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Enlightened War

Enlightened War: German Theories and Cultures of Warfare from Frederick the Great to Clausewitz

Elisabeth Krimmer
Patricia Anne Simpson
Volume: 98
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Enlightened War
    Book Description:

    ‘Enlightened War’ investigates the multiple and complex interactions between warfare and Enlightenment thought. Although the Enlightenment is traditionally identified with the ideals of progress, eternal peace, reason, and self-determination, Enlightenment discourse unfolded during a period of prolonged European warfare from the Seven Years' War to the Napoleonic conquest of Europe. The essays in this volume explore the palpable influence of war on eighteenth-century thought and argue for an ideological affinity among war, Enlightenment thought, and its legacy. The essays are interdisciplinary, engaging with history, art history, philosophy, military theory, gender studies, and literature and with historical events and cultural contexts from the early Enlightenment through German Classicism and Romanticism. The volume enriches our understanding of warfare in the eighteenth century and shows how theories and practices of war impacted concepts of subjectivity, national identity, gender, and art. It also sheds light on the contemporary discussion of the legitimacy of violence by juxtaposing theories of war, concepts of revolution, and human rights discourses. Contributors: Johannes Birgfeld, David Colclasure, Sara Eigen Figal, Ute Frevert, Wolf Kittler, Elisabeth Krimmer, Waltraud Maierhofer, Arndt Niebisch, Felix Saure, Galili Shahar, Patricia Anne Simpson, Inge Stephan. Elisabeth Krimmer is Professor of German at the University of California, Davis, and Patricia Anne Simpson is Associate Professor of German Studies at Montana State University.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-763-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
    E. K. and P. A. S.
  5. Introduction: Enlightened Warfare in Eighteenth-Century Germany
    (pp. 1-18)
    Elisabeth Krimmer and Patricia Anne Simpson

    In 1942, Erich Weniger, a renowned professor of pedagogy, published a book entitled Goethe und die Generäle (Goethe and the Generals). Weniger was concerned with a perceived rift between what he called the cultures of Potsdam and Weimar, that is, the ethos of German militarism and the culture of Weimar Classicism. The personification of this antithesis was the most prominent exponent of Weimar Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, whom Weniger accused of a decidedly anti-military attitude and temperament, citing

    Goethes oft und deutlich geäusserte Abneigung gegen Preussen, seine niemals verhehlte Bewunderung für Napoleon, das befremdende Schweigen der Tag- und Jahreshefte über...

  6. Part I: War and Enlightenment

    • 1: The Point of Recognition: Enemy, Neighbor, and Next of Kin in the Era of Frederick the Great
      (pp. 21-40)
      Sara Eigen Figal

      The term militärische Aufklärung (military enlightenment) as it is used today refers to reconnaissance, to the active gathering of information about an enemy’s intentions, capabilities, and position. It involves issues of recognition, of seeing, of interpreting, of understanding, and all with the intent of modeling one’s own response appropriately to engage or otherwise defeat a recognized enemy.

      In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, militärische Aufklärung was an idea interwoven with philosophical discourse. Then as now, it involved dynamics of cognition and recognition; then, as now, it was concerned with the identification of both self and enemy. However, the ambitions...

    • 2: Writing War and the Aesthetics of Political Literature in the 1790s: Daniel Jenisch’s (Un)timely Seven Years’ War Epic Borussias
      (pp. 41-72)
      Johannes Birgfeld

      In 1794 Daniel Jenisch, a proponent of the late Enlightenment who is largely unknown today, published what must be called one of the most unique books of eighteenth-century German literature. A versatile writer, Jenisch was well acquainted with many respected authors but by and large had remained at the margins of the literary republic. In a time of political crisis, with a literary market dominated by topical, short-lived news in broad-sheets, pamphlets, and newspapers, Jenisch offered readers a two-volume epic in twelve cantos entitled Borussias. The text is not only the longest and most elaborate literary treatment of the Seven...

  7. Part II: Cultures of War in Classicism and Romanticism

    • 3: Agamemnon on the Battlefield of Leipzig: Wilhelm von Humboldt on Ancient Warriors, Modern Heroes, and Bildung through War
      (pp. 75-102)
      Felix Saure

      In Gottfried Benn’s philosophical dialogue “Drei alte Männer” (Three Old Men), Goethe is seen as a distanced, Olympian writer who declines to immerse himself in the morally suspect quagmire of current politics.¹ This is not the place to discuss the validity of this poetic statement from the late 1940s — new interpretations paint a different picture of the stance of the “Weimarer Dichterfürst” (poet prince of Weimar) toward and of his involvement in the wars of his time — but Benn certainly formulated a longstanding and influential preconception about German idealism.² German artists and thinkers, so the argument goes, fled...

    • 4: War, Anecdotes, and the Backsides of Reason: Kleist with Kant
      (pp. 103-125)
      Galili Shahar

      This reading of Heinrich von Kleist is a reading of “backsides.” It recognizes the subversive, “inverted” forms of his literature and acknowledges contradictions and holes in his writing. It goes to the margins of German Classicism, to the no man’s land of the Napoleonic Wars, and to the peripheries of Kant’s philosophy. These are the sites in which Kleist stood as an officer, an author, and a critic; in these contexts, his writing appeared and vanished. His novels and plays are responses to the literary court of Weimar¹ and are read as subversive interpretations of Goethe’s work. From an “epistemological”...

