GERMANIC FIRST MILLENIUM – S.S. Culture series Volume 5
We must free ourselves from many passed own views and perceptions. Even if they are still often in print in textbooks of the old period, they have not thereby become more correct. They have, on the other hand, caused a lot of ill and put weapons in the hand of our world-view opponents, which they still use against us today. We can beat them, if we have the necessary knowledge. It is not about individual, historical dates, rather the view of the great connections.
We must especially refute two false perceptions: first, that Germanic-German history only started when Germanic man came into contact with the mediterranean culture of the Romans. Second, that most of the Germanic tribes voluntarily converted to Christianity, and that this faith was quite suited to their nature!
Regarding the first, earlier educational material has taught us that there was Germanic history long before they had contact with the Romans and later with Christianity. We can trace back the cultural history of our ancestors more than four thousand years before Christ, hence more than six thousand years before our own time. That we know less about the actual history, is only because we lack the earlier, written accounts, and we are hence solely dependent on finds and excavations and what other folks report about Germanic man. But that alone suffices for the proof, that they were, for example, at least equal to the Romans in terms of real culture, but were superior to them especially in terms of concepts of honor and morals. We truly do not have to be ashamed of our ancestors – they were not “wild men”! They also did not adopt Christianity for the sake of allegedly higher “moral values”.
We thus come to the second point. Many Germanic tribes did indeed voluntarily convert to Christianity. But why did they adopt the new teachings, if they did not completely correspond to their views? The correct answer was in the past prudently not given.
More or less always, the leaders and high ranking were the first to convert! For them there were many reasons, which had little to do with the faith. Only so did they, alone or with their followers, enter the Roman Reich and its service. It was simply a step of political cleverness to then adopt the state religion, especially since it was presented to Germanic man in a significantly modified form, adapted to their nature. These reasons became more important when Germanic man no longer entered Roman service individually or in small groups, rather formed his own states on the basis of Roman law and hence come into close contact with the Christian-Roman populace. The followers, however, were obligated to the leaders by unconditional loyalty – for them it was self-evidence, to accept baptism at the same time as the leader. The rest of the people then followed them; the church then had the opportunity to step-to-step take back the concessions to German folk-feeling and to take up the struggle against the remnants of “pagan superstition”.
In the previous issue, we learned of the Germanic treks and their first collisions with the mighty, organized state of the Roman world empire. In order to survive against this power, they had to give themselves a firm, state organization. However, alien institutions and views were thereby brought into the Germanic tribes, which indeed enabled them to create states too, but at the cost of the folk substance. That meant that the folk that had to bear the state was weakened and soon the state, too, collapsed as a consequence. We already learn this from the example of the Roman world empire, which was composed of a mixture of folks, infiltrated by Germanic man, and soon had to capitulate as a state. We then learn it as well from the example of the Germanic states of the so-called folk-wandering period, which collapsed from the same causes. We see it especially in the Frankish state, which could nonetheless, before its fall, perform educational work on the Germanic tribes of today’s Germany, that later enabled the formation of a German state. The struggle for the preservation of a healthy folk and at the same time a strong state, which can secure the life foundations of the folk, is something we will be able to follow through the whole subsequent course of German history.
Here we will see how the Germanic states, and especially the Frankish state, used foreign, Roman-Christian concepts in order to above all strengthen their own power, but later fell victim to precisely these forces. More than from the successes, we learn from the mistakes of the past!
Translated from original SS publications. Starts at the time of the late Roman Empire and ends with the early First German Empire.