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The myth of a Liberation War? Anti-Napoleonic Wars in Germany (1806-1815) in researches of modern German historians

Journal: Studia Humanitatis (Vol.2017, No. 2)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 2-2

Keywords : Wars of Liberation; historiography; Prussia; House of Hohenzollern; House of Wittelsbach; German national idea; religious patriotism; Landwehr; Prussian Reform Movement; Confederation of the Rhine;

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The article analyses the recent German historiography on the problem of the Liberation Wars (1806-1815). The author points out the fact that since the early 1970s the German scholars tend to revise the conventional conception of the Liberation Wars which was created by the Prussian School of History in the second half of the 19th century. First of all, certain doubts have been expressed about the existence of a centralized popular Anti-Napoleonic movement in the German lands. The latest studies on that subject have proved that the struggle against Napoleon and the French occupation was the work of the elites not of average people. In the second place, the thesis of the “historical mission of Prussia” has been completely rejected by the German historians. The closer look at the Prussian sources has revealed that in the years of the French domination the Prussian political elites were elaborating on the concept of the Prussian nation which in some ways competed with the German national idea. Moreover, the Prussian government had no intention to unite the whole Germany under the Prussian rule. Consequently the Wars of Liberation cannot be viewed as a uniform German phenomenon, let alone as a key event of the German national history. The diverse experience of separate German states (Bavaria, Baden, Württemberg, Saxony, and Westphalia) doesn't allow us to define the Liberation Wars as a necessary condition for building of the German nation. For the reasons given above the modern German historians claim that the period of 1806-1815 requires certain revising and reconsideration.

Last modified: 2017-07-08 05:34:24