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How can I understand the effect of the Sonderweg on the Revolution of 1848?

How can I understand the effect of the Sonderweg on the Revolution of 1848?


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I'm trying to understand the effect that the German 'Sonderweg' had on the Revolution of 1848 in Germany. Are there authoritative/canonical references that would help? PS: Since I also speak German and Spanish, any article/book in English, German or Spanish is also accepted ;)


I would recommend these articles: http://oxfordindex.oup.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199249978.003.0006 https://www.jstor.org/stable/40108749?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents https://www.uio.no/studier/emner/hf/iakh/HIS2351/h11/undervisningsmateriale/HIS2351_Kocka_HistoryBefore%20Hitler.pdf


German revolutions of 1848–1849

The German revolutions of 1848–49 (German: Deutsche Revolution 1848/1849), the opening phase of which was also called the March Revolution (German: Märzrevolution), were initially part of the Revolutions of 1848 that broke out in many European countries. They were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire. The revolutions, which stressed pan-Germanism, demonstrated popular discontent with the traditional, largely autocratic political structure of the thirty-nine independent states of the Confederation that inherited the German territory of the former Holy Roman Empire after its dismantlement as a result of the Napoleonic Wars. This process began in the mid 1840s.

Rebellion riot struck down

The middle-class elements were committed to liberal principles, while the working class sought radical improvements to their working and living conditions. As the middle class and working class components of the Revolution split, the conservative aristocracy defeated it. Liberals were forced into exile to escape political persecution, where they became known as Forty-Eighters. Many emigrated to the United States, settling from Wisconsin to Texas.


Contents

Interest Groups

The revolutionaries in the German states strove for political freedoms in the sense of democratic reforms and the national unification of the principalities of the German Confederation. Above all, they represented the ideas of liberalism . However, in the further course of the revolution and thereafter, this split increasingly into different directions, which set different priorities in key areas and sometimes opposed each other (e.g. in the attitude to the importance of the nation, the social question, economic development, civil rights, as well as towards Revolution itself).

Circles with radical democratic, social revolutionary, early socialist and even anarchist goals were also heavily involved in the local revolutionary activities and uprisings . These had a predominantly extra-parliamentary effect, in parliaments they were under-represented or not represented at all. They were therefore unable to assert themselves in the governing bodies of the revolution.

Outside the German Confederation, states and regions that were affiliated to the Habsburg Empire sought to become independent from its supremacy. These included Hungary , Galicia and the northern Italian principalities. In addition, the revolutionaries in the province of Posen, which is predominantly inhabited by Poles, campaigned for the separation from Prussian rule.

Of the five powerful European states, the European pentarchy , only England and Russia remained untouched by the events, with Russia apart from the participation of the Russian military in the suppression of the Hungarian revolt against the Austrian Empire in 1849. In addition, Spain , the Netherlands and the young remained and in any case, relatively liberal Belgium largely uninvolved in revolutionary events.

Significance for Central Europe

In most states the revolution was suppressed by 1849 at the latest. The republic lasted in France until 1851/1852. Only in the kingdoms of Denmark and Sardinia-Piedmont did revolutionary successes last for a long time. For example, the constitutional changes that were enforced in constitutional monarchies persisted into the 20th century. The constitution of Sardinia-Piedmont became the basis for the Kingdom of Italy, which was enforced in 1861 (see Risorgimento ).

A lasting result of the bourgeois-democratic efforts in Central Europe since the 1830s was the transformation of Switzerland from a loose and politically very heterogeneous confederation into a liberal federal state . The new Federal Constitution of 1848 made possible by the Sonderbund War of 1847 determines its basic state and social structures to this day.

Although the nation-state goals of the March Revolution in particular failed with its fundamental concerns for change and resulted in a period of political reaction , historically the wealthy bourgeoisie prevailed with it and finally became a politically and economically influential power factor alongside the aristocracy . From 1848 at the latest, the bourgeoisie , in the narrower sense the upper middle class , became the economically ruling class of Central European societies . This ascent began with the political and social struggles since the French Revolution of 1789 (see also the bourgeois revolution ).

The revolutions of 1848/49 shaped the political culture and the pluralistic understanding of democracy of most of the states of Central Europe in the modern era in a long-term and lasting manner: in the Federal Republic of Germany (whose constitution is based on the constitution drafted in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt in 1848/49), in Austria , France , Italy , Hungary , Poland , Denmark and Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia ). With the events of 1848/49 the triumphal march of bourgeois democracy was initiated, which in the long term determined the later historical, political and social development of almost all of Europe .

In addition to previous developments based on the Enlightenment, the March Revolution provided some ideal impulses for the development of the European Union (EU) in the late 20th century. The Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini represented a Europe of the peoples even before the revolutionary turmoil around 1848 . He set this utopia against the Europe of the authoritarian principalities and thereby anticipated a basic political and social idea of ​​the EU. Mazzini's corresponding ideas had already been taken up in 1834 by some idealistic republican Germans, among them Carl Theodor Barth , in the secret society Young Germany . Together with Mazzini 's Young Italy and Young Poland , founded by Polish emigrants , they also formed the supranational secret society Young Europe in Bern, Switzerland in 1834 . The spirit of optimism at the beginning of the March Revolution was often shaped by their ideals, when in many places the revolutionary base was talking about an "International Spring of Nations ".


Why should we think about the Revolutions of 1848 now?

I n their combination ​ of intensity and geographical extent, the 1848 Revolutions were unique &ndash at least in European history. Neither the French Revolution of 1789, nor the July Revolution of 1830, nor the Paris Commune of 1870, nor the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 sparked a comparable transcontinental cascade. While 1989 looks like a better comparator, there is still controversy as to whether these uprisings can be characterised as &lsquorevolutions&rsquo, and in any case their direct impact was limited to the Warsaw Pact states. In 1848, by contrast, parallel political tumults broke out across the entire continent, from Switzerland and Portugal to Wallachia and Moldavia, from Norway, Denmark and Sweden to Palermo and the Ionian Islands. This was the only truly European revolution that there has ever been.

Carl Steffeck&rsquos painting of the execution of Robert Blum.

It was also in some respects a global upheaval, or at least a European upheaval with a global dimension. The news of revolution in Paris had a profound impact on the French Caribbean and the measures adopted by London to avoid revolution on the British mainland triggered protests and uprisings across the imperial periphery as the historian Miles Taylor has shown. The transportation en masse of potential trouble-makers from England and Ireland triggered protests in Australia and the Cape Colony. To keep sugar cheap the British government abandoned the system of tariff walls known as &lsquoimperial preference&rsquo, exposing colonial planters in Jamaica and British Guyana to competition from outside the British Empire and giving rise to protests, riots and political paralysis. In Ceylon, the introduction of new taxes to cut costs without burdening British middle-class taxpayers triggered the emergence of a protest movement that soon encompassed around sixty thousand men.

The revolutions involved a panorama of charismatic actors, from Giuseppe Garibaldi to the Romanian radical Ana Ipătescu, from the French socialist Louis Blanc to the leader of the Hungarian national movement, Lájos Kossuth from the brilliant conservative liberal social theorist, historian and politician Alexis-Charles-Henri-Clérel de Tocqueville, to the troubled priest Félicité de Lamennais, whose ultimately unsuccessful struggle to reconcile his faith with his politics made him one of the most famous thinkers in the pre-1848 world from George Sand, who refused to stand for election to the French National Assembly on the grounds that as long as women remained &lsquounder the tutelage and the dependency of a man&rsquo they could not be free political agents, to the Roman popular tribune Angelo Brunetti, known affectionately as Ciceruacchio, or &lsquochickpea&rsquo, a true man of the people, who did much to shape the unfolding of the Roman revolution of 1848-49. For politically sentient Europeans, 1848 was an all-encompassing moment of shared experience. It turned everyone into contemporaries, branding them with memories that would last as long as life itself.

These revolutions were experienced as European upheavals &ndash the evidence for this is superabundant &ndash but, as Axel Körner pointed out, they were nationalised in retrospect. The historians and memory managers of the European nations absorbed them into specific national teleologies and path dependencies. The supposed failure of the German revolutions was sucked into the national narrative known as the Sonderweg, where it helped power a thesis about Germany&rsquos aberrant road to modernity, a road that culminated in the disaster of the Hitler dictatorship. Something similar happened in Italy where the supposed failure of revolution in 1848 was seen as pre-programming an authoritarian drift into the new Italian kingdom and thereby paving the road to the March on Rome in 1922 and the fascist seizure of power that followed. In France, the failure of the 1848 Revolution was seen as ushering in the Bonapartist interlude of the Second Empire, which in turn anticipated the future triumph of Gaullism. In other words, focusing on the supposed failures of 1848 also had the consequence of allowing them to be absorbed into a plurality of parallel, nation-state-focused narratives. Nothing demonstrates better the immense power of the nation-state as a way of framing the historical record than these connected upheavals and their place in modern memory &ndash we still feel that power today.

There were three phases to the events of 1848. In February and March, upheaval spread like a bushfire across the continent, leaping from city to city and starting numerous spot fires in towns and villages in between. Metternich, the Austrian chancellor, fled from Vienna, the Prussian army was withdrawn from Berlin, the kings of Piedmont-Sardinia, Denmark and Naples issued constitutions &ndash it all seemed so easy. This was the Tahrir Square moment when one could be forgiven for thinking that the movement encompassed the entirety of society. The euphoria of unanimity was intoxicating. In Milan, complete strangers embraced each other in the street. These were the &lsquospring days&rsquo of 1848.

Yet the divisions within the upheaval (already latent in the first hours of conflict) soon became glaringly apparent: in May, radical demonstrators were attempting to storm and overthrow the National Assembly created by the February Revolution in Paris, while in Vienna Austrian democrats protested against the slow pace of liberal reform and established a Committee of Public Safety. In June there were violent clashes between liberal (or in France republican) leaders and radical crowds on the streets of the larger cities in Prussia and France. In Paris, this culminated in the brutality and bloodshed of the June Days, which killed at least three thousand insurgents. This was the long hot summer of 1848, gleefully diagnosed by Marx as the moment when the revolution lost its innocence and the sweet (but deceptive) unanimity of spring made way for the bitter struggle between classes.

The autumn offered a more complex picture. In September, October and November, counter-revolution unfolded in Berlin, Prague, the Kingdom of Naples and Vienna. Parliaments were shut down, troops returned en masse to the streets, insurgents were arrested and sentenced. But at the same time a second phase, radical revolt dominated by democrats and socialists of various kinds broke out in the southern German states (especially Baden and Württemberg), in western and southern France, and in Rome, where the radicals, after the flight of the pope on 24 November, eventually declared a republic. In the south of Germany, this second-wave upheaval was only extinguished in the summer of 1849, when Prussian troops captured the fortress of Rastatt in Baden, the last stronghold of the radical insurgency. Shortly afterwards, in August 1849, French troops crushed the Roman republic and restored the papacy, much to the chagrin of those who had once revered France as the patron of revolution. At about the same time, the bitter war over the future of the Kingdom of Hungary was brought to an end, as Austrian and Russian troops occupied the country. By the end of the summer, the revolutions were largely over.

These bitter and often very violent days of reckoning mean, among other things, that the narrative of the revolutions lacks a moment of redemptive closure. And it was precisely the stigma of failure that put me off when I first encountered them at school. Complexity and failure are an unattractive combination.

Why, then, should we make the effort today of reflecting on 1848? There are many reasons, it seems to me. First: the 1848 Revolutions were not a failure at all &ndash in many countries they produced swift and lasting constitutional change. It is more interesting to think of this continental uprising as a particle collision chamber at the centre of the European 19th century. People, groups and ideas flew into it, crashed together, fused or fragmented, and showers of new entities emerged whose trails can be traced through the decades that followed. Political movements and ideas, from socialism and democratic radicalism to liberalism, nationalism, corporatism, syndicalism and conservatism, were tested in this chamber all were transformed, with profound consequences for the modern history of Europe. The revolutions also produced a transformation in political and administrative practice across the continent, a European &lsquorevolution in government&rsquo.

Second: the questions the insurgents of 1848 asked have not lost their power. There are exceptions, obviously: we no longer wrack our brains over the temporal power of the papacy or the Schleswig-Holstein question. But we do still worry about what happens when demands for political or economic liberty conflict with demands for social rights. Freedom of the press was all very well, as the radicals of 1848 never tired of pointing out, but what was the point of a newspaper if you were too hungry to read it? The problem was captured by German radicals in the playful juxtaposition of the &lsquofreedom to read&rsquo (Pressefreiheit) with the &lsquofreedom to feed&rsquo (Fressefreiheit).

The spectre of pauperisation had loomed over the 1840s. How was it possible that even people in full-time work could scarcely manage to feed themselves? Entire sectors of manufacture &ndash weavers were the most prominent example &ndash appeared to be ensnared by this predicament. But what did this tide of immiseration mean? Was the gaping inequality between rich and poor a divinely ordained feature of man&rsquos estate, as conservatives claimed a symptom of backwardness and over-regulation, as liberals argued or was it something generated by the political and economic system in its current incarnation, as the radicals insisted? Conservatives looked to charitable amelioration and liberals to economic deregulation and industrial growth, but radicals were less sanguine: to them, it seemed that the entire economic order was founded on the exploitation of the weaker by the stronger. These questions have not faded away. The problem of the &lsquoworking poor&rsquo is today one of the hot-button issues in social policy, and not just in Britain. And the relationship between capitalism and social inequality remains under scrutiny.

Particularly difficult was the question of labour. What if work itself became a scarce commodity? The downturn in the business cycle in the winter and spring of 1847-48 had pushed thousands of men and women out of work. Did citizens have the right to demand that labour be apportioned to them, as something essential to a dignified existence? It was the effort to answer this question that produced the controversial Ateliers Nationaux, or National Workshops, in Paris. But it was never going to be easy to persuade hard-working farmers in the Limousin to pay extra taxes in order to fund work-creation schemes for men they regarded as Parisian layabouts. On the other hand, it was the sudden closure of the workshops that poured a hundred thousand unemployed men back onto the streets of the capital and triggered the violence of the June Days.

The Düsseldorf artist Johann Peter Hasenclever captured such a moment in Workers before the City Council. Painted in 1849 and widely exhibited in a number of versions, it shows a delegation of labourers whose work-creation scheme &ndash excavation work on the various arms of the Rhine &ndash had just been shut down in the autumn of 1848 for lack of funds. They are presenting a petition of protest to the city fathers of Düsseldorf in an opulent council chamber. Through a large window, an orator can be seen in the square outside addressing a raging crowd. Marx loved this painting for its stark depiction of what he saw as class conflict. In a rave review for the New York Tribune, he praised Hasenclever for conveying in one image a state of affairs that a progressive writer could only hope to analyse over many pages of print. Questions about social rights, poverty and the right to work tore the revolutions apart during the summer of 1848.

A third point: as a non-linear, convulsive, intermittently violent and transformative &lsquounfinished revolution&rsquo, 1848 remains an interesting study. In 2010-11, many journalists and historians noticed the uncanny resemblance between the untidy sequence of upheavals that are sometimes called the Arab Spring and the Revolutions of 1848, sometimes known as the &lsquospringtime of the peoples&rsquo. Like the upheavals in the Arab states, they were diverse, geographically dispersed and yet connected. The single most striking feature of the 1848 Revolutions was their simultaneity &ndash this was a puzzle to contemporaries and has remained one to historians ever since. It is also one of the most enigmatic features of the recent Arab events, which had deep local roots, but were clearly interlinked. It would be tedious to push this parallel too far: in a lot of ways, Cairo&rsquos Tahrir Square was not like the Piazza San Marco in Venice the Vossische Zeitung was not Facebook. The important point is a more general one: in their swarming multitudinousness, in the unpredictable interaction of so many forces, the upheavals of the mid-19th century resembled the chaotic upheavals of our own day, in which clearly defined end-points are hard to come by.

T he ​ Revolutions of 1848 were revolutions of assemblies: the Constituent Assembly in Paris, which made way for the single-chamber legislature known as the National Assembly the Prussian Constituent Assembly or Nationalversammlung in Berlin, elected under new laws created for the purpose the Frankfurt Parliament, convoked in the elegant circular chamber of St Paul&rsquos Church in the city of Frankfurt. The Hungarian Diet was a very old body, but in 1848 a new national Diet was convened in the city of Pest. When the Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I dissolved the Diet by decree, a new Hungarian national assembly met in the Protestant Great Church of Debrecen. The revolutionary insurgents of Naples, Piedmont-Sardinia, Tuscany and the Papal States all established new parliamentary bodies. The revolutionaries of Sicily, seeking to break away from the rule of Naples, founded their own Sicilian parliament, which in April 1848 deposed the Bourbon king in Naples, Ferdinando II.

