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Francisco Pérez del Valle: Patriotism. Allegorical representation at the Monumento a los Caidos por España ("Monument to those who fell for Spain") in Madrid (1840)

As Patriotism an emotional attachment to one's own is home or the Fatherland called, he frequently refers to the nation . In German , instead of the loan word , the term Vaterlandsliebe is used synonymously.

This bond is also known as national feeling or national pride and can relate to very different aspects that are viewed as characteristics of one's own nation, such as ethnic , cultural , political or historical .

In contrast to a historical-cultural bond, constitutional patriotism stands for the positive commitment to the supranational ethical and political basic rights and values anchored in a state constitution . In the tradition of Western constitutional states, these relate to inalienable human dignity and human rights derived from it , for which universal validity is claimed.

Patriotism is often differentiated from nationalism and chauvinism , insofar as patriots would identify with their own people and country without putting them above others and expressly devaluing other peoples. It refers to the at the same time emotional, often passionately increased devotion, rooted in civic ethos , to the supra-personal state whole, which in this form is perceived not only as a legal and political order , but as the community that supports the individual . To what extent this difference actually exists and has been historically effective is doubted by several scientists.

In Central Europe , the patriotism of the has revolutionary understood liberalism and nationalism of the bourgeoisie developed, against feudalism a democratically written nation-state sought. This popular rule , understood as power from below , has since the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789 established itself as a constitution and self-image in most European states, after initially only being a subject of intellectual elites and then subject to multiple historical setbacks.

Etymology and conceptual history

The meaning and use of the term changed over the centuries. As πατριώτης ( patriótes ) in ancient Greek exclusively non-Greeks ( barbarians ) were referred to, who were connected by a common descent (πατριά ( patriá ), to πατήρ ( patér ), "father") and thus formed a clan or tribe . The word was borrowed from Latin ( patriōta ) in the Romance languages and finally found its way into the German language via French ( patriote ) in the 16th century. Until the early modern era, however, it only expressed the idea of ​​a common origin, homeland, descent or ethnicity, thus corresponding to today's expression "compatriot." The connotation with a special pride in the homeland or the "fatherland" came only in the course of the European Reformation Wars. In the 1560s, French Huguenots occasionally referred to their fellow believers as "good patriots" ( bon patriote ). Crucial to the change of direction was Eighty Years' War , the followers in the course of which William of Orange in the Dutch struggle against Spanish domination as goede patriotten saw.

The term was first defined in the Age of Enlightenment . In the moral weekly Der Patriot , the scholar Michael Richey declared in 1724 that "a patriot is a person who is really serious about the best of his country", one who "is diligent in serving the common being honestly". In 1742, Richey translated Patriot as Stadtfreund , and Johann Moritz Gericke wrote in 1782 that patriotism "is that strong inner drive that has the best of the state for its attention and seeks to promote its welfare in every possible way." but to apply was controversial. In 1748 Charles de Montesquieu, in his Esprit des lois, reserved his love for the fatherland for a republic alone . On the other hand, the driving moral-psychological force in monarchies is honor .

Patriotism was generally understood as a virtue in the Enlightenment , that is, as a desirable ethical attitude. Justus Möser and other enlighteners took the view that there was no patriotism in the estates -based monarchies, only obedience. But a community that guarantees the rule of law and freedom can also demand selfless heroism from its citizens, up to and including death on the battlefield. The virtuous self-sacrifice that patriotism demanded, however, implied that the community to which the patriot had to offer it was thought of in deficit : it required the efforts of the patriots, and was therefore not lovable without them; on the contrary, it was the presence of many that made the patriots more virtuous Patriots make a country worthwhile to work for. In this respect, as the sociologist Peter Fuchs analyzes, patriotism is circular or tautological . In order to get out of this tautology and to disguise the contingency of belonging to the respective fatherland, patriotism was expressed increasingly valuable and emphatically . Indifference and contradiction were no longer allowed, patriotism became "polemogenic", that is, it leads to wars .

Since the Wars of Liberation , patriotism has been an elite project . It only became politically anchored in the masses of the population through the armed conflicts with Napoleonic France. Only then did the idea of ​​patriotism spread to the bourgeoisie in other European countries. Even if older loyalties persisted, the nation now became the decisive authority in creating meaning and legitimation . The resulting nationalism established, unlike the old patriotism, which was more emotionally based, a reciprocal relationship between the individual and the nation and could thus become a mass movement .

This idea was first associated with the liberal and democratic ideals of the French Revolution " Liberty, Equality, Fraternity " and was in the first half of the 19th century after the defeat of Napoleon by most reactionary European principalities in the period of metternich rule restoration after Congress of Vienna 1814/15 suppressed.

