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Celebration, Contestation and Commemoration: The Battle of Leipzig in German Memories of the Anti-Napoleonic Wars

  • Karen Hagemann
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850 book series (WCS)

Abstract

The well-known historian, political author and patriot Ernst Moritz Arndt wrote these words in the preface to the second edition of his work On the Celebrations of the Battle of Leipzig, which appeared in the summer of 1815. He expressed his sentiments on the first evening of the ‘National Festival of the Germans’, which was celebrated in hundreds of towns and villages across Germany on 18 and 19 October 1814 to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig. For Arndt, the experience of the widely visible fires linking the various regions of Germany must indeed have been remarkably moving. After all, the initiative for these ‘joyful bonfires’ (Freudenfeuer), as well as for the national festival as a whole, had come largely from him and a small circle of like-minded friends in Hesse. These included Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, known as the father of the gymnastics movement, who like Arndt worked at this time for the Central Administrative Department of the Allied Powers in Frankfurt am Main, and the Rödelheim Counsellor of Justice Karl Hoffmann. These German-national patriots had met in early May 1814 and made plans for the future. Among the topics of the meeting was the introduction of a ‘Festival of the Battle of Leipzig’, which Arndt had suggested shortly before in his pamphlet Another Word on the French and Us. He intended it to foster the ‘preservation and invigoration of German nature and German thought’, the ‘awakening of German strength and discipline’ and the ‘revival of new and old memories’ of German history.2

Keywords

Collective Memory National Monument Territorial State German Unification German People 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 5.
    See Michael V. Leggiere, Napoleon and Berlin: The Franco-Prussian War in North Germany, 1813 (Norman, OK, 2002), 256–278;Google Scholar
  2. Digby G. Smith, 1813: Leipzig. Napoleon and the Battle of the Nations (London, 2001);Google Scholar
  3. and Andreas Platthaus, 1813: Die Völkerschlacht und das Ende der Alten Welt (Berlin, 2013). For the civilian experience,Google Scholar
  4. see Karen Hagemann, ‘“Unimaginable Horror and Misery”: The Battle of Leipzig in October 1813 in Civilian Experience and Perception’, in Soldiers, Citizens and Civilians: Experiences and Perceptions of the French Wars, 1790–1820, ed. Alan Forrest et al. (Basingstoke, 2009), 157–178.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    See Karen Hagemann, ‘Celebrating War and Nation: The Gender Order of Patriotic Ceremonies and Festivities in the Time of Prussia’s Wars against Napoleon, 1813–1815’, in Gender, War, and Politics: Transatlantic Perspectives, 1775–1820, ed. Hagemann et al. (Basingstoke, 2010), 264–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  9. 17.
    See Karl Hoffmann (ed.), Des Teutschen Volkes feuriger Dank- und Ehrentempel oder Beschreibung wie das aus zwanzigjähriger französischer Sklaverei durch FürstenEintracht und Volkskraft gerettete Teutsche Volk die Tage der entscheidenden Völker-und Rettungsschlacht bei Leipzig am 18. und 19. October zum erstenmale gefeiert hat, (Offenbach, 1815), 3–13; see also Karen Hagemann, ‘Mannlicher Muth und Teutsche Ehre’: Nation, Militär und Geschlecht zur Zeit der Antinapoleonischen Kriege Preußens (Paderborn, 2002), 273–303.Google Scholar
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    See ibid., Chapter 10; also Klaus Malettke (ed.), 175 Jahre Wartburgfest: 18. Oktober 1817–18: Oktober 1992—Studien zur politischen Bedeutung und zum Zeithintergrund der Wartburgfeier (Heidelberg, 1992).Google Scholar
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    Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, ‘Mythos und Geschichte: Leipziger Gedenkfeiern der Völkerschlacht im 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhundert’, in Nation und Emotion: Deutschland und Frankreich im Vergleich 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, ed. Etienne François et al. (Göttingen, 1995), 111–132, 117–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Karen Hagemann 2016

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  • Karen Hagemann

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