Johann Peter Hasenclever&rsquos &lsquoWorkers before the City Council&rsquo (1849)

But the assemblies were merely one theatre of action. By the summer of 1848, they were coming under pressure, not just from the monarchical executives in many states, but also from a range of more radical groups: networks of clubs and &lsquocommittees&rsquo, for example, or radical counter-assemblies such as the General Crafts and Manufacturing Congress founded in Frankfurt in July 1848 to speak for workers in the skilled trades whose interests were not represented in the liberal and middle-class-dominated National Assembly. This body in turn split after five days into two separate congresses, because it proved impossible to bridge the divide between masters and journeymen.

L iberals ​ revered parliaments and looked with disgust on the clubs and assemblies of the radicals which seemed to them to parody the sublime procedural culture of properly elected and constituted chambers. Even more alarming, from the perspective of &lsquochamber liberals&rsquo, were organised demonstrations intended to intervene directly in the affairs of parliaments. In Paris on 15 May 1848 a crowd broke into the lightly guarded chamber of the National Assembly, disrupted the proceedings, read out a petition and then marched off to the Hôtel de Ville to proclaim an &lsquoinsurrectionary government&rsquo to be headed by noted radicals. The tension between parliamentary and other forms of representation &ndash between representative and direct forms of democracy &ndash is another feature of 1848 that resonates with today&rsquos political scene, in which parliaments have fallen in public esteem and a diverse array of competing non- or extra-parliamentary groups has come into being, using social media and organising around issues that may not command the attention of professional politicians.

One interesting point emerges from the chaotic closing phase of the revolutions, which is that there was an international dimension to them, but it was not revolutionary, as the radicals and some liberals had claimed, or at least hoped. It was counter-revolutionary. The Prussians intervened against the revolution in Baden and Württemberg. The French intervened in the Papal States against the Roman republic. The Russians intervened in Hungary. The radicals and liberals were impressively successful in creating transnational networks, but these networks were horizontal: they lacked the vertical structures and resources required to wield decisive force. The counter-revolution, by contrast, drew on the combined resources of armies whose loyalty to the traditional powers had never been seriously in question. To borrow the binary categories of Niall Ferguson, &lsquotowers&rsquo prevailed over &lsquosquares&rsquo. Hierarchies beat networks. Power prevailed over ideas and arguments. The effort to make sense of this outcome gave rise to one of the most interesting and important intellectual consequences of the revolution: the quest for theories or forms of politics founded not on ideas but on the realities of force. You find this quest in Marx and Engels (especially Engels), in Ludwig von Rochau&rsquos Grundsätze der Realpolitik (1853), in the Saint-Simonian technocracy that infiltrated administrative practice in France after 1848, and in the primacy of &lsquoblood and iron&rsquo so memorably articulated by Bismarck.

Of course, 1848 wasn&rsquot just a story of revolutionaries, even if 20th and 21st-century historians of liberal instincts have naturally been drawn to the cause of those whose demands &ndash for freedom of association, speech and the press, for constitutions, regular elections and parliaments &ndash helped to form modern liberal democracy. While I share this affinity for newspaper-reading, coffee-drinking, process-oriented liberals, it seems to me that an account that views events only from an insurgent or liberal standpoint will miss an essential part of the drama and meaning of these revolutions. They were a complex encounter between old and new powers, in which the old ones did as much to shape the shorter and longer-term outcomes of the revolutions as the new. Even this correction falls short, because the &lsquoold powers&rsquo that survived the revolution were themselves transformed by it. The future Prussian minister-president and German statesman Otto von Bismarck was a minor player in 1848, but the revolution enabled him to fuse his personal destiny with the future of his country. Throughout his life he continued to acknowledge 1848 as a rupture between one epoch and another, as a moment of transformation without which his own career would have been unthinkable. The papacy of Pius IX was profoundly altered by the revolutions, as was the Catholic Church and its relationship with the modern world. Today&rsquos Catholic Church is in many respects the fruit of that moment. Louis Napoleon, who became president of France at the end of 1848 before making himself emperor in 1852, did not depict himself as the crusher of revolution, but as the restorer of order. He spoke of the need not to block, but to channel the forces unleashed by the revolution, to establish the state as the vanguard of material progress.

This was an upheaval in which the lines between revolution and counter-revolution were and sometimes are hard to draw. Many 1848ers died, or suffered exile and imprisonment, but many others made their peace with post-revolutionary administrations that had themselves been transformed or chastened by the revolutionary shock. Thus began a long march through the institutions. More than a third of the préfets of post-1848 Bonapartist France were former radicals so was the Austrian minister of the interior from July 1849, Alexander von Bach, whose name had once stood on the lists of suspect liberals kept by the Vienna police department. Counter-revolutionaries were as often as not &ndash in their own eyes &ndash the executors, rather than the gravediggers, of the revolution. Understanding that enables us to see more clearly how this revolution changed Europe and the world.

For many participants, in memory the revolutions took on a stark emotional chiaroscuro: the bright euphoria of the early days, and then the frustration, bitterness and melancholy that came when the &lsquoiron net&rsquo of counter-revolution (as the Berliner Fanny Lewald put it) descended on the insurgent cities. Euphoria and disappointment were part of this story, but so was fear. Soldiers feared angry townsmen almost as much as the latter feared them. The sudden panic of crowds confronted by troops produced unpredictable surges that were seen in every insurgent city. &lsquoFear,&rsquo wrote Emile Thomas, the architect of the National Workshops in Paris and later a zealous Bonapartist, &lsquohas been the presiding emotion of our revolution.&rsquo

Liberal leaders feared they might be unable to control the social energies released by the revolution. People of humbler standing feared that a conspiracy was underway to stitch up the revolution, reverse its achievements and plunge them into poverty and helplessness. Urban middle-class residents winced when uncouth figures poured in through the city gates, now abandoned by their military guards. They feared for their property, and sometimes for their lives. In Palermo, there was a rough, diverse and potentially ungovernable social undercurrent to the uprising in the city. The early leaders of the Palermo revolution were stolid and predictable dignitaries who could be counted on to behave with moderation and good sense. But as Ferdinando Malvica, author of a major unpublished contemporary chronicle of the Palermitan revolution pointed out, the streets soon also filled with armed maestranze (members of craftsmen&rsquos corporations) and, more disturbingly, with squads from the surrounding countryside: these, he wrote, were &lsquoferocious men, almost devoid of human feeling, as bloodthirsty as they were boorish, ugly people [by whom] the beautiful civic capital of Sicily found itself surrounded, infernal tribes [razze infernali] peopled only by creatures in whom nothing was human but their sunburned countenances&rsquo. It may be that without the driving force and supposed menace exercised by such people, the risings of 1848 could never have succeeded on the other hand, a pervasive fear of the lower orders paralysed the revolution in its later stages, making it easier to play different interests off against one another, to woo liberals into the arms of the authorities, and to isolate radicals as enemies of the social order.

D isplays ​ of emotion could be portrayed as articulations of revolutionary sensibility and some of them convey the distinctiveness of 1848 as a moment of middle-class revolt. Late in September 1848 Robert Blum, a former apprentice gardener and left-liberal deputy at the Frankfurt National Assembly, agreed to travel to Vienna bearing the fraternal greetings of the German parliament to the revolutionary assembly. His journey was badly timed, to put it mildly. He arrived just as the Austrian armies under Field Marshal Windisch-Graetz were closing in to crush the revolution in the city. In the desperate fighting that followed, Blum accepted the command of a company of troops. He survived the fighting, but was captured after the surrender of the insurgent forces and sentenced to death, despite his very reasonable plea that, as an emissary of the Frankfurt National Assembly on official business, he enjoyed parliamentary immunity. On his way to be shot by a company of Croat riflemen, a tear was seen rolling down his cheek. When one of the officers remarked, &lsquoDon&rsquot be afraid, it will all be over in an instant,&rsquo Blum brushed off the effort to comfort him and, drawing himself up to his full (but not very great) height, retorted: &lsquoThis tear is not the tear of the parliamentary deputy of the German nation Robert Blum. This is the tear of the father and husband.&rsquo

Blum&rsquos tear was not forgotten. It entered liberal and radical legend: the &lsquoSong of the Death of Robert Blum&rsquo sung across the southern German states well into the 20th century includes a reference to this moment of private grief amid the public ritual of a political execution: &lsquoThe tear for one&rsquos wife and children,&rsquo it solemnly intones, &lsquodoes not dishonour a man.&rsquo

Die Thräne für Weib und Kinder
Entehret keinen Mann!
Lebet wohl! Jetzt gilt es zu sterben
Für die Freiheit mit Blute zu werben
Ihr Jäger wohlauf! schlagt an!

The tear for his wife and children
Do not dishonour a man!
Farewell, the time has come to die,
To pay in blood for liberty.
Riflemen, shoot straight if you can!

Christopher Clark sings the &lsquoSong of the Death of Robert Blum&rsquo

The tear lived on in memory because it identified Blum as a man of middle-class attachments and values, a private man who had entered public life. This was politics in a bourgeois key. (To this day, &lsquoas dead as Robert Blum&rsquo is a proverbial expression in parts of southern Germany.)

Counter-revolutionaries had emotions too. At the end of an extraordinary speech to the United Diet in Berlin, in which Bismarck reluctantly declared that he now accepted the revolution as an irreversible historical fact and the new liberal ministry as &lsquothe government of the future&rsquo, he left the podium sobbing violently. These tears, unlike Blum&rsquos, were emphatically public, both in their performative character and in their causation. It is surely pertinent to the unlovely career of Field Marshal Windisch-Graetz, faithful servant of the House of Habsburg and one of the gravediggers of the revolution in the Austrian lands, that his wife was killed by a stray bullet while observing a demonstration from a window of their residence during the Pentecost Uprising in Prague in June 1848. The cry &lsquoBerlin pigs!&rsquo uttered by peasant army recruits from backwoods Brandenburg as they beat suspected barricade fighters in the capital with clubs and iron rods during the March days tells us something (though certainly not everything) about the feelings country youths brought to the task of urban counterinsurgency. Vengefulness and anger played a crucial role in the brutality of Austrian generals such as Julius Jacob von Haynau, who appeared to delight in the death sentences and executions he meted out to defeated Hungarian insurgents.

One of the striking things about these revolutions is the intensity of historical awareness among so many of the key actors. This was one key difference between 1848 and the French Revolution of 1789: contemporaries of the later revolutionary events read them against the template of the great original. And they did so in a world in which the concept of History had acquired tremendous semantic weight. For them, much more than for the men and women of 1789, history was happening in the present. Its movements could be detected in every twist and turn of the revolution&rsquos development. For some, this made the events of 1848 a miserable parody of the original: the most eloquent exponent of this view was Marx. But for others the relationship was the other way round. It was not that the epic energy of 1789 had wasted away into caricature, but rather that the historical awareness made possible by the first revolution had accumulated, deepened and propagated itself more widely. &lsquoThe French Revolution of 1848 produced a powerful echo in Chile,&rsquo the contemporary Chilean writer, journalist, historian and politician Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna wrote in his memoirs, and added: &lsquoFor us poor colonials living on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, its predecessor in 1789, so celebrated in history, had been but a flash of light in our darkness. Half a century later, its twin had every mark of brilliant radiance. We had seen it coming, we studied it, we understood it, we admired it.&rsquo

A cross ​ North and South America, South Asia and the Pacific rim, the ripples generated by the revolutions polarised or clarified political debate, reminding everyone of the malleability and fragility of all political structures. In the colonial Caribbean, the news of revolution in Paris triggered local insurrections that put an end to slavery even before the French government could issue edicts of emancipation. And once the slaves of Martinique and Guadeloupe had secured their freedom, it proved impossible to sustain the authority of the slave-owners on the nearby Dutch islands of the Lesser Antilles: St Martin, St Eustatius and Saba. Something broadly similar happened on Saint Croix, a Danish possession. In other words, the &lsquoimpact&rsquo of edicts from the centre has to be balanced with what Sujit Sivasundaram has called the &lsquosouth-to-south signalling&rsquo of societies on the colonial periphery.

The news of 1848 initially prompted scenes of euphoria in the great American cities. There was broad support in the Senate for a motion by Senator William Allen (Ohio) that the Senate formally congratulate the French people &lsquoupon their success in their recent efforts to consolidate liberty by imbodying [sic] its principles in a republican form of government&rsquo. But the news of the Caribbean slave emancipations complicated the issue. When debate on Allen&rsquos resolution began the following day, Senator John P. Hale (New Hampshire) proposed an amendment that the French were also to be congratulated for &lsquomanifesting the sincerity of their purpose by instituting measures for the immediate emancipation of the slaves of all the colonies of the republic&rsquo. This amendment brought the pro-slavery senators into open opposition. Senator John Calhoun (South Carolina) spoke against it, conceding archly that the upheaval was &lsquoa wonderful event&rsquo but arguing that the real test of a revolution was whether or not it would continue to &lsquoguard against violence and anarchy&rsquo and that &lsquothe time [had] not yet arrived for congratulation.&rsquo The motion to congratulate was kicked into the long grass.

The point is sometimes made that if we compare the worldwide impact of 1848 with the transformative power of the transatlantic revolutions of the axial era between the 1770s and the end of the Napoleonic Empire, then the achievements of the 1848 Revolutions must appear rather modest. But this contrast is only meaningful if we exclude the enormous political and social impact of warfare. Between 1792 and 1815 the continent was wracked by wars in which vast conscript armies were pitted against each other, with correspondingly enormous casualties. Across the wider world, many places, from India and the Caribbean to Egypt and Java, were flexed by conflict among the great powers.

The Revolutions of 1848 were not born in war. For all their cruelty, the wars sparked by the revolutions in Italy, southern Germany and Hungary were counter-revolutionary police actions that, for the most part, came to an end once &lsquoorder&rsquo had been restored. They tended to shut the revolution down, rather than to diffuse its ideology. A revolutionary power capable of projecting and embodying ideology by force of arms in the manner of 1790s or Napoleonic France never emerged.

In the absence of revolutionary armies, the good tidings of revolution in 1848 had to travel in civilian clothes. They arrived in the form of books, newspapers and charismatic personalities they reverberated in cafés and political clubs, circulating in networks that were more dense, socially deeper and more sophisticated than their late 18th-century predecessors. They could do this because imperial structures, post-colonial social and cultural ties, migrant diasporas, or common institutions still connected Europe with countless locations in the wider world. The architecture of intercontinental communications was much more diverse and robust than it had been at the turn of the century &ndash after all, the revolutions were the first overseas conflict to which several American newspapers sent correspondents. If the revolutions failed to work deep social transformations in most places outside Europe (the Caribbean was an exception) this was because in differentiated public spheres the spectacle of revolution tended to trigger responses that were nuanced, selective and ambivalent. The understanding of revolution that took root in such settings was not necessarily less deep or important: it was just more subtle.

The true legacy of 1848 on the European continent is to be seen in the breadth and depth of the administrative change triggered by the upheavals. In Europe, pragmatic, centrist coalitions emerged in the aftermath of the turmoil &ndash the connubio (&lsquomarriage&rsquo) in Piedmont, the Unión Liberal in Spain, the Regeneração in Portugal &ndash whose rhetoric and outlook marked a clear departure from the ideologically polarised positions of left and right in the pre-revolutionary era. The rigid and unimaginative official censorship of the Restoration gave way to a more nimble, collaborative and systematic approach to the press governments bribed friendly newspapers and siphoned news stories to selected newspaper editors. To a greater extent than ever before, the European governments of the post-revolutionary years legitimated themselves by reference to their capacity to stimulate and maintain economic growth. They refurbished Europe&rsquos urban environments, from Paris, transformed by Haussmann, to Vienna, where the old city walls were demolished to create space for the immense Ringstrasse construction project, to Madrid where the urban planners Mesonero Romanos and Castro aimed to heighten the city&rsquos socio-spatial homogeneity. They launched public works projects on a scale that exceeded anything attempted during the Restoration era. They embraced a technocratic romanticism focused on the improvement of infrastructure and the pursuit of a form of material progress that would make the polarised politics of the 1840s obsolete.

In other words, the Revolutions of 1848 may have ended in failure, marginalisation, exile, imprisonment, even death, for some of their protagonists, but their momentum communicated itself like a seismic wave to European administrations, changing structures and ideas, bringing new priorities into government or reorganising old ones, reframing political debates. The Vienna-based political theorist Lorenz von Stein captured the meaning of these changes when he observed that, as a consequence of the revolutions, Europe had passed from the Zeitalter der Verfassung, the age of constitution, to the Zeitalter der Verwaltung, the age of administration. And the enabling phenomenon at the core of this transformation was the ascendancy of the political centre over the polarised formations of left and right that had dominated the 1840s. Many radicals and conservatives moved inwards from the fringes to affiliate with centrist groups close to the state authority, bringing with them new ideas about what the state was for. Those who did not risked irrelevance and ridicule. The result was a new kind of politics &ndash uma nova política &ndash as the Portuguese Regenerators liked to put it. It was, one might say, the exact reverse of what is happening right now, when the centre is weakening and ideas and personalities that once seemed extreme or outlandish command an increasing share of public attention.


