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Heinrich von Treitschke

Through the 1800s, interest in history increased. Archaeology was becoming a tool for historians, as was the study of languages. Historians had become increasingly concerned with discipline and in documenting their sources. The belief that history was a science similar to the physical sciences was losing to describing what actually happened as best one could, drawing from available eyewitness reports, documents and other empirical data in print.

The writing of history was paying more attention to cultural and economic developments. And there were histories that specialized in law, literature, philosophy and distant places such as Asia and the Middle East. Some works in history embraced more than good scholarship. One of the more prominent German historians in the late 1800s was Heinrich von Treitschke (1834-1896). He was influential with his fellow Germans, especially students. He was celebrated for his manner of writing and reliance on authoritative sources. He has been described as a "patriotic historian." His subject was Prussia. "His great achievement," writes Wikipedia, "was the History of Germany in the Nineteenth Century," first published in 1879.

His work embraced his hostility toward Jews, and he helped create a fervent German nationalism and chauvinism, including support for German colonialism and hostility toward Britain.

He criticized Jews for refusing to assimilate into German culture and society, and attacked the flow of Jewish immigrants from Russian Poland. He popularized the phrase "Die Juden sind unser Unglück!" ("The Jews are our misfortune!"), to be adopted by the National Socialist publication Der Stürmer decades later. According to Wikipedia he said, "... now that the Aryans have become accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of finance, the Jews are no longer necessary. The international Jew, hidden in the mask of different nationalities, is a disintegrating influence; he can be of no further use to the world." note115

Treitschke wrote that "The simple loyalty of the Germans contrasts remarkably with the lack of' chivalry in the English character." note116

Throughout his life (1834-96), Treitschke supported the idea of war and racism, going as far as praising conquest of other nations and eradication of those who perish, writing "Brave peoples expand, cowardly peoples perish." He claimed that people of African heritage were "inferior" and that,

In the unhappy clash between races, inspired by fierce mutual enmity, the blood-stained savagery of quick war of annihilation is more humane, less revolting, than the specious clemency of sloth which keeps the vanquished in a state of brute beasts. note117

Treitschke was held in high regard by political elites of Prussia. Bernhard von Bülow, chancellor from 1900 to 1909, personally declared that he kept a copy of von Treitschke's book for "several years" on his desk.


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