Continuing the changes we made to the Fall 1999 Bulletin, this issue features substantive scholarly contributions. With the new GHI Bulletin we aim not only to report on the Institute's activities, such as conferences, workshops, lectures, and scholarship programs, but also to provide a forum for the publication of papers and talks delivered at a variety of GHI events. We hope that these changes will make this publication more attractive to our readers.

The Spring 2000 issue highlights the 1999 Annual Lecture delivered by Mary Fulbrook, London, with a comment by Konrad H. Jarausch, Chapel Hill and Potsdam. Professor Fulbrook lectured on methodological questions and issues in postwar German historiography. She argued the case for a middle ground between postmodernist and more traditional views in the writing of history, whereas Professor Jarausch presented a critique of Fulbrook's ideas, from a modified postmodern perspective.

The second major feature is an article on the Abraham Lincoln Stiftung by Malcolm Richardson, a member of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the White House Millennium Council. First delivered as a paper at a GHI workshop, this essay presents original research on a German organization funded with Rockefeller Foundation money in the late 1920s and 1930s. The Lincoln Stiftung was created to promote democratic ideas among a younger generation of German educators. The comments of Eckhardt Fuchs (GHI) situate Richardson's groundbreaking work within a broader historical framework.

Third, we are pleased to include in this issue an interview with Hans-Ulrich Wehler on the occasion of his honorary membership in the American Historical Association (AHA) in January 2000.

Also included is a report on the farewell event held for Detlef Junker, who left Washington in September 1999 after five successful years as director of the Institute. During his tenure Professor Junker established the German-American Center for Visiting Scholars (GACVS) on the fourth floor of the GHI building, which has attracted dozens of historians and social scientists from Germany and North America. The Center supports advanced research and networking in a variety of fields, fosters the development of German-American academic cooperation, and aids scholars in their pursuit of doctoral and postdoctoral studies. Next to his contribution to the founding of the GACVS, Dr. Junker was the driving force behind the Cold War History Project, which has gathered together the views of over one hundred and thirty scholars to reflect on political, social, cultural, and economic aspects of the German-American relationship between 1945 and 1990. This project will come to fruition in the publication of two two-volume editions, one in German, one in English, that are expected to appear in 2000­1. Professor Junker returned to Heidelberg University to assume a prestigious endowed chair in North American history, leaving behind an excellent staff and working atmosphere that has enabled the Institute to continue its work during this period without a permanent director.

Washington, D.C. Christof Mauch

March 2000 

  • Fact, Fantasy, and German History

    Mary Fulbrook

    I start with a conundrum: For most laypeople, history is concerned with telling the truth about the past: countering propaganda, myth, and legend with an honest, objective, unbiased attempt to tell it "as it really was" (or, to use the famous Rankean dictum, wie es eigentlich gewesen). For most lay visitors to historical museums and exhibitions, or lay viewers of television documentaries, or if there still are any lay readers of academic history books, there is an implicit assumption that what they are consuming is an accurate representation of some facet of the past as it actually happened. But even the briefest glance at the last ten or fifteen years of historical controversy and theoretical debate will suffice to show that this confidence in the objective representation of past reality is not shared by large numbers of academic historians. Quite the opposite, in fact: Reading some historians, particularly those engaged more with theory than practice, one might gain the impression that history is just another form of fiction; reading others, one might suppose that history is essentially a form of politics (even warfare) by other means.

    Here I introduce some of the elements of skepticism that - although far from new - have in part been brought to a head by recent debates. I shall argue that an "appeal to the facts" is not an adequate solution to the postmodernist challenge: There is no way that allegedly "traditional" empiricist notions of history can be salvaged (even if one could find any real historians to stand in for the strawmen who are often lampooned by postmodernists). Nor do we need to take postmodernist refuge in "celebrating" history as fantasy or diversity of equally plausible fantasies between which we cannot make a rational choice. Instead of resting content with analyzing the polarization between those who reiterate that the past is out there, what really happened, and those who look at the gap between that past and our capacity to know it in the present, I suggest ways of bridging this gap. I shall try to rescue some notion of historical truth or at least argue the case for spending our time trying to talk sense about the past, rather than nonsense about the impossibility of knowing the past.1 I do this with particular reference to that most controversial of histories - the "past that will not pass away," characterized by more-or-less perpetual disagreement about the often disagreeable namely, German history.

    The Problem: Facts and Geschichtsbilder

    To the layperson, what distinguishes history from fiction is that while fiction can create figments of the imagination, history must be based on facts that are true. For some historians or historical theorists influenced by postmodernism, this distinction has collapsed.

    Because postmodernism seems currently to be widely perceived as the major challenge to the practice of history as the pursuit of the truth about the past, we must clarify the nature of the beast.2

    How should we define postmodernism? For some postmodernists, it simply is our contemporary condition, the nature of the age in which we live. As one particularly extreme exponent puts it, "postmodernity is not an 'ideology' or a position we can choose to subscribe to or not; postmodernity is precisely our condition: it is our fate."3 Whether one accepts this claim or not (and I do not), there clearly is an element of all-pervading zeitgeist: In the latter quarter of the twentieth century, in a wide range of endeavors, there was what might be characterized as an aura of uncertainty, but not necessarily pessimism; the rejection of old (Enlightenment) certainties about progress, understanding, and control, of single truths and definitive accounts, was often associated with a celebration of multiple perspectives, of the simultaneity of the nonsimultaneous, or a reveling in the free play of the imagination. As far as the discipline of history is concerned, however, there are some far more specific things that can be said.

    Postmodernism essentially is a theoretical development (or perhaps better, fashion) of the last few decades that has restated an age-old skepticism about the possibility of historical knowledge.4 Postmodernist challenges to what might be called empiricist, or traditional, views of history range from the less to the more skeptical, and are rooted in a variety of philosophical positions.5 I want here to focus particularly on two major lines of attack that have been mounted on what are assumed to be "traditional" or "empiricist" notions of history as a craft designed to uncover the truth about the past.6

    One line of attack, exemplified by F. R. Ankersmit, Keith Jenkins, and to a somewhat lesser extent Patrick Joyce, focuses on the impossibility of ever gaining real access to a real past.7 There is no unmediated "reality"; all we have are Derridean texts commenting on texts, discourse layered on discourse. Because there is no way that unmediated access to a real past can serve to assist in adjudication between competing accounts of the same historical phenomenon, different representations can only be judged on aesthetic or political grounds. In this view, history functions as a substitute for, rather than an attempt at faithful (if partial) representation of, the past. This version thus collapses history into art or politics (or both).

    The other line of attack does not dispute the reality of the pastor at least the reality of surviving traces of a real past but rather focuses on the imaginative ways in which these surviving traces are actively selected, combined, and shaped by the historian to produce an essentially imagined account in the present. The classic exponent of this point of view is of course Hayden White, with his notion of "emplotment."8 White claims that stories are not simply "given" in the past, to be "discovered" by historians, but rather are imposed on selected tidbits the flotsam and jetsam, the floating debris of the past to construct a narrative that is more akin to the work of a novelist than a scientist. This version, then, collapses history into a form of creative literature.

    Irritating though this sort of relativism, verging in some cases on nihilism, may be for practicing historians, there are as yet no fully adequate responses.9 Little light is shed on fundamental theoretical problems by didactic primers on "the historical method" (source criticism, etc.), such as that by John Tosh (who remains remarkably unperturbed by the postmodernist challenge, classifying it merely as yet another "new approach").10 A theoretically more sophisticated attempt to rescue some notion of "telling the truth" about the past by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob ends up providing a somewhat Whiggish overview (and implicit celebration) of the development of a diversity of voices, failing to address questions of mutual incompatibility, a topic to which I return subsequently.11 An "appeal to the facts" is often used to argue the case for an empirically rooted history that is true. Richard Evans, for example, enters a plea against confusing the bigotry of Holocaust denial with real scholarship, irrespective of a formally comparable scholarly apparatus that serves to create the "reality effect." And in the somewhat different case of David Abraham's interpretation of the Weimar Republic, Evans points out that there appeared to be a broad consensus irrespective of theoretical or political persuasion concerning what is held to constitute "sloppy scholarship."12

    The facts of the matter clearly are important.13 Consider the case of "Binjamin Wilkomirski" (or Bruno Grosjean), whose claim to be a child survivor of Auschwitz has been challenged. The argument hinges on the question of whether his best-selling account, Fragments, is true or not; even those now convinced of its fraudulence concede that it is a moving read, a potential "classic" of Holocaust literature.14 It thus is not so much the reality effect which clearly is something of a success but rather the claim of authenticity that is at stake here. The identity of the author, in other words, mattersand we read the book in a different way, depending on whether we think it is genuine autobiography (and hence authentic historical witness) or realistic novel (the accuracy of which can be tested against some model of what the experience of a child survivor would "really" have been like).

    The general point is that we do appear to share very widely accepted conceptions of factual truth and falsity; but, important though this is, it is not an answer (or at least not a complete answer) to the postmodernist case. Most paid-up postmodernists would in any event agree that it is possible to make singular statements about the past that are true (or not, as the case may be); strung together in chronological order, they make up what White has identified as annals and chronicles. He focuses rather on what is subsequently done to these discrete facts in order creatively to transform them into (an invented) historical narrative. And even those postmodernists who wish to suggest there is an impenetrable veil over the "real" past and that all "evidence" can in principle be interpreted in a multiplicity of equally valid ways actually operate in their own academic communications as though historical "texts" are open to a single, accurate interpretation.15

    We can, therefore, say with some certainty when a particular historical account appears to be wrong; we can make negative points about distortion, inaccuracy, and falsehood with a considerable degree of certainty. But, for a variety of reasons, there are serious difficulties beyond this level of the falsifiability of individual statements of fact. And the most dramatic and heated historical disagreements are often not about what actually happened on which there is general agreement but how it should be characterized, explained, and inserted into a wider interpretive framework or "historical picture."16

    Take, for example, the forever controversial questions surrounding the Third Reich. With the exception of those Holocaust denial revisionists who are beyond the historical pale (and the scope of this essay), we do not on the whole dispute the known dates and facts. The chronicle (give or take some quibbles about selection for inclusion or exclusion, and some agreement over crucial gaps in the evidence) is more or less uncontested. We do, however, have an extraordinary variety of conflicting contextualizations and interpretations, with radically divergent political and moral implications in each case.17 Consider just a few:

    Is Hitler's rise to power best explained in terms of factors intrinsic to German history, as, in different ways, both the Sonderweg thesis and a variety of cultural approaches would suggest? From medieval "failure" to unify, through Prussian absolutism and militarism, to "belated unification" and rapid industrialization; from Lutheran quietism through the German Aufklärung to deutsche Innerlichkeit combined with Gründlichkeit; in this sort of approach, premised on the need to identify long-term malignancies, there is always something to complain about in this most "difficult history."

    Alternatively, should we frame Nazism not as something specifically German but rather as a consequence of "modernity," inaugurated by the French Revolution with its collapse of traditional authority and the unleashing of the masses, comparable to (even in partial response to) communism? Or, by contrast, as something to do with capitalism, captured by the generic notion of fascism rather than totalitarianism? Or should we perhaps reject such larger patterns altogether and present the rise of Hitler as a purely contingent event, explicable only in terms of a detailed narrative of individual actions and historical accidents; or as the charismatic takeover of an unwitting population by a uniquely potent individual, akin to a magician, thus leaving Germans innocent of anything other than falling prey to his powerful spell? Each of these Geschichtsbilder presents quite a different interpretive framework for understanding the same chronology, the same set of "facts"; and each carries with it quite different political implications and morals.

    The same is true of controversies focusing more specifically on the Holocaust. Is it best explained by primary emphasis on Hitler and a small gang of evil henchmen, as many historians from Ritter and Meinecke to recent "intentionalist" accounts would have us believe and as many politicians, from Konrad Adenauer onward, continue to suggest, thus effectively exonerating the vast majority of the German people?18 Or should a wider circle of social groups be brought into the frame, and if so, who? Indicting bureaucrats and technocrats renders modernity problematic, whereas involving the Wehrmacht affects the sensibilities of those who want to be able to cling to some notion of honorable service to the Fatherland. Or should we accept the invitation to indulge again in collective self-flagellation or national character assassination by reference to an allegedly distinctive German "mentality" characterized by a peculiarly rabid anti-Semitism persisting over centuries?

    As the heated controversies over, for example, the Wehrmacht exhibition and Daniel Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners reveal, the reception of any explanatory framework is affected as much by its broader attribution of guilt and innocence as by what one might call "purely academic" criteria although it is notable that in both these cases historians have scurried away to check the accuracy of the facts and to critique points of detail. What was interesting about the notorious Historikerstreit of 1986­7 was that the political implications of different interpretations appeared to take total primacy over any notion of empirical adequacy. This was amply demonstrated both by Nolte's "method" of posing rhetorical questions and by Hillgruber's awkward confusion between personal sympathy for a particular group and historical empathy as a tool for understanding different mentalities.19

    All these sorts of accounts at least seem to have actors at whom the finger can be pointed, and in part the heat of the debates is explained by the shock waves unleashed each time a new culprit is framed. But behind them all lie larger historical pictures of the ways in which regimes should be classified, how they function, and what role individuals are or are not able to play in them (the notion of Handlungsspielraum). One of the reasons why Goldhagen appeared to score easy victories over Hans Mommsen during his media tour of Germany, for example, was that Mommsen's more complex structural or functionalist account appeared to shift too much causal weight into the passive voice, with its emphasis on the "increasingly chaotic functioning of the regime" as the prime culprit. Goldhagen gave us both a collective culprit and a happy, if illogical, solution (the allegedly enduring mentality of centuries was transformed overnight by the introduction of democratic structures after 1945).

    These diverse underlying Geschichtsbilder are not questions of purely academic importance. Much historical work is very closely related to practical consequences for the protagonists.20 Historical interpretations were germane to the practical tasks of denazification and reconstruction immediately after the war in dramatically different ways in East and West Germany and in subsequent Nazi war crimes trials. More recently, historians have been called upon to give evidence to the Enquetekommissionen of the parliament in the newly unified Germany about structures of power, complicity, and opposition in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Analyses of the "second German dictatorship" have had major implications for those East Germans who have lost their jobs or been "restructured" out of their careers because of assumptions about complicity and guilt in another Unrechtsstaat. They have also had unsettling implications for large numbers of East Germans who cannot recognize their own mundane biographies, their "perfectly ordinary lives," in the black-and-white histories written after the fall of the Berlin Wall, or who resent the notion of an authoritarian East German social psychology that allegedly is the product of collectivized potty training.

    So: The facts alone are not enough. We can agree, against the more extreme postmodernists, that the facts are important and can exercise a form of veto power. But there is or has to be more to the defense of history than an appeal to the facts can deliver. There has, in short, to be some means of combining fact and fantasy, that which can be said to be true or false as an individual statement, and the larger pictures that do not appear to be firmly anchored in the facts. We need now to take a closer and more direct look at the nature of history as a discipline.

    Bridging the Gap: The Parameters of Historical Inquiry

    There are in fact two sorts of gap that I seek to bridge: first, the gap between "knowledge of the past in the present" (historical consciousness, the products of history as a discipline), and "the past as it actually was" (history as that which has gone forever); and second, the gap between "the facts we are more or less agreed on as true" (fact) and "that which is contributed by the play of human creativity or imagination" (fantasy). I seek to bridge these gaps not by looking for some (allegedly typically British) fudge or compromise, the "middle way"or now even "Third Way"but rather by focusing on the character of the constructions we devise, whether consciously or not, to make transitions from one side to the other. I also seek, in the process, to break through the current impasse between those historians who want to adopt the attitude of "business as usual, just get on with the job, we can do it even if we don't know how," and those who adopt the opposite attitude that runs, "when you come to look at it in detail you can't provide firm foundations for what you are doing and therefore your interpretation is no better than anyone else's."21

    My broader argument is that historical knowledge is made up of a combination of fact and fantasy, using the latter term in a wide sense to embrace a range of aspects of the human imagination and capacity for intersubjective communication (in other words, understanding fantasy in the Germanic sense of Phantasie, rather than what one might call the rather specific English literary notion, with its veiled connotations of untruthfulness). A fuller account would need to look in detail at such questions as empathy, interpretation, and representation, which cannot be explored further here.22 The point, however, is to look at the ways in which the play of the imagination is not as free, as arbitrary, as postmodernists appear to think; to look at why, or indeed how, "fantasy" can be constrained by "facts," as captured through the activities of the creative, inquiring mind; in other words, to look at the interplay between fact and fantasy, seeking to explore different positions on a spectrum in which the one is anchored, to a greater or lesser extent, by the other; and, in the process of this exploration, to achieve greater clarity about the kinds of choices we unavoidably have to make. We cannot necessarily devise shared criteria for deciding which approach is "better" or -"worse" than another; but we can at least hope to clarify our grounds for agreeing to disagree. It is worth noting at the outset that there are patterns to the way we imagine the past. We are not talking about individual, private fantasies here, but about collective sets of conceptions and approaches. I therefore focus, in this context, on some aspects of these collective ventures, considering specifically the questions of the interrelations between paradigms, concepts, and politics.


    Any cursory glance at substantive historical writing and historiography will reveal a startling array of alternative approaches, or what, to borrow a term from Thomas S. Kuhn's now classic analysis of the natural sciences, we may wish to call paradigms.24 Actually, if we were truly Kuhnian, we would call these "paradigm candidates" because none has as yet attained true hegemony. The point here, however, is that in the field of historical inquiry, for reasons that we need to explore, none of them are ever likely to achieve hegemonic status across the field as a whole, although they often dominate particular institutional or intellectual corners at different times.25 I would contend that, irrespective of some spurious sense of a need to be faithful to Kuhn's stimulating original definition, it would be extremely fruitful to explore the nature of these candidates for paradigmatic primacy in history. It is in this spirit that I elect to adopt the term paradigm, as follows.

    Paradigms, for my purposes here, are defined not by the essentially external criterion of success, that is, unchallenged hegemony over an intellectual field as a whole, but rather in purely internal terms, that is, in the ways in which they shape general approaches to a topic of inquiry.26 Paradigms in the sense in which I use the term here are made up of certain general components: basic presuppositions about what to look at (and what to look for); a framework of given questions and "puzzles"; a specific set of analytical concepts through which to capture and reproduce the "evidence"; and a notion of the types of explanation that will in some way satisfy curiosity or answer a particular question. It seems to me that analyses of "approaches" in history have not as yet distinguished sufficiently between different kinds of historical paradigm, and I would like to present a more differentiated framework for thinking about different approaches here.

    Historiographical works often trace the development from "traditional" approaches (political and diplomatic history, history of "great men") to a multiplicity of perspectives - social history, labor history, economic history, women's history, "new" cultural history - allowing a diversity of previously repressed voices to be heard. The view often appears to be that the more spotlights are cast on different parts of the past, the more the cumulative illumination there will be.27 However, it seems to me that some "new approaches" in history are actually not so much new approaches to old questions as old approaches to new questions. These are what I call "perspectival paradigms": paradigms looking at topics or "segments of reality" that had hitherto been partially ignored or completely neglected. Such perspectival paradigms are often simply subject specialisms that may serve to complement previously dominant histories (irrespective of the curious prevalence of personal animosities across these subfields).28

    But perspectival paradigms are cross-cut by other kinds of more fundamental, underlying paradigm. These are what I call "paradigms proper," mutually conflicting approaches based on prior assumptions that cannot necessarily be reconciled with one another. Recent examples include the difference between "women's history" (a perspectival paradigm saying we have not yet looked enough at the history of a particular group, defined biologically, namely, women); and "feminist history," a paradigm proper that treats gender as socially constructed and embodies a whole set of principled stands on a range of moral and political issues that can just as well be applied, for example, to the behavior and beliefs of men. One might want to elaborate a similar distinction between "social history" ("with the politics left out") and "societal history" (at the root of politics).

    Classic examples of paradigms proper obviously include approaches deriving from Marxist or psychoanalytic roots (the nonfalsifiable "belief systems" identified by Karl Popper); or the strong forms of structuralism (Claude Lévi-Strauss rather than Émile Durkheim and A. R. Radcliffe-Brown) and poststructuralism (Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault). These paradigms proper are rooted in irreconcilable metatheoretical assumptions: They are premised on different philosophical anthropologies (views on the construction of the subject, the relationships between society and the individual), on different assumptions about the nature of historical causes and about what it is that the historian is trying to do. At their most explicitwhen they become a major "-ism" - they develop into comprehensive thought systems capable of repeated exegesis and elaboration, and often quite different patterns of institutionalization. They pose the biggest headache as far as any attempt to develop any notion of a single, objective "historical method" is concerned. Germans have had to think particularly hard about fundamentally conflicting paradigms with the legacy of East German Marxist historiography, premised as it was on quite different assumptions about the nature of the past and the purposes of historical inquiry.

    Sometimes these major paradigms proper spawn what I call "pidgin paradigms" or "magpie theories." These are created when a historian appropriates particularly fruitful individual concepts or insights but does not necessarily wish to buy into the full theoretical gamut. We have many examples of such magpie theorizing being put to illuminating effect: Witness, for example, the widespread adoption of Weberian concepts beautifully exemplified by Ian Kershaw's use of "charismatic authority" to explore the interplay of individual and structure in Hitler's power (in the process helping to resolve some of the issues between intentionalists and functionalists already mentioned); or Richard Evans's occasionally rather eclectic selections from Foucault and others in his Rituals of Retribution; or the very widespread, often unwitting absorption of certain Marxist assumptions. (Who nowadays really thinks a focus on social and economic structures is not at least a better place to start than the Hegelian notion of "world spirit realizing itself"?) Similarly, Freudian notions of repression, or the subconscious, have widely entered into our subconscious vocabularies.

    The importance of magpie theorizing is that it underlines the possibility of dislocating specific concepts from their original theoretical - and political - contexts. Deployed badly, it has to be said, magpie theories just masquerade second-rate or even shoddy work in the opaque guise of supposed cleverness (or obscurity). Deployed well, they seem to permit a degree of openness, of "interparadigm communication," while explicitly recognizing the need for a vocabulary of analytical concepts at one degree of abstraction from the empirical material itself. I shall return to this later.

    Many historians prefer to ignore theory and claim it is infinitely more profitable to "just get on with the job of doing history." But no historian is entirely innocent of theory and ignorance is no defense. All historians (even Geoffrey Elton) operate, whether they are aware of it or not, in the context of what I call "implicit paradigms." These are, yet again, made up of the basic components of all paradigms: different presuppositions about what to look for, the concepts through which to capture and reproduce the past, and the types of explanation to be constructed. It should be emphasized that even - perhaps especially - what is construed as a "common sense" approach entails what are usually culturally variable and quite specific assumptions about "essential human nature," patterns of motivation, and so on.

    Consider, for example, the conflicting implicit paradigms of those who focus on individual motives and actions versus those who prefer to look at structures and conditions. To return to the example of Weimar: Even among supposedly "atheoretical" historians, there are those who tend to emphasize structural problems - such as long-term sociopolitical legacies, the consequences of war, the incomplete revolution and ambiguous compromises of 1918­19, the constitutional flaws, the ambivalent and divided political culture, and the inherent economic weaknesses; there are those who would focus on the alleged charisma and organizational brilliance of Hitler and the NSDAP; and there are those who would rather emphasize the decisions and mistakes of key individuals in the closing years and even weeks and days of Weimar democracy, or even the chain of chance events and accidents.29 These differences in implicit paradigms lead to radically divergent interpretations among historians who can in no way be accused of sloppy scholarship; the debates over Weimar are far more deeply problematic than a concentration on the Abraham affair alone would have us think. Implicit paradigms, not facts, are what are at issue here.

    What is the evidence? The problem of concepts

    Cross-cutting all these forms of paradigm is the problem that there is no generally shared set of concepts, or "theory-neutral data language," with which to capture the evidence of the past and to use in assessing the relative merits of different interpretations in the present. Historical concepts do not neatly correspond to (or at least seem to account for) elements and attributes of the "real world out there," as they appear to do in the natural sciences. Even though concepts in the natural sciences are imposed by the observer (such as quarks or neutrons), they do seem to correspond, in measurably better or worse ways, to an objective outside reality in a way that historical concepts do not.30

    Max Weber, who devoted considerable attention to this problem, came up with a typically ambiguous double answer. Unfortunately for us, he got it wrong on both counts. First, we cannot agree with Weber that historical concepts are broadly shared across "the culture of an age" for several reasons. They may be what I call "theory-drenched" concepts: deeply rooted within different paradigms, meaning quite different things within different frameworks. The classic examples here of course are concepts such as class or power, which may be defined quite differently depending on whether one is a Marxist, a Weberian, or a follower of Foucault. And, unless we are prepared to develop and speak in an inaccessible, even arcane vocabulary (easily dismissed as "jargon"), historical concepts also are very often the situated and loaded concepts of everyday life, further cross-cutting differences in theoretical definition. Consider, for instance, concepts of gender or race, construed variously as either essentially biological or socially constructed; or consider the different lived understandings of "nation" in Germany and America, or, at a theoretical level, between an Anthony Smith and a Benedict Anderson.31 It is in the nature of the subject matter that some will be "essentially contested," deeply controversial, carrying considerable emotional freight and significance. Furthermore, far from being universally shared, there may be very little correspondence between the concepts of the observer and those observed (see "anachronistic concepts"), or even among members of either of these communities (as in debates over the class designation of oneself and others).

