my contributions to round 18 of the popular ABC Wednesday meme.
I’m rapidly running out of likely candidates for the letter Q, but I have at least one to fall back on, Ludwig Quidde, the historian and pacifist whose opposition to German militarism spanned Bismarck to Hitler.
Quidde was born to wealthy parents in Bremen in 1858 and as a history student, he was a critic of Bismarck’s policies as he became active in the German Peace Society.
In 1894, Quidde published a pamphlet entitled Caligula: A Study of Imperial Insanity, ostensibly about the Roman emperor, but in fact a critique of the megalomania of Willelm II. This might have gone unnoticed had not his reviewers drawn attention to the parallels he was making and when his true intentions were realised, it effectively ended his academic career.
Worse was to follow when Quidde made a derogatory comment on a new medal in honour of William the Great, emperor from 1871 to 1888, and he was convicted of lèse majesté and sentenced to three months in prison, which he served in Stadelheim Prison.
In 1907 Quidde was elected to the German Reichstag, and later became president of the German Peace Society. During the First World War, he spoke against Germany’s annexation of territory from neighboring countries, and as a result he was placed under political surveillance.
At the end of the First World War, Quidde vehemently opposed the Treaty of Versailles, not for the restrictions it put upon the German military, but for the reparations that he foresaw would simply sow the seeds of a future war. In 1918 he wrote:
A humiliated and torn German nation condemned to economic misery would be a constant danger to world peace, just as a protected German nation whose inalienable rights and subsistence are safeguarded would be a strong pillar of such world peace.
Quidde continued to preach pacifism and in 1927 he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Frenchman Ferdinand Buisson. But when Hitler came to power, he was forced to flee to Switzerland and in 1934 he published Landfriede und Weltfriede (Puiblic Peace and World Peace), optimistically writing:
It is today’s technological development which has turned modern war into a suicidal nightmare and which will put an end to war. This was already predicted by Kant, who expected ‘perpetual peace’ to be established not due to the moral perfection of man but due to modern warfare, which would be so unbearable that mankind would see itself forced to guarantee everlasting peace.
Sadly, Quidde’s dream remains unrealised and he died of pneumonia in exile in 1941.