Review of Literature: Asymmetrical Historical Comparison: the Case of the German Sonderweg
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HIST1070:002 The Contemporary World
Review of Literature: Asymmetrical Historical Comparison: The Case of the German Sonderweg
Jürgen Kocka’s article, “Asymmetrical Historical Comparison: The Case of the German Sonderweg,” deals with the debate on the “special path” of Germany’s history. Kocka analyzes and spectacles what parts of the Sonderweg thesis, in his opinion, have survived the empirical and methodological criticisms of Historians form recent years. He explores the historical context from of this thesis, and analyzes the assumptions involved. He used the case of the German Sonderweg to discuss the characteristics and difficulties, the risks and the opportunities of asymmetrical historical comparison.
During the early 1900’s up until 1940 there was a positive Sonderweg thesis that endorsed the differences of Germany over that of other Western nations. This verison of the thesis was big on singularities in German history. Giving praise to fascism/totalitiriusm over western European parliamentarianism. German defeat in World War I is seen as an important part of the German Sonderweg. The loss in the First World War left Germany’s confidence running low. This Coupled with the limiting and demeaning restrictions of the Versailles Treaty which included handing back of territorys and billions of dollars to pay back in war reparations. Germany seemed anxious to prove to themselves and their European counterparts that they were a nation of worth. With Bismarck’s forming the nation-state with “Blut und Eisen”–“blood and iron” which put emphasis on the military, and left them unchecked by parliament. This gave a militaristic approach to German government that lasted through the fall of the Weimar Republic and into the rise of National Socialism in Germany. There was no middle class of people to rise up in rebellion as