    The other (and at first sight very promising) part of Weber's proposed solution was the quite explicit construction of clearly defined concepts for purely heuristic purposes, which he called ideal types. Despite his view that all historical inquiry was but a product of its age, doomed to be superseded as new questions emerged, Weber's endless elaboration of ideal types in Economy and Society suggests that, nevertheless, he thought he could come pretty close to defining a kind of provisional Periodic Table of the Elements for history and society; and he certainly used certain concepts as the basis for his systematic comparative historical studies of, for example, the world religions (contrasting this-worldly and other-worldly, mystic and ascetic, and so on). The problem is whether - and on what basis - anyone else would share this (or any other) constructed, conceptual vocabulary. Even the most apparently innocent ideal type selectively highlights certain aspects, makes certain connections, and places a unique historical phenomenon in one or another different theoretical and contextual nexus. The notion of a self-consciously constructed, explicitly defined ideal type is certainly an advance over treating concepts as though they were essential realities; but it does not completely resolve our questions concerning conflicting paradigms.

    More noise: politics

    Why do historians opt for one paradigm or another? First, an observation: There is an unsettling correlation between certain theoretical approaches and corresponding patterns of political or moral identification. In some cases - Marxism, "identity" history - this correlation is both obvious and intentional. But even among those historians who claim that they alone do "objective" history there is a remarkable correspondence between theoretical preferences and political leanings.

    If we survey the pre-1990 West German historical landscape, for example, we notice that the more conservative spirits tended to opt for "traditional" historical approaches (high politics, great men, narrative mode); left-liberals tend toward societal or social-structural history (the "Bielefeld school" exemplified by Jürgen Kocka and Hans-Ulrich Wehler) with or without the new culturalist overtones; and those slightly further to the left could not quite, in the context of the divided Germany in the Cold War period, risk allegations of GDR sympathies by adopting one or another variant of the arcane neo-Marxist debates prevalent at the time in Britain and the United States, but tended rather toward underdog history (Alltagsgeschichte, historical anthropology). There is, of course, no complete overlap between paradigm choices and political sympathies, but tendencies are notable nonetheless. The same is true of Anglo-American historians of Germany, although without the German obsession with (or at least built-in institutional bias toward) political nominations to established chairs and directorships - nor the need to make such hard decisions about firing former exponents of a discredited historical paradigm in a semi-colonial takeover.

    This raises rather pointedly the question of whether there is a rational way of adjudicating among competing approaches. Some paradigms, it is clear, are more open than others; the different types of paradigm I have already outlined also cross-cut each other to some extent. Perspectival paradigms, for example, seem to me more akin to language communities within which one has been socialized, feels comfortable, and wants to participate in an ongoing and usually relatively open conversation characterized by a substantive concern with certain questions and issues. Pidgin paradigms may be found in all these approaches as the conversations about the topics develop in what are often heralded as "new directions"implicit paradigms are not incapable of revision on the basis of argument - at least, when this is appropriately presented as "new evidence," without drawing too much attention to the conceptual net in which the evidence is captured. However, in all these somewhat more open paradigms there still is a degree of what might be called "background noise" or "contamination" by political and moral views that surrounds some implicit paradigms (as illustrated previously), and some historians simply do not want to listen to certain arguments that would shift the ground entirely. The position is most problematic in what I have called paradigms proper, where serious metatheoretical choices about fundamental philosophical and anthropological questions have to be made, often entailing acts of faith or personal commitment to following a guru.32

    So, to revert to Kuhn, we appear to find ourselves in a distinctly "pre-scientific stage," a very uncomfortable position indeed for someone who believes that historical enterprise should seek to uncover the truth about the past and who believes that the validity or otherwise of the historical account produced at the end of the long, hard slog of research should be judged on something other than political or aesthetic criteria. This also may ultimately seem to be an untenable position with respect to educational establishments and funding bodies, which may expect a little more for their investment.

    The easy answer to this is claiming that, in a democratic system, there is a free market for ideas. I am not sure that this view - which verges on intellectual Darwinism - is entirely satisfactory. Clearly, a degree of pluralism is an essential precondition for genuine intellectual debate; but the equivalent of a majority vote, or a dominant position in the popularity stakes for ideas, is not necessarily an appropriate measure or sufficient proof of greater intellectual adequacy.33

    Politics, Truth, and History: Reinterpreting Modern Germany

    It might by now appear as if, by exploring some of the parameters of the gap, I have merely dug a deeper hole than that uncovered by postmodernists. But I believe, in fact, that explicit analysis of the parameters helps us rather to construct ever better ladders down into that hole, or to drop sounding devices at the right points, and to design buckets and nets of the right size and shape to bring up useful evidence.

    This section is based on two premises: It is always easier to criticize than to do, and it is always exceedingly tempting, when returning to a historical question of considerable interest, to relapse into a business-as-usual mode, ignoring not only postmodernist cautions against the possibility of doing it at all but even one's own theoretical tenets. Let us return to consider some illustrations from very recent German history and take the contested territory of GDR history as our final example. The beauty of this as an example is that, although some older intellectual fronts have simply moved forward to colonize this new historical terrain, the contours of controversy are still more fluid, more inchoate, than are the well-trodden stomping grounds of Weimar and Third Reich history. I focus here on the interplay of politics and paradigms, and take two particular issues, that of grand conceptualization of the whole and that of specific narratives of unique developments, as my examples.

    The problem with East German history is certainly not one of a dearth of facts. A paranoid regime amassed literally miles of files and mountains of reports on every aspect of what was going on: from acts of sabotage and Republikflucht at one end of the spectrum to problems of toilet paper provision in hospitals or outbreaks of rabies among pet golden hamsters at the other. However, the very richness of archival and oral history sources only serves to underline the point that, in history, we cannot try to "let the facts speak for themselves." Exposure to the East German archives may even tempt the daunted student to take refuge in White's cautions about the impossibility of discovering, rather than imposing, a historical narrative. But in fact the need for criteria for interpretations we feel we can trust is thrust upon us; for many people, East German history is above all about at last finding out the truth behind the ideological and repressive facade of an often deeply manipulative, cynical, and secretive regime. It thus is all the more important to be quite clear about the relations between politics and paradigms.

    In the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Wall, major public attention was focused on the extent and scope of Stasi surveillance, with almost daily revelations about individual Stasi informers or Informelle Mitarbeiter (IM). A morally and politically engaged historiography grew exponentially: Whereas environmentalists, Christians, and human rights activists were aghast at what the files held, and engaged in a public reckoning with the past, former communist BonzenErich Honecker, Günter Schabowski, Egon Krenz, Kurt Hager, and others - were not slow to capitalize on public interest in the collapse of the dictatorship.34 Even the tone of many academic analyses of topics such as the role of the Protestant churches, or of general histories of the GDR, was highly charged with political and moral intent. Whether by East Germans such as Armin Mitter and Stefan Wolle, or West Germans such as Gerhard Besier, there was a message, often not so much implicit as stridently and explicitly expressed in historical analyses.35 And there were angry public exchanges over who should even be "allowed"or given institutional and financial support to do GDR history, as the debates over the Potsdam Center for Contemporary History Research (Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung or ZZF) in its earlier incarnation (as the Forschungsschwerpunkt Zeithistorische Studien, or FSP) illustrate all too clearly.36

    This phase of acute politicization - or at least of frequent public anger - appears to have subsided to some degree. Conferences are on the whole somewhat more temperate gatherings than they were a few years ago. But there are still massively different general paradigms of interpretation. In particular, the notion of "system-immanent" analyses, widely prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s, in the 1990s came under vicious attack from certain rather stridently triumphalist conservative quarters.37 There has, in their place, been a dramatic and securely institutionalized resurrection of totalitarianism as a concept designed not only to characterize but also to explain and to denounce the GDR.38 This has been explicitly countered by those who argue that one should rather look with a more open mind at the social history of the GDR, proposing instead the notion of a durchherrschte Gesellschaft as a means of exploring the variety of ways in which state and society interacted in the GDR.39 Not surprisingly, these theoretical battle lines roughly (although not entirely) correspond to the well-trodden political fronts of yesteryear.40

    The lazy way to locate oneself within this clash of paradigms would of course be to gravitate toward that approach that seems, on the face of it, the language community or the political/moral nexus in which we feel most at home. But let us see if the points developed so far can be of any help in adopting a potentially more fruitful approach.

    Let us first consider different approaches to general characterization of the GDR. The concept of totalitarianism holds a template premised on contrasts with Western conceptions of democracy; it then plots, or highlights, those aspects in which the GDR is found wanting. This is not, then, a politically innocent ideal type. Were it used solely as a heuristic device, to be rejected once it has served its purpose of highlighting contrasts, further concepts would be required to explore other aspects of East German history not captured by this selective focus on contrasts. But proponents of totalitarian theory implicitly leap from the heuristic notion of an ideal type to the more essentialist notion that the concept of totalitarianism actually captures, reveals, the underlying reality of the GDR. Because this was different from the West, the distinction must, for political reasons, be sustained at all costs. And because the state in modern Western democracies also affects what is therefore also a durchherrschte society, one of the key exponents of the totalitarian approach, Klaus Schroeder, argues that in the case of the GDR we must speak rather of a durchmachtete Gesellschafta society saturated with power rather than authority.41

    Now all this (actually somewhat muddled) thinking is rather promising for our purposes, for we need not rest content with pointing out the not-so-hidden political agenda behind this approach. We can pick up on the empirical assertions being made, and examine them against "the facts"on which, if we are using a similar conceptual vocabulary, we ought in principle to be able to agree. Schroeder has fortunately chosen to use the very clearly defined concepts of power and authority in Weber's conceptual armory; so let us play him on this terrain. On my reading of the files, a picture posing stark contrasts between state and society, and placing primary emphasis on power and force on the one hand and the experience of repression and fear on the other, does not do justice to some of the ambiguities of more complex realities. We also have in some way to account for the ways in which many East Germans felt they were able to lead "perfectly ordinary lives."42

    For example, at least some of those who held power did so not (or not only) for power's sake but because they genuinely wanted to achieve what they thought was a better, more equal and just society; and they sometimes sought this in areas where we, as Western democrats, can agree with their goals. A closer look at the East German health service during the Honecker period will reveal, for example, that the long-serving minister for health, Ludwig Mecklinger, genuinely sought, in adverse circumstances, to find means of tackling deteriorating conditions in health and safety at work, and (unsuccessfully) tried to argue the case against ministerial colleagues for shifting investment away from dangerous and polluting heavy industry. Similarly, there is much evidence of concern to improve rates of perinatal and infant mortality, and standards of care for the elderly and dying.43 Another area that has received much more extensive attention in Western academia is that of policies to enhance equality of opportunity for women.

    Remember, too, that even dictators would prefer at least some of the apparent support for the regime to be real rather than artificially orchestrated or the product of repressive indoctrination. Thus, in some propaganda campaigns the East German public were not only informed and influenced but also to a certain degree consulted (such as in the run-up to the Abortion Law of 1972). The constant monitoring of public opinion was designed not just for the well-known purpose of instant suppression of signs of dissidence and opposition, but also out of a concern to identify and respond adequately to real problems. And if we examine, for example, the evidence of citizens' petitions (Eingaben der Bevölkerung) and related inquiries by committees of the Volkskammer, we find real concern with meeting the needs of people in such mundane areas as housing, child care, food provision, the introduction of shift work, transport from residential areas to the workplace, and so on. Discussions of these issues seem to have been remarkably open and wide-ranging; there is in any event little sign that people felt inhibited from voicing their complaints and desires quite openly in these areas. There is, in short, much that anyone with any experience of local government in Britain would find depressingly familiar.

    There was of course the use of power and repression in the East German dictatorship; no-one would dispute this. But there also was a high degree of participation (for whatever variety of reasons) in the mass organizations and activities of this extraordinarily collectivized society; and, among millions of people who were neither committed communists in the service of the cause on the one hand, nor beleaguered Christians, political dissidents, or human rights activists on the other, there was over time an increasing degree of "taken-for-grantedness" about it all. All of this is not well captured by the vocabulary of power, oppression, and indoctrination beloved of totalitarian theory.44

    Nor, incidentally, is it well caught by the similarly dichotomous state/society model underlying the durchherrschte Gesellschaft approach. Ironically, this shares with totalitarian opponents a common Geschichtsbild of the GDR as a pyramid of power. While one focuses from the top downward, the other starts from the bottom up. Even the latter's focus on "contested" areas or notions of "self-discipline" (Selbstbeherrschung) are perfectly compatible with the totalitarian emphasis on "limits" and the possibility of "failure to penetrate," "resistances," and so on.

    It seems to me, however - as to many others currently grappling with these questions - that we need a somewhat more ambiguous concept for characterizing the GDR.45 A better concept might be the notion of a participatory dictatorship, or a police welfare state. I have also toyed with the idea of "modern party absolutism," which has nicely anachronistic overtones. At least these concepts allow us to escape from the inherited overtones and derogatory baggage - of being lumped with the Third Reich in the cataclysmic debates of the Cold War era that is part of the package of totalitarianism. They also have the advantage of embodying within them certain self-contradictory dynamics, helping to point us toward elements of instability and change (for example, heightened expectations during the early Honecker era, with its proclaimed "unity of social and economic policy," and the Helsinki agreement on human rights, which dashed hopes in the 1980s). I think we also need to develop some notion that allows for the possibility of acceptance, as well as rejection, of the GDR as it actually was, without implying that those who accepted it, or who took it for granted, were in some way either fellow travelers or dupes of indoctrination and ideology, implicitly to be condemned as duplicitous, self-serving, mendacious, or just plain dumb. We have to remember - against simplistic comparisons of "the two dictatorships" - Third Reich and GDR - that the latter lasted more than three times as long as the former and that, in the process, new generations grew up seeing the world in quite different ways.

    The point here, however, is a more general one. Such debates over broad concepts may, if we do not become too committed to a particular, essentialist view of the world, be a fruitful intellectual exercise, helping us - as active, inquiring minds exploring, classifying, and shaping the historical material - to highlight points of importance, elements of similarity and difference across a carefully selected range of historical cases. At first blush, this might appear to be a vindication of Weber's ideal-type method, applied with appropriate finesse, clarity, and differentiation (rather than as a blunt weapon of political denunciation, as in the a priori assumptions embedded in totalitarian theory). However, we must remain aware that there is no way of getting at the reality, the essence of a particular case: All accounts are phrased in terms of particular concepts, rooted in particular frameworks of assumptions (or paradigms, to revert to the previous discussion). Concepts at a more general or abstract level are deployed to gather and account for material at a more substantive, particular level. We then return to the difficulties already introduced relating to the choice of paradigms and concepts through which to investigate the past. My debate with Schroeder was made easier by my willingness to adopt the Weberian definitions of power and authority employed by Schroeder; had I rejected these concepts (and insisted instead, for example, on a Foucauldian definition of power), it would have been difficult, even impossible, to engage in the same type of empirically rooted argument.

    The problem, in other words, still remains that of finding ways of agreeing on compatible routes for accessing "reality," which in the ideal-type methodology is still (rather unclearly) posited as in principle separable from, and capable of exerting constraints on or influence over, willfully constructed ideal types. And yet, as the example of my own attempts (and those of innumerable others working in this area) demonstrates, we happily do this all the time - out of sheer interest in the subject matter.

    Many historians, wearying of what often appears to be a sterile and acutely overpoliticized search for the concept, the approach, retreat instead into what they see as specific narratives of unique chains of events. Let us set aside debates on grand conceptualization for a moment and turn to our second substantive example. Let us consider, with respect to a rather different type of historical account, the ways in which not even would-be theoretical narrative historians can evade fundamental theoretical issues.

    A useful illustration could be spun out, for example, with respect to explanations of the collapse of the GDR and the fall of the Wall almost exactly a decade ago - which some have sought to represent as a vindication of "events history" (Ereignisgeschichte) over structural or societal history. The moment we begin to look at the exponentially growing literature in this field, we notice that implicit paradigms immediately come into play, with different prior assumptions determining the focus, shape, and components of different narratives. Some appeal to the constant need for suppression by force, from at least 1953 onward, while others perceive a "golden age" variously located in the later 1960s and/or early 1970s. Some argue that the economic decline was an inevitable result of communist central planning, whereas others see it as a contingent consequence of Honecker's blinkered economic policies in a changing context of world recession. And although one historian would emphasize the role of Mikhail Gorbachev, another would stress the emergence of dissident movements as an indigenous product of the GDR. These differences in general explanatory perspective are at least in part based in different prior political and anthropological assumptions.

    Anyone who has seen Hans-Hermann Hertle's analysis of the actual unfolding of events during November 9-10, 1989, might even come to the conclusion that this must be a prime example of chaos theory applied to history: Looking at counter-factuals, it seems that had Krenz not handed Schabowski a draft of the proposed new travel regulations, which he did not even take the time to read through, let alone digest; or had the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) not been in permanent closed session, totally out of contact with what was happening at the Wall throughout the evening (or had Krenz and Erich Mielke been equipped with mobile phones!); or had world news coverage not run somewhat ahead of events, reporting more than was actually the case at the time; or had any one of the confused and beleaguered border guards lost their nerve and started firing on the growing crowds of East Germans thronging the border crossings; then events would have run quite differently, and there might still have been a GDR today. Or it might have collapsed in a quite different, probably more bloody and protracted manner.

    Everyone who is actively involved in debates on GDR history will very likely have their own views on these specific questions; I certainly know where I stand on some; I still have an open mind on, and am intrigued by, others; and this of course is the very reason why we continue to engage in active research and debate. But let us return from these particular illustrations to the more general theoretical issues.

    Does this rich choice of competing perspectives and explanatory frameworks necessarily imply that all are equally validor, put differently, equally invalid, equally a product of our imagination, our imposition of narrative, and so on - as a postmodernist might wish us to believe?46 Or is there any way that some form of "appeal to the evidence"however mediated through specific paradigms and associated conceptual frameworks - can help us choose between one or another?

    In my own view, some frameworks of inquiry - paradigms proper - will remain mutually irreconcilable, at least as far as fundamental philosophical, political, and moral assumptions about the relations between individuals and society are concerned. Other apparently conflicting interpretations are more a matter of emphasis and synthesis. It is perfectly possibly to combine, for example, analysis of the "history of events," the often unintended consequences of the actions and intentions of individuals and their at times almost haphazard combinations under unique circumstances, with a focus on long-term factors - on institutional configurations, social and economic trends, key elements of structural and cultural history - within which and against which individuals live their lives. It is possible to write history with an acute awareness of the complex ways in which human beings are both in part formed and constituted by the circumstances in which they live - contributing to the remarkable patterning of social behavior - but are at the same time extraordinarily capable of injecting new elements of creativity and change. Let us return, then, to the wider questions about the "nature of history."

    (A Somewhat Inconclusive) Conclusion: The Nature of History

    What, if any, preliminary conclusions can we draw from these ruminations? I would make absolutely no claim, in this brief essay, to have resolved debates that have exercised many fine minds - including the formidable Max Weber - over decades, indeed centuries. I hope merely to have suggested some ways of thinking about these issues, which will hopefully be helpful in moving the debates out of certain sterile circles and at least somewhat forward, in some respects.

    I should perhaps emphasize quite explicitly that this essay is more concerned with addressing certain perennial theoretical issues that confront all historians (whether they are aware of them or not) than engaging in particular substantive arguments within the terms of recent debates about postmodernism (such as the focus on allegedly new "sociocultural approaches," which seems to me to be largely just another example of a perspectival paradigm). Hence my attempt to develop new, and somewhat more abstract, ways of talking about some of the problems relating to the gap between past realities and present representations.

    We will not be able to restore the notion of one hegemonic "grand narrative" (if such a thing ever really enjoyed uncontested status - which seems exceedingly dubious); but at least we can be somewhat clearer about the interactions among different viewpoints in the present and different substantive stories about the past.47 We can also move from the substantive level of talking about specific, substantive types of story (or "metanarratives") to a more abstract level of analyzing the nature of competing theoretical approaches (or "paradigm candidates"). And we can be aware of the fundamental metatheoretical reasons why, in history, we have a multiplicity of competing paradigm candidates rooted in different conceptions of "human nature," different assumptions about the relationships between the individual and society, and so on. At least we can attain a degree of clarity about the bases for disagreements, and the grounds for choosing one or another approach. Nor, I think, will we be able to salvage the concept of "value neutrality" in the way that Weber defined it, simply because there is not and cannot be a shared set of common, unchanging analytic concepts to capture the constructed and changing realities of the social world. We cannot therefore - metaphorically - just leave our values at the door of the inquiry, to be picked up again when evaluating the results, as Weber thought. But we can at the same time be aware that this is not a matter of individual values (with the implied prescription: declare at the outset that you are a white, middle-aged male American conservative capitalist, or a young black lesbian, or whatever, and all biases are signaled and neutralized, or seen as "enriching") but rather a patterned set of (sub-)cultural values. Let me emphasize this: The problem is precisely not the old-hat question of personal prejudices at an individual level, to be declared and taken into account (as in the old adage to students: know the historian before you read the history); rather, the problem is a theoretical one rooted in the multiplicity of competing paradigm candidates and associated conceptual frameworks previously described.48 One could say that, to a remarkable degree, individual biases are not in fact an issue: The issue rather is the ways in which they are institutionalized and filtered through the channels of specific theoretical language communities. We thus cannot simply seek to declare individual prejudices at a personal level and then hope to appeal to (unspecified) common-craft procedures at some universal level. The problem is precisely that there are no shared sets of theoretical approaches and concepts across the profession as a whole.

    But this does not mean that we need to take flight into relativism nor resort to a notion of all history as ideology, nor even stick our heads in the sands of blind empiricism because we will have a greater awareness of the character, extent, and limits - the parameters - of what we are doing. We will at least be able to understand better the nature of competing communities of scholars - without positing some vague notion of a universal guild that allegedly shares certain unexamined craft practices - and be aware of what is involved in opting for one or another theoretical approach or paradigm candidate. Under the appropriate conditions (with certain shared metatheoretical values and assumptions, and institutionally sustained freedom of debate), we will be able to proceed with intelligence and goodwill in a community of scholars more committed to engaging in honest debates about the past than scoring political and personal points in the present. We can make informed choices about the theoretical languages we want to speak, in communicating with each other and - however much it is a matter of "looking through a glass darkly"49 trying to maintain lines of broken communication between past and present.

    How, finally, should we summarize the discipline of history? There is a large and to my mind rather unprofitable industry in elaborating two polarized comparisons: history and science on the one hand, and history and fiction on the other.50 But it seems to me that there are far more fruitful lines of comparison we can explore if we really want to make some grand statement about the nature of history.

    All sorts of other human endeavors could be brought to bear as points of comparison. History is a form of interpretive anthropology, seeking to recover the lost languages and codes of intersubjective communication of the past. It is a form of art, seeking to depict - in words but also sometimes with visual imagery - worlds we have lost. It is a form of geography, seeking to present reasonably reliable maps of these lost worlds, with conventions for symbols and signs to mark the salient points and features, showing how to find our way around. (And we should never forget that some maps - however artificial the conventions they deploy - are far more useful than others.) History is a form of detective work, seeking to follow hunches, uncover clues, and identify possible culprits. A historian sometimes must also act as a lawyer, constructing a plausible case and deploying all the arts of rhetoric to persuade judge and jury, on the balance of the available evidence or even beyond reasonable doubt (although the court of historical appeal is never closed to new evidence). History is, in short, often partial (in both senses of the word), creative, argumentative, rhetorical - but not necessarily also, or only, invented or untrue. If we accept certain vocabularies and conventions of enquiry, it is even (within the constraints of these language communities) falsifiable.

    Most of all, perhaps, history is fascinating. Let us not forget, in the end, that we do history because history matters. At its most basic, we do history because we are curious about other lives, other societies, other worlds. We want to know how different types of state and society were constructed and transformed; we want to know what people believed, why certain tragedies happened, what effects human actions and aspirations have had on the lives of others. We want to understand ourselves and where we have come from. No amount of pointing out that we cannot do these things perfectly, that nothing we say will be uncontroversial, that much relies on shared conventions and assumptions, should prevent us from continuing to explore the past with as much honesty and intelligence as we can bring to bear on this universal human endeavor.

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  • Footnotes

    1 A fuller version of the arguments will be found in my forthcoming book, Historical Theory: Or, Talking Sense About History (London, 2000).

    2 I should emphasize that my purpose here is not to explore in any detail the varieties of postmodernist critique, nor to plot the twists and turns in the development of sometimes arcane debates in this area, but rather simply to note the more important challenges that have recently been mounted to notions of history as the pursuit of truth about a real past. This is, in short, not a brief excursion into intellectual history but rather a raising to consciousness of the key issues with which I am concerned in this essay.

    3 Keith Jenkins, On "What Is History?" From Carr and Elton to Rorty and White (London, 1995), 6. See also Keith Jenkins, Re-thinking History (London, 1991).

    4 For a particularly lucid survey of two-and-a-half millennia of skepticism, see Beverley Southgate, History: What and Why? Ancient, Modern, and Postmodern Perspectives (London, 1996).

    5 For a sustained engagement with a range of theoretical positions, see particularly Robert Berkhofer, Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse (Cambridge, Mass., 1995).

    6 I am here, of course, glossing over the wide range of positions within the posited "traditional" camp, not all of which are as naive as some postmodernists would have us believe. Both labelspostmodernist and traditionalactually cover a wide range of approaches; the adequacy of the labeling is for present purposes less important than the questions addressed.

    7 Jenkins, On"What Is History?" 6; F. R. Ankersmit, "Historiography and Postmodernism," History and Theory 28, no. 2 (1989): 137­53; and "Reply to Professor Zagorin," History and Theory 29, no. 3 (1990): 275­96; Patrick Joyce, "History and Postmodernism," Past and Present 133 (Nov. 1991): 204­9.

