- Wolfgang Mommsen
Wolfgang Justin Mommsen (
November 5, 1930- August 11, 2004) was a left-wingGerman historian and the twin brother of Hans Mommsen.
He was born in
Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen. He was educated at the University of Marburg, University of Cologneand University of Leedsbetween 1951–1959. He served as professor at the University of Cologne(1959-1967), University of Düsseldorf (1967-1978) and finally as director of the German Historical Institutein Londonbetween 1978–1985. In 1965, he abandoned his first wife to marry one of his graduate students, Sabine von Schalburg, with whom he had four children.
Mommsen first rose to fame through a biography of
Max Weberin 1959. His main areas of expertise were in 19th century-20th century British and German history. His interests were wide-ranging and he wrote about diplomatic, social, intellectual, and economic history. Mommsen championed a " Sonderweg" ("special path") interpretation of German history. Echoing the views of Hans-Ulrich Wehlerand Fritz Fischer, he argued that 19th century Germanywas only partially modernized. Economic modernization was not accompanied by political modernization. Much of Mommsen's comparative studies of British and German history concern why, in his view, the British had both a political and economic modernization while the Germans had only the latter. An Anglophile, Mommsen very much enjoyed teaching and living in the Britain.
In Mommsen's view, the foreign policy of the Second Reich was driven by domestic concerns as the German elite sought distractions abroad to hold off demands for
democracyat home. This argument places Mommsen in the "Primat der Innenpolitik" (primacy of domestic politics) school against the traditional "Primat der Aussenpolitik" (primacy of foreign politics) school as an explanation for foreign policy. For Mommsen, the major responsibility for the outbreak of the First World War rests on Germany's shoulders. Furthermore, the November Revolution of 1918 did not go far enough and allowed the pre-1918 elite to continue to dominate German life, thus leading inevitably to the Third Reich. Mommsen has written books condemning appeasement.
Historikerstreit(historians' dispute), Mommsen took the position that the Holocaustwas a uniquely evil event that should not be compared to Stalinistterror in the Soviet Union. In 1998, several younger German historians criticized Mommsen for not denouncing the Nazi past of his mentors while a university student in the 1950s.
*"Max Weber und die deutsche Politik, 1890-1920", 1959.
*"The Debate on German War Aims" pages 47-74 from "Journal of Contemporary History", Volume 1, 1966.
*"Die latente Krise des Deutschen Reiches, 1909-1914" from "Handbuch der deutschen Geschichte, Volume 4: Deutsche Geschichte der neuesten Zeit von Bismarcks Entlassung bis zur Gegenwart", 1973.
*"The Age of Bureaucracy: Perspectives on the Political Sociology of Max Weber", 1974.
*"Der europäische Imperialismus. Aufsätze und Abhandlungen", 1979.
*"The Emergence of the Welfare State in Britain and Germany, 1850-1950" co-edited with Wolfgang Mock, 1981.
*"Sozialprotest, Gewalt, Terror: Gewaltanwendung durch politische und gesellschaftliche Randgruppen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert", 1982.
*"The Fascist Challenge and the Policy of Appeasement", co-edited with Lothar Kettenacker, 1983.
*"The Development of Trade Unionism in Great Britain and Germany, 1880-1914", co-edited with Hans-Gerhard Husung, 1985.
*"Imperialism and After: Continuities and Discontinuities" co-edited with Jürgen Osterhammel, 1986.
*"Bismarck, Europe, and Africa: The Berlin Africa Conference, 1884-1885, and the Onset of Partition", co-edited with Stig Förster and Ronald Robinson, 1988.
*"The Political and Social Theory of Max Weber: Collected Essays", 1989.
*"Der Autoritäre Nationalstaat", 1990 translated by Richard Deveson into English as "Imperial Germany 1867-1918 : politics, culture, and society in an authoritarian state", 1995.
*"Intellektuelle im Deutschen Kaiserreich", co-edited with Gangolf Hubinger, 1993.
*Kallis, Aristotle "Mommsen, Wolfgang J." pages 829-830 from "The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing" edited by Kelly Boyd, London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishing, 1999.
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/germany/article/0,2763,1284532,00.html Obituary Wolfgang Mommsen] by
Richard J. Evans
* [http://www.pbs.org/greatwar/historian/hist_mommsen_02_versailles.html Versailles Treaty-From The German POV]
* [http://www.pbs.org/greatwar/historian/hist_mommsen_01_advance.html German Army's Advance into Belgium]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.