The Rise and Fall of Prussia

The Rise and Fall of Prussia

by Sebastian Haffner
     
 
Sebastian Haffner regarded himself as “a Prussian with a British passport.” In this overview of Prussia’s 170-year history as an independent state, he depicts Prussia’s evolution from a sensational 18th century success story – “a state based on law, one of the first in Europe” – to its absorption into the Third

Overview

Sebastian Haffner regarded himself as “a Prussian with a British passport.” In this overview of Prussia’s 170-year history as an independent state, he depicts Prussia’s evolution from a sensational 18th century success story – “a state based on law, one of the first in Europe” – to its absorption into the Third Reich where “the rule of law was the first thing that Hitler abolished.” In this succinct and readable book, Haffner argues that Hitler’s racial and nationality policy was the opposite of Prussia’s and Hitler’s political style, the very opposite of Prussian.


“In his short book The Rise and Fall of Prussia Haffner combines a critical examination with a declaration of love for a state which always lived beyond its means ... but which managed to combine material poverty with intellectual grandeur.” — Michael Stürmer, Welt am Sonntag

“Haffner sees Prussia’s history as the 'tragedy of a purely rational state'. An agglomeration of arbitrary territories, it made a virtue of its artificiality, adapting to the enlightenment and then to romanticism, but finally also to nationalism, betraying the basis of its statehood and leading to its ultimate destruction.” — Chrisian Roth, Akademische Blätter

“Haffner long regarded himself as a 'Prussian with a British passport'. He identified with Prussia and its achievements: general compulsory schooling (1717), the abolition of torture (1740), the establishment of religious toleration (1740), Bismarck’s welfare state (1883), the medical giants Virchow, Koch, von Behring, the intellectual giants Kant, von Humboldt and von Schlegel, and much more. At the end of his book he recounted the (often-ignored) expulsion of millions of Prussians from their homeland in 1945. 'It was an atrocity, the final atrocity of a war which had more than its share in atrocities, admittedly begun by Germany under Hitler.' His message is very relevant today, when he praises those expelled for rejecting revenge and having the courage to say, 'This is enough.'” — David Childs, The Independent

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940016168265
Publisher:
Plunkett Lake Press
Publication date:
12/29/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
192
File size:
870 KB

Meet the Author

Sebastian Haffner was born in 1907 as Raimund Pretzel the last of four children. His father was headmaster of a Berlin school and a noted liberal school reformer. Pretzel studied law and received his doctorate in 1934. Although he was not Jewish he abandoned his planned career as a lawyer in public service when the Nazis came to power. Instead he worked as a non-political journalist.

In 1938 he and his pregnant fiancée, who was of Jewish descent and for that reason had been dismissed from her post as university librarian, managed to emigrate to the UK, where they were married. There he started to write a memoir about his youth in Weimar Germany and the rise of the Nazis. The book (Defying Hitler) was abandoned at the outbreak of war and replaced by another (Germany: Jekyll and Hyde) offering an analysis of Germany for the benefit of the allies. This book, published under the pseudonym Sebastian Haffner which he used for the rest of his life, procured his release from internment in the summer of 1940. In 1942 he became a journalist at the Observer and quickly made a reputation as a political thinker.

Haffner returned to Germany in 1954, initially as a correspondent for the Observer. There he became an important commentator on current affairs and a well-known television personality. In the 1960s he started writing historical books, mostly about 20th century German history, including The Ailing Empire: Germany from Bismarck to Hitler. His most important and successful book, The Meaning of Hitler, appeared in 1978. He retired in 1991 and died in 1999 aged 91.

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