Bismarck's Shadow: The Cult of Leadership and the Transformation of the German Right, 1898-1945

Synopsis

This book unearths a fascinating phenomenon of German political culture--the elevation of a political figure to the level of a demi-god and the effects of such deification on the course of German politics during the first half of the twentieth century. Revered during his lifetime, Bismarck became the object of an avid political following after his death. Frankel examines how certain ritual practices and a particular historical understanding created, in effect, a Bismarckian cult. He argues that the effects of this were not only cultural. They carried across to political practice, contributing to the right's progressive radicalization from the turn of the century through to the triumph of the Nazis. Essential reading for anyone interested in Bismarck, twentieth-century German history, or Hitler's rise to power, Bismarck's Shadow sheds new light on German political culture and the development of National Socialism.