Week 21

Week 21: Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Germany in 1815

WEEK 21

Germany After Napoleon (1815): The German Confederation (German: Deutscher Bund) was founded as a result of the Vienna Conference of 1815 and a a loose union of 39 states was established (35 ruling princes and 4 free cities) under Austrian leadership, with a Federal Diet (German: Bundestag) meeting in Frankfurt am Main. It was a loose coalition that failed to satisfy most nationalists. The member states largely went their own way, and Austria had its own interests. In 1819 a student radical assassinated the reactionary playwright August von Kotzebue, who had scoffed at liberal student organizations. In one of the few major actions of the German Confederation, Prince Metternich called a conference that issued the repressive Carlsbad Decrees, designed to suppress liberal agitation against the conservative governments of the German states. The Decrees terminated the fast-fading nationalist fraternities (German: Burschenschaften), removed liberal university professors, and expanded the censorship of the press. The decrees began the "persecution of the demagogues", which was directed against individuals who were accused of spreading revolutionary and nationalist ideas. Among the persecuted were the poet Ernst Moritz Arndt, the publisher Johann Joseph Görres. In 1834 the Zollverein was established, a customs union between Prussia and most other German states, but excluding Austria. As industrialisation developed, the need for a unified German state with a uniform currency, legal system, and government became more and more obvious.

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

22

Week 22: Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Beethoven

WEEK 22

Ludwig van Beethoven, baptized 17 December 1770 to March 26, 1827 was a German composer and pianist. Beethoven remains one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music; his works rank amongst the most performed of the classical music repertoire. His works span the transition from the classical period to the Romantic era in classical music. His career has conventionally been divided into early, middle, and late periods. The "early" period, during which he forged his craft, is typically considered to have lasted until 1802. From 1802 to around 1812, his "middle" period showed an individual development from the "classical" styles of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and is sometimes characterized as "heroic". During this time, he began to suffer increasingly from deafness. In his "late" period from 1812 to his death in 1827, he extended his innovations in musical form and expression. Born in Bonn, Beethoven's musical talent was obvious at an early age, and he was initially harshly and intensively taught by his father Johann van Beethoven. Beethoven was later taught by the composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe, under whose tutelage he published his first work, a set of keyboard variations, in 1783. He found relief from a dysfunctional home life with the family of Helene von Breuning, whose children he loved, befriended, and taught piano. At age 21, he moved to Vienna, which subsequently became his base, and studied composition with Haydn. Beethoven then gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist.

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

 

His first major orchestral work, the First Symphony, appeared in 1800, and his first set of string quartets was published in 1801. During this period, his hearing began to deteriorate, but he continued to conduct, premiering his Third and Fifth Symphonies in 1804 and 1808, respectively. His Violin Concerto appeared in 1806. His last piano concerto (No. 5, Op. 73, known as the 'Emperor'), dedicated to his frequent patron Archduke Rudolf of Austria, was premiered in 1810, but not with Beethoven as soloist. He was almost completely deaf by 1814, and he then gave up performing and appearing in public. He described his problems with health and his unfulfilled personal life in two letters, his "Heiligenstadt Testament" (1802) to his brothers and his unsent love letter to an unknown "Immortal Beloved" (1812).

In the years from 1810, increasingly less socially involved, Beethoven composed many of his most admired works including his later symphonies and his mature chamber music and piano sonatas. His only opera, Fidelio, which had been first performed in 1805, was revised to its final version in 1814. He composed his Missa Solemnis in the years 1819–1823, and his final, Ninth, Symphony, one of the first examples of a choral symphony, in 1822–1824. Written in his last years, his late string quartets of 1825–26 are amongst his final achievements. After some months of bedridden illness, he died in 1827. Beethoven's works remain mainstays of the classical music repertoire.

23

Week 23: Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Otto von Bismarck 1815-1898

