists, commentators, and
intellectuals were tried and jailed. The
Supreme Leader used his authority to pre-
vent the enactment of a liberal press law.
The Council of Guardians struck down
other reform legislation. In the 2004 parlia-
mentary election, the Council of Guardians
disqualied dozens of leading reformist
candidates, many of them sitting members
of parliament, handing a parliamentary
majority to the conservatives. Khatami was
able, with some success, to continue his pol-
icies of economic rationalization and nor-
malization of relations with the internation-
al community. But in terms of democratic
transformation, the reformist moment had
he Iranian experience (and that
of other countries that have under-
gone successful or failed democratic
transitions) suggests that a number
of elements must come together for a suc-
cessful democratic transformation to take
place. Among these, rst, is a triggering
event like the shipyard workers strike
in Poland in 1980, which gave rise to the
Solidarity movement; or the assassination
of Benigno Aquino in the Phillipines in
1983, which nally led to the overthrow of
President Marcos. Secondly, powerful ideas
must mobilize the public with a vision of a
credible, alternative way to organize politi-
cal society. Thirdly, a leader or leaders must
emerge who can symbolize and spearhead a
political movement. Finally, there must be
some form of political organization that can
keep a sufcient constituency engaged in
effective political action.
How did these four elements play out in
Iran? There was a triggering event and no
shortage of ideas, but a failure of political
leadership and organization. The triggering
event was the presidential election of 1997.
It set off a chain of events that rapidly led
to the rise of the reform movement. As for
In one of his essays, in a bold observation that echoed Socrates,
Soroush wrote that it is not enough to assert that Islam repre-
sents the essence of justice; rather, one must ask whether a
religion that has a particular idea of justice is worth believing in.
The Berlin Journal 25
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PHOENIX-Hotline 01802-8217
Seit vielen Jahren produziert PHOENIX im anregenden Ambiente der American Academy
die erfolgreiche Reihe Kamingesprch mit Klaus-Peter Siegloch.
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ideas, the intellectuals generated concepts
that resonated powerfully with the public
once they were made available to a larger
audience through the political press and in
the course of election campaigns. But there
was a catch; the reformists never adequately
grappled with the problem of reconciling
the idea of liberal democracy with the real-
ity of the Supreme Leaders vast powers.
Perhaps this problem might have been man-
aged. But the mere assertion that there was
room under the Constitution for both the
concept of absolute vice-regency and liberal
democracy proved too facile.
But what about leadership? As president,
Khatami seemed to have all the neces-
sary qualities. He enjoyed widespread and
enthusiastic support. He was charismatic,
well-spoken, and had a winning personality.
His political agenda clearly excited Iranians.
Even in 2001, when reformist fortunes were
already on the wane, voters endorsed him
in large numbers for a second term. But
Khatami proved reluctant to use the popu-
larity he enjoyed to mobilize the public for
political action. After his rst few weeks
in ofce, he did not call or address a single
large let alone a mass meeting. He shied
away from the political confrontations that
would have been necessary for his political
agenda to prevail against political oppo-
nents who controlled many of the real levers
of power and did not hesitate to use violence
to achieve their ends. He had many admira-
ble moments, but there were also too many
critical junctures where he failed to take a
stand. He did nothing, or little, when some
of his own high ofcials and principal sup-
porters the mayor of Tehran, his rst min-
ister of interior were arrested, tried, and
jailed on specious charges, or when newspa-
pers that had taken great risks for him were
shut down and their journalists jailed. In
the long run, these retreats proved costly. A
major turning point perhaps marking the
loss of the student movement occurred in
1999, during the student demonstrations
at Tehran University to protest the closure
of a popular newspaper. The president was
silent and absent, both during the protests
and when they were put down by club- and
chain-wielding thugs.
And organization? Khatamis lieutenants
proved adept at mobilizing voters for elec-
tions; people turned out in large numbers
to vote for Khatami and reformist candi-
dates in two presidential, two parliamentary
and at least one local council election. But
the reformists failed to build parties or
other organizations that could keep voters
engaged in politics between elections. The
principal gures in the reform movement
were intellectuals and technocrats, not
politicians. The most prominent parlia-
mentary deputies of the reform movement,
representing the large urban constituen-
cies, built up national reputations, but they
spent little time on grass roots organizing.
There was no counterpart in Iran for the
Polish Shipyard Workers Union. The politi-
cal leaders of the reform movement repeat-
edly explained their failure to mobilize the
public by arguing that they wished to avoid
street clashes and violence. But this seem-
ingly sensible position became a rationale
for avoiding hard political decisions. When
the crackdown on the reform movement
came, recently-established civic associations
such as the journalists union proved too
weak to resist effectively; and the public, by
and large, stayed home.
he election of Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad as president in 2005 is
a clear marker that Irans reformist
moment has passed at least for the
time being. Iran now has a new president
who draws on a different base of support and
who has a markedly different agenda from
his predecessor. However we might charac-
terize President Ahmadinejad as populist,
radical conservative, a throwback to the early
years of the revolution, spokesman for a new
revolutionary generation that, angry and
aggrieved, wants its turn at power and privi-
lege it is clear that democracy and Irans
integration into the international commu-
nity are not high on his list of priorities.
However, the powerful ideas that
launched Irans reformist experiment are
dormant, not dead; they constitute an idea of
political order one among others Iranians
have experienced in recent decades, includ-
ing monarchy, imperfect parliamentarian-
ism, and Islamic republic to which they
may choose to return. When the elements
necessary to make such a return possible
will come together again it is, of course,
impossible to predict.

Shaul Bakhash is the Clarence

Robinson Professor of History at George
Mason University. The author, most
recently, of Reign of the Ayatollahs:
Iran and the Islamic Revolution, he
was a C.V. Starr Distinguished
Visitor at the Academy in March.
The foundation of ALTANA AG
of Cultures
Mediterranean Sea
Gap or Bridge?
Perspectives on Cooperation
in Education and Scholarship
between Germany and
the Arab world
n September 2005, the 10
International Trialogue of
Cultures Conference of the
Herbert-Quandt-Stiftung of
ALTANA AG, held in coopera-
tion with Deutsche Gesellschaft
fr Technische Zusammenarbeit
(GTZ) GmbH, took place in Berlin.
It focused on the prospects for
cooperation in the fields of ed-
ucation and science between
Germany and the Arab world.
For many centuries, there has
been a lively exchange of cultu-
ral and scientific ideas between
Europe and its Arab neighbours
to the south of the Mediterra-
nean. Thanks to the launch of
the Barcelona Process in 1995
and the Euro-Mediterranean
partnership, this has been in-
stitutionalised to some extent.
The repercussions of Septem-
ber 11, the worsening of the
Middle East conflict, but also
the structural problems besett-
ing the educational systems of
Arab societies currently stand
in the way of such an exchange
of ideas.
With the writer Michael Lders
as chairman, experts from seven
Arab countries together with
representatives of the German
education system present ap-
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proaches and strategies for
making encounters and the
dissemination of knowledge
more intensive by means of in-
novative forms of cooperation
and internal reform initiatives.
At the evening session, the pub-
lishers Ibrahim Al Moallem,
Arab Publishers Union,
Lord Weidenfeld of Chelsea,
Weidenfeld&Nicolson, and
Michael Klett, Ernst Klett AG,
discussed the role of the book
as an important medium in
the dialogue between Jews,
Christians and Moslems.
The publication (to be presented in
June) includes contributions, all of
them revised for printing, e.g. by
Assia Bensalah Alaoui, Ernst-Ludwig
Winnacker, Sari Nusseibeh, Martin Beck,
Mongi Bousnina, Johannes Ebert
and Noha El-Mikawy.
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The Berlin Journal 27
Prime Time in Berlin
Norman Pearlstines New Role as President
When Richard Holbrooke
persuaded Norman Pearlstine to
stop by the American Academy in
Berlin on his way back from Davos
in January 2005, nobody imagined
the magazine maven would be
elected its president and ceo a year
later. But that short visit was such a
success that it left all parties want-
ing more. And so, when Robert
Mundheim announced that he was
ready to step down from the presi-
dency after more than ve years of
skillful guidance, Mr. Pearlstine
seemed the perfect person to ll
his shoes.
Mr. Pearlstine served for
11 years as Time Inc.s fth edi-
tor-in-chief, overseeing more than
155 publications, including TIME
and FORTUNE. He continues to be
a senior advisor to its parent com-
pany, Time Warner, since stepping
down from the post in December
and is busy writing a book, Off the
Record, which addresses the need
to protect journalists from being
compelled to testify about con-
dential sources. It follows his own
painful decision last summer to
turn over condential documents
to the US Department of Justice
relating to TIME reporter Matthew
Cooper and the Valerie Plame affair.
It was the toughest decision of my
career, he told the Senate Judiciary
Committee last summer, and
one I should never have had to
Before joining Time Inc., Mr.
Pearlstine spent 23 years at Dow
Jones & Company, including nine
years as managing editor of the
Wall Street Journal and executive
editor of its news division. He was
also the Journals Tokyo bureau
chief, the rst managing editor of
the Asian Wall Street Journal, and
the rst editor and publisher of the
Wall Street Journal Europe.
The twin highlights of Mr.
Pearlstines Berlin visit last winter
were a private dinner with more
than a dozen leaders of German
media hosted by Matthias Dpfner
and Gary Smith in the magnicent
library of the Springer building
and the public interview on the
future of print media he gave the
next night at the Hans Arnhold
Center. It is hard to name a topic
that the discussion didnt touch
on during those two evenings,
recalls Gary Smith. Norms
breadth of interests is prodigious.
In January 2005, the American
Society of Magazine Editors named
Mr. Pearlstine the recipient of its
Lifetime Achievement Award and
inducted him into the Magazine
Editors Hall of Fame. The
National Press Foundation des-
ignated him Editor of the Year in
1989, and he received the Loeb
Lifetime Achievement Award
for Distinguished Business and
Financial Journalism in 2000. He
is president of the Atsuko Chiba
Foundation and the advisory board
of the Nieman Foundation at
Harvard University and also serves
on several boards, including those
of the Carnegie Corporation, the
Committee to Protect Journalists, the
Arthur F. Burns Fellowship Program,
and the Tribeca Film Institute.
As the Academys president,
Norman Pearlstine will work close-
ly with Ambassador Holbrooke,
Mr. Smith, and the trustees.
Although I have known Richard
Holbrooke for thirty years and Bob
Mundheim who taught me law
at the University of Pennsylvania
even longer, I hadnt realized how
dynamic the Academy had become
until I visited it, he said.
m. e. r.
The Early Roots of the American
Way of War
Eliot Cohen, Director of the Merrill Center for
Strategic Studies, Nitze School of Advanced
International Studies, Johns Hopkins
University, and C.V. Starr Distinguished Visitor
at the Academy 1/11
Managing Globalizations
Richard Haass, President, Council
on Foreign Relations

Developing a Transatl antic Approach

against Radical Isl amic Ideology
With Guido Steinberg and Zeyno Baran, Director
of the Nixon Centers International Security and
Energy Programs, and C.V. Starr Distinguished
Visitor at the Academy
Holly wood
at the Hans Arnhold
A Dialogue with
Jerry Lewis
An Academy Timeline
Notes from the Spring Program
From poets to policy makers, directors to diplomats,
the spring semester boasted a broad spectrum of
speakers and visitors. In the first ten weeks, for
example, the Academy organized more than seventy
foreign-policy-related meetings, lectures, interviews,
and roundtables. Here we present a timeline of the main
events in and around the Hans Arnhold Center that
supplemented lectures by our current class of fellows.
January February



28 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
into a reality, not only through
their generous funding but also
by entrusting the family villa of
Mrs. Kellens father, the banker
Hans Arnhold, to the institu-
tion. Keynote speaker Sir Simon
Rattles moving tribute to Mrs.
Kellen only added to the familial
atmosphere that the Academys
director Gary Smith wished to
Since the Academy opened
its doors, Smith has welcomed
about two hundred fellows to
Berlin certainly a sufcient
number to form the community
that was very much on display at
this evenings events in the US.
Former fellow Jeffrey Eugenides
listened closely to the energetic
string quartet composed by his
young compatriot and fellow
A Sparkling Carnegie Hall Debut
From the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
No debutante could have
wished for a more successful
party, even if the rustling ball
gowns and uttering tails were
absent. Nor, of course, could one
have imagined a more elegant
venue or more exquisite musi-
cal backdrop: Carnegie Halls
intimate Weill Recital Hall. The
American Academy in Berlins
New York society debut was
opened by none other than
seven members of the Berlin
This was no mere coinci-
dence. For decades, the Berlin
Philharmonic has had the gener-
osity of Anna-Maria and Stephen
Kellen to thank for its guest
appearances in New York. These
same people made the vision of
the American Academy in Berlin
January 24, 2006
A Roundtable wi th
Karen P. Hughes
Undersecretary for Public
Diplomacy and Public
Central Asi a: Strategic Asset
or Securi t y Quagmire?
Martha Brill Olcott, Senior Associate,
Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace, and C.V. Starr Distinguished
Visitor at the Academy

The Scramble
for New Business
Models: Medi a in
the Digi tal Age
Eric Pooley, Managing
Editor, fortune
Iran bet ween Reaction and
Shaul Bakhash, Clarence Robinson
Professor of History, George Mason
University, and C.V. Starr Distinguished
Visitor at the Academy
The Twisted Tript ych:
Consti tutional
Presidenti al
Hegemony, Bush Justice
Laurence H. Tribe, Carl M. Loeb
University Professor, Harvard
University, and Citigroup
Distinguished Visitor at the Academy
Supreme Change: The Impact of
a Makeover in the Makeup of
the US Supreme Court
Katheryn Oberly, Vice Chair and
General Counsel, Ernst & Young LLP,
and BMW Distinguished Visitor at the
The Poli tics of Fear: From
McCarthyism to the War on
Haynes Johnson, Writer, Professor,
and Knight Chair, Philip Merrill
College of Journalism, University
of Maryland, and Citgroup
Distinguished Visitor at the Academy
Story telling
wi th Images
Michael Ballhaus,
Director of
Photography 2/07
Anna-Maria Kellen and Pamela Rosenberg
The Berlin Journal 29
alumnus Mason Bates, who spent
last spring in Berlin. And many
vips from the diplomatic and
scholarly worlds accepted the
Academy founding chairman
Richard C. Holbrookes invitation.
By the time dinner was served
on $25,000 tables decked with
Berlin teddy bears the debutante
had made it clear that expres-
sions of philanthropic generosity
would not be given short shrift
next to these intellectual enter-
tainments. The Academys rst
performance on American soil
was a transatlantic feat in which
export could no longer be distin-
guished from import. Its goal of
adding to the Academys endow-
ment will allow the institution to
maintain its nancial indepen-
dence from state funding. The
evening raised almost half a mil-
lion dollars, which will help serve
as a basis for a stronger Academy
presence in America. So it was a
very American event for the ben-
et of an institution that is not
intimidated by national borders
and challenges itself by bringing
a bit of America to Germany, and,
in return, a bit of Germany back
to America.
Since the arithmetic came
out right in the end, Sir Simon
could devote his attention to the
Academys main objectives. And
when he spoke of collecting and
distributing, he was not talking
about money but about ideas.
by Jordan Mejias
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
January 27, 2006
XXX, Richard C. Holbrooke
Anna-Maria Kellen, Sir Simon Rattle, and Marina French
Karl von der Heyden and Richard Holbrooke
Gahl Hodges Burt

Poetry Reading
Vincent Katz, Art Critic,
Poet, and Translator
A Conversation wi th
the Honorable Zbigniew
Counselor, Center for Strategic and
International Studies, and former
US National Security Advisor
The Importance of
Nothing: Beyond Art
and Archi tecture
Aaron Betsky, Director,
Netherlands Architecture
Interpreting Fascism
Robert O. Paxton, Mellon
Professor of Social Sciences
Emeritus, Columbia University,
and Anna-Maria Kellen
Distinguished Visitor
JPMorgan Economic Policy
Briefs: Pursuing Effecti ve
Economic Policy
Gary H. Stern, President, Federal
Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Irans Nuclear Program:
The Diplomatic Challenge
Gregory L. Schulte, Permanent US
Representative to the International
Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna
Global Insecuri t y and
American Power
Jim Hoagland, the Washington Post
Mark Twain in Germany:
A Not- So- Innocent Traveler
Fred Kaplan, Distinguished Professor
of English Literature, Queens College
and the Graduate Center, CUNY
April May
Photographs by Michael Dames
30 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
When Robert Mundheim
and I rst met over breakfast in
Washington DC, the American
Academy was hardly out of the
starting gate. In 2000, the institu-
tion was two years old, and it had
had a heady, entrepreneurial start.
Henry Kissinger had just agreed
to take the chairmans helm from
Richard Holbrooke, who had
joined the Clinton administra-
tion as the US Ambassador to the
United Nations. But we needed a
Gary Smith, our executive
director, was stretched even to his
limit managing the Academys
quick success. Many individuals
and corporations were, at rst,
reluctant to support a new orga-
nization nancially. Thanks to
Academy trustees Stephen and
Anna-Maria Kellen, who so gener-
ously funded the renovation of the
Hans Arnhold villa which houses
the Academy, we were off to a
promising start. But the future
was uncertain.
We had spent months look-
ing for that unlikely person who
combined academic credentials
with serious standing in the pro-
fessional, academic, and even
governmental worlds. And, of
course, it would be ideal if this
person had a biographical bond
to Germany. Thanks to Lloyd
Cutler and Jonathan Fanton, we
discovered the perfect individual.
Both had come to know Bob
Mundheim through their work at
the Salzburg Seminar.
Bob Mundheim was the right
person at the right time for the
American Academy. No sooner
did he take the job than he
started to work wonders for the
Academy, showing great energy
and generosity. Five years on, all
of us have had occasion to see
the degree to which his efforts
helped sharpen our academic
prole, preserve our scal health,
and enhance our reputation on
both sides of the Atlantic. Not
only did Bob Mundheim attract
terric new members to our
board, he also brought some of
Americas most esteemed gures
from nance, journalism, the
legal profession, and the arts to
our doorstep in Berlin. We have
much to thank him for.
Bob Mundheims many
skills had undoubtedly been
honed in years of professional
service as General Counsel of
the US Treasury, the dean of the
University of Pennsylvania Law
Counsel to the Academy
Robert H. Mundheims Successful Presidency
School in the 1980s, co-chair-
man of Fried, Frank, Harris,
Shriver & Jacobson, general
counsel of Salomon, Inc., and
in private practice at Shearman
& Sterling. He helped the
Academy formulate a sound
development strategy, began
to put the Academy on a solid
nancial footing, and enabled
us to concentrate on the essen-
tial goal of developing our
In addition, Bob Mundheim
guided the ever-important
renement of our fellow selec-
tion process. Each year we are
gratied to receive applications
from many outstanding candi-
dates and are fortunate to draw
on a community of exceptional
reviewers and selection com-
mittee members to guide us
through the process.
Bob Mundheims steady
leadership as president pro-
vided the Academy with many
continuing benets. His guid-
ance and advice were almost
always developed through the
consensus that he built within
the Academy family. Now, as
Bob Mundheim steps down as
president but remains active
as a trustee of the American
Academy in Berlin, we look for-
ward to his continuing counsel
and participation.
By Gahl Hodges Burt,
Vice Chairman
Celebratory Gathering
Honoring Trustee Fri tz
Stern on his eightieth
Fri tz Stern Lecture
An American Empire?
Reflections on Uni ted States
Weltpoli tik
Charles Maier, Leverett Saltonstall
Professor of History, Minda de Ginzburg
Center for European Studies, Harvard
Yeats and the Public Poem
Helen Vendler, Poet and Porter University
Professor, Harvard University, and Stephen
M. Kellen Distinguished Visitor at the
Foreign Policy Forum
NGOs and Building Democracy
With Lorne Craner, President of the
International Republican Institute, and
Kenneth Wollack, President, National
Democratic Institute for International
JPMorgan Economic Policy Briefs
Three Years of Reform in the US
Securi ties and Exchange
Harvey Goldschmid, Dwight Professor of
Law, Columbia University, and Distinguished
Visitor at the Academy
Art and Archi tecture
Maya Lin, Artist and Designer,
and Distinguished Visitor
at the Academy

