• GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • FRANKISH KINGDOM
  • JOHANNES REUCHLIN
  • THE WEIMAR CONSTITUTION
  • W
  • INFLATION, REPARATIONS, AND
  • THE STRESEMANN ERA, 19231929
  • STABILIZATION AND LOCARNO,
  • CULTURE AND SOCIETY
  • ROAD TO DICTATORSHIP,
  • T
  • CONSOLIDATION OF POWER
  • THE NAZI TOTAL STATE
  • ULRICH VON HUTTEN
  • PERSECUTION OF THE JEWS
  • RELIGION AND THE CHURCHES
  • FOREIGN POLICY
  • W
  • THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN
  • INVASION OF RUSSIA
  • HITLERS PLANS FOR EUROPE
  • TURNING OF THE TIDE,
  • THE HOME FRONT
  • THE RESISTANCE
  • PHILIP MELANCHTHON
  • D-DAY TO DEFEAT NAZI GERMANY
  • THE HOLOCAUST
  • A
  • ALLIED PLANS AND CONFERENCES
  • DENAZIFICATION
  • POLITICAL PARTIES AND TRADE
  • LOCAL STATE FORMATION
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  • ECONOMIC RECONSTRUCTION
  • T
  • ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM
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  • RECONSTRUCTION AND THE ECONOMIC
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  • OSTPOLITIK (FOREIGN POLICY
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  • T
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  • ECONOMIC SYSTEM
  • SOCIETY, EDUCATION, AND
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  • R
  • CONSEQUENCES AND PROBLEMS OF
  • ECONOMIC UNIFICATION,
  • P
  • RENAISSANCE ART
  • UNIFICATION POLITICS AND ITS
  • FOREIGN POLICY
  • GOVERNMENT AND ELECTIONS,
  • HISTORICAL DICTIONARY A
  • A
  • Abwehr
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  • P
  • Anglo-German Naval Treaty
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  • B
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  • ANABAPTISM AND MÜNTZER
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  • blank check
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  • CHARLES V AND THE REFORMATION
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  • C
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  • THE THIRTY YEARS WAR
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  • LITERATURE
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  • D
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  • E
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  • A
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  • F
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  • feminism, 18151945
  • feminism, 19452005
  • Ferdinand II
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  • JOSEPH II AND REFORM
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  • SEVEN YEARS WAR
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  • ECONOMY
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  • T
  • THE QUESTION OF
  • LATE MEDIEVAL CULTURE
  • CONDUCT OF THE WAR
  • PEACE RESOLUTION, REFORM, AND
  • AN UNPLANNED REVOLUTION
  • N
  • POLITICAL PARTIES UNPREPARED
  • A REVOLUTIONARY PATTERN
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  • A REPUBLIC PROCLAIMED
  • A SEVERE ARMISTICE
  • T
  • ESTABLISHMENT OF A REVOLUTIONARY
  • EBERT MAKES A DEAL WITH THE
  • THE SPARTACISTS
  • INTERPRETATION OF THE
  • A VENGEFUL PEACE
  • V
  • THE GOALS OF THE PEACEMAKERS
  • TERMS OF THE TREATY
  • WAR GUILT AND REPARATIONS
  • DENUNCIATION AND RELUCTANT
  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • conservatism

    lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.5pt;font-family:"Meridien-Medium","serif"; color:black'>(18151945)

    Conservatism is an ideology (a set of moral,

    material, and political beliefs) that came into

    being in response to the revolutionary changes

    brought on by liberalism and democracy, which

    were spawned by the ENLIGHTENMENT and the

    French Revolution. As a modern political philosophy,

    European conservatism originated in 1790

    with the English thinker Edmund Burke and his

    Reflections on the Revolution in France. Burke enunciated

    a philosophy of evolutionary conservatism

    and believed that society was a contract between

    the living, the dead, and future generations. He

    was opposed to revolutionary change. Burke was

    popularized in Germany and Austria by Friedrich

    von GENTZ. Their ideas were reinforced by the

    influence of French writers such as De Maistre,

    Bonald, and Chateaubriand and given form in

    Germany by romantic pamphleteers such as

    Adam Müller, August and Friedrich SCHLEGEL,

    and Franz von BAADER, all of whom gave

    expression to the conservative philosophy of the

    German Restoration.

    Prince Clemens von METTERNICH was the

    best-known exponent of conservatism in the

    German states; he believed in the principle of

    legitimacy and sought to restore the old order of

    government and society wherever possible. The

    most important conservative German thinker in

    the years immediately after 1815 was Carl Ludwig

    von Haller (17681854), who opposed the

    secular abstractions of Enlightenment political

    theories. His influence rested on his six-volume

    study The Restoration (181622), in which he

    gave conservative political thought an intellectual

    foundation, replacing the social contract

    theory of the revolutionaries. He believed that

    a rulers power was natural, that the state was

    not a sacred community different from other

    social institutions, and that the rights and powers

    of the state were based on the same principles

    as families and communities. The

    conservatives in general insisted that they were

    not opposed to liberty but mainly the emancipation

    promised by the Enlightenment. Rather,

    conservatives believed in a liberty that was

    rooted, defined, and protected by custom.

    conservatism 317

    The philosopher of German conservatism,

    however, was Friedrich Julius Stahl (180261),

    a Jew who converted to Christianity. His rabbinical

    training left a deep imprint on him, causing

    him to stress the role of religion and ritual in

    society. Like Haller, he was opposed to the natural

    law doctrines of the French Revolution. He

    believed that kings were the agents of God on

    earth and the divine character of the state gave

    it its legitimacy and its right to exercise power

    over its members. The law of reason and impersonal

    laws were to be replaced by personalistic

    theism. The true state, he thought, was a Christian

    state, paternalistic and absolute. Constitutions

    were worthless scraps of paper. These were

    the doctrines in which the Prussian ruling class

    believed in its fight against the growing strength

    of constitutionalism, liberalism, and revolutionary

    nationalism.

