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GERMAN HISTORICAL INSTITUTE WASHNGTON, D.C. ANNUAL LECTURE SERIES No. 8 - page 31 / 46

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29

fundamental insights into the economic and structural underpinnings of history in opposition to traditional political history. Nitzsch, he wrote,

  • never received the credit he deserved,since he challenged both liberalism

and idealism.40

Of Lamprecht, he wrote that in opposition to the Rankian

narrative, Lamprechts query required a genetic treatment of society as a whole in order to determine its psychic consciousness, or, as modern sociologists would say, its behavior patterns.... Lamprechts acute criticism had struck home.41

It may be this tendency to turn away from internal political history and toward social and economic conditions that, more than anything else, may have discouraged other Americans from pursuing German history, or Germans from appreciating the efforts of American medievalists. Most German medievalists rejected the Weimar state system, and their nostalgia for the Hohenzollern drove them further into the kind of political history that American scholars, with their interest in the relationship between cultural, economic, and social factors, found increasingly arid. The mutual bitterness of the war experience only made the growing rift between types of historical enterprise, indeed conceptions of history, all the more intense.

If the generation of émigré historians did not revitalize medieval German history, the reason can be found within the historical issues of the German intellectual world from which they came. One, Kantorowicz, had indeed written the immensely popular but controversial biography of Frederick II. In America, however, he not only repudiated his earlier work but confined himself largely to the study of pan-European phenomena. Theodor E. Mommsen, although trained in the Monumenta 42

40

Ibid., 421.

41

Ibid., 425.

42

Ernst Kantorowicz,

(Berlin, 1927).

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