5/16 5/04



Arnulf Conradi
Named First Dean
of Fellows
At its spring meeting this
May, the Academy board will
welcome three new members.
William von Mueffling
is as much a transatlantic
gure as the Academy itself.
Born in New York to parents
of European descent, he holds
both US and German passports.
Dubbed the wunderkind of the
investing world by Forbes maga-
zine in 2001, he is the founder
and president of Cantillion
Capital Management, a rm
with over $8 billion in assets.
Previously, he was a managing
director at Lazard Freres in New
York, where he headed their
hedge fund business, and he
began his career as a European
company analyst at Deutsche
Bank in Germany. His interests
range far beyond the realm of
nance. An amateur photog-
rapher as well as a collector of
photography and art, Mr. von
Muefing is also a trustee of
the International Center of
Photography and treasurer of
the French American Cultural
Exchange. I am delighted
that my old friend William has
joined the board, said trustee
Andrew Grundlach. My grand-
father, Stephen Kellen, greatly
respected Williams grandfa-
ther, Mark Millard, and knew
him well from Wall Street and
beyond. That friendship has
Trustees on Board
Introducing William von Mueffling, Christopher von Oppenheim, and Neil Rudenstine
been passed down for three
generations, kept alive in part
by our families mutual com-
mitment to the cultural ties that
bind Berlin and New York, as
well as Germany and America
more broadly. William will add
greatly to this institution, and
especially to its growing roster
of young leaders.
Christopher von
Oppenheim represents
the seventh generation of a
long line of distinguished
public gures in German life
and nance. The son of two
Academy friends, the late Alfred
von Oppenheim a recipient
of the Croix de Commandeur
from the French Legion of
Honor and prominent art
patron Jeane von Oppenheim,
he has himself had a consider-
able career spanning two conti-
nents. He has worked at Citicorp
in New York, Bankhaus M.M.
Warburg-Brinckmann, Wirtz
& Co. in Hamburg, and is cur-
rently one of ve partners of Sal.
Oppenheim, Germanys largest
family-owned private bank. As
well-versed in the political as
the nancial side of the transat-
lantic partnership, his signi-
cant international experience
led him to participate in the
German Foreign Ministrys stra-
tegic planning team in 1998
1999. Mr. von Oppenheim is
equally at home in the humani-
ties, and is a serious bibliophile
with an exceptional collection of
early printed books and poetry
Poetry, claimed Sir Philip
Sidney, has this end: to
teach and to delight. Neil
Rudenstine is one of those
rare literary critics whose career
has managed to make it do
both. Currently the chair of the
advisory board for artstor at
the A.W. Mellon Foundation,
Rudenstine joins the Academys
board with a full career in
educational administration
behind him. As a member of
the New York Public Library,
the Barnes Foundation, the
American Academy of Arts and
Sciences, and the Council on
Foreign Relations, Rudenstine
is an important presence in a
broad spectrum of institutions.
But the former president of
Harvard who led the largest
fund-raising campaign in the
universitys history is as effec-
tive with poetry as he is with
people. The author of Sidneys
Poetic Development and co-editor
of English Poetic Satire: Wyatt
to Byron, Rudenstine has more
recently focused his writing on
the US educational system, pub-
lishing In Pursuit of the Ph.D. in
1992 and Pointing Our Thoughts
in 1994.
d. f. m.
Arnulf Conradis office on the sec-
ond floor of the Hans Arnhold Center
faces the driveway. A blessing for
the Academy, since it keeps the pas-
sionate ornithologist from devoting
too much scrutiny to his fine feath-
ered friends on the Wannsee. The
former publishers new position as
dean of fellows will, however, enable
him to observe birds of a more schol-
arly and culturally colorful feather:
the Academys fellows, guest speak-
ers, and distinguished visitors. All of
them can count on Arnulf Conradi to
make them feel at ease in their new
A brilliant figure in the German
and international publishing worlds
for some three decades, Conradi
retired last year from the prestigious
Berlin Verlag, which he founded in
1992 with Elisabeth Ruge. Trained in
comparative literature, he became
chief editor at the famous house of
S. Fischer Verlag in 1983. Our new
dean will not only ensure the overall
happiness of fellows and the smooth
operation of the Academys programs.
He will also launch a series of high-
level literary, political, and scholarly
dialogues that will generally enhance
the Academys visibility in Germany.
M. E. R.
The Berlin Journal 31



32 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
For two months this semester
as George H.W. Bush Fellow,
Steve Chapman, a columnist
for the Chicago Tribune, wrote
transatlantically-inspired arti-
cles on everything from Alitos
Supreme Court election to the
dwindling birthrate in Western
Europe. A former editor for the
New Republic, the libertarian-
leaning Chapman publishes his
twice-weekly columns in some
sixty papers in addition to con-
tributing articles to the American
Spectator, the Weekly Standard,
and National Review. During his
talk at the Academy, he pondered
whether it is still possible for
the American government to be
based on the Lockian consent
of the governed when even the
best-informed citizens not to
mention the best-informed poli-
ticians are faced with such an
impenetrable cloud of complex-
ity and obscurity. Citing that the
United States Internal Revenue
Code spans a monolithic 2.8 mil-
lion words triple the length of
War and Peace Chapman asked
probing questions about the con-
temporary expression of collective
will. Tackling topics national and
international, social and eco-
nomic, Chapmans omnivorous
approach to writing has made
him what Slates media critic calls
a polymath, a creative policy wonk,
a tap-dancing writer, a true son of
New York Times columnist and
writer-at-large Roger Cohen
has had a career of enviable
travels, global rovings both
intellectual and physical. As a
writer for the New York Times, the
International Herald Tribune, the
Wall Street Journal, and Reuters,
he has reported from the Balkans,
Berlin, Paris, South America
and the Mediterranean. Cohens
twice-weekly columns in the
International Herald Tribune
traverse an equally broad stylis-
tic terrain. He can write elegiac
ruminations, such as his piece
on the director general of the
Iraq Museum, an exile within
his own museum, condemned
to contemplate his own and his
countrys fate in rooms emptied
of visitors. But he is equally adept
with hard facts, writing detailed
columns charting the ssures in
transatlantic relations. During
his time as a Bosch Fellow at
the Academy in April and May,
his columns from Berlin will
do both. Melding acute political
commentary with a penchant for
anerie, Cohen sees himself in
search of the citys elusive heart,
whose secrets say so much about
Germany and Europe.
The cardinal of Boston once
called a press conference to con-
demn H. D. S. Greenway for
an offensive cartoon printed
under Greenways watch as head
of the editorial page at the Boston
Globe. But this distinguished
columnist at various points in
his career a reporter for TIME,
the Washington Post, and Foreign
Affairs is anything but unrea-
sonably inammatory. His mea-
sured, thoughtful prose has taken
him as a foreign correspondent
to Hong Kong, Saigon, Bangkok,
Jerusalem, London, and, this
winter, Berlin. For his two-month
Bosch Fellowship at the Academy,
Greenway explored the subject of
Islam in Christendom, contrast-
ing the often tense interactions of
secular Christians and religious
Muslims across a spectrum of
European societies. Following
the November riots in Paris and
coinciding with the cartoon con-
troversy in Denmark, Greenways
investigation in Berlin could not
have come at a more pertinent
moment. After September 11,
writes Greenway, Americans have
become intensely aware that mili-
tant Islam is no longer conned to
the Islamic countries themselves.
With his reective writing, this
veteran reporter is working to
develop this awareness into a more
nuanced American perspective.
The prominent black abolitionist
Frederick Douglass wrote three
autobiographies. Each contained
information that contradicted the
other two, recasting the story of
his life and remaking his public
persona. His long-time mistress,
German migr Ottilie Assing,
was a notable journalist whose
columns contained a similar
penchant for self-reinvention;
not only was Assing a Lutheran
convert from Judaism, but her
contemporary critics also labeled
her feminist and suffragist
writing a performance of con-
tinuous intellectual cross-dress-
ing. Holtzbrinck Fellow Joyce
Hacket t takes Assing and
Douglass relationships with
their own identities, their respec-
tive political movements, and with
each other as the basis for her
second novel. Tentatively entitled
Reconstruction, the novel employs
this tumultuous post-Civil-War
love affair to explore the con-
struction of racial, religious, and
sexual identity during an era of
national reconstruction in the US.
Because the letters between the
two lovers were lost (or destroyed)
after Assings suicide, Hackett
will spend her semester in Berlin
engaged in her own reconstruc-
tion historical rather than per-
sonal to unearth the private sub-
text beneath the very public texts
LIFE & LETTERS at the Hans Arnhold Center
The Spring 2006 Fellows
Profiles in Scholarship
The Berlin Journal 33
of these two prominent gures.
Hacketts rst book, Disturbance
of the Inner Ear, a novel about
inherited trauma and healing,
was a National Book Critics
Notable Book in 2002.
Legend has it that in 1321, a
Thringen nobleman named
Friedrich der Freidige was so
moved while watching an enact-
ment of the biblical parable of the
Wise and Foolish Virgins that,
wild with grief and frustration at
the plight of the women, he suf-
fered a stroke and promptly died.
This semester, art historian and
Coca-Cola Fellow Jacqueline
Jung examines the dramatic
force of this parable through
the ten sandstone gures of the
Wise and Foolish Virgins that
adorn the magnicent cathedral
at Magdeburg. Carved between
1240 and 1250, the Magdeburg
Virgins represent a daring break
with the formal traditions of
medieval sculpture. Not only are
they unusual simply for focus-
ing on solely female subjects, but
the smiling and weeping gures
also form the rst large medieval
sculptural ensemble to depict a
narrative through bodily expres-
sions. The assistant professor of
art history at the University of
California, Berkeley explores how
the gures use these devices of
drama from empathetic faces to
easily legible gestures to create
the same powerful audience reac-
tion produced by theater.
In 1951 Hannah Arendt posed the
famous question who has the
right to have rights? This spring,
Haniel Fellow Cl audia Koonz
examines a variety of contem-
porary European responses to
that question, taking the Muslim
headscarf, or hijab, as the spark
for a broader debate about gender,
immigration, and ethnic assimi-
lation. Koonz compares German,
Austrian, French, and British
reactions to the controversial
garment. Is the hijab a token of
religious freedom or a provocative
emblem of anti-Western values?
Does its suppression simul-
taneously liberate the women
who wear it? In these countries
where immigration is economi-
cally essential but immigrants are
culturally marginalized does
the headscarf create cultural
diversity or prevent assimilation?
A historian of and prolic writer
on gender in the Nazi era, Koonzs
current research ties in to her
previous studies on the expulsion
of ethnic minorities. Her 1987
book Mothers in the Fatherland,
on the women who collaborated
with Nazi racial projects, was
a National Book Award nalist.
A professor of history at Duke
University, Koonz now applies
her rich background to the sub-
ject of how ethnic pluralism, and
its concomitant threat of ethnic
panic, is shaping the formation of
European identity.
Paradox, Alain Locke once
claimed, followed him through
all his days. Dubbed a godfather
of the Harlem Renaissance for
his perceptive cultural criticism,
philosopher and public intellec-
tual Locke nonetheless criticized
the movement as exhibitionist.
Politically an unfailing egalitar-
ian and one of the earliest propo-
nents of multiculturalism Locke
nonetheless possessed an elite
aesthetic sensibility shaped by
years of education at Harvard,
Oxford, and in Berlin. Though a
dandy in dress and affectation, he
fastidiously concealed his homo-
sexuality. DaimlerChrysler Fellow
Charles Molesworth,
professor of English at the City
University of New York, will
spend his semester in Berlin
probing the paradoxes of Lockes
personality in a biography co-
authored with Leonard Harris.
Molesworths previous works
include a biography of poet
Marianne Moore, two books
of his own poetry, The Heath
Anthology of American Literature
(as editor), and a wide variety
of reviews and articles for the
journal Salmagundi, among oth-
ers. Ably composing everything
from columns on contemporary
art to encyclopedia entries on
postmodernism, Molesworth
in fact embodies the very traits
that Locke once praised in the
American mind: its superb
eclecticism, its voraciousness,
its collectors instinct for facts
and details.
In December 1980, historian
Paul Rahe, then a junior fellow
at Harvards Center for Hellenic
Studies, set out to write a brief
essay comparing the Spartan
Constitution with that of the
United States. Twelve years later,
the essay spanning more than
twelve hundred pages was pub-
lished as Republics Ancient and
Modern: Classical Republicanism
and the American Revolution.
A professor at the University
of Tulsa and the author most
recently of Machiavellis Liberal
Republican Legacy, Rahe takes on
an equally fruitful topic during
his two-month DaimlerChrysler
Fellowship in Berlin. Drawing
on the works of Montesquieu,
Rousseau, and Tocqueville, Rahe
reects on the virtues and defects
of the modern commercial repub-
lic. Though his research may have
a historical bent, his conclusions
are immediately relevant. The
most important question facing
the worlds liberal democracies
writes Rahe, is the one obliquely
posed by Montesquieu and made
more explicit by Rousseau and
Tocqueville: to whit, whether lib-
eral democracies are not by their
nature inclined to drift in the
direction of soft despotism.
In 2002, when artist Kerry
Tribe began approaching
strangers at l ax airport asking
them to draw maps of LA from
memory, she received an odd
range of results. Locals drew
places that had been signicant to
them, charting the progressions
of their lives along with the mazes
of routes. Tourists drew ideas:
the beaches of Baywatch, strewn
with palm trees and sun-dazed
surfers. The combined result
a city simultaneously real and
imagined epitomizes the work
of this years Guna S. Mundheim
Fellow, now in her second semes-
ter of Berlin residence. Tribes
work creates sedimented layers
of the factual and ctional. In
2003, she converted a roadside
bus bench into a sign pointing not
to the nearest freeway entrance
or information center, but rather
to Historical Amnesia. In her
2000 project Hothouse, she recon-
structed the seductively articial
environment of LA in a green-
house populated by real plants
carrying fantastic names like
Sensation cosmos, Imagination
verbena, Celebrity tomato, and
34 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
Showing watermelon. Tribes
gently humorous ironies create
works that are contemplative and
clever, works that disrupt the pat-
terns of everyday public life and,
as reected in the title of her 2002
video projection, exist simultane-
ously Here & Elsewhere.
The United Nations will elect a
new Secretary General in 2007.
In preparation for the upcom-
ing turnover, George H.W. Bush
Fellow Ruth Wedgwood will
spend a month at the Academy
laying out a hypothetical agenda
for the incoming secretary.
Seeing the change in power as
a chance to reform an organi-
zation troubled by ineffective
peacekeeping, shaky legitimacy,
and internal corruptions, the
legal scholar will ask what path
the UN can take to reafrm the
efcacy of international action.
Wedgwood, Edward B. Burling
Professor of International Law
and Diplomacy at Johns Hopkins
Universitys Nitze School, antici-
pates Darwinian conclusions.
The maintenance of some organi-
zations may require that they face
competition from the outside, in
order to encourage adaptive deci-
sions, she writes. Wedgwood
comes to the Academy well-
equipped to dispense such advice:
a commentator for the bbc, npr,
and msnbc as well as a senior
fellow at the Council on Foreign
Relations and a US member of the
Human Rights Committee, her
highly regarded work in interna-
tional law spans both the academ-
ic and popular spheres.
Poetry is, nally, a family matter,
writes poet Rosanna Warren,
involving the strains of birth, love,
power, death, and inheritance.
Indeed, Warrens four volumes
of poetry combine these funda-
mental themes with a plethora of
more nuanced motifs: the allu-
sions in her 2003 collection,
Departure, for example, span from
Virgil to German painter Max
Beckmann, from Cicero to the
twentieth-century composer Leos
Janacek. Anthony Hecht notes
that her probingly inquisitive
poems possess a sense of biloca-
tion, inhabiting the ramshackle
world of everyday loss simulta-
neously with a realm of classi-
cal purity. Warrens project at
the Academy this spring as Ellen
Maria Gorrissen Fellow spans
this same range of the classical
and colloquial. The chancellor of
the American Academy of Poets
and professor of the humanities at
Boston University plans to spend
her semester composing both a
series of poems based around the
four classical elements earth,
wind, re, and water and a set
of more personal poetic memoirs.
A recipient of the Pushcart Prize
and a former Guggenheim fellow,
Warren is also a painter, critic,
editor, biographer, and adept
translator whether of French
romantics into English interpre-
tations or, as in her own poetry,
lyric traditions into personal
Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn
To say that Jerry Muller is
interested in many things is a
gross understatement. Muller
is passionately eager to know
about things, practically all
things, but especially those he is
working on. His curiosity is for-
midable, so intense that it bor-
ders on brusqueness. When you
tell him a story about his cur-
rent subject, or if you give him
information on an object of his
desire, he will hardly comment
on it or show you his appre-
ciation. He will absorb it for a
moment and you can actu-
ally watch this process of diges-
tion and then immediately ask
for more, sometimes switching
over quite abruptly to another
topic. The knowledge inherent
in his questions is vast.
An intellectual historian and
professor of history at Catholic
University in Washington DC,
Muller studied at Brandeis and
Columbia, where he worked with
Fritz Stern, for whom he co-edited
an appreciation on his mentors
seventieth birthday, ten years
ago. His latest book is The Mind
and the Market: Capitalism in
Modern European Thought. Other
books include Conservatism: An
Anthology of Social and Political
Thought From David Hume to the
Present (1997) and a study of Adam
Smith (1995). In 1987, with The
Other God that Failed: Hans Freyer
and the Deradicalization of German
Conservatism, Muller explored a
German subject in some depth.
Freyer is now almost forgotten in
Germany, but before Hitlers rise
to power and in the rst years of
the Third Reich he was prominent
as a proponent of the so-called
conservative revolution. Muller
approached his subject in the
mode of representative biogra-
phy; Freyer interested him more
for what he stood for in German
society than in what he actually
created. Incredibly, Freyer still
exerted despite his involvement
with the Nazis considerable
inuence in the 1950s. But the
1950s were a very strange decade
in modern German history.
The 1950s were what Germans
call spieig stuffy, repressed, nar-
row-minded, pusillanimous and
most important, far from acknowl-
edging what Hitler and National
Socialism had done in Germanys
name. This reckoning came very
late, only in the second half of the
1960s, and the violent reaction of
the 68ers against the collective
denial of the German society of
that time may be their only claim
to fame. But a claim it certainly
is. The subject of Mullers cur-
rent project, Jacob Taubes, was in
the thick of it, less for his writing
than for his powerful personality.
A man of enormous vitality and
appetite for life, Taubes seemed to
know everybody and loved to con-
nect people. He taught theology
and Jewish studies in Jerusalem
and Berlin at that time, and he
was married to Margherita von
Brentano, with whom I studied
philosophy. So I met Taubes now
and then. She was a revered teach-
er cool, reserved, good looking
and everybody wondered what she
saw in this wild man. Why in the
world did she marry him? I am
sure Muller will solve this enigma
like so many other questions sur-
rounding Jacob Taubes.
As in the case of his Hans Freyer
project, Jerry Muller has found
a rather obscure but enormously
interesting representative of his
time, or better, a kind of fulcrum.
There can be no doubt that this will
be a most interesting book.
Arnulf Conradi
Jerry Z.
An Intellectual Biographer