Since the middle of the 19th century, the concept of patriotism has been increasingly linked across Europe with integral nationalism and chauvinism , that is, the belief in the superiority of one's own nation and the associated devaluation of other nations.

Some consider it patriotic to prefer to buy goods that were made in their own country. In the context of the Great Depression from 1929, the British government launched a “Buy British!” Campaign in 1931; in the United States , the Buy American Act came into force in 1933 . Even in Iceland they were calling for Kaupid islenzkar Vörur!

Differentiation from nationalism

Football (in the broader sense international sports competitions) - one of the crystallization points of patriotic feelings
"God Bless the USA" ("God bless the USA") - patriotic creed in the United States of America

Since the 18th century, a distinction has often been made between patriotism and nationalism or chauvinism. Immanuel Kant noted, for example, that instinct-guided nationalism must be exterminated, "in the place of which patriotism and cosmopolitanism must appear". The German President Johannes Rau formulated this difference in 1999 as follows:

“A patriot is someone who loves his country. A nationalist is someone who despises other people's homelands. "

In historical studies the delimitation of supposedly praiseworthy patriotism and criticism-worthy nationalism is variously disputed. Dieter Langewiesche, for example, states that the results of historical research would "clearly [...] resist such a hopeful dichotomy". According to Christian Jansen , tolerant patriotism is at best ideally conceivable. Empirically, the various historical nation-building processes show that constructive and destructive elements have always worked together: Any emotionally based identification with one's own nation that goes beyond mere loyalty is Janus-faced .

Social psychological studies of the 21st century also suggest that the distinction between patriotism and nationalism or chauvinism has no basis in reality. The Jena psychologist Christopher Cohrs comes to the conclusion: “People with patriotic attitudes do not reject nationalism. Rather, both often go hand in hand ”. An Adam Rutland study among children showed that approval of one's own nation correlates closely with devaluing other nations . The German sociologist Wilhelm Heitmeyer also came to the conclusion in his long-term study of German conditions that a positive attitude to democracy and its values ​​represent better protection against xenophobic and racist ideas, which are more likely to be promoted by a patriotic basic attitude. In scientific literature, patriotism and nationalism are therefore often used synonymously.

Sometimes a patriotic attitude is often equated with nationalism or viewed as a euphemism for nationalist views, since right-wing extremists and right-wing populists often call themselves patriots, such as the "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West" .

Patriotism in individual states


In the early modern period , a discourse on patriotism established itself in German-speaking countries, but there was still no consensus on what it was referring to: the immediate area, the territorial state with its ruling dynasty , the Holy Roman Empire or the whole world. For the Enlightenment, for example, there was no contradiction to cosmopolitanism : The magazine Der Patriot defined its eponymous ideal in 1724 as a person who “saw the whole world as his fatherland, yes as a single city” and himself “as a relative or fellow citizen of each other people ”. In 1790 the German newspaper said that a patriot would find his fatherland there, "where he can promote human happiness and alleviate human misery, for which God helps him". Against the background of the Seven Years' War , Friedrich Carl von Moser tried to establish imperial patriotism in 1761. He differentiated between love of the country and patriotism: the former was unreflective habit and obedience based on prejudice , the latter he described as love for the free laws of a self-chosen fatherland. Patriotism is based on the subordination of particular fatherlands to the empire. He was unable to assert himself: Others, such as that of the Enlightenment philosopher Thomas Abbt , on the other hand, described Prussia as a fatherland for which it was worth dying. In 1793, Christoph Martin Wieland lamented the lack of a patriotic community spirit: Patriots only ever felt attached to their home region, but not "German patriots who love the whole of the German Empire as their fatherland".

Since the Wars of Liberation , imperial patriotism no longer appeared possible after the failure of the imperial institutions against Napoleon and the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. The German nation, which was defined as a cultural nation or ethnically, increasingly became the reference of the German patriots . The desire for national unity and the overcoming of all that divides in the German-speaking area or in the area of ​​the German Confederation spread slowly but steadily. Often this wish was combined with a front position against France. This was particularly evident during the Rhine Crisis in 1840, when France laid claim to the Rhine border. During this time, well-known patriotic songs such as Die Wacht am Rhein or August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben's Germany song were written , which cites "protection and defiance" against an unnamed enemy as the purpose of national unity. In the empire of 1871 the trend towards "national arrogance" increased (reinterpretation of the phrase "the world should recover from the German being" ). Even after the founding of the Reich in 1871, German patriotism did not refer exclusively to the German Empire, but also to the member states . Otto von Bismarck noted thoughts and memories in his memoirs : "German patriotism generally requires the mediation of dynastic attachment in order to be active and effective". For this reason, too, the Bismarck constitution was federal .

