LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 20, No.4 - Winter 1974
Editors of this issue: J.A. Rackauskas
Copyright © 1974 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
Rudolf von Thadden, Gert von Pistohlkors, and Hellmuth Weiss, eds., Das Vergangene und die Geschichte: Festschrift für Reinhard Wittram zum 70. Geburtstag (Göttingen: Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht, 1973). Pp. 472. DM 100.
Quite naturally those inspired by a fertile mind range widely in their own intellectual pursuits. This Festschrift and memorial volume dedicated to the Baltic German historian, Reinhard Wittram (d. 1973), includes essays in literary criticism (Gottfried Schramm, "Puðkins politisches Dilemma"), philosophy (Günther Patzing, "Hegels Dialektik un Ùukasiewiczs dreiwertige Logik"), and law (Axel Freiherr von Campenhaussn, "Rechtsprobleme bikonfessioneller theologischer Einrichtungen an staatlichen Universitäten"), and twenty others in Baltic, German and Russian history from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. In genre these latter range from historiographical essays (Hans Rothfels, "Sozialstruktur und Aussenpolitik," Ernst Schulin, "Deutschland und dar Epochenjahr 1917," and Dietrich Geyer, "Russland als Problem der vergleichenden Imperialismusforschung") to detailed institutional studies (Helmut Backhaus, "Zur Einführung der Leibeigenschaft in Vorpommern im siebzehnten Jahrhundert," and Erik Amburger, "Das diplomatische Personal des russischen auswärtigen Dienstes unter Peter I." and examinations of primary sources (Irene Neander, "Aufzeichnungen Viktor Hehns über Tübingen und den deutschen Südwesten aus dem Sommer 1840," and Manfred Hagen, "Die russische Presse zur Regierungskrise im März 1911"). This diversity reflects Wittram's several areas of publication: Russian history — Peter I., Czar und Kaiser: Zur Geschichte Peters des Grossen in seiner Zeit (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1964); historiography and religious history — Zukunft in der Geschichte: Zu Grenzfragen der Geschichtswissenschaft und Theologie (Göttingen: Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht, 1966); and Baltic history — Drei Generationen: Deutschland — Livland — Russland 1803-1914 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1949), and Baltische Geschichte; Die Ostseelande: Livland, Estland, Kurland, 1180-1918 (München: Oldenbourg, 1954), to mention some of Wittram's most important works in each category.
The relationship between Germans and Latvians or Estonians is a dominant theme in most of the Baltic essays. The only exception is Berndt Federley, "Korporationen und Provinzen: Ein Beitrag zur baltischen Verwaltungs- und Verfassungsgeschichte nach 1561," on the fragmentation after 1561 of the Livonian Order's territory into the separate provinces of Estland, Livland, and Kurland, which remained separate under Russian rule from the eighteenth century to the Revolution. Federley's concern is solely with the differentiation of the German nobility's corporate rights of local self-government in each province as it developed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries under Polish and/or Swedish rule.
Hellmuth Weiss, "Ein Bericht Philipp Christian Moiers über die kirchlichen und sozialen Verhältnisse in Estland um 1770," publishes for the first time a breezy report on the Estonian Lutheran church written in 1771 by Philipp Christian Moier, a young Hannover-born theologian who had recently immigrated from Germany. For whom Moier intended his report is not known — perhaps a colleague in Germany who might be interested in a clerical career in Estonia? Income? About 500-800 rubles a year average from lands endowed for the pastor's support, negligible donations from the impoverished Estonian peasants for special services, but up to 50 rubles for a noble wedding or funeral. "Nur schade, dass dergleichen Sachen nicht alle Tage passieren." (Just too bad such affairs don't come along every day.) Qualities desired of a pastor in Estonia? The consistory would prefer the learned theologian and stout champion of strict orthodoxy, but the gentry of a parish, who elect the pastor, look for a sociable chap who can add to their company, as well as preach good behavior to the ignorant Estonians in the simplest of Biblical terms. Moier also outlined the Church's judicial functions, especially in sexual matters. Fornication or adultery could cost the peasant from ½ to 2 rubles fine. Sodomy was pubishable by death, except that the Russian Empire had no death penalty. Instead, the sodomist received "forty pairs of rods." Actually a "pair of rods" was a cluster of three stout rods wacked three times on the bare back. Per Moier, "Forty such pairs of rods, applied in earnest, commonly take life."
Arved Freiherr von Taube, "Der Bremer Reiseschriftsteller Johann Georg Kohl in Livland, St. Petersburg und Südrussland 1836-1838," presents fresh information from unpublished letters written in the 1830's by J. G. Kohl, another observer from Germany of the Baltic scene. When Kohl published accounts of his travels in the Baltic Provinces and other parts of Russia he mentioned few of his sources of information — probably for fear of embarrassing them should his books be banned by Russian censorship, as indeed most of them were. Von Taube identifies Kohl's many high-placed Baltic German and other contacts in Russia from his letters, and reproduces portions of several. According to von Taube, in describing the Baltic peasantries Kohl was quite accurate on the Latvians, but rather superficial on the Estonians. Von Taube's article provides a useful introduction to Kohl's travel memoirs, which are now conveniently available in a reprint edition of the 1844 English translation — J. G. Kohl, Russia (New York: Arno Press, 1970).
