As Young Germany, a movement within the era of Vormarz is described. The Vormärz is dated to the decades between the Congress of Vienna (1815) and the March Revolution (1848) and is divided into two rough phases: the Young Germany and the actual Vormärz from 1840. The Young Germans opposed Metternich’s restorative and reactionary policies , advocated social justice as well as democratic rights of liberty and turned against opposing religious and moral ideas. The followers of the young Germany can be regarded as literary pioneers of the later March revolution. One of the most important representatives is the poet Heinrich Heine. The Vormärz is therefore radically democratic, although at that time a different current also had immense influx: the rather conservative Biedermeier.
The name Junges Deutschland is used for the first time by Heinrich Laube, a German writer and playwright, but becomes popular only by the writer Ludolf Wienbarg and the name of the current. Wienbarg introduced his aesthetic campaigns (1834), a collection of twenty-two lectures, with the following words: “You, young Germany, I dedicate these speeches, not to the old […]
Wienbarg is, therefore, directed to a specific addressee, namely, the young Germans, who stood for a current which turned against the political system of that time and was imbued with immense regulations, such as the prohibition of their texts, allegedly the Christian religion in the most nimble manner, and also degraded the existing social conditions (source: extract from a decision in the German Bundestag, 1835).
The decisive factor is that although there was such a grouping or even a literary slate on the part of Heinrich Heine, Karl Gutzkow, Heinrich Laube, and Ludolf Wienbarg siwue Theodor Mundt, there was no real connection in the strict sense. Rather, the authors or supporters of the young German nation were loosely connected, pursued similar aims, and aspired to a liberal society in which no authority was to be readily accepted.
In order to understand how these demands (social justice, democratic freedom, etc.) came, however, one must look at the historical background. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that the followers of the German Youth and the representatives of the Vormärz were generally a minority and broad sections of the population did not choose the radical, polemic way but fled increasingly into the private sphere and fell into a sort of resignation (cf. , Biedermeier).
Characteristics: Young Germany
The flow of the young Germany can be clearly dated in history. Since the current, however, arose from the Vormarz and ran parallel to the Biedermeier, it is difficult to clearly identify the epoch characteristics. There are too many overlaps with the other currents, numerous representatives who can be attributed to the young Germany, but also to other currents, so the whole thing must always be considered in context.
The days of that time were marked by a doubt about the authorities. The writers of the Junge Deutschland grew up with a skepticism against the political system, which they disappointed in the years before. In contrast to the broad sections of the population at that time, however, the followers of the German boy coveted these grievances and did not retreat or resign.
The cause of ebullies’ suspicion against the authorities is some years before, and in the period between the French Revolution (1789) and the Congress of Vienna (1815). By 1800 Germany was still not a national state, but was composed of countless individual states, all of which were part of the Holy Roman Empire.
When, in 1799, the Frenchman, Napoleon Bonaparte, seized power and occupied many of the German lands in warlike disputes, he succeeded in consolidating these individual states (the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss), the power of the church being cut off in politics and the ideals of the French Revolution in the heads of many people.
When, however, Napoleon’s power was broken, and all the reforms adopted by the General, according to the French model, were reversed at the Congress of Vienna, there were critical voices in the German population (Young Germany), which, however, were silenced by the authorities were. On the other hand, people greeted the promised stability which was to reign, when attempts were made to restore the old structures of the period before Napoleon (Biedermeier).
This was intensified on September 20, 1819, when, after two assassinations, which were carried out by students in March 1819, Karlsruhe resolutions were passed. The main reasons for this decision were the prohibition of fraternities (student associations), because they were regarded as a place of free thought as well as resting. The censorship of books and newspapers, which also abolished the censorship of university professors, was a result. These steps were understood as the purification of authorities, consistories, schools, and universities of dangerous errors, seducers, and seduced (see Demagogy).
The representatives and supporters of the young Germany were now opposed to such censorship and demanded democratic values for society. They turned against the rule of the princes, advocated a separation of church and state, demanded freedom of the press, and access to education for women.
It is decisive for the literature of the young Germany that she opposed the writings of the (late) Romanticism and at the same time dismissed the idealism of Romanticism, as well as classical, as apolitical and backward. Heinrich Heine’s The Romantic School (1836), which condemned the tendencies of Romanticism, formed a clear settlement with Romanticism.
But that is exactly what the literature should be like – the young Germans’ idea. Literature should be political and not elitist and should also draw attention to political and social problems. Representatives of the young Germany could not, therefore, be dazzled by words or beautiful words, or sought happiness in the distance, but concentrated on the representation of the here and now.
They turned against the dreamy or the wandering into the distance, which in the Romantic period was still a typical feature, and preferred the description of reality in the here and now. The authors of Junge Deutschlands wrote texts dealing with the present. What is important is the role of the poet himself: this was not to be seen as a reality, but as a literary man, who dealt with current themes and was in society and judged real life (cf. ivory tower).
The lyric can be regarded as the most important genre of the time, with the novel and the novella also being widespread, but also literary forms that captured the moment and were consciously written for the masses experienced a high in the early Vormarz, such as travel reports , Memoirs, feuilletons, journalistic texts, as well as letters. Later, when the demands became more and more radical just before the March revolution, newspapers, pamphlets and brochures were also used to spread political ideas.
On the 10th of December, 1835, a decisive decision was made in the German Bundestag. The Young Germans were reproached for their “efforts to undermine the Christian religion in belletristic literatures accessible to all classes of readers in the most nimble way, to degrade the existing social conditions, and to destroy all discipline and morality.” the flow was forbidden.
Many literati, who had previously become friends with the young Germany, lost their faith in the system and freedom themselves due to this prohibition and withdrew largely from the literary landscape. From this retreat, then, what was termed a pre-war in the narrower sense was the question of the actual demand for a change and the breaking of the political system.
Importantly, the main difference between Junge Deutschland and the literature of the Vormärz is that the young Germany was more likely to pass the censorship, demanding philosophical, moral and political principles, with supporters of the Vormarz being many times more radical and thus ultimately the March Revolution (1848).
Note: A detailed outline of the historical background of these years can be found in the contribution to the Vormärz under the heading “Historical Background of the Epoch”.