Germany 1866-1945 by Gordon A. Craig Book Analysis - Essay Example

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The writer of this essay aims to give detailed deep answers to a few questions about Gordon A. Craig's history book "Germany 1866-1945". These question incude what is the central focus of the book and how objectively are the major leaders of the century portrayed by the author.
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Germany 1866-1945 by Gordon A. Craig Book Analysis
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Germany 1866-1945 by Gordon A. Craig What is the central focus of the book? How does the thread a narrative through the sequence of distinct political phases between 1866 and 1945?
Toward the middle of the 19th century Germany was witness to profound political churnings. The century that ensued is perhaps the nation’s most eventful and yet the most tormented. The author’s account is an encapsulation of a nation’s struggle in finding its political spirit. The struggle is one between the pulls of modernity and republicanism on the one hand, and the allure of tradition and convention on the other. The century in question is the grand theatre when bold new strides were taken in making Germany a model democracy in Europe. Tragically, much of this progress is undone by the rise of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist (Nazi) party and its usurpation of power in 1933. Although, the decade under Hitler’s premiership is a well-documented chapter in 20th century history author Gordon Craig brings a unique and fresh viewpoint on the episode.
2. How does the author treat the delicate and complex subject of the military operations of the Third Reich?
One of main obstacles that stood against the Nazi agenda was the conservative-militaristic order that prevailed during the Wilhelmine era. So Hitler was hell bent on destroying this institutional resistance. Adopting means that were not entirely ethical Hitler was able to wrest power in 1933. The six years that followed was devoted to elaborate social engineering whereby, Hitler’s policies moulded Germany into a perpetual war-ready state. This aggressive military posturing was not lost on major neighbouring powers. It was only a matter of time for the inevitable expansion to commence, and it promptly did with the invasion of Poland in September 1939. The unfolding of the Second World Wars saw the worst human casualties in human history. The most painful episode is that of the Holocaust, where 6 million innocent Jews were systematically exterminated as part of the Nazi party’s Final Solution program. Gordon Craig handles the subject with sensitivity and factual accuracy.
3. How objectively are the major leaders of the century portrayed by the author?
Gordon Craig presents in detail the portraits of two major political leaders of the period. The fist is Otto van Bismarck and the second is Adolf Hitler. He describes the former as a ‘great star’, duly acknowledging the tremendous impact his personality had on German nationalism. But Craig is not shy of highlighting the failings of this great character as well. For example, he notes how the stubborn trait in the Iron Chancellor held back Republican values in the polity. In assessing Hitler, the author observes how the Fuhrer disregarded the rich roots of German intellectual culture to direct the nation toward a narrowly conceived liberal modernity.
Craig places the relevance of these two political leaders in the context of their institutional, economic and social conditions they inherited. For instance, in terms of the social impact, the rights, roles and responsibilities of women underwent drastic changes during the span of the century, reaching a peak during the Weimar years. The Weimar years represented the peaking of German arts and political rights. Equally impressive were the advances being made in education methodology and religious scepticism. The demise that was to follow was partly blamed on the artists and intellectuals of the age, many of whom meekly surrendered to Hitler’s authoritarianism.
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Craig, Gordon A. Germany 1866 – 1945. New York, Oxford: Oxford University, 1976 Read More
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