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GERMAN HISTORICAL INSTITUTE WASHNGTON, D.C. ANNUAL LECTURE SERIES No. 8 - page 28 / 46

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26

then why should an American be interested in medieval Germany? By the 1920s, the germ theory was replaced by the Turner thesis, which taught that American civilization, far from being a replication in the New World of Aryan or any other institutional, social, or cultural traditions, was the unique product of the frontier.33 It was the westward expansion that created a new civilization in the New World, a thesis that Thompson was as ready to adopt in the service of German medieval history in America as he had been with the older. Thompsons new justification, which he elaborated in his

, paralleled the Turner thesis just as clearly as his pre-war justification had echoed the germ theory. This time, it was not Keutgen but Lamprecht whom he quoted to justify attention to medieval Germany: The great deed of the German people in the Middle Ages was the recovery of three fifths of modern Germany from the Slavs.Thompson goes on to say that:

The wars in Italy and along the French border, or even the Crusades never diverted the eyes of the German people away from the great territory beyond the Elbe and the Inn which their forebears had once dwelt in and ruled over. The deep determina-

33 On Turners role in the attack on the Germanic germ theory as developed by Freeman, see Robert E. Lerner, Turner and the Revolt Against E. A. Freeman,

5 (1963), 101108, cited in Gettleman, ed.,

,

vol 1, 26 One must also wonder about the extent to which Turner may have drawn upon

German studies of the

for his thesis, perhaps in the same way that

Adams had drawn upon German racial theories, although his own frontier experience and extensive studies of the fur trade were more significant. Turner was in contact with Karl Lamprecht, who wrote him two years after the publication of his paper on the frontier to say that he had found a strong similarity in many respects with our colonizing pioneers.Quoted in Ray Allen Billington,

(San Marino, Calif., 1971), 173.

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