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The Thirty Years' War and German Memory in the Nineteenth Century

Kevin Cramer

Publication Year: 2007

The nineteenth century witnessed the birth of German nationalism and the unification of Germany as a powerful nation-state. In this era the reading public’s obsession with the most destructive and divisive war in its history—the Thirty Years’ War—resurrected old animosities and sparked a violent, century-long debate over the origins and aftermath of the war. The core of this bitter argument was a clash between Protestant and Catholic historians over the cultural criteria determining authentic German identity and the territorial and political form of the future German nation.
 
This groundbreaking study of modern Germany’s morbid fascination with the war explores the ideological uses of history writing, commemoration, and collective remembrance to show how the passionate argument over the “meaning” of the Thirty Years’ War shaped Germans' conception of their nation. The first book in the extensive literature on German history writing to examine how modern German historians reinterpreted a specific event to define national identity and legitimate political and ideological agendas, The Thirty Years’ War and German Memory in the Nineteenth Century is a bold intellectual history of the confluence of history writing, religion, culture, and politics in nineteenth-century Germany.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-17

This advertisement appeared on the end sheet of Luise Mühlbach’s Die Opfer des religiösen Fanatismus: Historicher Roman aus dem dreißigjährigen Krieg (The Victims of Religious Fanaticism: A Historical Novel of the Thirty Years’ War) (1871–72). The publisher, Sigmund Bensinger...

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1. The Great War

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pp. 18-50

How did historians in nineteenth-century Germany come to grips with the complex sequence of events that ignited a fratricidal thirty-year conflict that was also remembered as the Great German War, the Great War, the Great Schism, and Germany’s Darkest Hour? The debate over the origins of the war...

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2. The War of Protestant Liberation

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pp. 51-93

In 1844 Friedrich Moser, an amateur historian who lived in Zwickau, published a pamphlet describing the 1837 unveiling of the Gustavus Adolphus memorial in the Saxon village of Lützen, outside Leipzig. Moser recalled the anguished prayers of Germany’s Protestants in 1629 as Wallenstein’s imperial army...

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3. Wallenstein’s Revolution

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pp. 94-140

“In life,” wrote Friedrich Schiller in 1793, “it was his misfortune to make himself the enemy of the victorious party; in death it was his misfortune to be survived by his enemies, who then wrote his history.”1 Schiller’s observation captures the essence of the “Wallenstein question,” which occupied such a central place...

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4. The Martyrdom of Magdeburg

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pp. 141-177

The nineteenth-century reinterpretations of the origins of the Thirty Years’ War and the motivations and aims of Gustavus Adolphus and Wallenstein were stories of triumphs and of grand designs that had failed. In the retelling of the story, and the debates that ensued, these histories...

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5. German Gothic

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pp. 178-216

Historians have long debated the actual extent of the material damage the Thirty Years’ War inflicted on German economic development and the veracity of contemporary accounts that described Germany after the war as a wasteland of empty villages, overgrown fields, and impoverished...

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Conclusion

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pp. 217-232

In the nineteenth century, German historians rediscovered the Thirty Years’ War as the great conflict that created the foundations of the modern German nation. As they retold the story of the war, they uncovered, or so they believed, the meaning of centuries of defeat, territorial fragmentation...

Notes

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pp. 233-314

Bibliography

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pp. 315-370

Index

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pp. 371-385


E-ISBN-13: 9780803206946
E-ISBN-10: 0803206941

Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Studies in War, Society, and the Militar