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Jacob Burckhardt on German Sentiment during and after the War with France (1870-72)

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IV. To Friedrich von Preen, Basel, New Year’s Eve, 1872

[Esteemed Sir and Friend]

[ . . . ] Admittedly, everything appears calm in the area of politics. But I believe that the masters in Berlin are very worried, not because of foreign countries but because of their completely misguided position toward the nation. One has allowed outer efforts on behalf of so-called freedom to come into existence, yet secretly one is determined to act according to his own will for all eternity. Not that I would deem an absolutist government a particular misfortune when compared with the consequences of universal suffrage; I have become rather cool toward such notions; but I fear a new war as the only diversion from domestic matters.

Source of English translation for excerpts I-III: Alexander Dru, editor and translator, The Letters of Jacob Burckhardt. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1955, pp. 143-44, 145-46, 151-52, 156-57. Excerpt IV was translated by Erwin Fink.

Original German text reprinted as Letters (I-IV) from Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897) to Friedrich von Preen (1823-1894), September 17, 1870; December 31, 1870; April 26, 1872; and December 31, 1872 in Jacob Burckhardt, Briefe, ed. Max Burckhardt, 10 vols., vol. 5, 1868-1875. Basel: Schwabe and Co., 1963, pp. 110-12, 118-19, 159-61, 181-82.

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