WEEK 23

Otto von Bismarck, (1815 – 1898), was a conservative German statesman who masterminded the unification of Germany in 1871 and served as its first chancellor until 1890, in which capacity he dominated European affairs for two decades. He had previously been Minister President of Prussia (1862–1890) and Chancellor of the North German Confederation (1867–1871). He provoked three short, decisive wars, against Denmark, Austria, and France. Following the victory against Austria, he abolished the supranational German Confederation and instead formed the North German Confederation as the first German national state, aligning the smaller North German states behind Prussia, and excluding Austria. Receiving the support of the independent South German states in the Confederation's defeat of France, he formed the German Empire – which also excluded Austria – and united Germany. With Prussian dominance accomplished by 1871, Bismarck skillfully used balance of power diplomacy to maintain Germany's position in a peaceful Europe. To historian Eric Hobsbawm, Bismarck "remained undisputed world champion at the game of multilateral diplomatic chess for almost twenty years after 1871, [and] devoted himself exclusively, and successfully, to maintaining peace between the powers". However, his annexation of Alsace-Lorraine gave new fuel to French nationalism and Germanophobia. Bismarck's diplomacy of Realpolitik and powerful rule at home gained him the nickname the "Iron Chancellor". German unification and its rapid economic growth was the foundation to his foreign policy. He disliked colonialism but reluctantly built an overseas empire when it was demanded by both elite and mass opinion. Juggling a very complex interlocking series of conferences, negotiations and alliances, he used his diplomatic skills to maintain Germany's position. A master of complex politics at home, Bismarck created the first welfare state in the modern world, with the goal of gaining working class support that might otherwise go to his Socialist opponents. A devout Lutheran, he was loyal to his king, Wilhelm I, who argued with Bismarck but in the end supported him against the advice of his wife Queen Augusta and his heir Crown Prince Frederick William. While Germany's parliament was elected by universal male suffrage, it did not have much control of government policy. Bismarck distrusted democracy and ruled through a strong, well-trained bureaucracy with power in the hands of a traditional Junker elite that consisted of the landed nobility in eastern Prussia. He largely controlled domestic and foreign affairs, until he was removed by the young new headstrong Kaiser Wilhelm II. He retired to write his memoirs. A Junker himself (Prussian), Bismarck was strong-willed, outspoken and overbearing, but he could also be polite, charming and witty. Occasionally he displayed a violent temper – which he sometimes feigned to get the results he wanted – and he kept his power by melodramatically threatening resignation time and again, which cowed Wilhelm I. He possessed not only a long-term national and international vision but also the short-term ability to juggle complex developments. Bismarck became a hero to German nationalists; they built many monuments honoring the founder of the new Reich. Many historians praise him as a visionary who was instrumental in uniting Germany and, once that had been accomplished, kept the peace in Europe through adroit diplomacy. Historian Robert K. Massie has noted Bismarck's popular image was as "gruff" and "militaristic", while in reality "Bismarck's tool was aggressive, ruthless diplomacy." (Wikipedia)

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

24

Week 24: Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Austro-Prussian War 1866

WEEK 24

The Austro-Prussian War or Seven Weeks' War, known in Germany as Deutscher Krieg ("German War") and by a variety of other names, was fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, with each also being aided by various allies within the German Confederation. Prussia had also allied with the Kingdom of Italy, linking this conflict to the Third Independence War of Italian unification. The Austro-Prussian War was part of the wider rivalry between Austria and Prussia, and resulted in Prussian dominance over the German states. The major result of the war was a shift in power among the German states away from Austrian and towards Prussian hegemony. It resulted in the abolition of the German Confederation and its partial replacement by the unification of all of the northern German states in the North German Confederation that excluded Austria and the other Southern German states, a Kleindeutsches Reich. The war also resulted in the Italian annexation of the Austrian province of Venetia.

 

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

25

Week 25: Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871

WEEK 25

The Franco-Prussian War was a conflict between the Second French Empire of Louis Napoleon (Emperor Napoleon III) and the German states of the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia. There is no question that Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and the King of Prussia deliberately provoked the French into declaring war on Prussia in order to draw four independent southern German states—Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt—into an alliance with the North German Confederation dominated by Prussia thus bringing about a new united Germany with Prussia as the leader. Bismarck had been planning this for years. This was the plan and it worked perfectly. By 1900, Berlin had created a new Germany led and dominated by the Prussian government in Berlin.

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

26

Week 26: Wednesday, May 5, 2021
The Guns of August

Week 26

"According to the most recent and convincing scholarship, it was not the case, as the man in the street seems to have believed at the time, and as Englishmen and others were to write later, that the European world of June 1914 was a sort of Eden in which the outbreak of hostilities among major powers came as a surprise.  On the contrary, as its political and military elites recognized, Europe was in the grip of an unprecedented arms race; internally the powers were victims of violent social, industrial, and political strife; and general staffs chattered constantly, not about whether there would be war, but where and when."
—David Fromkin, Europe’s Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?