When the war broke out in 1914, the German labor movement was also caught up in the patriotic wave ( August experience ) , which contributed to its split. After the First World War , the National Socialists invoked patriotism in order to get general approval for their criminal aims.

Appeal to national pride: SPD election poster for their top candidate Willy Brandt (1972)

In the Federal Republic of Germany , patriotism played only a subordinate role after the Second World War as a result of the crimes of National Socialism . The conservative side in particular repeatedly complained about the lack of mass patriotism. A study from 2011 compared patriotism in 53 countries between 1980 and 2001 based on the question of whether one was proud of one's respective country. After Japan, Germany had the lowest level of patriotism in the world, and Venezuela reached the highest level . Instead, a constitutional patriotism and a so-called party patriotism, as demonstrated at the 2006 soccer World Cup in Germany, became publicly visible . According to a study by the Identity Foundation , 60% of Germans were proud of their country in 2009. According to Statista , it was 83%.

The GDR tried its own in the 1970s socialist to spread patriotism, which extends from the " class enemy distinguish" Federal Republic, while the population ideologically integrate should.


After the Second World War, Austria initially struggled with an independent Austrian identity and a national feeling that is supposedly different from the German. When it comes to patriotism, however, according to a 33-country study from 2006, the country is the European country with the greatest national pride and ranks fourth worldwide.

In 2010, 81% of Austrians said they were proud of their country, with men overall prouder than women. Austrians are particularly proud of nature (83%) and their food (55%), whereas only 3% of Austrians are proud of their politicians. In Austria, ties with their own country are higher than with the European Union . In 2013, 64% of those surveyed felt very close to Austria, but only 9% to the EU.


In Switzerland , patriotism developed after the founding of the democratic federal state in 1848, but mostly related to a language group (German, Italian, French, Romansh). He reached a culmination point with spiritual national defense due to the threat from the Nazi state . Today political patriotism, for example in the form of widespread skepticism towards joining the EU , can be seen as constitutional patriotism in defense of the achievements of direct democracy .


In December 2011, one of the French presidential candidates, François Bayrou , asked his compatriots achetez français! (“Buys French”), whereupon his polls rose to 13%. His competitors Sarkozy and Hollande reacted promptly: Nicolas Sarkozy is considering an Origine France Garantie label ; François Hollande pleads for more “industrial patriotism”.

United States

There is a particularly strong patriotism in the USA. So is there of students together in many states of the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States ( Pledge of Allegiance recited), and many houses are built with the national flag provided. Controversial government decisions have sometimes been accompanied by appeals to patriotism (for example, symbolic acronyms such as the USA PATRIOT Act ) to gain more approval. Critics claim that patriotism is used to present public criticism in advance as un- or anti-American and thus to exclude it from the discourse . American patriotism is characterized by the strong connection between political symbols and religious symbols, rituals and values ​​of (mostly Protestant ) Christianity .

