Heimat, German for “homeland,” will be a ministry dealing with national identity in Angela Merkel’s next government.
Heimat is intended to evoke the idea of a homeland, and of being at home.
The concept has intrigued some in Germany, even though it was immediately derided by others. “The Ministry of Heimat today advises you to take a walk in the forests of Germany to connect with the spirit of the homeland,” is an example that appeared on a fake Twitter account claiming to represent the Heimatministerium.
In a country traumatized by its Nazi past, where talking about the concept of the people or the nation is virtually taboo, the idea of a Ministry of Heimat has shocked some.
The anti-GroKo SPD even made an argument to vote against the coalition agreement that includes the conservative CDU/CSU on the grounds that the idea indicated a shift to the Right in Germany. And the historian Paul Nolte claimed that would only serve as a screen for announcing a more restrictive migration policy.
The conservatives of the CDU/CSU want to use it as a means to respond to the popularity of the rising Alternative for Germany (AfD). The German far Right has been trying for several months to revive nationalist vocabulary. Last year, the former leader of the AfD, Frauke Petry, even invoked the term völkisch, or “of the people,” which is still strongly associated with Nazism.