By Robert Gerwarth
Few statesmen in historical past have encouraged the mind's eye of generations of Germans greater than the founding father of the Kaiserreich, Otto von Bismarck. The archetype of charismatic management, the Iron Chancellor maintained his pre-eminent place within the pantheon of Germany's political iconography for far of the 20th century. insightful research of the Bismarck myth's profound effect on Germany's political tradition. particularly, it investigates the ways that that delusion was once used to undermine parliamentary democracy in Germany after the nice battle, paving the way in which for its alternative via authoritarian rule lower than an allegedly 'Bismarckian' charismatic chief, Adolf Hitler. Weimar Republic, the Bismarck fantasy used to be by no means contested. The nationalists' ideologically charged interpretation of Bismarck because the father of the German geographical region and version for destiny political decision-making clashed with rivalling - and carefully serious - democratic and communist perceptions of the Iron Chancellor. The quarrel over Bismarck's legacy demonstrates how the conflict of ideologies, quite among 1918 common interpretation of the German previous. sheds new mild at the Weimar Republic's fight for survival and the explanations for its failure.
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Extra resources for The Bismarck Myth: Weimar Germany and the Legacy of the Iron Chancellor (Oxford Historical Monographs)
80 ‘Am Berliner Bismarck-Denkmal’, Alldeutsche Blätter, 9 Nov. 1918. 82 This process was hastened by the revolution which began in early November 1918 and which soon led to the collapse of the Kaiserreich, in which the Bismarck myth was rooted. Military defeat and the revolution served to catalyse and reinforce the simmering contrasting ideologies within German society that would determine rivalling Bismarck images in the fourteen years to come. 81 See, for example, the telegram sent to Paul von Hindenburg, in which the local unit of the DNVP in Danzig informs the ‘hero of Tannenberg’ about a ‘Bismarck service’ in April 1919 (telegram in Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Do 99/503).
In the immediate aftermath of the Kaiser’s abdication on 9 November 1918, even the most uncompromising right-wing opponents to democracy had made little reference to Bismarck. 38 This and the political overthrow of ‘their’ state put conservative circles very much on the defensive. 39 Only when this support gradually diminished did the Bismarck myth reemerge as a political weapon. The radicalization of the revolution in early January 1919 was one aspect which contributed signiﬁcantly to this development.
See, for example, Erich Kaufmann, Bismarcks Erbe in der Reichsverfassung (Berlin, 1917), 145 ff. 39 Christian F. Trippe, Konservative Verfassungspolitik 1918–1923: Die DNVP als Opposition in Reich und 40 See in further detail, Watt, The Kings Depart, 254 ff. Ländern (Düsseldorf, 1995), 45. 41 Cf. Eric Waldman, The Spartacist Uprising of 1919 and the Crisis of the German Socialist Movement: A 37 38 After the Collapse 39 other hand, the revolution had shown its true, ugly face. Their traditional aversion to socialism and republicanism asserted itself and contributed to the emergence of Bismarck as a right-wing propaganda device against the Republic.
The Bismarck Myth: Weimar Germany and the Legacy of the Iron Chancellor (Oxford Historical Monographs) by Robert Gerwarth