The Search for Normality: National Identity and Historical Consciousness in Germany since 1800

The Search for Normality: National Identity and Historical Consciousness in Germany since 1800

The Search for Normality: National Identity and Historical Consciousness in Germany since 1800

The Search for Normality: National Identity and Historical Consciousness in Germany since 1800

Synopsis

The author follows the debates beyond the unexpected unification of the country in 1989/90 and analyses the most recent trends in German historiography, hoping that it doesn't return to the stifling homogeneity that characterized it before the 1960s.

Excerpt

Ever since the nineteenth century much of German historiography has been dominated by professional historians whose main aim was to educate, emancipate, agitate or indoctrinate. German historism's claim to objectivity only thinly veiled its tendency to legitimate the existing political conditions and therefore to write the history of the victors. By the middle of the nineteenth century the socalled Prussian historians were writing history which could ably support the demands for a unified nation-state. Most of them would probably have agreed with Hayden White's remark that only antiquarians or cultural necrophiles studied the past as an end in itself. This chapter traces the importance attached to the concept of the nation and the making of national identity well beyond the Bismarckian solution to the 'German problem'. It is evident in the imperialism of the neo-Rankean school before the First World War, in the anti-parliamentarianism of large parts of academic historians in the Weimar Republic, in the tacit understanding between the majority of professional historians and the National Socialist regime and finally in the national stance taken up by influential historians after 1945. There had been, in particular in the first half of the nineteenth century, a range of alternative discourses which were not primarily oriented towards the national paradigm. These cannot be adequately dealt with here, as this study is only concerned with the national tra-

Notes for this chapter begin on page 48.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.