The Berlin Journal 35
New Releases
Daniel Benjamin
The Next Attack: the Failure of the
War on Terror and a Strategy for
Getting it Right, with Steve Simon
Times Books (October 2005)
Judith Butler
Giving an Account of Oneself
Fordham University Press
(October 2005)
T.J. Clark
Sight of Death
Yale University Press (May)
Sue De Beer
Downtown Arts Projects
(October 2005)
Aris Fioretos
The Truth About Sascha Knisch
Jonathan Cape (March)
Jenny Holzer
Xenon for Duisburg: the Power
of Words
Hatje Cantz Publishers (January)
Thomas Geoghegan
The Law in Shambles
Prickly Paradigm Press
(October 2005)
Alex Katz
Colby College Museum of Art
Jytte Klausen
The Islamic Challenge: Politics and
Religion in Western Europe
Oxford University Press
(December 2005)
John Koethe
Sallys Hair: Poems
HarperCollins (March)
Also by John Koethe
Scepticism, Knowledge, and
Forms of Reasoning
Cornell University Press
Walter Laqueur
The Changing Face of Anti-
Oxford University Press (May)
Wendy Lesser
The Pagoda in the Garden
Other Press (October 2005)
Michael Meltsner
The Making of a Civil Rights Lawyer
University of Virginia Press (April)
Sigrid Nunez
The Last of Her Kind
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Saskia Sassen
Territory, Authority, Rights: From
Medieval to Global Assemblages
Princeton University Press (April)
Richard Sennett
The Culture of the New Capitalism
Yale University Press (January)
David Warsh
Knowledge and the Wealth of
Nations: A Story of Economic
W.W. Norton (May)
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Realisierungswettbewerb Topographie des Terrors 10. Mrz 17. April 2006
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Robert Polidori Fotografien 17. Mrz 26. Juni 2006 Veranstalter: Berliner Festspiele in Zusammenarbeit mit Camerawork
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12. April 10. Juli 2006 Veranstalter: Berliner Festspiele und Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn
Ermglicht in Berlin durch den Hauptstadtkulturfonds
gyptens versunkene Schtze 13. Mai 4. September 2006
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Martin Munkacsi Fotografien Die groe Retrospektive 5. August 6. November 2006
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Berlin Journal_192x126_Feb06 17.02.2006 17:47 Uhr Seite 1
The Berlin Journal 37
The historian is often just a
messenger, albeit one who selects
and delivers his messages with
great care. Fritz Stern waited ten
years before publishing an aston-
ishing comment that Raymond
Aron once made to him in con-
versation: It could have become
Germanys century. This remark-
able use of the subjunctive, often
cited since, reects a retrospective
optimism about the beginning of
a century that was instead marked
by battleelds and horror.
Aron, the great French philoso-
pher and political scientist, knew
that only a liberal historian who
had not allowed himself to be
demoralized by totalitarianisms
triumphs would have appreci-
ated his point. There had been
opportunities for liberal politics
in Germany at decisive crossroads
during the century. They were
lost. But the country marked by
an expanding economy, spiritual
A Celebration of Scholarship
Trustee Fritz Stern Turns Eighty
exibility, and intellectual achieve-
ment at the end of the nineteenth
century had met many, if not all,
of the prerequisites for developing
in a liberal direction. This is why
Fritz Stern speaks eagerly of the
Federal Republic as Germanys
second chance.
Historians are cautious about
using the subjunctive, at least
in the optimistic mode. How, to
quote the title of a 1998 German
collection of Sterns essays, can
contemplating Verspielte Gre
(greatness gambled away) soothe
our sense of wasted opportuni-
ties? Born in Breslau, Stern was
forced to leave Germany with his
parents in 1938. He was twelve.
Naturalized in the US, he studied
at Columbia University, where he
earned his Ph.D. and taught for
most of his career right up until
becoming professor emeritus.
His rst work was The Politics of
Cultural Despair (1961), which the
TLS named one of the hundred
most inuential books published
since 1945. In his portraits of three
powerful gures of anti-liberal cul-
tural criticism Paul de Lagarde,
Julius Langbehn, and Moeller van
den Bruck Stern explored the
incubation of German national
and totalitarian ideologies. The
books title refers to the process by
which the eras liberal accomplish-
ments were endangered by the
panic and rebellion unleashed by
modern commercial society. The
men he proled were outsiders to
liberal culture, men inclined to
prophetic pronouncements who
dared to leap into a new aestheti-
cized form of politics one forged
in the Nietzschean atmosphere
that also characterized Stefan
Georges circle.
In his distinctive style of his-
torical portraiture, Stern went on
to write Gold and Iron (1977), his
monumental double biography of
Bismarck and Gerson Bleichrder,
Bismarcks Jewish banker. Golo
Mann praised the books depth of
perspective and coherence, call-
ing it a triumph of impartial, real
history. The gure of Bleichrder,
who, despite his incredible inu-
ence over the empire, could never
free himself from the shadow of
his Jewish background, embodies
the German-Jewish relationship
prior to World War I.
Sterns many essays and lec-
tures, published in several col-
lections, also use biography as a
window through which to view the
twentieth century. These works
include portraits of Germans and
German Jews, politicians and
scientists, from Walter Rathenau
and Ernst Reuter to Max Planck,
Albert Einstein (whom Stern met
as a young man), and Fritz Haber,
his godfather. The Nobel Prize-
winning chemist Habers many
accomplishments were overshad-
owed by his development of poison
gas during World War I, the imple-
mentation of which he personally
oversaw at Ypern. The man who
had gone to such lengths to ensure
Germanys survival and victory in
World War I was friends with the
pacist Einstein. Ultimately, both
experienced a brutal end to their
lives as Germans and were forced
to emigrate. Biography brings to
light tragedy too often absent in
the documentation of history.
It is characteristic of Sterns
relationship to German history
that he referred to the cultural pes-
simists of his rst book as his peo-
ple, which is by no means the case.
And yet, the cultural pessimists
were trusted partners in a dialogue
about the subliminal causes of the
hatred of liberal culture, a problem
not unique to Germany. Soon after



38 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
The road back to Nuremberg
begins with a detour via the
German Federal Ministry of
Justice on Mohrenstrae in down-
town Berlin and the American
Academy on the Wannsee. The
ministry was a tting site for a
day-long conference, organized by
Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries
and the American Academys
director Gary Smith, commemo-
rating the sixtieth anniversary of
the beginning of the Nuremberg
Trials. Lawyers, judges, and politi-
cians discussed lessons for the
future that could be drawn from
Nurembergs judicial discourse
on crimes against humanity.
Numerous international tribunal
lawyers and political gures were
present, including Judge Hans-
Peter Kaul from the International
Criminal Court, Hildegard Uertz-
Retzlaff and Albin Eser from the
International Criminal Tribunal
for the Former Yugoslavia, and for-
mer US Ambassador to Germany
John C. Kornblum.
That evening, at the American
Academy on the Wannsee, Presi-
dent of the International Criminal
Court Philippe Kirsch provided
a concise sketch of the icc and
described its task as part of a
larger whole. One need not estab-
lish further ad hoc tribunals, he
said, but the many other alterna-
tive mechanisms of international
criminal justice from truth-and-
reconciliation commissions to
internationalized special courts
require further evaluation. In
the discussion that followed,
Academy fellow Ralf Michaels
asked whether international
criminal laws agenda of judicial
peace-building embodied in the
ad hoc tribunals for the former
Yugoslavia and Rwanda as well as
in the iccs institutional design
is perhaps a few sizes too large for
the law. How can a selective inter-
national prosecution that often
considers the historical investiga-
tion of the crimes context more
than the atonement for individual
wrong achieve the fundamentally
political goal of long-term recon-
ciliation and pacication? Kirsch
made clear that the icc is not a
political organ. The imperative of
fairness is deeply engraved in the
Courts statute. Kirsch, referring
to the principle of complementar-
ity embodied in the Rome Statute,
emphasized that prosecution lies
rst and foremost in the hands of
the domestic systems. In an ideal
world the icc would not have
any work to do. It is only there if
national systems do not do their
Hans Corell, the former Under-
Secretary-General for Legal
Affairs and Legal Counsel of the
United Nations, added a calm but
sure footnote to Kirschs keynote
speech, reminding the audience
of the transience of hegemony
and recommending that all self-
aware advocates of superpower
politics pay a visit to Berlins
Pergamon Museum, where they
might meditate on the remains of
Babylons once-grand Ishtar gate.
Corell probed further, asking
where international criminal jus-
tice will be in twenty years, when
the world might be dominated by
the now awakening global power
of China. China has yet to sign
and ratify the Rome Statute, but
Beijing has reiterated, in prin-
ciple, its support for the establish-
Sterns rst book appeared in the
early 1960s, a new form of despair
became apparent in the youth
movements of the day. In recent
years, Stern has become a relent-
less critic of changes in American
politics, reproaching the country
for betraying its liberal tradition.
He has often shown a clairvoyance
that cannot simply be dismissed
as the heightened sensitivity of
a historian of twentieth-century
Germany. Sterns reections on
German history are bold and
unique, and, among other dis-
tinctions, were recognized by the
award of the German Peace Prize
from the German Publisher and
Booksellers Trade Organization
in 1999.
Stern describes hearing a
speech by Theodor Heuss on
June 20, 1954, the tenth anniver-
sary of the attempt to assassinate
Hitler, as a turning point in his
relationship with Germany. Since
then he has followed the Federal
Republics history as a participat-
ing observer. He sees reunication,
which he anticipated in a 1987
speech in front of the Bundestag,
not only as a reinforcement of
Germanys second chance but
as a second recognition. One is
tempted to say that there has never
been so much Germany in a single
life as in the life of this prolic his-
torian, who entitled his autobiogra-
phy Five Germanys I Have Known.
By Henning Ritter
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
February 2, 2006
Translated by Andrea F. Bohlman
ment of the icc, most recently in
last summers position paper on
United Nations reform.
Throughout the evening on
the Wannsee, one could hear the
moderate murmuring of the law
behind the loud rumblings of
imperial realpolitik. International
law must be committed to preven-
tion and prosecution as well as to
permanent conict resolution and
detailed reconstruction of histori-
cal events. The reality has yet to
match the aspirations.
From a report by Alexandra
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
November 24, 2005
Translated by Andrea F. Bohlman
After Nuremberg
The Future of International Criminal Justice
Call for Applications
The American Academy will accept
applications this summer and fall
from scholars, writers, and profes-
sionals who wish to engage in inde-
pendent study in Berlin during the
20072008 academic year. Most
Berlin Prizes are for a single aca-
demic semester and include a month-
ly stipend, round-trip airfare, partial
board, and a furnished apartment at
the Hans Arnhold Center. Application
forms and information will be avail-
able on the Academys website
( start-
ing June 5. Only US citizens or per-
manent residents are eligible to apply.
Applications are due in Berlin on
Monday October 16, 2006 and will be
reviewed by an independent selection
committee following a rigorous peer
review process. The Berlin Prizes will
be announced in the spring of 2007.
Judge Patricia Wald, Ambassador John Kornblum, and ICC President Philippe Kirsch



40 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
Off the Record,
on the Wannsee
Karen Hughes Visits the Academy
Karen Hughes is the Bush
administrations secret weapon.
Until 2002 she was one of George
W. Bushs closest advisors and
played an instrumental role in
packaging his messages. After
some time off in Texas, she
returned to Washington last year
to become the State Departments
top PR person. Shortly after, Dick
Cheney offered her his condolenc-
es for having taken on the adminis-
trations toughest job. It is an anec-
dote Hughes likes to recount.
Hughes is said to sometimes
sound like a drill sergeant, but in
her new role as undersecretary of
state for public diplomacy she has
learned to listen. Certainly, those
who attended Tuesdays off-the-
record roundtable at the American
Academy on the sticking points in
the transatlantic relationship were
convinced. Because the event was
deep background, I can only say
that Guantnamo was a hot-button
topic that afternoon.
Those present representa-
tives from Germanys media, busi-
ness, political, and think tank
worlds described in vivid terms
the difculty of defending the US
these days. Although the way in
which international law intersects
with international terrorism may
be far more complex than the
German public typically acknowl-
edges, most of the participants
agreed that Guantnamo has come
to symbolize both the arrogance
of American unilateralism and the
countrys human rights double
standard. As one attendee aptly
phrased it, Face it, you have lost
this one.
In Germany, we often hear
from our American friends that
German-American ties have been
preserved at the think tank level
and in the lower tiers of govern-
ment unlike in France, where
nobody even tries to impact
American public opinion. As the
Munich Conference on Security
Policy showed, policy makers on
both sides realize that the West
cannot afford to be divided in fac-
ing todays global challenges. But
there is a hitch, especially on the
German side: what foreign policy
expert is brave enough to aggres-
sively promote this position in
the public realm? As most parlia-
mentarians and members of the
administration know, in the cur-
rent climate any demonstration of
accord with the US is a tough sell
to the voting public and the largely
anti-American media.
Guantnamo and Abu Ghraib
are weighty reasons for this cli-
mate of difdence toward the US.
We are a far remove from the cold-
war sentimentality that marked
the last generation of foreign
policy experts. Now we must pro-
mote our tangible world interests.
An outstanding class of schol-
ars and artists will reside at
the Hans Arnhold Center next
fall. It includes the Washington
Post writer and editor Anne
Applebaum, composer
Stephen Hartke, Stanford
Law professor Lawrence
Lessig, novelist Susanna
Moore, archaeologist
Charles Brian Rose of
the University of Pennsylvania,
Sheil a Weiss of Clarksons
Sneak Preview
The Fall 2006 Fellows
history department, and
classics professor Dimitrios
Yatromanol akis of Johns
Hopkins University.
Bosch Prizes in Public Policy
were awarded to anthropologist
Esra Ozyurek of the University
of California, San Diego;
Phillip Phan of the Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute; and
Jonathan Tucker, a senior
research fellow at the Monterey
Institute of International Studies.
The Guna S. Mundheim
Fellow in the Visual Arts will be
announced shortly.
The 20062007 Berlin Prizes
were awarded by an independent
selection committee chaired
by University of Pennsylvania
legal scholar Stephen
Burbank. Committee mem-
bers were Princeton musicolo-
gist Carolyn Abbate; poetry
scholar and retired Guggenheim
Foundation president Joel
Conarroe; University of
Chicago historian and former
Academy fellow Michael
Geyer; Princeton historian
Anthony Grafton; histo-
rian Dagmar Herzog of the
CUNY Graduate Center; James
Hoge of the Council on Foreign
Relations; Princeton German
literature professor Michael
Jennings; art historian Molly
Nesbit of Vassar College; jour-
nalist and Academy alumna
Amit y Shl aes; and former
Academy fellow Ronald Steel
of the University of Southern
Californias department of politi-
cal science. Alex Ross and Joel
Lester selected the composer in
The art jury was comprised
of curators Chrissie Iles,
Larissa Harris, and Ann
Temkin and painters John
Moore and Alex Katz.
And these would, I am convinced,
be far better served by working
with the US than with some other
world power, be it China or Russia.
Guantnamo is a moral problem,
but it is also a problem of realpo-
litik, one that prevents the West
from putting forward its common
values and interests in a robust
way. My impression was that Karen
Hughes grasped this message.
Whether she can convince the
White House is another question.
by Clemens Wergin
Der Tagesspiegel Online
February 23, 2006
Karen Hughes, Gary Smith, Jrg Lau, and Colleen Graffy



41 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
The Inverted Constitution
Presidential Hegemony and the Eclipse of Privacy
by Laurence H. Tribe
national character after the Bush adminis-
tration twisted it beyond recognition at Abu
Ghraib and in Katrina, repeatedly incant-
ing the phony case for making war on Iraq
and obscenely exploiting the tragedy of
September 11 to excuse governing by fear
in the name of a potentially endless war on
global terrorism would be challenging
enough even if the judicial branch were in
the hands of jurists so wise as not always to
be certain they are right, so perceptive as to
discern the principles a living Constitution
does not always etch in stone, and so coura-
geous that they would not hesitate to defend
principle when the political branches bend
too shamelessly to expediency.
Would that the US Supreme Court as cur-
rently composed could be counted on to play
that role: to resist, even and perhaps espe-
cially during what the president insists is a
time of war, the tyrannical concentration of
power in any institution representing at

