Creating the Russian Peril

March 2010
6 black and white illustrations
276 pages
9x6 in
ISBN: 9781571134165
Format: Hardback
Camden House
BISAC HIS032000, HIS054000

Creating the Russian Peril

Education, the Public Sphere, and National Identity in Imperial Germany, 1890-1914

Troy R. E. Paddock

German attitudes toward and stereotypes of Russia before the First World War and how they were inculcated in the public.
The causes of the First World War have been studied and debated for many decades, yet cultural historians of Germany have largely neglected the German-Russian aspect of the conflict for a focus on the clash of Germany and Great Britain. When they have focused on Germany and Russia, they have too often dismissed the anti-Russian propaganda of the war's first months as a sudden and opportunistic campaign to justify the war. This intellectual and cultural history gives German attitudes toward and stereotypes of Russia their due, re-examining them through the lens of German national identity and revealing an evolving obsession with Russia during the quarter-century leading up to the war, when Germany came to consider itself a Western nation, with Russia, to use Edward Said's terminology, as an Oriental "other." While historians have addressed the issue of an Oriental Russia, this book extends the analysis beyond traditional intellectual history's focus on cultural elites by studying the construction of Russia in school textbooks, newspapers, and the writings of academics. Drawing upon the work of Said, Jürgen Habermas, Sander Gilman, and Pierre Bourdieu, Troy Paddock demonstrates that public debate on Russia was based on common assumptions, and contends that these assumptions -- which resulted in the ascendancy of a view of Russia as the "Slavic peril" in the last few years before the war -- were ingrained in the public through education.

Troy Paddock is Professor of History at Southern Connecticut State University.

Table of Contents

Heimat und Fremde: Depictions of Germans and Russians in Geography and History Textbooks
Russophobia and German Historians
Russia in the German Press
The Colossus with the Feet of Clay: The Russo-Japanese War and the Russian Revolution of 1905 in the German Press
The Emergence of the Russian Peril in the German Press
Anti-Russian Sentiment and the Outbreak of the War


Paddock makes an important empirical contribution through his textual analysis by demonstrating the pervasiveness of negative images in of Russia in the pre-war public sphere. Scholars will find particularly interesting his chapters analyzing the German press. . . . Paddock's work is likely to appeal to specialists in German-Russian relations and scholars interested in the variety of German orientalisms. FIRST WORLD WAR STUDIES

[A] very useful book . . . . INTERNATIONAL HISTORY REVIEW

The book's main argument-that the image of Russia created by German historians and journalists was largely a foil for their own concerns about Germany, their re?ection in a panoptic mirror -- is sharp and illuminating. It is commendable that, rather than writing a purely intellectual history, Paddock traces the transmission of this image from experts to school textbooks and the press. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

Students of this period of German history will find this new book a welcome addition to existing research. It provides the broader context of the stereotypes concerning Russia which can be found throughout German literature and correspondence of the pre-war era. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF HISTORY

Paddock's study shines . . . in its discussion of how prewar [German views of Russia] provide insight into their promoters' self-image and values . . . . The "myth of [Russian] organic unity" [is] illuminated intriguingly by Paddock . . . . GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

Related Titles