"Whatever the intentions which underlay it, German policy in the crisis of July 1914 must rank as one of the great disasters of world history. The leaders of arguably the most successful country in Europe, a country bursting with energy, boasting a young and dynamic population and an economy second to none, a country whose army, whose administration, whose scientific and artistic achievements were the envy of the world, took decisions which plunged it and the other powers into a ghastly war in which almost ten million men lost their lives, the old internal and international order was forever destroyed, and popular hatreds were released which were to poison public life for generations to come"

—John Röhl, "Germany," in Decisions for War, 1914, ed. Keith Wilson

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

This book on the origins of World War I is one of the best works of history I have ever read. It has been a huge success since its publication in 1962. It has sold millions of copies and was on the New York Times bestseller list for one whole year.

Barbara Tuchman,

The Guns of August,

Series: Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books,

Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 8, 1994),

ISBN 034538623X

27

Week 27: Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Weimar Germany

Week 27

"From a cultural perspective, the most interesting city in Europe during the 1920s
was not Paris, London, or Vienna, but Berlin, the capital of "Weimar Germany"
(named after Goethe's city, where the democratic constitution of the new
republic was promulgated). Here one finds innovators in every field of modern
culture: theater (Bertolt Brecht, Erwin Piscator, Max Reinhardt), music (Kurt
Weill), cinema (Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, and G. W. Pabst), painting (George
Grosz, Otto Dix, Max Beckmann, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner), fiction (Alfred Döblin's
Berlin Alexanderplatz), photography (August Sander, László Moholy-Nagy,
Hannah Höch), architecture (Walter Gropius, Erich Mendelsohn), social and
cultural theory and criticism (Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, Aby
Warburg, Erwin Panofsky), historical studies (Gershom Scholem, Felix Gilbert,
Eckhart Kehr). What is striking is that we find a kind of radical modernism in all
of these fields, and that there was a large audience for such innovative
movements in the arts as German Expressionism and "the New Objectivity" that
succeeded it. In the Berlin of the Weimar era, in other words, modernism found
a market; it became commercially profitable for the first time. And to
understand why this should be the case, we need to understand the traumatized
society in which the new culture flourished. From the beginning, the Weimar
Republic suffered from a crisis of legitimacy: it was a regime that no one
loved, and many loathed. Its representatives—uncharismatic Social Democrats—were
forced to sign the universally hated Treaty of Versailles, which, truncated Germany's
borders and imposed punitive reparations payments. The German Right believed that
Germany had not been defeated in a fair fight, but rather"stabbed in the back",
betrayed from within by socialists, revolutionaries, and
Jews. On top of defeat, Germany in 1918-1919 had experienced episodes of
street-fighting and revolution; the Right confused these consequences of defeat
with the cause. In any case the resentments of the Right obscured the fact that
Germany was a poorer country not only because Germany had lost the war but
because 35% of the country's wealth had evaporated during the four years of
fighting. The patriotic middle class had seen their savings wiped out, partly by
the quadrupling of prices, and partly because many had sunk a great proportion
of their savings in now worthless war bonds." Bruce Thompson (Institute Lecture)

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

28

Week 28: Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Adolf Hitler

Week 28

"The other dictators of our time—Mussolini, Stalin, even Lenin—seem commonplace in comparison… Hitler had a depth and elaboration of evil all his own, as though something primitive had emerged from the bowels of the earth.  At the same time, there was a superb cunning, which enabled him to exploit others. Perhaps there has never been a man who understood power better or who turned it to baser uses.  He had unquestioning faith in the rubbish that filled his mind" (A.J.P. Taylor).

 

"In 1919, he had stood on Munich street corners, bawling seemingly lunatic slogans at indifferent or derisive passersby.  By 1933, this same titanic mountebank was master of Germany.  Nine years later, his rule extended from the Atlantic to the Urals, from the Norwegian Arctic to the outskirts of Cairo, from Sicily to the suburbs of Moscow. Three years after that, the promise of a thousand-year Reich had withered to catastrophe" (George Steiner).

 

"The quotations suggest the two problems that have dominated the vast literature on Hitler.  First, how do we explain the extraordinary combination of evil and charisma in such an (apparently) insignificant person?  Second, how could this "mountebank" have achieved so much power so quickly, in one of Europe's great nation-states?" (Bruce Thompson)

 

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

 

RECOMMENDED READING

We want to recommend to you for extra reading about the Third Reich, the three-volume study written by Cambridge historian Richard J. Evans. It has been his work of a lifetime and it is now complete and available in fine quality paperback editions or in used/new hardcover. (I would buy the "used" hardcovers since they are like new and often prices are the same as a new paperback) Let me print here some reviews of the first volume and then we will list all three volumes for your attention.