Looking at the sagging poll numbers of

the incumbent president amid the swirling
scandals of inattention and ineptitude laced
with contempt for law, one might imagine
the worst is over that it remains only to
bide our time until a breath of fresh air once
again invigorates the nations capital. But any
sense of anticipatory relief would be prema-
ture. So much may be accomplished, so much
destroyed, in a thousand days. The entire
presidency of John F. Kennedy lasted barely
a month longer but had an almost mythic
impact on the nations culture and conscious-
ness. Sadly, the damage this misguided presi-
dent may yet inict on what remains of basic
American institutions not to mention the
spread of hatred for our country, the visitation
of death and mutilation upon countless inno-
cents, the demise of species, the desecration
of wilderness is incalculable.
The work of recall and reconstruction
of reimagining and reestablishing our
hen I spoke of our imperiled
Constitution at the American
Academy in Berlin this March
15 the Ides of March in the
time of Julius Caesar 1,041 days and 9
hours remained in the presidency of a
most unlikely American Caesar, George
W. Bush. The popularity of the internet
website that counts down the days, hours,
minutes, and seconds left in this presidency
( doubtless reects the
eagerness of millions of Americans to put
behind them the grievous wounds this ret-
rograde administration has inicted upon
the United States and what it represents to
close a grim chapter in our national history
by returning to our founding ideals and
commitments as a constitutional democracy
where the power of those who govern is sub-
ordinated to the rule of law in the service of
individual autonomy, personal dignity, and
equality of opportunity.
The Berlin Journal 41
retired, replaced by Samuel Alito, a justice
well to her right. It would be foolhardy to
gamble much on the prospect that the Court
now taking shape will signicantly check
claims of extraordinary presidential power
or that it will resist the authoritarian turn in
American politics epitomized by the Bush
administration. Given the way our process
of selecting Supreme Court justices is struc-
tured to mirror political realignments in
the presidency and the Senate, and given
the results of recent presidential and sena-
torial elections, no one should be too sur-
prised to nd in the wake of those elections
a Court tilting further right with each new
We should expect that rightward tendency
to manifest itself not solely on questions of
presidential power and its immunity from
restraint by Congress and the courts when
the president unilaterally determines that
some sacrice of individual liberty is needed
to protect the nations security. A turn to the
right seems at least as likely on the separa-
tion of church and state when an administra-
tion determined to privatize social services
and to outsource care for the vulnerable to
faith-based organizations insists not sim-
ply that the religiously-devout be eligible to
participate on equal terms with others but
that religious groups be immune from non-
discrimination and other rules applicable
to everyone else. And a rightward tilt seems
imminent on matters of informational priva-
cy and bodily integrity, sexual intimacy and
sexual orientation, and self-determination
with respect to personal choices that defy tra-
dition and mirror no textually-explicit consti-
tutional right.
year ago President Bush and
Congress interrupted a mid-winter
recess to descend on the nations cap-
ital en masse to enact special legisla-
tion directing the federal courts to prevent
the withdrawal of a feeding tube from a per-
manently comatose young woman named
Terri Schiavo. This came after her guardian
had persuaded the state courts of Florida that
she would not have wanted to be kept alive
in that hopelessly vegetative condition. The
government moved with an urgency notably
lacking in its response to Hurricane Katrina:
the act of Congress directing that Terri
Schiavo be kept on articial life support was
signed into law in a midnight White House
ceremony just two days after it was rst
introduced in Congress. In that dramatic
stroke, those wielding power in Washington
revealed a self-righteousness that exposed
the stark hypocrisy of their incantation of
family values, federalism, and states rights
while exposing a stunning disregard for per-
sonal privacy, judicial independence, and the
separation of powers. The values and priori-
ties on display in that singular episode unfor-
tunately previewed the kind of government
that the Bush Constitution not only permits
but also celebrates a government that
talks the talk of democracy and a culture of
life while it walks the walk of despotism to
impose its vision upon those who would pur-
sue a different path.
Sadly, the Supreme Court, whose com-
position these same ofcials are in the pro-
cess of remaking, rather than providing an
antidote to this grotesque distortion of our
constitutional tradition, could well magnify
it, complicating the task of eventually revers-
ing the trajectory so that the better angels
of our constitutional nature might again be
given voice.
Each facet of the rightward turn in the
reigning constitutional paradigm bloated
presidential power, legislative passivity in
the face of executive dominance, judicial
willingness to extrapolate broad presidential
authority from snippets of constitutional and
statutory text, and judicial resistance to the
occasional instances of bold congressional
action to remedy government oppression
and discrimination, and judicial reluctance
to connect the constitutional dots to discern
underlying guarantees of human rights
involves a particular interface between cen-
ters of decision-making power and reects a
distinctive orientation (either positive or neg-
ative) with respect to a method of interpret-
ing the Constitution that I would describe as
structural rather than literal.
It was a hallmark of the supposedly con-
servative and restrained judicial methodology
of the Rehnquist Court to employ a structural
method to identify principles governing the
interface of state and federal power, locating
those principles not in the Constitutions lit-
eral text but in what Chief Justice Rehnquist
called the constitutional plan. Thus he
wrote of an implicit ordering of relation-
ships and the set of tacit postulates yielded
best the wishes and values of a temporary
majority and at worst the self-serving will of
a ruling clique.
In earlier times of real or imagined
national crisis, when the American president
donned the mantle of commander in chief,
protecting the nations security from ene-
mies foreign or domestic, the Supreme Court
has tended to be slow in restraining him. It
waited until war had passed before condemn-
ing as unconstitutional Abraham Lincolns
Civil-War use of military tribunals where
the civilian courts were open; it shamefully
ratied the criminal prosecutions of antiwar
speech during World War I and the oppres-
sive and racist exclusion of all Americans of
Japanese descent from their homes on the
West Coast in the wake of Pearl Harbor.
But the Court intervened at the height of
the Korean War to end President Trumans
congressionally unauthorized seizure of the
steel mills to preserve the ow of military
supplies to troops on the battleeld. The
Courts dramatic holding that no child may
be compelled to salute the American ag
came at the height of World War II. And the
Courts recent rejection of the Bush admin-
istrations assertion of unbounded authority
to detain without trial anyone captured on
the eld of battle in pursuit of those respon-
sible for the attacks of September 11 at a
time when the government was dening
every part of the globe, from the mountains
of Afghanistan to the streets of Baghdad
to the airport lobbies of America, as the
battleeld came while the war on terror-
ism was in full throttle. It was heartening to
hear even so conservative a Court insist that
a state of war is not a blank check for the
president when it comes to the rights of the
nations citizens and that it is during our
most challenging and uncertain moments
that our nations commitment to due pro-
cess is most severely tested; and it is in those
times that we must preserve our commit-
ment at home to the principles for which we
ght abroad.
So it is a bit of revisionist history to claim
that the Judicial Branch invariably folds
its cards and reexively approves whatever
extravagant exercises of power the politi-
cal branches engineer or, failing that, holds
its re until the guns of war are stilled and
the fog of war has lifted. But the Supreme
Courts recent reminder that presidential
power is limited even in wartime is by no
means guaranteed to prove more than a tem-
porary cosmetic. The justice who penned the
reassuring words about no blank check for
the president, Sandra Day OConnor, has
The Constitution is silent
on some of the close
encounters between
presidential authority and
personal liberty.
42 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
The Berlin Journal 43
by that ordering, unwritten axioms that are
as much engrained in the fabric of the docu-
ment as its express provisions, because with-
out them the Constitution is denied force and
often meaning.
Precedent for deriving basic principles
of this sort from the overall constitutional
structure is as venerable as the landmark rul-
ing of Chief Justice John Marshall in the 1819
case of McCulloch v. Maryland. Marshall held
that, although the Constitutions text is silent
on the power of a state to tax a federal instru-
mentality without congressional permis-
sion, the power to tax is the power to destroy,
and to concede the States such a power
would place at their mercy the Constitutions
afrmative grants of authority to the Federal
Government a result the Framers could
not have intended. The mode of reasoning
employed both by Marshall in 1819 and by
the Rehnquist Court in the later decades of
the twentieth century entailed asking wheth-
er a challenged exercise of governmental
authority could be justied only by forms of
argument that admit of no limiting principle.
A yes answer would mean that the contest-
ed government action is unconstitutional.
Many conservative as well as liberal
students of the Constitution, while accept-
ing the soundness of this structural mode
of interpretation, have argued that the
Rehnquist Court carried it to unjustied
extremes, striking down more congressional
enactments in a decade than all its predeces-
sors had struck down in two centuries and
doing so in ways that entailed judicially sec-
ond-guessing empirical ndings Congress
had based on intensive hearings or in ways
that interposed highly formalistic legal tests
spun from thin air. Among the major federal
laws held unconstitutional by the Rehnquist
Court in the 1990s nearly always by votes
of ve-to-four, with the justices dividing the
same way every time were statutes making
states accountable for unlawful age and dis-
ability discrimination; laws subjecting states
to federal suit for patent, copyright, or trade-
mark infringement; provisions empowering
women victimized by sexual violence to sue
their attackers for money damages in federal
court; measures outlawing the possession
of handguns near schools; and enactments
compelling local authorities to do back-
ground checks on would-be gun purchasers.
There is every reason to suppose that, on
these matters, Chief Justice John Roberts
will follow in the footsteps of his predecessor,
William H. Rehnquist, and that the newest
justice, Samuel Alito, will vote with the most
conservative members of the Court, Justices
Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, put-
ting in jeopardy the few recent instances in
which the Court managed by a bare majority
to uphold congressional legislation protect-
ing the rights of state and local employees to
take medical or family leave without nan-
cial penalty and ensuring access to court for
prisoners and the disabled.
ven if one thinks the structural
method of interpretation was pushed
too far in the direction of limiting fed-
eral power and shielding states from
liability for mistreating their citizens, there
should be no quarrel with the fundamental
insight that no satisfactory approach to inter-
preting the Constitution may blind itself, to
quote from a 1979 opinion of then-Justice
Rehnquist, to important concepts that do
not nd expression in the literal terms of [its]
provisions, but which are of constitutional
dimension because their derogation would
undermine the logic of the constitutional
Yet it is that very insight into constitu-
tional structure that the supposedly conser-
vative jurisprudence of a growing number
of justices refuses even to acknowledge, let
alone embrace, when the focus of inquiry
turns from the federal-state balance of power
to the limits of presidential power vis--vis
the other branches of government and, per-
haps even more basic, to the limits vis--vis
individuals and families of governmental
power generally, from the local and state to
the national levels.
The same logic that derives a national
government of broad but still circumscribed
authority from the Constitutions structure
counsels judicial invalidation of those fed-
eral measures that can be rationalized only
through modes of argument that would yield
unbounded national power. In precisely the
same manner, the constitutional logic that
would afrm Congresss authority to legis-
late as it thinks necessary to effectuate the
powers that the Constitution vests in any
part of the national government points to
judicial invalidation of those assertions of
presidential power whose defense presup-
poses a Congress powerless to circumscribe
presidential conduct and implies presidential
immunity from the rule of law. And so, too,
the logic that extracts from the Constitution
the structural lesson that government not be
all-powerful vis--vis the individual suggests
judicial invalidation of measures by which
those wielding government power comman-
deer the lives of those whom they govern on a
basis that yields to no limiting principle.

44 Number Twelve | Spring 2006

But central to the jurisprudence of the
Right is an insistence that extrapolations
from the Constitutions structure along these
two axes the horizontal axis of presidential
power as against the power of the coordinate
federal branches, and the vertical axis of
governmental power as against the power of
self-governing individuals be rejected as
illegitimate departures from the original
meaning of the document. Witness how
readily the Right labels such extrapolations
legislating from the bench when judges
reason structurally from the Constitutions
basic design to limit presidential excess with-
in a system of checks and balances, to keep
religious bodies from wielding public power
and public ofcials from wielding religious
authority, or to prevent government from
dictating private choices in intimate matters
over which only a totalitarian government
can claim genuine authority.
he Bush administrations rejec-
tion of structural method in interpret-
ing and enforcing the Constitution
along these two axes is manifestly
inconsistent with its acceptance of that same
method along the third axis: that of feder-
alism. No intellectual decit can account
for the Rights blissfully unacknowledged
insistence on having it both ways. Only the
Rights substantive values and policy prefer-
ences can explain the apparent hypocrisy: a
structural logic that denies the president the
role of supreme lawmaker even in a time of
war leads much too quickly for their comfort
to a repudiation of the Bush administrations
major post-September-11 claims of presi-
dential power. These include the presidents
assertions that he cannot be bound even
by treaties ratied by the Senate, or by laws
passed by Congress within its sphere of del-
egated powers, whenever such laws restrict
the presidents preferred methods of pur-
suing terrorists and preventing terrorist
attacks. Among the measures the admin-
istration dismisses as constitutional nulli-
ties are treaties and laws banning the use
of torture in interrogating detainees whom
the president deems enemy combatants,
as well as laws requiring judicial warrants
when electronically eavesdropping within
the US on whichever American citizens the
presidents men suspect of having commu-
nicated with anyone overseas whom they
regard as having terrorist connections.
Playing on fears of another terrorist epi-
sode, exaggerating the likely utility of its
spying efforts and the need to pursue them
without judicial supervision, and relying
on the American publics surprising apathy
about informational privacy, the adminis-
tration has offered transparently weak and
internally inconsistent defenses of its spy-
ing program. It claims simultaneously that
Congress unknowingly licensed such spying
when it authorized the use of military force
to go after al-Qaeda in the immediate wake
of September 11; that the administration
chose not to ask explicitly for congressional
authority to spy because of concern that
Congress would have said no unless the
administration revealed more information
than it thought wise; and that no congres-
sional authorization was needed anyway
because construing federal statutes such as
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
to constrain such spying would usurp the
presidents power under Article 2 as the com-
mander in chief.
If one were to read the Constitution and
the statutes enacted under its authority from
the structural perspective that drove the
Rehnquist Courts federalism doctrines, the
legal signposts would point the other way.
But so be it; the world is not only a dangerous
place, it is a place full of contradictions.
Apart from the underlying inconsistency
of method, this is a breathtaking and unprec-
edented view of the distribution of power in
our constitutional system. And it is matched,
if not exceeded, by another astonishing view:
that, because the Constitution does not speak
expressly to these matters, it leaves unpro-
tected from government control the rights
of individuals to determine the shape of
the lives they will lead or the sexual intima-
cies in which they will engage. As the Bush
administration and its ideological allies read
it, the Constitutions textually explicit guar-
antee of equal protection of the laws does
not cast into doubt laws preventing same-sex
couples from marrying. And because the
Constitution, although speaking of liberty,
makes no explicit reference to reproduction
or abortion, not even the combined effect of
its manifest concerns with privacy, bodily
integrity, and equal protection sufces to
limit governments power to decide the cir-
cumstances in which a woman must risk
unwanted pregnancy as the price of being
sexually active; the situations in which she
must gestate a fetus until birth rather than
choose a safe abortion however desperately
she wants or needs not to become a mother;
and even the circumstances in which a
woman who opts for motherhood may be
compelled to terminate her pregnancy rather
than give birth to a disabled child. For the
mode of constitutional interpretation that
has led the Supreme Court over the past four
decades to identify zones of personal privacy
putting matters like these largely beyond the
reach of government essentially the same
method that underlay the Rehnquist Courts
protections for state sovereignty is derided
as a blueprint for judicial usurpation by the
jurisprudence of the right, now in the ascen-
dancy in the United States.
n a famous 1928 dissent in Olmstead
v. United States, Justice Louis D. Brandeis
anticipated the many technologies
through which government, without
physically invading the home, would one day
be enabled to expose the most intimate
occurrences there and might even be able
to explore unexpressed beliefs, thoughts
and emotions. The protection guaran-
teed by the combination of the Fourth and
Fifth Amendments, he argued, had to be
of a breadth commensurate with the pos-
sible threat, attributing to the makers of
our Constitution an attempt to protect
Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts,
their emotions, and their sensations and to
confer as against the government, the right
to be let alone the most comprehensive
of rights and the right most valued by civi-
lized men. Brandeiss conclusion was that,
to protect that right, every unjustiable
intrusion by the government upon the pri-
vacy of the individual, whatever the means
employed, must be deemed a violation of the
Fourth Amendment.
Although reluctant to go quite that far, the
Supreme Court beginning with its holding
in 1965 that a law banning the use of contra-
ceptives deprived married couples of their
privacy in violation of the Constitution, and
continuing with a series of decisions invali-
dating laws restricting abortion laid down
Many students of the
Constitution have argued
that the Rehnquist Court
carried the structural
mode of interpretation
to extremes, striking
down more congressional
enactments in a decade
than all its predecessors
had struck down in two
a set of principles that the jurisprudence
of the Right renders conspicuously vulner-
able. An open question is how the practitio-
ners of that jurisprudence will balance their
ostensible commitment to respect precedent
and to honor the reliance that people have
placed on settled law with their underlying
distaste for the methods used by prior courts
to arrive at privacy-protecting conclusions
and their deep belief that the force driving
those courts was a licentious disregard for
the sanctity of human life. To judge from
the conrmation hearings of Justice Samuel
Alito, his approach to these matters seems
unlikely to give decisive weight to those
precedents. And, even more troubling to me,
he seems likely not just to view the Courts
abortion holdings as having accorded too
little respect to the state interest in unborn
life a matter about which reasonable people
can certainly differ but also to view those
decisions as having erred fatally from the
outset by treating a womans control over
her reproductive life as entitled to special
constitutional protection.
The 1965 precedent recognizing a con-
stitutional right to use contraceptives is
now so well established that Supreme Court
nominees routinely say they accept it as fully
settled law, but the decision is in fact anath-
ema to the legal philosophy embraced by
the Bush administration and its supporters.
While the administrations fellow travelers
sometimes include libertarians who believe
the Constitution requires dismantling
everything beyond the night watchman
state, not even they accept the idea that the
Constitution distinguishes between liberty
with respect to intimate sexual choices and
liberty with respect to purely economic mat-
ters like the price of oil.
Needless to say, a great deal turns on how
the Supreme Court justices appointed in the
coming years all of whom, if nominated by
George W. Bush or others cast in his mold
and if subjected to conrmation hearings
as shallow and pointless as those starring
Justice Alito would go about reasoning
that the Supreme Court erred in treating
abortion as constitutionally protected. Much
depends on whether they reach that conclu-
sion on the relatively modest ground that the
Court insufciently appreciated the rights
of the unborn (or perhaps insufciently
respected the states interest in protecting
fetal life even if the unborn have no rights
as such). Alarm bells should go off if, as
seems likely, the new justices rest their con-
clusion on the more radical ground that the
Court has no business protecting any facet of
human liberty more than any other because
the Constitutions text protects liberty only
from procedurally unfair deprivation and in
any event draws no distinction among sub-
stantive liberties, according no special con-
stitutional protection to intimate personal
decisions. Those decisions relate not only to
pregnancy and the beginning of life, but also
to such matters as stem cell research, thera-
peutic and reproductive cloning, organ trans-
plants, articially prolonging ones life or
the life of a comatose loved one, or ending a
terminal illness by dying with dignity rather
than lingering in an alternation of agony and
nd it is there that the circle
closes. That the Constitution is silent
on some close encounters between
presidential authority and personal
liberty becomes, in the Bush legal philoso-
phy, not a reason to resolve doubt against
whatever the presidents latest grab for power
might entail, but a reason to treat the presi-
dent as presumptively empowered to take
whatever steps he deems necessary even in
the face of seemingly clear and explicit con-
gressional prohibition and to construe the
absence of specic constitutional text guar-
anteeing the liberty being extinguished as
proof that no such liberty is entitled to con-
stitutional protection.
I suspect that much of what the adminis-
tration has said in defending its most auda-
cious assertions of authority is calculated
less to save particular programs than to set
precedents for ever more sweeping claims
of unconstrained and unconstrainable
presidential power to deal with terrorism in
a war that has already lasted longer than
the two years of Americas involvement in
World War I or the three years and nine
months of our involvement in World War II
or the Civil Wars four years. This war,
waged against a tactic too vague to locate
even on a conceptual map and too vast ever
to vanquish, is in fact less a well-dened
pursuit than an excuse for violating basic
rights and ignoring basic needs.
Although opposition to this increas-
ingly transparent administration strategy,
and to its seemingly reckless embrace
of arguments verging on the authoritar-
ian, is growing even within Republican
ranks, that opposition has not risen even
to the level of meaningful congressional
investigation into the presidents abject
failures to preserve, protect, and defend
either the Constitution or the people of the
United States. Legislative responses to the
administrations clearly illegal and even
criminal program of electronic surveillance
have amounted to little more than proposals
to exempt the program retroactively from
otherwise applicable laws, or to give it a face
lift with some minimal form of oversight.
And it seems likely that the opposition will
dissipate entirely even in the unlikely but
not impossible event that control of at least
one house of Congress were to shift to the
Democratic Party this November should
any of the administrations foreign adven-
tures, whether today in Iraq or, one fears,
tomorrow in Iran, miraculously begin actu-
ally to succeed.
If that were to happen, I would expect
the presidents poll numbers to turn up, the
vice presidents mishaps to be forgotten, the
evidence of staggering ineptitude to recede
from memory, and the calls for impeach-
ment now just beginning to gather
momentum to turn silent. It is a sad irony
that perhaps the best hope for a decisive
national repudiation of this gang a gang
that cant shoot straight and that seemingly
knows neither humility nor shame as it
proceeds to squander the nations consti-
tutional legacy in the pursuit of a world it
apparently thinks divinely ordained is the
overwhelming likelihood that its dreams
will turn to dust in a dazzling display of
imploding shock and awe. Now if only there
were a moderately coherent opposition
strategy that could ll the resulting vacuum,
Americas climb back out of this black hole
might not be so steep.

Laurence H. Tribe is the Carl M. Loeb

University Professor at Harvard
University. He is the author of 115 books
and articles, including his treatise
American Constitutional Law, and has
argued 34 cases before the US Supreme
Court. He was a Citigroup Distinguished
Visitor at the Academy this March.
This war, waged against a
tactic too vague to locate
even on a conceptual
map and too vast ever to
vanquish, is in fact less a
well-defined pursuit than
an excuse for violating
basic rights and ignoring
basic needs.
The Berlin Journal 45
John Heartfield, dust jacket for The Brown Book, 1933.
Stiftung Archiv Akademie der Knste/ VG Bild-Kunst
Staging Antifascism
The Brown Book of the Reichstag Fire and Hitler Terror
By Anson Rabinbach
uring the night
of February 27, 1933
just days before the
rst election faced
by the new National Socialist
government the main assem-
bly hall of the Reichstag in
Berlin was set ablaze and largely
destroyed by re. Police and
remen called to the scene
found a disaffected Dutch coun-
cil communist, Marinus van
der Lubbe, who confessed at the
scene to being the arsonist.

