For now at least.
So yesterday morning before going to work I finally finished the second volume of v.d. Marwitz’s Nachlasse (on Frederick the Great’s birthday). It’s taken me a year near enough and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. The mixture of personal anecdotes, important events and political commentary has been fascinating.
At the moment the main thing I’ve taken from it is the nagging thought in the back of my mind regarding the direction of our society if we’d listened to Marwitz and people like him. Could Feudalism and the Stände have been sufficiently modernised without throwing the baby out with the bathwater? We’ll never know now, even the bath is gone.
I need to study more.
A nice purchase this week from Abe Books, all five volumes of Treitschke‘s Deutsche Geschichte, all by the same publisher but with different dates (1879-1894) and slightly different bindings, for the not so princely sum of 30 Euros. I’m aware that the man had some curious ideas but I’d like to determine the extent of the curiousness for myself.
As an added bonus inside one of the volumes (why did I not note the volume and page!) was a poem about the Benedettistein monument in Bad Ems, erected in memory of the famous incident that precipitated the Franco-Prussian war and brought about the unification of Germany. So, for posterity…
I have to admit to struggling a little with the second volume of Marwiz’s Nachlasse, so far it’s mostly a list of people I haven’t heard of riding around places I’ve never heard of, although there are interesting vignettes as usual (Massenbach you Arschloch I’m looking at you). The battle at Hagelsberg in 1813 however is quite interesting, and unsurprisingly has sent me off on another book search.
According to a footnote on page 75 Marwitz produced a small book about the battle in 1817: Beschreibung des Treffens bei Hagelsberg unwet Belzig, obviously without a copy of this book my life is miserable and incomplete.
So far I’ve found a Google Books scan for download and a protected version in Weimar. Unfortunately Abe Books don’t have an original copy so against my better judgement I bought one of the cheap (£6.44 including postage) indian print on demand copies, however as it uses the same misspelling (Hagilsberg statt Hagelsberg) as Google Books I’m guessing the quality will be as poor as the Google copy.
Also, it’s on the wishlist, if any of my thousands of readers ever see a copy, please tell me!
Well I’ve finally finished the first volume; Lebensbeschreibung, of Marwitz’s Nachlasse, after starting reading it shortly after the New Year. I’ve enjoyed it immensely, slow history is the only way to attempt to get close to long-dead people, although the passage of time and my basic grasp of German keeps me at a respectful distance. Which seems fitting.
A couple of final thoughts. Why did Marwitz think that George Canning, founder of Anti-Jacobin of all things, was a liberal and one of the biggest fools ever to walk the earth (einer der größten Narren, die die Erde je getragen – pg. 466)? I also loved the timelessness of “ein nicht liberaler Gelehrter ist so selten wie ein weißer Rabe” (pg. 468), some things never change.
However there’s no need to worry about a lack of content to come for this blog as I’ve just begun the second volume; Militairische & Politische Aufsätze. I’m sure that’s a relief for both of you.
Purely by coincidence I just started reading about the Battle of Mollwitz in “Ausgewählte Werke Friedrichs des Großen“, Erster Band, on the same day that I was repairing one of my editions of Thomas Carlyle’s History of Frederick the Great ready for rebinding and came across the following map. So I scanned it before it all goes back together.
Today is the 258th anniversary of the battle of Kunersdorf, not Frederick the Great’s greatest moment. The king himself lost 3 horses, 1 shot from under him, and was saved from a musket ball by the snuff box in his coat pocket, after the battle he said:
It is a cruel failure that I will not survive. The consequences of the battle will be worse than the battle itself. I do not have any more resources, and—frankly confessed—I believe that everything is lost. I will not survive the doom of my fatherland. Farewell forever!
As the date happens to fall on my birthday I treated myself to a small book: Die Schlacht von Kunersdorf by von Eberhardt from 1903, which contains some good sketches and a map of the battle.