Review
"Richard J. Evans's The Coming of the Third Reich . . . gives the clearest and most gripping account I've read of German life before and during the rise of the Nazis." —A. S Byatt, Times Literary Supplement
"Richard J. Evans's The Coming of the Third Reich is an enormous work of synthesis—knowledgable and reliable." —Mark Mazower, New York Times Book Review

"[A] first-rate narrative history that informs and educates and may inspire readers to delve even deeper into the subject." —Booklist

"Brilliant.” —Washington Post

“The generalist reader, it should be emphasized, is well served. . . . The book reads briskly, covers all important areas—social and cultural—and succeeds in its aim of giving “voice to the people who lived through the years with which it deals.” —Denver Post

“One finally puts down this magnificent volume thirsty, on the one hand, for the next installment in the Nazi saga yet still haunted by the questions Evan poses and so masterfully grapples with.” ―Abraham Brumberg, The Nation

“This first part of what is Evans’ three-volume history of Hitler’s regime is the most comprehensive and convincing work so far on the gall of Weimar and Hitler’s rise to power.” ―Foreign Affairs

 

Richard J. Evans,

The Coming of the Third Reich,

Penguin,

ISBN 9781594200045

Richard J. Evans,

The Third Reich in Power,

Penguin,

ISBN 0141009764

Richard J. Evans,

The Third Reich at War,

Penguin Books; Revised ed. Edition (January 18, 1991),

ISBN ISBN-10 : 0143116711

29

Week 29: Wednesday, May 26, 2021
War 1939

Week 29

World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. In a state of total war, directly involving more than 100 million personnel from more than 30 countries, the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, resulting in 70 to 85 million fatalities, with more civilians than military personnel killed. Tens of millions of people died due to genocides (including the Holocaust), premeditated death from starvation, massacres, and disease. Aircraft played a major role in the conflict, including in strategic bombing of population centers, the development of nuclear weapons, and the only two uses of such in war. World War II is generally considered to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by the United Kingdom and France on the 3rd of September, 1939. From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan, along with other countries later on. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours: Poland, Finland, Romania and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, and the fall of France in mid-1940, the war continued primarily between the European Axis powers and the British Empire, with war in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, and the Battle of the Atlantic. On 22 June 1941, Germany led the European Axis powers in an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the Eastern Front, the largest land theatre of war in history and trapping the Axis, crucially the German Wehrmacht, in a war of attrition. (Wikipedia)

 

 

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

30

Week 30: Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Peace 1945

Week 30

On 16 December 1944, Germany made a last attempt on the Western Front by using most of its remaining reserves to launch a massive counter-offensive in the Ardennes and along with the French-German border to split the Western Allies, encircle large portions of Western Allied troops and capture their primary supply port at Antwerp to prompt a political settlement.[271] By January, the offensive had been repulsed with no strategic objectives fulfilled.[271] In Italy, the Western Allies remained stalemated at the German defensive line. In mid-January 1945, the Soviets and Poles attacked in Poland, pushing from the Vistula to the Oder river in Germany, and overran East Prussia.[272] On 4 February Soviet, British, and US leaders met for the Yalta Conference. They agreed on the occupation of post-war Germany, and on when the Soviet Union would join the war against Japan. In February, the Soviets entered Silesia and Pomerania, while Western Allies entered western Germany and closed to the Rhine river. By March, the Western Allies crossed the Rhine north and south of the Ruhr, encircling the German Army Group B. In early March, in an attempt to protect its last oil reserves in Hungary and to retake Budapest, Germany launched its last major offensive against Soviet troops near Lake Balaton. In two weeks, the offensive had been repulsed, the Soviets advanced to Vienna, and captured the city. In early April, Soviet troops captured Königsberg, while the Western Allies finally pushed forward in Italy and swept across western Germany capturing Hamburg and Nuremberg. American and Soviet forces met at the Elbe river on 25 April, leaving several unoccupied pockets in southern Germany and around Berlin. Soviet and Polish forces stormed and captured Berlin in late April. In Italy, German forces surrendered on 29 April. On 30 April, the Reichstag was captured, signalling the military defeat of Nazi Germany,[275] Berlin garrison surrendered on 2 May. Several changes in leadership occurred during this period. On 12 April, President Roosevelt died and was succeeded by Harry S. Truman. Benito Mussolini was killed by Italian partisans on 28 April. Two days later, Hitler committed suicide in besieged Berlin, and he was succeeded by Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz. Total and unconditional surrender in Europe was signed on 7 and 8 May, to be effective by the end of 8 May. (Wikipedia)

 