A Religious Sonderweg? Reflections on the Sacred and the Secular in the Historiography of Modern Germany.

If one had to identify the moment at which religion officially "arrived" in the Anglo-American historiography of modern Germany, one might point to the publication in 1993 of David Blackbourn's Marpingen. This study combined the methods of social, economic, and cultural history to reconstruct the background and experiences of three young Catholic girls, who in 1876 reported seeing the Virgin Mary near their village of Marpingen. Blackbourn analyzed the motives of the villagers and local clergy who believed these reports and petitioned for official recognition from the Vatican, as well as of those in the Prussian government and the Protestant public who sought to debunk the girls' story. But he did not himself take a stand on the truth of the apparitions, declaring it a question beyond the competence of a historian. In this way, Blackbourn granted religious beliefs a dignity and relative autonomy that was, until that point, quite rare in the postwar historiography of modern Germany. (1) Over the past decade and a half, this type of engagement with religion has moved from an isolated phenomenon, to a distinctive trend, to a mainstay of the field. Yet while there is widespread recognition that religious beliefs, institutions, and conflicts played a role in defining the modern German experience, there is still little agreement about the significance of religion for many of the key debates that have divided historians of Germany since World War II. (2)

This leads us back, in a roundabout way, to Marpingen. For the reception of this book was facilitated not just by its scholarly qualities or Blackbourn's highly visible position as a Harvard professor, but also by his status as co-author, with Geoff Eley, of The Peculiarities of German History. (3) In this classic 1984 polemic, Blackbourn and Eley called into question the premises of the so-called Sonderweg thesis, which had emerged in the 1960s and 1970s as a way of explaining the rise of National Socialism. In its classic formulation by Hans-Ulrich Wehler, the Sonderweg thesis held that Germany, in its path to modernity in the nineteenth century, diverged fundamentally from the "normal path" taken by France, Great Britain, and the United States. While there was an industrial revolution in Germany, Wehler argued, there was no bourgeois political revolution. Rather than achieving parliamentary government and the rule of the middle classes, Germany remained dominated by a feudal aristocracy, whose desperate attempts to retain power led to the outbreak of World War I and subsequently undermined Weimar's fragile experiment in democracy. (4)

Blackbourn and Eley challenged the Sonderweg thesis by questioning Wehler's assumption that there was a necessary connection between bourgeois domination, industrial modernization, and liberal politics. The bourgeoisie, they argued, could acquire a dominant social position within a variety of different political institutions and structures, including those of an authoritarian monarchy. Even if the German middle classes never secured the reins of power in the Kaiserreich, by the end of the nineteenth century they had achieved cultural and economic hegemony within German society and were dictating the terms of German domestic and foreign policy through pressure groups and business lobbies. Blackbourn and Eley's left critique of the Sonderweg thesis found a conservative counterpart in the work of Thomas Nipperdey, who questioned Wehler's portrayal of the German middle classes as weak and feudalized but also stressed the Kaiserreich's potential for democratic and liberal reform. Nipperdey is important in this context, since his work on religion and religious movements in the nineteenth century helped inspire the growth of a German-language historiography on this topic beginning in the 1990s. (5)

If there is a common thread linking Blackbourn and Nipperdey, it is their distrust of the (vulgar) Marxian reduction of worldview and belief to the mechanisms of class domination. On the one hand, they refuse to reduce art, literature, and political commitment to economic interests or the need for societal "legitimation" on the other hand, they suggest that the processes of social and economic modernization were compatible with a wide variety of worldviews and political ideologies, not just liberalism or socialism. In this respect, their work reflects the broader "cultural turn" in western historiography, which began in the late 1980s and continues unabated today. Yet that raises a further question. For if we assume that the political history of modern Germany turned as much on issues of belief and culture as it did on issues of economic organization and social structure, is it possible to identify factors in Germany's religious history that distinguished it from that of other European countries or the U.S.A. and that contributed, even partially, to the success of the National Socialists in 1933? In other words, can we speak of a religious Sonderweg?

In this paper, I will briefly examine three aspects of the modern German religious experience that I see as relatively distinctive, while commenting on some recent trends in historiography. Before launching into my discussion, however, I would like to add three qualifiers. First, this paper should not be seen as an attempt to revive the old "Luther to Hitler" narrative of German history. Such teleological approaches tend to obscure the innumerable moments of contingency in German history, which depended as much on the play of personalities and circumstances as on the influence of long-term factors. In addition, this type of narrative tends to assess meaning purely along a diachronic axis, downplaying the importance of a social or cultural formation for its own time and place in order to stress either "origins" or "consequences." Nonetheless, one can speak of persistent conditions and structures of discourse in modern Germany, which influenced both secular and religious modes of thought and practice. These are the focus of my comments today. (6) Second, it is important to note that there is no "normal" religious history when it comes to religion, every nation has its Sonderweg. Moreover, many of the processes and phenomena highlighted in this paper could be found elsewhere in Europe and the United States. The differences between Germany and its neighbors were thus more a matter of degree, scale, and timing than of unique or incommensurable religious cultures (a point that becomes doubly evident when one considers the diversity of religious positions and beliefs within Germany itself). Third, I recognize that by emphasizing the distinctiveness of the German experience I am swimming against the main current of my own discipline, which in recent years has tended to emphasize the commonalities rather than the differences between Germany and the "West." The following paragraphs are not intended as a rebuttal of post-Sonderweg historiography, but rather as one, necessarily speculative, attempt to reframe some of its arguments and conclusions in light of Germany's peculiar religious history.

Any analysis of modern German religious history must start from the fact of Germany's confessional divide. The Reformation, the Thirty Years War, and the subsequent processes of confessionalization, migration, and demographic change in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries left the territories of the future Kaiserreich with a population that was about 62 percent Protestant, 35 percent Catholic, and less than 1 percent Jewish. (7) In no other European territory with claims to status as a nation-state (with the exception of the Netherlands) did the confessions exist in such tenuous balance with one another. According to Lucian Holscher, "The confessional map of early modern Europe assigns Germany a special position among European nations. Located between the Protestant countries of the north and west and the Catholic countries in the east, west, and southwest, Germany constituted a land in-between and a zone of transition." (8) Yet while the Protestant-Catholic rivalry defined much of Germany's religious geography, the relationship between Christians and Jews was perhaps equally remarkable. Nowhere else in Europe did the Jewish population participate as fully in public intellectual life, or as coherently as a self-described religious community, as in German-speaking Europe. Starting with the Haskalah and continuing into the twentieth century, Christian scholars, writers, and artists in Germany were repeatedly challenged by Jewish interlocutors, a phenomenon that left a deep imprint on secular and religious culture. (9)

The confessional divide was not a static phenomenon, but was instead dynamized by the political, social, and theological transformations of the revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. Consider the situation of Germany's Catholics. Before the French Revolution, the vast majority of Catholics were ruled by one or the other of the Holy Roman Empire's Catholic princes. (10) After the collapse of the Reich, the disappearance of ecclesiastical territories, and the territorial expansion of Prussia, Baden, and Wurttemberg, a considerable portion of Germany's Catholics found themselves living under Protestant rulers. As a result, an increasing number of clergy turned to the Vatican as a source of institutional support and spiritual guidance, which fostered the growth of Ultramontanism in the 1830s and 1840s. After 1848, conservative clergy sponsored a series of missions, pilgrimages, and new religious associations that spurred a revival of popular Catholic piety (paralleling similar developments in France and elsewhere) and laid the foundation for a political Catholicism that was anti-liberal and, in many cases, anti-bourgeois. Exactly when the clerical parties won over the mass of Catholic voters is still a matter of some debate. (11) The point, however, is that the same transformations of communication, transportation, and increased literacy that facilitated the spread of secular culture in these years were equally useful in mobilizing, centralizing, and standardizing religious beliefs among Germany's Catholics. (12)

If the trend in Catholicism was toward a standardization of religion, a rather different phenomenon was occurring within German Protestantism. Surveying the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, historians have spoken of the "individualization" or "dechurchification" (Entkirchlichung) of Protestant belief and practice, which included a shift away from orthodox dogma, collective worship, and ecclesiastical culture, and a growing emphasis on individual conscience, family devotion, and nonecclesiastical culture as the basis of piety and religious identity. (13) This process was most pronounced among urban Protestants, especially men of the educated middle classes, where rates of church attendance had already fallen dramatically by the end of the eighteenth century. (14) Yet it would be a mistake to equate this process with "secularization," even when it led to the erosion of doctrines often seen as central to the Christian faith (including belief in Christ's bodily resurrection). German Protestants were unusually adept at reconstructing their faith, and they had added motivation to do so given their rivalry with Catholicism and Judaism. In contrast to the situation in France, Italy, or even the Catholic parts of Germany, unalloyed secularism was a relatively rare phenomenon among the German Protestant educated classes. After all, there was an extraordinary variety of ways of being a Protestant.

One particularly influential way of being Protestant involved supplementing or even replacing the church with the nation as the proper sphere of ethical action and religious obligation. That German nationalism had a religious dimension is hardly news George Mosse argued this point forcefully in The Nationalization of the Masses (1975). (15) But while Mosse described nationalism as a "secular religion," implying a clear break from earlier religious traditions, recent work has emphasized the fluid boundaries between Protestant theology and the German nationalist movement. Wolfgang Altgeld and Friedrich Wilhelm Graf, for example, have shown how Protestant theological conceptions were adopted and transformed by liberal nationalists in the early nineteenth century to accommodate their view of the nation as a divinely inspired community. (16) Indeed, many Protestants considered the religious unity of the nation the prerequisite for the political and cultural unification of Germany, a stance that naturally exacerbated the anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic potential of the nationalist movement. (17)

Such assumptions gave rise to a serious crisis once unification was achieved in 1871. In his recent study of the Kulturkampf, Michael Gross emphasizes that the "war against Catholicism" in the 1870s was not just the product of Bismarck's paranoid imagination but also reflected the desires and beliefs of liberal Protestants seeking to maintain their authority in the face of shifting gender norms, an industrializing economy, and the introduction of universal male suffrage--threats that became embodied for them in the figure of the Catholic clergyman. (18) This was a most unfortunate way to launch the Kaiserreich. Further, as the political fortunes of liberalism faded, the well-oiled machinery of confessional hatred shifted into the hands of the conservatives, who turned against Germany's Jewish minority. (19) Meanwhile, Catholics withdrew into a separate milieu, where they voted in bloc for the Centre Party and nurtured their status as an oppressed minority in a hostile, seemingly "atheistic" state. (20)

Conflict among Protestants, Catholics, and Jews was thus a key feature of modern German political and cultural life, which did not fade with time but appeared repeatedly in the decades after 1815. Indeed, Olaf Blaschke has gone so far as to suggest that the nineteenth century be seen as a "second confessional age," on a par with the first confessional age of 1555 to 1618. (21) Yet there are reasons to be cautious about this thesis. For one thing, the concept of confessionalization, while useful in describing certain developments within Catholicism, hardly captures the experiences of Protestants (or Jews), which tended toward heterogeneity rather than standardization. (22) In addition, recent studies have revealed numerous contacts and exchanges across the confessional and religious divide in the late nineteenth century, precisely when the effects of "confessionalization" should have been most acute. (23) Catholic farmers and Jewish cattle traders in Baden, for example, maintained typically cordial, if cautious, business relations, and liberal Protestants in Breslau actively campaigned to allow Jewish teachers to teach at their Gymnasium. (24) Finally, there is considerable evidence that by the outbreak of World War I, German Catholics had begun to break out of their milieu and identify with the German state (as well as with non-Catholic parties). (25) So while it is proper to criticize the more deterministic or universalizing variants of the secularization narrative, it would be a mistake simply to turn the old narrative on its head. Instead, the processes of renewal and crisis, intolerance and tolerance, belief and skepticism should be seen as working in a dialectical relationship with each other. In other words, the heightened sense of confessional identity within many sectors of Germany reflected not just an ongoing pattern of confessional and religious rivalry but also a perception that certain segments of society had been lost to religion and thus constituted a growing cultural and political threat to Christian belief and practice. This brings me to my second point.

While recent work on German religious life has dwelled on aspects of the confessional divide, it is important not to lose sight of the religious divisions within the confessions, including those that were based on class. One of the most striking features of modern German history is the emergence in the late nineteenth century of a massive, influential, and politically unified working-class movement whose official ideology was Marxist atheism. By the 1890s, the Social Democratic Party was receiving more votes than any other party in Germany and represented the largest socialist party in Europe. Moreover, it had adopted a party platform whose revolutionary demands and anti-Christian orientation drove a deep wedge between it and the bourgeois realm of "respectable society." In words meant to strike fear in the hearts of the devout, the socialist polemicist Joseph Dietzgen declared that "where man becomes conscious of his task, where he recognizes himself as the absolute organizer, anti-religious Social Democracy takes the places of religion." (26)

The roots of socialist atheism lie in Vormarz Prussia, where Friedrich Wilhelm IV and conservative aristocrats associated with the Protestant Neo-Pietist Awakening attempted to establish a "Christian State" that would preserve the rural social order and the authority of the Lutheran state church against the inroads of political and theological liberalism. (27) This Prussian marriage of throne and altar had consequences not only for German conservatism but also for the radical movements that sought to challenge it. During the 1840s, political dissent was often expressed through radical theological stances, such as those found in Ludwig Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity (1841) or Bruno Bauer's The Critique of the Synoptic Gospels (1840-42). (28) With the failure of the 1848 revolution and the shift of Prussian Protestantism to the right, radical dissent increasingly entailed a rejection of the church and the embrace of "scientific" alternatives to Christianity, including the socialism of Marx and Engels. For workers themselves, however, the move away from the churches was occasioned less by a principled rejection of doctrine than by the changed circumstances of their employment. As patriarchal relations in the workplace broke down, workers felt increasingly uncomfortable attending church with their employers and listening to the sermons of politically conservative clergy. But while English workers could find refuge in various forms of Nonconformity, in Germany there were few alternatives to the established churches. As a result, German workers simply stopped going to church. (29)

After granting universal male suffrage for Reichstag elections in the 1871 constitution, Bismarck attempted to put the genie back in the bottle by introducing the Anti-Socialist Law (1878), which banned the Social Democrats from organizing, publishing, or actively campaigning but still allowed their candidates to stand for election. By the 1890s, however, Bismarck was out of a job, the SPD had adopted Marxism as its official philosophy, and the party was well on its way to becoming the strongest faction in the Reichstag. Moreover, a separate socialist milieu had taken shape among the urban Protestant working classes, with its own rituals, its own leisure activities, and its own pantheon of heroes, which gave little credence to church doctrines or institutions. (30) That is not to say that the socialist movement was a religious--Lucian Holscher has shown, for example, that there was considerable continuity between the Social Democrats' rhetoric of revolution and the doctrine of Last Judgment promoted by small Protestant sects like the Seventh-day Adventists, who proselytized successfully among workers despite (and to some degree because of) their disadvantaged status vis-a-vis the established churches. (31) Nonetheless, the prevailing mood in this milieu was antichurch and anticlerical, which was a key factor in shaping perceptions of socialism and the working classes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. (32) The emergence of a powerful and ostensibly atheist socialist milieu constitutes the second key feature of the modern German religious experience.

