- Making Prussians, Raising Germans: A Cultural History of Prussian State-Building after Civil War, 1866–1935 by Jasper Heinzen
It is a commonplace that war is and has been a characteristic element of nation-building. In the case of Germany, this is often examined through recourse to past armed struggles against external "others." But, as Jasper Heinzen argues, war against foreign enemies is not the only form of conflict deserving of our attention. In his work Making Prussians, Raising Germans, Heinzen explores the less-studied role of civil war in nation-state formation. The result is a meticulously researched and thought-provoking look at the relationship between civil war and the processes of contestation and negotiation characteristic of nineteenth-century German nationalism.
Heinzen's historical starting point is Prussia's war on the German Confederation in 1866. He argues that this conflict amounted to a civil war, after which the inhabitants of Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, Hesse-Kassel, Frankfurt, and the like faced the difficult task of coming to terms with a new sovereign, laws, and customs. In particular, he examines the case of Hanover from its defeat in 1866 through to passage of the Reich Commissar Laws of 1933/1935. Heinzen's look at Hanover includes an examination of military state-building in chapter 1, which encompasses the absorption of Hanoverian officers into the Prussian army, their experiences in fighting as brothers-in-arms alongside Prussian soldiers in 1870–1871, and the development of Prussian military culture in the Kaiserreich. Chapter 2 turns to consider how the legacy of internecine conflict was negotiated in memory culture. It traces the evolution of war memorials and the memory politics of monarchy, as well as the adaptation of municipal architecture, public festivals, and heritage preservation up to World War I. Heinzen then discusses the ways in which the Prussian state negotiated and inculcated loyalty in its deployment of press management and sponsorship of public libraries, and expands upon this theme by looking at education, probing curriculum reform, textbook content, and the elaboration of patriotic school holidays. He also explores Hanoverian nursing institutions to show how women reconciled their private hostility towards the Hohenzollerns with the need for pragmatic cooperation. Heinzen concludes the study by looking at the ways in which these strands of activity were recast after 1918 and before 1935.
Heinzen's argument is that state-building after civil war was not a smooth process; rather, it was riddled with "contradictions, fears, rivalries, compromises, and contingencies" on the part of government representatives as well as annexed Prussians (14). This resulted in the integration of Hanover into federal structures being a much more interesting, complex, and longer process than we often recognize. In addition, he argues that the German war should be placed within a broader landscape of state-building after civil war. Heinzen does this in each of his chapters by drawing [End Page 626] parallels to the Swiss Sonderbundskrieg (1847), Piedmont's conquest of southern Italy (1860–1861), and the American Civil War (1861–1865). This comparative anchoring, Heinzen claims, helps to avoid any temptations to overstate the uniqueness of the story he is telling and instead underscores the generalizability of his findings.
One can get bogged down in Heinzen's many lines of thought, but overall this is an excellent and informative monograph. In particular, Heinzen's account is notable for the attention it draws to Prussia's surprising flexibility in negotiating the legacy of civil war. This includes many thought-provoking passages about the productive tensions (198) that existed within state-building, and were continually fostered by both annexed populations and the Prussian state. The work also offers many treasures about everyday interactions between Hanoverians and state officials directly after 1866 and during the Kaiserreich. This is particularly striking in chapter 5, where Heinzen examines four Hanoverian nursing organizations: the Sisters of Frederica, the Sisters of Charity in Hildesheim, the Henriettenstift, and the Clementinenhaus. Here questions of female patriotism-cum-piety, confession, and...