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

All

Week 21: Wed., Mar. 31, 2021
Germany in 1815

WEEK 21

Germany After Napoleon (1815): The German Confederation (German: Deutscher Bund) was founded as a result of the Vienna Conference of 1815 and a a loose union of 39 states was established (35 ruling princes and 4 free cities) under Austrian leadership, with a Federal Diet (German: Bundestag) meeting in Frankfurt am Main. It was a loose coalition that failed to satisfy most nationalists. The member states largely went their own way, and Austria had its own interests. In 1819 a student radical assassinated the reactionary playwright August von Kotzebue, who had scoffed at liberal student organizations. In one of the few major actions of the German Confederation, Prince Metternich called a conference that issued the repressive Carlsbad Decrees, designed to suppress liberal agitation against the conservative governments of the German states. The Decrees terminated the fast-fading nationalist fraternities (German: Burschenschaften), removed liberal university professors, and expanded the censorship of the press. The decrees began the "persecution of the demagogues", which was directed against individuals who were accused of spreading revolutionary and nationalist ideas. Among the persecuted were the poet Ernst Moritz Arndt, the publisher Johann Joseph Görres. In 1834 the Zollverein was established, a customs union between Prussia and most other German states, but excluding Austria. As industrialisation developed, the need for a unified German state with a uniform currency, legal system, and government became more and more obvious.

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

Week 22: Wed., Apr. 7, 2021
Beethoven

WEEK 22

Ludwig van Beethoven, baptized 17 December 1770 to March 26, 1827 was a German composer and pianist. Beethoven remains one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music; his works rank amongst the most performed of the classical music repertoire. His works span the transition from the classical period to the Romantic era in classical music. His career has conventionally been divided into early, middle, and late periods. The "early" period, during which he forged his craft, is typically considered to have lasted until 1802. From 1802 to around 1812, his "middle" period showed an individual development from the "classical" styles of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and is sometimes characterized as "heroic". During this time, he began to suffer increasingly from deafness. In his "late" period from 1812 to his death in 1827, he extended his innovations in musical form and expression. Born in Bonn, Beethoven's musical talent was obvious at an early age, and he was initially harshly and intensively taught by his father Johann van Beethoven. Beethoven was later taught by the composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe, under whose tutelage he published his first work, a set of keyboard variations, in 1783. He found relief from a dysfunctional home life with the family of Helene von Breuning, whose children he loved, befriended, and taught piano. At age 21, he moved to Vienna, which subsequently became his base, and studied composition with Haydn. Beethoven then gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist.

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

 

His first major orchestral work, the First Symphony, appeared in 1800, and his first set of string quartets was published in 1801. During this period, his hearing began to deteriorate, but he continued to conduct, premiering his Third and Fifth Symphonies in 1804 and 1808, respectively. His Violin Concerto appeared in 1806. His last piano concerto (No. 5, Op. 73, known as the 'Emperor'), dedicated to his frequent patron Archduke Rudolf of Austria, was premiered in 1810, but not with Beethoven as soloist. He was almost completely deaf by 1814, and he then gave up performing and appearing in public. He described his problems with health and his unfulfilled personal life in two letters, his "Heiligenstadt Testament" (1802) to his brothers and his unsent love letter to an unknown "Immortal Beloved" (1812).

In the years from 1810, increasingly less socially involved, Beethoven composed many of his most admired works including his later symphonies and his mature chamber music and piano sonatas. His only opera, Fidelio, which had been first performed in 1805, was revised to its final version in 1814. He composed his Missa Solemnis in the years 1819–1823, and his final, Ninth, Symphony, one of the first examples of a choral symphony, in 1822–1824. Written in his last years, his late string quartets of 1825–26 are amongst his final achievements. After some months of bedridden illness, he died in 1827. Beethoven's works remain mainstays of the classical music repertoire.