    8 See particularly Hayden White, The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (Baltimore, 1987).

    9 See, for a good recent overview, Georg Iggers, Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge (Hanover, N. H., 1997). For a range of both early and more recent responses to perceived threats, see, e.g., Geoffrey Elton, The Practice of History (London, 1969) and Return to Essentials (Cambridge, 1991); Arthur Marwick, The Nature of History, 3d ed. (Houndmills, U.K., 1989), and Arthur Marwick"Two Approaches to Historical Study: The Metaphysical (including "Postmodernism") and the Historical," Journal of Contemporary History 30 (1995): 5-35 (where Marwick comments that Jenkins's work "will come to be regarded as the classic of postmodernist ineptitude and contempt for accepted scholarly practice," 26; see also Hayden White, "Response to Arthur Marwick," Journal of Contemporary History 30 [1995]: 233­46); Lawrence Stone, "Notes: History and Postmodernism," Past and Present 131 (May 1991): 217­18; see also Perez Zagorin, "Historiography and Postmodernism: Reconsiderations," History and Theory 29, no. 3 (1990): 263­74.

    10 See John Tosh, The Pursuit of History, 2d ed. (London, 1991). Konrad H. Jarausch's notion of "post-postmodernism" also appears to state that one can combine a (renewed rather than sustained?) commitment to a relatively traditional version of "the historian's craft" and "accepted historical methods" with a heightened awareness of language or discourse as an element of the social construction of reality, achieved through exposure to postmodernism. This would then be less a new theoretical approach than a traditional approach to a (relatively) new area.

    11 Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob, Telling the Truth About History (New York, 1994). I discuss this more fully in my forthcoming book (see note 1 to this essay); essentially, the problem is that these authors end up with a situation in which competing approaches are either deemed to be mutually compatible (see my discussion of "perspectival paradigms"), or their adequacy can only be adjudicated on the basis of extratheoretical, political, and moral criteria.

    12 Richard Evans, In Defence of History (London, 1997). Given Evans's acute sensitivity to any almost attempt to characterize his positionexpressed in, to date, around 24,000 words on a Web site of responses to his criticsI should hasten to add that he does not restrict his argument to this point.

    13 I do not intend here to enter into the arcane debates stimulated by E. H. Carr's confused disquisition on what turns "something which happened in the past" into a full-blown "historical fact"; see E. H. Carr, What Is History? (New York, 1961), chap. 1. Nor do I follow Hayden White's somewhat idiosyncratic distinction between "fact" and "event"; I use the word "fact" in the generally accepted sense of a singular "true" statement about some aspect of the past (which need not be what we conventionally understand as an "event"). See also Chris Lorenz, Konstruktion der Vergangenheit (Cologne, 1997).

    14 In the view of journalist Anne Karpfherself the daughter of a Holocaust survivorthe only real question remaining now is whether Wilkomirski/Grosjean is "mad" or "bad": whether this is someone who, out of some deep-seated psychological insecurity, has genuinely convinced himself of a different identity or whether this is a person who is knowingly engaging in a long-term game of massive public deceit, for whatever reasons. Karpf, interviewed on "Child of the Death Camps: Truth and Lies," BBC documentary, Nov. 3, 1999.

    15 Ironically, this is not least the case with Keith Jenkins himself, who certainly makes a convincing pretense of seeking to expound the arguments of Carr, Elton, Rorty, and White, as though he really believes he is giving us an empirically faithful rendering of their texts.

    16 This of course relates to Robert Berkhofer's notion of "Great Story," or Jean François Lyotard's notion of "metanarrative," both of which highlight the insertion of particular facts into broader, substantive narratives not given by the individual facts (such as the "rise of liberty," "progress," "human emancipation," and so onor even a great story of "ruptures," "absences," and "discontinuities," although postmodernists might not like to agree that their disjointed view also is in essence a metanarrative based on little more than presupposition). However, given the wider theoretical connotations of a concept such as metanarrative, I decided to stick with a less specific, less loaded term to intimate the rather multifaceted problem of Geschichtsbilder and "noise" around the edges of any historical account.

    17 These are rooted to some extent in different substantive pictures rather than differences in theoretical approach (discussed further in the next section), although the two often overlap.

    18 This interpretation had the double benefit of both proving anti-Nazi credentialsthrough the outright condemnation of the evil regime and the criminal acts committed in the name of the German peoplewhile at the same time providing an effective historical alibi for the vast majority of Germans. For further details, see Mary Fulbrook, German National Identity After the Holocaust (Cambridge, 1999).

    19 This is obviously not an appropriate place to give full references on all these controversies. For the points made in this paragraph, see Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York, 1996); and Historikerstreit (Munich, 1987). On some of the older historiography discussed in previous paragraphs, see, e.g., Friedrich Meinecke, Die deutsche Katastrophe: Betrachtungen und Erinnnerungen (Wiesbaden, 1946); Gerhard Ritter, Europa und die deutsche Frage (Munich, 1948), eg. 193­4; and further discussion in Fulbrook, German National Identity.

    20 It might be noted in passing that even the postmodernist appeal to notions of "rupture" and "lack of order" have political implicationsbut in the case of postmodernist refusal to impose intellectual order or pattern on what appear to be chaotic and disordered events, the practical implication is one of willful abdication from any notion of political or moral responsibility or rational exercise of active citizenship.

    21 This is, of course, reminiscent of the story that a bumblebee, if taught the laws of aerodynamics, would discover that it is technically unable to fly. A similar problem is faced by unpracticed bicyclists in their first attempts to balance on two wheels.

    22 These issues are discussed more fully in my forthcoming book on these questions (again, see note 1 to this essay). It may be worth reminding ourselves, for the time being, that we, as human beings, communicate with each other on a daily basis - sometimes with greater clarity and mutual comprehension, sometimes with obfuscation and misunderstanding - and that there is no reason, in principle, why we cannot develop appropriate, if different, forms of communication with other humans elsewhere and at other times. These modes of communication will of course be somewhat different from those involved in face-to-face encounters.

    23 I should perhaps emphasize at the outset that I refer here to something rather more general and more abstract than the specific substantive accounts implied by notions of the "Great Story" or the "metanarrative." Whereas paradigm may not be a term welcomed by all, it serves my purposes very well here. 24 See Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago, 1962; 2d ed., 1970).

    25 It might be added that with the development of quantum theory, the same currently appears to be true even of natural science pace Kuhn.

    26 Maybe, because deviance from the master seems to be frowned on in some quarters, to give this version an aura of theoretical respectability I should call it "post-Kuhnian."

    27 See, e.g., Appleby, Hunt, and Jacobs, Telling the Truth About History, which presents an essentially Whig view of the history of history.

    28 See G. M. Trevelyan, English Social History (London, 1944; reprint, 1948), vii: "Social history might be defined negatively as the history of a people with the politics left out. . . . [But] without social history, economic history is barren and political history is unintelligible."

    29 See, e.g., the essays in Ian Kershaw, ed., Weimar: Why Did Democracy Fail? (London, 1990), where very different weights are given, e.g., to structural weaknesses or individual decisions, as in the perceived degree of "leeway for maneouvre" (Handlungsspielraum) in Heinrich Brüning's deflationary economic policy that had ultimately disastrous social and political consequences.

    30 Although there are serious debates in the philosophy of science, on which I am not qualified to comment, a simple example will illustrate the basic point: Two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen will, when combined, produce water - whether one drinks it as a Chinese Marxist or an American capitalist. Remember the old rhyme: "Peter was a little boy; Peter is no more; for what he thought was H2O; was H2SO4." Cf. also Tom Lehrer's song about the Periodic Table, which ends, "These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard; And there may be many others but they haven't been discovered."

    31 On different definitions of "nation," see Fulbrook, German National Identity.

    32 Let me give some examples of the acts of faith that may be required: I either believe in "deep structures determining surface appearances" or I do not. (For the record, I do not.) I either believe in the "decentered subject" or I do not. (For the record, I do not; and actually, I must confess to a singular distaste for the kind of pretentious and antihumanistic theorizing that tends to go on in such quarters on occasion.) I either believe that analysis of individual motives and actions constitutes a complete and satisfying explanation of a course of events through a rich historical narrative, or I do not. (For the record, I do not - or at least, I do not consider this to be in any way sufficient as an explanation.) And so on.

    33 Again, this is a massive question that cannot be pursued further in this context.

    34 See Mary Fulbrook, "Heroes, Victims and Villains," in Reinhard Alter and Peter Monteath, eds., Rewriting the German Past: History and Identity in the New Germany (Atlantic Highlands, N.J, 1997); and Mary Fulbrook, "Aufarbeitung der DDR-Vergangenheit und 'innere Einheit' - ein Widerspruch?" in Christoph Klessmann, Hans Misselwitz, and Günter Wichert, eds., Deutsche Vergangenheiten - eine gemeinsame Herausforderung: der schwierige Umgang mit der doppelten Nachkriegsgeschichte (Berlin, 1999).

    35 See, e.g., Armin Mitter and Stefan Wolle, Untergang auf Raten: unbekannte Kapitel der DDR-Geschichte (Munich, 1993); and Gerhard Besier, Der SED-Staat und die Kirche 1983-1991: Hohenflug und Absturz (Munich, 1993).

    36 Some of the contributions to this debate are reprinted in Rainer Eckert, Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, and Isolde Stark, eds., Hure oder Muse? Klio in der DDR: Dokumente und Materialien des Unabhängigen Historiker-Verbandes (Berlin, 1994).

    37 Jens Hacker, Deutsche Irrtümer: Schönfärber und Helfershelfer der SED-Diktatur im Westen (Berlin, 1992); Klaus Schroeder and Jochen Staadt, "Die diskrete Charme des Status Quo," in Klaus Schroeder, ed., Geschichte und Transformation des SED-Staates: Beiträge und Analysen (Berlin, 1994); Klaus Schroeder, Der SED-Staat: Partei, Staat und Gesellschaft 1949­-1990 (Munich, 1998).

    38 See, e.g., Klaus-Dietmar Henke and the work carried out under the auspices of the Hannah-Arendt-Institut für Totalitarismusforschung, Dresden (note the name).

    39 See particularly Hartmut Kaelble, Jürgen Kocka, and Hartmut Zwahr, Sozialgeschichte der DDR (Stuttgart, 1994) and related volumes; and Richard Bessel and Ralph Jessen, eds., Die Grenzen der Diktatur: Staat und Gesellschaft in der DDR (Göttingen, 1996).

    40 See my overview of the longer historiography in Mary Fulbrook, Interpretations of the Two Germanies (Basingstoke, U.K., 2000). A new twist to old West German battle lines has in fact been given by the East German dimension, in which those who were victims of the SED regimeor who at least wanted to represent themselves in this light to some degreealso adopted the condemnatory mode, often eclectically intermixed with overtones of social history and the history of everyday life. The work of Stefan Wolle is a case in point: See particularly Die heile Welt der Diktatur: Alltag und Herrschaft in der DDR 1971­-1989 (Berlin, 1998).

    41 Schroeder, SED-Staat, 632 ff.

    42 I elaborate on these ideas in a book I am currently working on, titled Perfectly Ordinary Lives? A Social History of the GDR (forthcoming).

    43 It should perhaps be remembered that principles of rationing operate in all healthcare systems: It matters little, for those who are excluded or disadvantaged, whether it is because of the primacy of political privilege under communism (members of the SED always had access to the best health care, the best-equipped hospitals and sanatoria in the GDR) or for economic reasons under capitalism (private health insurance schemes, private health care in a country with an overstretched national healthcare system, etc.). From the perspective of the disadvantaged under either system, it would be quite reasonable to quote Shakespeare: "A plague on both your houses."

    44 While I was ruminating on these ideas, a young East German colleague told me that she would never be able to present such an interpretation because the predictable response would be along the lines of "well, you would say that, wouldn't you"in other words, such an analysis could be written off as yet another symptom of Ostalgie. It is also potentially open to denunciation as a tainted attempt to rescue "something good" from the GDR. It seems to me that we should take an emphatic stand against such politicized modes of evaluation, which are not relevant criteria for determining the intellectual adequacy of these approaches.

    45 At the time of writing, Konrad H. Jarausch's recent edited volume, Dictatorship as Experience: Towards a Socio-Cultural History of the GDR (New York, 1999), was not available to me.

    46 Logically, if competing explanations of the same events are mutually incompatible, we must either develop shared criteria for making a choice between them or we must take refuge in pretending to celebrate "a diversity of voices"for which read a rejection of Western traditions of rationality. It may be, of course, that the latter is precisely what some postmodernists - with their explicit rejection of what they term the "modernist" or "Enlightenment project" - want us to do. But, oddly, they simultaneously engage in what on the face (usually) appears to be rational debate grounded in the evidence of what others have said on the same issues and questions.

    47 There seems little point, e.g., in seeking to resolve the theoretical issue of grand narratives by proposing the imposition of what amounts to a new substantive grand narrative of disorder, incoherence, and incomprehension as being supposedly more apposite to (or accounting better for) the realities (or evidence) of twentieth-century history.

    48 Contrary to the impression given in some quarters, it did not take the impulses of postmodernism to raise questions of "self-reflexivity" and personal bias to explicit attention: Even Geoffrey Elton had some comparatively wise words to utter on this topic more than thirty years ago (see, e.g., The Practice of History, 131ff). And it was of course Elton's chief intellectual protagonist, E. H. Carr, who said: "Before you study the history, study the historian" - rapidly followed by the arguably much more crucial injunction: "Before you study the historian, study his historical and social environment" (What Is History? 54). Similarly, before postmodernists lay too much claim to coining the notion of history as a "dialogic enterprise," we should remember that it was of course E. H. Carr who defined history as "a continuing process of interaction between the historian and his facts, an unending dialog between the present and the past" (What Is History? 35), a view with which - despite the vast gulf that separated them - Elton to some extent implied agreement.

    49 Metaphors I rather like in the context of widespread discussions of history are "transparent window on," "reflection of," or "picture substituting for" the past. At least one can discuss degrees of shading and distortion in different types of glass through which one can still discern the shapes of something real, however darkly.

    50 I have, in passing, made comments in respect to both of these areas, but I do not intend to explore them any more systematically in this context.

  • The Limits of Common Sense: (Post-) Postmodern Problems or Opportunities? A Comment on Mary Fulbrook

    Konrad H. Jarausch

    Regime ruptures as well as ideological struggles have shattered conceptions of the German past to a greater degree than the national histories of other European states. At the end of the twentieth century, the conjuncture of the collapse of communism and the linguistic turn has once again thrown accepted modes of narrating and interpreting Central European history into turmoil.1 How are we to explain the frequent system changes from Empire to Republic to Third Reich to German Democratic Republic (GDR) and Federal Republic of Germany (FRG)? What are the procedures for finding out the truth in a field marred by urban legends, Holocaust denials, and Ostalgie? In order to cope with such uncertainties, the informed but not partisan effort to restore order by eminent scholars like Mary Fulbrook, long-time editor of the journal German History, writer of leading textbooks and monographs on the GDR, is especially welcome.2 Although I agree with many of her observations, in the following comments I would like to emphasize some of my reservations in order to tease out the implications of her statements and then present some alternative proposals of my own.

    The Fulbrook Perspective

    The debate about postmodernism has been curiously delayed among German historians, many of whom have remained committed to a neorealist position due to the overwhelming presence of the Holocaust. When Michael Geyer and I attempted to initiate a more systematic discussion of the theoretical ferment in French or American historiography in 1989, Kenneth Barkin, the editor of the leading journal in the field, censored us for abandoning the Enlightenment, although we simply presented a different understanding of its legacy.3 During the last half-decade the efforts of Ute Daniel, Christoph Conrad, and other younger scholars have triggered an intensive discussion about the possibilities and limits of a new cultural history in Germany as well. Some of the excitement of their discoveries has even penetrated into the pages of the social history mouthpiece Geschichte und Gesellschaft and exercised the subscribers of the electronic forum H-Soz-u-Kult.4 Curiously enough, this intellectual confrontation seems only just to have arrived among German specialists in Britain, as the recent volume by Richard Evans and the forthcoming book by Mary Fulbrook attest.5

    This delay would not matter if it did not have strange consequences for the shape of the argument. To an outside reader, especially of the footnotes, the British version of the debate seems largely self-referential, centering on Keith Jenkins or Patrick Joyce, while largely ignoring the earlier American and German statements. This surprising parochialism leads to a distorted representation of the advocates of the linguistic turn, focusing only on the radical postmodernist (Fred Ankersmit) and narrativist (Hayden White) positions. Unfortunately, it slights the broad middle ground that has emerged after a decade of heated discussions among feminists, former Marxists, and post-colonialists that welcomes postmodernism as an exciting opening but rejects some of its extreme epistemological consequences.6 Recent essays by Geoff Eley, as well as the survey by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob (which Fulbrook dismisses too quickly), not to mention the arguments put forth by Michael Geyer and myself, are representative of this view.7 This is not an attempt to cavil about priorities but a question of pointing to the existence of a more discriminating reaction that seeks to benefit from the methodological impulses of deconstruction, discourse analysis, or narratology without necessarily succumbing to their ethical relativism.

    Because the Dutch theorist Chris Lorenz has laid the issue of referentiality to rest, the key problem does, indeed, revolve around the larger interpretative constructions that assign meaning to the past, be they frameworks or Geschichtsbilder.8 As the central explanatory concept Professor Fulbrook offers the Kuhnian notion of "paradigm," spinning it out by introducing "perspectival paradigms" as different from "paradigms proper" and subdividing these even further into "pidgin paradigms" and "implicit paradigms." At first blush this taxonomy appears suggestive, but on closer look the distinction between these various paradigms is not always clear, and feminist historians or partisans of Gesellschaftsgeschichte might be unhappy to be consigned to one subcategory or another. The notion of metahistorical constructs that precede scholarly investigation and are therefore resistant to empirical falsification is certainly helpful in pointing to the underlying theoretical assumptions of Marxists, Weberians, Foucauldians, and the like. But perhaps because I have myself been criticized for its misuse, I am more skeptical about applying the natural-science concept of "paradigm" to historiographical developments because the latter do not show a clear succession of ruling explanations but rather a contested contemporaneity of incompatible claims.9

    Concerning the elective affinities between certain implicit frameworks and "patterns of political or moral identification," Professor Fulbrook is more likely to be right. Beyond the Eurocentrist limitation of Weber's cultural concepts, I am not quite sure what provoked her strictures against the ideal-type method.10 However, I can only underline her conclusion of a general correspondence between conservative politics and traditional methodology on the one hand and more critical views and various methodological innovations, such as the "social history of politics" or everyday history, on the other hand. Within the German context, there does seem to be a good deal of generational and ideological identity politics involved in the respective choice of such political commitments and interpretative stances,11 but I am skeptical of finding a set of criteria that will allow one to evaluate such competing approaches in general and rather trust in the competition of different empirical investigations and interpretative explanations of the past in an open market of ideas.

    The intense debate surrounding the meaning of East German history is, indeed, a major proving ground for the various approaches because it revolves around the incorporation of an alien element into the Western-dominated collective memory of the united Germany. Professor Fulbrook's comments on the evolution of the debate from sensationalist accusations to more scholarly efforts are well taken.12 Moreover, her sharp criticism of the revival of totalitarianism (such as Klaus Schroeder's ugly neologism durchmachtete Gesellschaft) is an important contribution to arguments for more differentiated approaches to the contradictions of the GDR's past.13 And I can only agree with her emphasis on "the ambiguities of more complex realities" that she sees in the various social provisions of the communist regime, which resemble the British welfare state. But her objections to Kocka's notion of durchherrschte Gesellschaft fail to appreciate the stress on contestation between the regime and the population in some of the most recent work of the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung (ZZF) in Potsdam.14 Moreover, her own conceptual contributions seem still somewhat unsettled, varying from "participatory dictatorship" or "police welfare state" to "modern party absolutism" and do not take into account the latest coinages, such as Konsensdiktatur.

    As a result of these problems, Professor Fulbrook's final ruminations on "the nature of history" remain oddly inconclusive. One can only agree with her insistence on the ideal of "a community of scholars more committed to engaging in honest debates about the past than scoring political and personal points in the present." Moreover, the metaphor of "looking through a glass darkly" is as poetic as it is fetching. Also, her description of history's resemblance to interpretative anthropology, an art form, a kind of geography, a version of detective work, and a legal brief is illuminating. But what are the standards by which an admittedly "partial . . . creative, argumentative, or rhetorical" writing about the past can be judged so as to be sure that it will be neither "invented [n]or untrue"? There she leaves her audience without an answerbut this is precisely the crucial point! Although she clearly sets herself off from such neorealists as Geoffrey Elton, I hope not to do her too much injustice by supposing that when all is said and done, Professor Fulbrook would counsel us to use our "common sense." But is that really enough?

    Conceptual Alternatives

    In order to sound a more constructive note let me share with you some potential alternative solutions to the conundrums elaborated so well by Fulbrook. The following remarks draw on my collaboration with Michael Geyer, with whom I have for several years been engaged in a concerted effort to rethink the basic pattern of German history in the twentieth century.15 I also briefly refer to some of the heated discussions taking place in and around the ZZF in Potsdam, on how to deal with the history of the GDR and incorporate it into a joint postwar history of the Germans.16 These ruminations therefore try to bring American perspectives as well as German points of view more strongly into play in order to supplement the British vantage point. Instead of presenting post-modernism as the problem, I try to see whether its impulses might not also be part of the solution.

    When attempting to describe the fundamental metahistorical orientations in German historiography, I find the concept of the master narrative more useful than the dated notion of a paradigm. Taken from Jean François Lyotard, this term refers to a set of central stories told about a country that legitimize its identity through a certain representation of its history. Master narratives determine the content of such tales, the theoretical grounding of their presentations, the semantic methods of their retelling, and finally their basic discursive structure that creates a past reality.17 For instance, the story of the foundation of the American republic by freedom-loving colonists seeking to overthrow British repression is one such foundational narrative. One of the many advantages of this notion is the assertion of a systematic connection among historical interpretation, methodological approach, and political orientation that Professor Fulbrook has posited so eloquently.

    In the postwar period three such master narratives have competed with each other for dominance within the German successor states. First, traditionalists such as Gerhard Ritter continued with a chastened version of the national master narrative, created by the Borussian school to justify Prussian-led unification, in order to prepare the restoration of a national state in the future. Second, East German historians such Ernst Engelberg elaborated a Marxist counternarrative to this bourgeois conception, based on social class, that focused on the progress of the labor movement and intended to legitimize the GDR. And finally, progressive social historians such as Hans-Ulrich Wehler and Jürgen Kocka, sometimes called the Bielefeld school, elaborated in West Germany a narrative of modernization that emphasized the Sonderweg, the German deviance from the West. At the turn of this century, all of these master narratives have become discredited due to the excesses of nationalism, the collapse of communism, and the postmodern shift. The current confusion about how to present German history is a result of the eclipse of these master narratives, which creates an unprecedented degree of freedom for maneuvering.18 If one concedes the postmodern claim that historians reconstruct the past rather than produce scientific truth, the task of historical writing becomes both more complicated and easier at the same time. Although Hayden White is right in stressing the literary aspects of imagination and stylistic presentation, most practitioners agree that the writing of history is constrained by what actually happened in the past, which is accessible through memory or evidence. A historian also is limited by preceding debates about the interpretation of events because he approaches his subject with the baggage of previous arguments. Finally, historiography as a scholarly endeavor insists on certain "rules of the craft," regarding the handling of evidence and the presentation of material that are shared in the guild, regardless of ideology. But postmodern critics are correct in suggesting that writing about the past is a dialogic enterprise, approaching what happened before from a shifting present that establishes questions and often influences interpretations. The previous sketch of a moderate constructivism will hardly satisfy philosophers of history, but it represents the current practice of a post-postmodernist consensus. Whereas this approach cannot produce "truth" in the abstract, it can offer a degree of intersubjectivity that goes beyond "common sense."19

    What would a history of the GDR look like, if it were written from the point of view of such a new sociocultural history? Taking my recent volume on Dictatorship as Experience, which summarizes the work of the ZZF in English, as an example, it would, much like Mary Fulbrook, reject totalitarianism theory and stress the many tensions and contradictions of East German society. But it would also go a step further in exploring the paradox between the dictatorial character of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) system on the one hand and the relative normalcy of many individual lives on the other hand. In order to explain both the long existence of the second German state and its rapid collapse, a differentiated approach would seek to investigate the countless interactions between the rulers and the ruled as well as probe the degree to which the population actually controlled itself through language, discourse, and symbolism. As theoretical formulations to describe this contradiction I have therefore suggested the concept of a Fürsorgediktatur, which highlights both the compulsive and caring aspects of the regime, and the notion of a Gegengesellschaft, which stresses the communist attempt to replace bourgeois society.20 A critical appropriation of some postmodern impulses would have to stress the imperative of self-reflexivity as the precondition for critical scholarship. Because it tends to be neither common to all nor to make sense to everyone, an appeal to &sensualistic; cannot provide theoretical bootstraps ´ LA for pulling oneself out of the methodological swamp. Instead, it is necessary to turn a critical gaze on oneself as historian, asking for an open admission of personal prejudices, motives, and agendas - all those present impulses that govern the reconstruction of a past not just among others. The differences in background, ideology, current preoccupations, and the like that scholars bring with them to their interrogation of earlier times cannot be effaced - instead they provide the potential for enriching understanding through their very diversity. But such a plurality will only produce positive results if they follow the shared procedures of the craft, admit their own stakes in the debate, and subject their work to the criticism of their peers.21 Because there is no easy way back to a state of Rankean innocence and objective truth, historians and their publics had better learn to live with the current sense of uncertainty.

