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Trieglaff: Balancing Church and Politics in a Pomeranian World, 1807-1948

Rudolf von Thadden
Translated by Stephen Barlau
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 254
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Through the lens of five generations of Thaddens, this book tells the history of Trieglaff, the village and family estate located in what is now western Poland, from Napoleon's occupation in 1807 to the Red Army's invasion in 1945 and until the departure of the last Thaddens in 1948. At the center of this history of Trieglaff society, economy, politics, and culture is the von Thadden family, notably, Adolph Ferdinand von Thadden, the head of the pietistic revival in Pomerania, and Reinold von Thadden-Trieglaff, the founder of the German ProtestantKirchentag.It intertwines family history with the political history of Germany through its description of Otto von Bismarck's close associations with Trieglaff in the 19th century and its deliberation of the execution of Elisabeth von Thadden, arising out of her resistance to the Nazis, in the 20th century. The source material is richly supplemented by family records kept by "Trieglaffers" in America and from correspondence between Pomerania and America. The book examines the lives of individuals as well as socio-economic and cultural structures, depicting the dynamic changes that the village experienced throughout some 150 years of German and European history; it might be called world history in microcosm. As juxtaposition of formal history and remembered history, it is a serious scholarly source as well as an engaging read.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-928-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface to the English Edition
    (pp. ix-xi)
    Rudolf von Thadden
  5. Translator’s Remarks
    (pp. xii-xiii)
    Stephen Barlau
  6. Genealogical Diagram of the von Thadden Family
    (pp. xiv-xv)
  7. Map of Pommern
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
  8. Map of Trieglaff
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  9. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The history of Trieglaff presented here is laid out generation by generation. At its center is the von Thadden family. This arrangement aims to develop a historical continuity that will be unique to it without necessarily coinciding with the continuities commonly exhibited in historical writing. Generations acquire life and vitality through their connections with each other, and are characterized also by reciprocal influences upon and from the political and social worlds around them. Hence they neither exist exclusively as independent successive stages, nor are they ever strictly confined solely to their respective eras.¹

    A history structured generationally does assign a...

  10. Chapter 1 The Founding Generation: Preservation of Feudal Structures?
    (pp. 9-34)

    Trieglaff lies, as it always has, out of the way in eastern provincial Pomerania. Notwithstanding, it has a dynamic history. In the past two hundred years it has twice been occupied by foreign troops. Twice the village itself has experienced warfare. The lives of the five generations that molded Thadden-era Trieglaff played themselves out between these two events. The first occupation was by troops of the French emperor Napoleon’s victorious army, who in the spring of 1807 took up quarters in its homes and demanded tribute. The second time, units of the no less victorious Red Army, during their advance...

  11. Chapter 2 Bismarck’s Generation: Prussia Becomes Germany
    (pp. 35-65)

    Invariably present already, hidden within the old, are the roots of the new. As able and industrious farm workers from Trieglaff set out toward the United States and many of the lights in the manor house went out, a new age was dawning in Prussia: the age of industrialization and technological progress. Pomeranian industrial development was lackluster compared to that in Silesia or the western regions of Prussia, but this agrarian province on the Baltic nevertheless felt the impact of the numerous varieties of modernization. The invention of telegraphy, the steam engine, and finally the railroad changed everyday life, even...

  12. Chapter 3 Generations in Transition: Feelers toward the Liberals
    (pp. 66-84)

    The wars that brought Prussia to dominance within Germany also touched Trieglaff. Several members of the Thadden family and numerous inhabitants of the village took part in them as soldiers. And the process of founding the Reich shifted the balance of public interest from Prussian to German affairs, threatening to push especially the provinces east of the Elbe to the fringes of the political world. How important, after all, was Pomerania in a German Empire that now extended as far as Bavaria and into Alsace?¹

    In light of the people’s recollections of the Napoleonic occupation of their land, it is...

  13. Chapter 4 The Wilhelminian Generation: Modernization within Traditions
    (pp. 85-103)

    Seldom, perhaps, have hopes for a renewal of social and political life coincided with a perception of generational change so forcefully as after Bismarck’s dismissal in 1890. The country breathed a collective sigh of relief when the young Kaiser William II proclaimed a “new course” that did away with the Anti-Socialist Laws of 1878 directed against the labor movement in a series of measures that introduced broadened social policies meant to improve legislative protections for labor and to restrict work hours for people under sixteen years of age. Expectations were high in Pomerania as elsewhere.¹

    Indeed, running counter to this...

  14. Chapter 5 The Generation of the World Wars, 1912–1922: Paths at the Close of the Old Era
    (pp. 104-133)

    On the eve of World War I, people in Trieglaff were reading Fontane’sEffi Briestthrough lenses unlike those in use in most conservative families in the Prusso-German Empire, for in Trieglaff, as in the book, people had had to live through an affair involving a duel. It had a different ending than the one in Fontane’s great novel, however. In Trieglaff, convention did not win out, dissent did.

    What was it about the story that kept people in suspense? Or in Fontane’s words: “Why any of it then?” Instetten, whose honor had been sullied by the seduction of his...

  15. Chapter 6 The Generation of the World Wars, 1923–1945: Into the Abyss
    (pp. 134-173)

    As the Weimar Republic fell into its initial profound economic crisis and steered toward unimaginably high inflation, partition of the Thadden family holdings came to completion. In Trieglaff, Adolf’s second family expanded to, in the end, six children, and in Vahnerow the progeny of his son Reinold ultimately numbered five. Available cash permitted no great leaps forward under such circumstances.¹

    Just how large were the estates Trieglaff and Vahnerow at this time? What did the livestock number? How extensive was the acreage that underlay the businesses? According to theLandwirtschaftliches Güter-Adreßbuch(Agricultural directory of properties) of 1939,² which presents data...

  16. Chapter 7 The Last German Generation: Loss and Remembrance
    (pp. 174-203)

    In the spring of 1980, I was party to an encounter that caused a certain date that was historically meaningful for Trieglaff and its neighboring villages to be cast into a new light for me. It was the date on which the Red Army marched into Trieglaff—5 March 1945. As it happened, I was on a trip to Israel to take part in establishing a chair for German history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In the evening I located a newsstand and asked, in English, for a German newspaper. From the seller came the reply, “We can speak...

  17. Epilogue. History Reconciled: Trieglaffers Old and New
    (pp. 204-212)

    Departure of the last Germans from their former home in Trieglaff was not to be the last word in the long history of this place and its wealth of traditions. Forty-five years later, in 2002, an act of reconciliation took place between the old and the new Trieglaffers that deserves to be told, for it, too, reverberated.

    Not by accident the path to understanding opened in the 1970s, soon after treaties within the framework of Willy Brandt’s eastern policy (Ostpolitik) went into effect. At that time, parties arrived step-by-step at measures for reduction of tensions and easing of travel restriction...

  18. Appendix A: Timeline and Modes of Transportation from Pomerania to Wisconsin
    (pp. 213-215)
  19. Appendix B: Reestablishing Bonds between the United States and Trieglaff
    (pp. 216-217)
  20. Glossary of Terms: The Church in Germany
    (pp. 218-220)
  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 221-229)
  22. Index of Persons
    (pp. 230-233)
  23. Index of Places
    (pp. 234-235)