The Bundestag has marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the World War I. Keynote speeches in Germany's parliament stressed that nationalism has no prospects, writes DW's Martin Muno.
A commemoration in the German Bundestag marking the start of the World War I wasn't just about remembering the 17 million people who were killed, and innumerable others who were maimed and injured. It was also about a question posed by the president of the German parliament, Norbert Lammert: "What does the First World War have to do with us?"
It's more than just commemorating unfathomable suffering or remembering the delusion of the then-powerful who blundered into the "great seminal catastrophe of the 20th century." It's also more than acknowledging that World War I was the conflict that marked the beginning of an industrial apocalypse - leading up to dropping the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the calculated killing of 6 million Jews in concentration camps.
It's about learning all over the world that nationalism has no prospects - and hasn't had any for a long time. German-French publicist Alfred Grosser, who delivered the keynote speech in the German Parliament, said it in a nutshell: "The utter defeat in 1945 generated a different kind of Germany. The federal republic has not been built on a nation, rather on a political ethic."
This concept has been dubbed "constitutional patriotism" by German sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas.
Contributing to peace
Wherever nationalism flourishes, war is not far: Be it the Balkan wars in the 1990s or today in the South China Sea; or in the crisis involving Russia and Ukraine. And here is the lesson learned: Those determined to advocate against nationalism have to contribute to conflict resolution. That's what Lammert meant when he said "Germany is responsible for seeking peaceful conflict solutions." Accompanied by a sense of proportion and restraint, of course.
This wasn't just careful criticism of German President Joachim Gauck's recent remarks .
It's obvious that supranational institutions are required for conflict resolution. Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl had repeatedly stressed that European unity wasn't just an economic project, but also a question of war and peace. It goes to show that this lesson has been learned when - at the end of the commemoration hour - it was the European and not the German anthem that sounded in the Bundestag.
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