caust is long ago. My students are thenthird generation past the war; theirngrandparents remember, their parentsndon’t. For another, Germany has utterlynrejected anti-Semitism. The only signsnof anti-Semitism these days are on thentoilet walls at the university, and evennhere, other anonymous voices covern”Juden raus” with “Nazi raus.”nThat does not mean Jews love Germans,nor Germans, Jews. High walls ofndiscomfort keep Jewish-Germans awaynfrom other Germans and vice versa.nBut could a holocaust happen againnhere? Yes—but not to Jews. Germansnmake good students, the kind that getnstrong B’s: they learn their lessons well,nbut they don’t then draw conclusionsnfrom them in order to deal with otherncases, other problems. The Germansnhave learned the lesson of the NationalnSocialist period: leave the Jews alone.nBut they have drawn no conclusions,nsuch as that racism ruins society. ThenGermans I meet perceive the worldnthrough a bitter, racist perspective:nwhite versus anything other than white,nChristian versus everybody else.nA colleague, strongly pro-Jewish,ncomplained to me that 25 percent ofnthe population of Frankfurt is notnGerman. What he means is, not ofnnative parentage, or if born here, thennnot light-skinned. The large minoritynhere is dark-skinned, from Turkey innthe main, but also Italy, Portugal,nSpain, and points south. The Turksnhave been Germans for more than angeneration, and Turkish youngstersnspeaking excellent German to German-speakingnparents are everywherenin the parks and at the zoo. But to thenGerman-Germans, they’re • not Germans.nWhy not? Because the Germansnwho derive from long-establishednfamilies have a conception of what annative German is. “Germanness” accommodatesnGerman-speaking familiesnfrom the Volga or Romania ornPoland, who have not set foot in Germanynfor four hundred years, but itnmakes no room for Turks.nYet Germany must draw conclusionsnfrom its calamitous history, becausenin the coming years it will find itnnecessary to teach an entire new populationnwhat it means to be German: thenfive new states, formerly the GermannDemocratic Republic. People now definen”the eastern problem” in economicnterms. To unite Germany, the Feder­nal Republic took over an utterlynbankrupt country, ransoming its populationnfrom the Soviets, who had held itncaptive. The East Germans celebrated,nbut it now appears somewhat prematurely.nWith unemployment headingnupward toward 10 percent of the population,nthe goods and services the westernnpart of the country enjoys appearnout of reach. Just what unificationnmeans is no longer clear.nBut the economic problems will sortnthemselves out. When they do, whatnwill the 15 states of West Germanynhave to teach the East about the Germanynthey should rejoin? Then”Ossies” have been out of touch withnthe “Wessies” for a whole generation.nThey formed their own sense ofnGermanness, their own definition ofnthe public interest and the commonngood. And whatever makes themnGerman and forms their cultural consensus,ndiscredited and abandoned as itnwas when the wall was torn down, hasnnow to be replaced. But if anyone innthe western part of the country can tellnthe East what it means to be German,nand of what Germanness consists, thenmessage has yet to circulate. So Easterners,ndemoralized and disappointed,nstate without embarrassment the oldnanti-Semitism, which is out of style,nalong with a new racism directed towardnTurks and other dark-skinnednpeople, which these days is very innvogue.nAnother conclusion not broadlynreached hereabouts is that the NationalnSocialists ruined the universities. Butnthey did. German universities exhibitnlittle vitality or academic ambition. AtnBrown University, where I taught forn22 years, I watched an excellent- nationalnuniversity reduced to a trivial andnmediocre college by the uncomprehendingnidiots who ran the place. Butnnothing I saw at Brown at its mostnpathetic, lazy, and mediocre preparednme for what I found here: a vacuum, andesert, a wilderness; no community, nonvitality, no intellectual life. If somenprofessors hereabouts pursue ideas, asknurgent questions, engage in sustainedndebate, I have not met them or heardnof them; if students do so, the evidencenis not easy to muster. There is nonstudent newspaper here where I amnteaching, and little student expressionnof any kind; extracurricular lectures arenepisodic and scarcely define greatnnnevents on the campus.nThe students in my seminar andnpublic lecture, dear and lovely youngnGermans, have been coming around,nthough, and when they express theirnideas they turn out to have interestingnthings to say. But it took a stubbornnAmerican, me, to ask a question —neven one of (mere) opinion — andnthen insist they answer it. One of themneven got up the courage to call men”Jack,” as in “Why did you decide toncome here. Jack?” I took that as anwarm compliment. But I had workednfor that trust—hard.nA German university must be thenmost inhospitable place in the world.nTrue, everyone is friendly enough, andnhappy to correct your German, thanknyou. But after two months as a visitingnprofessor, I have yet to be invited into anGerman home. My sense is that peoplenare just not interested in outsiders,nany more than they want to hear thingsnthey haven’t heard before. (Concerts innFrankfurt consist of Mozart and Beethoven,nexcept when the program isnMozart and Vivaldi.) What you findnare indications of a great tradition donenin. The professors come to class, teachnaround four hours a week, and afternscarcely doing more than greeting theirnHen Kollege, return home. They donnot eat together, do not talk together,ndo not argue with one another, butnkeep themselves busy by publishingnarticles that go over this and that,nmerely collecting and arranging thenresults of other peoples’ anguish andninsight. And why should things benbetter, when we remember that thenNational Socialists got rid of the talentnas well as the entrenched mediocrity?nWith the great tradition ruined, wherenwere the universities to turn for modelsnof excellence? For our part, we nevernconceived a Marshall Plan of ideas, anrebuilding of the ruined intellectual lifenof a great country. It is no wonder,nthen, that 46 years after the end ofnWorld War II, Germans find themselvesnrehearsing discredited ideas andnconfronting an intellectual deficit.nA graduate research professor ofnreligious studies at the University ofnSouth Florida, Tampa, Jacob Neusnernspent the summer semester of 1991 asnMartin Buber Visiting Professor ofnJudaic Studies at the Johann WolfgangnGoethe University in Frankfurt.nDECEMBER 1991/41n