    When looking back at the entire twentieth century it seems that a limited openness to post-postmodern opportunities might provide clearer insights into its twisted course than a more traditional, unilinear narrative. The unparalleled catastrophes of the world wars and the Holocaust have shattered Whiggish notions of human progress and dramatized modernity's potential for barbarism instead.22 Yet the painful learning processes of the second half of the century have also produced the more positive outcomes of replacing dictatorship with democracy, creating security and prosperity through a social market economy, and overcoming nationalism with European integration, which appear to support greater optimism.23 How well can such extreme fluctuations and stark contradictions be represented by conventional event narratives and analyses that stress structural continuities? Or does all this personal suffering and collective upheaval not need a historical approach that takes seriously collective experiences of rupture and incoherence? Before they start putting the pieces back together again, German historians ought first to face up to the incredible disorder of their past!

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  • Footnotes

    1 Michael Geyer and Konrad H. Jarausch, A Shattered Past: (Re-)Constructing German Histories (forthcoming).

    2 See, e.g., Mary Fulbrook, The Divided Nation: A History of Germany 1918­1990 (Oxford, 1991), Anatomy of a Dictatorship: Inside the GDR, 1949­1989 (New York, 1995), and German National Identity After the Holocaust (Cambridge, 1999).

    3 Michael Geyer and Konrad H. Jarausch, eds., "German Histories: Challenges in Theory, Practice, Technique," special issue of Central European History 22 (1989): 227­457. See also the debate with Kenneth Barkin in German Studies Review 18 (1995): 241­73, and the subsequent discussion on H-German.

    4 Christoph Conrad and Martina Kessel, eds., Geschichte schreiben in der Postmoderne: Beiträge zur aktuellen Diskussion (Stuttgart, 1994); and Christoph Conrad and Martina Kessel, eds., Kultur und Geschichte: neue Einblicke in eine alte Beziehung (Stuttgart, 1998). For the debate, see also "Review Symposium Kultur und Geschichte," in "Humanities-Net Sozial- und Kulturgeschichte (H-Soz-u-Kult): Bilanz nach drei Jahren," a special issue of Historical Social Research 24 (1999): 36­81.

    5 Richard J. Evans, In Defense of History (London, 1997); and Mary Fulbrook, Historical Theory: Or, Talking Sense about History (London, 2000).

    6 For critics of this post-postmodern consensus, see Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, eds., Reconstructing History: The Emergence of a New Historical Society (New York, 1999).

    7 Geoff Eley, ed., Society, Culture, and the State in Germany, 1870­1930 (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1996); and Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob, Telling the Truth About History (New York, 1993).

    8 See Chris Lorenz, "Postmoderne Herausforderungen an die Gesellschaftsgeschichte?" Geschichte und Gesellschaft 24 (1998): 617­32.

    9 Konrad H. Jarausch, "Illiberalism and Beyond: German History in Search of a Paradigm," Journal of Modern History 55 (1983): 268­84.

    10 For the rediscovery of the cultural dimension of Max Weber, see Peter Jelavich, "Methode? Welche Methode? Bekenntnisse eines gescheiterten Strukturalisten," in Conrad and Kessel, eds., Kultur und Geschichte, 142ff; and Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Die Herausforderung der Kulturgeschichte (Munich, 1998).

    11 Georg Iggers, ed., The Social History of Politics: Critical Perspectives in German Historical Writing Since 1945 (Leamington Spa, U.K., 1985).

    12 Mary Fulbrook, "New Historikerstreit, Missed Opportunity, or New Beginning?" German History 12 (1994): 203­7.

    13 Klaus Schroeder, Der SED-Staat: Partei, Staat und Gesellschaft 1949­1990 (Munich, 1998); and Stefan Wolle, Die heile Welt der Diktatur: Alltag und Herrschaft in der DDR 1971-­1989 (Berlin, 1998).

    14 See Thomas Lindenberger, ed., Herrschaft und Eigen-Sinn in der Diktatur: Studien zur Gesellschaftsgeschichte der DDR (Cologne, 1999), as well as the companion volumes edited by Michael Lemke, Peter Hübner, and Martin Sabrow.

    15 Michael Geyer and Konrad H. Jarausch, "Twentieth Century Germany: Rethinking a Shattered Past," in Geyer and Jarausch, eds., A Shattered Past.

    16 "Getrennte Vergangenheit - Gemeinsame Geschichte? Protokoll einer Podiumsdiskussion vom 29. Mai 1999" at the Geschichtsforum in Berlin, Postdamer Bulletin für Zeithistorische Studien 15 (Aug. 1999): 13­46.

    17 Jean François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis, 1984). See also Matthias Middell's project proposal, titled "Konjunkturen und Krisen der nationalgeschichtlichen Meistererzählungen im Vergleich," Leipzig, 1999.

    18 See Konrad H. Jarausch, "A Return to National History?" as well as "The Collapse of the Counter-Narrative," and "Modernization, German Exceptionalism, and Postmodernity," all in Geyer and Jarausch, eds., A Shattered Past .

    19 Chris Lorenz, Konstruktion der Vergangenheit: Eine Einführung in die Geschichtstheorie (Cologne, 1997).

    20 Konrad H. Jarausch, "Realer Sozialismus als Fürsorgediktatur: Zur begrifflichen Einordnung der DDR," Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, 1998, B20: 33ff; and Konrad H. Jarausch, "Die Gescheiterte Gegengesellschaft: überlegungen zu einer Sozialgeschichte der DDR," Archiv für Sozialgeschichte 39 (1999): 1ff.

    21 Cf. Joan Wallach Scott, "Border Patrol" and Lloyd S. Kramer, "Gerard Noiriel's Pragmatic Quest for Paradigms," both in French Historical Studies 21 (1998): 383ff, 399ff.

    22 Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust (Ithaca, N.Y., 1989). See also Eric J. Hobsbawm, "Eine gespaltene Welt geht ins 21. Jahrhundert," Frankfurter Rundschau, Dec. 4, 1999.

    23 Michael Geyer, "Germany or The Twentieth Century as History," South Atlantic Quarterly 96 (1997): 663ff.

  • A Search for Genius in Weimar Germany: The Abraham Lincoln Stiftung and American Philanthropy

    Malcolm Richardson

    Buried in the annual report of the Rockefeller Foundation for 1930 lies a cryptic reference to a German educational bursary with an unlikely name: the Abraham Lincoln Stiftung (ALS). The organization's odd name - combining the German word for foundation with the name of an American president - was intended to symbolize the possibility that a democratic educational system might provide both social mobility and humane leadership. The creation of this German foundation with American money remains one of the best-kept secrets in the history of Rockefeller philanthropy. The Lincoln Stiftung began its short, tumultuous life in 1927 in the afterglow of Locarno and died a violent death seven years later, another victim in the wreckage created by Hitler's seizure of power.

    During its short existence the ALS recruited many of the Weimar Republic's ablest intellectuals to help it identify exceptionally gifted younger scholars, artists, and writers. Among those who took part as "talent scouts" were Marianne Weber, the widow of Max Weber; Paul Tillich; Herman Hesse; Walter Gropius; Käthe Kollwitz; visionary educators Kurt Hahn and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy; publishers Heinrich Simon and Eugen Diederichs; Prussian educational reformer Carl Heinrich Becker; and such statesmen as Willy Hellpach, Anton Erkelenz, and Wilhelm Sollmann - the latter three were prominent figures in the politics of the Weimar coalition and firm supporters of the Republic.

    The Lincoln Stiftung had great ambitions but few resources. Although only a handful of the names of its sixty or so grant recipients would be recognized today, a longer list of 133 candidates whom the directors of the ALS apparently intended to recommend or consider for aid suggests that, had it continued its activities for a few years longer, the Lincoln Stiftung would have become internationally famous. Just before 1933 the directors of the Lincoln Stiftung listed Hannah Arendt, Waldemar Gurian, Klaus Mehnert, and even Albert Schweitzer as possible fellowship recipients. However, within a few months the ALS's directors and many of its advisers and fellows were fleeing Germany.

    This essay attempts to provide a factual summary of the Lincoln Stiftung's origins and development and as full a listing of its advisers and fellows as the surviving documentary record permits. Because many of the organization's records apparently have been lost, a number of interesting questions about the ALS's operations and its choices of fellowship recipients must remain unanswered. At the same time, the Lincoln Stiftung's ambitious goals also invite speculation about the extent to which external philanthropists and liberal internationalists could have worked to strengthen the ill-fated Weimar Republic and whether the kinds of educational reform envisaged by its directors could have effected fundamental changes at German universities. Finally, the ALS's insistence on finding unrecognized genius or unfulfilled talent, and the involvement of many of its founders with the opposition to Hitler, demands an effort to examine the subsequent careers of its fellows. Although I can only begin to sketch a collective portrait of its fellows and leadership in the 1930s, even a preliminary assessment must at least consider some important issues about the younger generation's relationship to the events of 1933. Although I cannot fully answer the questions I intend to raise, I believe the case of the Lincoln Stiftung offers an opportunity for further research into the relationships among the youth movement, the educational system, and the fall of the Weimar Republic.


    From the outset the Lincoln Stiftung was an unusual example of German-American collaboration. When the ALS was formed in 1927 by a group of liberal German educators, both its German and American sponsors thought the enterprise was better left unpublicized, and accordingly made no public announcement. In the following year, when the trustees of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial voted to give money to the new German organization, they took care to keep their gift a well-guarded secret. The minutes of the memorial, a foundation created by John D. Rockefeller to commemorate his wife, record this decision: "The funds will be submitted to the Lincoln Stiftung through . . . [an] intermediary in order that the donor shall remain anonymous."1 Shrouded in secrecy at birth, the Lincoln Stiftung has remained virtually unknown until today.2

    That a gift from an American foundation, and especially one destined for the support of scholars and teachers in the humanities, could potentially be so controversial, and thus require such caution, seems difficult to believe in retrospect. To understand this discretion it is necessary to recall the fevered political climate of Weimar Germany. Although the Republic had weathered serious crises, and the Locarno pact and a brief prosperity created the illusion of stability, bitterness toward the Allied nations remained while political hatreds, religious differences, and class distinctions poisoned Weimar politics. The universities, rooted in Imperial Germany, remained conservative and suspicious of, if not hostile to, the Republic. As an experiment with American methods of philanthropy, the Lincoln Stiftung was implicitly critical of the German universities and educational bureaucracy.

    The idea of a private foundation pursuing its own ends independent of government direction was not a familiar one to most Europeans in the 1920s, but Germany boasted thousands of charitable institutions and trusts devoted to the welfare of orphans, students, and the sick. Moreover, Germany's Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft (Kaiser Wilhelm Society) had pioneered the use of private funds to create advanced scientific institutes whose research work was conducted independently of the state-supported universities. Germany's network of private foundations and research institutes suffered a severe blow in the early 1920s with the onset of runaway inflation. Suddenly, institutions with millions of marks in assets watched as the purchasing power of their endowments disappeared. In response, German scientists and scholars created new institutions such as the Notgemeinschaft für deutschen Wissenschaft, or Emergency Committee for German Science, or the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes (Student Foundation of the German People) and sought help from both government budgets and private donations. Although prominent industrialists provided some support, the uneven economic recovery made private funding difficult, and these new institutions - like the universities they served - relied heavily on state support. It should hardly come as a surprise, then, that the creation of the Lincoln Stiftung was the result not so much of German as American initiative. Even more precisely, the Lincoln Stiftung experiment originated in a three-sided collaboration among the American donors, three German educators, and a remarkable English man of letters, Geoffrey Winthrop Young, whose life was to become intertwined with that of the ALS. In the interval between its creation in a period of optimism and its destruction in one of depression and despair, the Lincoln Stiftung managed to suggest ways in which a democratic educational system could be constructed from the aristocratic and conservative one bequeathed to the Weimar Republic by the old empire.

    Critical of their country's class distinctions and limited access to higher education, the German organizers of the Lincoln Stiftung - principally Carl Heinrich Becker, Hans Simons, and Reinhold Schairer - sought to promote the careers of a more democratic corps of teachers. As a consequence of this stance, the advisory board of the Lincoln Stiftung included a disproportionately large number of youth movement leaders, pacifists, feminists, adult education specialists, and educational experimenters.

    The Lincoln Stiftung developed a national network of consultants, or nominators, who sought to find outstanding if unconventional minds and gifted individuals of both sexes who were not well served by the German academic system. Also included in this search were youths whose service during wartime or whose background at ordinary popular schools precluded admission to the German universities. More than a few of the Lincoln Stiftung's fellows held leadership roles in various youth groups - trade union or socialist in the northern industrial cities, Catholic in the Rhineland and southern Germany - and a number participated actively in various movements for international reconciliation. Perhaps not surprisingly, several of the Lincoln Stiftung's directors and advisers later distinguished themselves in the resistance to Hitler, while many more, including the directors Hans Simons and Reinhold Schairer, fled Germany after 1933. Of the 101 intellectual leaders listed as advisers or consultants in the ALS's first report to the memorial, over a quarter emigrated and several others - most notably Theodor Haubach and Adolf Reichwein, who were executed for their part in plots against Hitler - participated actively in the German resistance. The Lincoln Stiftung's advisers and fellows were, by and large, educators; Becker and his associates sought to create a generation of teachers committed not to any one party or political creed but to democratic values generally. That such an aim should require outside funds was an admission that the German backers might find politically embarrassing, and they readily agreed to the oddest part of the Lincoln Stiftung plan: its anonymity. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that Becker and the other German directors saw in the ALS a way to circumvent the conservative educational bureaucracy and the no less conservative universities.

    The Rockefeller Philanthropies and Postwar Internationalism

    On the American side the creation of the Lincoln Stiftung can be traced to a desire on the part of the Rockefeller philanthropists to aid the cause of international reconciliation. In the years immediately following World War I each Rockefeller philanthropy - and there were several until most were merged into the Rockefeller Foundation in 1928 - searched for ways to promote international understanding.3 The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, a fund devoted primarily to the social sciences, proved especially active in fostering international exchanges and fellowships in its own field of reference.4 In the mid-1920s the memorial, in its attempt to improve international understanding, sought to examine the process by which educational systems reproduced prejudices and nationalist sentiment. To this end it commissioned a series of studies. Directed by the political scientist Charles Merriam of the University of Chicago, these studies of civic education in France, Germany, Italy, and Russia suggested that national education systems continued to foster dangerous animosities among the former belligerents of World War I.5

    By promoting international exchanges and by funding European educators who were active on behalf of internationalist causes, the memorial's president, Arthur Woods, and its executive director, Beardsley Ruml, hoped to use the social sciences to counteract parochialism and narrow-minded patriotism. This American faith in the efficacy of the social sciences ran into some practical difficulties, however. Merriam's survey of civic education had noted that European school curricula reflected a very traditional kind of education with only limited attention to the newer social sciences. At the sametime the humanities disciplines, especially history and languages, formed the crucial components in the elementary and secondary curricula and in shaping a view of the outside world. The series of studies undertaken by Merriam and his associates coincided with the Rockefeller office's interest in taking a wider look at the humanities in Europe, and after some deliberation, the memorial's leaders decided to seek a European consultant who could advise them on the best ways to strengthen European humanists working to improve international relations. The memorial wanted a consultant who was both in sympathy with their aims for educational reform and one who knew European institutions.

    A letter from Woods to Ruml in the summer of 1925 gives perhaps the most explicit account of what the memorial hoped to achieve in its early exploration of Europe:

    The plan that has gradually formed itself is for a survey of the field in Europe, to find out in general what is the state of the Humane Studies, and in particular who are the very great men in these subjects, under what conditions they are working, what, if anything, need be done to help them produce their best work, whether of aid of some kind at home, or the possibility of international intercourse. Then to find out about the students: are the best men going into these studies; if not, why; where are the most brilliant, are they studying with the masters they should, do they need to go to other countries for work.6

    Woods himself had carried on a one-man inquiry: At Oxford, at Cambridge, and in London, he spoke with the leading British intellectuals of the day who were active in the League of Nations and other international causesGilbert Murray, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, Ernest Barker, George Macaulay Trevelyan, and the Fabians Graham Wallas and Beatrice Webb. "They have all been keen about it, some extremely enthusiastic," Woods reported with satisfaction.7

    It was in the course of these conversations that Woods hit upon the memorial's consultant for the intended survey of the humanities in Europe: the British poet and educator Geoffrey Winthrop Young. "No one had anything except good to say of him," Woods wrote Ruml, and after talking with Young, Woods too became convinced that the poet was the right man for the job.8 Young himself echoed the enthusiasm of Woods, Trevelyan, and the others in his letter of acceptance. Of Woods's proposed survey Young replied that "its idealism appealed to every moral fibre."9

    In many respects, Young was an ideal choice. He was well versed in several European languages. His career as a teacher had culminated in an appointment as one of His Majesty's Inspectors of Schools, a prestigious appointment that took him throughout England and gave him a wealth of experience with different educational practices. A renowned mountain climber, Young remained an active figure even after the loss of a leg in World War I and amazed his contemporaries by continuing to climb with only one leg. "His successful ascent of the Matterhorn a few years ago, in the face of what might seem an insuperable disability, ranks as one of the greatest feats of mountaineering," The Times of London noted.10 Young, in fact, climbed peak after difficult peak for eighteen years after the amputation. At his death one mountaineering journal proclaimed him the best amateur climber of his day, and his companion on one numbing eighteen-hour climb described Young's endurance that day as "the greatest physical feat he had ever witnessed."11

    Too old for active duty, Young had volunteered for dangerous assignments throughout the war - first as a correspondent, then as the field director of British ambulance units in Belgium and in Italy where an Austrian shell forced surgeons to sever his leg. His gallantry and personality could not fail to appeal to Woods and the American philanthropists; in addition to his undeniable courage, and quite apart from his linguistic qualifications, Young's idealism and his faith in voluntarism struck a resonant chord in the offices of an American foundation that had given millions for Belgian relief. Finally, Young appealed to the Americans for another reason: Although he never abandoned his belief that the Germans bore the major share of the responsibility for the war, four years of bloodshed and his own personal trauma had burned away the nationalist ardor of 1914 and transformed Young into a pacifist. "We have chosen war and must follow it to its undiscriminating end," he wrote during the war in one passage reminiscent of Woodrow Wilson. "Let us see to it that it is for the last time."12

    Although Young's initial assignment included all of Europe, he soon narrowed his focus to Germany. "For reasons too many to set down, Germany must always remain, intellectually, of principal importance to Europe," Young began a lengthy report to the memorial.13 He suggested that it make an intensive study of German needs and then use the experience gained there before expanding its grant-making in the humanities to other countries. In the meantime, Young plunged into his work with relish. Following his own advice, he traveled throughout Germany, visiting the country's principal intellectual centers and universities.

    The Young Report, 1926

    Young emerged from his travels through Germany with a remarkable, even prophetic report on the cultural and intellectual life of Weimar Germany and its educational system. Beneath the day-to-day surface of events, Young detected deeper illiberal currents running through the youth movement, in the universities themselves, and especially among the student groups. In his portrayal of the intolerance of many German intellectuals and the growing alliance of extremist student and youth groups, Young painted a damning but sometimes penetrating sketch of German education.

    He had set out merely to survey the country's humanities faculties, but in the course of his investigations on behalf of the American foundation Young discovered an emerging reaction to the Republic's educational reforms and a growing sense of intense political partisanship. In particular, Young was alarmed by the failure of the German universities to foster a sense of political tolerance that he knew must underlie any democratic society. Yet, far from being a source of support for the new Republic, Young found to his dismay that the German universities were instead "the breeding grounds of active wrong-headedness, of dogmatic intolerance."14

    Young also was appalled by the extent to which politics played a role in university appointments and in student life. In the view of this former inspector of English schools, "party views are not only encouraged to trespass where they do not belong, but they may - to our thinking - be improperly reinforced by the whole weight which an authoritative reputation or an official position can lend."15 Young reported that he had been given reliable information about cases in which students received scholarships and other prizes as a result of pressures placed on the educational administration by political figures. Even worse, Young cited cases where the students had tried to influence faculty appointments. He also intimated that academic freedom was not entirely guarded by the ranks of the professors either, citing the case of a professor at Jena whose polemics against President Paul von Hindenburg had led the nationalists to demand he be fired. To Young it was apparent in reading the German press and the academic journals that the "tradition of the professorial war-letter is not, spiritually, dead" and that Weimar professors were just as prone to resort to ad hominem attacks on opponents as their nineteenth-century predecessors had been. "Forbearance with a dependent, a pupil, even a weaker opponent, does not count for wisdom or as a virtue," Young ruefully noted.16

    Young's indictment of the German professors repeated the three-hundred-year-old conflict between British empiricism and German idealism. But it also reflected a considered view of teaching and a familiarity with German methods at their best and their worst. Some twenty years before his mission to Germany on behalf of Rockefeller philanthropy Young had studied educational theory at the University of Jena, and the defects of the German penchant for abstraction had been painfully etched in his memory by one German theorist. In an unpublished chapter intended for his memoirs, Young recalled how at Jena he had gone eagerly to listen to the lectures of a "great pedagogic theorist." The renowned expert proceeded to "give a course of lectures on how to teach art without illustration from a single sample drawing or even a blackboard sketch," a performance Young termed a "masterpiece of sincere verbiage."17

    In addition to the dogmatism to which this abstract theorizing easily lent itself, Young came to see in the course of his inquiry for the memorial a second, and no less serious, flaw in the organization of the universities. Access to the German university was severely restricted by a series of competitive examinations and by the fact that secondary education was not free. Because both students and professors were thus likely to come almost exclusively from the privileged and wealthy classes, the dangers of an education that did not encourage researchers to seek practical experience were increased. Nothing in their university education was likely to challenge the prejudices of the students, and accordingly German students in the Weimar period developed an increasingly militant dislike of the Weimar establishment led by moderate trade unionists and middle-class democrats. If Young deplored a surprising hostility to new ideas and a dogmatic tendency among the professors, he denounced the baleful influence of the student fraternities, the dueling corps, and the even more overtly political associations. "Their selected representatives," he explained to Woods and Ruml, "not only take part in many forms of university government, but advise on such matters as the choices for state scholarships, etc."18

    Far from siding with the underprivileged, the students were, in the majority, even more reactionary than their professors. Although Young tended to dismiss student rhetoric as only an "immature distortion" of the nationalist and conservative views of their elders, he was forced to report at the same time that the students, taken as a group, were even more dangerously intolerant than the nationalist professors. The more politically active among the students, Young noted, were partisan extremists who did not hesitate to use intimidation and even violence on occasion against political opponents. "But, it is of more serious moment for us that there should be evidence that the corporate students [that is, members of the dueling corps and other elite fraternities] in their turn, and with naturally greater crudity [than the professors of the same ideological bent], seek to establish little short of a 'terrorism' over their contemporaries of a different political persuasion."19

    In late 1926 the prejudice among the student corps was anti-republican, and ironically, in a country noted for its respect for the established authorities, "we have the curious position that an outspoken Republican, that is, a state supporter, may be blackballed . . . for any Games Club patronised by the substantial middle class."20 Despite a discernible revolt against the older generation, the student radicals had come to inherit the worst features of the older authoritarianism, exaggerating it until it acquired a menacing new form. Throughout the student associations, the dueling fraternities, and the social clubs, too, Young detected an illiberal inheritance that boded ill for the health of a democratic political life. In German schools, Young concluded, "the spirit of toleration, of compromise, and of the personal respect owed to those who may think differently from us on honest grounds, is not a popular or inborn instinct."21 In his talks with various German intellectuals and educational leaders, Young was particularly struck by the number who had participated in the youth movement. "At the present day practically all the men who count, as forces or what we may call 'live wires,' in the country have in their time belonged to the movement in its earlier phase."22 At some point in the course of his tramps through Germany, Young met the remarkable Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, an unorthodox and visionary educator fired with the conviction that formal schooling all too often left the spiritual dimension of the personality undeveloped. In his search for alternatives to what he regarded as the stifling conformity and one-dimensional education of the day, Rosenstock-Huessy developed close ties with the student movement in Silesia. At the time Silesia, a disputed territory whose southern districts were divided between Germany and Poland after a postwar plebiscite, attracted attention from the student movement as a jumping off point for rambles through Central Europe to German-speaking communities across the border - popular destinations for nationalist German groups unhappy with the boundaries imposed by the Versailles treaty - and as a site for camps and treks in the German countryside.

