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History of Germany Max Quayle

Napoleon and Abnormality

1) How did Napoleon change Germany politically, geographically, and emotionally (i.e.

Nationalism)? What types of changes did he inspire in Prussia and what was the significance of

these reforms?

Geographically, it can be surmised that well over 100 unrecognizable city/states were

dissolved and re-forged into 36 regional councils, opening a pathway to political organization

that would not have been possible in many other ways. The prostrate humiliation which ensued

following the defeat at Napoleon’s hands, struck deep at the German national identity. Though

providing a common enemy, Napoleon’s conquest provided Germany more with the motive for

unification than militarization – and, truth be told – the Napoleonic simplification of the

disorderly German agglomeration was key to her re-union and national recovery. Hated though

he was (by the Prussian elite), Napoleon eliminated forever the feudal states and disorganized

the ecclesiastical states which would have left Germany behind the modern world for decades if

not longer; a deed for which the German Reich must acknowledge as catalyst to their greatest

successes (Pinson, 32)1.

Though Prussian establishment worked unceasingly and successfully to counter

Napoleons image, he was by and large hailed as a great reformer by the majority of newly

unified Germany. And, it is believed, Prussian leadership was quite taken with the order of the

French revolution – which they attributed to Napoleon. Add to this a new and sensical system of
1
Pinson, Koppel, Modern Germany. Macmillan, 1966
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History of Germany Max Quayle

weights and measures and the appearance in France of a thriving and orderly nation and

Germany became suddenly – if only internally – a dedicated student of all things French.

Political organization was one of the early products of the Napoleonic period, wherein the

Prussian agenda may be observed to gain a quasi-representative political voice, and where the

roots of national fervor were nourished – perhaps purposefully – as the potential of unified

Germany, though presently occupied, began to emerge.

A romantic period quietly followed the absolved Prussian rulership, and Germany may

also thank the efforts of Napoleon for some of her finest literary scripts and prose. Pinson writes

of a national inward consciousness and an attitude of self-importance and self reliance. To give

all credit to Napoleon is to err, but to say that his conquest inspired and release the sleeping lion

of the German political and national psyche is in fact. Disunity began to dissolve and the

concept of collective national individuality began to replace romanticism with an iron

consciousness and titan national will.

2) Was Germany's historical path in the nineteenth century "normal" or "abnormal"? Can later

events be tied thereto?

My historical course work to-date has unerringly led me to conclude that the century

nineteenth was the one in which the majority of the latter-day industrial nations found

capitalism and based their economies upon national production, but where Germany – though

an engineering and mechanically-minded powerhouse – allowed her bruised pride to foment

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History of Germany Max Quayle

and diffuse an over-potent national Hubris within her national consciousness. A precision alloy

of raw intellect, and manual skill accreted, and merged brutally with burning hatred and the old

world feudal hierarchical order. The resultant bastard, the ‘Reich’, was and is as yet the most

abominable example of the a natural will of man run riot – plying his inherent goodness and

loyalty to a livelihood of calculated mass hypnosis – an a condition of national intoxication

which might be said to border on religious in its ardent zeal

“Abnormal” is a compliment, when it is said of the rise of the Reich. Its course is set forth in the

writings of the time; from Kant – with stoic reverence of the critical reason – to Nietzsche with

his counter-thinking (the mysterious German Industrial Military Complex seemed ever able to

turn all voices to their ends) and off-hand dismissal of the militarist philosophy. Somehow this

singular nation was able to push the limits of knowledge in such fields ad Mathematics,

Physics, Music, and more, to never before seen depths and simultaneously maintain a rigid

inner commitment to the accumulation of power and every opportunity to make, display and

activate military might.

No, Germany’s path through the upheaval of the Nineteenth century was not normal. It

was as a multiple personality might pass through a day switching as needed to the most

appropriate façade while carefully nurturing the last fragments of sanity in the deepest bunker

of her mind – a constitution to never again be humiliated, beaten or even suspect of weakness.

The path of German evolution must be questioned as the bloodline of the greatest atrocities ever

shown one human to another in the brutal wars of the twentieth century. She alone seemed, for a

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History of Germany Max Quayle

while, most willing to employ the full strength of weaponry technology, and bred herself to be

warlike and distrustful.

Strangely, Germany’s path somewhat follows the dictates of Karl Marx in his belief that

revolution must come from the most populous group. The German bourgeoisie was indeed at

the fore of all discovery, research and musical prowess, but somehow this force was led to

revolt against unseen enemies and misperceived threats – further evidence that a master mind or

group of controllers were actually guiding and directing the fate of this potentially great world

power. The seeds of much German accomplishment (or destruction) in the Twentieth century

were surely sown in the upheaval and calculated reorganization of the century nineteenth:

Analyzed, micro-managed and hyper-efficient? Yes – but normal? Nay.