Akten Zur Geschichte Des Krimkriegs

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Winfried Baumgart, ed. Akten zur Geschichte des Krimkriegs. Serie III : Englische Akten zur Geschichte des Krimkriegs. Bd. 2: November 1852 bis 10. Dezember 1853; Bd. 2: 11. Dezember 1853 bis 1. Dezember 1854; Serie IV: Französische Akten zur Geschichte des Krimkriegs Bd. 1:18. Dezember 1852 bis 27. Marz 1854. Munich: R. Oldenburg. 2005, 2006, 2003.

With these three tomes, the noted specialist of European international history Professor Winfried Baumgart has completed his brainchild, the twelve-volume, ca. 11,000-page, small print publication of thousands of Austrian (three volumes), Prussian (two volumes), English (four volumes), and French (three volumes) diplomatic and policy documents relating to the Crimean War, from late 1852 through slightly beyond the Treaty of Paris ( 10 November 1852-23 July 1856). He personally edited these three and one other, partially-to-mostly edited four more, and supervised the remaining four. The Austrian and Prussian series (1979-1991) enjoyed the financial backing of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, but Professor Baumgart obtained no such support for the English and French series (1988-2006). By any account, the entire project is a massive, mind-boggling, achievement, which, so far as this reviewer is aware, has no peer whatsoever in the history of the publication of diplomatic documents.

Any specialist in these papers can readily grasp the difficulty which Baumgart faced in deciding which ones to print, even though he was able to reduce the numbers by summarizing many key documents already published in the Blue Books and earlier editions of private correspondence. For the sum total of relevant pieces is simply too great for collections even of this size. By his own count he printed less than three percent of what he examined (III.2, pp. 17-18). Thus, in choosing to privilege official diplomatic exchanges, he could not also include all of those interesting letters which bring to life the personalities involved, illuminate their attempts to influence policy, and often add entertaining spice to some very tedious reading. But at the end of the day, when one has completed the parallel perusal of the material so presented (through 27 March 1854 of III.2, where IV.1 ends), one has a solid picture of the course of events and the intricacies of the multilateral negotiations pursued by the Maritime Powers in the fifteen months up to their declarations of war against Russia.

The reader, especially of this and kindred journals, might well ask where the Russian papers are in this project. In fact, from the outset of this endeavour Baumgart expected that the very promising Soviet/Russian Foreign Ministry series Vneshmaia Politika Rossii XIX i nachala XX veka: Dokumenty Rossiiskogo Ministerstva inostrannykh del (Moscow: 1960-1995 to date) would provide them. With the collapse of the USSR, however, this series has fallen upon hard times. …