    Although conservatives had their differences,

    most of them favored obedience to legitimate

    political authority, believed that organized religion

    was a fundamental foundation to the social

    order; they hated revolutions, opposed liberal

    demands for civil liberties, representative government,

    and the goals of national unity. The

    community took precedence over individual

    rights, and tradition rather than reason was the

    appropriate guide for the social order. The groups

    that supported conservatism after 1815 were the

    hereditary monarchs, government bureaucracies,

    land-owning aristocracies, and the Protestant and

    Catholic Churches. Their dominance was almost

    overthrown in the REVOLUTION OF 1848, but they

    recovered in the counterrevolution with the help

    of the military. During the 1850s conservatives

    turned increasingly to political repression to prevent

    the revival of liberalism. Reform projects

    ranging from eliminating the last vestiges of feudal

    obligations in the countryside to increasing

    rights of self-government in the municipalities

    where liberal political influence was the greatest

    were stopped. With the ascension to the throne

    of King William I in PRUSSIA; a conflict between

    the new king and Parliament over army reform

    began in 1859 and lasted until 1866. The Conservatives

    had insisted that political authoritarianism

    was based on the union of throne, altar,

    and the army, and should prevail over popular

    elections and parliamentary government. Traditionally,

    the conservatives had also preferred

    Prussian particularism over German nationalism,

    agriculture over industry, and traditional responsibilities

    over individual freedom.

    After Otto von BISMARCK brought about German

    unification, conservatives did not agree

    with all of the changes that occurred. Besides

    national unity, Bismarck also appealed to the liberals

    with a popularly elected REICHSTAG. But

    conservatives were also facing the changes

    brought about with the Industrial Revolution

    and the breakdown of traditional class structure.

    Conservatives became more divided over time,

    splitting into two groups: the GERMAN CONSERVATIVES

    and the Free Conservatives. They were

    united in defending the Prussian system of government

    established in 1851, but they differed

    over the new Empire. The German Conservatives,

    who were dominated by estate-owning

    JUNKERS in the Prussian east, were opposed to

    modernization and wanted to preserve traditional

    society and government. The Free Conservatives,

    on the other hand, supported unification

    and industrialization as a means of strengthening

    Prussian conservatism. The latter were known as

    the Imperial Party and had become insignificant

    by 1914. The NATIONAL LIBERAL PARTY also had

    conservative tendencies after 1890 as many of its

    backers were iron and steel industrialists. With

    military defeat and the abdication of the Kaiser,

    conservatism lost its influence. Its intransigence

    in opposing the reform of the PRUSSIAN THREE

    CLASS VOTING SYSTEM during peacetime blocked

    moderate constitutional reform and contributed

    to the November Revolution.

    With the establishment of the WEIMAR REPUBLIC

    conservatives went into opposition. They

    hated the republic and its socialist and liberal leaders.

    Political conservatism established the monarchist

    GERMAN NATIONAL PEOPLES PARTY (DNVP) in

    November 1918. It supported the restoration of

    the monarchy or the creation of an authoritarian

    state. Conservatives appeared to gain in strength

    with the election of retired Field Marshal Paul von

    318 conservatism

    HINDENBURG as president in 1925. By the end of

    the 1920s conservatives were fragmenting into

    many smaller parties. The DNVP became more

    radical under the leadership of Alfred HUGENBERG.

    Between 1930 and 1932 the crisis of Weimar conservatism

    was evident in the attempts of Heinrich

    BRÜNING with Hindenburgs support to reform

    the WEIMAR CONSTITUTION in a more authoritarian

    direction. Variants of the conservative ideology

    also arose that talked about revolutionary conservatism.

    Conservatism had become so fragmented

    that it could no longer present a common

    approach to the collapse of Weimar parliamentarianism.

    Some conservatives, however, supported

    the Nazis, while others remained suspicious of

    Nazi violence. It should be remembered, however,

    that it was conservatives like Hugenberg and

    Franz von PAPEN who paved the way for Hitler to

    be appointed chancellor by another conservative,

    President Hindenburg. Conservative organizations

    such as the Steel Helmets (Stahlhelm) and

    others were dissolved or co-opted. Conservatives

    did not respond as a group to Nazi programs or

    the war, some favoring the expansion of the military,

    and others, like General Ludwig BECK,

    opposing Hitlers march to war. Other conservatives

    participated in the RESISTANCE, objecting to

    the war, the persecution of the Christian churches

    and the destruction of the Jews. The conservative

    Count Helmuth James von MOLTKE played the

    major role in the abortive attempt on Hitlers life

    on July 20, 1944.

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