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This type of authoritarianism was seen to be avoiding both the autocracy of Imperial Russia and what they regarded as the weak, decadent and ineffective democratic governments of Britain and France. Historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler of the Bielefeld School places the origins of Germany's path to disaster in the s and s, when economic modernization took place, but political modernization did not happen and the old Prussian rural elite remained in firm control of the army, diplomacy and the civil service.
Traditional, aristocratic, premodern society battled an emerging capitalist, bourgeois, modernizing society. Recognizing the importance of modernizing forces in industry and the economy and in the cultural realm, Wehler argues that reactionary traditionalism dominated the political hierarchy of power in Germany, as well as social mentalities and in class relations Klassenhabitus.
Jekyll and Hyde, in which he argued it was Adolf Hitler alone, by the force of his peculiar personality, who had brought about Nazi Germany. Germans Past And Present, according to which Nazism was only the latest manifestation of what Vansittart argued were the exclusively German traits of aggressiveness and brutality.
The History of Nazi-Fascist Philosophy There was much debate about the origins of this "German catastrophe" as the German historian Meinecke titled his book of Nazi Germany's rise and fall.
Since then, scholars have examined developments in intellectualpoliticalsocialeconomic and cultural history to investigate why German democracy failed during the Weimar Republic and which factors led to the rise of National Socialism. Shirerportrayed Nazism as the inevitable result of German history, reflecting unique flaws in "German national character" that went back to the days of Martin Lutherif not earlier.
During the Raleigh Lecture on History inNamier stated that the German liberals in the Revolution of were "in reality forerunners of Hitler", whose views about the Poles and Czechs presaged the great international crises of —39, and called the revolution "a touchstone of German mentality and a decisive element in East-European politics"  In his lecture, Namier described the revolution as "the early manifestations of aggressive nationalism, especially of German nationalism which derives from the much belauded Frankfort Parliament rather than from Bismarck and " Prussianism ".
It was a tyranny imposed upon the German people by themselves". During the preceding eighty years the Germans had sacrificed to the Reich all their liberties; they demanded as a reward the enslavement of others.
No German recognized the Czechs or Poles as equals. Therefore, every German desired the achievement which only total war could give. By no other means could the Reich be held together.
It had been made by conquest and for conquest; if it ever gave up its career of conquest, it would dissolve. The Revolt Against the Revolt — that: Is it being unhistorical to judge the anti-Metternichian nationalism and racism of 19th century Germany by its Nazi consequences?
Were those consequences the logical outcome or a modern accident for which nationalism should not be blamed? Is it a case of the wise-after-the-fallacy to read so much into those early rebels ofwhom many historians still consider great liberals? The liberal university professors, Metternich's fiercest foes and now so prominent inwere often far from the cloudy idealists pictured in our textbooks.
From his own viewpoint, Bismarck erred in mocking their lack of Realpolitik. Only an honorable few continued to oppose him and the militarist success-worship that followed his victorious wars.
Meinecke famously described National Socialism in his book Die Deutsche Katastrophe "The German Catastrophe" as a particularly unfortunate Betriebsunfall "on-the-job accident" of history.
Though Bracher is opposed to the Sonderweg interpretation of German history, he does believe in a special German mentality Sonderbewusstsein that emerged in the late 18th century. The German "Sonderweg" should be limited to the era of the Third Reich, but the strength of the particular German mentality [Sonderbewusstsein] that had arisen already with its opposition to the French Revolution and grew stronger after and must be emphasized.
Out of its exaggerated perspectives and, I would add, rhetoric it become a power in politics, out of a mythic reality. The road from democracy to dictatorship was not a particular German case, but the radical nature of the National Socialist dictatorship corresponded to the power of the German ideology that in — became a political and totalitarian reality  In a speech, Hildebrand denied there had been a Sonderweg, and claimed that the Sonderweg only applied to the "special case" of the Nazi dictatorship  In a essay, Hildebrand went further and wrote: It remains to be seen, whether future scholarship will initiate a process of historicization of the Hitler period, for example by comparing it with Stalinist Russia and with examples such as the Stone Age Communism of Cambodia.
This would doubtless be accompanied by terrifying scholarly insights and painful human experiences.
Both phenomena could, horribile dictu, even relativize the concept of the German Sonderweg between and  In response, Heinrich August Winkler argued that there was a Sonderweg beforeand that Germany as a country deeply influenced by the Enlightenment meant there was no point of comparison between Hitler on one hand, and Pol Pot and Stalin on the other  Since the mids[ edit ] Starting in the s, historians such as Fritz Fischer and Hans-Ulrich Wehler argued that, unlike France and Britain, Germany had experienced only "partial modernization", in which industrialization was not followed by changes in the political and social spheres, which in the opinion of Fischer and Wehler continued to be dominated by a "pre-modern" aristocratic elite.
During the latter half of the Second Reich, from about tothis pride, they argued, developed into hubris. Sincehistorians such as Fischer, Wehler, and Hans Mommsen have drawn a harsh indictment of the German elite of the period —, who were accused of promoting authoritarian values during the Second Reich, being solely responsible for launching World War Isabotaging the democratic Weimar Republic, and aiding and abetting the Nazi dictatorship in internal repression, war, and genocide.
In the view of Wehler, Fischer, and their supporters, only the German defeat in put an end to the "premodern" social structure which had led to and then sustained traditional German authoritarianism and its more radical variant, National Socialism.
Wehler has asserted that the effects of the traditional power elite in maintaining power up to "and in many respects even beyond that" took the form of: Mosse and Stern both concluded that the intellectual and cultural elites in Germany by and large chose to consciously reject modernity and along with it those groups they identified with modernity, such as Jews, and embraced anti-Semitism as the basis for their Weltanschauung world-view.I think Rich’s overview is very good.
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