Week 23: Wed., Apr. 14, 2021
Otto von Bismarck 1815-1898

WEEK 23

Otto von Bismarck, (1815 – 1898), was a conservative German statesman who masterminded the unification of Germany in 1871 and served as its first chancellor until 1890, in which capacity he dominated European affairs for two decades. He had previously been Minister President of Prussia (1862–1890) and Chancellor of the North German Confederation (1867–1871). He provoked three short, decisive wars, against Denmark, Austria, and France. Following the victory against Austria, he abolished the supranational German Confederation and instead formed the North German Confederation as the first German national state, aligning the smaller North German states behind Prussia, and excluding Austria. Receiving the support of the independent South German states in the Confederation's defeat of France, he formed the German Empire – which also excluded Austria – and united Germany. With Prussian dominance accomplished by 1871, Bismarck skillfully used balance of power diplomacy to maintain Germany's position in a peaceful Europe. To historian Eric Hobsbawm, Bismarck "remained undisputed world champion at the game of multilateral diplomatic chess for almost twenty years after 1871, [and] devoted himself exclusively, and successfully, to maintaining peace between the powers". However, his annexation of Alsace-Lorraine gave new fuel to French nationalism and Germanophobia. Bismarck's diplomacy of Realpolitik and powerful rule at home gained him the nickname the "Iron Chancellor". German unification and its rapid economic growth was the foundation to his foreign policy. He disliked colonialism but reluctantly built an overseas empire when it was demanded by both elite and mass opinion. Juggling a very complex interlocking series of conferences, negotiations and alliances, he used his diplomatic skills to maintain Germany's position. A master of complex politics at home, Bismarck created the first welfare state in the modern world, with the goal of gaining working class support that might otherwise go to his Socialist opponents. A devout Lutheran, he was loyal to his king, Wilhelm I, who argued with Bismarck but in the end supported him against the advice of his wife Queen Augusta and his heir Crown Prince Frederick William. While Germany's parliament was elected by universal male suffrage, it did not have much control of government policy. Bismarck distrusted democracy and ruled through a strong, well-trained bureaucracy with power in the hands of a traditional Junker elite that consisted of the landed nobility in eastern Prussia. He largely controlled domestic and foreign affairs, until he was removed by the young new headstrong Kaiser Wilhelm II. He retired to write his memoirs. A Junker himself (Prussian), Bismarck was strong-willed, outspoken and overbearing, but he could also be polite, charming and witty. Occasionally he displayed a violent temper – which he sometimes feigned to get the results he wanted – and he kept his power by melodramatically threatening resignation time and again, which cowed Wilhelm I. He possessed not only a long-term national and international vision but also the short-term ability to juggle complex developments. Bismarck became a hero to German nationalists; they built many monuments honoring the founder of the new Reich. Many historians praise him as a visionary who was instrumental in uniting Germany and, once that had been accomplished, kept the peace in Europe through adroit diplomacy. Historian Robert K. Massie has noted Bismarck's popular image was as "gruff" and "militaristic", while in reality "Bismarck's tool was aggressive, ruthless diplomacy." (Wikipedia)

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

Week 24: Wed., Apr. 21, 2021
Austro-Prussian War 1866

WEEK 24

The Austro-Prussian War or Seven Weeks' War, known in Germany as Deutscher Krieg ("German War") and by a variety of other names, was fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, with each also being aided by various allies within the German Confederation. Prussia had also allied with the Kingdom of Italy, linking this conflict to the Third Independence War of Italian unification. The Austro-Prussian War was part of the wider rivalry between Austria and Prussia, and resulted in Prussian dominance over the German states. The major result of the war was a shift in power among the German states away from Austrian and towards Prussian hegemony. It resulted in the abolition of the German Confederation and its partial replacement by the unification of all of the northern German states in the North German Confederation that excluded Austria and the other Southern German states, a Kleindeutsches Reich. The war also resulted in the Italian annexation of the Austrian province of Venetia.

 

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

Week 25: Wed., Apr. 28, 2021
Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871

WEEK 25

The Franco-Prussian War was a conflict between the Second French Empire of Louis Napoleon (Emperor Napoleon III) and the German states of the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia. There is no question that Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and the King of Prussia deliberately provoked the French into declaring war on Prussia in order to draw four independent southern German states—Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt—into an alliance with the North German Confederation dominated by Prussia thus bringing about a new united Germany with Prussia as the leader. Bismarck had been planning this for years. This was the plan and it worked perfectly. By 1900, Berlin had created a new Germany led and dominated by the Prussian government in Berlin.

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

Week 26: Wed., May. 5, 2021
The Guns of August

Week 26

"According to the most recent and convincing scholarship, it was not the case, as the man in the street seems to have believed at the time, and as Englishmen and others were to write later, that the European world of June 1914 was a sort of Eden in which the outbreak of hostilities among major powers came as a surprise.  On the contrary, as its political and military elites recognized, Europe was in the grip of an unprecedented arms race; internally the powers were victims of violent social, industrial, and political strife; and general staffs chattered constantly, not about whether there would be war, but where and when."
—David Fromkin, Europe’s Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?

"Whatever the intentions which underlay it, German policy in the crisis of July 1914 must rank as one of the great disasters of world history. The leaders of arguably the most successful country in Europe, a country bursting with energy, boasting a young and dynamic population and an economy second to none, a country whose army, whose administration, whose scientific and artistic achievements were the envy of the world, took decisions which plunged it and the other powers into a ghastly war in which almost ten million men lost their lives, the old internal and international order was forever destroyed, and popular hatreds were released which were to poison public life for generations to come"

—John Röhl, "Germany," in Decisions for War, 1914, ed. Keith Wilson

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

This book on the origins of World War I is one of the best works of history I have ever read. It has been a huge success since its publication in 1962. It has sold millions of copies and was on the New York Times bestseller list for one whole year.

