Abigail Green

Abigail Green is a professor of Modern European History at Oxford.

Insider-Outsiders: The Rothschilds

Abigail Green, 18 February 2021

In Vienna, the Rothschilds remained the ultimate insider-outsiders. Albert may have been ‘the richest man in Europe’, but it took two prime ministers and a foreign monarch to persuade Emperor Franz Joseph that he should be formally received at court. By this time, hate for the Rothschilds had infused the entire political spectrum, appealing variously to Austro-German nationalists, socialists, Catholics and even Zionists.

Some saw the collapse of the German Empire as a decisive and traumatic break in the historical continuity of the state. Nothing, in Christopher Clark’s view, more profoundly exemplified this revolt against history than National Socialism. Like fascist Italy and communist Russia, Nazi Germany sought to propagate a particular view of its place in time through museums designed to commemorate the revolutionary change that had brought the regime into being. Yet unlike Italy and Russia, National Socialism was not rooted in ‘a kind of turbo-charged Hegelianism’ and its proponents didn’t see the state as an end in itself, as their Prussian forebears had done. Instead, they saw the state as a means to a racial end, and they distinguished between the history of events on the one hand and, on the other, the longue durée of the struggle of the Germanic race for existence. 

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