    It was undoubtedly through Rosenstock-Huessy that Young first made connection with the most dynamic of the German youth leaders, Hans Dehmel, and came to see the potential of the reconstructed youth movement. In Silesia, Dehmel and Rosenstock-Huessy created a hostel and center for adult education, the Boberhaus, that became a model for similar educational ventures throughout Germany and Central Europe. Young himself spent time at the Boberhaus and described it in a log of his travels:

    The experience of the life and conversations here proved most enlightening. It is an experiment to convert Lower Silesia into a cultural unit for eastern Germany. Trade union workmen, peasants, and students are associated for three weeks in common activities and resultant discussions. One of the many objects is to set University education in a more sympathetic light and to secure its better appreciation. Another is to keep the population on the soil and to cultivate them while they cultivate it. It is conducted by Prof. Rosenstock of Breslau, a practical economist, and one of our Lincoln helpers, and by Hans Dehmel, perhaps the most important of the leaders of young Germany, whom the Lincoln Stiftung is enabling this year to complete his education and so secure a firmer footing for his wide activities.23

    When Dehmel received one of the first Lincoln Stiftung fellowships he had been working uninterruptedly for eight years to reunify the German youth movement. Along with Ernst Buske he had re-created the Deutsche Freischar, the largest and most successful of the Free German or independent youth movement organizations in the Weimar years. From his Silesian base Dehmel sought to involve students, farmers, and workers in experimental "working camps" that provided useful day labor coupled with evening classes and social activities. Not only did these camps provide an outlet for the unemployed or the restless, but Dehmel and his youth movement colleagues sought to overcome the barriers of class, religion, and ideology that were increasingly dividing German youth into warring camps in the 1920s. This nonpartisan and democratic tone brought Dehmel and Rosenstock-Huessy to the attention of political and educational leaders in Berlin. For his part, Young saw in the Silesian work camps and the youth movement an ideal marriage of theory and practice, of idealism and action. "The new movement adopts a far more practical and praiseworthy principle [than the prewar youth movement, the Wandervögel]," Young wrote. "It seeks to teach a judicial attitude of mind towards even political questions, and a habit of handling them detachedly and impersonally upon their own merits. . . . It preaches respect for an opponent . . . presumably, likewise inspired by honorable and patriotic motives."24 Although far from perfect, this wing of the youth movement seemed to Young much more likely to create a spirit of democratic citizenship than the universities or the public schools. That assessment in itself might be taken as one of the most damning, if unspoken, parts of Young's indictment of the German educational system.

    The ALS and Weimar Educational Theory

    Given his criticism of Germany's restrictive school system and his own career in Britain, it is not surprising to find that Young was intensely interested in Weimar Germany's educational reformers. German pedagogical debates were especially intense in 1920s, a product of the ideological and political upheaval of the time and the work of Weimar Republic leaders such as Becker to broaden access to education. In fact, many of the now unfamiliar names on the list of ALS advisers turn out to be German educators, no small number of whom, like Rosenstock-Huessy, might be called part of Weimar Germany's "counter-culture." These educators were radically at odds with German educational hierarchies and the university's seemingly single-minded pursuit of specialization and rationality.

    As one of its first fellows the Abraham Lincoln Stiftung chose a Catholic priest, Ludwig Baum, who sought to imitate the English public boarding schools. Baum, like many of the ALS fellows, had served at the front during World War I and had been active in the youth movement. Following three years of active duty Baum studied for the priesthood in Bonn and threw himself into social work in the Catholic workers' movement. When the ALS discovered him in 1927, he had just opened his boarding school at Hellerau, near Dresden. There, according to the ALS's biographical file, Baum attempted "to put into practice a synthesis of fundamental Christian doctrine and tradition with the finest ideals of the German youth movement."25 In his own words, Baum aimed to "free the education of our Catholic youth from its limitations" and instill a "deeper understanding and sympathy for other nations."26 Young himself added a note on the biographical sketch forwarded to New York, declaring Baum "a remarkable man" who possessed the "personal simplicity and gaiety of St. Francis."27

    Unique though his personality may have been, Baum's selection as one of its earliest fellows illustrated the Lincoln Stiftung's commitment to educational innovation and the connection between educational reform and the youth movement. Another educator and school founder, Fritz Klatt, served first as a consultant or "talent scout" before the ALS's directors decided that his own impecunious work merited financial subsidy. Klatt, a prominent figure in the youth movement and an educational theorist, burned with an almost mystical faith in the necessity for individual self-development or Bildung. Before the war Klatt had tramped with the Wandervögel and studied art history. He fought at the front line and was severely wounded; always introspective, his war experiences intensified his search for personal meaning. After the war his loyalty to the youth movement's ideals and his dissatisfaction with the existing educational system took a practical turn.

    By that time Klatt had formed very definite ideas about education. Highly individualistic himself - one suspects he fit badly into the prewar Prussian schools with their insistence on a rigidly structured curriculum and severe discipline - Klatt reasoned that because every person was unique, his or her training should vary accordingly. In 1921 Klatt founded his own adult education school and hostel in a sleepy Pomeranian town near the Baltic to put his ideas into practice. Klatt himself gave lectures on art, poetry, and philosophy to "young men of very varied professions and from all classes of society."28

    Klatt's experiment brought him some attention and notoriety. "The ALS took up his case on grounds that they saw in him a rare type of educational leader," the ALS's file on Klatt confides, "one whose reactions from present social conditions have not merely resulted in negative criticism, but have led him to concrete and constructive action, contributing to new forms of corporate living."29 Some idea of his success came from the Nazis themselves: In 1933 they closed the school.

    Perhaps the most remarkable, and undoubtedly the most influential, of the German educators whom Young came to know was Kurt Hahn, whose path in life would soon come to parallel Young's. Before turning to education Hahn had pursued a successful political and administrative career. Hahn rose to the top of the German civil service in the years before the war, and during wartime he served in the German Foreign Office as an interpreter of British public opinion. As Germany neared the end of the disastrous war Hahn threw in his lot with Prince Max of Baden, who became the head of the provisional government. As an aide to Prince Max in this transitional regime, Hahn played an important role behind the scenes, meeting secretly with Allied diplomats to negotiate an end to the war.

    The crisis of 1918-­19 seems to have slaked Hahn's thirst for public office. Following the disastrous interregnum in which the Allied powers largely rebuffed overtures from Prince Max's weak government, Hahn withdrew from the public realm. The failures of Imperial Germany and the painful transition to the Weimar Republic convinced Hahn that postwar Germany required leadership of a new sort, and beginning his second career as an educator he set out self-consciously to train both intellect and character. In the salmon and ochre colored buildings of the former monastery of Salem am Bodensee, Hahn launched his educational experiment with Prince Max's children as his first charges. Although he would later be celebrated for his contributions to German democracy, in 1919 Hahn struck many observers as distinctly aristocratic in his approach to educational problems. Arnold Brecht, who had worked closely with Hahn during the war years and who knew him well during this period, later recalled that Hahn's educational ideas were elitist. According to Brecht, the courtly Hahn sought to educate leaders first and foremost.30 Although Hahn supported the Weimar Republic, he clearly viewed it as an imperfect regime but one preferable to the alternatives. Hahn therefore was the embodiment of the Vernunftrepublikaner, the less than whole-hearted democrats who supported the new regime with their heads but not their hearts.

    Hahn's ideas, however, found a perfect resonance with Young. He had been struggling for years to put into words and practice his own dissatisfaction with the English boarding school and its emphasis on the playing field. Young, to be sure, did not object to athleticism as such: Although a thoughtful educator and a reflective man of letters, he freely admitted his love for rough games and outdoor activities. But what Young found missing in his own experience and in the German schools he visited as well was an educational practice that balanced intellectual rigor with vigorous physical activity - which personal experience had taught Young that boys needed - in a setting that provided an educational purpose to all the events outside the classroom. Hahn did not see the excursions he organized for his charges as a momentary diversion from schooling but as part of a carefully constructed curriculum of experiences destined to shape character and emphasize creativity and leadership. For Young, Hahn achieved a near-perfect harmonization of two very different educational goals, high German academic standards with the English public school's emphasis on character development.

    Young's embrace of Hahn's methods and their common understanding that the virtues of aristocratic ideals of self development must not be lost in a democratic age helped shape the Englishman's vision of what the Lincoln Stiftung should, and might, achieve. Disdainful of vocational and mass education, Young shared Hahn's conviction that a handful of educational reformers and idealists could create exactly the sort of leaders modern Germany needed - and that traditional channels seemed designed to exclude or stunt. In the composition of its advisory board and its selection of its first fellows, the ALS sided with the experimentalists and the visionaries.

    Organization of the Lincoln Stiftung

    In retrospect it is Young's perceptive criticism of the defects of German educational organization and his commentary on the distemper of the times that first seize attention, but for Young the business at hand was the more positive task of finding a way in which American philanthropy might aid these forward-looking German educators. And the latter were not yet in retreat: In particular, Young had been heartened by the liberal outlook of the Prussian minister of education, Carl Heinrich Becker, and by the experimental attitude of Reinhold Schairer, the director of Germany's student aid society, the Studienstiftung. Exactly how the idea of creating an entirely new, private German foundation emerged from Young's conversations with these leaders is not clear, but when Young submitted his report to Woods and Ruml in late October 1926, the heart of his study was a recommendation that the memorial support an imaginative scheme designed to introduce a measure of voluntaryism into a system that was still authoritarian and inherently rigid.

    In contrast to the centralized state ministries and their formal procedures, Young proposed to use the American funds for an experiment with a more dispersed or decentralized search for talented individuals conducted by a purely private foundation. He challenged the German administrators to contrast their system with "a scheme which based its search for personalities upon personal and individual information."31 The new organization would depend on the type of individual voluntary service characteristic of many British and American charities and would rely on the "free collaboration" of unpaid consultants, individuals who "could be trusted on their own merits to understand its objects . . . and enter into its spirit."32 The ALS would operate outside state institutions and guard its independence from university or educational bureaucracies.

    Some evidence of Young's success in launching the ALS is provided by the list of prominent Germans who agreed to serve either as nominators or as members of the board of trustees. This latter group, which Young persisted in calling the "presidential committee," was chaired by Education Minister Becker. A distinguished Orientalist, Becker directed the largest educational system in Weimar Germany with a firm hand - and, a rarity among Weimar professors, with a genuinely liberal outlook. A colleague in one of these beleaguered coalition governments said of him that "even if everything Becker did had been wrong . . . still Prussia had not had a better minister of culture for over a century."33Becker merited this praise for the way in which he ran the Prussian state educational system with a determination to expand educational opportunities at all levels. His democratic inclinations led him to revise the admissions procedures of the Prussian universities, prying them open to candidates who did not have the classical education previously required. Becker also used his power of appointment to promote professors more sympathetic to the Weimar Republic than the majority who, as Young had put it in his report to the memorial, were "reactionary, both in their politics and their views of contemporary life."34

    In addition to Becker, the remaining members of the board included a carefully balanced list of political and cultural figures. The treasurer, Albert Dufour-Feronce, was a German diplomat who had only recently been elected by the League of Nations to serve as one of its permanent undersecretaries. The remaining members were unlikely bedfellows: Heinrich Simon, a liberal publisher who directed the influential Frankfurter Zeitung; a much more conservative publisher, Eugen Diederichs of Jena; the philanthropist and industrialist Robert Bosch of Stuttgart (who would later play a key role in the German resistance, providing funds to Carl Goerdeler); another industrialist, Carl Duisberg of I.G. Farben; and Georg Kerschensteiner of Munich, one of Germany's leading educational philosophers.

    Young and the German organizers - principally Becker, Simons, and Schairer - never intended to hand any real duties to this board, except perhaps those of fund-raising. Its primary function seems to have been entirely symbolic as a guarantee of the plan's representative quality and its broadly nonpartisan character. A second purpose, to judge by the assurances Young relayed to Woods and the Rockefeller trustees in New York, may have been to defend the Lincoln Stiftung from possible charges of undue American influence in German cultural affairs. Schairer credited Young with insisting "that the first condition was the formation of a purely German presidential committee who should administer the scheme not as the trustees of a foreign enterprise, but as the guardians of a national undertaking."35 Young himself wrote, in a supplementary report on the Lincoln Stiftung's first year of operation, that this group of prominent Germans had been created less to function as a board of trustees with real executive powers than as "a protective screen . . . whose names should secure the fund from press criticism or political pressure." The committee, Young reported with satisfaction in 1930, had met only twice and gave every sign that it would "remain protectively and usefully inactive, except when questions of finance or fundamental problems of extension and the like arise."36 Finally, to guarantee that the committee should not play too active a role, the organization's bylaws stipulated that no member of the presidential committee could take part in the deliberations of the fellowship committee or make recommendations on the Lincoln Stiftung's decisions to support individual candidates.

    No less remarkable than the notables who served as honorary trustees were the Vertrauensleute or consultants whom Becker, Schairer, and Simons convinced to serve (without pay) as advisers or "talent scouts" for the new organization. In his report to the memorial, Young had spoken of the need to recruit the "live wires" among Weimar intellectuals, and his claim that the Lincoln Stiftung had done so clearly was no idle boast. A document accompanying Young's memorandum to the memorial describing the formation of the ALS in 1927 listed the names of 101 prominent Germans, of whom the majority were active defenders of the Weimar Republic and leading figures in the country's intellectual life (see Appendix 1). Nearly a quarter of these advisers were civil service administrators, many of them serving as Becker's colleagues in the educational and cultural ministries of Prussia, Saxony, and other German states.

    In addition to this group of more-or-less "official" representatives of the German educational establishment, there were no less than ten members of the Reichstag and the chief judge of the supreme court, Walter Simons, whose son Hans was, as noted, one of the ALS's directors. Among the political figures were Willy Hellpach, the presidential candidate of the Democrats in 1925; and Anton Erkelenz, Carl Severing, and Wilhelm Sollmann, the latter two prominent members of the Social Democratic Party. Among the political figures serving as advisers the Lincoln Stiftung included the feminists Gertrud Bäumer, Alice Salomon, and Helene Weber. Whereas the Lincoln Stiftung's list of advisers was weighted left of center, it also displayed a conscious effort to include the full spectrum of political opinion in Weimar Germany. Thus, in addition to the prominent leftist and pacifist intellectuals, the ALS's network of advisers included numerous members of the Catholic Center Party (Zentrum). The ALS also succeeded in recruiting leading figures from the Right, including such prominent conservative spokesmen as the legal scholar Carl Schmitt and Nationalist Party spokesman Otto Hoetzsch.

    The largest single group - composed of some forty-five or more names - were academics, generally of a much more liberal disposition than the professoriate at large. Beyond the ranks of the parliamentarians, civil servants, and other representatives of "official" Germany, Young recruited an array of artists and literary figures who he hoped would counterbalance the ALS's inherent bias toward academic figures. Foremost among these independent intellectual figures was Thomas Mann, although it must be added that there is no evidence that the great novelist ever played an active role in the selection of candidates or even that he nominated one. The Lincoln Stiftung's artists included Käthe Kollwitz and sculptor Georg Kolbe, the dramatist Kurt Tucholsky, film director Paul Wegener, and, from the Weimar theater, Leopold Jessner. There also were a number of writers and editors on the board, including Karl Vossler, Ludwig von Ficker, travel writer Leo Matthias, and, from the Stefan George circle, Ludwig Klages. A writer more staunchly to the left, Walter Hammer, later played an active role in the resistance.

    The ALS also boasted a small but distinguished number of scientists. The Nobel Prize winner Fritz Haber agreed to serve as a consultant, as did naturalist Friedrich Dessauer. Two liberal Protestant theologians, Paul Tillich and Richard Kroner, took an interest in the ALS's nominations, and the list of nominators also included the church historian Georg Schreiber, a prominent Catholic lay leader who served as the Zentrum party's spokesman on educational questions affecting the universities.

    By no means were all of these advisory board members active participants, and it is clear that Young and the German directors sought to keep the more politically involved members at arm's length from the selection process. Some time after the initial report of the ALS's formation was sent to the Rockefeller Foundation in 1927, the directors found it necessary to add new nominators. Unfortunately, there is no list comparable to the one compiled in 1927, so that the only indication of the newly expanded circle of nominators for the Lincoln Stiftung's later phase comes from a list of candidates compiled in 1930. This document names some 133 Kandidaten or nominees who were under serious consideration and also indicates which advisers made the nominations. This imperfect list, containing the names of so many new advisers not on the earlier lists, suggests that any complete roster of Vertrauensleute in 1930 would bear only a slight resemblance to the original list of 1927. The list of 1930 reveals some surprising additions to the ranks of the "talent scouts," including such luminaries as Hermann Hesse, Marianne Weber, and Albert Einstein.

    Thus, although there is no record that Thomas Mann ever took an active interest in the ALS's search for new talent, Hermann Hesse sent in the names of actress and writer Emmy Ball-Hennings and her daughter Annemarie Ball. Max Weber's widow, Marianne Weber, was an even more active participant, and she proved to have an excellent eye for talent. Whereas it is probable that she suggested even more names, the list of candidates included four of her nominees, and of these two received financial aid. The philosopher Raymond Klibansky, one of her choices, later emigrated to Great Britain, where he was associated with the Warburg Institute. Another fellow active in her Heidelberg circle, Eduard Baumgarten, translated Dewey's works into German and survived the Hitler years to play an active role in the reconstruction of the German universities.

    The First Class of Fellows of the Lincoln Stiftung

    The first fellows selected by the newly created German foundation came from a number of fields, but, perhaps not surprisingly given Young's canvas of German educational leaders and the spirit of the Locarno years, the majority of the fellows were distinguished by their involvement in international reconciliation, educational reform, or the German youth movement (see Appendix 2). The educators Klatt and Baum, youth movement leader Dehmel, and scholars Baumgarten and Klibansky have already been mentioned. Others in this first class of selectees included Elisabeth Rotten, who had worked with English prisoners of war during World War I; Maria Sevenich, a leader of Catholic women's groups in the Rhineland and a future member of the Bundestag; international law specialist Heinrich Rogge; psychologists Karl Duncker and August Vetter; philosophers Heinrich Hellmund and Albert Dietrich; an art historian, Herman Goern; the marine geologist Albert Schwarz, who tragically would die young; the naturalist and veterinary medicine specialist Bernhard Grzimek, who would go on to play a leading role in international wildlife preservation efforts; political scientist Theodor Eschenburg; social scientist Alfred Sohn-Rethel; the writer Hans Queling; and youth movement leaders Fritz Skurnia, Hermann Lange, August Rathmann, and Rudolf Schubert.

    When the Lincoln Stiftung issued its first report in 1930 it summarized the careers and work of this group of individuals. Consequently, this first cohort of twenty-two is the best-documented set of Lincoln Stiftung fellows. Of these twenty-two selections, it is striking to note that at least twelve had participated in the youth movement, usually in some leadership role. Of the men, at least nine had served on the front lines during the war, and one, Klatt, had been seriously wounded. A number - Klatt, Baum, Vetter, Rathmann, and Skurnia - were especially concerned with problems of education for workers and other adults who fell outside the formal educational system. Despite the range of interests covered by this first class of fellows, the ALS directors heard complaints from their consultants that these selections did not range far enough and that, for such an experimental operation, there were too many academics destined for university careers. Young added a personal note suggesting that the Lincoln Stiftung also needed a permanent secretary, the beginnings of an administrative office, to keep in touch with the network of consultants and the expanding group of fellows whose careers the ALS should track. Just as it was developing its own administrative machinery, however, the Lincoln Stiftung's distant patron was completely transforming its own.

    Reorganization of the Rockefeller Philanthropies

    In 1928 the various Rockefeller philanthropies were reorganized, and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial's programs in the social sciences and the humanities were incorporated into those of the Rockefeller Foundation - a change that would seriously affect the Lincoln Stiftung. The newly consolidated foundation emphasized advanced scholarly research along disciplinary lines ranging from the physical sciences to the humanities. The difficulties in fitting the older programs of the memorial into the revised programs of the foundation were especially evident in the case of the Lincoln Stiftung.37

    Having inherited Young and the Lincoln Stiftung from the memorial, the officials of the Rockefeller Foundation hardly knew what to make of their bequest. Edward Capps, an American classicist who was charged with developing a program in the humanities, saw no place for the ALS in the foundation's future work. When Young set out the memorial's previous interests in the humanities in the form of a seven-page memorandum, Capps responded coolly. "The guiding principle of the Foundation as at present organized is the advancement of knowledge through research," he told Young. "This statement of purpose, therefore, would automatically exclude such an activity as you have established in the Lincoln Stiftung, in which your objective was the 'discovery of the original or humane mind' in Germany."38

    To further the administrative confusion the foundation's president, George E. Vincent, retired in 1929 and was replaced by a scientist-mathematician, Max Mason, who showed much less sympathy for the humanities and the rather freewheeling ways of his European consultant. Whereas Vincent had delighted in trips to the foundation's office in Paris and in long conversations with Young, Mason had little patience for the seemingly endless discussions that the humanities entailed. Foundation officials in Paris recommended that the Lincoln Stiftung be turned over entirely to its German directors with a notice that they would have to find alternative sources of funds, perhaps after a final Rockefeller grant.

    But just as the Rockefeller Foundation was preparing to withdraw its support, the Lincoln Stiftung was began to attract wider attention from German officials. In December 1929 Young had journeyed to Berlin to meet Becker and other members of the ALS's board of directors in the education minister's offices. There, on the evening of December 14, the directors summoned several of their star pupils for a conference with Becker and other Prussian officials. Young made an opening statement on the origins of the educational foundation, and then several of the ALS fellows spoke on the effects of the Weimar Republic's various educational reforms.

    In his diary Young noted that this conference had also interested the German Ministry of the Interior as well as the educational hierarchy. Young recorded the participation of Carl Severing, the Reich minister of the interior and the chief minister of Prussia, as follows: "A dramatic incident was the entry of Minister Severing three hours late at the end of a cabinet meeting which had lasted two days, during which time he had saved parliamentary government in Germany, and incidentally avoided being appointed himself dictator by Hindenburg. He was naturally fatigued, but took part in our discussions for the remainder of a long evening."39 Severing had indeed been involved in protracted cabinet meetings concerning the ruling coalition's increasingly weak hold on the country, and the presence of one of the principal political figures of the day at a time when political infighting was intense was an indication of success.

    In a second and fuller account sent to the Rockefeller Foundation, Young wrote that Severing's brief remarks included a promise to contribute 20,000 marks to the ALS's budget for 1930. In explaining the interest of so pressed and busy a politician in the Lincoln Stiftung, Young was perhaps not unrealistic: "It seems clear that he saw in the ALS a new opportunity for discovering and influencing opinion in many social sectors not usually reached, a kind of vertical register . . . composed of very able men drawn from many classes, which could be consulted with profit as one might read the markings on a thermometer outside the window."40

    The decision of the German government to back the Lincoln Stiftung represented a major accomplishment for Young, Schairer, and Simons. No doubt it was in large measure due to some unseen prompting from Becker, whose collaboration with Severing and the embattled moderates in the Prussian cabinet was close during these months. And, to be sure, Severing had cause for worry about German youth; with the depression deepening and unemployment mounting, extremist groups were gaining ground daily. In the end, the Lincoln Stiftung's success, like Severing's in the cabinet, was short-lived; the moment of their success coincided with the beginnings of the Weimar Republic's death throes.

    However, to the Rockefeller Foundation officials at the time, the ability of the ALS to enlist new sources of support in the midst of a severe depression constituted a strong argument for giving it additional support. By the summer of 1930 Mason was persuaded that the Lincoln Stiftung should not be cast adrift just as it showed signs of becoming self-supporting. When Mason and Thomas B. Appleget, the foundation's vice president, visited the Paris office that same summer they met with Young and Selskar M. "Mike" Gunn, the head of the foundation's European operations, and quickly came to an agreement to extend Rockefeller contributions for an additional three years. Foundation officials abandoned the memorial's insistence on anonymity and approved a plan to have Young serve the remainder of his consultancy as full-time liaison between the Lincoln Stiftung and the Rockefeller Foundation. Mason, Young, and Appleget agreed that "if the experiment is successful, more and more contributions will come from German sources."41

    Following the foundation's decision in June, Gunn and Appleget traveled to Berlin in the following month to meet with the Lincoln Stiftung's leadership. Encouraged by the renewed interest, Becker and Schairer raised the possibility of increasing the stakes in this gamble. Suggesting that the Americans commit their organization to a pledge of $50,000, they optimistically estimated that they could raise half that amount from German sources. At the end of a further trial period, with these expanded revenues, the ALS would undoubtedly be in a position to demonstrate its worth.42

    As it turned out, however, the Lincoln Stiftung's optimism proved premature. By the time the two Americans returned to Berlin, the Weimar coalition had lost its tenuous hold on power and they found that Severing's replacement at the ministry did not share the Social Democrat's interest in educational experiments. "The Minister," Appleget's diary explains, "announces for the first time that the subventions previously granted by the German government must now be discontinued and enlarges upon the difficult German economic situation." Gunn, who no doubt had been involved in similar negotiations before, responded that the Rockefeller Foundation "could never be the sole source of support of any enterprise" and expressed the foundation's desire to see "other contributions . . . forthcoming."43

    Despite these setbacks the Rockefeller Foundation was now determined to support the ALS and to offer it one final chance to prove itself to its German backers. Gunn and Appleget agreed that, if nothing else, the Lincoln Stiftung represented an interesting experiment and might serve as a "control group" in comparison with the foundation's fellowship program. Thus, even in the absence of an agreement by the German government to live up to Severing's pledge, the two Rockefeller officials agreed to push for a renewal of the foundation's support. Interestingly, they agreed to recommend $60,000, an even larger sum than the Germans had requested. But to reinforce the point that the foundation hoped to see the Lincoln Stiftung become entirely supported by German funds, they proposed to have the foundation's grant taper off over a four-year period, each annual installment becoming progressively smaller.44

    Shortly after Gunn and Appleget decided to continue with the Lincoln Stiftung project, word arrived from Germany that the government had relented. Although the subvention from Berlin was trimmed in half - to 10,000 marks - it was nonetheless a victory for the ALS and, perhaps, for Gunn, too. Schairer, who directed a national student service organization, wrote Gunn to explain that his own organization's budget had been trimmed by over 600,000 marks: "In this situation you will understand that the contribution to the Abraham Lincoln Stiftung is also shortened."45

    Appleget returned to New York in the autumn of 1930 convinced of the need to give the Lincoln Stiftung a decisive boost. At a meeting with Mason and the principal officers of the foundation he argued that the earlier role played by the Rockefeller office and the prominence of the Germans who had by then become involved with the ALS dictated further support. Although Appleget conceded that the entire project was far removed from the Rockefeller Foundation's new orientation toward basic research, he thought the work of the ALS too valuable to be abandoned lightly. The support promised by the German government constituted another important argument. From a variety of sources it seemed evident that the Lincoln Stiftung had succeeded in its initial efforts and that it was conducting activities that had received enthusiastic backing from Becker and other German educators. On balance, Appleget thought that the previous grants had been too small to accomplish Young's original scheme, and the minutes of the meeting record his judgment that these previous grants of $10,000 per year were "ridiculously small for the size of the machinery and the number of good applications reported." In sum, Appleget now recommended a large appropriation of $85,000 to be spread over six years in diminishing payments. Such a plan would bestow a "decent gift" on the Rockefeller offspring and also would give the German backers ample time to weather the depression and raise funds locally.46

    The extended discussion over continuing support to the ALS was finally brought to an end by the trustees in December 1930. Although the trustees allowed themselves to be persuaded that a grant was in order to achieve a "definite but still courteous withdrawal,"47 there were apparently many reservations about, and perhaps even opposition to, the plan Appleget had formulated. In the end, the foundation's trustees decided to cut the proposal virtually in half and award the ALS an additional $45,000 spread over four years in the following manner: 1931: $15,000; 1932: $15,000; 1933: $10,000; 1934: $5,000. By cutting the total and by scheduling the payments in this fashion, the foundation clearly intended to put the Germans on notice that they would have to find additional sources of funding by the end of 1932.