    • 5: “Schon wieder Krieg! Der Kluge hörts nicht gern”: Goethe, Warfare, and Faust II
      (pp. 126-150)
      Elisabeth Krimmer

      It is well established that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) was no friend of war and violence. From the description of the stellar constellation during his birth in Dichtung und Wahrheit (Poetry and Truth, 1811–33), where Mars looks on indifferently — “Saturn und Mars verhielten sich gleichgültig” (Saturn and Mars remained indifferent)¹ — to his unwillingness to accompany Duke Carl August of Weimar on the campaign in France, Goethe sought to remain at a distance from war. Numerous references in his works and letters as well as statements recorded by his secretary, Johann Peter Eckermann (1792–1854), affirm...

    • 6: Recoding the Ethics of War in Grimms’ Fairy Tales
      (pp. 151-172)
      Patricia Anne Simpson

      It seems unlikely to find war, its consequences and ethos, at home in the Grimms’ fairy tales. In this chapter I contend that the ethical framework of three of the Grimms’ tales with soldiers as protagonists reflects a contemporary culture of war. This reading of war stories inscribed within the larger discourse of populist fairy tales and military theory argues that a close connection exists between the soldier tales and the historical context, particularly with regard to gendered bourgeois identity.² The daunting success of the post-revolutionary French army until the Russian campaign, the Wars of Liberation, and, finally, Waterloo prompted...

  8. Part III: War and Gender

    • 7: On Gender Wars and Amazons: Therese Huber on Terror and Revolution
      (pp. 175-191)
      Inge Stephan

      The eighteenth century was not only the Age of Enlightenment, it was also an epoch marked by extreme violence and numerous wars. Above all, the violent upheaval in the wake of the French Revolution, especially after the execution of the king, raised doubts among contemporaries about whether the Enlightenment and its advocacy of freedom, equality, and human rights were capable of promoting the moral and social refinement of humankind, or rather heralded a new barbarism. The debate over the proper relation between enlightenment and revolution thus formed an integral part of a comprehensive political and philosophical discourse about the proper...

    • 8: Angelica Kauffmann’s War Heroes: (Not) Painting War in a Culture of Sensibility
      (pp. 192-218)
      Waltraud Maierhofer

      Throughout the twentieth century female artists have represented wars both at home and abroad.¹ Käthe Kollwitz’s print “Nie wieder Krieg” (1924, Never Again War) ranks among the most widely reproduced antiwar pieces. Recent scholarship has drawn attention to a number of important women artists in the Age of Enlightenment including the Italian and French painters Rosalba Carriera and Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and the English sculptor Anne Seymour Damer, but engagement with war seems to be rare. In a letter from 6 June 1793 to Johann Heinrich Meyer (1755–1829), Angelica Kauffmann, one of the most prominent painters of her time and...

    • 9: Citizen-Soldiers: General Conscription in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
      (pp. 219-238)
      Ute Frevert

      Although the concept of the soldat-citoyen (citizen-soldier) originated in France, it has survived longer on the right bank of the Rhine than in its homeland. During the 1990s the French government distanced itself from the image of the soldat-citoyen, while Germany still adhered to a practice of general conscription, justifying the continuation of this policy not only with military arguments, but also with the rhetoric of politics and civil society: the “citizen in uniform” is still considered to be the pillar of democracy and civic spirit, even if he is currently under fierce attack.

      This rhetoric draws on a long...

  9. Part IV: War and Theory

    • 10: Just War and Perpetual Peace: Kant on the Legitimate Use of Political Violence
      (pp. 241-257)
      David Colclasure

      Immanuel Kant’s seminal political text on war and peace, “Toward Perpetual Peace,” provides a backdrop for a general discussion about the justifiability of political violence. What at first glance seems to be a categorical rejection of warfare in fact opens the possibility of justifiable wars that go beyond mere self-defense. Kant’s defense of human dignity and its protection, I contend, provides the impetus for this line of argument. What follows is an elaboration and explication of this claim, and an argument for a connection between Kant’s thinking on the issue of political violence and its relevance for wars in our...

    • 11: Military Intelligence: On Carl von Clausewitz’s Hermeneutics of Disturbance and Probability
      (pp. 258-278)
      Arndt Niebisch

      Following Napoleon’s triumphant military campaigns across Europe and ultimate defeat at Waterloo, the Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz committed his thoughts and experience of war to paper. As director of the Allgemeine Kriegsschule, a war college in Berlin, he had sufficient repose and time to compile his voluminous work On War.¹ Due to his early and sudden death — he died of cholera in 1831 — the book remained unfinished. For the most part it comprises an essayistic and even aphoristic collection of fragments, a compendium of the lessons learned in the campaigns against the French armies. The 500-page volume...

    • 12: Host Nations: Carl von Clausewitz and the New U.S. Army/Marine Corps Field Manual, FM 3-24, MCWP 3-33.5, Counterinsurgency
      (pp. 279-306)
      Wolf Kittler

      What has been called the “Clausewitz Renaissance”¹ in U.S. American and British military studies is the result of Michael Howard and Peter Paret’s new translation of Clausewitz’s book On War which appeared at a critical date in 1976, just one year after the last U.S. soldier had been evacuated from Saigon.² Bernard Brodie, the eminent theorist of nuclear deterrence, had not only contributed a short introductory note on “The Continuing Relevance of On War” (50–64) but also a long commentary entitled “A Guide to the Reading of On War” (773–853), which was placed at the end of the...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 307-334)
  11. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 335-338)
  12. Index
    (pp. 339-348)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. None)