The real and perceived influence of the "Red" and "Black" Internationals created a dilemma for those in the educated Protestant bourgeoisie who felt alienated from the conservative theology and clerical power of the Landeskirchen. Whereas in France the default position of this class was a kind of secularism, in Germany competition with the Roman Church and a desire to maintain a distance from the socialist milieu ensured that most educated middle-class Protestants cultivated at least some form of religiosity. This often took the form of a vaguely liberal or mediating theology, which might be combined with an endorsement of modern German secular culture as "Protestant." This stance, labeled by critics and later historians as Kulturprotestantismus, underwent a major transformation during the 1880s, as the optimism and materialism of the unification era gave way to concerns about the social effects of unrestrained capitalism and a desire for new (or renewed) forms of religiosity. (33) Emblematic of this shift was the foundation in 1896 of the Nationalsozialer Verein, a liberal political association led by the charismatic ex-clergyman Friedrich Naumann (1860-1919). A veteran of the conservative "Inner Mission," Naumann became convinced that the Protestant church's pastoral efforts on behalf of the working classes touched only the symptoms rather than the underlying causes of their distress. In response, he called for a democratization of the German constitution, aggressive expansion overseas, more equitable industrial relations at home, and what he termed a "spiritualization" of politics. Naumann's ideas received enthusiastic backing from a number of prominent Protestant intellectuals, including Max Weber and Adolf von Harnack. Although the Nationalsozialer Verein achieved only limited electoral success on its own, it did much to influence the climate of left liberal debate and opinion in Wilhelmine Germany. (34)

While Kulturprotestantismus suggested the possibility of a reconciliation between Protestantism and the modern (bourgeois) values of liberalism, science, and industry, more conservative-minded clergy defined themselves in opposition to the urban-bourgeois milieu, emphasizing the autonomy of the church and the sacred nature of their office. During the second half of the nineteenth century, a growing majority of pastors in Prussia lost social and intellectual contact with their fellow Burger (whose rates of church attendance continued to fall) and oriented themselves instead to the cultural values of the landed aristocracy or, more often, their fellow clergymen. (35) One result of this was that the Protestant ecclesiastical milieu, particularly strong in towns and rural areas, became increasingly cut off from the Protestant bourgeois milieu of the cities and universities. Indeed, Gangolf Hubinger has argued that by the 1890s German Protestantism had divided into two fundamentally different "confessions," one liberal and the other conservative. (36) This view has been challenged by Dietmar von Reeken, whose work on Oldenburg Protestants reveals a fair degree of consensus in a Landeskirche noted for its moderate liberalism. (37) At the same time, however, von Reeken's study reinforces the notion that ecclesiastical Protestantism flourished most in theologically and politically conservative environments, while efforts at "outreach" toward the urban middle classes failed to generate enthusiasm or improve church attendance. Repeated attempts during the Wilhelmine era at confessional Sammlung, such as those promoted by the Protestant League (established 1887), would founder on this split, as conservatives and liberals divided on the question of whether socialism or Ultramontanism represented the more serious threat to Germany. (38) Thus while Hubinger's thesis of liberal and conservative "confessions" within Protestantism probably overshoots the mark, it does highlight a fundamental and persistent division within the Protestant cultures of the Kaiserreich.

Even as clergy lamented what they saw as the religious indifference or heterodoxy of their fellow Burger, a significant minority in the educated classes opted for an even more fundamental break with existing forms of Christianity and Judaism. Indeed, the 1890s and 1900s witnessed a proliferation of new religious movements and organizations that was perhaps unmatched in all of Europe. (39) These included the Wagnerian art-religion in Bayreuth, Ernst Haeckel's "Monist League," Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophy, and the dozens of groups associated with the volkisch Bewegung (folkish movement) that called for a new religion "suitable" to the Germanic "race." Declaring opposition to both the established churches and the "materialist" ideologies of liberalism and socialism, these groups sought to sow the seeds of spiritual revival. Some of the most interesting recent work on religion in Germany has been devoted to these movements, notably Corinna Treitel's study of occultism and Uwe Puschner's book on the volkisch Bewegung. (40)

Two points about these new religious movements are in order. First, even those that declared themselves non-Christian typically retained a rhetorical connection to Christianity and, more specifically, Protestantism. For Haeckel, for example, Luther remained a hero and Christianity represented an advance beyond Judaism. The same can be said for all but the most "pagan" of the volkisch groups. Second, the new religious associations of the Wilhelmine era need to be viewed in the context of the broader reform movements that arose in the 1890s in response to the rapid pace of urbanization and industrialization and the desire for a nonmaterialist alternative to socialism. (This was also the context that produced Naumann's Nationalsozialer Verein). To be sure, many of the leaders of these movements endorsed Weltpolitik and even the racist-nationalist views of the Pan-German League. Nonetheless, it would be inaccurate to describe them as "reactionary" or "feudalizing." According to Treitel, for example, the occult movement embodied a specifically German form of "modernism." Such arguments build on Blackbourn and Eley's post-Sonderweg understanding of the Wilhelmine middle classes as modem, dynamic, and reformist in spirit (even if also potentially militarist, racist, and imperialist). (41)

By the 1900s, therefore, one has the phenomenon in Germany of a series of competing religious groups, each claiming to overcome the fragmentation and division of which they were in fact symptoms. For Lucian Holscher, it is here that</p> <pre> the history of piety . helps to explain Germany's unique political path in the twentieth century. With their all-encompassing claims for religious comprehensivity, [these groups] infused religious elements into political and social conflicts, thus rendering them difficult to solve through rational political compromise. As a result these conflicts assumed the vehement nature of a latent civil war . which after the defeat of the First World War proved decisive for Germany's political journey toward the Third Reich." (42) </pre> <p>Holscher does not develop this argument in detail, but he seems to be suggesting that Germany's religious situation led to an illegitimate infusion of religion into politics, giving rise to parties that appealed to emotion rather than rational argument. This argument stands in line with recent interpretations of National Socialism as a "political religion," which broke radically from both existing religions and prior political practices to sacralize the worship of blood, soil, and the Fuhrer. (43)

In my view, Holscher's argument requires modification on at least two counts. First, history shows that competing parties do not require explicit religious sanction in order to act aggressively toward each other racial, ethnic, and class divisions, threats to prevailing gender and moral orders, and the emotions of fear, despair, and envy all have the power to lend politics a violent, intolerant quality. In this respect, religion often serves less as the source of emotions than as the institutional and imaginary structure through which they are channeled, focused, interpreted, and expressed. Second, in the consideration of the religious aspects of National Socialism, what is striking is not simply its links to the earlier volkisch movement but also its connections, both in membership and electoral support, to the traditional, historically more conservative Protestant milieu. (44) As numerous studies have shown, it was farmers, shopkeepers, and nonunionized workers in Protestant towns and villages (along with elites in the cities) who voted for the Nazis in greatest numbers during the 1930s. (45) Moreover, as Richard Steigmann-Gall argues in The Holy Reich, both Nazi officials and many Protestant (especially Lutheran) clergy saw National Socialism as the embodiment of a "positive" Christianity that was the perfect antidote to the "atheistic" socialism of the leftwing parties (Social Democrats and Communists) that seemed to dominate social policy and cultural life in the Weimar Republic. (46) For that reason, a considerable number of Protestants experienced Hitler's rise to power in January 1933 as both a national and spiritual triumph. (47) The minority of theologians and clergy who gravitated toward the Confessing Church would eventually come to see Nazism as the antithesis of Christianity, embodying a neopagan worship of the Germanic race. Nonetheless, a wide range of party figures and supporters of the movement identified themselves as Christians, a fact that cannot be explained away as cynical opportunism (though that certainly played a role). Instead, it is testimony to the Nazis' ability to appeal to a wide range of religious parties, much as they won the support of disparate and opposed social and economic interests.

The electoral success of Nazism among Protestants acquires special significance once we have rejected the account of German Christianity as mired in irreversible decline and "secularization." Instead, it is necessary to understand this success in the broader context of religious developments over the previous century and a half. In particular, one can look back on a long history of claims within German Protestantism to being the "national religion," which gained salience in the late nineteenth century with the growth of the Centre Party and the rise of Social Democracy. This is not to claim that German Protestantism caused the rise of the Nazis--that would be to discount the impact of World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution, and a decade of economic upheaval, as well as the numerous Catholics who joined or otherwise supported the movement. Moreover, an argument for strict causality would overlook the willingness of individual pastors to resist Nazi rule, or the ability of the Protestant churches to adapt successfully to the terms and conditions of West German democracy after 1945. Nonetheless, it is true that much of the specific character of National Socialism--including its jeremiads against socialist and Jewish "atheism," its appeal to a national history, literature, and mythology, its repeated calls for "social renovation," and its orientation to a specific version of the "modern"--were rooted in intellectual and political developments that were particularly prevalent in (if not absolutely unique to) German Protestant culture. Unlike the volkisch groups or the Pan-German League, however, the Nazis carefully avoided confessional (as opposed to anti-Semitic) polemics, repeatedly insisting on the supraconfessional nature of their movement.

In an influential article, Peter Fritzsche has argued that National Socialism should be understood as a form of modernism. "The notion of modernism," as opposed to the more normative concept of modernization, provides an "open-ended way of mapping the initiatives, blueprints, and experiments by which contemporaries tried to build lasting, possibly illiberal structures in the circumstances of radical instability." Driving this relentless experimentation was a perception of the modern world as fragile, impermanent, and dangerous, as well as a demand for radical reforms in order to stave off the threat of impending collapse. This "apocalyptic" worldview, which Fritzsche sees as characteristic of modernism as a whole, was a key impetus behind Nazis' plans for technological innovation, social reform, and a biological engineering of the German body politic. (48) Although Fritzsche is primarily interested in establishing a link between political modernism and literary modernism, his analysis also suggests connections between National Socialism and what one might term "Protestant modernism." For one thing, notions of the "fragility and impermanence of the material world" and impending crisis were well established within Christian theology, in particular its Protestant variants. In addition, however, German Protestant culture had long given religious sanction to efforts to remake or rework the national polity, whether on the part of artists, social reformers, or (as in the Kulturkampf) the state as a whole. Finally, however, one can detect a specific emphasis on war, crisis, and apocalypse in the sermons and writings of German Protestant pastors during the early 1930s, which overlapped in crucial ways with the rhetoric and ideology of National Socialism. (49) Again, the issue here is less one of causality than of mutual affinity, which helps to explain why so many Protestants were drawn to National Socialism and how, at the same time, Nazism drew on aesthetic, theological, and political traditions strongly associated with German Protestant culture. In the end, it is this Protestant culture that embodies the genuine "peculiarities" of German religious history. As has been seen, this Protestant culture was itself a product of both the German encounter with modernity and persistent conflicts with confessional and political rivals (Judaism and Catholicism Social Democracy). Yet even here the notion of a Sonderweg seems misplaced, particularly when one considers the widely disparate religious histories of France, Great Britain, and the United States. Instead, German Protestantism is probably best seen as simply one variant in the broader history of modern European Christendom, with its complex relationship to the nation-state, its repeated efforts at internal criticism and reform, and its long-term trends toward the alienation of the population from church institutions and doctrines (a process that Hartmut Lehmann describes as the "European Sonderweg in religious affairs"). (50)

At the same time, the phenomena of anti-Semitism and confessional conflict can only be grasped by taking account of Christianity's two-thousand-year history, with its deeply problematic relationship to Jews and other religious minorities. (51) In other words, the national perspective is by no means the only or even the best way to analyze religious developments in modern Germany, especially if it leads to the fiction of national religious "cultures." Indeed, this history could be analyzed from any number of temporal and geographic frameworks, ranging from the local to the global. Still, the national perspective emphasized in this paper does illuminate ways in which religious factions--for the most part Protestant--sought to define and claim hegemony within an emerging German nation-state, both in the unification era and in the later crises of the Kaiserreich and the Weimar Republic. That struggle ended only after World War II, as West German Protestants awoke to find themselves living in a state in which they were no longer a majority and in which politics was dominated by Catholic statesmen like Konrad Adenauer. (52) The grand era of Protestant modernism had come to an end, not to return again in the twentieth century.

(1.) David Blackbourn, Marpingen: Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Bismarckian Germany (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993) for Marpingen's significance, see also Thomas Albert Howard, "A 'Religious Turn' in Modern European Historiography?," Historically Speaking 4:5 (2003): 24-26.

(2.) Given the inherently synthetic nature of religious movements (combining institutions, doctrines, rituals, narratives, and ethical codes in a manner that is seldom coherent or revealing of an "essence"), it behooves the historian to avoid treating "religion" as an autonomous force or universal category and to focus instead on theological, ecclesiastical, and liturgical phenomena in their historical specificity. On these matters, see esp. Bruce Lincoln, "Theses on Method," Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 8:3 (1996): 225-27: "To practice history of religions in a fashion consistent with the discipline's claim of title is to insist on discussing the temporal, contextual, situated, interested, human, and material dimensions of those discourses, practices, and institutions that characteristically represent themselves as eternal, transcendent, spiritual, and divine."

(3.) David Blackbourn and Geoff Eley, The Peculiarities of German History: Bourgeois Society and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984).

(4.) Hans-Ulrich Wehler, The German Empire, 1871-1918, trans. Kim Traynor (Leamington Spa, U.K.: Berg, 1985). Wehler described religion as an "ideology of legitimation," 113-18, while downplaying the significance of the confessional conflict.

(5.) Thomas Nipperdey, Religion im Umbruch: Deutschland 1870-1918 (Munich: Beck, 1988).

(6.) Religion played a key role in many of the earlier, cultural-historical versions of the Sonderweg thesis. See, for example, Helmut Plessner, Die verspatete Nation: Uber die politische Verfuhrbarkeit burgerlichen Geistes [1959] (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1974), 52-80.

(7.) These were the percentages in 1900. See Olaf Blaschke, "Das 19. Jahrhundert: Ein Zweites Konfessionelles Zeitalter?" Geschichte und Gesellschaft 26 (2000): 38-75, here 42 Joel F. Harrington and Helmut Walser Smith note that there were several instances of "confessional cleansing" in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in which members of one confession were forced to migrate from one state to another see "Confessionalization, Community, and State Building in Germany, 1555-1870," Journal of Modern History 69 (1997): 77-101, here 86.

(8.) Lucian Holscher, "The Religious Divide: Piety in Nineteenth-Century Germany," in Protestants, Catholics and Jews in Germany, 1800-1914, ed. Hetmut Walser Smith (Oxford: Berg, 2001), 33-48, here 42 (my italics). Holscher's article contains a number of penetrating insights concerning the problems addressed in this paper (see below).

(9.) On this point, see esp. Jonathan M. Hess, Germans, Jews and the Claims of Modernity (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2002) also Jeffrey S. Librett, The Rhetoric of Cultural Dialogue: Jews and Germans from Moses Mendelssohn to Richard Wagner and Beyond (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2000) also Susannah Heschel, Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998) Uffa Jensen, Gebildete Doppelganger: Burgerliche Juden und Protestanten im 19. Jahrhundert (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2005).

(10.) Exceptions included Catholics living in Prussian Silesia and in Protestant-dominated free cities like Hamburg see Harrington and Smith, 87-88.

(11.) Jonathan Sperber, Popular Catholicism in Nineteenth-Century Germany (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984), suggests that the Catholic milieu was decidedly conservative by 1850 by contrast, Margaret Lavinia Anderson sees the Kulturkampf as the turning point, "The Kulturkampf and the Course of German History," Central European History 19:1 (1986): 82-115 Anderson, "Piety and Politics: Recent Work on German Catholicism," Journal of Modern History 63 (1991): 681-716 Anderson, Practicing Democracy: Elections and Political Culture in Imperial Germany (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000). In a similar vein, Thomas Mergel highlights the resistance of the Catholic middle classes to joining the Ultramontanist milieu or to aligning with the Center Party. In his view, this occurred after the Kulturkampf (and then only partially) and led, by the 1890s, to the transformation of the Zentrum into a party dominated by conservative Catholic middle-class interests. See "Ultramontanism, Liberalism, Moderation: Political Mentalities and Political Behavior of the German Catholic Burgertum, 1848-1914," Central European History 29 (1996): 151-74 and Zwischen Klasse und Konfession: Katholisches Burgertum im Rheinland 1794-1914 (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1994).

(12.) On this point, see esp. Blaschke, 61-63.

(13.) On this, see esp. the work of Lucian Holscher, "Die Religion des Burgers: Burgerliche Frommigkeit und Protestantische Kirche im 19. Jahrhundert," Historische Zeitschrift 250 (1990): 595-630 Holscher, "Sakularisierungsprozesse im deutschen Protestantismus des 19. Jahrhunderts," in Burger in der Gesellschaft der Neuzeit: Wirtschaft--Politik--Kultur, ed. Hans-Jurgen Puhle (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1991), 238-58 Holscher, "Secularization and Urbanization in the Nineteenth Century: An Interpretative Model," in European Religion in the Age of Great Cities, 1830-1930, ed. Hugh McLeod (London: Routledge, 1995), 263-88 and Holscher, with Tillman Bendikowski, Claudia Enders, and Markus Hoppe, ed., Datenatlas zur religiosen Geographie im protestantischen Deutschland: Von der Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts bis zum Zweiten Weltkrieg, 4 vols. (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2001), which tracks the frequency of baptism, Eucharist, religious marriage, religious burials, and confessional change among German Protestants from 1848 to 1940.

(14.) On the gender divide, see Holscher, "Religion des Burgers," 610 also Hugh McLeod, "Weibliche Frommigkeit--mannlicher Unglaube? Religion und Kirchen im burgerlichen 19. Jahrhundert," in Burgerinnen und Burger: Geschlechterverhaltnisse im 19. Jahrhundert, ed. Ute Frevert (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1988), 134-56 Rebekka Habermas, "Weibliche Religiositat--oder: Von der Fragilitat burgerlichen Identitaten," in Wege zur Geschichte des Burgertums, ed. Klaus Tenfelde and Hans-Ulrich Wehler (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1994), 125-48. On differing rates of church attendance among Protestants and Catholics, see the statistics in Holscher, Datenatlas, and the discussion in Hugh McLeod, Secularisation in Western Europe, 1848-1914 (London: St. Martin's, 2000), 171-215.

