A Basic History of Germany
by Lowenstein, Hubertus zu (1906-1984)
pub by - Inter Nationes, Bonn, Germany, 1965 - (copyright 1964 by Verlag Heinrich Scheffler, Frankfurt) - - isbn -none- - - LCCN = 67-006896 - - Index (names) p. 186-192 - - 192 p.
The author is properly known as Prince Hubertus Friedrich zu Lowenstein. It seems he is royalty. He was born in Germany before WWI and was somewhat active in what might be called Good Government. He was at odds with Hitler and as soon as Hitler established his rule, in 1933, Lowenstein fled Germany and came to live in USA. After WWII he returned to Germany and assisted in re-setting up civilian government.
This book is not an easy read. The attitude of the author shows his European heritage, and is sometimes difficult for a modern American to fully appreciate. I read it to understand my ancestors and why they decicided to come to America. One side of the family in about 1848 (when there was a revolution and lot of unrest in Germany) and the other side of the family in 1888, (Kulturkampf) another time when there was a lot of political unrest in Germany. There is explaination of the situations which caused people to want to leave at that time.
This book was meant to be a short history of Germany, mostly defined as those who share a culture and language as there was no such country as Germany until fairly modern times. The book begins in Roman times and the civilization Rome brought to the Germans. Then continues on through the history of the Holy Roman Empire, when the Emperor was often what would now be called German. The book continues up to the date of its publication in 1965 and the German nation re-constituted after WWII, but divided between those parts held by the western powers (USA, England and France) and the part occupied by communist USSR.
Lowenstein is proud of the fact that the German Holy Roman Emperors saved central-eastern Europe for Christianity when there were rather several incursions from the East, from pre-Christian forces and later defending from Turkish and other Islamic invasion.
He explains and lists all the twists and turns of leadership change and various hostilities. It is largely a political and diplomatic. Germany is sandwiched between two strong empires... France and Rusia. Constant struggle between them and the smaller neighboring states seems to have been the norm.
About in the middle of the book the Hapsburg (Habsburg) family features prominently. Earlier the Hohenzollern dynasty is featured. In each case some leaders are stronger and some weaker. Several persons who were trusted ministers made great strides in political growth, such as Heinrich F. K Stein (1757-1831) whose political ideas were liberal and of great benefit to the common man, long before WWI. For instancd servitude (feudal concept) was abolished in 1807. The idea of having a constitution which would limit the power of the monarch was considered.
There is considerable discussion of the Napoleonic period and how it affected Germany.
I am surprised that he did not provide much description of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871 when Prussian and oter German forces vanquished France.
One thing that surprised me was that there was early support for the -proletarate- defined as the working class which did not own property, such as tradesmen and factory workers. In 1881 Bismark recommended legislation to set up insurance against sickness, invalidsim, old age, and accident, a scheme well ahead of the current Social Security system in USA. Of course it was partially to fend off the effects of Karl Marx and Fredrich Engles communist thought and writings. In 1839 again in 1853 child labor in some forms was banned. Also the industrial code of 1891 insisted on safety devices to all branches of industry.
Lowenstein describes the rise of Hitler and the National Socialist (Nazi) party in some detail as well as their activities up to the beginning of WWII. Then the book describes the era immediately after WWII in some detail, re-constructing the modern German State.
Read this book to have an understanding of central European and German history written from the perspective of a native, definetly not an American, and not an Englishman. It that it is refreshing, though a heavy read. This book has no maps or illustrations. It would be well served with the inclusion of maps. It would also be better served with an index of wars, concepts etc. expanding the more simple index of names.
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