48 Number Twelve | Spring 2006

Nazi leaders, including Goebbels and
Gring who arrived while the building
was still ablaze, blamed the communists.
Within hours, they unleashed a mas-
sive campaign of repression that placed
Germany under martial law and estab-
lished a dictatorship through the mecha-
nism of the Enabling Law of March
24, 1933. Some eight to ten thousand
opponents of the regime, including ve
thousand communists, were arrested in
the days and weeks that followed. In addi-
tion to van der Lubbe, four others were
charged with conspiracy to commit arson:
the chief of the Communist delegation in
the Reichstag, Ernst Torgler, and three
Bulgarian communists, Georgi Dimitrov,
Vasil Tanev, and Blagoi Popov.
At the end of August, a group of com-
munist exiles and writers who had ed to
Paris in the wake of the re published The
Brown Book of the Reichstag Fire and Hitler
Terror. It was more than a book; it was a
staged event and the center of an interna-
tional campaign, and it convinced much
of the world that the Nazis conspired to
burn the Reichstag as the pretext to estab-
lish a dictatorship. The campaign around
the Brown Book and the trial of Georgi
Dimitrov and the other defendants in the
trial held in Leipzig from September to
December 1933 was so skillfully managed
that it persuaded a broad public and repu-
table historians until the 1960s that the
Nazis had indeed set the blaze.
Not until 1959, when the German
news magazine Der Spiegel published a
series based on the research of the non-
academic historian Fritz Tobias, were the
Brown Books falsications and misrepre-
sentations exposed.
Since the late 1960s
questions have periodically arisen about
details presented in Tobiass research,
and there remain today a number of dedi-
cated researchers who maintain that he
was engaged in a cover-up and that the
Nazis (Goebbels, Gring, and the SA)
were responsible for the re. To be sure,
the Brown Book remained the standard
account of Nazi fascism throughout the
German Democratic Republics forty-year
history. But no credible evidence linking
the arsonist van der Lubbe to the Nazis
has ever emerged. Much of the contro-
versy then and now is literally forensic: it
concerns questions about van der Lubbes
1 Fritz Tobias, Der Reichstagbrand.
Legende und Wirklichkeit (Rastatt:
G. Grotsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1962.)
Der Spiegel, October 1958 to January 1960.
path on the night of the re, the timeline
of events, the chemical and forensic evi-
dence, and the inconsistencies and con-
tradictions in the trial testimony. Though
the amount of detail in each of these areas
is daunting to non-experts, actual evi-
dence of a Nazi conspiracy is scant.
What is ultimately at stake in the seem-
ingly never-ending controversy, as Hans
Mommsen noted forty years ago, is the
question of whether the end of democracy
was the result of a planned and well-orga-
nized plot or whether a historical acci-
dent gave the Nazis the pretext to estab-
lish non-parliamentary rule in Germany.
The Brown Book, it can be argued, cre-
ated the prism through which most of the
world saw Nazism for more than a genera-
tion. The story it told was one of ruthless
and diabolical Nazis bent on eliminat-
ing all their political rivals and planning
the re as a pretext to assume dictatorial
power on the eve of the elections. The
central character in the book was Marinus
van der Lubbe, described as a small, half
blind love-slave whose name appeared on
a list of lovers of the notorious SA leader
Ernst Rhm. The Brown Book charged
that though van der Lubbe admitted he
had acted alone, the true arsonists were
Goebbels, who planned the conspiracy,
and Gring, who directed his SA accom-
plices to use a secret underground pas-
sage to enter the Reichstag from his adja-
cent presidential residence. (Gring had
been president of the Reichstag since the
Nazi takeover of the Prussian government
in 1932.) Gring and Goebbels wanted to
blame international communism, hence
the arrest of Torgler and the Bulgarians.
Further evidence of conspiracy was sup-
pressed by murder and terror. Among
those silenced were George Bell, a myste-
rious SA man who had allegedly procured
young men for Rhm; a popular Berlin
clairvoyant named Erik Jan Hanussen;
and Ernst Oberfohren, president of the
German Nationalists in the Reichstag,
said to have left a memorandum found
after his mysterious suicide revealing
details of the plot (a communist forgery,
in fact). According to the Brown Book, the
Reichstag re was the well-planned act of
terror with which the murderous, degen-
erate Nazis secured total control over
The campaign surrounding the book
was the creation of Willi Mnzenberg,
the renowned international commu-
nist impresario and Reichstag deputy.
Mnzenbergs organizational empire
included the International Red Aid (iah)
and numerous newspapers and journals,
including the highly successful illustrated
weekly the Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung
(aiz), with a circulation of nearly half a
million. His premise was that the re
could only be a political crime, premedi-
tated, supported, and perpetrated by lead-
ing Nazi functionaries. Mnzenberg
seized the opportunity with characteristic
skill and dramaturgical air. He knew, as
Bruno Frei has put it, that there was no
more effective propaganda than an event
that propagandized itself.
The Brown Book became a best-seller,
translated into some 24 languages and
published in more than 55 editions.
There were also ve illegal editions and
camouaged and miniature copies
hidden between the innocuous covers
of Schillers Wallenstein and Goethes
Hermann und Dorothea and smuggled
into Germany by a well-coordinated sys-
tem of underground couriers. Gimbels
department store in New York featured
the book in its advertisments. Long after
he broke with the communists, the jour-
nalist Arthur Koestler, who had worked
closely with Mnzenberg at the time,
could still claim that it probably had the
strongest political impact of any pamphlet
since Tom Paines Common Sense.
More signicant still was the Brown
Books impact on the ofcial Leipzig
trial, which began in mid September.
From the rst day of the trial to its close
on December 31 when the Chief Judge
of the Supreme Court, Dr. Karl Werner,
delivered a summation explicitly refut-
ing its claim that only the Nazis could
have beneted from the re the book
remained an active presence in the
courtroom. Scores of witnesses, including
2 Arthur Koestler, The Invisible Writing:
The Second Volume of an Autobiography,
19321940 (New York: Stein and Day,
1984), 243.
The Brown Book was more than a book. It was a staged
event, and it convinced many that the Nazis burned the
Reichstag as the pretext to establish a dictatorship.
The Berlin Journal 49
Gring, Goebbels, and SA chief Edmund
Heines were called solely to challenge its
allegations. Goebbels himself called the
Brown Book the sixth defendant.
The Brown Book lled two urgent
political and emotional needs, explaining
how without mentioning the utter impo-
tence of the kpd or the unpreparedness of
its leaders the Nazis were able to drive
the Communist Party out of existence
and its leaders into exile or prison. It sur-
rounded that explanation with an image
of the Nazis that in all respects ignored
their popularity and electoral successes
in favor of one in which conspiracy, black-
mail, brutality, pathology, and sexual
deviance took pride of place. The image
of Nazi fascism that emerged from the
Brown Book and the Reichstag Fire cam-
paign no longer rested on the Marxist
dogma of inevitable proletarian victory or
on capitalist string-pulling but on a newly-
fashioned image of heroic and innocent
victims of degenerate homosexuals and
morphine addicts. At the core of commu-
nist antifascism was a conspiracy narra-
tive or, one might more accurately say, a
counter-conspiracy narrative. If the Nazis
accused the communists of planning
the re as the signal for an insurrection,
Mnzenberg and the Comintern, for their
part, constructed the Nazi conspiracy as
a well-planned and successful gamble
aimed at destroying democracy and elimi-
nating the communists and their enemies
from the scene.
In fact, as one of the few skeptical
voices, Douglas Reed of the London Times,
remarked, there was only a pigeon hole
of credulity for a Nazi conspiracy. What
purpose, then, did these conicting nar-
ratives of conspiracy serve? Conspiracy
theories are constructed out of the convic-
tion that there are no accidents in history,
that everything is connected, intended,
meaningful, and ultimately explain-
able in other words, that human beings
deprived of agency are being manipulated
by something behind their backs. The
Reichstag Fire case, with two opposing
conspiracy narratives, reveals a historical
moment of profoundly diminished agen-
cy, certainly on the left, in the 1930s.
In April Mnzenberg vetted his plans
for the campaign with the Comintern in
Moscow. An internal Comintern memo-
randum underscored the importance
of conducting a campaign that made
use of modern propaganda techniques,
avoided obsolete methods and put its
main emphasis on the mobilization of
public opinion. During late July and
early August 1933 Mnzenberg trav-
eled to Moscow to nalize plans. But
Moscows enthusiasm and the resources
put at his disposal should not be exagger-
ated. Comintern leaders and the more
skeptical Soviets needed to be persuaded
that European antifascism was a viable
political option. As late as December
1933, it should be recalled, Stalin had not
altered his rather implacable stance that
Germany might still remain a reliable ally
despite the advent of Hitler. Moscows atti-
tude toward exile antifascism was, at this
stage, tepid.
As it turned out, the campaign to save
the four communists though not the
accused arsonist van der Lubbe rep-
resented the rst stirrings of the exile
antifascist movement that the Comintern
would later come to regard as a model
for all subsequent Popular-Front enter-
prises. The master of the Brown Book
campaign was Otto Katz, who operated
under a number of noms de guerre. A
German-speaking Czech Jew, the lin-
guistically gifted and dandyish Katz
was equally at home in Prague, Berlin,
Moscow, Paris, Mexico City, and Beverly
Hills, to name just some of the stations
on his itinerary. The author of more than
a dozen books (though few published
under his own name), Katz had worked
for Mnzenbergs iah in Moscow in the
1920s and was widely reputed (by both
the fbi and his former coworkers) to be a
Soviet agent.
Conicting versions of the authorship
of the Brown Book circulated for years, in
large part due to the divergent political
paths subsequently taken by its multiple
authors. Katz remained a communist,
organizing antifascist campaigns in
Hollywood, running the Agence Presse
Espagne during the Spanish Civil War,
and later working for the Komitee Freies
Deutschland in Mexico. In December
1952 Katz was convicted of espionage
and cosmopolitanism and executed with
the 13 other victims of the notorious
Slansky Trials. Mnzenberg died under
mysterious circumstances after being
released from a French internment camp
in October 1940. Koestler, Gustav Regler,
and Alfred Kantorowicz became notori-
ous renegades and repudiated their old
comrades (though not the Brown Book).
Alexander Abusch, who later became
an sed functionary, disparaged the ex-
communists as bohemian intellectuals
and late-communists. So intense was
the rivalry between Abusch and Katz
over the Brown Books authorship that it
became a source of friction when both
were in Mexican exile in the 1940s, and,
as their gdr Stasi les reveal, was still
a sore point during the anti-cosmopoli-
tan purges of the 1950s when Abusch
was briey relieved of his posts in the
gdr and Katz was arrested in Prague.
According to the Stasi archives, in 1952
Abusch noted that Katz had very many
petty-bourgeois, typically intellectual
characteristics. Katz acknowledged that
Abusch was his co-editor, but pridefully

insisted to his interrogator in Prague

to the moment that he was executed that
it was due to my efforts that the Brown
Book was completed.
Many factors contributed to the Brown
Books commercial success, not least its
extraordinary jacket design by the

The Reichstag Fire case, with two opposing conspiracy
narratives, reveals a historical moment of profoundly
diminished agency, certainly on the left, in the 1930s.
What is ultimately at
stake in the seemingly
controversy, as Hans
Mommsen noted
forty years ago, is the
question of whether the
end of democracy was
the result of a planned
and well-organized
plot or whether a
historical accident
gave the Nazis the
pretext to establish
non-parliamentary rule
in Germany.
50 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
pioneer of photomontage John Hearteld.
Years later Abusch recalled: We were
working in a frenzied rush, in a race to
keep up with events, beginning the Brown
Book at the beginning of August and
preparing it simultaneously in several
countries. The German edition came out
rst. We said right away, already in May,
that there was only one person who could
create the dust jacket for the explosive
Brown Book and that is John Hearteld.
Heartelds composition, Gring, the
Executioner of the Third Reich, was
produced in August and contained six
elements: the burning Reichstag; the con-
torted screaming face of Gring; a torso of
a soldier with his arms cut off at the elbow,
to which Hearteld pasted two oversized
arms to suggest an ape-like demeanor;
a drawing of an axe; a butchers apron
with added blood splatters; and nally
the Reichstag faade, with its pediment
inscription Dem Deutschen Volke (To
the German People) purposefully blurred.
Grings uniform is printed in reverse
with the telltale armband on the right
arm. The books back cover is a bloody
corpse splayed against a swastika, an
image that bears a marked resemblance to
Jacques-Louis Davids Death of Marat.
Heartelds cover design was the
external visual analogue to the Brown
Books content, which brought together
disparate elements of Nazism terror,
capitalist conspiracy, sexual anomaly and
degeneracy, morphine addiction etc. to
create a composite image of National
Socialisms inner reality. Like its jacket,
the Brown Book was a montage of investi-
gative journalism, communist tract, and
a modern polit-thriller with all the major
components of a detective novel. It wove
together factually correct elements, like
accusations from the Nazi press and vivid
examples of Nazi terror, with falsica-
tions, conjecture, and unique inventions.
As Koestler recalled, All this was based
on isolated scraps of information, deduc-
tion, guesswork, and brazen bluff. Like
all good detective ction, the Brown Book
staged an epic struggle between the
ingenuous and preternaturally developed
investigator (the book itself) and the
cleverly irrational criminal in this case,
the unscrupulous and fundamentally
depraved Gring. It established a motive
and then built the three key elements of
the conspiracy: the plan (conceived by
Goebbels); the means (the underground
passage by which the conspirators were
able to set the re undetected); the mur-
dered witnesses (especially Bell and
Oberfohren); and nally the crucial link
between the arsonist and the conspirators.
Building on the notorious scandal
around Ernst Rhm, the Brown Books
most sensational claim was that there
was a direct line from the homosexual
madman Marinus van der Lubbe to the
SA, and nally to Bell, an adventurer and
condence man who was mysteriously
murdered in Austria in April 1933. Bell,
alleged to be Rhms pimp, supposedly
maintained a list of the young men he
procured for him, one of whom was iden-
tied by a certain W.S. as Rinus and
van der The Brown Books character-
ization of van der Lubbe as a prostitute in
the service of the Nazis is its most dubi-
ous and most pivotal assertion, one that
has no basis in the evidence presented
about the defendant to the police, to the
court, or in the facts of Martin Schoutens
well-researched biography of van der
Lubbe. Though the book observed that
van der Lubbe possessed so powerful
a physical upper body and had twice
planned to swim the English Channel
for prize money that he was nicknamed
Dempsey by his colleagues, it consistent-
ly represented him as a feminized man:
Van der Lubbe is in his whole essence
homosexual. His character is feminine,
his reserve and shyness in front of women
is established by the testimony of many,
his need for closeness and tenderness
from men is notorious.
This characterization of van der Lubbe
served not merely to link him to the con-
spiracy but also to create a highly eroti-
cized link between homosexuality and
fascism, what Andrew Hewitt has called
homo-fascism. Van der Lubbe was the
tool, whose essential character was con-
stituted by his position between the sexes
and the classes, making him obedient
and pliable to the will of the arsonists.
He was what the Brown Book called an
embryonic fascist.
There could be no doubt that from
a propaganda standpoint the Brown
Book campaign beneted from the Nazi
regimes lack of a rm control over the
legal machinery of late-Weimar jus-
tice. Hitler would have preferred a brief
trial and obviously knew that the furor
stirred up against the regime by the
campaign was inaming anti-Nazi senti-
ment abroad. The public outcry that the
Leipzig court was conducting a politi-
cal and not a criminal trial obviously
weighed on the German attorneys and
judges who tried to preserve a semblance
of legality and legitimacy. At the same
time, Mnzenbergs effort to portray the
court as a Nazi show trial diminished
expectations for acquittal and was at cross-
purposes with the criminal defense of
the four communists a fact already obvi-
ous to an American civil liberties lawyer,
Arthur Gareld Hays, who witnessed the
trial in Leipzig.
Once the trial began, however,
things changed dramatically. Georgi
Dimitrov refused to cooperate with his
court-appointed lawyer and conducted a
defense, as he put it, worthy of a commu-
nist leader. He defended both commu-
nism and his own innocence. He easily
discredited the key witness against him,
and was deant and relentless in his
questioning of prosecutors, eyewitnesses,
and Nazi leaders whose hostile testimony
was meant to refute the books claims.
Especially his triumph over the witness
Gring who was reduced to shouting
epithets, and to whom Dimitrov famous-
ly asked, are my questions making you
afraid, Mr. Prime Minister? made him
into a communist hero, the conquering
Lion. Brochures and y sheets appeared
immediately, as did a second Brown Book
entitled Dimitrov against Gring. It, too,
sported a Hearteld photomontage.
The campaign underscored the con-
trast between the hero Dimitrov and the
The Brown Book was a montage of investigative journalism,
communist tract, and a modern polit-thriller with all the
major components of a detective novel.
Conspiracy theories are
constructed out of the
conviction that there are
no accidents in history, that
everything is connected,
intended, meaningful, and
ultimately explainable.
The Berlin Journal 51
puzzle of van der Lubbe, who appeared at
the opening of the trial to have completely
collapsed. He walked as if he were asleep.
His head was bowed. The expression on
his face was set; his eyes unseeing, his
head bent over his chest, recounted the
Brown Book II. Photographs of van der
Lubbe with his striped pajamas, blank
stare, and bowed head were widely dis-
seminated, an image in striking contrast
with the rather well-built man arrested
on the night of the re. The Times Reed
wrote: A mental decient said some; a
consummate actor, said others. At one
point Dimitrov pointed to van der Lubbe:
This stupid tool, this miserable Faust is
here, but Mephistopheles has vanished.
Reed added, Did Faust know? Or was he
not even the tool of others, but a poor and
tattered vagrant on the high road of life?
Van der Lubbes demeanor and appar-
ent physical and mental collapse was
pressed into the service of the Brown
Books conjecture that he was an embryo
fascist. It turned the working-class
council communist into a dclass vaga-
bond, the abject archetype of the proto-
Nazi whose very body betrayed his locus
on the extreme edge of the social and
moral geography of the political. Van der
Lubbes biographer Schouten suggests
that he became indifferent to the trial
because his act which by his own admis-
sion lasted exactly ten minutes had
dissolved in months of conjecture, false
testimony, and irrelevant facts, which, as
van der Lubbe himself said at a stunning
moment during the trial, had nothing
to do with it. He had indeed become
the hapless tool, not of the Nazis, but of
both of his enemies simultaneously the
Nazis and the Communists.
If the campaign turned van der Lubbe
into the puzzle, Dimitrov was the mir-
acle. His closing speech ended with an
unplanned theatrical ourish. As he recit-
ed Galileos famous line The earth doth
move all the same!, the presiding judge
ordered the bailiffs to remove him from
the courtroom. Dimitrov was physically
carried from the room while intoning the
words the wheel of history is moving
onward, toward a Soviet Europe, toward a
world of Soviet Republics. Mnzenberg
could not have dreamed up a better nale.
On December 23, 1933 the court pro-
nounced van der Lubbe guilty of high
treason (he was executed in January)
but handed down a verdict of acquittal
for Torgler, Dimitrov, Popov, and Tanev.
Though the four defendants were exon-
erated of conspiracy charges, President
Bnger still proclaimed that Germany
had been snatched back at the last
moment from the abyss into which com-
munist leaders were trying to plunge the
The ofcial Nazi Press Bureau called
the verdict an outrage to the German
nations sense of justice. This wrong-
ful verdict, it added, makes abundantly
clear before the eyes of the whole nation
the necessity for a radical reform of our
judicial system, which still in many ways
follows the liberal idea that has been
set aside as foreign to our race. The
Vlkischer Beobachter was even more
blunt, predicting that National Socialist
Germany will know how to draw the con-
sequences from the Leipzig verdict.
A jubilant Mnzenberg called the
acquittal the rst defeat of the Hitler
regime and a great and irrevocable
triumph of communism. The acquittal
gave not only Dimitrov but international
communism an unexpected gift: the
halo of innocence. As Koestler noted in
his autobiography, In the public mind,
Dimitrovs acquittal became synonymous
with the acquittal of communism in gen-
eral from the charge of conspiracy and
violence. Communist terror was an inven-
tion of the Nazis to discredit their main
opponents; in reality, the communists
were honest defenders of freedom and
democracy. Dimitrov became the symbol
of that brave and respectable type of mod-
ern liberal, the anti-fascist.
Dimitrov became something that had
eluded European communism since its
inception: a genuinely popular demo-
cratic hero. He became the emblem of
the new face of antifascist communism
in the mid 1930s: no longer insular, illicit,
clandestine, and proletarian but virile,
virtuous, and democratic. The image
of international antifascism changed
dramatically from the dour proletar-
ian comrade in his workers cap to the
well-dressed, articulate, and cultivated
European capable of quoting Goethe and
Lenin in the same breath. The transfor-
mation of the image of communism at
Leipzig was synchronous with a more
massive alteration in the self-represen-
tation of European and Soviet commu-
nism from the avant-garde to conserva-
tive humanism; from the visual to the
literary; from the rhetoric of class and the
revolutionary vanguard to the rhetoric of
the people and the nation.
But the symbolic victory in Leipzig
masked the massive defeat of German
communism nine months earlier. The
Brown Book provided some of the rst
details of the Nazi terror, the concentra-
tion camps, and the persecution of the
Jews. It provoked the regime to acknowl-
edge the existence of concentration camps
and to provide a public justication for
them in an Anti-Brown Book.