(15.) George L. Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany from the Napoleonic Wars through the Third Reich (New York: Howard Fertig, 1975).

(16.) Wolfgang Altgeld, Katholizismus, Protestantismus, Judentum: Uber religiose begrundete Gegensatze und nationalreligiose Ideen in der Geschichte des deutschen Nationalismus (Mainz: Grunewald, 1992) Altgeld, "Religion, Denomination and Nationalism in NineteenthCentury Germany," in Protestants, Catholics and Jews, ed. Smith, 49-66 Friedrich Wilhelm Graf, "Die Nation--von Gott 'erfunden'? Kritische Randnotizen zum Theologiebedarf der historischen Nationalismusforschung," in "Gott mit uns": Nation, Religion und Gewalt im 19. und fruhen 20. Jahrhundert, ed. Gerd Krumeich and Hartmut Lehmann (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2000), 285-317 Gangolf Hubinger, "Sacralisierung der Nation und Formen des Nationalismus im deutschen Protestantismus," in "Gott mit uns," ed. Krumeich and Lehmann, 233-47.

(17.) Altgeld, "Religion, Denomination, and Nationalism," 54-58.

(18.) Michael B. Gross, The War against Catholicism: Liberalism and the Anti-Catholic Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Germany (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004) also, Helmut Walser Smith, German Nationalism and Religious Conflict: Culture, Ideology, Politics, 1870-1914 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995) the Bismarck-centric view can be found in Otto Pflanze, Bismarck and the Development of Germany, 3 vols. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990), 2:179-206.

(19.) See Uriel Tal, Christian and Jews in Germany: Religion, Politics, and Ideology in the Second Reich, 1870-1914, trans. Noah Jonathan Jacobs (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1975) Jensen, Gebildete Doppelganger, 147-268.

(20.) The classic statement of the "milieu" theory can be found in M. Rainer Lepsius, "Parteiensystem and Sozialstruktur: Zum Problem der Demokratisierung der deutschen Gesellschaft," in Deutsche Parteien vor 1918, ed. Gerhard A. Ritter (Cologne: Kiepenheuer and Witsch, 1973), 56-80 on the continued relevance of milieu theory for research on Catholicism, see Oded Heilbronner, "From Ghetto to Ghetto: The Place of German Catholic Society in Recent Historiography," Journal of Modern History 72 (2000): 453-95. Its relevance for Protestantism is far more contested (see below).

(21.) Olaf Blaschke, "Das 19. Jahrhundert: Ein Zweites Konfessionelles Zeitalter?," Geschichte und Gesellschaft 26 (2000): 38-75.

(22.) On this point, see Anthony J. Steinhoff's trenchant critique of Blaschke, "Ein zweites konfessionelles Zeitalter? Nachdenken uber die Religion im langen 19. Jahrhundert," Geschichte und Gesellschaft 30 (2004): 549-70.

(23.) Helmut Walser Smith and Chris Clark, "The Fate of Nathan," in Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, ed. Smith, 3-29, are particularly critical of the "milieu" thesis insofar as it implies a series of homogenous, impenetrable, and mutually exclusive cultural systems whose beliefs and political behavior were dictated from the top down.

(24.) Ulrich Baumann, "The Development and Destruction of a Social Institution: How Jews, Catholics and Protestants Lived Together in Rural Baden, 1862-1940," in Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, ed. Smith, 297-315 and Till van Rahden, "Unity, Diversity, and Difference: Jews, Protestants, and Catholics in Breslau Schools During the Kulturkampf," in Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, ed. Smith, 217-42.

(25.) As Anthony J. Steinhoff notes, after the repeal of the Kulturkampf legislation in 1887 Catholics became increasingly willing to identify with Germany as a "Christian state." On this, see "Christianity and the Creation of Germany," in Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 9, World Christianities c. 1815-1914, ed. Sheridan Gilley and Brian Stanley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 282-300. I am indebted to Professor Steinhoff, as well as to Professor Brian Vick, for their insightful suggestions and criticisms regarding an earlier draft of this paper.

(26.) Joseph Dietzgen, Die Religion der Sozialdemokratie, pt. 3 (1871), cited in Sebastian Prufer, Sozialismus statt Religion: Die deutsche Sozialdemokratie vor der religiosen Frage 1863-1890 (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2002), 335.

(27.) See esp. David Lasater Ellis, "Piety, Politics, and Paradox: The Protestant Awakening in Brandenburg and Pomerania, 1816-1848" (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 2002) also Robert M. Bigler, The Politics of German Protestantism: The Rise of the Protestant Church Elite in Prussia, 1815-1848 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972) and Friedrich Wilhelm Graf, "'Restaurationstheologie' oder neulutherische Modernisierung des Protestantismus? Erste Erwagungen zur Fruhgeschichte des neulutherischen Konservatismus," in Das deutsche Luthertum und die Unionsproblematik im 19. Jahrhundert, ed. Wolf-Dieter Hauschild (Gutersloh: Mohn, 1991), 64-109. For the cultural and artistic dimensions of Friedrich Wilhelm IV's "Christian state," see John Edward Toews, Becoming Historical: Cultural Reformation and Public Memory in Early Nineteenth-Century Berlin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

(28.) On Feuerbach's political views, see Warren Breckman, Marx, the Young Hegelians, and the Origins of Radical Social Theory: Dethroning the Self (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999) on the broader context of religious dissent in this period, see Dagmar Herzog, Intimacy and Exclusion: Religious Politics in Pre-Revolutionary Baden (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996).

(29.) McLeod, Secularisation, 86-94. The free-thinking communities (freireligiose Gemeinde) offered another alternative to the established churches, but they tended to attract left liberals from the middle classes rather than members of the working classes. On these groups, see Frank Simon-Ritz, Die Organisation einer Weltanschauung: Die freigeistige Bewegung im Wilhelminischen Deutschland (Gutersloh: Kaiser, 1997).

(30.) On this milieu, see esp. Vernon Lidtke, The Alternative Culture: Socialist Labor in Imperial Germany (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985). Blaschke, 67, notes that by 1907 only 11 percent of the vote for the SPD came from Catholics (he does not cite a figure for the 1912 election).

(31.) Lucian Holscher, Weltgericht oder Revolution: Protestantische und sozialistische Zukunftsvorstellungen im deutschen Kaiserreich (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1989).

(32.) It is useful when analyzing the influence and cohesion of Germany's Catholic, socialist, and (traditional) Protestant milieus to distinguish between reality and perception, since both influenced religious and political behaviors in the Kaiserreich and the Weimar Republic. Even if an individual felt relatively autonomous in his or her social milieu, the perception that other Germans were following the dictates of the trade unions or the clergy could easily limit the range of acceptable political affiliations and social behaviors. This sense of constraint only increased in periods of instability or crisis.

(33.) The key work is Gangolf Hubinger, Kulturprotestantismus und Politik: Zum Verhaltnis von Liberalismus und Protestantismus im wilhelminischen Deutschland (Tubingen: Mohr, 1994).

(34.) On the Naumann circle, see Ursula Krey, "Von der Religion zur Politik: Der Naumann-Kreis zwischen Protestantismus und Liberalismus," in Religion im Kaiserreich: Milieus-Mentalitaten-Krisen, ed. Olaf Blaschke and Frank Michael Kuhlemann (Gutersloh: Chr. Kaiser, 1996), 350-81 also Rudiger vom Bruch, ed., Friedrich Naumann in seiner Zeit (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2000).

(35.) On this, see esp. Oliver Janz, Burger besonderer Art: Evangelische Pfarrer in Preussen 1850-1914 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1994) Janz, "Zwischen Burgerlichkeit und kirchlichem Milieu: Zum Selbstverstandnis und sozialen Verhalten der evangelischen Pfarrer in Preussen in der zweiten Halfte des 19. Jahrhunderts," in Religion im Kaiserreich, 382-406.

(36.) Hubinger, Kulturprotestantismus, 291-313.

(37.) Dietmar von Reeken, Kirchen im Umbruch zur Moderne: Milieubildungsprozesse im nordwestdeutschen Protestantismus 1849-1914 (Gutersloh: Chr. Kaiser, 1999) von Reeken, "Protestantisches Milieu und 'liberale' Landeskirche? Milieubildungsprozesse in Oldenburg 1849-1914," in Religion im Kaiserreich, 290-315 Frank-Michael Kuhlemann makes an even stronger case for Protestant consensus based on his research on Baden, but his findings may also reflect the minority status of Protestants in a state that was two-thirds Catholic. See Kuhlemann, "Protestantisches Milieu in Baden: Konfessionelle Vergesellschaftung und Mentalitat im Umbruch zur Moderne," in Religion im Kaiserreich, 316-49.

(38.) On this, see Smith, German Nationalism and Religious Conflict, 51-61, 117-65.

(39.) On this point, Holscher, "The Religious Divide," 46: "We can say without exaggeration that no European country has produced a comparable multitude of revisionist groups and movements."

(40.) Corinna Treitel, A Science for the Soul: Occultism and the Genesis of the German Modern (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004) Uwe Puschner, Die volkische Bewegung im wilhelminischen Kaiserreich: Sprache--Rasse--Religion (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2001) for relevant background, see also George S. Williamson, The Longing for Myth in Germany: Religion and Aesthetic Culture from Romanticism to Nietzsche (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).

(41.) Despite certain structural similarities between National Socialist ideology and the views of the occultists and the volkisch movements (as well as the proclivity of individuals like Rudolf Hess and Heinrich Himmler for certain of their doctrines), the dominant response of the NSDAP to these groups was one of hostility and, in the case of occult organizations, an attempt to eradicate them once Hitler came to power in 1933. On this, see Puschner, Volkische Bewegung, 9-25, and Treitel, Science for the Soul, 210-42. From the perspective of religious history, National Socialism is perhaps best seen as an offshoot of the volkische Bewegung, but one that rejected the earlier movement's elitism, aestheticism, and intellectualism (even in its "irrationalist" forms) in favor of a program that combined populism, "traditional values," and violence with a specific vision of racial and technological modernity.

(42.) "Religious Divide," 45, 47.

(43.) See, for example, Michael Ley and Julius H. Schoeps, ed., Der Nationalsozialismus als politische Religion (Bodenheim bei Mainz: Philo, 1997).

(44.) As Derek Hastings notes, the early NSDAP found considerable support among Munich's Catholics, particularly those disaffected from the traditional Catholic milieu. This support broke down in 1923-24 when the Nazis formed an alliance with several volkisch organizations and leaders, including the rabidly anti-Catholic Erich Ludendorff. See Hastings, "How 'Catholic' Was the Early Nazi Movement? Religion, Race, and Culture in Munich, 1919-1924," Central European History 36 (2003): 383-433. After 1925, Hitler distanced himself from Ludendorff and strenuously avoided confessional polemics. Nonetheless, the party's base of support would shift permanently from the Catholic south of Bavaria to the Protestant north.

(45.) For an analysis of this evidence, see esp. Richard Steigmann Gall, "Apostasy or Religiosity? The Cultural Meanings of the Protestant Vote for Hitler," Social History 25 (2000): 267-84.

(46.) Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) also, Doris L. Bergen, Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996).

(47.) See Manfred Gailus, "1933 als protestantische Erlebnis: Emphatische Selbstransformation und Spaltung," Geschichte und Gesellschaft 29 (2003): 481-511, esp. 483: "[T]he experience of 1933 appears in Protestant self-perception as a euphoric phase of the fulfillment of long-held expectations and hopes, as well as active participation and cooperation in a spiritual-political upheaval, as a largely miraculous turn of events that reminded many contemporaries of analogous Protestant exultations in 1914."

(48.) Peter Fritzsche, "Nazi Modern," Modernism/Modernity 3:1 (1996): 1-22, here 3, 12, and 16.

(49.) See the theological rhetoric cited by Richard Steigmann-Gall in "Apostasy or religiosity?," 279-84.

(50.) Hartmut Lehmann, Sakularisierung: Der europaische Sonderweg in Sachen Religion (Gottingen: Wallstein, 2004).

(51.) In charting the violent religious history of the West, Rodney Stark has emphasized the peculiar characteristics of monotheistic religions, suggesting an even broader level of analysis. See One True God: Historical Consequences of Monotheism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001).

(52.) On the religious ideology of the early CDU, see esp. Maria Mitchell, "Materialism and Secularism: CDU Politicians and National Socialism," Journal of Modern History 67 (1995): 278-308. The historical standpoint developed at this early juncture would have an important influence on conservative Catholic thought, including that of Joseph Ratzinger.


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5 Barany, ‘Ungarns Verwaltung’, 344.

6 For a critical analysis of this historiographical tradition, see Brophy , J. M. , Capitalism, Politics and Railroads in Prussia 1830–1870 ( Columbus , 1998 ), 1 – 18 Google Scholar .

7 Barclay, Friedrich Wilhelm IV and the Prussian Monarchy Brophy, Capitalism Grünthal , G. , Parlamentarismus in Preussen 1848/49–1857/58: preussischer Konstitutionalismus, Parlament und Regierung in der Reaktionsära ( Düsseldorf , 1982 )Google Scholar Green, Fatherlands. The classic demolition of the Sonderweg thesis, Blackbourn , D. and Eley , G. , The Peculiarities of German History. Bourgeois Society and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Germany ( Oxford , 1984 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar , points suggestively at the need for a trans-national approach to the problem of nineteenth-century revolution and political change see esp. 83–5 (Eley) and 173–5 (Blackbourn).

8 Cf. Elton , G. R. , The Tudor Revolution in Government. Administrative Changes in the Reign of Henry VIII ( Cambridge , 1969 )Google Scholar , which deals of course with a very different subject matter, but speaks of a period ‘when the needs of good government prevailed over the demands of free government’ and ‘order and peace seemed more important than principles and rights’ (1) and perceives in administrative innovation a process of ‘controlled upheaval’ (427).

9 A useful comparative survey of constitutional innovation across Europe is Verfassungswandel um 1848 im europäischen Vergleich, ed. M. Kisch and P. Schiera (Berlin, 2001) see esp. the introductory essay by M. Kisch, ‘Verfassungswandel um 1848 – Aspekte der Rezeption und des Vergleichs zwischen den europäischen Staaten’, 31–62.

10 Barclay, Friedrich Wilhelm IV and the Prussian Monarchy, 183 Wegge , H. , Die Stellung der Öffentlichkeit zur oktroyierten Verfassung und die preußische Parteibildung 1848/49 ( Berlin , 1932 ), 45 –8Google Scholar Grünthal, Parlamentarismus, 185.

11 Brand , H. , Parlamentarismus in Württemberg (1819–1870). Anatomie eines deutschen Landtages ( Düsseldorf , 1987 ), 654 –5Google Scholar for an important study that reaches some analogous conclusions for Saxony, see Neeman , Andreas , Landtag und Politik in der Reaktionszeit. Sachsen 1849/50–1866 ( Düsseldorf , 2000 )Google Scholar .

12 Caracciolo, ‘Storia economica’, 612–17 Smith , D. Mack , Victor Emanuel, Cavour and the Risorgimento ( Oxford , 1971 ), 56 – 76 Google Scholar idem, Cavour (1985), 94–106 Perticone , Giacomo , Il regime parlamentare nella storia dello Statuto albertino ( Rome , 1960 )Google Scholar Ghisalberti , Carlo , Stato, nazione e costituzione nell'Italia contemporanea ( Naples , 199)Google Scholar Romeo , Rosario , Vita di Cavour ( Rome , 1984 )Google Scholar idem, Dal Piemonte sabaudo all'Italia liberale (Turin, 1963) Merlini , Stefano , ‘ Il governo costituzionale ’, in Storia dello Stato italiano , ed. Romanelli , Raffaele ( Rome , 1995 ), 3 – 72 Google Scholar , here 3–10, 13–15, 17–19.

13 There were a number of separate uprisings in Spain in 1848, but they represented diagonally opposed interests and their impact was muted by the repressive measures adopted by the Narvaez government. Madaria , J. M. García , Estructura de la Administración Central (1808–1931) ( Madrid , 1982 ), 124 Google Scholar .

14 Burgos , M. Espadas , ‘ Madrid, centro de poder politico ’, in Madrid en la sociedad del siglo XIX , ed. Carvajal , L. E. Otero and Bahamonde , A. ( Madrid , 1986 ), 179 –92, here 188Google Scholar .

