The Bismarck Myth: Weimar Germany and the Legacy of the Iron Chancellor

Paperback | October 25, 2007

byRobert Gerwarth

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Few statesmen in history have inspired the imagination of generations of Germans more than the founder of the Kaiserreich, Otto von Bismarck. The archetype of charismatic leadership, the Iron Chancellor maintained his pre-eminent position in the pantheon of Germany's political iconography formuch of the twentieth century. Based on a large selection of primary sources, this book provides an insightful analysis of the Bismarck myth's profound impact on Germany's political culture. In particular, it investigates the ways in which that myth was used to undermine parliamentary democracy in Germany after the Great War,paving the way for its replacement by authoritarian rule under an allegedly 'Bismarckian' charismatic leader, Adolf Hitler. As one of the most powerful weapons of nationalist agitation against the Weimar Republic, the Bismarck myth was never contested. The nationalists' ideologically charged interpretation of Bismarck as the father of the German nation-state and model for future political decision-making clashed withrivalling - and thoroughly critical - democratic and communist perceptions of the Iron Chancellor. The quarrel over Bismarck's legacy demonstrates how the clash of ideologies, particularly between 1918 and 1933, resulted in a highly political fight for the 'correct' and universal interpretation ofthe German past. Essential reading for anyone interested in modern German history, this book sheds new light on the Weimar Republic's struggle for survival and the reasons for its failure.

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Few statesmen in history have inspired the imagination of generations of Germans more than the founder of the Kaiserreich, Otto von Bismarck. The archetype of charismatic leadership, the Iron Chancellor maintained his pre-eminent position in the pantheon of Germany's political iconography formuch of the twentieth century. Based on a la...

Robert Gerwarth is British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:228 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.56 inPublished:October 25, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199236895

ISBN - 13:9780199236893

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Prologue: The Bismarck Myth in Wilhelmine Germany 1890-19183. After the Collapse4. Fragmented Society, Divided Memory: Perceptions of Bismarck in Early Weimar Germany5. Fighting the 'Enemies of the Reich': Bismarck and the State Crisis of 1922-236. Bismarck as an Election Campaigner7. In the Shadow of Stabilization8. Towards the Abyss: Bismarck and the Dissolution of the Weimar Republic9. Epilogue: Bismarck Between the 'Seizure of Power' and Reunification 1933-199010. ConclusionBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

`Robert Gerwarth has performed a real service by showing, with a telling eye for colourful details, how Bismarck or rather the myth of Bismarck has been used by different factions in Germany's difficult history... [a] well researched and well written book.'Contemporary Review