    Writing to Gunn in Paris, Appleget summarized the sentiment at the meeting: "I think that the final action may be considered as a compromise between our feeling that the project should have further trial on a more adequate basis . . . and the feeling of the trustees that, in view of the impossibility of weighing the imponderable considerations presented, the Foundation should, as soon as it could in all justice to our German friends, leave the project."48 Although this decision fell far short of Young's and Schairer's hopes, given both the doubts of the trustees and the initial hostility of the president, it was undoubtedly the best outcome they could have obtained.

    The Crisis of 1933

    The issue of additional Rockefeller support for the ALS became critical in 1933. In February, less than a month after Hitler's designation as chancellor, Hans Simons met with one of the foundation's representatives in Paris, John Van Sickle, to emphasize the importance of the German agency's work. Although the Rockefeller Foundation's grant would not expire until the end of 1934, the ALS's directors could already feel the pinch of the decision made in 1930 to taper payments. The German directors were convinced, however, that they had a case to make for further support. Simons, according to Van Sickle's notes, "cited one case after another of men of exceptional promise who, through help at a critical point, have been saved from disaster or a futile existence and brought to secure positions in which they will make real contributions."49 Ironically, Simons himself had just been fired by the new regime and Van Sickle reported his pessimistic estimate that "a number of years will elapse before he can return to public life."50 Although he had just been a victim of political pressure, Simons nonetheless argued that the Lincoln Stiftung would be able, as it had in the past, to place its candidates.

    This latter argument was repeated even after the Nazi purge of the civil service and the dismissals of Jewish professors in April 1933. Throughout 1933 the directors of the ALS, and especially Simons, who made no less than three visits to the Rockefeller Foundation's office to plead his case, attempted to persuade the foundation to reverse its decision. Despite Van Sickle's unambiguous declaration in February that "further support was not to be expected,"51 Simons and Young continued to hope that some additional aid could be coaxed out of the foundation. Given the inability of the Lincoln Stiftung to replace its governmental subsidies or to raise any private German funds, a decision by the Rockefeller Foundation not to renew its support would be tantamount to killing the organization.

    Simons remained convinced that the ALS still had a role to play in saving careers of "exceptional promise." To Tracy B. Kittredge, another officer of the foundation who worked in Paris, he made known his distress over the earlier rejection and argued with evident conviction that the Lincoln Stiftung was the last remaining hope for saving independent intellectual life in Germany. Kittredge reported that "Dr. Simons . . . is convinced that under present circumstances the Stiftung might be able to play a role of exceptional importance if it could continue its work for a further period." Kittredge added that Simons "pointed out that the hope of intellectual life in Germany now rests definitely on men of the younger generation."52

    Precisely for that reason it was all the more imperative for the Rockefeller Foundation to reconsider its stance and to give the independent German foundation additional funds to carry on its work. Simons offered an intriguing forecast of the months to come:

    [T]he present regime is so solidly established that it is bound to endure for a relatively long period. He feels that the men of the older generation who have been definitely labelled as social democrats or as liberal intellectuals will play very little role in the future of German intellectual development. Many of them will go into exile, and of those who remain in Germany few will be able to exercise much influence. He feels that those who have rallied to the regime will, on the whole, have less influence than those who have held aloof.

    On the other hand, Dr. S[imons] feels that the experience of the last six months shows quite definitely that there will be a very important modification in the movement itself through the influence of the stronger intellectuals among the youth who make up the party. About half of the former beneficiaries of the ALS have become party members. In so doing, Dr. S[imons] feels that they have not abandoned in the least their own intellectual independence or the possibility of contributing to the future of German culture.

    S[imons] feels that in the future the forms and methods of intellectual expression will be different than in the past, but he has no reason to believe that in the long run the German intellectual tradition will not be maintained. For this reason he is convinced that if in addition to supporting for a further period of one or two years certain men now receiving grants, the Stiftung could also make a number of new grants, that it might make a very significant contribution to the future of German thought.53

    Although Kittredge warned Simons that the Rockefeller Foundation would be curtailing its programs in Germany and that he could not give the ALS official any encouragement, the wording of his reply may have in fact done so. Kittredge told Simons that there was only a "very small prospect" of further support, but given the categorical reply from Van Sickle in February this answer sounded much less final.54

    Consequently, Simons and Young made yet another concerted effort in November to reopen the ALS question. The various diary entries and memoranda suggest that they had a sympathetic audience in the Paris-based officers of the foundation. Both Kittredge and Van Sickle were well informed about the dismissals and Nazi persecution of intellectuals and political opponents, and the possibility of funding an organization seemingly free from state control must have appealed strongly to the foundation's representatives. Despite the repeated and often categorically negative responses, the persistence of these conversations and the sympathetic tone of Paris office memoranda suggest that the Rockefeller Foundation did, in fact, give these last-minute appeals serious consideration.55

    From London Young wrote that although it had been possible to place half of the ALS fellows in once secure jobs, "because of the political changes in Germany, even the results already obtained are now endangered. . . . Positions offered to the A. L. St. for its members have been occupied by members of the governing German party."56 But in the same breath Young and Simons argued with some ingenuity that the Lincoln Stiftung offered the last remaining hope to transform the new regime in Germany. "Both Young and Simons feel that it is of the greatest importance to help men of character they are interested in to remain in Germany," Van Sickle summarized one discussion held in November 1933. "Such men will not occupy leading places," Simons and Young conceded to Van Sickle, "but they will be an important element in liberalizing the Regime once the first excesses of the revolution are over."57

    Nothing better reveals this hopeful estimate of the possible "liberalizing" effects of the Lincoln Stiftung experiment than a curious report forwarded by Young to the Rockefeller Foundation. Two of the ALS fellows had rendered signal services to the Reich Labor Ministry by organizing adult education programs in the state-run labor camps. Of one of these fellowship recipients, an expert in adult education who had received ALS funds to travel abroad and study in the years prior to the Nazi takeover, it was claimed that without this stipend he would never have come to the attention of the new government bureau. That this might be an ambiguous blessing in 1933 did not deter the officials of the Lincoln Stiftung from pointing to this particular case as an outstanding example of their success in placing promising younger men into positions of leadership. "We provided a salary and put him at the disposal of the Social Ministry of the Reich [Reichsarbeitsdienst]," the officials of the ALS wrote (in Young's translation): "Owing to his efficient guidance, the working camps are now no longer confined to manual labor and training, but are becoming more and more centres of valuable adult education."58 That this Fabian strategy was pursued actively - and not in one or two cases only - is attested to by other documents. Young's report cited a second fellow, Hans Raupach, as an example of the successful penetration of the party's counsels by men of a more liberal disposition. Described as the "official adviser of a provincial headquarters" of the National Socialist party, Simons and Schairer still believed Raupach to be at heart on the side of the angels. An important youth movement leader, and Dehmel's successor as director of the Boberhaus, the Lincoln Stiftung's leaders credited this expert on agrarian problems with "supporting German youth in its struggle against the more military forms of its present organization." A third fellow had "studied the methods of conducting intelligence tests developed in the USA" but "was unable to find any work after his return." With the backing of the ALS he had helped the Saxon provincial government develop tests, based on the latest American social science methodology, for assessing likely university applicants. Because the new government proposed to restrict admissions, the work of this fellow had an immediate relevance and his tests were welcomed by the authorities in Dresden. Thanks to these techniques, the directors reported, the Saxon government "should reduce the numbers of university students by half."59

    Simons seems to have devised a tactic that succeeded in placing those Lincoln Stiftung fellows who were so inclined into government bureaucracies. The memorandum summarizing his conversation with Van Sickle in November 1933 explains the technique:

    Simons particularly stresses . . . that many men can be assured of secure positions of great usefulness in Germany, in public service, if - for a period of six months to a year - the salaries attached to their offices can be defrayed from non-governmental sources. As long as it is known that the displacing of such a man will not open the way for a Nazi in better standing, there will be no pressure to put him out. After he has been there for a short time it will be comparatively easy to provide for him from government funds: his position will be taken for granted. If the Nazi higher up is in favor of the man, he will be able to work him into the system.60

    Or, put more simply, ALS grants bought temporary places for several fellows, including the two youth leaders who volunteered for work with the Reich Labor Service. Although hindsight makes it easier to see that the question of who was using whom was far from answered, in 1933 Simons seems to have persuaded Van Sickle that he and the Stiftung had found a way around the politicization of the civil service and one that might ultimately help liberalize the government's policies.

    Young and Simons recognized that such a course of action posed some risks, and indeed they seem to have been worried about the careers of several of the fellows whose "high intellectual and moral standards" were already bringing them into conflict with the new regime. "We wish to support existing members of the A.L.St. who cannot continue their research or their practical work without joining the 'Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei' against their convictions, and thereby giving up the essential value of their individual contribution to the human cause."61 Ironically, for an organization that had attempted to be nonpartisan and that had constructed elaborate safeguards against political interference from Weimar political parties, the Lincoln Stiftung now found its officers, fellows, and advisers enmeshed in political considerations.

    On the American side the decision on the fate of the ALS formed part of a larger policy debate within the Rockefeller Foundation about whether it should continue to have a role in Germany and, if so, what the best course of action should be. By the spring of 1933 the foundation's office in Europe was painfully aware of the extent of Nazi anti-intellectualism and xenophobia. Following the first anti-Semitic decrees by the Hitler government ousting hundreds of Jewish professors and scientists from their posts, the foundation's office in Paris found itself inundated with appeals for aid. Foundation officials also heard contradictory advice about how best to help and widely divergent assessments of the long-term impact of the new regime. The foundation's German fellowship advisers, fearing a complete withdrawal of American funds, took an optimistic stance and predicted that the disruptions caused by the dismissals of 1933 would not last long. Van Sickle and Kittredge, the program officers in Paris responsible for the social sciences, hoped that the foundation might be able to resume its normal operations. They and their counterparts in the science programs of the Foundation heard similar assessments from German educational authorities who stressed the need for continued assistance during the emergency. Consequently, they were sympathetic to arguments from the ALS that its grants made independent intellectual life possible. The private nature of the ALS strengthened its appeals to foundation officials because in 1933 it appeared to be one of the few viable organizations in Germany capable of continued operation.

    This natural sympathy on the part of the Paris-based officers of the Rockefeller Foundation for the German intellectuals with whom they worked was offset, however, by the growing skepticism of the foundation's trustees and senior officials in New York that the philanthropy could continue to do business as usual in Germany. The foundation very quickly moved to create effective programs for refugee professors, and the trustees ordered the continuation of all existing German grants to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. As it became apparent that Nazi rule would not be temporary, and that its dismissal policy was not an aberration but part of the new regime's fundamental outlook, the foundation altered its operations in Germany. Beginning with its cautious case-by-case approach in the spring of 1933, the foundation's trustees reluctantly concluded that intellectual repression precluded any further activity and in 1935 they ordered a halt to the Foundation's grant-making in Germany.62

    The decision on the Lincoln Stiftung, however, was made well before this crucial turning point, and indeed the Foundation's senior leadership studied the evolution of this small experiment with keen interest as a clue to the changes in the intellectual climate in Germany and as a test of the real possibility for any independent organizational life under the Nazi regime. Appleget, the foundation's vice president and the chief backer of the ALS in 1930, had become convinced that the foundation could not do business as usual in Nazi Germany. Although he might have been sympathetic to Young's and Simons's efforts to support anti-Nazi fellows, Appleget did not believe that the strategy outlined by the Lincoln Stiftung would work. "The argument advanced, namely, that the L.S. will provide a stimulation and training to the best of the young men in the Nazi movement, is not particularly appealing," he recorded in his diary.63

    Appleget's judgment spelled the end of the ALS and its remarkable experiment in carving out a greater role for private institutions in the German educational system, an experiment that was unique in Rockefeller and general American philanthropy at the time. Although Simons and Young continued to appeal for support, the Rockefeller Foundation declined to provide any emergency support or to make any supplemental award. With this decision, the ALS came to an end in 1934. The following year, when Simons came to New York to join the New School's University in Exile as a refugee professor, even he was forced to concede that the foundation's decision had been correct: Simons told John Marshall, the assistant director for the humanities program, that there remained no possibility for independent intellectual life in Germany.64

    Toward an Assessment of the Lincoln Stiftung

    Sixty-five years later, how are we to evaluate the Abraham Lincoln Stiftung? Appleget's conclusion that the ALS could not survive and the jarring estimate in Kittredge's memorandum that half its fellows had joined the National Socialists suggest a very negative assessment by the Rockefeller Foundation's officers. Whether half the Lincoln Stiftung either sympathized with or joined the Nazis cannot be determined until the full roster of fellowship recipients can be identified, but given the high number of émigrés among both the fellows and the advisers, it seems doubtful that the majority of the ALS fellows actively sympathized with National Socialism.

    Nonetheless, it is clear that some - most notably, the jurist Heinrich Rogge, the philosopher Albert Dietrich, and the journalist Giselher Wirsing - actively endorsed the new regime's nationalism. However, the majority of the Lincoln Stiftung fellows whose careers I have been able to trace clearly did not join either the National Socialists or participate in the party's organs. If we set aside (for a moment) the question of political allegiance, a close reading of the judgments expressed by foundation officials in 1930 and again in 1933­4 suggests that they did not regard the experiment as a complete failure. It would be more accurate to conclude that the Rockefeller Foundation did not know how to evaluate this unique entity and that as the American foundation ended its German operations it began to view the issue - which, despite the ALS's small size and limited scope, once engaged its presidents and professional staff on both sides of the Atlantic in a lively debate - as irrelevant to its newly defined programs.

    Perhaps appropriately, the final word in this debate over the Lincoln Stiftung's merit as a fellowship scheme came in 1937, when Reinhold Schairer published an evaluation in the British Education Yearbook. Unlike the ALS's critics in the foundation, Schairer judged the experiment to be a resounding success. He praised Young's genius in seeing the need for such a private entity in Weimar Germany and his remarkable personal skills in the successful creation of the German foundation. On what basis did Schairer judge it a success? First, Schairer implicitly agreed with Young's analysis of the need for more private initiative in the German educational system, and consequently he praised, almost in passing, Young and the ALS for successfully implementing a flexible new scheme for awarding fellowships and other forms of support. In a sense, Schairer seems to have been arguing that the "principle of personal guidance and individual discretion" was missing in German scholarship programs - including, perhaps, the one he ran in Dresden - and, as a sign of success, he cites (as Young had) the ALS's insistence on pairing its candidates and fellows with individual mentors, an echo of the British tutorial system.65

    Schairer also asserted that the ALS had succeeded in altering lives and careers for the better, and just as he and Simons had done in their first report to the Rockefeller Foundation in 1930, Schairer counted not only the relatively small number of stipend recipients but also the much larger list of candidates who received only advice or referrals. Most of the preliminary list of possible fellows, Schairer added, needed no funds from the Lincoln Stiftung but only assistance from existing sources. Nonetheless, by steering such talent into the right channels, the new foundation provided a service not offered by any existing agency. More verifiable evidence, of course, came from the careers launched by, or saved by, the ALS's actual grants.

    Schairer found a third value in the ALS's "social potential," that is, in its insistence that intellectual distinction be married to public service and leadership activities. Although the roster of Lincoln Stiftung fellows certainly demonstrates that a number of its fellows went on to pursue distinguished academic careers, Schairer's third standard of judgment was a much harder one to establish, and his article in the Education Yearbook did not attempt to elaborate on this point. Instead, Schairer pointed to Young's prescient earlier reports and noted that, had the ALS had more time to work with the Silesian labor camps and the adult education schools, it might have offered German youth a much more powerful alternative than the nihilism of the Nazi movement. Despite Schairer's enthusiasm for Young's model, the Lincoln Stiftung found no imitators and soon faded from view. The Rockefeller Foundation and other philanthropies had no intention of launching such experiments in the midst of a global depression and in a Europe where nationalist sentiments were reaching the boiling point.

    Schairer's study does suggest at least one approach for the historian: to look at the subsequent careers of the Lincoln Stiftung fellows, and possibly those of the larger group of candidates who, had more funds been available, might have been awarded stipends. Unfortunately, the documentary evidence presents some serious obstacles for historians with a statistical bent: The ALS did not publish a final report (save for Schairer's article), and the Rockefeller Foundation files contain confusing documents; of those emanating from Germany, none seem to go beyond 1933. How the ALS spent its few remaining funds in 1934 is unknown.

    Even identifying the fellows of the ALS is difficult. Schairer's 1937 article, for example, speaks of "about seventy" fellows (or "members" as he and Young referred to the stipend recipients).66 A retrospective assessment by Kittredge in 1935 notes that "of approximately 70 cases . . . practically all had turned out successfully."67 A note appended to a summary of the ALS's work at the beginning of the Rockefeller files refers to "82 beneficiaries" between 1928 and 1933, but the source of this number seems to be a memorandum from Young and Simons dated November 29, 1933. 68

    This latter document was itself an elaboration on an earlier memorandum, containing the ALS's plea for one last grant to supplement the meager sums available from the 1930 appropriation. Writing from London in early November 1933, Young estimated that the ALS had benefited approximately fifty young Germans, but when he asked Schairer and Simons to bolster his case with a more detailed assessment they produced a report, with valuable (but incomplete) biographical details, that put the number of stipend recipients at sixty-three. At the end of 1933, Schairer and Simons reported, "Of these 63 members, 10 are still in need of the help and guidance of the A.L.ST. With 5 exceptions, all the rest have been definitely placed."69

    Although it is possible that the ALS used its remaining $5,000 in 1934 to aid new recipients, it seems more likely that the German administrators spent the remaining balance from the Rockefeller Foundation's appropriation to address the needs of the ten to fifteen fellows who still required assistance. This record of placement is perhaps the standard by which Kittredge and Van Sickle judged the ALS: During the depression years from 1929 to 1933 they were painfully aware of the poor prospects for many of the Rockefeller Foundation's own fellowship recipients in the social and natural sciences. Using employment as the measure of success, the Fabian strategy of the ALS may indeed have surpassed the foundation's prestigious fellowship program.

    Given the absence (in the Rockefeller archives, at least) of any final reports or records from the ALS for 1933 and 1934, the only way to compile a list of the fellows is to sort through these partial reports from 1930 and 1933 and try to reconcile the varying numbers and lists. Fortunately, the ALS forwarded detailed financial accounting for its Rockefeller funds, and these ledgers show expenditures from 1928 through the end of 1932.70 Almost in answer to a historian's prayers, the outgoing ledger shows payments to individual scholars, although vexingly these accountant's documents fail to give first names for the individuals listed as recipients! Thanks to these ledger sheets and other documents, it is possible to compile a list of all known recipients from 1928 to 1933 - and the number totals sixty-three. Unless further documents surface in Germany, I am prepared to conclude that the figure mentioned by Schairer and Simons in November 1933 is the actual total of Germans receiving financial assistance from the five-year experiment.

    Of these sixty-three individuals, it is possible to identify more than half (see Appendix 2). Young and ALS directors wrote biographical sketches of the first twenty-two grant recipients. Later reports, especially the documents from 1933 on the ALS's successes, provide additional biographical details about a few more of these talented personalities. The Rockefeller archives also hold a curious list of Kandidaten, dating from 1930, that provides tantalizing glimpses into the ALS's operation midway into its life (see Appendix 3, Part 1). This list of 133 names provides first names for some, but not all, of those fellowship recipients who came to be listed on the 1931 and 1932 financial ledgers. Finally, although not part of the Rockefeller archives, some documents held by Geoffrey Winthrop Young's son, including unpublished letters and essays presented to the elder Young, either confirm identifications suggested by biographical dictionaries and other standard reference works or provide the names of many of the fellows who are listed only by their last name in the financial ledgers at the Rockefeller archives. Even with this documentation, seven of the sixty-three fellows remain unidentified and to date I have been unable to find any biographical details on seventeen and only cursory information on three or four others. Thus, roughly one-third of the sixty-three stipend recipients must remain shadowy figures for the moment, and the absence of biographical information makes it impossible to paint a definitive historical portrait of the ALS fellows as yet.

    Another consideration is whether the sixty-three fellows who received stipends should be viewed as a separate, and more select class, than those whose names are included in the list of candidates. Because the Lincoln Stiftung had so few funds, Young and the German directors stressed the services that the ALS played by simply offering advice or referrals to other sources of funds, such as the Studienstiftung. Given the eminence of many of the names on the list of candidates, it is possible that the Lincoln Stiftung viewed these men and women as gifted individuals who were equal to its stipendiaries but in less need. Seen in this light, it is arguable that the list of candidates in 1930 represents Weimar Germany's "best and brightest"the fruit of a two-year search for genius and leading personalities in all fields of human endeavor. Certainly, Young and his German collaborators never suggested that this narrow pool of applicants was anything but distinguished; other ALS documents suggest that these individuals were all likely candidates for financial aid had sufficient funds been available. Indeed, the Rockefeller Foundation's archival copy mistranslates the list as "Fellows of the Abraham Lincoln Stiftung." Because this document, the only surviving list of candidates, dates from 1930, it also raises the possibility that other documents, listing later nominations, almost certainly must have been compiled and perhaps may still exist in German archives. Any final judgment about the Lincoln Stiftung's record would have to consider the complete circle of possible choices before deciding how well the administrators fared in recognizing the leaders of the future. To give only one example, the list of candidates in 1930 contains Hannah Arendt, nominated by Lotte Israel. Candidates were ranked, apparently, by the urgency or priority of their cases, and Arendt was assigned eighty-fourth place out of these 133 individuals considered for aid. Given her subsequent international recognition, and her stature as a philosopher, one wonders on what basis her case was deferred (see Appendix 3, Part 2). Did ALS directors not see her promise as a philosopher, or did they deem her too narrowly intellectualan able German scholar but one without the "force of character" or leadership that would render her work influential beyond the university? Or, as seems likely, did they simply deem her case a lower priority because other fellowship agencies were willing and ready to assist her? And, in a minor key, when did Lotte Israel join the ranks of ALS advisers? Did her nomination carry less weight than those of the original nominators? The answers to such questions cannot be found in the ALS documents; there is no file or dossier on Arendt, or correspondence from Israel to Schairer or Simons, although surely such letters must have existed at one time.71

    How much can be read into the small number of fellows and candidatestwo distinct, if overlapping, sets of individuals? And, what importance should be attached to the original list of nominators (advisers), with its blue ribbon composition? At first glance, it would appear that such a small sampling could hardly have any statistical significance. Yet, the Lincoln Stiftung experiment clearly intrigued the Rockefeller Foundation's program officers in the social sciences because it provided a possible "control group" against which the foundation's own fellowship selections in Germany might be measured. In retrospect, however, the significance of the Lincoln Stiftung experiment derives from its glimpse into the response of talented younger Germans to the crisis of the 1930s. Because the Lincoln Stiftung clearly succeeded in recruiting its advisers and trustees from a wide cross-section of Weimar Germany's intellectual elite, drawn from all points of the political and ideological spectrum, it is not unfair to conclude that the list of candidates and fellows represents the German elite's selection of the most promising younger scholars, political leaders, and educators. The Lincoln Stiftung claimed to represent more than, say, the social science fellowship program of the Rockefeller Foundation; the latter claimed to offer postgraduate fellowships only to the best younger economists, sociologists, and political scientists. It sought highly specialized experts who were the best in their fields; it judged success by academic standards, and did not seek wider leadership or demand exceptional moral character. By contrast, Young's definition of the ALS's role called for a search for "intellectual distinction . . . reinforced by a humane temperament and a force of character which could make such mental quality an effective influence."72

    Given this broad and difficult standard, it is no wonder that Rockefeller Foundation officials threw up their hands in despair. Appleget actually ventured to Berlin in 1930 and met with four of the ALS fellows: Eduard Baumgarten, Richard Gothe, Hans Queling, and Heinrich Rogge. Appleget wrote to Woods, who in retirement continued to take an interest in the ALS, and offered this mixed assessment:

    We have heard a great deal for and against the Stiftung. All of us are, I think, uncertain about it. Allied to that is a certain amount of uncertainty regarding Geoffrey Young. Personally, I like him and have had some interesting times with him. I cannot fail to admire his courage and a great many of his qualities. All of us, however, would be nonplussed if you asked us for a percentage grade either on the Stiftung or Young. Incidentally, you may be interested to know that of the group of fellows mentioned, I personally met and talked with four, Baumgarten, Rogge, Gothe, and Queling, and was equally puzzled about them. Human nature is a hard thing to work with.73

    Appleget's discomfiture is perhaps understandable. Of the small group of fellows he met, two - Baumgarten and Gothe - had spent considerable time in the United States and undoubtedly spoke English well. Baumgarten had taught for five years at various American universities as an exchange professor and had already finished a translation of John Dewey's works into German; Gothe at one point in his career had lived in New York, where he had organized and directed a German youth group. Both were liberal in outlook and quite sympathetic to America.

