Heimat - A German Dream: Regional Loyalties and National Identity in German Culture, 1890-1990

The discourse of Heimat, meaning homeland or roots, has been a medium of debate on German identity between region and nation for at least a century. Four phases parallel Germany's discontinuous history: Heimat literature as a response to modernization and to regional tensions before the First World War; the inter-war period when Heimat divided into racist ideology, left-wing opposition, and inner resistance to the Third Reich; a post-war dialectic between escapist 1950s Heimat films and right-wing claims to the lost lands in the East to which anti-Heimat theatre and films in the 1960s and 1970s were a response, with the urban Heimat in GDR films adding a socialist twist; regionalism and green politics in the 1980s and German identity beyond Cold War divisions. A key point of reference in current debates on German history, Heimat looks likely to continue in postmodern and multicultural mode.