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Hindenburg

Anna von der Goltz

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780199570324
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722240 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570324.001.0001

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Hindenburg

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Hindenburg: Power, Myth, and the Rise of the Nazis investigates the various political and cultural manifestations of the myth surrounding German Chief of Staff and Reich President Paul von Hindenburg, from the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914 to his death in the ‘Third Reich’ and beyond. How this little-known General, whose career to normal retirement age had provided no real foretaste of his heroic status, became a national icon and living myth, and what this phenomenon tells us about one of the most crucial periods in German history, is the subject of this book. The book charts the origins of the Hindenburg myth during the First World War, looks at how it survived the revolution, and explains why Hindenburg's name on the ballot mesmerized voters in the presidential elections of 1925 and 1932. The only two times in German history that the people could elect their head of state directly and secretly, they chose this national icon; Hindenburg even managed to defeat Hitler in 1932, making him the Nazi leader's ultimate arbiter. The book examines the complex role of the Hindenburg myth in fashioning the Führer cult, while also emphasizing its more wide-ranging appeal prior to 1933. The Hindenburg myth, in fact, caught the imagination of an exceptionally broad social and political coalition of Germans, turning it into one of the most potent forces in German politics in a period otherwise characterised by rupture and fragmentation. Crucially, it managed to survive military failures and political disappointments. As the author shows, the mythical narrative was constantly evolving, but the belief in Hindenburg's mythical qualities was more enduring than a narrow application of Weber's model of ‘charismatic authority’ — which defines projection as key — would suggest.

Keywords: Hindenburg; myth; cult; icon; First World War; Tannenberg; charismatic authority

Book.  344 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Hindenburg

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Buying the Icon* in Hindenburg

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Hollow Unity in Hindenburg

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