At the same time, the Brown Books
image of a regime without popular sup-
port resting on the machinations of
social outcasts, morphine addicts, and
homosexuals created the communist
myth of fascism, which, as George Mosse
observed, could have come from the pen
of Goebbels himself. This is not to equate
Nazism and anti-fascism but to argue for
a more complex reading of the borrow-
ings and dynamic interplay of these two
political enemies. More serious than any
of Mnzenbergs deceptions was the self-
deception that terror and not popular sup-
port was the main source of the regimes
success. By organizing an international
campaign that depicted the Nazis as
conspirators and terrorists, Mnzenberg
underestimated the capacity of the Nazis
for even more cynical and criminal acts
than those that followed the burning of
the Reichstag.

Anson Rabinbach, a professor of mod-

ern European history at Princeton
University and director of European
Cultural Studies there, was a JPMorgan
Fellow at the Academy last fall. His
most recent book is In the Shadow
of Catastrophe: German Intellectuals
Between Apocalypse and Enlightenment.
3 See Werner Schfer, Konzentrationslager
Oranienburg: Das Anti-Braunbuch ber das
erste deutsche KZ (Berlin, 1934).
Marinus van der Lubbe, who confessed at the scene to being
the arsonist, indeed became a hapless tool, not of the Nazis,
but of both of his persecutors simultaneously the Nazis and
the Communists.
52 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
ust over sixt y years ago, in late
summer 1944, France was liberated.
Even today, however, the bitter after-
taste of Nazi occupation and French
collaboration continue to haunt the French
people, who have never been really liberated
from its psychological and moral burden.
As an American who has devoted much
of his professional career to studying Vichy
France, I am struck by the gulf that sepa-
rates the generally positive American mem-
ories of World War II from the mostly nega-
tive French ones.
Three aspects of the French wartime
experience made it particularly hard to bear.
The enormous prestige of the French Army
in 1939 we know now how anxious many
senior German generals became during
the battle for France in May 1940 made
its humiliating fall seem all the more
abject. Moreover, while other occupied
nations largely united against the Nazi
occupation, the French had two rival gov-
ernments. Among the occupied nations,
only Yugoslavia was more deeply divided
by the occupation experience than the
French; both occupations amplied exist-
ing conicts. Marshal Philippe Ptains
Vichy France, committed to applying the
Armistice of June 25, 1940, to collaborating
with the Nazi occupiers of the northern half
of the country, and to replacing the Republic
with something tougher, fought General de
Gaulles Free France, committed to pursu-
ing the war against Hitler and to restoring
democracy in France sometimes even by
combat. Ultimately, Marshal Ptains efforts
to make collaboration work drew the French
administration, more ofcially than the
administrations of other Western European
nations, into complicity with Nazi atroci-
ties. At the beginning Vichy France seemed
to have the stronger claim to legitimacy. In
June 1940 Marshal Ptain was in possession
of most French territory, the machinery of
the French state, a vote of full powers by the
French parliament, and diplomatic recogni-
tion by 34 foreign governments, including
the United States and the Soviet Union
indeed all the major states except Great
Britain (aggrieved by Frances violation of its
promise not to lay down arms unilaterally)
and the dominions. Free France possessed
only the prophetic vision of a brigadier gen-
eral, a handful of mostly obscure followers,
and the reputation of being a British puppet.
For a time, Vichy France and especially
the World War I hero who governed it had
not merely the acquiescence of most French
people but also the enthusiastic support
of many, who were convinced by the poor
performance of the French Third Republic
in the 1930s that France must remake itself
along very different lines.
In time, the positions were reversed. The
Nazi occupation, perhaps bearable as a tem-
porary necessity, grew more onerous as the
Nazi regime engaged in total war against the
Soviet Union. It was no longer certain that
Hitler would win. And the Vichy govern-
ment, determined to assert its sovereignty,
insisted upon participating actively in main-
taining public order alongside the German
authorities. Its administration and police
were thereby drawn into assisting Nazi
projects, including the murder of the Jews.
Between 1941 and 1943 numerous French
people came around to de Gaulles side.
As a result, it is normal in France today
to be aware that ones parents or grand-
parents followed a complicated itinerary:
enthusiasm for Marshal Ptain at rst
and for General de Gaulle later. French
President Franois Mitterrand (19811995)
was revealed in 1994 to have been typical
in this regard. French memories of World
War II are therefore particularly troubled,
with more than their share of selective for-
getting and reshaping. The British journal-
ist Timothy Garton Ash once observed, in
another context, that there are three ways to
deal with troubling memories: by forgetting,
by retributive justice, and by the writing and
teaching of history. The French have tried
at the
Vichy France Sixty
Years after
by Robert O. Paxton
Photo: France, Vichy period.
By order of the General
Commissioner for Jewish Affairs
(Commissariat Gnral aux
Questions Juives), the entry of
Jews to the rooms of the auction
house is strictly prohibited.



The Berlin Journal 53
all three. Forgetting was not simply conve-
nient in postwar France; it was a legal obli-
gation. The amnesty laws of 1951 and 1953
stipulated that no further legal actions could
be brought against French citizens for their
behavior during the occupation. But forget-
ting worked less well in post-Ptain France
than in post-Franco Spain, where there had
been no foreign occupier and no participa-
tion in the Holocaust. After the social tur-
moil of 1968, young people wanted to know
what their parents had done during the war,
and Jewish victims wanted their say. The
attendant shift from forgetting to almost
obsessive preoccupation with Vichy has
been masterfully analyzed by Henry Rousso
in The Vichy Syndrome (1991).
Liberated France also administered
retributive justice. It is often forgotten how
broadly and how severely collaborators and
proteers were punished in France after
the liberation. The major cases were tried
before special courts, and purge commit-
tees weeded less prominent perpetrators
out of the professions and the civil service.
From 1945 to 1951 about 1,500 people were
executed, almost forty thousand were sen-
tenced to prison, and one hundred thousand
others were deprived of position, rank, or
civil rights not counting about nine thou-
sand suspected collaborators summarily
executed during the chaos of the liberation.
The French executed proportionally more
collaborators than other Western occupied
countries, but imprisoned fewer. The purge
process was ended, as already indicated, by
amnesty laws in 1951 and 1953. It had sat-
ised no one, however. While it had been
extensive enough to arouse protests, even
among former resisters, it had been uneven.
Whereas businessmen, for example, gener-
ally escaped, journalists and intellectuals,
whose words had been public, were severely
punished. Moreover, the fate of the Jews,
while not ignored in the postwar purge, had
far less salience than it would later gain.
rench opinion underwent a tectonic
shift at the end of the 1960s. The
celebrated May 1968 occupations of
campuses and workplaces served to
intensify and focus deeper social and cul-
tural changes already underway. A new gen-
eration learned to reject their elders views
on practically everything, including World
War II. Jewish victims, many of whom had
wanted normalcy more than retribution in
1945, now wanted to tell their children and
their neighbors what they had suffered. Led
by the efforts of the attorney Serge Klarsfeld
to bring to center stage the Vichy French
contribution to the Holocaust, the French
judiciary, supported by an important part
of public opinion, embarked (uniquely in
Europe) on a second round of prosecutions
of French citizens for wartime behavior.
This time the charge was crimes against
humanity (not subject in Europe to time
limitations) and the issue was complicity
in the Nazi murder of the Jews. A former
supplementary policeman, Paul Touvier,
was condemned to life imprisonment in
1994 and a prominent civil servant, Maurice
Papon, to ten years of prison in 1997.
The same shift of opinion affected the
teaching and writing of history. After the
Liberation, most French people had accept-
ed a constructed past that lled a number of
emotional and political needs. It portrayed
France as primarily the passive victim of
the Nazi occupation, not as its willing col-
laborator. A spurious image of Vichy as the
shield and de Gaulle as the sword, employed
by Marshal Ptain in his own postwar
defense, gained wide acceptance.
France was seen as largely united
against the occupation, while
only a few ideological fanatics
collaborated. This perspective
was most clearly embodied in
Robert Arons history of Vichy
(1954), a book found in prac-
tically every literate French
household that still shapes popu-
lar thinking about the Ptain
regime today. Arons version
not only provided a ground for
national reconciliation; it was
even plausible, since German
domination and widespread
French resistance did indeed
mark the nal days of the occu-
pation. Vichys early years, how-
ever, had been vastly different,
and Vichy is incomprehensible
without a rm grasp of how the
situation evolved over time.
A new historical interpreta-
tion of Vichy appeared after
1968. It challenged the two basic
assumptions of the Aronian
synthesis: total German domination, and
Vichy passivity. German diktat drove Robert
Arons interpretation, but, curiously, he
knew little about Nazi policy toward France
and showed little curiosity about it. Firm
knowledge of what the Nazi occupiers
wanted was the foundation stone of the new
interpretation. My own work was grounded
in the captured German archives, but I was
far from alone. Eberhard Jckels Frankreich
in Hitlers Europa (1966) was fundamental,
though its French translation (1968) arrived
before the French public was ready for it.
n June 1940, Hitler wanted his occu-
pation of France to consume as few
German resources as possible, com-
mitted as he was to invading Britain.
We know his thinking very well, for he
explained it on June 17, 1940 to Mussolini,
who itched to seize the spoils of France at
once. Hitler understood that harsh demands
would provoke the French to continue the
war from overseas; better to leave them a
semblance of sovereignty and let them rule
France themselves; the spoils could wait. At
rst, therefore, Vichy France had consider-
able leeway, and Hitler showed little interest
in how it governed itself as long as nothing
impeded his war effort against Britain.
The Vichy leaders resolved to seize their
opportunity and uproot the discredited
French Republic, even in the presence of
occupation forces. Vichy
thus had its own autono-
mous program, in two parts:
a domestic national revolu-
tion, which replaced the
Republic with a hierarchi-
cal, clerical, militarist state
under the authoritarian rule
of Marshal Ptain; and a for-
eign policy in which a neu-
tral France would seek its
place in Hitlers New Europe,
using its token armed force
to keep the Allies from drag-
ging any French territory
back into the war. Vichys
projects originated more in
interwar French conicts
than in German commands,
at least at rst.
Vichys anti-Jewish mea-
sures are an excellent exam-
ple. Swept by scapegoating
and xenophobia, Vichy
began to legislate against
Jews in August 1940, before
the German occupation
authorities were fully settled. This was not,
as most believed, something the conquerors
forced on France. Far from wanting France
judenrein, Germany wanted in fall 1940 to
use despised France as a dumping ground
for German Jews. Several trainloads of
Rhineland Jews were dispatched into Vichy
France in October 1940, over Ptains stren-
uous protests. In time, it is true, the Nazi

As the British
Garton Ash
once observed,
there are three
ways to deal
with troubling
memories: by
forgetting, by
justice, and
by the writing
and teaching
of history. The
French have
tried all three.
54 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
occupiers pushed

Vichy toward harsher
anti-Jewish measures, and in spring 1942
they asked for Vichys help as their thin
occupation obliged them to do in carry-
ing out the new Nazi policy of deportation
and extermination. Vichys own autono-
mous anti-Jewish policy had been intended
to reduce Jewish inuence and encourage
Jewish emigration, but the machinery it set
up such as the famous card les of names
and addresses and Vichys determination
to have the French police act as master of
its own house meant that Vichy supplied
indispensable help to the Nazi deportations
of Jews. The most remarkable instance was
the French delivery to the Nazis in August
1942 of ten thousand foreign Jews (many
of them remnants of those unfortunates
expelled from the Rhineland in fall 1940)
from camps in the unoccupied zone, a rare
case (equaled only in Eastern Europe) of
the deportation of Jews from an area not
under direct German occupation. In all,
over 76,000 Jews (a third of them French
citizens) were deported to almost
certain death proportion-
ally fewer than in most Western
European occupied countries,
but far more than the Germans
could have taken alone.
Perceiving Vichy in this
historically more accurate way
exposed the mechanisms where-
by the French administration
became implicated in Nazi atroc-
ities. Article 3 of the Armistice
of June 1940 empowered the
French government to admin-
ister the whole country, includ-
ing the occupied northern half,
subject only to the needs of the
German military. By the onset of
total war after 1941, the German
occupiers steadily increased their
demands, but Vichy struggled
to preserve the ction of its own
sovereignty. Thus, at the very
moment when the deportations of Jews
began, in May 1942, the French police chief,
Ren Bousquet, was negotiating with the SS
commander in France, General Oberg, for
the continued independence of the French
police in return for its active assistance
against Germanys enemies.
According to the new historiography, the
collaborators were no longer limited to a
few ideological zealots. Vichys voluntary
assistance to Nazi projects was a pragmatic
maneuver designed to maximize French
independence in Hitlers Europe. It was
opportunistic, and it involved the cream of
the French administrative and economic
elite, not just fanatical intellectuals. Indeed,
these real French fascists remained mostly
in Paris, on the Nazi payroll, where they
were more noisy than powerful. This oppor-
tunistic state collaboration, visible only
in the new historiography, was the most
numerous and inuential kind of French
collaboration. The two Vichy prime min-
isters, Pierre Laval and Admiral Franois
Darlan, along with Ptain himself, had not
been overtly fascist before the war. They
considered themselves realists who
were willing to do what was necessary to
adapt France to what they regarded as the
t times, Vichys participation in the
Holocaust has threatened to over-
whelm every other aspect of its his-
tory. Moreover, the extraordinary
durability of the French obsession with
Vichy, now extended beyond the year 2000
into the third generation, is
surely linked to the issue of
French anti-Semitism. Few
issues are in more urgent
need of calm historical
perspective than French
anti-Semitism. The Dreyfus
Affair (18941906) marked
France indelibly with the
stain of an undeniable tradi-
tion of anti-Semitism. Even
the Dreyfus Affair, however,
considered to the fullest,
displayed the dual nature
of French attitudes toward
Jews. On the one hand,
Captain Dreyfus was one of
a number of Jewish military
ofcers, a state of affairs
reecting Frances pioneer-
ing role as the rst European
country to grant Jews full
citizenship and acceptance
provided that they assimilated themselves
fully into French culture. On the other hand,
an undeniable prejudice widespread in
France (even on the left) and abetted by the
Catholic Church held that Jews were unas-
similable and a danger to the community. In
1906, tolerant France defeated prejudiced
France and Captain Dreyfus was exonerated
of his spurious espionage accusation.
Tolerant France and prejudiced France
contended throughout the twentieth cen-
tury. After a lull following the national
harmony of World War I, anti-Semitism
resurged in 1936 when Jewish refugees
ooded into a hospitable France and Lon
Blum became the rst socialist and the rst
Jewish prime minister. All serious studies
of French public opinion show that anti-
Jewish prejudice has diminished in France
since 1945, if only to be replaced by distrust
of Muslims and Africans. Anyone who has
studied the French 1930s closely will recog-
nize that todays anti-Semitic and negation-
ist literature is nothing compared to the
commonplace and open anti-Jewish lan-
guage of that eras literary and social elite.
Nevertheless, two current develop-
ments have sharpened the issue. After the
Six-Day War of 1967, France, heretofore
one of Israels closest allies, drew closer
to Muslim countries. Later, during the
Intifada, the Palestinians plight aroused
broad sympathy. A great many French peo-
ple doubt that the Arab-Israeli conict can
be settled by force, and consequently dis-
approve of Prime Minister Ariel Sharons
policies. To consider this view anti-Semitic
is to dilute anti-Semitism to the point of
triviality. More gravely, racist acts, ranging
from grafti to the desecration of Jewish
tombs to the appalling kidnapping, torture,
and murder of Ilan Halimi in February
2006, have become notorious. Nearly all
these acts have been committed by root-
less, unemployed youths from immigrant
families, abetted by a few skinheads. Their
number is stable rather than rising, and
they are passionately disavowed by most
French people. They do not contradict the
ndings of most scholars that traditional
anti-Semitism has declined in French pub-
lic opinion, the immigrant communities
excluded, since 1945. These acts reect
the extension onto French soil, where
Europes largest Muslim minority rubs
shoulders with Europes largest Jewish
minority, of the Israeli-Palestinian conict.
Nevertheless, the reprehensible participa-
tion of Vichy France in the deportation of
Jews in 19421944 is the ghost at the ban-
quet. Therefore, even now, sixty years later,
the French obsession with Vichy has not