Wilhelm Lenz sen., "Die Bevölkerungsstruktur der Kreisstadt Wenden in Livland vor dem Ersten Weltkriege," offers a dispassionate study of pre-World War I Baltic ethnic relations through the example of Lenz's native Wenden (Latvian: Cesis). In this small city there were, according to the Russian census of 1897, 4,164 Latvians, 872 Germans, 712 Russians, 326 Jews, 160 Poles, 85 Estonians, and 37 others, for a total population of 6,356. The German illusion of dominance, based on traditional political power and wealth, was finally shattered by the 1905 revolution, and the election in 1906 of a solidly Latvian administration in Wenden. Thereafter the German community made a conscious effort to strengthen its diminishing political, economic, and cultural position. Indeed, Lenz portrays each ethnic community as concerned primarily with its own advantage by this time, although without necessarily being antagonistic towards others. In conclusion Lenz points out that "just a few years later the October Revolution would show, however, that social antagonisms were even greater and that the proletariat hated the German upper class, the well-to-do Latvian farmers and burghers, and the Russian officials all alike."
A more general review of Baltic German - Latvian relations is provided by Gert von Pistohlkors, "Das Urteil Alexander Wäbers über das Scheitern der lettischen nationalen Bewegung und die Ursachen der lettischen Revolution von 1905/06." The author quotes extensively from Alexander Wäber's 1906 manuscript analyzing the causes of the Latvians' basically anti-German revolutionary violence in 1905 -1906, and offers his own detailed commentary (some of it buried in the footnotes). Wäber, a Baltic German who identified with the Latvians even in his student days, long supported their advancement as editor of the Latvian weekly Balss (The Voice) from 1878 to 1904. Already disappointed by the growing antagonism between the two ethnic groups he had hoped to bring together, Wäber moved to Germany during the revolutionary days of 1905. In 1906 Wäber argued that revolutionary social democracy would have found few supporters among the Latvians if the German upper class had granted them equal political rights and economic opportunity a generation or two earlier, and furthermore, if this had been the case, Latvians and Germans could have been allies in the struggle to preserve Baltic cultural and political autonomy against the forces of centralization and Russification under Alexander III. Von Pistohlkors' commentary, based on Wäber's own earlier opinions and those of various Baltic German spokesmen, argues that Wäber's 1906 reflections were schematic, simplistic, and marked by wishful thinking about what might have been. Without denying that Baltic German intransigence helped radicalize the Latvians, von Pistohlkors nonetheless doubts that it alone prevented German - Latvian cooperations against Russification, or Latvian immunity to revolutionary Marxism.
Baltic nationalism is touched upon briefly in Kurt Georg Hausmann, "Piùsudski und Dmowski in Tokio 1904: Eine Episode in der Geschichte der polnischen Unabhängigkeitsbewegung." In 1904 during the Russo - Japanese War the rival Polish national leaders, Józef Piùsudski and Roman Dmowski, both visited Tokyo — separately — to explore possible Japanese support for the Polish cause. Dmowski thought in terms of diplomatic support from the Japanese when the Russians asked for peace; Piùsudski and his PPS colleagues talked in terms of legions formed by Poles defecting from the Russian army in the Far East, and armed with smuggled Japanese weapons the Poles back home would rise in rebellion in union with their fellow victims of Russification, the Lithuanians, the White Ruthenians (Belorussians), and the Latvians. Although the Japanese probably never considered Piùsudski's proposals seriously, the legend grew up among Piùsudski's admirers that Dmowski deceitfully dissuaded them.
The tangle of German and Baltic German attitudes towards Estonian and Latvian independence in 1918 -1919 is explored by Wilhelm Lenz jun., "Zur britischen Politik gegenüber den baltischen Deutschen 1918/19," and Hans von Rimscha, "Der sogenannte Geheimbefehl Major Fletchers vom 16. Juni 1919: Eine quellenkritische Untersuchung." Lenz examines British policy towards the Baltic Germans and their role in the emerging states of Estonia and Latvia. Despite such variables as Britain's uncertain policy towards Russia, the political chaos in the Baltic area, and the independence of local British agents, one purpose remained constant in British policy: to create stable, non-Bolshevik regimes. To this end the British insisted that Ulmanis' new Latvian government include Baltic Germans (and even proportionately more than their small numbers would justify), and the British welcomed Baltic German (and German) military aid against the Bolsheviks. To the same end of stability the British endorsed land reform; that is, the division of Baltic German landed estates among Estonian and Latvian peasants. The British agents ignored the consequent complaint of "Bolshevism" from the "Baltic barons," whose personal company they might enjoy, but whose caste privileges they considered intolerable. In one instance the British judged the Baltic Germans unfairly. Hans von Rimscha demonstrates by means of careful textual analysis, that an anti-British, anti-Ulmanis document, which British, independent Estonian, and Soviet Latvian scholarship has described as a secret order dated 16 June 1919 from the commander of the Baltic German Landeswehr, Major Fletcher, must actually have originated instead from the volunteer German Iron Division of von der Goltz, whose interests it represents more closely. Von der Goltz supported a puppet Latvian government under Niedra, who was expected to reward the German volunteers in the Iron Division with Latvian lands, and to orient Latvia towards Germany rather than Britain and the Entente.
Some Festschriften are rather like rummage sales — full of odd pieces that cannot be disposed of otherwise. There is, however, nothing tawdry or shopworn in this fine collection of scholarship which truly honors the memory of Reinhard Wittram.
EARL W. JENNISON, JR.