    By contrast, Rogge and Queling must have presented much harder cases. Even by the eccentric standards of the Lincoln Stiftung, Queling was in a class by himself. Chosen at the insistence of an adviser who thought the experiment was leaning too heavily toward academic figures, Queling was the epitome of the outsider who did not fit into the German educational system: He had left school and Germany in the mid-1920s to travel to India overland, working his way there with several comrades by playing music as a street performer. While in India he sought out Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, living briefly with the former. Queling described his adventures in a series of travel books. Queling hardly fit the Rockefeller Foundation's model of intellectual success or distinction, and Appleget must have had difficulty in evaluating a young travel writer with such an unusual curriculum vitae.74

    The fourth fellow, Rogge, was, in fact, one of the least appealing of the Lincoln Stiftung fellows. He was well into middle age when the ALS chose to assist him - he was forty-four years old in 1930, when the organization forwarded its biographical sketch to the Rockefeller Foundation. He had studied law in prewar Berlin and had entered the civil service with the intention of pursuing further legal studies once he had gained practical experience. Rogge became so ill during World War I that he lost his position, and, according to the ALS's files, "continued his studies privately, but under the greatest financial difficulties." During the hard postwar years Rogge received support from the Notgemeinschaft and served as a consultant to the German Foreign Office. By the time the Lincoln Stiftung took note of him, Rogge had made his reputation with his writings on the war debt and international law.

    Rogge appealed to the Lincoln Stiftung directors not only because of his late-developing talents and personal hardships but also because he wrote in a pacifist idiom about international law. "Peace by means of law is the political programme of the world peace movement," Rogge noted in one statement cited by the ALS, "and, it is the axiom of the international law policy which seeks to extend international law and to give more importance to the League of Nations as the guarantee of peace."75 Rogge proposed to put pacifism and international law on a more scientific, or scholarly, basis, and the Lincoln Stiftung agreed to aid his research - in essence, giving him a sabbatical from his occasional work for the foreign affairs ministry. The prospectus for Rogge's planned book, The Science of Peace, did not in fact differ greatly from the no less metaphysical speculations of many English or American advocates of international law.

    Given this research topic, it is not difficult to see why the Lincoln Stiftung would choose to support Rogge's work. Yet what was not apparent from Rogge's abstract discussion of the role of international law were the nationalist sentiments that motivated his work with the foreign ministry and the ill will that remained from his own experiences. It appears that the legal scholar had also become a very embittered man over the course of the years from 1914 to 1930. Already noticeable in Rogge's work on the international settlement of 1919 and subsequent agreements on reparations was a lingering resentment toward the Allied powers. For example, he referred to the Versailles peace treaty like any other German nationalist as a Diktat, and when the Nazis took power in 1933 his writings became much more openly nationalistic and propagandistic. In the years between the Nazi seizure of power and the onset of war in 1939 Rogge wrote not only a theoretical treatise on international law but also several polemical defenses of German foreign policy with such revealing titles as Hitler's Peace Policy and International Law and Hitler's Search for Peace with England.76 Rogge's brand of peace, then, was rooted in a singular interpretation of international law that pivoted on his continued belief that the postwar peace settlements had been illegitimate. Not surprisingly, when Hitler disavowed the provisions of the Versailles settlement, Rogge was only too happy to lend his pen and his legal training to the Foreign Office to justify Germany's violations. Judging by a posthumously published volume on East Prussia - a territory lost to the Poles after 1945 - Rogge never reconciled himself to the territorial settlements of either 1919 or 1945. 77

    Rogge's willing service to the Nazi regime brings us to the crux of the matter: Any evaluation of an experimental foundation designed to produce, as Schairer maintained, humane leadership and positive social outcomes cannot be satisfied by simply noting those grant recipients who later published academic treatises and secured positions - that is, by the normal standards with which the Rockefeller Foundation judged its research grants. Although many of the ALS fellows went on to distinguished academic careers - including Baumgarten, Eschenburg, Raupach, Vetter, among others - even its organizers would have agreed that this aspect of its work was not enough to distinguish it from conventional fellowship-granting organizations.

    The Lincoln Stiftung's inner circle - Young, Schairer, and Simons - were proudest of their work with youth movement leaders and adult education schools. The conference in Berlin in 1929 in which Severing took part, pointed to the kinds of practical outcomes that Young and his German colleagues thought would be the greatest contribution of their organization. At the heart of this work were Dehmel and Gothe, two of the most dynamic figures of their generation. Dehmel, as we have seen, spent four years on the western front and following the war had devoted himself to rebuilding the youth movement. For his part, Gothe was no less active in organizing labor camps and youth organizations. Following Buske's death, Gothe seems to have assumed an increasingly larger role in the work of the Silesian and eastern German youth movements. Like Dehmel, Gothe saw military service, but he only entered the German army in its last, disintegrating days. Gothe played an active role in the soldiers' councils of 1918-19 and sided with the Independent Socialists. The Rockefeller archives contain a brief account of this period in his own words: "Because I had on several occasions stood up against military oppression, my fellow soldiers chose me in 1918 as a member of the soldiers' council. Thus, at the age of 18 I was given a responsibility far too heavy for my shoulders."78 Following the German revolution and the disarming of the soviets, Gothe left Germany for Brazil and, after three years, the United States, where he organized a student association. Gothe, in fact, was a born organizer: He pursued his studies at night while working day jobs. When he finally returned to Germany his working class background - and the fact that he had never attended either a Gymnasium or Realschuleseemed destined to exclude him from the university degree he sought. "The door to the university is very narrow," he wrote, "But for the ALS I should not have been able to hold out until it opened for me; without its help, I should not now have been already able to study for a year, with good results and profound inner satisfaction."79 Young appended a note on Gothe's biography when the ALS filed its first report with the Rockefeller Foundation in 1930: "When I first suggested the creation of the A.L.S., the words were used to me by one of the Foundation Trustees 'If one man is found of the real 'leader' type, in five years, who would not otherwise have been found or furthered, the organization will have justified itself.' Since I have gotten to know him, Gothe has often recurred to mind as this single justification, if others had been lacking."80 In addition to Gothe and Dehmel, several other ALS fellows were active in the Boberhaus movement. Hans Raupach, Vetter, and others drew upon their own earlier involvement with the youth movement in an attempt to expand educational opportunities. It is important to note that official interest in these activities began during the period when the Weimar coalition - a group of centrist and leftist political parties - governed Germany and sought to deal, albeit unsuccessfully, with the depression and mounting unemployment.

    For Dehmel, Gothe, and the other youth camp leaders the coming to power of the Nazis in 1933 proved to be the great test. As the leader of the Deutsche Freischar, Dehmel felt increased pressure to merge his organization with Nazi Party youth organizations. Raupach and others took positions with provincial governments and party organizations that, it appears, quickly realized the political value of the labor camps and the adult education programs launched by various ALS fellows. After weeks of pressure Dehmel announced his decision to join the National Socialists. In a letter published by the party organ Der Angriff, Dehmel offered a public explanation for his decision. Citing his previous work with German youth movement groups, Dehmel argued, curiously, that his group had always marched alongside more nationalist groups in the eastern border zones and had attempted to show solidarity with pan-German communities in the alienated territories and foreign cities of eastern Europe. Whatever their differences in political activity or organization, the aims of the centrist groups he led had been the same as those of the nationalists, Dehmel averred.81

    It was not long, however, before Dehmel was clashing with Nazi Gauleiter and other party officials. Dehmel's defenders credited him with public opposition to Nazi policies affecting the Silesian youth groups, but although letters published decades later do suggest that Dehmel disagreed with the tenor and policies of the Nazi youth movement, it would be wrong to place Dehmel and many of the Silesian youth leaders in the small camp of the opposition to Hitler. Dehmel's attempt to compromise with the new regime does not seem to have prevented his steady eclipse as the Nazi youth movement absorbed the last vestiges of the independent youth groups. When war came, Dehmel, along with a number of other fellows (Raupach, for example), took refuge from these political struggles and joined the German army.

    For his part, Gothe, who had been Young's favorite example of a Lincoln Stiftung discovery, found he no longer could work freely with German youth and educational institutions. Although he, like Dehmel, at first tried to continue his labor camp work with the new Reich Labor Ministry, Gothe objected to the introduction of compulsory service and the increasingly tighter Nazi control. When Gothe, who seems to have thrown himself into opposition to the Nazis with characteristic energy, came to understand that the Nazis were quickly eliminating all independent centers of power, he chose to leave Germany with his family. In 1938 he joined the emigration to the New World. Once in New York, Appleget remembered their earlier encounter in Berlin and warmly welcomed him - in fact, the Rockefeller files suggest that the foundation vice president even helped make temporary living arrangements for Gothe and his family.

    In addition to Gothe, several ALS fellows showed outright hostility toward the new regime. Rotten, who had cared for English prisoners of war during World War I, fled to England; Karl Dunker, a distinguished psychologist, became a refugee professor (but committed suicide in 1940); the lyricist and poet Paula Ludwig, one of the later appointments, also fled Germany, as did the writers Hans Henny Jahnn, Albert Daudistel, and Stefan Andres. Maria Sevenich, one of the handful of women grantees, spent time in a German concentration camp for her work with a Catholic organization.

    On the whole, however, the majority of the Lincoln Stiftung's fellows seem neither to have resisted, emigrated, or actively collaborated with the National Socialists. Like most Germans, they continued to hold jobs and to work inconspicuously; Klatt, for example, moved to Vienna and worked on studies of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. (Klatt's war record - he had been severely wounded in World War I - may have spared him further harassment.) Those with academic positions - Vetter, Goern, Baumgarten, and others - continued to teach. Many of the fellows who had created educational institutions found, like Gothe, that their independence would not be tolerated.

    The experience of the ALS fellows offers an interesting window into the generation that came of age during World War I and that grew to maturity during the interwar years. Many historians have sought to meld the shared generational history of wartime trauma and postwar misery into an explanation for the phenomenon of fascism between the wars. As Robert Wohl wrote, "Fascism was the great temptation of the generation of 1914."82 Moreover, in addition to fueling political extremism, the experiences of the war widened the usual generation gap, especially in Germany, where the prewar youth movement had already launched a mild revolution against the established order.

    At first glance the experience of the Lincoln Stiftung would seem to confirm this generational difference. As noted, the advisory board or the talent scouts for the Lincoln Stiftung included over a hundred of the nation's most prominent cultural and intellectual figures. Although the roster of consultants or nominators was not the randomly selected group associated with social scientific polls, it was nonetheless a highly diverse and not unrepresentative sampling of German intellectual leaders, albeit one tilted toward the internationalist and pacifist side of the political spectrum. Among this group, an astonishingly high number chose to emigrate. By contrast, for those fellows whose careers I have been able to trace beyond 1933, no more than a dozen chose to leave Germany. How can this disparity be explained? For the moment, answers to these questions must remain tentative and provisional, although it may be that Simons's argument, that the younger and unknown fellows of the ALS would find it easier to retain academic and other positions and remain in Germany, is the simple answer to a complex question.

    But if, as Kittredge's notes suggest, a high number of the ALS's fellows obtained positions because they chose to join the Nazi Party, then the gap between the advisers, scholars, and cultural figures of an older generation and the fellows, who by and large were members of the "generation of 1914," would be all the more striking. In either case, further research into the careers of those selected by the ALS promises to throw a powerful light onto the motives and experiences of this distinguished group of younger intellectuals.

    Despite the seemingly unremarkable record of most of its fellows, the Lincoln Stiftung nonetheless played a supporting role in the German resistance to Hitler. The advisory board, in particular, contained a number of political activists, and there is evidence that a few of these individuals continued to meet with Young after the termination of the Rockefeller grant and the formal end of the fellowship program. The ALS's network of over a hundred advisers covered the entire length and breadth of Germany, and this diverse group included men and women of all political persuasions. Given this range of opinion, it is striking that over forty of the initial one hundred advisers either played a role in the opposition to Hitler or left Germany as émigrés. No less important, Young maintained close ties with Simons and Schairer, who were both dismissed from their positions by the Nazis, and with members of the ALS's "presidential" or steering committee, a group that included Robert Bosch.

    Among all the ALS's German advisers, or nominators, Young developed the closest relationship with Kurt Hahn, the founder of a private school in Baden-Württemberg. Hahn immediately came into conflict with the new regime when he denounced the violent murder of a young German Communist by six Nazi storm troopers. Hahn sent a message to all of his Salem school graduates demanding that they either "break with Hitler or break with Salem," and shortly afterward his school was closed and Hahn was arrested.83

    Fearful for his friend's life, Young returned to Germany with the archbishop of Canterbury to demand Hahn's release. Young, in fact, was to make many such pilgrimages to Berlin, and he later recalled one of these visits: "I had returned again now to Berlin, with Sir William Deedes, in the first days of Adolf Hitler's Chancellorship. There was still hope that an appeal to reason or compassion might be listened to; and we were the bearers of a letter of remonstrance about the internment camps and the Jewish persecution, organized by Archbishop Temple and signed by well-known names from every department of English life."84 Young and his associates, appealing to Franz von Papen, succeeded in securing Hahn's release, and soon Hahn emigrated to England where he and Young established a new boarding school, Gordonstoun, modeled after Salem.85 The success of Hahn's educational venture spawned an international movement, and in England the new school became the training ground for Young's own son and many others who, after the war, would form a network of distinguished schools based on Hahn's method.

    Among Hahn's circle, and a member of the Lincoln Stiftung's steering committee, was Bosch, who introduced Young and Hahn to Karl Goerdeler, the mayor of Leipzig and the focal point of one of the major resistance groups. Although the ALS played only a minor part in Bosch's life, and none at all in Goerdeler's, it did throw Hahn into close association with Young, whose staunch advocacy perhaps saved Hahn's life, and whose continued interest in Germany proved of invaluable assistance to the circle around Goerdeler. Young, in fact, helped to organize many appeals on behalf of political prisoners in Germany, and he took justifiable pride in his efforts to save not only Hahn but the playwright Walter Hasenclever and others. The British organizations formed in the 1930s by Young and others to protest the Nazis' infringement of civil rights and academic freedom may rightly be seen as precursors to Amnesty International and other postwar human rights organizations.


    Years later, in an unpublished chapter intended for his autobiography, Young reflected on the aims of the Abraham Lincoln Stiftung and the experiences of its fellows. In a passage that might serve not only as his own verdict on the ALS but also as the epitaph for all the educational efforts launched by liberal German educators, Young wrote, "We were beginning to yoke high individual intelligence with common sense, and with worldly intelligence, and we were in hopes of being able to check the rising tide of despair and of revolution in the country. But time proved too short for us, and the scope of our work was too restricted."86

    The Lincoln Stiftung did not work entirely in vain, however. Of its hundred or more distinguished advisers, nearly thirty escaped Nazi Germany as exiles, and a dozen or more who remained in Germany actively opposed the new regime, with several taking part in the resistance to Hitler. Among these resisters, advisers Adolf Reichwein and Theodor Haubach, paid for their actions with their lives.

    Among those who left Germany or who labored quietly in "inner exile," several lived to play an active role in the restoration of the German universities and German intellectual life in the postwar period: Theodor Eschenburg, August Rathmann, and others like them were the final legacy of the ALS. They lived to rebuild the German educational system on a sounder footing after 1945, and in so doing may be said to be the final return on the Rockefeller "investment," a legacy that no one among the American foundation's officials ever expected and one that until today few have suspected.

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  • Footnotes

    1 Minutes of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, Mar.15, 1928. The surviving records of the memorial are housed at the Rockefeller Archive Center in North Tarrytown, New York (hereafter RAC). At some point someone took the records of the ALS and arranged them chronologically, pasting them in sequence into two bound volumes. With the exception of the appendices, including the only published report on the ALS (in German), the documents are paginated. Consequently, it is possible to cite documents by page number, by date, or by archival folder number. The archive's records are customarily cited by the series, box, and folder numbers; the Abraham Lincoln Stiftung files are found in series 717R. However, because almost all of the ALS documents are filed in two boxes, nos. 17 and 18, I will dispense with the archival numbers when citing these papers and use dates only.

    2 With the exception of a brief listing in the 1930 Annual Report of the Rockefeller Foundation (New York, 1931), for over sixty years the only other account in English of this remarkable organization was a retrospective look by Reinhold Schairer, "The Abraham Lincoln Foundation," Educational Yearbook, 1936 (London, 1937), 155­70. In Geoffrey Winthrop Young: Poet, Mountaineer, Educator (London, 1996), Alan Hankinson treats Young's work with the Rockefeller Foundation but does not discuss the ALS in detail.

    3 I have traced the origins of this internationalist approach in "The Humanities and International Understanding: Some Reflections on the Experience of the Rockefeller Foundation," in Kathleen D. McCarthy, ed., Philanthropy and Culture: The International Foundation Perspective (Philadelphia, 1984), 25­41.

    4 For a description of the memorial and its operating philosophy, see Martin Bulmer and Joan Bulmer, "Philanthropy and Social Science in the 1920s: Beardsley Ruml and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, 1922­1929," Minerva 19, no. 3 (autumn 1981): 347­407.

    5 On Merriam's work on civic education, see Barry D. Karl, Charles E. Merriam and the Study of Politics (Chicago, 1974), 169­85.

    6 Arthur Woods to Beardsley Ruml, Aug. 2, 1925, RAC.

    7 Ibid.

    8 Ibid.

    9 Young's response is quoted in Woods's letter to Ruml. I have not been able to find the original.

    10 The Times, Mar. 20, 1932.

    11 See Arnold Lunn, "Geoffrey Winthrop Young," Mountain World 81 (1960): 3, for an assessment of Young's status as a mountaineer and for a portrait of his family.

    12 From the Trenches: Louvain to the Aisne, the First Record of an Eye Witness (London, 1914), 301.

    13 "A Summary of Impressions Received During an Inquiry Made on Behalf of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, with a Recommendation," Oct. 1926, 9, RAC (hereafter "Summary of Impressions").

    14 Ibid., 38.

    15 Ibid.

    16 Ibid.

    17 Papers of Geoffrey Winthrop Young, Schule Schloss Salem, Salem am Bodensee. I am grateful to Young's son, Jocelin Young, for giving me access to his father's papers and for sharing a copy of this document with me.

    18 "Summary of Impressions," 40. Modern scholarship supports Young's view of the student corps. See Michael Steinberg, Sabers and Brownshirts: The German Students' Path to National Socialism, 1918­1935 (Chicago, 1977).

    19 "Summary of Impressions," 40.

    20 Ibid.

    21 Ibid., 38.

    22 Ibid., 13.

    23 Geoffrey Winthrop Young, log, Dec. 1929, RAC.

    24 "Summary of Impressions," sketch B, 122.

    25 Reinhold Schairer and Hans Simons, "Abraham Lincoln Stiftung: First Year's Report," July 21, 1930. Young translated this report from the German original and added a cover memorandum and comments on the ALS fellows he knew. Young's summary report may by found in volume 2 of the ALS's records, RAC.

    26 Ibid.

    27 Ibid.

    28 Ibid.

    29 Ibid.

    30 Arnold Brecht, The Political Education of Arnold Brecht: An Autobiography, 1884­1970 (Princeton, N.J., 1970), 121­2.

    31 "Summary of Impressions," 48.

    32 Ibid.

    33 Quoted in Brecht, Political Education, 272-3. Brecht is paraphrasing a eulogy by Willy Hellpach, another ALS advisory board member.

    34 "Summary of Impressions," 37.

    35 Reinhold Schairer, "The Abraham Lincoln Foundation," Education Yearbook, 1936 (London, 1937), 162.

    36 Abraham Lincoln Stiftung: First Year's Report, RAC. The quote is found in Young's cover memorandum, "Covering Report by G.W.Y.," 10.

    37 On the reorganization, see Robert Kohler, "A Policy for the Advancement of Science: The Rockefeller Foundation, 1924­1929," Minerva 16 (winter 1978): 480­515, and the previously cited work by Bulmer and Bulmer on the memorial.

    38 Ibid.

    39 Geoffrey Winthrop Young, diary, Dec. 14, 1929, RAC.

    40 "Covering Report by G.W.Y.," 13.

    41 Selskar M. Gunn, diary, June 2, 1930, RAC.

    42 Thomas B. Appleget, diary, July 12, 1930, RAC.

    43 Ibid.

    44 This plan is summarized in Appleget's diary, July 14, 1930, RAC.

    45 Schairer to Gunn, Sept. 8, 1930, RAC.

    46 Minutes of Staff Conference, Nov. 19, 1930, RAC: 904, vol. III.

    47 The phrase occurs in Appleget's description of the trustees' meeting in a letter to Gunn, Jan. 31, 1931, RAC.

    48 Ibid.

    49 John Van Sickle, "Memorandum on conversation with Dr. Hans Simons in Berlin," Feb. 17, 1933, RAC.

    50 Ibid.

    51 Ibid.

    52 Tracy B. Kittredge, memorandum, "Abraham Lincoln Stiftung-Conversation," Oct. 23, 1933, RAC. The phrase "exceptional promise" is found in the Van Sickle memorandum cited in note 49.

    53 Ibid.

    54 Ibid.

    55 For example, Van Sickle attempted to interest David H. Stevens, the newly appointed director for the foundation's program in the humanities, in the ALS. See his letters to Stevens in RAC.

    56 Geoffrey Winthrop Young, memorandum, "Abraham Lincoln Stiftung," Nov. 9, 1933, RAC.

    57 John Van Sickle, "Abraham Lincoln Stiftung," memorandum, Nov. 20, 1933, RAC.

    58 Geoffrey Winthrop Young and Hans Simons, "Abraham Lincoln Stiftung," Nov. 29, 1933. This report was prepared to bolster Young's request for support in his memorandum from Nov. 9 cited in note 56. Its description of the work of specific fellows is especially valuable.

    59 Ibid.

    60 Van Sickle, "Abraham Lincoln Stiftung," RAC.

    61 Ibid.

    62 On the Rockefeller Foundation's German policy, see Malcolm Richardson, "Philanthropy and the Internationality of Learning: The Rockefeller Foundation and National Socialist Germany," Minerva 28, no. 1 (spring 1990): 21­58.

    63 Appleget, diary, Dec. 7, 1933.

    64 John Marshall, diary, Feb. 14, 1935: "It appeared that S. made this inquiry on behalf of friends still in Germany. S. was candid in saying that he, personally could not urge further support for the Stiftung at this time."

    65 See Schairer, "Abraham Lincoln Foundation," 160­2, on Young's insistence on the need for "personal guidance" along the lines of the English tutorial system.

    66 Ibid., 165.

    67 Tracy Kittredge, "Memorandum of interview with Dr. Hans Simons," Jan. 8, 1935, RAC.

    68 The reference to eighty-two beneficiaries is found in a docket item summary at the beginning of the Lincoln Stiftung files; Young and Simons, "Abraham Lincoln Stiftung," Nov. 29, 1933, RAC.

    69 Ibid.

    70 The ledger sheets are found in the first section of the ALS records, following a section titled "Financial Statement" (beginning on page 22 of the file created by the Rockefeller office). The decision of the Rockefeller Foundation office in the 1930s to place these unpaginated sheets at this point in the bound volumes means that these German records are out of chronological sequencethe organizing device for the rest of the records in this series. In reading through these files, I completely missed the significance of these ledgers until, upon rereading the files many years later, I realized that I had found the key to reconstructing the roster of ALS fellows.

    71 Hannah Arendt's correspondence with Karl Jaspers documents her relations with the Lincoln Stiftung. A letter from 1929 asks Jaspers for a letter of reference and mentions an interview with Hans Simons. See Lotte Kohler and Hans Saner, eds., Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers: Correspondence, 1926­1969 (New York, 1992), 7­8. Other letters show that Arendt also sought aid from a Jewish fund and from the Notgemeinschaft and in 1930 the latter offered her assistance - perhaps explaining why the Lincoln Stiftung directors did not.

    72 Schairer, "Abraham Lincoln Foundation," 164.

    73 Appleget to Woods, Nov. 21, 1933, RAC.

    74 In addition to Hans Queling's biographical note in the Lincoln Stiftung files, see his published travel works, such as Sechs Jungen tippeln nach Indien (Berlin, 1931) and Sechs Jungen tippeln zum Himalaja (Berlin, 1933).

    75 Quoted from Rogge's biographical sketch in "Abraham Lincoln Stiftung: First Year's Report."

    76 Heinrich Rogge, Nationale Friedenspolitik: Handbuch des Friedensproblems und seiner Wissenschaft (Berlin, 1934). Franz von Papen contributed an introduction to this volume, which appears to be the volume outlined in the Lincoln Stiftung files. Following this work, Rogge published Hitlers Friedenspolitik und das Völkerrecht (Berlin, 1935) and Hitlers Versuche zur Verständigung mit England (Berlin, 1940).

