Bibliographic data

Bahr, Frank: Anno 11/12, Geschichte Gymnasium Sachsen. Braunschweig: Westermann Verlag, 2008, 426–427.

"European and National Identity"

[p. 426]


European and National Identity

The historian Hartmut Kaelble has identified the difference between European and national identity:

European and national identity in Europe have been and continue to be two very different matters. They differ in several defining aspects of their essential character. European identity cannot be merely regarded as a repetition of nationalism over a wider geographical area. Nor, therefore, can European identity be examined using methods developed by research on nationalism. We can identify seven considerable historical differences between national and European identity:

1. The modern European concept of the self has, in comparison to nationalism, been rather more orientated towards clearly defined goals such as democratisation, securing internal peace and international responsibility, wealth and social security. European identity in turn is less based on symbols such as monuments, hymns, myths, national holidays, street names, capital cities, sporting events, and especially not – unlike many nationalisms – on a standard language. Emotions define the connection to the nation, but much less to Europe. […]

2. The modern European concept of the self did not evolve – unlike many nationalisms – from a military conflict or violent resistance to another nation, as did the American identity in the conflict with England during the American Revolution, the German identity during the Napoleonic Wars, the Danish identity during the military conflicts with Germany, the Italian or Czech identity in the struggle against the Habsburg monarchy. […] Rather, the modern European identity evolved as a lesson from two European wars. The birthmarks of the modern European self-image are neither a military conquest nor an heroic defeat, but the devastation of domestic war.

[p. 427]

3. At the same time, this self-image is much older and also younger than the European nationalisms. European identities developed as early as during the emergence of Europe during the Middle Ages. The modern European concept of the self is, unlike nationalism, not a product of the 19th century but rather a consequence of the disastrous first half of the 20th century, hardly older than half a century. It thus refers to a different historical context. […]



Define the European identity as distinct from the national identity.

-text, M6


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