The first round of questions about immigration and integration took place some 20 years ago. Back then German politicians have been answering similar questions as they are now. The term ‘Leitkultur’ was created not by politicians though, but by the political scientist, Bassam Tibi, who, in 2001, issued his book called ‘Leitkultur as a value consensus: a balance of a failed German debate’ (one can derive from the title the result of the debate).
Bassam Tibi argued, that the influx of app. 10 million of Fremden – newcomers from other cultural circles, can be a chance for Germany. He based his reasoning on the fact, that as single humans have their own identity, so every nation has their own national identity too, and thus mixing of nations allow them to define and recognize what’s theirs and what is not.
It happened that many Germans of that time tried to answer the question of their, however shattered, identity. Based on the teachings of Greek or Roman philosophers, Bible and further human discoveries, as well as the rejection of the II WW’s violent heritage and the contrast with other cultures, German identity has slowly gained its definition. Hence, the term ‘Leitkultur’ does not contain negative connotations such as to Nietsche’s concepts, but allows them to decide, what rules a heterogeneous society on its land should follow.
Merely 20 years after the first debate on Leitkultur, German politicians need to find the answers again, and this time make the debate won (for the sake of elections at least). And, as it often happens, politicians were on a quest for the best definition of the term. Throughout years it usually gained the meaning close to the following (by Alexander Dobringt, 2010): ‘Christianity with its Jewish roots, influenced by antiquity, humanism and enlightenment’. Even the Alternative für Deutschland didn’t raise an alternative version: ‚(…) German leading culture, which essentially consists of three sources: first the religious tradition of Christianity, second the scientific-humanist tradition, whose ancient roots were revived in Renaissance and Enlightenment, and, thirdly, Roman law To which our constitutional state is based’.
Same definition, and nonetheless, quite a big discussion arose again, after Germany’s Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière, published his views on Leitkultur in Bild am Sonntag on the 30th of April 2017. Alternative für Deutschland reacted angrily to the fact, that the government and the leading party dared to share their view on the matter: ‘However praiseworthy the demands for a German leading culture may be, the more disgraceful is it to abuse German culture for election campaigns’- they rebuffed, aiming to dismiss the matter.
General outrage was, naturally, against using the term by de Maizière with the sole aim of winning the elections. Minister’s move to publish his words before the elections has certainly been coldly calculated. However, one could argue, that it was in fact a waste to use such a well thought statement on such an important matter for election purposes- his words will soon dissolve into nothingness, as does almost everything politicians say before elections.
But Germans do need to define their culture in a positive way and be able to convince newcomers, that Germany can be a country to live in and believe in. Not long ago Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published an article, which tried to find answers to the fact, that people who live lifelong in Germany don’t seem to be able to treat it like their motherland. The answer was simple: Germany wasn’t able to provide them with emotional bonding. German patriotism is, after all, a ‘constitutional’ one: ‘We respect the fundamental rights and the basic law. Above all, there is the preservation of human dignity. We are a democratic state. We speak the same language, our official language is German’. This is not enough, and therefore de Maizière tried to give his nation something more.
If it will be enough, not only elections will show, but the coming decades of convincing the newcomers that there is something valuable they themselves strongly believe in.
 Dobrindt fordert deutsche Leitkultur ein, http://www.focus.de/politik/deutschland/csu-dobrindt-fordert-deutsche-leitkultur-ein_aid_562232.html, 08.05.2017.
 Facebook: Alternative für Deutschland AfD, https://www.facebook.com/alternativefuerde/photos/pb.540404695989874.-2207520000.1475067465./1239463992750604/?type=3, 08.05.2017.
 Alexander Gauland: de Maizière missbraucht den Begriff der Leitkultur für Wahlkampfzwecke, https://www.alternativefuer.de/alexander-gauland-de-maizere-missbraucht-den-begriff-der-leitkultur-fuer-wahlkampfzwecke/, 08.05.2017.
 A. Prizkau, Dieses Land ist nicht deutsch genug!, http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/zuwanderern-ist-deutschland-nicht-deutsch-genug-14942439.html, 08.05.2017.
 Thomas de Mainzière, "Wir sind nicht Burka": Innenminister will deutsche Leitkultur, http://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2017-04/thomas-demaiziere-innenminister-leitkultur/seite-2, 08.05.2017.