Barbara Tuchman,

The Guns of August,

Series: Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books,

Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 8, 1994),

ISBN 034538623X

Week 27: Wed., May. 12, 2021
Weimar Germany

Week 27

"From a cultural perspective, the most interesting city in Europe during the 1920s
was not Paris, London, or Vienna, but Berlin, the capital of "Weimar Germany"
(named after Goethe's city, where the democratic constitution of the new
republic was promulgated). Here one finds innovators in every field of modern
culture: theater (Bertolt Brecht, Erwin Piscator, Max Reinhardt), music (Kurt
Weill), cinema (Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, and G. W. Pabst), painting (George
Grosz, Otto Dix, Max Beckmann, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner), fiction (Alfred Döblin's
Berlin Alexanderplatz), photography (August Sander, László Moholy-Nagy,
Hannah Höch), architecture (Walter Gropius, Erich Mendelsohn), social and
cultural theory and criticism (Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, Aby
Warburg, Erwin Panofsky), historical studies (Gershom Scholem, Felix Gilbert,
Eckhart Kehr). What is striking is that we find a kind of radical modernism in all
of these fields, and that there was a large audience for such innovative
movements in the arts as German Expressionism and "the New Objectivity" that
succeeded it. In the Berlin of the Weimar era, in other words, modernism found
a market; it became commercially profitable for the first time. And to
understand why this should be the case, we need to understand the traumatized
society in which the new culture flourished. From the beginning, the Weimar
Republic suffered from a crisis of legitimacy: it was a regime that no one
loved, and many loathed. Its representatives—uncharismatic Social Democrats—were
forced to sign the universally hated Treaty of Versailles, which, truncated Germany's
borders and imposed punitive reparations payments. The German Right believed that
Germany had not been defeated in a fair fight, but rather"stabbed in the back",
betrayed from within by socialists, revolutionaries, and
Jews. On top of defeat, Germany in 1918-1919 had experienced episodes of
street-fighting and revolution; the Right confused these consequences of defeat
with the cause. In any case the resentments of the Right obscured the fact that
Germany was a poorer country not only because Germany had lost the war but
because 35% of the country's wealth had evaporated during the four years of
fighting. The patriotic middle class had seen their savings wiped out, partly by
the quadrupling of prices, and partly because many had sunk a great proportion
of their savings in now worthless war bonds." Bruce Thompson (Institute Lecture)

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

Week 28: Wed., May. 19, 2021
Adolf Hitler

Week 28

"The other dictators of our time—Mussolini, Stalin, even Lenin—seem commonplace in comparison… Hitler had a depth and elaboration of evil all his own, as though something primitive had emerged from the bowels of the earth.  At the same time, there was a superb cunning, which enabled him to exploit others. Perhaps there has never been a man who understood power better or who turned it to baser uses.  He had unquestioning faith in the rubbish that filled his mind" (A.J.P. Taylor).

 

"In 1919, he had stood on Munich street corners, bawling seemingly lunatic slogans at indifferent or derisive passersby.  By 1933, this same titanic mountebank was master of Germany.  Nine years later, his rule extended from the Atlantic to the Urals, from the Norwegian Arctic to the outskirts of Cairo, from Sicily to the suburbs of Moscow. Three years after that, the promise of a thousand-year Reich had withered to catastrophe" (George Steiner).

 

"The quotations suggest the two problems that have dominated the vast literature on Hitler.  First, how do we explain the extraordinary combination of evil and charisma in such an (apparently) insignificant person?  Second, how could this "mountebank" have achieved so much power so quickly, in one of Europe's great nation-states?" (Bruce Thompson)

 

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

 

RECOMMENDED READING

We want to recommend to you for extra reading about the Third Reich, the three-volume study written by Cambridge historian Richard J. Evans. It has been his work of a lifetime and it is now complete and available in fine quality paperback editions or in used/new hardcover. (I would buy the "used" hardcovers since they are like new and often prices are the same as a new paperback) Let me print here some reviews of the first volume and then we will list all three volumes for your attention.

