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greatest german
November 30, 2003 8:30 PM   Subscribe

Three million Germans have voted post-war Chancellor Konrad Adenauer as the greatest German of all time. Reformation Monk Martin Luther came second, with communist philosopher Karl Marx third. Composer Johann Sebastian Bach and writer Johannes Wolfgang von Goethe were also in the running. Adolf Hitler and other Nazis were excluded from the poll.
posted by stbalbach (16 comments total)

 
I'm one-quarter German and I would've voted for Werner Klemperer. He's not really a Nazi, he just played one on TV.
posted by wendell at 8:45 PM on November 30, 2003


I know Beethoven died in Austria, but isn't he considered a German?
posted by machaus at 8:53 PM on November 30, 2003


Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany then moved to Vienna, Austria where he made his career. It's like a lot of musicians are known as New York bands but are not from there. Oddly enough I'm listening to Beethoven as I'm reading/writing this.
posted by stbalbach at 9:15 PM on November 30, 2003


What, no love for Dirk?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:18 PM on November 30, 2003


Otto von Bismarck?
Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen?
Kraftwerk?

posted by the fire you left me at 9:24 PM on November 30, 2003


Fortunately at the last moment they decided against classifying David Hasselhof as an honorary German.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:29 PM on November 30, 2003


Heidegger! Nietzsche!
posted by The God Complex at 9:37 PM on November 30, 2003


alright, if you're going to get serious...
Schopenhauer!!!
posted by wendell at 10:07 PM on November 30, 2003


Be historical, Germany: there were no 'Germans' before 1871. Which narrows down the field a bit. And Adenauer was only a Wessie, which means he should really be 'greatest German in two-thirds-Germany'.

(Actually, I liked the World Service correspondent's take on this: that it reflected Germans' coming to terms with a national identity built upon consolidation and amelioration rather than upon individualism and expansionism. Which makes a lot of sense.)
posted by riviera at 10:12 PM on November 30, 2003


Adolf Hitler ... [was] excluded from the poll.

Why would he be included in a list of all time greatest Germans? He was Austrian.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:10 AM on December 1, 2003


The one thing this poll "reflects" is the predominant age group of its participants. This was a survey among viewers of a ZDF show, ARD and ZDF being Germany's public TV stations, both most popular among senior citizens. For them, Adenauer is still a kind of hero, primarily because he served over 14 years! There are no term limits in Germany -- Helmut Kohl served 16 years -- and when you have a chancellor over that period of time, he is bound to leave a lasting impression. Imagine living under GWB for 16 years.

Adenauer was a staunch conservative and anti-communist who established Germany as a military "bulwark" against the Soviet bloc, thereby finalizing the separation of East and West Germany. This policy meant that in a World War III, Germany would have become a major battleground. Adenauer also advocated nuclear weapons for Germany, which led to the stationing of US missiles on German ground. Of course he was also a rigid social conservative, and things like sex education were unheard of in the Adenauer era. Instead, he honored the contracts between church and state that had been established by Adolf Hitler and that are valid to this day (these contracts include a state-collected "church tax" for church members and Christian/religious education in schools).

The only good thing about this poll is that Marx made it to #3. Adenauer would never forgive that :-)

Steve: For the people who admire Hitler, Austria is part of the German "Reich". Come to think of it, so is most of the rest of the world.
posted by Eloquence at 12:21 AM on December 1, 2003


riviera, just beacuse there were no German state, doesn't mean there were no German nation. There were indeed Germans before 1871, and they regarded themselves and each other as Germans. And Austria was wideliy regarded as part of the German nation, though it was a part of the empire and double monarchy of Austria-Hungary.

Luther, Marx, Bach, Goethe, Gutenberg and Einstein are all worthy of the top 10-spot they gained. No doubt about it. Whether Brandt and Adenauer (or for that matter Bismarck) will go down in history as their equals, I'm not so sure.

Other noteworthy Germans include Kant, the brothers Grimm, Leibniz, Schiller, Gauss, Fugger, Händel, Pachelbel, Hegel, Weber, Kafka, Hesse, Mann, Dürer, Freud, Nitzsche, Beethoven, Mendelsohn, Charlemagne, Fahrenheit, Röntgen, Geiger, Hertz, Ohm, Planck, Mercator and undoubtedly many more.
posted by cx at 1:19 AM on December 1, 2003


Albern.
posted by zerofoks at 2:32 AM on December 1, 2003


There were indeed Germans before 1871, and they regarded themselves and each other as Germans.

Then that's fantastically broad. Were Prussians eligible? German speakers who lived in Konigsberg and other Baltic areas controlled by the Hanseatic League? Were Dutch people, whose language is as close to Low German as High German is, included? (because I'm assuming that Lowlanders were elligible.) Was Oppenheimer included? He was American-born, but he was a native speaker of German and thus seems to meet the sole requirement.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:12 AM on December 1, 2003


Were Prussians eligible? German speakers who lived in Konigsberg and other Baltic areas controlled by the Hanseatic League?

IMHO, most certainly! Those areas became the heartland of the modern Germany.

Were Dutch people, whose language is as close to Low German as High German is, included? (because I'm assuming that Lowlanders were elligible.

No. AFAIK the Dutch never considered themselves German. (Neither did the Danish nor the Frisians)

Was Oppenheimer included? He was American-born, but he was a native speaker of German and thus seems to meet the sole requirement.

The sole requirement of whom? I didn't talk about language? I talked about belonging to the German nation. Did Oppenheimer consider himself German? Did others? If so, by all means include him.
posted by cx at 9:53 AM on December 1, 2003


Nina Hagen didn't make the list?

Mayor Curley: Never say that about the Dutch again. Especially when in Portugal next year somewhere in June.
posted by ginz at 2:15 PM on December 1, 2003


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