‘WIR DEUTSCHEN FÜRCHTEN GOTT UND SONST NICHTS AUF DER WELT!’STRIKING CHROMOLITHOGRAPHIC PLATES

Der Deutsch-Französische Krieg 1870 und 1871. Gedenk-Blätter in Wort und Bild an die Ehrentage der deutschen Nation.

Dresden and New York: ‘Druck & Verlag von H.G. Münchmeyer’, 1895.

Oblong folio (440 x 570 mm), pp. [ii], 86; title printed in red and black within decorative border in brown, 24 chromolithographic and two plain plates, wood-engraved illustrations in the text, one full page, wood-engraved initials; text within red and black borders enclosing wood-engraved vignettes or decorative borders printed in brown; lightly browned, a few tears; original brown cloth boards, upper board blocked in gilt with title enclosed within black strapwork border, lower board blocked in black with German imperial arms within strapwork border, patterned endpapers, marbled edges; some loss of gilt on upper board, extremities a little rubbed and bumped, nonetheless a very good example.

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Der Deutsch-Französische Krieg 1870 und 1871. Gedenk-Blätter in Wort und Bild an die Ehrentage der deutschen Nation.

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Fortieth edition and 25th anniversary ‘Jubel-Ausgabe’. This lavishly-illustrated account of the Franco-Prussian War was published to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of this conflict that was, in retrospect, a harbinger of the political and military turmoil of the following century: ‘the kingdom of Prussia and her German allies totally destroyed the military power of Imperial France. For nearly eighty years the defeated nation had given the law in military matters to Europe, whereas the victor, ten years earlier, had been the least of the continent’s major military powers. Within a month Prussia established a military pre-eminence and a political hegemony which made the unification of Germany under her leadership a matter of course, and which only an alliance embracing nearly every major power in the world was to wrest from her half a century later’ (M. Howard, The Franco-Prussian War (London: 1961), p. 1).

In Prussia at the time, the War of 1870 was seen (as is demonstrated by this work celebrating the ‘Wiederaufrichtung des deutschen Reiches’) as ‘a heroic epoch; the deeds of those times were to be treasured, admired and, when necessity arose, repeated [...]. It has been left to a German historian of our own generation, writing nearly a century later, to see the full significance of the struggle: how during its course there emerged for the first time “that sinister problem of modern national War, from which we have foundered twice in succession”. It is this which makes the Franco-Prussian War an event of importance far transcending the specialist field of the military historian, or even the historian of nineteenth-century Europe. Germany’s magnificent and well-deserved victory was, in a profound and unforeseeable sense, a disaster: for herself, and for the entire world’ (op. cit. p. 456).

Scarce in the UK: COPAC records a single copy only (Cambridge University) of an unidentified edition.

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