15 Seoane , M. Cruz , Historia del periodismo en España (3 vols., Madrid , 1983 )Google Scholar , ii : El siglo XIX, 241–2 Kiernan , V. G. , The Revolution of 1854 in Spanish History ( Oxford , 1966 ), 6 Google Scholar Goitia , J. R. Urquijo , ‘ Las contradicciones politicas del Bienio Progresista ’, Hispania , 57 ( 1997 ), 267 – 302 Google Scholar Esdaile , C. J. , Spain in the Liberal Age. From Constitution to Civil War, 1808–1939 ( Oxford , 2000 ), 109 –22Google Scholar de Urquijo y Goitia , José Ramón , La revolución de 1854 en Madrid ( Madrid , 1984 )Google Scholar ,

16 For contemporary British comment on Saldanha's ‘strange coalition’, which seemed to fly in the face of Portuguese political tradition, see the Times, 31 May 1851, 4, col. F, also 11 June 1851, 4, col. b. On the Patuleia and the Maria da Fonte insurrection, see Bonifácio , Maria de Fátima , História da guerra civil da patuleia, 1846–47 ( Lisbon , 1993 )Google Scholar Casimiro , Padre , Apontamentos para a história da revolução do Minho em 1846 ou da Maria da Fonte , ed. Silva , José Teixeira da ( Lisbon , 1981 )Google Scholar , Brissos , Jose , A insurreição miguelista nas resistências a Costa Cabral (1842–1847) ( Lisbon , 1997 )Google Scholar . For a brilliant study of the Regeneração, see Sardica , José Miguel , A regeneração sob o signo do consenso: a política e os partidos entre 1851 e 1861 ( Lisbon , 2001 )Google Scholar . On Costa Cabral's vain efforts to inaugurate a centrist politics before the new regime, see Bonifácio , Mari Fátima , ‘ Segunda ascensão de Costa Cabral ’, Análise Social , 32 ( 1997 ), 537 –56, esp. 541Google Scholar .

17 Neves , J. L. César das , The Portuguese Economy: A Picture in Figures. XIX and XX Centuries ( Lisbon , 1994 ), 45 Google Scholar .

18 Durán de le Rua, Unión Liberal, 345–6 for interesting reflections on the parallels between Spanish and Portuguese developments, see Gonzalo , Ignacio Chato , ‘ Portugal e Espanha em 1856: a dispar evolução politica do liberalismo peninsular ’, Análise Social , 42 ( 2007 ), 55 – 75 Google Scholar .

19 Ménager , B. , Les Napoleon du peuple ( Aubier , 1988 ), 355 –7Google Scholar .


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1 Evans , R. J. W. , ‘ From Confederation to Compromise: The Austrian Experiment, 1849–1867 ’, Proceedings of the British Academy , 87 ( 1994 ), 135 –67Google Scholar , here 137.

2 For discussions of the vast literature on the Second Empire, see McMillan , J. F. , Napoleon III ( Harlow , 1991 ), 1 – 6 Google Scholar Plessis , A. , The Rise and Fall of the Second Empire, 1852–1871 , trans. Mandelbaum , Jonathan ( Cambridge , 1979 ), 1 – 11 Google Scholar the quotations are from R. Sencourt, The Modern Emperor (1933), and Plessis, Second Empire, 3 Barclay , D. , Friedrich Wilhelm IV and the Prussian Monarchy 1840–1861 ( Oxford , 1995 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar Bazillion , R. J. , Modernizing Germany. Karl Biedermann's Career in the Kingdom of Saxony, 1835–1901 ( New York , 1990 )Google Scholar Green , A. , Fatherlands. State-Building and Nationhood in Nineteenth-Century Germany ( Cambridge , 2001 )Google Scholar R. J. Evans, Rituals of Retribution. Capital Punishment in Germany, 1600–1987 (1997), 284 the same point is made in Evans , R. J. , Tales from the German Underworld ( New Haven , 1998 ), 109 , 218Google Scholar Brandt , H.-H. , Der Österreichische Neoabsolutismus: Staatsfinanzen und Politik, 1848–60 (2 vols., Göttingen , 1978 )Google Scholar – a vast compendium on governmental practice in the post-revolutionary era Barany , George , ‘ Ungarns Verwaltung 1848–1918 ’, in Die Habsburgermonarchie , ii : Rechtswesen , Verwaltung und , Wandruszka , A. and Urbanitsch , P. ( Vienna , 1975 ), 306 – 468 Google Scholar , esp. 328–38 G. Szabad, Hungarian Political Trends between the Revolution and the Compromise (1977) Rua , N. Durán de la , La Unión Liberal y la modernizacion de la España Isabelina. Una convivencia frustrada, 1854–1868 ( Madrid , 1979 ), esp. 339 –46Google Scholar Mónica , Maria Filomena , Fontes Pereira de Melo ( Lisbon , 1998 )Google Scholar Caracciolo , A , ‘ La storia economica ’, in Storia d'Italia, iii : Dal primo Settecento all'Unità ( Turin , 1973 ), 509 –693Google Scholar Nada , N. , ‘ Il regime di Vittorio Emanuele dal 1848 al 1861 ’, in Notario , P. and Nada , N. , Il Piemonte sabaudo. Dal periodo napoleonico al Risorgimento ( Turin , 1993 ), 343 – 442 Google Scholar , here 364–7 (both with references to the historiography).

3 Plessis, Second Empire, 4–6 Garrigues , Jean , Les hommes providentiels: histoire d'une fascination française ( Paris , 2012 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar Choisel , Francis , Bonapartisme et Gaullisme ( Paris , 1987 )Google Scholar .

4 Rogari , Sandro , Alle origini del trasformismo. Partiti e sistema politico nell'Italia liberale, 1861–1914 ( Rome , 1998 )Google Scholar Tullio-Altan , Carlo , La nostra Italia: clientelismo, trasformismo e ribellismo dall'unità al 2000 ( Milan , 2000 )Google Scholar Sabatucci , Giovanni , Il trasformismo come sistema: saggio sulla storia politica dell'Italia unita ( Rome , 2003 )Google Scholar on this tendency in the Italian historiography, see also Woolf , S. J. , ‘ La storia politica e sociale ’, in Storia d'Italia , iii : Dal primo Settecento all'Unità ( Turin , 1973 ), 5 – 510 Google Scholar , here 472.

5 Barany, ‘Ungarns Verwaltung’, 344.

6 For a critical analysis of this historiographical tradition, see Brophy , J. M. , Capitalism, Politics and Railroads in Prussia 1830–1870 ( Columbus , 1998 ), 1 – 18 Google Scholar .

7 Barclay, Friedrich Wilhelm IV and the Prussian Monarchy Brophy, Capitalism Grünthal , G. , Parlamentarismus in Preussen 1848/49–1857/58: preussischer Konstitutionalismus, Parlament und Regierung in der Reaktionsära ( Düsseldorf , 1982 )Google Scholar Green, Fatherlands. The classic demolition of the Sonderweg thesis, Blackbourn , D. and Eley , G. , The Peculiarities of German History. Bourgeois Society and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Germany ( Oxford , 1984 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar , points suggestively at the need for a trans-national approach to the problem of nineteenth-century revolution and political change see esp. 83–5 (Eley) and 173–5 (Blackbourn).

8 Cf. Elton , G. R. , The Tudor Revolution in Government. Administrative Changes in the Reign of Henry VIII ( Cambridge , 1969 )Google Scholar , which deals of course with a very different subject matter, but speaks of a period ‘when the needs of good government prevailed over the demands of free government’ and ‘order and peace seemed more important than principles and rights’ (1) and perceives in administrative innovation a process of ‘controlled upheaval’ (427).

9 A useful comparative survey of constitutional innovation across Europe is Verfassungswandel um 1848 im europäischen Vergleich, ed. M. Kisch and P. Schiera (Berlin, 2001) see esp. the introductory essay by M. Kisch, ‘Verfassungswandel um 1848 – Aspekte der Rezeption und des Vergleichs zwischen den europäischen Staaten’, 31–62.

10 Barclay, Friedrich Wilhelm IV and the Prussian Monarchy, 183 Wegge , H. , Die Stellung der Öffentlichkeit zur oktroyierten Verfassung und die preußische Parteibildung 1848/49 ( Berlin , 1932 ), 45 –8Google Scholar Grünthal, Parlamentarismus, 185.

11 Brand , H. , Parlamentarismus in Württemberg (1819–1870). Anatomie eines deutschen Landtages ( Düsseldorf , 1987 ), 654 –5Google Scholar for an important study that reaches some analogous conclusions for Saxony, see Neeman , Andreas , Landtag und Politik in der Reaktionszeit. Sachsen 1849/50–1866 ( Düsseldorf , 2000 )Google Scholar .

12 Caracciolo, ‘Storia economica’, 612–17 Smith , D. Mack , Victor Emanuel, Cavour and the Risorgimento ( Oxford , 1971 ), 56 – 76 Google Scholar idem, Cavour (1985), 94–106 Perticone , Giacomo , Il regime parlamentare nella storia dello Statuto albertino ( Rome , 1960 )Google Scholar Ghisalberti , Carlo , Stato, nazione e costituzione nell'Italia contemporanea ( Naples , 199)Google Scholar Romeo , Rosario , Vita di Cavour ( Rome , 1984 )Google Scholar idem, Dal Piemonte sabaudo all'Italia liberale (Turin, 1963) Merlini , Stefano , ‘ Il governo costituzionale ’, in Storia dello Stato italiano , ed. Romanelli , Raffaele ( Rome , 1995 ), 3 – 72 Google Scholar , here 3–10, 13–15, 17–19.

13 There were a number of separate uprisings in Spain in 1848, but they represented diagonally opposed interests and their impact was muted by the repressive measures adopted by the Narvaez government. Madaria , J. M. García , Estructura de la Administración Central (1808–1931) ( Madrid , 1982 ), 124 Google Scholar .

14 Burgos , M. Espadas , ‘ Madrid, centro de poder politico ’, in Madrid en la sociedad del siglo XIX , ed. Carvajal , L. E. Otero and Bahamonde , A. ( Madrid , 1986 ), 179 –92, here 188Google Scholar .

15 Seoane , M. Cruz , Historia del periodismo en España (3 vols., Madrid , 1983 )Google Scholar , ii : El siglo XIX, 241–2 Kiernan , V. G. , The Revolution of 1854 in Spanish History ( Oxford , 1966 ), 6 Google Scholar Goitia , J. R. Urquijo , ‘ Las contradicciones politicas del Bienio Progresista ’, Hispania , 57 ( 1997 ), 267 – 302 Google Scholar Esdaile , C. J. , Spain in the Liberal Age. From Constitution to Civil War, 1808–1939 ( Oxford , 2000 ), 109 –22Google Scholar de Urquijo y Goitia , José Ramón , La revolución de 1854 en Madrid ( Madrid , 1984 )Google Scholar ,

16 For contemporary British comment on Saldanha's ‘strange coalition’, which seemed to fly in the face of Portuguese political tradition, see the Times, 31 May 1851, 4, col. F, also 11 June 1851, 4, col. b. On the Patuleia and the Maria da Fonte insurrection, see Bonifácio , Maria de Fátima , História da guerra civil da patuleia, 1846–47 ( Lisbon , 1993 )Google Scholar Casimiro , Padre , Apontamentos para a história da revolução do Minho em 1846 ou da Maria da Fonte , ed. Silva , José Teixeira da ( Lisbon , 1981 )Google Scholar , Brissos , Jose , A insurreição miguelista nas resistências a Costa Cabral (1842–1847) ( Lisbon , 1997 )Google Scholar . For a brilliant study of the Regeneração, see Sardica , José Miguel , A regeneração sob o signo do consenso: a política e os partidos entre 1851 e 1861 ( Lisbon , 2001 )Google Scholar . On Costa Cabral's vain efforts to inaugurate a centrist politics before the new regime, see Bonifácio , Mari Fátima , ‘ Segunda ascensão de Costa Cabral ’, Análise Social , 32 ( 1997 ), 537 –56, esp. 541Google Scholar .

17 Neves , J. L. César das , The Portuguese Economy: A Picture in Figures. XIX and XX Centuries ( Lisbon , 1994 ), 45 Google Scholar .

18 Durán de le Rua, Unión Liberal, 345–6 for interesting reflections on the parallels between Spanish and Portuguese developments, see Gonzalo , Ignacio Chato , ‘ Portugal e Espanha em 1856: a dispar evolução politica do liberalismo peninsular ’, Análise Social , 42 ( 2007 ), 55 – 75 Google Scholar .

19 Ménager , B. , Les Napoleon du peuple ( Aubier , 1988 ), 355 –7Google Scholar .


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Previous versions of this paper were presented at conferences and seminars at Mimar Sinan Güzel Sanatlar Üniversitesi, Istanbul, in the Department of Political Economy at University of Sydney, and at the University of Oxford. I am grateful to participants at those events for their critical engagement with my arguments. I would also like to thank Francesca Antonini, Rjurik Davidson, four anonymous readers and the coeditors of this journal for helpful comments and criticisms.


Could anybody explain the Sonderweg thesis?

I'm an A-Level student looking at historical interpretations for my coursework on Germany (1978-1991), and I'm struggling to get to grips with the complexities of the Sonderweg thesis and its opposition. Moreover, I'm reading a lot of work from Shirer and AJP Taylor, etc, but i can't find many quotes that summarise their views, can anybody give any guidance?

The Sonderweg thesis, in its absolute basic form, holds that the rise of national socialism was a uniquely German phenomenon, and that it could only have arisen due to the way that German society developed from 1815 onwards, although connections have been made as far back as the reformation.

Most proponents of the Sonderweg see the unification of Germany as the creation of a legal entity rather than a nation, and argue that Germany was not truly one country until long after. One major aspect that they point to is the political system. Traditionally, the political system of the Second Reich has been viewed as extremely authoritative and top heavy, with more weight being given to the Kaiser and his chosen Chancellor, along with the appointed Bundesrat, than to the elected Reichstag, which was viewed as an annoyance at best. The Chancellor and his government were not required to be members of the Reichstag, and there were no legal mechanisms for the Reichstag to hold the Government to account. For example, during the Zabern affair in 1913, Bethmann Hollweg massively lost a vote of no confidence yet was able to ignore it and continue as Chancellor. It is argued that Bismarck was highly anti-democratic, and through his repressive measures against Catholics and Socialists during the Kulturkampf severely delayed the process of democratisation. When he fell from power, Kaiser Wilhelm II, who once boasted he had never read the constitution, took a very dim view of democracy. Socially, German society was dominated by the Prussian Junkers, incredibly rich landowners and aristocrats who held vast estates to the east of the river Elbe. They formed much of the army's high command, a significant amount of the civil service and occupied a number of Government posts. Germany industrialised relatively lately, and when the rich industrial class developed, they were far more interested in integrating with the aristocrats than usurping their position. However, rising class consciousness and the rise of the SPD, who in 1912 would win 34.8% of the vote, as well as the failure of Kulturkampf to break the back of Catholic political power, meant that there was an unstable mixture of old and new in Wilhelmine Germany.

With this in mind, we move on to the First World War. Sonderweg proponents such as Fritz Fischer tend to place heavy blame on Germany for starting the war, pointing to her declarations of war as a continuation of a uniquely aggressive foreign policy both before and after 1871. Despite initial success, the British blockade and mounting casualties soon led to increasing war weariness. The Kaiser became increasingly unpopular, with one popular jibe going: "who else will survive the war with all six sons intact?". In 1918, revolution broke out across Germany. Significantly, one of the flashpoints of this revolution was in Kiel, where the aristocratic officers of the High Seas Fleet had been planning one last great battle with the Royal Navy. The sailors, understandably not so keen on both death and glory, mutinied. Revolts spread across Germany and the Kaiser abdicated. The revolutionaries drew up a new constitution in Weimar, and declared Germany a republic.

It is in the failure of the Weimar republic to transform Germany that much of the arguments of the Sonderweg lie. While the revolution had swept away the monarchies, the aristocracy were still deeply entrenched in the army, judiciary and civil service, and moreover were extremely hostile to democracy. Proponents of the Sonderweg point to the large amount of left and right wing violence and in particular the refusal of Hans von Seeckt to use German soldiers to fight a Freikorps rebellion during the Kapp Putsch as being representative of this failure of reform. Other examples include the incredibly lenient sentence given to Hitler following the failure of the Munich Putsch and a general failure by the judiciary to punish right wing assassins and terrorists, while harshly punishing those on the left wing. They see the Weimar Republic as being in a state of permanent crisis, and the great depression being the gust of wind needed to tip it over the edge.

With regards to the rise of Hitler to power, it is undeniable that he had significant help in doing so from the aristocracy. Whether this was his lenient prison sentence, the intrigues surrounding Hindenberg that elevated him to the Chancellorship or the help he recieved from other right wing parties. It is said that the entrenched position of the elites in German society and the inability of the Weimar Republic to change this fundamentally undermined the Republic and ultimately would cause its downfall. Therefore, due to a uniquely German set of circumstances, Hitler rose to power and the world paid for it. Per one of AJP Taylor's most famous quotes: "it was no more a mistake for the German people to end up with Hitler than it is an accident when a river flows into the sea." The Sonderweg debate had and has a significant impact on wider debates surrounding the German national identity. An explicitly Sonderweg based reading of German history taints German nationalism even to this day.

