The “Volk” in the Transition from the Empire to the Weimar Republic: Pluralistic and Holistic Conceptions in the Centrist Political Spectrum, 1917–1924

Abgeschlossenes Projekt

Employees (IfZ):  Dr. Jörn Retterath

This project conducted by Jörn Retterath was dedicated to the meanings of and changes in the term “Volk” in the transitional phase between July 1917 and June 1924. Most research had previously investigated the racist and exclusive sense of the term as used by radical nationalist “völkisch” groups, while the democratic-egalitarian meaning of the word “Volk” had rarely been looked into. This study thus researched the use of the term within the spectrum of the democratic parties of the “Grand Coalition” (SPD, DDP, DVP, Center Party). Based on an analysis of newspapers with close links to the parties, parliamentary documents, and party sources, the study explored the use and possible mixtures of the different ideal-typical variants of meaning, ethnos, demos, and plebs. The use of the term Volk was also investigated in composite words (e.g. Volksgemeinschaft), derivatives (e.g. Volkstum), as well as parallel and opposite terms (e.g. Nation, Bevölkerung, Rasse, Masse). The study combined the methods of historical semantics with elements of the history of concepts, historical discourse analysis, and intellectual history.


Publications within the project

Jörn Retterath

"Was ist das Volk?".

"Quellen und Darstellungen zur Zeitgeschichte"

Berlin 2016


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