Q is for Ludwig Quidde

I am again focusing on the famous, the forgotten and the misbegotten for
my contributions to round 18 of the popular ABC Wednesday meme.

Ludwig QuiddeI’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.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

7 comments… Add yours
  • Di. 4th May 2016

    most interesting article about Ludwig Quidde, He’s not a man that has featured much in my History tutorials. Although, as i was born just after the end of WW2 we were not taught much about that era.

    Also, the history of WW1 was not included in the curricculum, Hardly surprising considering how many innocent people lost their lives at the hands of such tyrants.

    God bless Ludwig Quidde for having the courage of his convictions and speaking out against such evil.

    best wishes,
    ABCW team.

  • Wil 4th May 2016

    As a member of two peacemovements I am glad to read about Ludwig Quidde. This shows that we cannot ignore all distinctions and judge all Germans alike, which we did after WW II.
    Thanks for this post.

  • Melody Steenkamp 4th May 2016

    wow what a coureagous person that was, i had never heard of him before.
    Thank you!

    Have a nice abc-wednesday-day / – week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)

  • leslie 4th May 2016

    Wow! He was quite the man standing up against those forces in Germany at that time. Always fascinated by those who have such strong moral convictions. And he was right – it will never end, even in the face of some of the worst atrocities in these days now.

    abcw team

  • Yorkshire Pudding 4th May 2016

    Well, I had never heard of Ludwig Quidde. Thanks for educating me.
    Other famous people with surnames beginning with the awkward letter Q:-

    Anthony Quinn
    Eddie Quigley
    Karen Anne Quinlan
    Mary Quant

    Glad to be of service sir.

    • Trevor Rowley 5th May 2016

      …and there’s also, Tommy Quickly, recording artist who was once part of the Brian Epstein stable and who faded completely into oblivion and Pauline Quirke, TV actress (“Birds of a Feather,” “Emmerdale” etc.) Also, another TV actress, Caroline Quentin (“Men Behaving Badly” and “Jonathan Creek” etc).

  • Roger Green 5th May 2016

    He’s right. Give PEACE a chance.


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