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Volume 73, issue 3 | Copyright
Geogr. Helv., 73, 215-224, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Standard article 19 Jul 2018

Standard article | 19 Jul 2018

Geopolitik als Literatur – ein germanistischer Beitrag zur Genealogie der deutschen Politischen Geographie und Geopolitik

Niels Werber Niels Werber
  • Neuere deutsche Literaturwissenschaft, Universität Siegen, 57068 Siegen, Germany

Abstract. This contribution of a literary scholar to the history of geopolitics argues for the consideration of literary sources as constituents of the classical geopolitical discourse (Ratzel, Kjellén, Haushofer). It exemplifies this claim by revealing the geopolitical components through which Gustav Freytag's novel Soll und Haben (Debit and Credit, Freytag, 1855, 1858) creates spaces, civilizations, and stories. Approaching these issues from the perspective of literary history and the history of knowledge, this paper turns to Freytag's novel to examine whether the literature of the period of the so-called bourgeois or poetic realism belongs to the genealogy of German political geography and geopolitics and how to study its impact on their increasingly manifest political program after the beginning of the First World War. Especially the establishment of the topos of the Volk ohne Raum (people without space) in the east of the German Reich and the reorientation of geopolitics gen Osten (toward the east) in the early twentieth century find a highly compatible antecedent in Soll und Haben.

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The infamous idea that the area east of the borders of the German Reich be a “space without a people” imposing itself for occupation by “a people without space” accounts for the ominously looming convictions of German Geopolitics during the years of the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. This contribution attributes the conception of the so called “German East” as uncultivated “slavic sahara” or “desert” to 19th Century novels and reads geopolitical classics as continuation of this literature.
The infamous idea that the area east of the borders of the German Reich be a “space without a...