Historiography and Politics. The Intellectual Biography of Friedrich Meinecke (1862-1954)











Historiography and Politics. Intellectual Biography of Friedrich Meinecke (1862-1954)

The German historian Friedrich Meinecke (1862–1954) was the most influential and important intellectual figure in the German historiography since Leopold Ranke. Due to his special place in the German historical community he reshaped the ‘politics of historiographical discourse’ and exerted a decisive influence on the mainstream of German historiography from the end of the 19th until the middle of the 20th century. Starting from the ‘disciplinary matrix of classical historism’, Meinecke established a history of ideas as a particular theoretical and methodological approach to the study of history which, at the same time, represented the apogee of historism as a theoretical paradigm. In his works devoted to the history of ideas, Meinecke interpreted the historical development of the German nation and the unification of Germany in the 19th century as well as the relation between raison d’état and ethical values in modern European history. In the last part of his trilogy about history of ideas, he presented an authoritative interpretation of the emergence of historism. In his later works, Meinecke adopted a critical stance towards German history which, finally, enabled the establishment of the Nazi dictatorship. Friedrich Meinecke’s intellectual development, i.e. his ‘life as a man of letters from Bismarck to Adenauer’, is illustrative of the intellectual transformation of the German politics and culture in the period from the national unification until the middle of the 20th century. At the same time, his historical thought clearly points to all ‘the paths and side roads’ of modern German historiography.


Mihael Antolović, Historiography and Politics. The Intellectual Biography of Friedrich Meinecke (1862-1954), Belgrade: Institute of European Studies, Albatros Plus, 2017.
ISBN 978-86- 82057-62- 8

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