Mennonite German Soldiers
Nation, Religion, and Family in the Prussian East, 1772-1880
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Notre Dame Press
List of Figures
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It is my great pleasure to thank the many individuals and institutions whose assistance made this book possible, better, or both. Research funding was provided by travel grants from the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame, the Fulbright Program of the United States Department of State, the Mennonite...
1. Viewing German Nationalism from the Bottom Up
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In the 1880s a popular nationalist melodrama of the Prussian stage was Ernst von Wildenbruch’s Der Menonit, which portrayed a particular religious minority in the Vistula Delta as cowardly traitors. This group of strict pacifists, the Mennonites, grew out of the sixteenth-century Anabaptist movement. In the German Empire their...
2. From Polish to Prussian Subjects
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The official Mennonite response in 1888 to Wildenbruch’s provocative play will surprise those who associate Mennonites either with their Amish cousins or with pacifism. Urban Mennonite leaders reacted to this public attack with a vigorous affirmation of their commitment to the German nation. In a statement...
3. Redefining Mennonites’ Place in Ancien Régime Prussia
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The first Mennonite emigration to Russia in 1788 came at a time when Frederick William II was considering far-ranging changes in the government’s religious policy. As a result of these deliberations, he ordered a general review of the Mennonites’ status, triggering in turn wide-ranging discussions within a divided...
4. The Impact of Defeat and Victory in the Napoleonic Wars
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Prussia’s defeat and collapse in 1806 proved the need for reform. The reformers who came into power hoped to harness new financial and military energies by turning subjects into citizens. Extreme differences in civil rights and status, however, were a hindrance to such plans. Groups whom the government formerly held...
5. New Avenues into Prussian Society, 1818–48
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The pressure for reform in Prussia in the three decades that followed the restoration of absolutism after 1818 prompted changes in Mennonites’ relationship to Prussian society. Many German intellectuals, students, and businessmen supported the new ideas of nationalism and constitutionalism. These ideas created...
6. Revolutionary Changes in Frankfurt and at Home
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Until the revolution of 1848, the debate about the place of Mennonites in Prussian society had been limited to government officials, the Mennonites themselves, and their Protestant neighbors in the Vistula region. The creation of the Frankfurt National Assembly, charged with developing a constitution that would...
7. Family Politics and Generational Transitions as Windows into Prussian Society
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The question of how Mennonites as a religious minority could fit into a society that was itself in transition went beyond the question of whether a pacifist could be a Prussian. The conflicts Mennonites experienced with the Prussian state over family and religious identities shaped Mennonites’ changing relationship to...
8. The Unification of Germany and the Ideology of Universal Conscription
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The Austro-Prussian war of 1866 marked an important turning point in the development of German national identity. The question of how—and how much of—Germany would be unified was answered by war. The lightning Prussian victory, which came as a surprise to almost everyone, meant that the future of...
9. The Kulturkampf and Mennonite Reverberations in Early Kaiserreich Culture
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Neither the king, the government, nor the parliament were inclined to restore the Mennonites’ exemption from military service. The number of exemption supporters signing subsequent petitions declined every year after 1868 as Mennonites came to realize that their choices were limited to accepting military...
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During the 1870s the hundred-year project of the Prussian state to create Mennonite soldiers was brought to a successful conclusion. A complex web of policies that linked extra taxation, tightly circumscribed property rights, and close regulation of marriage and child-rearing options placed pressure on Mennonites that...
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Page Count: 384
Illustrations: no e-rights for images
Publication Year: 2010