France's threat in 1840 to reestablish the Rhine as its eastern border generated intense anti-French, patriotic fervor in the German territories, even in those far beyond the Rhineland. The countless Rheinlieder written as a direct response to the crisis constituted a literary, journalistic, and political phenomenon. The poems enjoyed widespread popularity and resonance among the German public and functioned as a medium of public debate, thus exerting considerable influence on the political climate and the imagining of a united Germany in the nineteenth century.
This is the published version, made available with the permission of the publisher.
“The Rhine Crisis of 1840: Rheinlieder, German Nationalism, and the Masses.” In Searching for Common Ground: Diskurse zur deutschen Identität 1750-1871, edited by Nicholas Vazsonyi. Weimar: Böhlau 2000. 239-51.