Robert O. Paxton is the Mellon

Professor of Social Sciences Emeritus
at Columbia University. The recipient
of the American Historical Association
Award for Scholarly Distinction and
the author of numerous books on
fascism and Vichy France, he was the
Anna-Maria Kellen Distinguished
Visitor at the Academy in spring 2006.
acts today
reflect the
extension onto
French soil,
where Europes
largest Muslim
minority rubs
shoulders with
Europes largest
Jewish minority,
of the Israeli-
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56 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
ne morning in March 1942,
the writer and dance critic Carl
Van Vechten opened his mail to
nd a letter from his off-and-on
friend Alain Locke. Sahdji as
you suspect has an interesting story, wrote
Locke of the choral ballet that had occupied
his imagination as well as the talents
of composer William Grant Still and the
Harlem Renaissance writer Richard Bruce
Nugent some ten years earlier. That story
was one of great promise and successful
realization but ultimate obscurity. Sahdji
was performed only three times in Lockes
lifetime, rst in 1931 at the Rochester Music
Festival, with Howard Hanson conducting.
How the rst African-American ballet came
about, and was then bypassed in theater his-
tory, reveals a great deal about the people
who gave birth to it, and even more about the
cultural crucible in which it was forged.
Sahdji began as a story by Bruce Nugent
and was rst published in the celebrated
1925 anthology The New Negro, which Locke
edited. Its development from avant-garde lit-
erary experiment to a ballet brought together
the already distinguished composer William
Grant Still, known as the dean of African-
American music, with Nugent, an extreme-
ly irresponsible but highly gifted writer. At
the center of the project, as co-author, muse,
mediator, and promoter, was Alain Locke.
The polymath Alain Locke was the lead-
ing African-American public intellectual
of his day, and easily one of the most exqui-
sitely educated members of his generation.
Known widely as the rst African American
to win a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, in
1907, he achieved even greater renown in
1925 as the editor of The New Negro, the col-
lection that did so much to shape the cultural
agenda of the Harlem Renaissance. Locke
also had great cultural ambitions of his own,
nurtured in large measure during stud-
ies abroad, rst at Oxford and later at the
University of Berlin, where, in 19101911, he
studied modern philosophy and culture with
Georg Simmel, among others. Disliked by
some for his dicty, or pretentious, manner
and almost Edwardian dress, he earned the
nickname the Proust of Lenox Avenue, a
moniker that contained both elements of
respect for his cultural sophistication and
distaste for his homosexuality. A profes-
sor of philosophy for forty years at Howard
University, Locke wrote widely on the theory
of race, music, painting, literature, and in
several academic elds, always with a sense
of style and critical balance. He frequently
traveled to New York City, where he enjoyed
the energetic social world that he always
lamented was lacking in the nations capital.
During his studies abroad, and on numer-
ous subsequent trips to Germany, Locke
sought out the connections between soci-
ety and the arts while imbibing the strong
draught of German culture to which he
remained attached for the rest of his life.
Much of his later work as a philosopher and
as a promulgator and champion of a distinct-
ly African-American contribution to the arts
stemmed from this early interest in German
music, art, and literature. Locke later con-
ceived of the idea of mounting an entirely
African-American ballet because he wanted
In Search of Sahdji
Alain Locke and the Making of an African-American Ballet
By Charles Molesworth
The Berlin Journal 57
to use European cultural forms in order to
give cultural expression to African material.
Sahdji was in many ways the answer to his
Sahdji was built on African materials, a
predecessor (if a virtually forgotten one) of
many later efforts by African-American art-
ists to utilize the great storehouse of African
motifs and images. Its plot uses the relatively
simple form of a folktale. The African king
Konombju loves his wife Sahdji, who is in
turn in love with Mrabo, heir to the king.
When the king is killed in a hunting accident,
Sahdji reveals to the elders her adulterous
love, but is spurned by Mrabo, who cannot
face the ostracism his liaison would surely
cause. Sahdji throws herself into a passion-
ate dance that ends with her suicide before
the kings bier. It is not clear where Nugent
drew the initial inspiration, except to say that
it came from somewhere within his imagina-
tive conception of Africa.
Throughout the ballet version, which
lasted about twenty minutes, a narrator
stood at the side of the stage commenting on
the action and shaping the thematics of the
story. This narrator or chanter as Locke
described him drew on various adages
that Locke had discovered while research-
ing African folklore. The dancing involved
a large chorus whose members beat out a
rhythm with their bare feet. Very little dia-
logue was used, and it appears that the narra-
tive was conveyed largely by pantomime.
Olin Downes, a well-known music critic
for the New York Times, published a positive
review two days after the rst performance,
on May 24, 1931. The festival had drawn an
audience of thousands, he wrote, and Mr.
Still was a composer of marked talents who
had reason to be gratied with [his] recep-
tion. Of the piece itself, he wrote that it was
cast in an unusual form, which has enough
relation to the narrator of old mystery plays
and dramas and might even be said to have
an artistic kinship with the Grecian concep-
tion of commentary upon the events which
pass upon the stage. Downes acknowledged
the experimental nature of the work while
adding that Still demonstrated a rapidly
In Search of Sahdji
Alain Locke and the Making of an African-American Ballet
By Charles Molesworth
growing but not complete mastery, as yet, of
the [theatrical] medium. He also noted the
racial basis of aesthetic experience, stating
somewhat cryptically: It is not Negro music
diluted with conventions of the white, nor yet
is it cast in the forms of Negroid [sic] expres-
sion which has also become conventional.
Downes claried his reaction somewhat
by adding, Mr. Still does not indulge in
Harlem jazz, but harks back to more primi-
tive sources for brutal, persistent, and bar-
baric rhythms. Unfortunately this remark
reinforced racist stereotypes about African
Americans and their musical traditions, and
shows a misunderstanding of Lockes artistic
goals. It is, however, a revealing example of
how a black project like Sahdji was received
by white audiences.
en years later, Sahdji interested Carl
Van Vechten for a number of reasons.
For one thing, he owned Stills origi-
nal score. The 1941 correspondence
was part of his campaign to donate a sub-
stantial collection of important African-

Sahdjis premiere at the Rochester Music Festival, May 1931










58 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
American correspondence and other cultural
documents to Yales Beinecke Library and
other archives. The white writer had been
an important, if controversial, mediator for
African-American culture in the 1920s and
1930s and happened to know Locke rather
well. Both were of an aesthetic turn of mind,
involved in the arts and in Harlems social
life, but they had had a difcult relation-
ship. In 1926, Van Vechtens notorious novel
Nigger Heaven set among Harlems speak-
easies and jazz joints had so scandalized
both white and black readers that the author
was hung in efgy uptown. Locke, always a
lover of paradox and ambiguity, had praised
the novel in print, though by 1941 the two
fell out for reasons that are not completely
clear, and Locke had criticized Van Vechtens
racial attitudes in private.
Novelist, professional dance critic, pho-
tographer, and bon vivant, Van Vechten
spent a career cultivating members of the
African-American artistic world. He later
converted his dealings with some aspects
of African-American culture into archival
efforts. He had written for details about
Sahdji to Nugent, whose reply came from his
apartment in the unhappy Bronx, where
he was working as a clerk in a package store.
As you can (probably) imagine, knowing me,
Nugent wrote to Van Vechten, I have no idea
at all where either the mss. for the ballet or
original story is. But he was able to spin a
tale of origins. The ballet had actually begun
its life as a drawing by Nugent for The New
Negro. Ironically, it was never used, but Locke
invited him to write a story an illustrated
version of an illustration, so to speak. Nugent
also referred Van Vechten to Locke, whom
he called his guide (as he was the helping
hand of Langston [Hughes] & others) and
credited as the mediator of patronage from
various sources.
Lockes letter to Van Vechten, which
supplied an understandably different per-
spective, is dated March 16, 1942, and his
memories of the ballet and its inception
and production are generally borne out by
other documents. Nugent, he recounted,
was a precocious 19-year-old when he rst
sketched out the story of Sahdji on odd
pieces of scrap paper. The grandson of a
classmate of Lockes mother, Nugent was
known in Washingtons middle-class black
community as a much misunderstood and
persecuted neer-do-well. Locke instantly
recognized the young mans talents. Nugent
was launched on his literary career, until,
as Locke put it, he got to New York and the
hazardous circles of Harlem life of 192627.
Locke, Van Vechten, and Nugent were all
involved in Harlems artistic and homosex-
ual circles, so the element of camp suggest-
ed here in Lockes deadpan tone is one that
Van Vechten would likely have appreciated.
By specifying the years 19261927, however,
Locke may also have been wryly referring to
Van Vechtens own notorious depiction of
that period in Nigger Heaven.
Sahdjis history was complicated because
of its multiple births. After the rst ver-
sion of the story appeared in The New Negro,
Locke reprinted a longer version of it as a
one-act play in a 1927 anthology, Plays of
Negro Life. Locke had suggested that Nugent
make use of African chants to lend the piece
authenticity, and supplied him with fty
or so examples of African proverbs, which
Nugent would later interweave into the
works third version, the ballet with chorus.
Locke explained to Van Vechten that he had
included himself as a co-owner of the ballets
copyright not so much [as an] editorial shar-
ing of the revised version, as [from] a desire
to protect the royalties in case the ballet was
a grand success protect them, of course,
because Nugent was most improvident.
Locke would later rue aspects of the Harlem
Renaissance he had helped to guide, feel-
ing that it had succumbed to elements of
sensationalism and self-promotion. For his
part, he tried to be provident in everything,
especially in fostering the creative expres-
sion of African Americans. Having pub-
lished Sahdji as a story and then as a play,
Locke saw the next step as one that would
involve music and dance. In 1927, he wrote a
letter introducing himself to William Grant
Still. Still was one of the formative talents of
African-American classical music. (His best
known work, African American Symphony,
would premiere in the same year as Sahdji,
also in Rochester under the white conduc-
tor Hanson.) Locke, who was on personal
terms with almost everyone in the African-
American community, had not yet met Still
in 1927. He wrote him in his typically gra-
cious way to say, I have been following your
work on every possible occasion and have
heard two of the International Composers
League programs. You will notice your work
listed in the music bibliography of The New
Negro and comment in passing in the essay
on Negro Spirituals. Still responded posi-
tively and conceived of approaching Sahdji
on an epic scale. He later reported that his
rst attempt ended in a failure, a defeat
that took Locke by surprise. In 1928, a few
weeks after receiving this discouraging news,
Locke again approached Still with a sympa-
thetic note and plea that he go through with
it. This time it took.
Still completed a work scored for chorus,
orchestra, bass soloist, [and] corps de ballet,
and told Locke that in spite of its technical
difculties and huge cast, Hanson was going
to put it in for the Rochester May Festival.
The festival associated with the prestigious
Eastman School of Music, founded in 1921
by the Kodak magnate George Eastman
was a major venue for such a premiere,
and one that promised to draw substantial
audiences. Still excitedly wrote Locke on
January 24, 1931 to say that the bass soloist
will be engaged from the personnel of the
Metropolitan Opera Co. and that he hoped
the ballet might eventually be performed by
that company.
From the mid 1920s to the late 1930s,
Lockes aesthetic philosophy had a strong
theoretical impact on how African material
was applied in the visual and plastic arts
and in music. He wrote about this in several
places, most extensively in his 1925 essay
The Legacy of the Ancestral Arts. Through
his acquaintance with art collector Alfred
Barnes and knowledge of Paul Guillaumes
work as a collector and dealer in African art,
Locke realized that contemporary African-
American visual artists needed a sense of tra-
dition comparable to that relied upon by the
elite European art forms. Racism, however,
worked against, and often even prevented,
African-American artists from enjoying the
How the first African-American ballet came about, and was
then bypassed in theater history, reveals a great deal about
the cultural crucible in which it was forged.
Locke was easily one of the most exquisitely educated
members of his generation. His nickname, the Proust of
Lenox Avenue, contained both elements of respect for his
cultural sophistication and distaste for his homosexuality.
The Berlin Journal 59
patronage and audience support that white
artists even members of the avant-garde
could take for granted. Locke was not a pro-
ponent of primitivism, however. He felt black
artists could ourish on their own terms, if
only they could enjoy a necessary measure of
self-condence and security. Lockes reason-
ing about the visual arts had a direct parallel
with the musical and theatrical work he was
keen to foster. (Indeed, the story of Nugents
life as a writer of largely unfullled talent
was a paradigm of the problem as Locke saw
it.) Locke felt that Still, as a classical com-
poser, was best equipped to move African-
American music from its preoccupation with
folk material to a higher plane where the
complex harmonies and developed struc-
tures could be made available to the black
In the interest of contributing authen-
tic African aspects to the ballet, Locke
had plunged into research. In May 1928,
cheered to know that [Still was] actively
working on the score for the ballet, he sent
him a list of names and terms that were part
of the language of the Azande tribe from the
southern reaches of the Sudan. This was the
tribe on which the famous English anthro-
pologist Edward Evans-Pritchard based his
study of witchcraft, completed around the
time Locke and Still were collaborating. (The
results were published about a decade later.)
Despite all his efforts, research, and per-
sonal dedication to the project, Locke did
not attend the ballets June 1931 premiere.
Perhaps Lockes high hopes for it had led
him to assume that he could see it at a later
date or in a different production. He had
made a genuine effort to attend. Nugent
was apparently the cause of his absence. He
went to New York to nd Bruce, but he was
in one of his homeless periods and I could
not trace him until too late to get him up
to Rochester, he told Van Vechten. To Still,
just after the performance he had supplied
a different excuse, an important matter at
Howard (probably a Depression-induced
scal crisis), and the illness of his assistant
were to blame, while Nugent was also pretty
busy with rehearsals for a role he is to play in
The Golem, produced by the New School.
Locke told Van Vechten that he thought
the performance of Sahdji was too stud-
ied, but it was nonetheless one of the rst
indications of the serious use of African
background and idiom, and I take it, was an
early step toward Negro ballet. What did
Locke object to when he called the perfor-
mance too studied? Perhaps his idea of a
chanter who commented throughout the
performance had been modied into the
more modest narrator who had only a small
role at the close of the work, as described by
Downes in his review. A Negro chanter and
chorus, Locke told Van Vechten, would
have given it warmth and more contagious
rhythm. Locke was also disappointed in
his hope to have the piece be the rst ballet
performed by a black cast. As it turned out,
those on stage appeared in blackface. All of
the eighty dancers and actors involved were
white, including the choreographer Thelma
Biracree, who danced the part of Sahdji. The
costuming similarly verged on a parody of
authenticity. A review in Musical America
complained that instead of wearing black
tights, the dancers should have been cos-
tumed to simulate the black skin of Africans.
Despite these disappointments, Locke
must have been pleased with the collabo-
ration, for shortly after the premiere he
proposed future projects to Still. He was
clearly eager to extend his collaborative activ-
ities with the most accomplished African-
American composer of his day. Dont you
think the next move should be an opera?
Already I have a wonderful scenario idea,
with an African and American background.
I started to work it out in conjunction with
a local musician and we have registered
the title and outline scenario, under the
name Atlantis. Obviously, Lockes commit-
ment to the subject of Africa did not prevent
him from turning to something with an
American background. Several suggestions
about the possibility of support followed,
showing Lockes ambition to shape a role for
himself in the African-American theater;
he would ask Hanson to sponsor the proj-
ect, and he hoped to get a subsidy from Mr.
Still, whose career was beginning to
ourish, was unable to take up Lockes sug-
gestions for Atlantis. After the tremendous
success of African American Symphony, he
went on to write three more ballets and eight
operas, including the rst black opera The
Troubled Island (1938, performed in 1949),
with a libretto by Langston Hughes. He
was also the rst African American to lead
a symphony orchestra, the Los Angeles
Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 1936.
Clearly it was not possible for a black
producer in the 1930s and 1940s to assem-
ble the resources that Hanson had at his
disposal for the Rochester festival. This
alone may account for Sahdjis short life as
a ballet, though it has been performed and
recorded as an orchestral work. It would
take some years before black Americans
brought African inspired material into the
world of American dance through the tal-
ents of people like Katherine Dunham and
her dance company. But Lockes vision of
African-American ballet was of major impor-
tance, even if it took years to be rediscovered.
According to the William Grant Still archive,
Sahdji was restaged as a ballet twice in
Rochester in 1934 and in the 1970s at the
Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
From his days as a Harvard undergradu-
ate, when Locke scraped together the money
for piano lessons, he had felt music was one
of the supporting columns in the temple of
culture. Indeed, to be lifted by music espe-
cially music that arose out of and gave spiri-
tual clarity to a group experience was one
of the chief ideas Locke adopted from the
traditions of high German culture. Yet it was
of greater importance that in reinterpreting
this legacy through the frame of African
culture and the African-American experi-
ence he participated in the founding of
one of the important strains in American
national music and dance. Locke aspired
to recreate and extend his triumph, though
Sahdji stands a unique, though neglected,
achievement. As Locke, ever the believer in
the possibility of culture, wrote to Still after
their work was performed, At any rate, my
dear friend, you can climb the heights all
future success to you.

