By Sebastian Conrad
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Extra resources for The Quest for the Lost Nation: Writing History in Germany and Japan in the American Century (California World History Library)
6 Soon after the end of the war, this continuity thesis took center stage in the academic reevaluation of the past. It was based on the suspicion, or even fear, that National Socialism could not be discarded as a mere arbitrary event, but rather might have to be viewed as a logical consequence of German history. 7 A. J. P. Taylor gave poignant expression to this point of view in his book The Course of German History (1945), which fomented violent reactions from German historians. 9 The idea of a lineage of “Great Germans” leading up to Hitler was, to be sure, not new, as it had already been invoked for the sake of legitimacy during the Third Reich.
Notions of a renewed Christianization of an Occident that needed to come to terms with its own traditions were widespread in the postwar years. The numerous Catholic cultural journals played an important role in public discussion. 32 These considerations were based on a “Catholic” interpretation of German the origin of the nation · 37 history, according to which Luther marked the beginning of the departure from the Reich idea, a development that headed toward an ill-fated conclusion in German uniﬁcation according to the Lesser German model.
To form [the natural] bulwark against Bolshevism. ”62 Thus Ritter, in the wake of the Anschluss of Austria in 1938, placed his political hopes on the emergence of a uniﬁed Europe with a strong German core. Even in 1950, Ritter’s desire apparently had not changed considerably when he republished his twelve-year-old lecture, which expressed this hope. For Ritter, too, national unity had secretly been degraded to an evolutionary stepping stone on the long-term path, unencumbered by the boundaries of worldhistorical epochs, toward German hegemony in Central Europe.