Historians of Modern Europe

By Hans A. Schmitt | Go to book overview

GERHARD RITTER

WILLIAM HARVEY MAEHL Auburn University

W HEN FRIEDRICH MEINECKE, the dean of the German historical profession, died, in 1954, his mantle passed to Gerhard Ritter. The latter's scholarly output, filling more than half a century and ranging over almost every epoch of German history since the later Middle Ages, was by then so impressive that he had become the gauge by which other contemporary historians were measured. In 1959 G. P. Gooch called him "the most productive of living historians."1

Gerhard Ritter was born on April 6, 1888, into a pious bourgeois family in Bad Sooden-Allendorf ( Werra) in what had been, before the Prussian annexations of 1866, Hesse-Cassel. Son of a Lutheran minister, he was imbued with a sober evangelical sense of responsibility and a devotion to olden German culture. After having finished Gymnasium at Gütersloh (near Bielefeld), Westphalia, Gerhard attended the universities of Munich and Leipzig. At twenty he entered the University of Heidelberg, where Herman Oncken ( 1869-1946) led him into the field of history.2

In the twilight of German ascendancy, the shadow of Bismarck loomed pillar-like and imposing at Heidelberg and Berlin (where Ritter also studied for one semester). All of the historians from whom Ritter learned -- Lenz, Marcks, Brandenburg, Hintze, Schmoller and, to no inconsiderable extent too, Delbrück and

____________________
1
G. P. Gooch, History and Historians in the Nineteenth Century ( Boston, 1959), iii.
2
Ritter to author, December 15, 1966; Ritter Antrittsrede ( gehalten am 17.6. 1944). Sonderdruck aus Jahreshefte der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1943-55 ( Heidelberg, 1955), 11.

-151-

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Historians of Modern Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction vii
  • Contents xix
  • Part One - Anglo-American Perspectives 3
  • Arnold J. Toynbee - The Paradox of Prophecy 5
  • Carlton J. H. Hayes 15
  • Oscar Halecki 36
  • Hans Kohn - Historian of Nationalism 62
  • A. J. P. Taylor 78
  • J. L. Hammond 95
  • Part Two - Continental Perspectives 121
  • Adolfo Omodeo - Historian of the "Religion of Freedom" 123
  • Gerhard Ritter 151
  • Gaetano Salvemini: - Meridionalista 206
  • Ernest Labrousse 235
  • Federico Chabod - Portrait of a Master Historian 255
  • The France of M. Chastenet 291
  • Gioacchino Volpe 315
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