Inventing Europe

Opinion | Vienna Review | September 2012

About 140 years ago, the countless principalities that were to become what was later the German Empire had no clear borders. Before their identity was obscured by the fog of Nazism, Germany was made up of Bavaria, Saxony, Baden, Prussia, Würtemberg, Westfalia, Schleswig, the list goes on.

Among the formative writers of this time, the Romantic era, were the Brothers Grimm. They travelled around, gathering stories from different parts of the region, compiling a collection of fairy tales they published in 1812. These stories, alongside a collective hatred of the ever-expanding reach of Napoleon’s army, gave the German people a common identity.

Now, as Europe fights to strengthen its Union, the barriers also have to do with the weak identification with the "other" member states. This time, joining in the hatred of a common enemy is surely not the answer. Shouldn’t we then, like the Brothers Grimm, go out and collect tales from our fellow EU countries and adopt them as pan-European stories?

Isn’t what we need a new Mythology?


Other articles from this issue