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By Richard E. Frankel

This publication reveals a desirable phenomenon of German political culture--the elevation of a political determine to the extent of a demi-god and the consequences of such deification at the process German politics in the course of the first 1/2 the 20th century. respected in the course of his lifetime, Bismarck turned the item of an avid political following after his loss of life. Frankel examines how definite ritual practices and a specific ancient knowing created, in impact, a Bismarckian cult. He argues that the consequences of this weren't basically cultural. They carried throughout to political perform, contributing to the right's innovative radicalization from the flip of the century via to the triumph of the Nazis. crucial analyzing for someone drawn to Bismarck, twentieth-century German historical past, or Hitler's upward thrust to energy, Bismarck's Shadow sheds new mild on German political tradition and the advance of nationwide Socialism.

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Additional resources for Bismarck's shadow: the cult of leadership and the transformation of the German right, 1898-1945

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As some of the most vocal claimants to his legacy, they were to have a sizable influence over the nature and uses of the legend. 69 It was formed primarily by those ‘new men’ who stood outside the traditional bounds of the politics of notables. 71 One such figure was Heinrich Class. Born in 1868 to a middle-class family in Hesse, Class’s formative years were spent in the period after unification, during Bismarck’s twenty years as chancellor. 72 Like Diederich Hahn, Class not only espoused a virulent antiSemitism, but also found in Bismarck the ultimate symbol which gave meaning to his politics.

In May 1891 Holstein wrote to the Kaiser’s best friend, Philipp Eulenburg, about his concern over the fate of Helldorff, the moderate DKP leader and Caprivi supporter who, at the time, was being attacked by the Hammerstein/Stöcker wing of the party. “Helldorff is being pursued with the most extreme bitterness by the followers of Bismarck,” he wrote, “because of his relation to the Kaiser. ”86 Such concerns were heightened following the Hammerstein/Stöcker wing’s victory at the Conservative Party’s Tivoli congress in 1892, which introduced more demagogic, anti-Semitic features into the party program.

Bismarck’s dismissal and the failure to institutionalize his charisma thus opened a space in Germany’s political landscape for a right-wing national opposition to take root. As nationalists began claiming Bismarck as their inspiration, they gradually acquired the legitimacy that his name provided. In the struggle between the government and the national opposition to define the nation, having the force of Bismarck behind them gave radical nationalists a significant weapon. These two groups would spend the remaining years of the empire fighting for control of this critical national icon.

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