Branches of the Germanic Oak: Pangermanism, Omer Wattez and other German-Flemish Histories
Keywords:Omer Wattez, cultural mediation, culturele bemiddeling, translation, vertaling, Flemish movement, Vlaamse beweging, pangermanic movements, pangermaanse bewegingen
This contribution considers the role of Omer Wattez (1857-1935) as a cultural mediator between Flanders and Germany and his involvement in the pangermanic movement. Initially a staunch pangermanist who was quite critical of romance cultures and their influence on the Flemish people, he tried to disseminate Germanic, and especially classical German literature in a series of essays as well as through a volume of translated ballads, which he considered the original form of poetry in the Germanic languages. In doing so, he inscribed himself in a tradition that had its origins in the early 19th century, but that had become marginal in Flemish literature around the turn of the century. Although he was at first blind of the political aims of German pangermanists, Wattez eventually separated cultural affinity from political collaboration and spent his time in Paris during WWI. In a volume of sonnets – a genre he had repudiated earlier – he expresses his disgust of German militarism.