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August Becker: Excerpts from The Palatinate and the Palatines (1858)

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of the Vorderpfalz. It is poorer, and its inhabitants cannot afford to refresh themselves with wine, but instead they often drink too much schnapps. This lowers their standing in the eyes of the Vorderpfalz inhabitant, although he too drinks more wine than is needed to quench his thirst, and he still gives a certain meaning to the old phrase "drinking like a Palatine." In Westrich, one can still frequently find straw roofs on the houses, something that disappeared from the Vorderpfalz centuries ago. Under these straw roofs, one will sometimes find much poverty and misery, but more often, one will find a calm, contented frame of mind and an honesty and depth of soul that grace us more than any glittering, superficial features, just as the quiet valleys found in Westrich with their unassuming idylls are more appealing than the rich open fields in the flatland district or in the wine country. Out there in the Palatinate with its dazzling external appearance there is often some superficiality, but here in Westrich there is a good core under a tough shell. Like country, like inhabitants.

[ . . . ]

All memories of and sympathies for Germany may have been lost. But we have forgotten that Germany itself was completely to blame. It is indeed remarkable that Germanness was preserved in the Palatinate, and that it already is very strong now that the customs barriers are down and with them a dividing line separating the land from the rest of Germany. The events of 1832 and 1849 were anyway entirely about the idea of Germanness. That in these years the events that rocked Germany again found the loudest echo in the land where the tremors in Europe's political world have always been felt most acutely can be explained by the easily excitable character of the people. Political agitations receive such quick and willing attention because purely intellectual stimuli are lacking due to the absence of a large city, and the lively mind of the people must after all receive nourishment. The Palatinate has shown that royalist movements too can be aroused, for example, when they received their old name from Bavaria, and when the young Count of the Palatinate took the granddaughter of the Hohenzollern as his bride.

It is true that the people of the Palatinate now have more specific Palatine pride than German pride. But unfortunately, it is like this all over Germany, and has always been so. Today every Palatine would surely sacrifice his local patriotism for a common German patriotism if it came to a single, unified Germany. However, as long as he sees that the Austrian feels like an Austrian and the Brandenburger feels like a Brandenburger, he will not be able to stop thinking, why should the old Rhenish Palatinate not preserve its political equality along with the others, why should it be the one to be carved up and divided?

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