chapter
20 Pages

Prussia in history and historiography from the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries

WithStefan Berger

When the German nation state was founded in 1871, most Prussian historians felt that Prussia had at long last fulfilled its historic mission of creating a unified Germany. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the demystification of Prussian history was undertaken by a new generation of social historians who had consciously broken with the nationalist tradition in German historiography. Prussia's part in the division of Poland was not infrequently passed over in popular historical accounts, while Prussia's role in unifying Germany was routinely justified as ‘historical necessity’ in the best manner of nineteenth-century Prussianism. Following the ruthless repression and persecution of Polish historiography under German occupation in the Second World War, the traditional anti-Prussianism and anti-Germanism of Polish historians resurfaced after 1945. Ultimately Prussianism, in its positive and negative versions, was really scrutinized only with the debate about the validity of theories of a German Sonderweg.