I wish to thank William Grant Still

Music for access to correspondence
between Locke and Still. Thanks also
to Yales Beinecke Rare Books Library
for access to Van Vechtens archives.
Charles Molesworth, a professor of
English at Queens College, CUNY,
is a DaimlerChrysler Fellow at the
Academy this spring. He is the author
of two books of poems, three books
of literary criticism, and a biogra-
phy of poet Marianne Moore. He
is co-authoring a biogaphy of Alain
Locke with Leonard Harris.
Mr. Still does not indulge in Harlem jazz, but harks back to
more primitive sources, for brutal, persistent and barbaric
rhythms, wrote Olin Downes in the New York Times.
homas Hardy is famously a
haunted poet, attuned to other-
worldly voices, glimpsing spectral
ickers from the corner of his eye.
And he is a haunting poet. His voice rises,
for me, out of the otherworld of childhood,
with Neutral Tones, Channel Firing,
and The Oxen so shaped by the harmonics
of the paternal voice that I can hardly distin-
guish whose voice is whose in such a chord:
Hardy, Ransom, and my father, Robert Penn
A chord I loved and, naturally,
resisted, eeing to other countries and other
languages to nd words I could imagine
my own. It was Hardy, re-encountered in
a volume of Selected Poems in a dim, dank
country house in the Veneto, when I was 22
and footloose in Italy, who lured me back to
English. That return has been the work of
years, a widening of the inner ear to receive
frequencies from beyond the grave. And
it gives me a gure for literature itself: the
written evidence of such listening.
Hardy himself listened hard. What he
heard not only the voices of his imagined
dead, but the hymns of Nahum Tate and
Nicholas Brady, the English ballads, Virgils
Latin, Shelley and Swinburne he wove
into his own poems. I want to describe
briey some of what I have heard in Hardy:
what strains and dissonances in his poems
enliven them, and prompt the disorienta-
tion that prepares for revelation. In The Life
of Thomas Hardy (purporting to have been
composed by his second wife, Florence
Hardy), Hardy wrote, There is no new
poetry; but the new poet if he carry the
ame on further (and if not he is no new
poet) comes with a new note. And that
note it is that troubles the critical waters.
In Hardys own day as well as later in
our century, critics have condemned and
patronized the roughnesses in his meters
1 John Crowe Ransom edited the Selected
Poems of Thomas Hardy (1960), with an
introduction no less insightful and grace-
fully useful today than it was forty years
ago. I wish to thank John Hollander, Robert
Mezey, and Christopher Ricks for their gen-
erous and helpful readings of this essay,
which is forthcoming in a collection of my
and diction. The poet, however, knew just
what he was after in the exercise of his art,
an art, as he described it bsy analogy to
gothic architecture, of cunning irregulari-
ty. Of himself, he wrote that he carried on
into his verse, perhaps in part unconscious-
ly, the gothic art-principle in which he had
been trained the principle of spontaneity,
found in mouldings, tracery, and such like
resulting in the unforeseen (as it has been
called) character of his meters and stanzas,
that of stress rather than of syllable, poetic
texture rather than poetic veneer
I think of a poem as a structure of
weights and balances, and of a ne poem
as one whose resources syntax, meter,
rhythm, etymology, soundplay work as
carefully placed fulcrums to hoist a state-
ment to gurative height. I want to look
now at a few such fulcrums in Hardys
verse negative prexes, to be specic and
argue that in their resistance to veneer,
to smooth reading, we can intuit not only
something of the strenuous structural logic
of the poems, but also something about
their spiritual energy: something about the
power of negation employed as leverage to
the sense, and about the sense of a poem
dynamically conceived. Right in Hardys
awkwardness, I suggest, we nd his great-
est strength, and his greatest testing of his
Hardy was responding to negations
already active in English poetry: King
Hamlets unhouseled, disappointed,
unaneled; and, to snatch a few from that
majestic compilation of warring nega-
tions, Miltons Paradise Lost, grace which to
all Comes unprevented,
unimplored, unsought,
Satan leaving Gods
throne unworshipped,
unobeyed, while Abdiel
the faithful seraph
remains unmoved,/
unshaken, unseduced,
unterried ; or Adam
lamenting Eve defaced,
deowered, and now to
death devote. Hardly
a new matter, this poetry of internal con-
tradiction, the prying up of words by the
wedges of prexes. But Hardy practices it so
consistently and recurrently it begins to be a
dening feature of his art.
As soon as one begins to collect instances
of negative prexes, one notices the range and
variety in the kind of force they exert. Taking
Paradise Lost as an example, we nd that just
as hell reproduces but parodies and deforms
divine structures, presenting an infernal
Genesis and an infernal Trinity, so the nega-
tive prexes, though supercially similar,
act in radically different ways depending on
the spiritual context. Satan embodies the
principle of negation, and his negative pre-
xes act destructively, undoing Gods work
and the responsive virtues of worship and
obedience (Gods throne unworshipped,
unobeyed ). Abdiels faithfulness, however,
also takes a powerful negative form, the pre-
xes in his case dramatizing the struggle in
which the solitary noble spirit stands against
a crowd and against an eloquent argument
for self-enfranchisement (Abdiel remains
unmoved,/ unshaken, unseduced, unterri-
ed; the last three epithets amplify and gloss
the possible senses of the rst, unmoved).
In Hardy, syntax and etymology collabo-
rate so vigorously that a consideration of his
prexes often leads right into the central
action of a poem and opens a wide spec-
trum of interpretive possibilities. Not only
the negative prexes exert their force in his
poems. Sometimes a single poem, like A
Commonplace Day from his second book,
Poems of the Past and the Present (1902), pres-
ents an anthology of compacted and self-
correcting prexes.
Hardys Undoings
The Poetic Force of the Negative Prefix
by Rosanna Warren
Yet, maybe, in some soul,
In some spot undiscerned on sea or land, some impulse rose,
Or some intent upstole Of that enkindling ardency from whose maturer glows
The worlds amendment ows;
But which, benumbed at birth
By momentary chance or wile, has missed its hope to be
Embodied on the earth; And undervoicings of this loss to mans futurity
May wake regret in me.
60 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
In this case, they are concentrated
in the last two stanzas where they enact
the drama of cognition, possibility, and
quenching which the poem as a whole
considers in its ghostly and sterile day. The
last stanzas each open with another of
Hardys characteristic gestures, one relat-
ed in spirit to the negatings by so many of
his prexes: the adversative conjunctions
yet and but which signal swerves in
thought, counter-movements surging into
the poems structured refusals, the enact-
ment of the regret that was only named
at the end of stanza four. In tracing the
prexes as a sequence UNdiscerned,
ENkindling, BEnumbed, EMbodied,
UNDERvoicings we track thought in
motion, and watch it produce a word we
might use to describe in a general sense
Hardys technique: undervoicings.
Hardy used a great range of prexes, but
the specically negative ones are the most
telling, especially those that wrench nor-
mal diction. Early and late, they obtrude
in his lines and titles; from Hap (And
why unblooms the best hope ever sown?);
miscompose and unknows in At a
Bridal; unheed in A Sign-Seeker; or
the poem entitled Unknowing, all in his
rst book, Wessex Poems (1898); through
The Self Unseeing in Poems of the Past
and the Present (1902); to late instances like
unknown, unrecked, unproved (giving
way to enearthed) in I Worked No Wile to
Meet You in Late Lyrics and Earlier (1922);
and unwitting and disgured in Unkept
Good Fridays from the last book, Winter
Words: In Various Moods and Metres, pub-
lished posthumously in 1928. Some of these
instances unwitting, disgured in no
way disturb conventional usage, and it is only
in the larger context of Hardys poems with
their vigorous negations that such common
prexes gain any noticeable force. Others,
however, like unknows and unblooms,
wreak violence upon convention, and in their
insistent oddity demand a reckoning.
One notes at once how intimately Hardy
connects these negations with the ideas of
knowledge and vision. It is as if perspective
can be established only through the positing
of an illusion which the poems must strain
to lift away, in an effort often linked with the
struggle of absence with presence. These
pangs of negation give rise, not to vision, but
to the mere possibility of envisioning the
dead and once beloved cousin in Thoughts
of Phena, where through the reiterated
negations (Not a line of her writing have
I,/ Not a thread of her hair,/ No mark of her
late time ) the poet urges
his unsight to conceive the
lost gure.
ardy did
not coin the
unusual noun
unsight, but
it is so rare that the 1971
compact edition of the
Oxford English Dictionary
gives only two instances,
one from Hoccleve in
1412, and the other from
Thoughts of Phena.
Since the poems task
is to picture the dead
woman, unsight in
its rarity calls attention
to that struggle. Like
so many of Hardys
poems, this one
works against itself
and against its own
posited conditions
and circumstances:
the speaker wrests
not a vision of
Phena, but a pos-
sibility of such
vision, from years
deprived of sight and sign of her. That
wresting, embodied in the contradictory
noun unsight (which distinctly does not
mean blindness), is at work also in the
repetition of the clause whereby/ I may pic-
ture her there, which in the last lines of the
poem reverses its earlier sense. In stanza
one, it confesses the speakers powerless-
ness to envision, but by the end whereby
could be taken as referring not to the lack
of mnemonic signs but to the envisioning
power released by that lack: yet haply the
best of her ned in my brain/ It may be
the more/ That no line of her writing have
I/ / whereby/ I may picture her there.
Given the ambiguities embedded in
unsight and whereby, all the speaker can
manage here is the confrontation of radi-
ant hypotheses (enray, enarch) with the
dire (mischances, unease, forebod-
ings, disennoble). One notable effect of
this poem, emphasized by the prevalence
of prexes, occurs in the removal of a pre-
x: yet haply the best of her ned in my
brain, where the contraction of rened to
ned suggests the process of purication
and simplication which the poem seeks in
the act of memory.
wo well-known poems
can serve as exemplary dramas of
negation. In Tenebris I comes
from Hardys second collection, pub-
lished in 1902, well before the death of his
rst wife, Emma.
I can offer here only hints toward a fuller
discussion. One remarks, rst, the poems
symmetries: its dimeter, trimeter, trimeter,
dimeter pattern with the dimeters behav-
ing like jammed trimeters with syllables
lacking; its quatrains designed with narrow
base, squat column, pinched capital; the
initial noun in all but the last stanza; the
opposing but in all but the third stanza.
Next to this poem of living death, the
nothing of Stevens The Snowman
seems a plenitude. With Hardy the neo-
Gothic architect in mind, one notes how
expression bucks against the formal order:
the adjective black replaces the sequence
of nouns (wintertime, ower-petals,
birds, leaves, tempests). The last lines
of the third and fth stanzas refuse the
trimeter and square off as double spondees:
strength long since ed, who no heart
hath. Which brings us to the negative

Yet, maybe, in some soul,
In some spot undiscerned on sea or land, some impulse rose,
Or some intent upstole Of that enkindling ardency from whose maturer glows
The worlds amendment ows;
But which, benumbed at birth
By momentary chance or wile, has missed its hope to be
Embodied on the earth; And undervoicings of this loss to mans futurity
May wake regret in me.
thoughts of phena
at news of her death
Not a line of her writing have I,
Not a thread of her hair,
No mark of her late time as dame in her dwelling, whereby
I may picture her there; And in vain do I urge my unsight
To conceive my lost prize
At her close, whom I knew when her dreams were upbrimming
with light
And with laughter her eyes.
What scenes spread around her last days,
Sad, shining, or dim? Did her gifts and compassions enray and enarch her sweet ways
With an aureate nimb? Or did life-light decline from her years,
And mischances control
Her full day-star; unease, or regret, or forebodings, or fears
Disennoble her soul?
Thus I do but the phantom retain Of the maiden of yore As my relic; yet haply the best of her ned in my brain
It may be the more
That no line of her writing have I,
Nor a thread of her hair, No mark of her late time as dame in her dwelling, whereby
I may picture her there. March 1890
The Berlin Journal 61
prex in the last, monumental noun,
unhope. Toward that word the whole
poem has urged itself over the self-erected
obstructions of its but, but, but,
even as it rehearsed its bereavement pain
through progressive losses: severing scene;
strength ed; friends and love gone. Every
stanza doubles its initial negation, and
in Hardys spiritual math, two negatives
do not make a positive. The nal stanza
diminishes even death next to the certainty
of despair: one who, past doubtings all,/
Waits in unhope. We have been prompted
by the previous stanza to stress every syl-
lable of that dread conclusion (Waits in
unhope) where movement comes to sta-
sis. What is the philosophical status of this
noun, unhope? Is it hope once entertained
and now foreclosed? Or is it the exclusion
of any possibility of hope, ever? Like the
negation that concludes The Darkling
Thrush (Some blessed Hope, whereof he
knew/ And I was unaware), simultane-
ously proposing and denying awareness,
unhope plays both possibilities off against
one another: hope had been, and is annihi-
lated by the prex; the condition of unhope,
more actively anguishing than despair,
erases even past hope, but reminds us con-
stantly of its severed possibility.
Like unsight, unhope is not an
invention of Hardys but a word dragged
out of the deep, old chest of English.
The oed lists two citations from the
thirteenth century and one from the
fteenth. One must turn to Gerard
Manley Hopkins, Hardys obscure
contemporary, for prexes as essen-
tial to the poems dynamism and as
true, even in their strangeness, to the
nature of English: the widow-making,
unchilding, unfathering deeps of
The Wreck of the Deutschland,
wanwood from Spring and Fall,
no-man-fathomed of No Worst;
but Hopkins so activates every syl-
lable that prexes and sufxes surge
up as full-edged compounds. Both
poets treat a poem as a complex
action that unbuilds and rebuilds
received language as it exes
and nds its singular sense, but
Hopkins goes much further than
Hardy in jarring conventional
ardys contradic-
tory enactments,
jarring enough,
reach a crescendo
in The Going, the rst of the
great elegies for Emma Hardy
from 191213. I would point to
the way the warp of negatives
(no hint, not follow, not
speak, not think) pulls
against the woof of the three
whys in the symmetrically
alternating stanzas.
I would point also to the
play of past against present
tenses, for instance in the shift
from the past participle gone
(you would close your term
here, up and be gone) to the
dreadfully present and con-
tinuous recognition of going as a
noun with verbal force: Unmoved, unknow-
ing/ That your great going/ Had place that
moment, and altered all. We might trace
the plot from the depriving prexes which
describe the speakers ignorance of his
wifes death (and, by contagion, of her
life) UNmoved, UNknowing back to the
innocent negative prex of happy courtship
in the past (While Life UNrolled us its very
best). This plot intensies in the course of
Veteris vestigia flammae
the goi ng
Why did you give no hint that night That quickly after the morrows dawn, And calmly, as if indifferent quite,
You would close your term here, up and be gone Where I could not follow
With wing of swallow
To gain one glimpse of you ever anon!
Never to bid good-bye
Or lip me the softest call,
Or utter a wish for a word, while I
Saw morning harden upon the wall,
Unmoved, unknowing
That your great going
Had place that moment, and altered all.
Why do you make me leave the house And think for a breath it is you I see
At the end of the alley of bending boughs Where so often at dusk you used to be;
Till in darkening dankness
The yawning blankness
Of the perspective sickens me!
You were she who abode
By those red-veined rocks far West,
You were the swan-necked one who rode Along the beetling Beeny Crest,
And, reining nigh me,
Would muse and eye me,
While Life unrolled us its very best.
Why, then, latterly did we not speak, Did we not think of those days long dead,
And ere your vanishing strive to seek That times renewal? We might have said, In this bright spring weather
Well visit together
Those places that once we visited.
Well, well! Alls past amend,
Unchangeable. It must go.
I seem but a dead man held on end
To sink down soon. . . . O you could not know That such swift eeing
No soul foreseeing
Not even I would undo me so!
December 1912
i n tenebri s i
Percussus sum sicut foenum, et aruit cor
meum. Psalm ci
Wintertime nighs;
But my bereavement-pain
It cannot bring again:
Twice no one dies.
Flower-petals ee;
But, since it once hath been,
No more that severing scene
Can harrow me.
Birds faint in dread:
I shall not lose old strength
In the lone frosts black length:
Strength long since ed!
Leaves freeze to dun;
But friends can not turn cold
This season as of old
For him with none.
Tempests may scath;
But love can not make smart
Again this year his heart
Who no heart hath.
Black is nights cope;
But death will not appal
One who, past doubtings all,
Waits in unhope.
62 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
rhymes, moving from the participial pair
unknowing/ going in stanza two to the
more highly charged verbal forms of the
conclusion, go/ know. In the last stanza,
the prex un has migrated to the unhappy
past, now seen as UNchangeable in that
paradoxical line: Unchangeable. It must go.
Stasis and the fugitive collaborate in this act
of grief, the indeniteness of the pronoun
(what must go?) expanding the eerie power
of going from the dead wife to the whole
world of recollected and injured happiness
and aborted hope that died with her. In the
last line, the prex un wheels upon the
speaker himself with a ferocity unforeseen
in the poem: O you could not know/ That
such swift eeing/ No soul foreseeing /Not
even I would undo me so! If what tortures
the speaker about his past is lack of feeling,
lack of knowledge, the eruption into present
consciousness of both feeling and knowl-
edge have almost unstrung the sentence and
left him near annihilation. He is the one in
the end, on end, to go. And the deepest
and most characteristic story is told, not by
the end-rhyme, but by internal rhyme: the
homophony of know and NO denes knowl-
edge as Hardy austerely understood it and
played it out in the structure of verse.
Inspired by Henri Bergson, Kenneth
Burke would, in his 1966 book Language as
Symbolic Action, take the concept of the nega-
tive as the second clause in his denition
of the human: Man is/ the symbol-using
(symbol-making, symbol-misusing) animal/
inventor of the negative (or moralized by the
negative) Burke immediately qualied
his clause: it might be more accurate to
say that language and the negative invented
man. However truly this denition and
its qualication may describe humanity in
general, they seem particularly apt for Hardy.
His ctions in verse and prose explore the
consequences of the hortatory negative (the
Thou shalt nots of the Decalogue); but even
more deeply, they probe what Burke calls
the propositional negative for Hardy,
the sense that human reality is essentially
structured around cancellation: of hope, of
illusion, of life itself. He built this cancel-
lation into the very shapes of his words.
Underwriting the multitude of Hardys nega-
tives the unseeings, unknowings, undo-
ings stands death, the ultimate negation.
No wonder so many of Hardys poems are
populated by ghosts; his is an art undertaken
not so much sub specie aeternitatis as in the
perspective of death, and the negative prex-
es are the scars inicted by that art upon lan-
guage, which gains thereby its intensest life.
These negations of Hardys are not idio-
syncrasies of temperament. They partake
in one, at least, of the labors of twentieth-
century poetry in English, that clearing of
space for the disillusioned imagination one
nds in Frosts desert places and dimin-
ished thing, and in Stevens the the. Hardy
dramatized a vision of what Stevens called
Modern Poetry: The poem of the mind in
the act of nding/ What will sufce. Only
through the embodied agony of interrogation
and negation do Hardys poems earn their
way; and only by participating in that agony
do we earn our way as readers. To return to
the personal: in partaking of Hardys poems,
I nd myself at once mourning, and severely
consoled: taught over and over the lesson of
relinquishment which can be learned only
by heart, and by the heart in action.

Poet Rosanna Warren is the Emma

MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the
Humanities at Boston University. She is
the chancellor of the American Academy
of Poets and the author four books of
poetry. She is currently the Ellen Maria
Gorrissen Fellow at the Academy.
TLt CLvonItIt oI HIgLtv EdutaIon
CLvonItIt CanusvIdt
vtt o aII a youv unIvtvsIy Iov 3u days:
TLt vovId`s No. J ntvsatv oI atadtnt
s vtadtvs avt Itadtvs Ivon CanIvIdgt o Havvavd, LtvIIn o ~anIovd. TLt ntvs and InIovnaIon I IvIngs o adnInIsvaovs
and voItssovs Lavt Ittn tItd Iy IoL Lt LLC and 1lc Ncu Yorl 1ncs. ndttd, I Las Ittn taIItd Lt Ecouons| oI atadtnt.
Is 1lc Clrouclc oj Hlcr EJuco|ou. uIIIsLtd vttLIy In WasLIngon. tad on IIvt tonIntns. And sIntt J9UU, Lt No.J
souvtt Iov ntvs and InIovnaIon, vtvItvs and tonntnavy, tavttv advItt and oI IIsIngs In LIgLtv tdutaIon.
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stvIIon sIt IIttnst La Its tvtvyont a youv unIvtvsIy atttss Lt tnIvt tontns
oI 1lc Clrouclc vIa youv tonutv ntvovL. You gt IuII tx oI Lt vttLIy vIn
tdIIon, Ius daIIy udats, and avtLIvts IatL o J9B7. `s Lt atvItss and dva-
naItaIIy aIIovdaIIt vay o gt tvtvyLIng 1lc Clrouclc oIItvs. AItv 3u days, you
tan tonInut a Lt Invodutovy vItt. Ov you tan tanttI and ovt noLIng. To ovdtv
a vIaI, tonat HugL TonIInson oI voquts, ouv avntv In Lt UK and Euvot.
TtItLont +44 (u) J223 27J 2Uu. Ov t-naII
Berlin Jour Half Pg Final.indd 1 23.03.2005 13:38:26 Uhr
Veteris vestigia flammae
the goi ng
Why did you give no hint that night That quickly after the morrows dawn, And calmly, as if indifferent quite,
You would close your term here, up and be gone Where I could not follow
With wing of swallow
To gain one glimpse of you ever anon!
Never to bid good-bye
Or lip me the softest call,
Or utter a wish for a word, while I
Saw morning harden upon the wall,
Unmoved, unknowing
That your great going
Had place that moment, and altered all.
Why do you make me leave the house And think for a breath it is you I see
At the end of the alley of bending boughs Where so often at dusk you used to be;
Till in darkening dankness
The yawning blankness
Of the perspective sickens me!
You were she who abode
By those red-veined rocks far West,
You were the swan-necked one who rode Along the beetling Beeny Crest,
And, reining nigh me,
Would muse and eye me,
While Life unrolled us its very best.
Why, then, latterly did we not speak, Did we not think of those days long dead,
And ere your vanishing strive to seek That times renewal? We might have said, In this bright spring weather
Well visit together
Those places that once we visited.
Well, well! Alls past amend,
Unchangeable. It must go.
I seem but a dead man held on end
To sink down soon. . . . O you could not know That such swift eeing
No soul foreseeing
Not even I would undo me so!
December 1912
The Berlin Journal 63
64 Number Twelve | Spring 2006
Maya Lin
From the Notebooks of Anne Verveine, VI
You are dead, therefore I write to you.
I am dead, therefore I write to you.
Did we ever kiss? The shadow airplane
swooped down to smack the tarmac silently.
That crash didnt crash. The kiss
did but dissipated
in air like phantom smoke
rising from my shadow chimney inching
its way all afternoon across
the neighbors slanted roof
heat gusts escaping up the ue and printing themselves
as visible ghosts trailing
off to a chilly Empyrean.
February gleams on the roof slates.
As if the re were real. As if
the heart pumped real blood.
Rosanna Warren
This poem rst appeared in an anthology called The Imaginary Poets,
edited by Alan Michael Parker and published last October by Tupelo Press.
Maya Lin, Eleven Minute Line (2004), Wans Foundation, Sweden.



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