However, more recent historiography has attacked many of the underlying ideas of the Sonderweg. Recent investigations into democracy in the Second Reich have taken a less elite-focused view, and emphasised that Germany did actually have a growing democratic culture. They point to the increasingly high turnouts at federal elections and the development of sophisticated party structures. The Centre party, who were heavily repressed during the Kulturkampf, gained large numbers of seats and often formed part of government supporting blocs when the traditional conservative parties did not have enough seats. The SPD were able to develop despite repressive anti-socialist laws and became the largest socialist party in the world by 1912. They disagree with the idea that the German people rejected democracy during Weimar because a democratic culture had not been allowed to develop during the second Reich.

In terms of the aristocratic undermining of the Weimar Republic, it is very easy to assume that because Hitler and the Junkers were both right wing, then they were natural allies. Instead, many Junkers were contemptous of Hitler's low background, nicknaming him the "Bohemian Corporal". Hitler and the Nazi party never truly gained control of the army, one of the most powerful entities in Germany, and the most effective resistance to Hitler during the war came from within the High Command. There was also significant conflict between Hermann Goering and the steel barons in the Ruhr over his plans to expand the steel industry. While Hitler was enthusiastically supported by many aristocrats and captains of industry, this was an uneasy alliance, and many would have preferred one of their own to sit in the chancellery. Ultimately, the Sonderweg theory is not nearly so bulletproof as it once was, and it is rare to find a modern historian who absolutely agrees with the theory.

You can read both of these for free online and they provide more context on historiographical developments.


Footnotes

Work on this article has been financially supported by a Swedish Research Council grant for the project ‘Growth and inequality before the industrial revolution, Scania 1650 to 1850’, and the STINT grant ‘Poles apart: A long-term perspective on inequality, industrialization and labour market institutions in Brazil and Sweden’. I am grateful to Per Andersson, Erik Örjan Emilsson, Mats Hallenberg, Chris Howell, Anders Hylmö, Josefin Hägglund, Anton Jansson, Johannes Lindvall, Mats Olsson, Thomas Paster, Svante Prado, Carolina Uppenberg and Erik Vestin for constructive criticism, which has helped improve the paper. The paper has also been presented in Sundsvall, Gothenburg and Odense thanks to all participants for comments and criticisms.

Alan Macfarlane, The Origins of English Individualism: The Family Property and Social Transition (Oxford, 1978). Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Das Deutsche Kaiserreich 1871–1918 (Göttingen, 1973).

Sweden’s reputation: Jenny Andersson, ‘A Model of Welfare Capitalism? Perspectives on the Swedish Model, Then and Now’, in Jon Pierre (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Swedish Politics (Oxford, 2015). ‘National myth’: Mary Hilson, ‘A Consensual Democracy? The Historical Roots of the Swedish Model’, in Lars Edgren and Magnus Olofsson (eds.), Political Outsiders in Swedish History, 1848–1932 (Newcastle, 2009), 138. On political parties, see Åsa Linderborg, Socialdemokraterna skriver historia: Historieskrivning som ideologisk maktresurs 1892–2000 (Stockholm, 2000). Equality as ‘fate’: Henrik Berggren and Lars Trägårdh, Är svensken människa? Gemenskap och oberoende i det moderna Sverige (Stockholm, pbk edn, 2009), 44.

International literature: Matti Alestalo and Stein Kuhnle, ‘The Scandinavian Route: Economic, Social, and Political Developments in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden’, International Journal of Sociology, 16 (1986) Francis G. Castles, ‘Barrington Moore’s Thesis and Swedish Political Development’, Government and Opposition, 8 (1973) Brad Delong, ‘Book Review: Growing Public by Peter Lindert’, Journal of Economic History, 67 (2007) Timothy A. Tilton, ‘The Social Origins of Liberal Democracy: The Swedish Case’, American Political Science Review, 68 (1974). Textbooks: Tommy Möller, Svensk politisk historia: Strid och samverkan under tvåhundra år (Lund, 2007), on Swedish political history.

Gøsta Esping-Andersen, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (Princeton, 1990).

Quotation from Jesper Roine and Daniel Waldenström, ‘The Evolution of Top Incomes in an Egalitarian Society: Sweden, 1903–2004’, Journal of Public Economics, 92 (2008), 385. Denmark and Norway: Anthony B. Atkinson and Jakob Egholt Søgaard, ‘The Long-Run History of Income Inequality in Denmark’, The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 118 (2016) Rolf Aaberge, Anthony B. Atkinson and Jørgen Modalsli, ‘On the Measurement of Long-Run Income Inequality: Empirical Evidence from Norway, 1875–2013’, Statistics Norway, Research Department Discussion Papers (Oslo, 2016).

Compare Eley’s argument against the German Sonderweg thesis, on the need to redirect focus from the long run to more short-term causes of the fascist disaster. David Blackbourn and Geoff Eley, The Peculiarities of German History: Bourgeois Society and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Germany (Oxford, 1984), 154.

Bo Rothstein and Eric M. Uslaner, ‘All for All: Equality, Corruption, and Social Trust’, World Politics, 58 (2005), 57.

Barrington Moore, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (Boston, 1966). ‘The farmers held the line’: Castles, ‘Barrington Moore’s Thesis’, 327 compare 330. Tilton, ‘Social Origins of Liberal Democracy’.

Janken Myrdal, Jordbruket under feodalismen 1000–1700 (Stockholm, 1999), 334 Carl-Johan Gadd, Den agrara revolutionen 1700–1870 (Stockholm, 2000), 17. Like Tilton, the otherwise excellent Dietrich Rueschemeyer, Evelyne Huber Stephens and John D. Stephens, Capitalist Development and Democracy (Cambridge, 1994), 93, rely on modernization theorists’ descriptions from the 1950s, which leads to an underestimation of the nobles.

Tilton, ‘Social Origins of Liberal Democracy’, 565.

Perry Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State (London, 1974), ch. 7. In comparative political economy, the independent peasantry likewise puts Scandinavia on its special course. See, for example, the analysis of Peter J. Katzenstein, Small States in World Markets: Industrial Policy in Europe (Ithaca, NY, 1985), 35, 140–3, 157–9. Katzenstein, who cites Tilton on the allegedly weak nobility in Sweden, claims that ‘The absence of a strong feudal tradition is equally striking in Scandinavia’ (p. 159).

Quotations from Øystein Sørensen and Bo Stråth (eds.), The Cultural Construction of Norden (Oslo, 1997), 1 (editors’ intro.). For similar analyses, influenced by Sørensen and Stråth, see Niels Kayser Nielsen, Bonde, stat og hjem: Nordisk demokrati og nationalisme — fra pietismen til 2. verdenskrig (Aarhus, 2008) Niels Finn Christiansen and Pirjo Markkola, ‘Introduction’, in Christiansen et al. (eds.) The Nordic Model of Welfare: A Historical Reappraisal (Copenhagen, 2006). For an early formulation of the Sonderweg analysis, see Bo Stråth, ‘Continuity and Discontinuity in Passing Front I and II. Swedish 19th Century Civil Society: Culture, Social Formations and Political Change’, in Stråth (ed.), Democratisation in Scandinavia in Comparison (Gothenburg, 1988). Åmark’s critical comments attached to Stråth’s chapter in many ways accord with the argument of this article. Stråth has reiterated the Sonderweg analysis in ‘Nordic Modernity: Origins, Trajectories and Prospects’, Thesis Eleven, 77 (2004).

Lars Trägårdh, ‘Statist Individualism: On the Culturality of the Nordic Welfare State’, in Sørensen and Stråth (eds.), Cultural Construction of Norden, 258, 259.

Eva Österberg, ‘Bönder och centralmakt i det tidigmoderna Sverige: Konflikt — kompromiss — politisk kultur’, Scandia, 55 (1989) ‘Fredliga Moder Svea — socio-politiskt våld och den svenska modellen’, in Österberg (ed.), Socialt och politiskt våld: Perspektiv på svensk historia (Lund, 2002). Followers: Peter Aronsson, Bönder gör politik: Det lokala självstyret som social arena i tre smålandssocknar, 1680–1850 (Lund, 1992) Mathias Cederholm, De värjde sin rätt: Senmedeltida bondemotstånd i Skåne och Småland (Lund, 2007). For a recent discussion of Österberg’s argument, see Mats Hallenberg and Johan Holm, Man ur huse: Hur krig, upplopp och förhandlingar påverkade svensk statsbildning i tidigmodern tid (Lund, 2016). Hallenberg and Holm support Österberg’s argument in showing the importance of negotiations between rulers and subjects in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but also show the limitations of the argument by showing the lack of political opportunities for propertyless groups, and the recurring conflicts between the proletarians and the state as well as the farmers.

Börje Harnesk, ‘Den svenska modellens tidigmoderna rötter?’, Historisk tidskrift, 122 (2002) Hilson, ‘A Consensual Democracy?’ Martin Linde, I fädrens spår? Bönder och överhet i Dalarna under 1700-talet (Hedemora, 2009).

Myrdal, Jordbruket under feodalismen, 93–7.

Janken Myrdal and Mats Morell (eds.), The Agrarian History of Sweden: 4000 bc to ad 2000 (Lund, 2011), Statistical Appendix. It must be stressed that the household statistic is patriarchal in the sense that it is heads of household who are counted. In other words, lodgers, servants and other landless workers who lived in the household of a farmer are not counted. For this reason, the degree of proletarianization is much underestimated, which has been highlighted by recent local studies. Tommy Bengtsson and Martin Dribe, ‘New Evidence on the Standard of Living in Sweden during the 18th and 19th Centuries’ (Lund, 2002) Riikka Miettinen and Jonas Lindström, ‘The Livelihood Tactics of the Landless in the Early Modern Swedish Countryside’ (mimeo, Tampere and Uppsala, 2017).

Mary Wollstonecraft, ‘Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark’, Letter III. Available at <https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/wollstonecraft/mary/w864l/letter3.html> (accessed 30 May 2017).

Christer Lundh, ‘The Social Mobility of Servants in Rural Sweden, 1740–1894’, Continuity and Change, 14 (1999) Carolina Uppenberg, ‘The Servant Institution during the Swedish Agrarian Revolution: The Political Economy of Subservience’, in Jane Whittle (ed.) Servants in Rural Europe 1400–1900 (Woodbridge, 2017).

Theresa Johnsson, Vårt fredliga samhälle: “Lösdriveri” och försvarslöshet i Sverige under 1830-talet (Uppsala, 2016), 14, 16.

Andreas Tjerneld, Från borgarståndets storhetstid: Statsbudgeten som partiskiljande fråga i den sena ståndsriksdagen (Stockholm, 1983).

As in Alestalo and Kuhnle, ‘Scandinavian Route’ Anderson, Lineages, ch. 7 Castles, ‘Barrington Moore’s Thesis’ Tilton, ‘Social Origins’.

Kalle Bäck, Bondeopposition och bondeinflytande under frihetstiden: Centralmakten och östgötaböndernas reaktioner i näringspolitiska frågor (Stockholm, 1984) Göran B. Nilsson, ‘Svensk liberalism vid mitten av 1800-talet’, in Steven Koblik (ed.), Från fattigdom till överflöd (Stockholm, 1973) Torbjörn Nilsson, Elitens svängrum: Första kammaren, staten och moderniseringen 1867–1886 (Stockholm, 1994). Primitive farmers: Anders Claréus, ‘Primitiva bönder? Något om allmogens syn på statsmakt, politik och nation under 1700-talet’, in Åsa Karlsson and Bo Lindberg (eds.), Nationalism och nationell identitet i 1700-talets Sverige (Uppsala, 2002) compare historiographical comments in Joakim Scherp, De ofrälse och makten: En institutionell studie av riksdagen och de ofrälse ståndens politik i maktdelningsfrågor 1660–1682 (Stockholm, 2013), 19–25.

Erland Alexandersson, Bondeståndet i riksdagen 1760–1772 (Lund, 1975), 70–6 Per Hultqvist, Riksdagsopinionen och ämbetsmannaintressena: Från representationsreformen till 1880-talets början (Gothenburg, 1954) Jan Christensen, Bönder och herrar: Bondeståndet i 1840-talets liberala representationsdebatt. Exemplen Gustaf Hierta och JP Theorell (Gothenburg, 1997).

Christensen, Bönder och herrar, 278–81, 293–4. On Swedish nineteenth-century liberalism and the relative importance of urban liberals and farmers, see also Kayser Nielsen, Bonde, stat og hjem, 193.

Erik Bengtsson et al., ‘The Wealth of the Richest: Inequality and the Nobility, 1750–1900’, Lund Papers in Economic History, no. 161 (Lund, 2017).

Sten Carlsson, Ståndssamhälle och ståndspersoner 1700–1865: Studier rörande det svenska ståndssamhällets upplösning (2nd edn, Lund, 1973) Göran Norrby, Adel i förvandling: Adliga strategier och identiteter i 1800-talets borgerliga samhälle (Uppsala, 2005), 309 Christer Winberg, Grenverket: Studier rörande jord, släktskapssystem och ståndsprivilegier (Stockholm, 1985), 164–82, 200.

Other land: Norrby, Adel i förvandling, 74–5 Göran Ulväng, ‘Betydelsen av att äga en herrgård: Herrgårdar, ståndsgårdar och gods i Uppsala län under 1700- och 1800-talen’, Historisk Tidskrift för Finland, 98 (2013). Continued over-representation: Gregory Clark, The Son Also Rises (Princeton, 2014), ch. 2. Against Whig history: Bengtsson et al., ‘The Wealth of the Richest’.

For elaboration of the analysis, see Bengtsson et al., ‘Wealth Inequality in Sweden’.

Möller, Svensk politisk historia, 34.

Dankwart A. Rustow, The Politics of Compromise: A Study of Parties and Cabinet Government in Sweden (reprint, New York, 1969), 23.

On Denmark, see Kaspar Hvidt, Danmarks historie 1850–1900: Det folkelige gennembrud og dets mænd (Copenhagen, 1990), 55–63.

On continuity, see Harald Gustafsson, Nordens historia: En europeisk region under 1200 år (Lund, 1997), 205. On the ‘society-preserving reform’, see Göran B. Nilsson, ‘Den samhällsbevarande representationsreformen’, Scandia (1969).

For the general picture, see Per Hultqvist, Försvar och skatter: Studier i svensk riksdagspolitik från representationsreformen till kompromissen 1873 (Gothenburg, 1955), 126. For Posse, see Einar D. Mellquist, Rösträtt efter förtjänst? Rösträttsdebatten om den kommunala rösträtten i Sverige 1862–1900 (Stockholm, 1974), 218.

Mellquist, Rösträtt efter förtjänst?, 9. In contrast to the very stark political inequality of the late nineteenth century discussed here, Erik Örjan Emilsson, Sweden and the European Miracles: Conquest, Growth and Voice (Gothenburg, 1996), 16, points out that in 1809, 13 per cent of the adult population could vote to parliament, while the corresponding figure for the USA in 1820 was less than 8 and for Britain before 1831 less than 4. In other words, Sweden’s position in the franchise table might have drastically changed during the nineteenth century. This could be discussed together with the fact, as shown in Figure 2, that wealth inequality increased dramatically from 1800 to 1900.

Peter H. Lindert, ‘The Rise of Social Spending, 1880–1930’, Explorations in Economic History, 31 (1994).

Hans Lindblad, Karl Staaff: Försvaret och demokratin (Stockholm, 2015), 69.

Göran Norrby, Ordnade eliter: Organiseringen av Nordens statsbärande skikt 1660–1920 (Stockholm, 2011), 246–7.

Information about the occupations of prime ministers in Sweden and Denmark, and their fathers, is taken from Wikipedia: <https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sveriges_statsminister> and <https://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danske_statsministre>. Corresponding information for Norway is from the Norwegian Centre for Research Data’s Archive of Politicians since 1814: <http://www.nsd.uib.no/polsys/>.

Rune Bokholm, Kungen av Skåne: En bok om statsmannen Arvid Posse (Lund, 1998), 144–7.

Rueschemeyer, Huber Stephens and Stephens, Capitalist Development and Democracy, referring to Seymour Martin Lipset and Stein Rokkan ‘Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments: An Introduction’, in Lipset and Rokkan (eds.), Party Systems and Voter Alignments (New York, 1967). Agrarian interests and parties are given prominent roles in the creation of the welfare state in influential research such as Peter Baldwin, The Politics of Social Solidarity: Class Bases of the European Welfare State 1875–1975 (Cambridge, 1990) and Asbjørn Sonne Nørgaard, ‘Party Politics and the Organization of the Danish Welfare State, 1890–1920: The Bourgeois Roots of the Modern Welfare State’, Scandinavian Political Studies, 23 (2000). With this in mind, the peculiar role of the Swedish agrarian party is puzzling and worthy of further investigation.