    77 Heinrich Rogge and Franz Stelter, Der Kreis Neustettin: Ein pommersches Heimatbuch (Würzburg, 1972).

    78 Quoted from Gothe's biographical sketch in "Abraham Lincoln Stiftung: First Year's Report."

    79 Ibid.

    80 Ibid.

    81 Der Angriff, Mar. 1933, quoted in Aufbruch einer jungen Generation , 43. New York Public Library pamphlet collection.

    82 Robert Wohl, The Generation of 1914 (Berkeley, Calif., 1979), 232.

    83 Geoffrey Winthrop Young, "Resistance in Germany," The Times, Aug. 2, 1945.

    84 Young papers, Schule Schloss Salem.

    85 See Kurt Hahn's own account in the commemorative volume, 80. Geburtstag Kurt Hahn: Festreden und Ansprachen (Ravensburg, n.d.), 47: "Geoffrey Young reiste nach Berlin, suchte den Vizekanzler Papen auf und Überzeugte ihn davon, dass die Zerstörung der Salemer Schulen in England beunruhigend wirken würde."

    86 Young papers, Schule Schloss Salem.

A Comment on Malcolm Richardson

Eckhardt Fuchs

Malcolm Richardson has had the good fortune to find what every historian is looking for: A bundle of documents buried deep inside an archive, hidden away for many years. Soon after a historian discovers such a treasure, however, frustration quickly overtakes excitement. The main question the historian now faces is how to shape the material into a cohesive historical narrative. Furthermore, the historian must resist the temptation necessarily to place this newfound material at the center of the larger story.

Richardson has presented a well-written, informative, empirically rich account of the Abraham Lincoln Stiftung's (ALS) brief history. His essay offers insight into a hitherto forgotten part of the activities of the Rockefeller Foundation and into a chapter of German-American cultural relations during the Weimar Republic. But his account, as is the case with any microscopic analysis of a single historical event, runs the danger of having its conclusions and judgments relativized when observed from a broader historical perspective. With this comment, I would like to offer a few suggestions on how to situate the history of the ALS within a broader contextual framework and, therefore, to decenter the main subject of Richardson's investigation. In the following, I first raise five possible leitmotifs for such a contextualization, then I explore two of them in greater detail.

A first leitmotif might be the history of the Rockefeller Foundation itself. In this, the ALS could be seen as a part of its overall activities not just in Germany, not just in the area of scholarship, and not just in the field of education. It could include the international dimension of the foundation and its institutional politics. It is, for example, quite interesting to ask what role the European headquarters in Paris played in the decisions regarding the ALS, considering French-German hostility at the time. If one embeds the history of the ALS within the whole range of activities of the Rockefeller Foundation, its scope and impact would become reduced. Besides the ALS, the foundation sponsored many other activities for German scholars and scientific institutions, including the International Educational Board, founded by Rockefeller in 1923, which supported individuals, such as Albert Einstein, and institutions, such as the library of the University of Munich, the Institute of Physics at the University of Göttingen, the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft, and the Notgemeinschaft der deutschen Wissenschaft.

Another leitmotif might be the general history of philanthropy in the United States, referred to in Richardson's title but rarely discussed in his text. This includes the political, cultural, economic, and academic origins and purposes of American philanthropical organizations. The history of the Rockefeller Foundation and its programs might be compared to other foundations, such as the Carnegie Foundation or the Cecil Rhodes Foundation. One could show what political influence these institutions gained in different parts of society, what impact they had on American culture, and how they actually contributed to U.S. foreign cultural policy since the 1920s.

A third leitmotif might focus on the role of American foundations and endowments as agencies for promoting international understanding and peace. In general, it can be said that a primary goal of the Rockefeller Foundation, as well as other similar foundations, was to cultivate international cooperation based on harmony and peaceful coexistence. From this point of view, the ALS could be seen as a single tile within a larger mosaic that can be called the international peace movement.

The fourth leitmotif locates an analysis of the ALS within the context of the German-American intellectual relationship since the late nineteenth century. In placing the ALS within the broader realm of German-American intellectual cooperation, it becomes clear that something that sounded novel and exceptional in the 1920s was in fact not new. Two examples underscore this point: First, the notion that Germans were unfamiliar with private foundations is inaccurate; second, it is misleading to suggest that foreign sponsorship of the such organization had to be shrouded in secrecy. In 1905 the American Speyer Foundation and the German Koppel Stiftung sponsored an exchange of professors between Germany and the United States that was inaugurated by Harvard University and the University of Berlin. In addition, the Koppel Stiftung later became one of the sponsors of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft of Physical Chemistry. The Germanistic Society, founded in New York in 1904, organized and sponsored lecture series for German scholars in the United States. The still famous German-American brewer Adolphus Busch from St. Louis and the businessman Hugo Reisinger from New York financed the creation of the Germanic Museum at Harvard in 1910. A year later, an exchange program between the University of Wisconsin and Germany was established with the backing of the Carl Schurz Memorial Association. In 1913 the German-American Jacob Schiff sponsored an exchange professorship at Cornell. The most important post-World War I example of a German foundation is the Stifterverband der deutschen Wissenschaft, founded in 1920. German industry also helped to establish societies in order to promote education and research. For instance, there were the Justus-Liebig-Gesellschaft zur Förderung des Unterrichts and the Emil-Fischer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der chemischen Forschung, both founded in 1920 and sponsored by the chemical industry. In the same year the Helmholtz-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der physikalisch-technischen Forschung was established with the support of the electrotechnical industry.

It is worthwhile to investigate the close personal entanglements between cultural and economic institutions and the fact that the majority of sponsors were German or German-American Jews. It remains to be studied how this collaboration between the cultural and economic elites influenced German foreign policy. The Jewish background of these private foundations was one reason why officials did not want to make the sponsorship public. This was especially true in the case of the Amerika Institut, founded in 1910 with financing from Speyer and Schiff. Many of the ALS fellows and sponsors of German-American cultural projects after the war also were Jewish. In this light, it may not be so surprising to learn that many ALS fellows later opposed the Nazi regime.

Another similarity between pre- and post-World War I cooperation is the mixture of official and private initiatives. Although the ALS's representatives tried to avoid any governmental participation, they soon found out that because of Germany's centralized political and academic structures, success was impossible without some state support.

Looking at this broader picture, we can assert that academic cooperation and exchange in the early twentieth century was continuous, even if interrupted by the war and Germany's international isolation afterward. The United States belonged to the few countries that tried very hard to reintegrate the Germans into international cooperation immediately after the end of the war. The Americans - and not only the Rockefeller Foundation - organized emergency aid programs and were eager to re-establish close relations with Germany. In 1922­3 the Carl Schurz professorship was revived, and in 1927 Harvard inaugurated the Kuno Francke Professorship of German Art and Culture through the generosity of such German-American Jews as Felix and Paul Warburg.

But in comparing cooperation in the decades before and after the war, we should not neglect substantive differences. In Germany after 1918, the Reich government no longer was the main initiator of this cooperation, and people chosen by the ALS as fellows did not belong to the academy's inner circles. For example, whereas after 1890 mainstream teachers went to the United States with the Prussian-American Exchange of Teachers program, in the 1920s the ALS chose teachers and intellectuals with alternative concepts. Furthermore, the importance of German-Americans within American culture had declined. After World War I it was not the Germans who were trying to influence American culture and science through their foreign cultural policy but the Americans who now used their economic and intellectual potential to introduce their political values and educational ideas into German society

From an international perspective, we also have to take into account the transformation of international science after 1918. This transformation spread beyond the relationship between Germany and America, but it deeply affected the mutual cooperation of both countries. Moreover, it is characterized by the rise of American science and the rise of the United States to the status of leading scientific power. This shift, which had already begun before the war, was the result of new economic and cultural developments in the international arena. Due to the war and the postwar crises, German science and research were internationally isolated and lacked a sufficient financial basis for research. In Germany the foundation funds were destroyed by inflation, and financial support from the government was rare. German science would never recover, and the exodus of most prominent German scientists after 1933 symbolized its final decline. Although this line of argument cannot be further pursued here, by 1945 the United States had taken the leading international position in scientific research. To summarize: I see the program of the ALS as a part of the ongoing history of German-American cooperation, rather than as something new and different; however, this history has its share of major shifts and breaks. What was innovative about the ALS program was its direct political purpose: It aimed to create a cohort of educators and intellectuals in Germany who supported democracy and an open society. After a more-or-less successful transfer of aspects of German culture to North America through the end of the nineteenth century, the cultural transfer flowed in the opposite direction after World War I.

This leads me to my fifth and final leitmotif, which is the connection between education and public policy. Richardson emphasizes the important role that ideas about education had in the establishment of the ALS. The program aimed to support young, alternative intellectuals and teachers in order to give them a chance to proceed with their projects. The long-term goal was to reorient the German aristocratic and conservative system of secondary and higher education toward democratic and republican ideals. But was the idea to promote democracy, international understanding, and peace unique to the postwar period? And, perhaps more important, was it realistic?

In 1896 Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University and one of the foremost American educators who later became not only a key figure in the Carnegie Foundation but also one of the main representatives of the international peace movement, published an article titled "Democracy and Education." In it he linked democracy with the concept of education. In his view, the educational ideal in a democracy must be the development of an "intelligent citizenship," that is, the teaching of individual responsibility for social and political progress, on the one hand, and of democratic moral issues and values, on the other. Here, Butler addresses a topic that was one of the most widely discussed issues in international cultural relations in the first decades of the century. "Education" was the buzzword for international exhibitions, world's fairs, exchange programs, congresses, international institutions, and so forth. The belief in the universal merits of international education also led to the foundation of many international institutions, a process that was in many ways carried out under American leadership. For example, the National Educational Association had proposed in 1884 and again in 1910 the foundation of an International Council of Education; the proposal was finally realized in 1923 when World Federation of Educational Associations was established. In 1912 the U.S. Congress passed a resolution for the creation of an International Board of Education. With Butler as director, the Division of Intercourse and Education of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace discussed several plans for international educational cooperation, leading in 1919 to the establishment of the Institute of International Education. I already have mentioned the Rockefeller Foundation's International Educational Board. All of these institutions served to promote international cooperation in all areas of education. They established exchange programs, organized conferences, and sponsored scholarships.

Within the broader scope of international cooperation in education, the ALS was no exception. Growing international exchange since the turn of the century had led to the steady increase in national discourses on alternatives in the educational systems in different countries. When we try to locate Germany in this process, we find a few more reasons for the failure of the ALS, namely, the differing structure of the educational systems in the two countries, the mutual misperceptions, and the possible alternatives for reform. Let me conclude with a few comments on these points.

Before World War I the German educational system became an international model. Germans academics and politicians were well aware of this fact. Nationalistic pride nevertheless led to ignorance or rejection of developments in educational facilities, research, and innovations abroad. Although Germans paid attention to the transformation in the American educational system after the 1890s, their overall criticism, especially of the system of higher learning, prevented an open reception of American educational ideas and theories. As Peter Drewek has shown, the "official" view in Germany led to a selectively constructed "image" of the other country's system according to the parameters of its own logic, a misperception that continued after the war.

Conversely, the ALS's promoters neglected the structure and traditions of Germany's educational system, which could not be changed from the outside. In contrast, German education reformers such as Becker aimed to effect a structural reform of the universities from the inside. The idea of exporting the concept of democracy without considering particular needs of the importing country was destined to fail. Thus, the goal of the ALS was unrealistic from the beginning. The type of reform promoted by the ALS should have created a consciousness among scholars and students that was not based on militarism and chauvinism. But such ideas were not linked to democratic ideals as much as they were to nationalism. The Americans could not yet offer an alternative educational structure that could overcome Germany's tarnished image of American educational institutions. It was illusory to believe that the creation of a small idealistic elite could change either the German educational system or the German image of America.

These five leitmotifs suggest ways in which the history of the ALS could be placed within a broader historical context. Depending on the angle from which one approaches the subject, different narratives are created. But the precondition of synthesis is empirical research. Richardson's study presents an insightful account of an institution we knew nothing about. Institutions can be interpreted as parts of the social structure and as cognitive entities of society. Within and without institutions, social actors develop the framework in which they can pursue their goals. At the same time, their actions are influenced and limited by the institutions they have created. I believe the history of the ALS offers an excellent example of this dialectical relationship.

< back to Bulletin 26

German Historiography in Transatlantic Perspective: Interview with Hans-Ulrich Wehler

Andreas Daum

At its meeting in Chicago in early January 2000 the American Historical Association (AHA) announced its decision to bestow upon German historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler an honorary foreign membership. The AHA is the oldest and largest professional organization for historians in the United States; its first honorary foreign member was Leopold von Ranke in 1885. Altogether there are now eight Germans who have received this honor, including Theodor Mommsen (1900), Friedrich Meinecke (1947), Franz Schnabel (1952), Gerhard Ritter (1959), Fritz Fischer (1984), and Karl Bosl (1990). The AHA confers this special membership on scholars who are distinguished in their fields and have notably aided the work of American historians.

Hans-Ulrich Wehler was born in 1931 and studied history, sociology, and economics at the universities of Cologne and Bonn, and at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He received his Ph.D. in 1960 and completed his Habilitation in 1968, both at the University of Cologne. Wehler taught German history in Cologne and American history at the John F. Kennedy Institute of the Free University of Berlin before assuming a chair of history at the University of Bielefeld in 1971. Since then he also has held several visiting professorships at American universities, such as Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale.

At the center of Hans-Ulrich Wehler's work stand problems of modern German history with a particular focus on the rise of industrial society and imperialism, the formation of authoritarian political structures, and the social, economic, and political problems inherent in the processes of modernization. Wehler has published numerous books, including his monographs Sozialdemokratie und Nationalstaat: Nationalitätenfragen in Deutschland 1840­1914 (2d ed., 1971), Bismarck und der Imperialismus (5th ed., 1984), and Das deutsche Kaiserreich 1871­1918 (10th ed., 2000; English ed., 1985). Many of Wehler's essays have been published in collected volumes, the latest of which are Politik in der Geschichte (1998), Die Herausforderung der Kulturgeschichte (1998), and Nationalsozialismus und Historiker (forthcoming, 2000). His interest in the history of the United States found its expression in his books, Der Aufstieg des amerikanischen Imperialismus: Studien zur Entwicklung des Imperium Americanum 1865­1900 (1974) and Grundzüge der amerikanischen Außenpolitik 1750­1900 (1983).

Wehler's work has culminated in his broad societal history of modern Germany, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte, published by Beck Verlag in Munich since 1987, with three volumes covering the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. Wehler is currently working on the fourth volume, which will deal with the era between World War I and German unification. Wehler also is the co-editor of Kritische Studien zur Geschichtswissenschaft, a monograph series, and the journal Geschichte und Gesellschaft. The founding of both reflected the agenda of what Wehler, Jürgen Kocka, and other German historians in the early 1970s called Historische Sozialwissenschaft or historical social science. Historical social science was designed as a new and critical approach to modern history that was based on the use of analytical social sciences, demanded theoretical sophistication, and focused on long-term structural processes and the changing role of social classes and groups.

GHI: Professor Wehler, how do you feel as a successor of Leopold von Ranke as an honorary foreign member of the American Historical Association?

WEHLER: I accepted with great pleasure the honorary membership of the American Historical Association because for nearly fifty years I have felt closely connected to the professional American historical community. I generally turn down memberships in academic commissions and academies because they absorb a great deal of time. And by the way, I don't feel myself to be Leopold von Ranke's or Friedrich Meinecke's successor, both of whom received the same honor from the AHA, because I have repeatedly stressed that scholars of modern history can learn much more from Max Weber and Karl Marx.

Could you tell us something about your first encounters with America?

My first contact with American culture and political life occurred while I attended Gymnasium in a small city in the barren eastern part of the Prussian Rhineland. There, we were introduced to modern American literature very early on, and for my generation there was immediacy to the study of contemporary American politics.

In the 1950s you spent a year as a student in Athens, Ohio. What was that experience like?

I was fortunate that right after my Abitur I received a scholarship from the Fulbright Commission and was able to go to America during my second semester. At that time America was for us the "promised land" in many respects - political, cultural, economic, and, last but not least, athletic. Therefore, I considered it to be a great privilege to be allowed to study in America. Naturally, we all wanted to attend one of the famous East Coast universities. But in fact I learned much more about America in the Midwest. After the academic year had ended, I worked for six months as a welder and a truck driver in Los Angeles.

You have frequently returned to the United States to do research or to teach as a visiting professor. How have your perceptions of American academic life changed over time?

After finishing my dissertation in 1960 I chose for the subject of my Habilitation project American imperialism between 1865 and 1900. With support from the American Council of Learned Societies, I was able to stay in the United States in 1962-3 with my family and to spend one and a half years in archives and special libraries. Thereafter, I have often been invited to be a visiting professor, for example, in Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale. These visits yielded the acquaintance, even the friendship of several American colleagues, and above all close contact with undergraduate and graduate students. At the same time I could observe the latest trends in American historical scholarship.

Since my experiences as a student in Ohio I have always advocated the adoption of the American academic model in Germany: We also should allow four years for basic studies, concluding with exams, after which the majority of students would leave university. And we should introduce a graduate program for M.A. and doctoral students. It has always been illusory to treat every German student as a potential scholar in the sense of Wilhelm von Humboldt. I am of course also a supporter of the idea that each university should be able to select its own students, assess its own fees, and enter a lively competition for the best minds. This opinion has repeatedly been strengthened during each of my trips to America. I don't see any better alternative to the rational restructuring of the mass university from within.

Against the backdrop of your personal experiences, how would you characterize the American contribution to your intellectual life?

The nearly six years altogether that I spent in the United States have influenced me mostly in the direction of a kind of political liberalism, which in the 1950s and 1960s was seen as "leftist" in the old Federal Republic. I also have been influenced by the more flexible American style of discussion. In contrast, the epistemological positivism in the U.S. has horrified me from the beginning - and still does to this day.

How did your acquaintance or friendship with German émigré scholars living in the United States influence the development of your historical thinking?

Without question, I have been deeply influenced by personal friendships with German historians who were forced by the Nazi regime to leave the country. This is true above all in the case of my long-term relationship with Hans Rosenberg, but also is true for scholars such as Dietrich Gerhard, Hajo Holborn, Alfred Vagts, as well as the children of émigrés such as Fritz Stern, Klaus Epstein, and others. When we were searching for forerunners for a new social history, reference to the works of these historians played an important role, especially the fact that all of them could be considered political liberals.

How would you describe the connections between the American theoretical debates of the last twenty years - for example, feminist theory, the linguistic turn, the New Cultural History - and the development of your major project, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte?

Work on my "history of society" (Gesellschaftsgeschichte) has been conducted independent of the fashionable trends in the United States. I myself experienced the short-lived rise of psychohistory, cliometrics, and culturalism. These fashionable trends spread like brush fires through American history departments and disappeared just as quickly as they started. The so-called linguistic turn is epistemologically the return of a neo-Kantian epistemology. I don't see anything new, especially with regard to relative constructivism, which has greatly informed the New Cultural History. The rise of gender history, however, closes a long existing gap, but my own work certainly doesn't satisfy the expectations of its proponents.

In your view, what is the current state of the transatlantic historiographical dialog?

The transatlantic dialog between American and German historians since the late 1940s is based on the fundamental experiences of the political generations that lived through the Nazi dictatorship, World War II, the postwar years, and the founding of the Federal Republic. These common experiences led to close contacts; I am someone who has profited immensely from them. The generations of Carl Schorske, Leonard Krieger, Hajo Holborn, Arno Mayer, Jim Sheehan, Henry Turner, Gerald Feldman, Charles Maier, and others, have influenced in a lasting way the political generation in Germany to which I belong. Perhaps they also took up this or that stimulus from our side. Nonetheless, there remain surprising gaps. As an approach cliometrics has almost been completely ignored in the Federal Republic. Our type of political social history has not been adopted by American new social historians with their faith in quantification. Our argument in regard to a German Sonderweg - an interpretation that is of course specific to the "civilization break" in 1933 - has not persuaded all of our American friends. But what remains is an exceptionally intensive discussion that has been sustained over the course of several decades. I hope very much that this discussion among the younger generations in Germany and in America doesn't come to an end.

Why do you think the approach of Alltagsgeschichte plays a more prominent role among American students of German history than among German historians?

It has been clear for some time that the "history of everyday life" (Alltagsgeschichte) has been a failure, theoretically speaking. All of the smart people have moved on to the New Cultural History. This development also will take its course in America, where currently students of those historians who once declared themselves enthusiastically for the history of everyday life are fighting a rearguard battle.

How would you evaluate the American reading of your work and the American perception of "historical social science" - an approach that you and others have promulgated since the late 1960s?

What we had in mind as an "historical social science" (Historische Sozialwissenschaft) and then pragmatically translated into actual studies, especially social historical ones, as well as into syntheses of the history of society, has been received by our American colleagues with a friendly curiosity. Like their German counterparts, a younger generation of American historians, which is interested in women's history, ethnic studies, and the New Cultural History, has been less interested in our project. It remains to be seen what the outcome of this duel will be in the short or long term. I am still confident that historical social science, with its foci on social, economic, and political history and its theoretical sophistication, will hold its own in this debate. Above all, historical social science can absorb important trends emerging from the New Cultural History rather than the other way around.

How would you compare your Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte to other histories of Germany in the nineteenth century written in English?

I certainly will not engage in a detailed comparison of my own attempt to synthesize the history of society with the attempts of others. The synthetic works of American and British historians with which I am familiar basically are still framed in the language of conventional political history. I don't see anywhere in the general histories, not to mention in "textbooks" (with the one exception of Volker Berghahn's), an indication that they have much in common with our ideas on the history of society. To that extent, the Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte perhaps represents a welcome addition.

What do you see as the relative strengths and weaknesses of the historical professions in Germany and the United States?

As far as a cost-benefit analysis regarding American and German historical scholarship is concerned, German provincialism has without doubt remained rather frightening. There are very few faculties where the history of southern or western Europe is taught, let alone the history of Latin America, Africa, or Asia. You can easily count the number of practitioners in these fields on one hand. At every major university in the United States the situation is fundamentally different; this reflects the much broader range of historical interests in America. However, I think the training of our doctoral students is much better. The best of our future scholars have studied two subjects, for example, history and sociology. They also are more theoretically minded. Within a few years of the dissertation they write a second study (Habilitationsschrift) on a different problem, in a different time period, and on a different country than they did for the dissertation. This system allows them to have broader interests and to be less narrow. I know only a few American Ph.D. dissertations that can compare with the excellent doctoral works, let alone the Habilitationsschriften, of our best young scholars.

The institutionalization of professional historical scholarship in both countries is similar. We have fewer professional organizations than in America. However, the influence of German historical scholarship on the German public is comparatively much greater than that of the American guild on its respective public. At any time we can intervene on television, on the radio, and in the cultural pages of the major newspapers. Many of us do this on a regular basis. In America that is rarely the case; you must be an adviser of the president in order to attract media attention. Looking back, it is clearly apparent that the West German invention of contemporary history, which had not really existed beforehand, and the enormously important role of modern history in general for West German political consciousness have had an enlightening effect in the positive sense.

Where do you situate National Socialism in the history of the twentieth century?

The experiences of the Nazi dictatorship, its war of extermination, and its mass murder particularly of the Jews and Slavs remains an integral part of German history in the twentieth century. I believe this history will continue to be treated in a privileged way by the international community of scholars. Even for comparative history the experience of the German dictatorship continues to be a horrifying example. One can try to understand this history from various points of view, but certainly not in the sense of the "trashbook" by Daniel Goldhagen.

What impact will the passage of time have on Germany's political self-definition with respect to the Nazi past?

Of course, the temporal distance grows, and a new political generation's experiences are referenced to fifty peaceful years of the Federal Republic. However, I believe that the break with civilization in the 1930s and 1940s will continue to be an indispensable point of orientation for German political consciousness. One cannot steal away from this context, as we have seen in the debate over compensating forced laborers. In the near future we will finally turn to the problem of the Aryanization of Jewish businesses during the Nazi period.

Will recent research on the history of the GDR change views of the history of West Germany?

I don't believe for a minute that research on the history of the GDR will essentially change the perspective on West German history. There is no way to get around the fact that the second German dictatorship failed in every respect. It is one of the bitterest experiences of eastern Germans that they cannot contribute anything lasting to the unification process, neither political, nor economic, nor social. One can criticize this statement as a judgment from the era of the Cold War, but I believe that the West clearly won the Cold War and that this victory will continue to have an effect on interpretations of German postwar history, and should continue to have normative effects.

What do you see as the major challenges for the writing of German history in the future?

German historical scholarship will face a number of challenges in the future. In many respects it already finds itself in the middle of a lively debate. The relations between social and cultural history have to be clarified. In particular, the epistemological bases, which are deplorably undeveloped in many cultural historical projects, will have to be clarified. Moreover, support of economic and political history should not be neglected. In the era of globalization and the new international constellation since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the decline of economic and political history in Germany is practically a disaster. Women's history needs to be expanded into gender history because the real world is made up of two genders after all, much like an ellipse with its two foci. Above all, however, academic history has to stay conscious of the unavoidable political implications of its work. There is no room for a retreat to an apolitical position, which can be clearly discerned in the work of some cultural historians.

To conclude with two general questions, what would you say are the three or four most important influences on the writing of German history in the twentieth century?

When it comes to the greatest influences, I would have to say again that Max Weber and Karl Marx have offered the most stimulating ideas. The most important German historian of the first half of the twentieth century was Otto Hintze. After that, I would mention Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy (the only genius I ever met) and Ernst Troeltsch

If the last page of the last volume of Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte was written and you had time to write a small book, what would you write about?

When I finally throw off the burden of this enormous project, that is, when the fourth volume (which covers the period from 1914 to 1990) is published, I would in fact like to turn to the writing of a small book. I would probably attempt to write a fusion of social, political, and cultural history, for example, an outline of the history of modern nationalism.

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