the great problem of those Germans who live outside the borders of the Reich: they do have a German homeland, but they do not belong to the state of the Germans, the Reich, so they are deprived of their authentic way of Being.— In summary, then, we can say that the space of a people, the soil of a people, reaches as far as members of this people have found a homeland and have become rooted in the soil; and that the space of the state, the territory, finds its borders by interacting, by working out into the wider expanse.

In this connection, at the end of our last session we still made a few brief remarks on the significance of folklore for the life of a people. We heard that people and space mutually belong to each other. From the specific knowledge of a people about the nature of its space, we first experience how nature is revealed in this people. For a Slavic people, the nature of our German space would definitely be revealed differently from the way it is revealed to us; to Semitic nomads, it will perhaps never be revealed at all. This way of being embedded in a people, situated in a people, this original participation in the knowledge of the people, cannot be taught; at most, it can be awakened from its slumber. One poor means of doing this is folklore. It is a peculiar mishmash of objects that have often been taken from the customs of a particular people. But it often also investigates customs, mores, or magic which no longer have anything to do with a specific people in its historical Being. It investigates forces that are at work everywhere among primitive and magical human beings. So folklore is not suited to ask about what belongs specifically to a people; often it even does the very opposite. This is why it is a misunderstanding and an error to believe that one can awaken the consciousness of the Volk with the help of folklore [Volkskunde]. We must above all guard ourselves against being overly impressed by the word “folk.”


Martin Heidegger - Nature History State