Friedrich Meinecke

Friedrich Meinecke (frē´drĬkh mī´nĕkə), 1862–1954, German historian and intellectual figure. Educated at the Univ. of Berlin, he became a professor there in 1914 and directed (1893–1935) the Historische Zeitschrift. In 1948 he was made rector of the Free Univ. of Berlin. During the Nazi era his humanist views led to official disfavor and his withdrawal from active teaching. Meinecke was both a nationalist and a traditionalist; his early historical works, many of them on Prussia, reveal his belief that the state, besides functioning as the repository of power, must serve cultural values and promote individualism. In Weltbürgertum und Nationalstaat (1919, 7th ed. 1928) he wrote with approval of German unification through power at the necessary expense of cultural cosmopolitanism. However, shocked by World War I, Meinecke sought in his masterful Idee der Staatsraïson in der neueren Geschichte (1924; tr. Machiavellism, 1957) to expose irresponsible power in the frame of intellectual history. Die deutsche Katastrophe (1946; tr. The German Catastrophe, 1950) reflected on the rise of National Socialism and the extent of German guilt.

See R. W. Sterling, Ethics in a World of Power (1958) and R. A. Pois, Friedrich Meinecke and German Politics in the Twentieth Century (1972).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Friedrich Meinecke: Selected full-text books and articles

Machiavelli: Cynic, Patriot, or Political Scientist? By De Lamar Jensen D. C. Heath, 1960
Librarian's tip: "Raison d'Etat in Machiavelli" by Friedrich Meinecke begins on p. 79
The Nazi Revolution: Germany's Guilt or Germany's Fate? By John L. Snell D. C. Heath, 1959
Librarian's tip: "Product of the Promise of Socialism" by Friedrich Meinecke begins on p. 46
Weimar Etudes By Henry Pachter Columbia University Press, 1982
Librarian's tip: Chap. 4 "Friedrich Meinecke and the Tragedy of German Liberalism"
German Nationalism: The Tragedy of a People: Extremism Contra Liberalism in Modern German History By Louis L. Snyder Stackpole, 1952
Librarian's tip: Chap. 11 "History: Friedrich Meinecke's Historicism and the Tragedy of German Liberalism"
The German Conception of History: The National Tradition of Historical Thought from Herder to the Present By Georg G. Iggers Wesleyan University Press, 1968
Librarian's tip: Chap. VII "The 'Crisis of Historicism' II: Ernst Troeltsch and Friedrich Meinecke"
Medieval and Historiographical Essays: In Honor of James Westfall Thompson By James Cate Lea; Eugene N. Anderson The University of Chicago Press, 1938
Librarian's tip: "Meinecke's Ideengeschichte and the Crisis in Historical Thinking" begins on p. 361
Philosophical Historicism and the Betrayal of First Philosophy By Carl Page Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995
Librarian's tip: "Classical Historicism: Friedrich Meinecke and Ernst Troeltsch" begins on p. 24
Heidegger, Dilthey, and the Crisis of Historicism By Charles R. Bambach Cornell University Press, 1995
Librarian's tip: "Causality and Values: Rickert's Transcendental Philosophy and Friedrich Meinecke's Historicism" begins on p. 108
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