The Eulenburg Affair

The Eulenburg Affair: A Cultural History of Politics in the German Empire

NORMAN DOMEIER
TRANSLATED BY DEBORAH LUCAS SCHNEIDER
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 344
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt9qdkz3
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  • Book Info
    The Eulenburg Affair
    Book Description:

    When it broke out in 1906, the scandal surrounding Prince Philipp Eulenburg, closest confidant of Emperor Wilhelm II, shook the Hohenzollern monarchy and all of Europe to the core. Sparked by accusations by the journalist and publicist Maximilian Harden, the scandal dominated European headlines until 1909; it was the first modern scandal in which homosexuality was openly discussed. Particularly shocking was Harden's claim that Wilhelm had long been under the influence of a homosexual camarilla led by Eulenburg. Allegedly, this clique had brought about Bismarck's dismissal, cut off the emperor from his people, and, with its undue pacifism, maneuvered Germany not only into isolation, but to the brink of war during the Morocco Crisis of 1905/6. The scandal came to be a forum for the German public to debate diverse political, social, and cultural issues: honor, friendship, marriage, privacy, sexual mores, anti-Semitism, spiritualism, class struggle, submission to authority, and enthusiasm for the military. Norman Domeier's book, now in English translation, is the first scholarly monograph on the scandal. It draws on a wealth of primary material, including ca. 5,000 newspaper articles as well as minutes of court trials, private correspondence, government files, pamphlets, diaries, memoirs, and images. Domeier's historical analysis offers fascinating insights into the cultural history of German politics in the fateful years of transition from the Belle Époque to the "Iron Age" of the world wars. Norman Domeier is Assistant Professor at the University of Stuttgart's Historical Institute.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-458-1
    Subjects: History, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
    Norman Domeier
  4. INTRODUCTION: THE EYES OF THE WORLD ON A GERMAN SCANDAL
    (pp. 1-15)

    What is Europe supposed to think?” exclaimed Max Bernstein at the Central Criminal Court of Berlin in October 1907. If historians have occupied themselves with the Eulenburg scandal, to which he was referring, then they have seen it until now in a national context or even treated it as an event of purely local interest. Bernstein was one of the most noted criminal defense attorneys in the German Empire, however, and—as co-owner of a Munich newspaper, theMünchner Neueste Nachrichten—quite familiar with how the modern mass-circulation press operated. He knew perfectly well that his words would reach an...

  5. CHAPTER ONE THE POLITICAL SCANDAL AND INTELLECTUALS’ POWER TO SHAPE PERCEPTIONS
    (pp. 16-53)

    In the summer of 1906 the term “camarilla” dominated German press reports.* It referred to an unknown group at the center of political power in the Empire, a clique that was allegedly trying to bring down the chancellor and then steer German politics in a new direction. For the chancellor in power, Bernhard von Bülow, who was fighting for his political survival, this nebulous menace cropped up at an opportune moment. In a widely noted speech in the Reichstag he indirectly confirmed the existence of the camarilla, calling it an alien and poisonous plant that had always been planted in...

  6. CHAPTER TWO FLUID BOUNDARIES: POLITICS, THE COURTS, AND THE PRESS IN A SCANDAL
    (pp. 54-94)

    In the spring of 1907 drastic evidence appeared to show how badly the German monarchy was adapted to the era of the mass-circulation press. While international newspapers had been debating Harden’s campaign against the Eulenburg camarilla for a long time, there was one person who for months had heard nothing about the disaster threatening to engulf him and his best friends: Emperor Wilhelm.¹ German journalists published desperate appeals for someone to enlighten the monarch. Everyone believed that containment of the scandal depended on the sovereign receiving a comprehensive explanation quickly.² Since the country’s top-ranking officials, the chancellor and the chief...

  7. CHAPTER THREE THE POLITICIZATION OF MARRIAGE, FRIENDSHIP, AND SEXUALITY
    (pp. 95-140)

    The hearing of evidence in the first Moltke-Harden trial provided revelations that caused a sensation throughout Europe, and in its wake marriage, friendship, and sexuality became politicized to an extent previously unknown. The union between Kuno and Lilly von Moltke could hardly have been more “Wilhelmine” in character. At their wedding on March 12, 1896, Emperor Wilhelm II served as best man for his friend and aide-de-camp. The monarch was also head of the state church in Prussia, and at the court in Berlin there was elation that another “confirmed bachelor”—a status that society did not rate highly— had...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR THE RULING ELITE OF WILHELMINE GERMANY AND ITS CRISIS OF LEGITIMATION
    (pp. 141-205)

    The Eulenburg scandal plunged the German ruling elite into a crisis, since it exposed a profound weakness in its legitimation to govern. The constitution of the German Empire did not envision the existence of a camarilla or individual favorites at the court and provided no way to deal with them; Wilhelmine Germans associated such roles in the exercise of power with absolute monarchy and believed they had long since been overcome.¹ In the columns of theZukunftMaximilian Harden opened a panorama of the power effectively wielded by Philipp Eulenburg as the “favorite” of Emperor Wilhelm II:

    The second chancellor...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE SUSPICIONS OF PERVASIVE HOMOSEXUALITY IN GERMANY’S DIPLOMATIC CORPS AND MILITARY FORCES
    (pp. 206-248)

    From today’s perspective it may seem strange, almost grotesque, to view entire institutions such as a diplomatic corps or the military as sexually suspicious. TheBelle Époquewas the age of prestige politics, however, and the Eulenburg scandal had introduced sexual morality as a category available for interpreting the tense international relations of the time. As I will show below, this was only the culmination of a whole chain of incidents involving national prestige, from the Schnaebele affair in 1887 and the seizure of a German mail steamer in 1899 during the Boer War to the Venezuela crisis of 1902....

  10. CONCLUSION: THE LONG END OF THE GERMAN SCANDAL
    (pp. 249-260)

    For Thomas Mann, the Eulenburg scandal meant that Maximilian Harden (and hence intellectuals) had defeated feudalism, which was losing ground in any case. It was a victory, even though it “never went into force legally for very German reasons.”¹ Today we know that Harden demanded a high price for agreeing not to take his case again to the supreme court of the Empire (Reichsgericht)—a payment in symbolic capital. No other German intellectual achieved the same level of success. The journalist insisted on and received a document from the government stating that his fierce attack on the foundations of the...

  11. CHRONOLOGY
    (pp. 261-264)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 265-362)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 363-420)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 421-428)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 429-429)