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uni'wissen 01-2014_ENG

The ‘wars of liberation’ in 1813, for instance, are characterized as forming the beginning of Ger- man unification – a beginning rulers deliberately called to mind in 1870 and 1914 as a means of rooting themselves in the tradition of these strug- gles.” Thus, a nation needs an opposing force in order to shape its own identity – or to reconfirm it. England, free of invasion and foreign rule, takes on a more relaxed attitude toward the leg- acy of the French emperor. Contemporaries em- phasize their own traditions: the parliamentary system adopted in the early modern period and the guarantee of civil liberties. Moreover, they point out that the English already removed the absolutistic Stuart dynasty in the 17th century. “These traditions preclude a monarch from be- coming as all-powerful as Napoleon,” underlines Marquart. What surprises the two historians most about their findings is the persistence with which older heroic figures, counter-heroes, and antiheroes have endured up to the present. They appear in times of crisis, political power struggles, or social and cultural upheaval – sometimes in the form of parodies, such as a political cartoon depicting the head of former Monsieur le Président Nicolas Sarkozy on Bonaparte’s body, and sometimes as an “Everyman’s hero,” like the firefighters who lost their lives in the rubble of the World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The key point is that democratized societies need heroes too, people whose charisma makes them appear superhuman. “They force the people to take a stance, to act in a certain way,” summa- rizes Leonhard. “Heroes are figures you have to support or distance yourself from. You can’t just ignore them.” Further Reading Leonhard, J. (20144 ): Die Büchse der Pandora. Geschichte des Ersten Weltkriegs. Munich. Leonhard, J. (2010): Das Präsens der Revolution. Der Bonapartismus in der europäischen Geschichte des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts. In: Daum, W. (Ed.): Kommunikation und Konfliktaustragung: Verfassungskultur als Faktor politischer und gesellschaftlicher Machtverhältnisse. Berlin, pp. 293–317. Leonhard, J. (2007): Ein bonapartistisches Modell? Die französischen Regimewechsel von 1799, 1851 und 1940 im Vergleich. In: Knüppel, H. (Ed.): Wege und Spuren: Verbindungen zwischen Bildung, Kultur, Geschichte und Politik. Festschrift für Joachim-Felix Leonhard. Berlin, pp. 277–294. (= Schriftenreihe des Wilhelm-Fraenger-Instituts Potsdam). “The struggle against a seemingly superhuman enemy is crucial for the early phase of nation building in Germany.” Benjamin Marquart studied history and German studies at the University of Freiburg and Dalhousie University in Canada. In 2011 he began work on his PhD at the collaborative research center 948, “Heroes – Heroisations – Heroisms: Transformations and Trends from Antiquity to the Modern Age.” In his dissertation, Marquart is studying Bonapartism in European comparison during the so-called long 19th century, which is defined as lasting from 1789 to 1914. His main research interest is com- parative European cultural history of the 19th century. Photo: private Prof. Dr. Jörn Leonhard has served as professor for Western European history at the University of Freiburg since 2006. After studying history at the Universities of Oxford and Heidelberg, he earned his PhD at the latter institution in 1998 with a dissertation on the historical semantics of liberalism in European comparison. Following a five-year fellowship at Oxford, he completed his habilitation in Heidelberg in 2004 with a thesis on the relationship between war experiences and inter- pretations of the nation in Europe and the USA between 1750 and 1914. In 2004 he accepted a professorship at the Uni- versity of Jena. In 2010, Leonhard received the State Research Prize of Baden- Württemberg for his work. One of his main research interests is the comparative history of Western Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. Photo: FRIAS 19