Review
"Richard J. Evans's The Coming of the Third Reich . . . gives the clearest and most gripping account I've read of German life before and during the rise of the Nazis." —A. S Byatt, Times Literary Supplement
"Richard J. Evans's The Coming of the Third Reich is an enormous work of synthesis—knowledgable and reliable." —Mark Mazower, New York Times Book Review

"[A] first-rate narrative history that informs and educates and may inspire readers to delve even deeper into the subject." —Booklist

"Brilliant.” —Washington Post

“The generalist reader, it should be emphasized, is well served. . . . The book reads briskly, covers all important areas—social and cultural—and succeeds in its aim of giving “voice to the people who lived through the years with which it deals.” —Denver Post

“One finally puts down this magnificent volume thirsty, on the one hand, for the next installment in the Nazi saga yet still haunted by the questions Evan poses and so masterfully grapples with.” ―Abraham Brumberg, The Nation

“This first part of what is Evans’ three-volume history of Hitler’s regime is the most comprehensive and convincing work so far on the gall of Weimar and Hitler’s rise to power.” ―Foreign Affairs

 

Richard J. Evans,

The Coming of the Third Reich,

Penguin,

ISBN 9781594200045

Richard J. Evans,

The Third Reich in Power,

Penguin,

ISBN 0141009764

Richard J. Evans,

The Third Reich at War,

Penguin Books; Revised ed. Edition (January 18, 1991),

ISBN ISBN-10 : 0143116711

Week 29: Wed., May. 26, 2021
War 1939

Week 29

World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. In a state of total war, directly involving more than 100 million personnel from more than 30 countries, the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, resulting in 70 to 85 million fatalities, with more civilians than military personnel killed. Tens of millions of people died due to genocides (including the Holocaust), premeditated death from starvation, massacres, and disease. Aircraft played a major role in the conflict, including in strategic bombing of population centers, the development of nuclear weapons, and the only two uses of such in war. World War II is generally considered to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by the United Kingdom and France on the 3rd of September, 1939. From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan, along with other countries later on. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours: Poland, Finland, Romania and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, and the fall of France in mid-1940, the war continued primarily between the European Axis powers and the British Empire, with war in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, and the Battle of the Atlantic. On 22 June 1941, Germany led the European Axis powers in an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the Eastern Front, the largest land theatre of war in history and trapping the Axis, crucially the German Wehrmacht, in a war of attrition. (Wikipedia)

 

 

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853

Week 30: Wed., Jun. 2, 2021
Peace 1945

Week 30

On 16 December 1944, Germany made a last attempt on the Western Front by using most of its remaining reserves to launch a massive counter-offensive in the Ardennes and along with the French-German border to split the Western Allies, encircle large portions of Western Allied troops and capture their primary supply port at Antwerp to prompt a political settlement.[271] By January, the offensive had been repulsed with no strategic objectives fulfilled.[271] In Italy, the Western Allies remained stalemated at the German defensive line. In mid-January 1945, the Soviets and Poles attacked in Poland, pushing from the Vistula to the Oder river in Germany, and overran East Prussia.[272] On 4 February Soviet, British, and US leaders met for the Yalta Conference. They agreed on the occupation of post-war Germany, and on when the Soviet Union would join the war against Japan. In February, the Soviets entered Silesia and Pomerania, while Western Allies entered western Germany and closed to the Rhine river. By March, the Western Allies crossed the Rhine north and south of the Ruhr, encircling the German Army Group B. In early March, in an attempt to protect its last oil reserves in Hungary and to retake Budapest, Germany launched its last major offensive against Soviet troops near Lake Balaton. In two weeks, the offensive had been repulsed, the Soviets advanced to Vienna, and captured the city. In early April, Soviet troops captured Königsberg, while the Western Allies finally pushed forward in Italy and swept across western Germany capturing Hamburg and Nuremberg. American and Soviet forces met at the Elbe river on 25 April, leaving several unoccupied pockets in southern Germany and around Berlin. Soviet and Polish forces stormed and captured Berlin in late April. In Italy, German forces surrendered on 29 April. On 30 April, the Reichstag was captured, signalling the military defeat of Nazi Germany,[275] Berlin garrison surrendered on 2 May. Several changes in leadership occurred during this period. On 12 April, President Roosevelt died and was succeeded by Harry S. Truman. Benito Mussolini was killed by Italian partisans on 28 April. Two days later, Hitler committed suicide in besieged Berlin, and he was succeeded by Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz. Total and unconditional surrender in Europe was signed on 7 and 8 May, to be effective by the end of 8 May. (Wikipedia)

 

REQUIRED READING

Steven Ozment,

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People,

Harper Perennial,

ISBN 0060934832

Gordon A. Craig,

The Germans,

Meridian,

ISBN 0452010853