Edvard Thermænius, Lantmannapartiet: Dess uppkomst, organisation och tidigare utveckling (Uppsala, 1928) Hultqvist, Försvar och skatter.

On the increasing conservatism of the farmers, see Mellquist, Rösträtt efter förtjänst?, 159, 174, 178 on the suffrage question, and Sten Carlsson, Lantmannapolitiken och industrialismen (Stockholm, 1953) for a comprehensive treatment. On the suffrage movement and its character, see Torbjörn Vallinder, I kamp för demokratin. Rösträttsrörelsen i Sverige 1866–1902 (Stockholm, 1962), 248, 274.

Rustow, The Politics of Compromise, 41.

As is shown in new empirical research by myself and Mats Olsson. We show that the wealth of farmer parliamentarians was about four times larger than that of average farmers, and in the 1890s even nine to ten times larger. Bengtsson and Olsson, ‘Peasant Aristocrats? Inequality between Peasant Parliamentarians and their Voters in Sweden, 1769–1895’, Lund Papers in Economic History, no. 175 (Lund, 2018).

Henrik Stenius ‘The Breakthrough of the Principle of Mass Organization in Finland’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 5 (1980). Compare Risto Alapuro, State and Revolution in Finland (Berkeley, 1988), 101–2, 105–7.

Svante Nycander, Makten över arbetsmarknaden: Ett perspektiv på Sveriges 1900-tal (Stockholm, 2008), uses a Swedish–US comparison to make the argument that the Swedish state early on was friendly to the labour movement. However, in comparison with the USA, as Robin Archer, Why Is There No Labor Party in the United States? (Princeton, 2008), makes clear, any west European state would seem labour-friendly c.1900.

Ragnar Casparsson, LO: Bakgrund, utveckling, verksamhet (Stockholm, 1966). Mackmyra: 88–92. Åkarpslagen: 149.

Jonas Ljungberg, ‘The Impact of the Great Emigration on the Swedish Economy’, Scandinavian Economic History Review, 45 (1997) Mounir Karadja and Erik Prawitz, ‘Exit, Voice and Political Change: Evidence from Swedish Mass Migration to the United States’, forthcoming in Journal of Political Economy.

Compare Bo Stråth, Sveriges historia 1830–1920 (Stockholm, 2012), 292–309. On the ‘social question’ in Sweden, see Per Wisselgren, Samhällets kartläggare: Lorénska stiftelsen, den sociala frågan och samhällsvetenskapens formering 1830–1920 (Stockholm/Stehag, 2000), esp. 31–5.

Roine and Waldenström, ‘Evolution of Top Incomes’.

War and regulation: Piketty, Capital. Trade unions: Erik Bengtsson, ‘Labour’s Share in Twentieth-Century Sweden: A Reinterpretation’, Scandinavian Economic History Review, 62 (2014).

Walter Korpi, The Democratic Class Struggle (London, 1983) Gøsta Esping-Andersen, Politics against Markets: The Social Democratic Road to Power (Princeton, 1985).

In historical institutionalist parlance, this could be called a sequencing argument. Compare Kathleen Thelen, ‘Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Politics’, Annual Review of Political Science, 2 (1999), 389.

Madeleine Hurd, Public Spheres, Public Mores, and Democracy: Hamburg and Stockholm, 1870–1914 (Ann Arbor, 2000). Small-folk alliance: 270. Socialist–Liberal alliance: 235.

Sheri Berman, ‘Path Dependency and Political Action: Reexamining Responses to the Depression’, Comparative Politics, 30 (1998), 381–2.

Sven Lundkvist, Folkrörelserna i det svenska samhället 1850–1920 (Stockholm, 1977).

Although the connection between non-conformist religion and liberal politics is well known in the English case that is, D. W. Bebbington, ‘Nonconformity and Electoral Sociology, 1867–1918’, The Historical Journal, 27 (1984).

Sven Lundkvist, Politik, nykterhet och reformer: En studie i folkrörelsernas politiska verksamhet 1900–1920 (Uppsala, 1974), 36–45. See also Göran Therborn, ‘ “Pillarization” and “Popular Movements”. Two Variants of Welfare State Capitalism: The Netherlands and Sweden’ in Francis G. Castles (ed.), The Comparative History of Public Policy (Cambridge, 1989), 198. As Rueschemeyer, Huber Stephens and Stephens, Capitalist Development, 94, point out, the free churches’ opposition to the State Church in Sweden and the Church of England played very similar roles in Swedish and English society. It would also be interesting to compare Swedish and Dutch popular mobilization Therborn provides a sketch of such a comparison.

Lundkvist, Folkrörelserna i det svenska samhället. ‘Citizen school’: 203–12. MPs: 175–7.

Rueschemeyer, Huber Stephens and Stephens, Capitalist Development and Democracy, 50, 274.

Lundkvist, Politik, nykterhet och reformer, 44–5.

Vallinder, I kamp för demokratin, 90, 202.

Vernon L. Lidtke, The Alternative Culture: Socialist Labor in Imperial Germany (Oxford, 1985), 17.

On the centrality of the tavern in the German labour movement culture, see Lidtke, Alternative Culture James S. Roberts, ‘Drink and the Labour Movement: The Schnaps Boycott of 1909’, in Richard J. Evans (ed.), The German Working Class 1888–1933: The Politics of Everyday Life (London, 1982).

Anders Kjellberg, Facklig organisering i tolv länder (Lund, 1983).

John D. Stephens, ‘Class Formation and Class Consciousness: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Reference to Britain and Sweden’, British Journal of Sociology, 30 (1979), 407–8, compares the frequency of reading labour movement-sympathizing newspapers in the British and the Swedish working class in the 1970s, and finds that Swedes indeed were much more likely to read a socialist-friendly newspaper. This led according to Stephens to stronger class consciousness in Sweden.

Distribution: Eley, Forging Democracy, 44. Career ladder: Petra Pauli, Rörelsens ledare: Karriärvägar och ledarideal I den svenska arbetarrörelsen under 1900-talet (Gothenburg, 2012), 54–6. Party leaders: Kjell Östberg, Byråkrati och reformism: En studie av svensk socialdemokratis politiska och sociala integrering fram till första världskriget (Lund, 1990).

Orderliness: Ronny Ambjörnsson, Den skötsamme arbetaren: Idéer och ideal i ett norrländskt sågverkssamhälle 1880–1930 (Stockholm, 1988). Rowdiness: Lars Magnusson, Den bråkiga kulturen: Förläggare och smideshantverkare i Eskilstuna 1800–1850 (Stockholm, 1988).

Jenny Jansson, Manufacturing Consensus: The Making of the Swedish Reformist Working Class (Uppsala, 2012).

Korpi, Democratic Class Struggle Esping-Andersen, Politics against Markets Jansson, Manufacturing Consensus.

Bo Särlvik, ‘Voting Behavior in Shifting Election Winds’, Scandinavian Political Studies, 5 (1970). Party system: 254. Social Democrats: 256–62.

Own calculations with data from the SNES, Swedish National Election Studies Program. Data available from <https://snd.gu.se/sv/catalogue/series/2>. The project that produces the data is at <http://valforskning.pol.gu.se/english>.

Susan E. Scarrow, ‘Parties Without Members? Party Organization in a Changing Electoral Environment’, in Russell J. Dalton and Martin P. Wattenberg (eds.), Parties Without Partisans: Political Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies (Oxford, 2002), table 5.2.

Maktutredningen, Demokrati och makt i Sverige: Maktutredningens huvudrapport. SOU 1990:44 (Stockholm, 1990), 36.

Guenther Roth, The Social Democrats in Imperial Germany: A Study in Working-Class Isolation and National Integration (Totowa, 1963), 199.

Anders Isaksson, Per Albin, IV: Landsfadern (Stockholm, 2000), 48, 73, 106.

Jens Rydgren, ‘Radical Right Populism in Sweden: Still a Failure, But for How Long?’, Scandinavian Political Studies, 25 (2002). When Rydgren in 2018 revisited the 2002 article, he argued that it was precisely the declining class consciousness and adherence to social democracy of the working class, and the decreasing left–right divide on economic and social policy, which opened up for the radical right in the years since 2002. Jens Rydgren and Sara van der Meiden, ‘The Radical Right and the End of Swedish Exceptionalism’, European Political Science (2018), published online 2 May 2018.

Berman, ‘Path Dependency and Political Action’.

1920s: Rebecca Svensson, När järnarbetare hanterar spaden och målaren knackar makadam: Om arbetslöshetspolitik i en arbetarstyrd kommun, Västerås, under 1920-talets krisår (Uppsala, 2004) and Nils Unga, Socialdemokratin och arbetslöshetsfrågan 1912–34: Framväxten av den ‘nya’ arbetslöshetspolitiken (Lund, 1976). Improvisation: Bo Stråth, Mellan två fonder: LO och den svenska modellen (Stockholm, 1998). Shifting motivation: Jenny Andersson, Mellan tillväxt och trygghet: Idéer om produktiv socialpolitik i socialdemokratisk socialpolitisk ideologi under efterkrigstiden (Uppsala, 2003).

Kautskyan Marxism: Leif Lewin, Planhushållningsdebatten (Stockholm, 1967). Liberal reformism: Herbert Tingsten, Den svenska socialdemokratiens idéutveckling (Stockholm, 1941). Kathedersozialismus: Sten O. Karlsson, Det intelligenta samhället: En omtolkning av socialdemokratins idéhistoria (Stockholm, 2001).

Korpi, Democratic Class Struggle Esping-Andersen, Politics against Markets Luebbert, Liberalism, Fascism, or Social Democracy.

It may be seen as a pre-condition of the alliance that the reformist labour movement, that is, the Social Democrats, were dominant versus the Communist party, which indeed they were. The CP (explicitly communist from 1921 to 1990) never got more than 10.3 per cent of the votes, obtained in 1944 as the Soviet military victories against Nazi Germany gave communism increased prestige. The root cause for the lack of grounding for Swedish communism is the early dominance of the Social Democrats due to the organizational strength established as discussed above. This did not leave much room to the left on the political arena. The Social Democrats were a big tent with a lively left within the party, and at the same time the party vigorously fought the communists (within the trade unions, renters’ organization and on other fronts), both with clean and dirty methods. For the importance of anti-communist campaigns within the trade unions in the late 1920s and early 1930s, see Tom Olsson, Pappersmassestrejken 1932: En studie av facklig ledning och opposition (Lund, 1980) and Bengt Schüllerqvist, Från kosackval till kohandel: SAP:s väg till makten 1928–1933 (Stockholm, 1992). On Social Democratic dominance, see Torsten Svensson, Socialdemokratins dominans: En studie av den svenska socialdemokratins partistrategi (Uppsala, 1994). On anti-communism more generally, see Thomas Kanger and Jonas Gummesson, Kommunistjägarna: Socialdemokraternas politiska spioneri mot svenska folket (Stockholm, 1990). On the manufacturing of a reformist class-consciousness, see Jansson, Manufacturing Consensus. For an insightful and sympathetic analysis of the communists’ double-bind as a junior, completely subordinate partner to the Social Democrats on the domestic arena and the Soviets on the external arena during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, and the attempts to get out of this bind in the 1960s, see Werner Schmidt’s biography of the 1964–75 party leader, C.H. Hermansson: En politisk biografi (Stockholm 2005).

It should be noted that the Farmers’ league (Bondeförbundet) was formed in 1914 the previous Country party (Lantmannapartiet) was dissolved in 1904 when it coalesced with other conservative forces into the Conservative party (Allmänna Valmansförbundet).

Isaksson, Per Albin, IV, 128, 202, 239–45. For the agrarian crisis as a background, see Mats Morell, Jordbruket i industrisamhället (Stockholm, 2001), 157–79.

For the process, and its continuation during the 1930s and 1940s, from a Farmers’ league perspective, see Reine Rydén, Att åka snålskjuts är icke hederligt: De svenska jordbrukarnas organisationsprocess 1880–1947 (Gothenburg, 1998), ch. 9. Rydén, 207, also discusses among other things the fear of Per Albin Hansson that Swedish farmers would turn to fascism if the agrarian crisis was not counteracted by state subsidies. Compare the situation in Norway: Kayser Nielsen, Bonde, stat og hjem, 401–2.

Schüllerqvist, Från kosackval till kohandel, 15.

Lindblad, Karl Staaff, 13–15, 18–22.

Bo Rothstein, Den socialdemokratiska staten: Reformer och förvaltning inom svensk arbetsmarknads- och skolpolitik (Lund, 1986).

Lars G. Sandberg, ‘The Case of the Impoverished Sophisticate: Human Capital and Swedish Economic Growth before World War I’, Journal of Economic History, 39 (1979).

Compare Kjell Östberg, Kommunerna och den svenska modellen: Socialdemokratin och kommunalpolitiken fram till Andra världskriget (Stockholm and Stehag, 1996), 255–7, on the importance of the cadre for political power.

Mats Hallenberg, Kungen, fogdarna och riket: Lokalförvaltning och statsbyggande under tidig Vasatid (Stockholm and Stehag, 2001).

Hugh Heclo, Modern Social Politics in Britain and Sweden. From Relief to Income Maintenance (New Haven, 1974) Rune Premfors, ‘Democratization in Scandinavia: The Case of Sweden’, Score Rapportserie 2003:8 (Stockholm, 2003).

Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (New York, 2010). Compare Korpi, Democratic Class Struggle.

Lundkvist, Politik, nykterhet, och reformer, 373. In 1964 a Christian Democratic party was founded with a strong basis in the free churches, but the role of this party is very different to the political aspects of free churches discussed here.

Ribbing (1816–99) was professor of philosophy in Uppsala from 1850 and MP 1863–72 and 1875–79. Billing (1841–1925) was professor of theology in Lund from 1881, bishop from 1884, and MP 1889–1906 and 1908–12. On Ribbing’s legitimization of the established order, see Hultqvist, Försvar och skatter, 181ff Kilander, Den nya staten och den gamla, 67–8 Mellquist, Rösträtt efter förtjänst?, 89, 178–81 Nilsson, Elitens svängrum, ch. 11. On Billing’s role as the most far-right of the king’s political advisors during the struggles over parliamentarism in the 1910s, see Olle Nyman, Högern och kungamakten 1911–1914: Ur borggårdskrisens förhistoria (Uppsala and Stockholm, 1957), 10–26.

Daniel Ziblatt, Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy (Cambridge, 2017), 82–104 Bebbington, ‘Nonconformity’. On the Netherlands, see Therborn, ‘ “Pillarization” and “Popular Movements” ’.

Johan Söderberg, Civilisering, marknad och våld i Sverige 1750–1870: En regional analys (1993), esp. ch. 6 Arne Jarrick, Den himmelske älskaren (Stockholm, 1987).

On the 1840s and 1850s: Christensen, Bönder och herrar. On 1865–1873: Hultqvist, Försvar och skatter. On the 1870s and 1880s: Hultqvist, Riksdagsopinionen och ämbetsmannaintressena. On the late nineteenth century: Thermaenius, Lantmannapartiet and Carlsson, Lantmannapolitiken och industrialismen. The research literature on the Farmers’ league in the 1910s is strikingly weak Yngve Mohlin, Bondepartiet och det moderna samhället 1914–1936 (Umeå, 1989) is a mechanically quantitative investigation of electoral support that yields very little understanding of the new party’s character and role in Swedish society at the time. The literature on the party and the farmers’ organizations more generally during the Great Depression is richer: Rydén, Att åka snålskjuts and Per Thullberg, Bönder går samman (Stockholm, 1977) are two interesting studies.

David Östlund, Det sociala kriget och kapitalets ansvar: Social ingenjörskonst mellan affärsintresse och samhällsreform i USA och Sverige 1899–1914 (Stockholm, 2003) Henrik Björck, Folkhemsbyggare (2008) Wisselgren, Samhällets kartläggare.

Of course, this argument is influenced by Hurd, Public Spheres. Christer Skoglund, Vita mössor under röda fanor: Vänsterstudenter, kulturradikalism och bikldningsideal i Sverige 1880–1940 (Stockholm, 1991) provides an interesting study of the leftward drift of students and academics from the 1880s to the 1940s.

Nilsson, ‘Den samhällsbevarande representatitonsreformen’.

Kayser Nielsen, Bonde, stat og hjem, ch. 5 compares the constitutional evolution of the four Nordic countries in the nineteenth century, but does not advance any explanation of the differences in the pace of reform.

As described by Berggren and Trägårdh in Är svensken människa?, 44.

Kenneth Nelson, ‘Lower Unemployment Benefits and Old-Age Pensions is a Major Setback in Social Policy’, Sociologisk Forskning, 54 (2017), 290.


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