Special characteristics


Web links

Commons : Patriotism  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Patriotism  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: πατρίς  - explanations of meanings, word origins , synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Friedrich Kluge: Etymological dictionary of the German language , 24th edition, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2002. P. 686, sv Patriot .
  2. Oxford English Dictionary , 2nd edition, 1989. sv patriot , n. And adj.
  3. Alexander Schmidt : A fatherland without patriots? The crisis of imperial patriotism in the 18th century . in: Georg Schmidt (Ed.): The German Nation in Early Modern Europe. Political order and cultural identity? . Oldenbourg, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-59740-0 , pp. 35–63, here p. 41 (accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  4. Bernd Schönemann : People, Nation, Nationalism, Mass . In: Otto Brunner , Werner Conze and Reinhart Koselleck (eds.): Basic historical concepts . Vol. 7, Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1992, p. 311 f .; Alexander Schmidt: A fatherland without patriots? The crisis of imperial patriotism in the 18th century . in: Georg Schmidt (Ed.): The German Nation in Early Modern Europe. Political order and cultural identity? . Oldenbourg, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-59740-0 , pp. 35-63, here pp. 45 f. (accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  5. Peter Fuchs: Fatherland, Patriotism and Morality. On the semantics of social unity . In: Zeitschrift für Soziologie 20, Heft 2 (1991), pp. 89-103.
  6. ^ Heinrich August Winkler : The long way to the west , Vol. 1: German history from the end of the Old Empire to the fall of the Weimar Republic . CH Beck, Munich 2000, p. 46 f.
  7. ^ Walter Greiff: The change in method of European trade policy during the crisis year 1931. Junker and Dünnhaupt, 1932, p. 46.
  8. Immanuel Kant: Nachlass zur Anthropologie , quoted by Bernd Schönemann: Volk, Nation, Nationalismus, Masse . In: Otto Brunner, Werner Conze and Reinhart Koselleck (eds.): Basic historical concepts . Vol. 7, Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1992, p. 320.
  9. Johannes Rau: Speech after the election of the Federal President on May 23 , 1999 , quoted on, accessed on November 11, 2018.
  10. ^ Dieter Langewiesche: Nationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Between participation and aggression; Lecture to the discussion group on the history of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Bonn on January 24, 1994 . Bonn 1994, p. 16 ( online , accessed on February 22, 2019).
  11. Christian Jansen with Henning Borggräfe: Nation - Nationality - nationalism. Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2007, pp. 18 and 34 f.
  12. Quoted from Nikolaus Westerhoff: The fairy tale of the good patriot . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , 14./15. July 2007
  13. ^ Adam Rutland et al .: Development of the positive-negative asymmetry effect: in-group exclusion norm as a mediator of children's evaluations on negative attributes . In: European Journal of Social Psychology , 37 1, 2006, pp. 171–190.
  14. ^ Maurizio Viroli: For Love of Country. An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism. Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, Oxford / New York 1998, p. 1.
  15. Holger Böning : The "people" in the patriotism of the German Enlightenment . In: Otto Dann , Miroslav Hroch and Johannes Koll (eds.): Patriotism and nation building at the end of the Holy Roman Empire . SH-Verlag, Cologne 2003, pp. 63–98, cited here from the [ online version] on, p. 4, accessed on 10. July 2020
  16. Alexander Schmidt : A fatherland without patriots? The crisis of imperial patriotism in the 18th century . in: Georg Schmidt (Ed.): The German Nation in Early Modern Europe. Political order and cultural identity? . Oldenbourg, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-59740-0 , pp. 35–63, here pp. 42–45 (accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  17. Alexander Schmidt: A fatherland without patriots? The crisis of imperial patriotism in the 18th century . in: Georg Schmidt (Ed.): The German Nation in Early Modern Europe. Political order and cultural identity? . Oldenbourg, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-59740-0 , pp. 35–63, here p. 49 ff. (Accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  18. ^ Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west, Vol. 1: German history from the end of the Old Empire to the fall of the Weimar Republic . CH Beck, Munich 2000, p. 216.
  19. Volker Kronenberg: Patriotism in Germany. Perspectives for a cosmopolitan nation , 2nd edition, VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2006, pp. 152–155.
  20. ^ Sylvia and Martin Greiffenhagen : A difficult fatherland. On the political culture in the united Germany. List, Munich / Leipzig 1993, p. 18 f .; Volker Kronenberg : Patriotism in Germany. Perspectives for a cosmopolitan nation. 3rd edition, Springer, Wiesbaden 2013, p. 19 f.
  21. ^ Adair Morse and Sophie Shive: Patriotism in Your Portfolio . In: Journal of Financial Markets 14, Issue 2 (2011), p. 411-440, here p. 414 ff.
  22. Jan-Werner Müller : Nation, Verfassungspatriotismus, Leitkultur: Integration terms before and after 1989. In: Herfried Münkler and Jens Hacke (eds.): Ways in the new Federal Republic. Political Myths and Collective Self-Images after 1989 . Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2009, pp. 115–130.
  23. Michael Mutz and Markus Gerke: Football and National Pride in Germany: A Representative Panel Study on the European Championship 2016 . Springer, Wiesbaden 2019, p. 89, etc.
  24. Identity Foundation: Study: "Being German - A New Pride in the Nation in Harmony with the Heart" (PDF; 1.4 MB)
  25. ^ Society, Social: Proud to be German , published by Statista Research Department, August 19, 2010, accessed on January 4, 2020.
  26. Edgar Wolfrum : Epilogue or Epoch? (Retrospective) look at German historical studies from the age of two states to the present . In: Herfried Münkler and Jens Hacke (Hrsg.): Ways in the new Federal Republic. Political Myths and Collective Self-Images after 1989 . Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2009, pp. 33–64, here p. 48.
  27. National pride : Austria in fourth place. In: ORF ON Science. Retrieved November 30, 2017 .
  30. Current problems of the people's rights , HSG conference from 1995 in Lucerne, proceedings.
  31. France's left is planning a nuclear turnaround . In: Rheinische Post , November 17, 2011, p. A6.
  32. "L'achetez français" de Bayrou agace l'Elysée (for instance: "The demand achetez français' annoys the Elysée Palace")