GERMANY 1866-1945 by Gordon A. Craig
Kirkus Star

GERMANY 1866-1945

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Gordon Craig, eminent for several distinguished books including The Politics of the Prussian Army 1640-1945 (1955), has now written a magisterial history of Germany from Prussia's 1866 triumph over Austria at KÖniggrÖtz to the harrowing destruction of the Third Reich in 1945. Not surprisingly, his story focuses in large measure upon the two dominating personalities of the period: Bismarck, the ""great star"" whose genius and penetration are undeniable, but whose achievement ""had its 'night side' as well as its 'day side,'"" and Adolf Hitler, who, unlike the Iron Chancellor, was ""sui generis a force without a real historical past. . . ."" Professor Craig agrees with Ralf Dahrendorf (Society and Democracy in Germany) that, paradoxically, it was precisely because he lacked roots in German tradition that Hitler could destroy the major obstacle to Germany's progress towards a liberal modernity--""the conservative-militaristic concern that had dominated politics in the Wilhelmine period, done everything possible to shorten the life of the Weimar Republic, and elevated him to power in 1933."" The concentration on these two figures in no way represents a failure to appreciate institutional, economic, and social factors in German development. A major part of the story--the place and treatment of women under the Empire, Weimar, and Hitler--receives a long overdue coherent treatment as do the important subjects of religion and education. Professor Craig (J. E. Wallace Sterling Professor of the Humanities, Stanford) displays an equally keen appreciation of the role of culture. In particular, he forcefully portrays the flight from political responsibility which was characteristic of most artists and intellectuals under the Empire and which marred the splendid cultural achievements of Weimar as well. The combination of Craig's learning with his graceful and lucid style has yielded a work of historical synthesis more readable and far better organized than any other book of comparable scope.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1978
ISBN: 0195027248
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press