Wilhelm Deist (historian)

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Wilhelm Deist (born October 7, 1931 in Stuttgart , † June 17, 2003 in Freiburg im Breisgau ) was a German historian . He was a “leading historian” at the Military History Research Office .


Deist attended elementary school in Gießen from 1938 to 1942 and was accepted into the National School of the NSDAP in Feldafing in autumn 1942 . In 1945 he switched to the boarding school of the Korntal Brethren's community , where he passed his Abitur in 1951. He studied at the University of Tübingen Eberhard Karls and the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg History, where he in 1956 when Gerhard Ritter with a dissertation on the attitude of the Western powers against Germany during the Conference on Disarmament 1932-33 Dr. phil. received his doctorate. In 1953 Deist joined the Freiburg Wingolf as a student .

After graduating, he initially worked as a teacher in Stuttgart . In 1961 he became a research assistant at the Military History Research Office (MGFA) in Freiburg im Breisgau. In 1979 he became Senior Scientific Director and in 1989 "Senior Historian" of the MGFA. He was part of the editorial team of the Military History Communications .

In 1993 he was appointed honorary professor at the University of Freiburg. He published u. a. in Francia , in the quarterly books for contemporary history and in the yearbook for the history of Central and Eastern Germany


Deist dealt with the military history of the 19th and 20th centuries. His special focus was on the history of the First and Second World Wars . His research was always carried out from the perspective of the unconditional civilian, whereby he did not avoid conflicts with conservative military historians and, through patient study of the sources, repeatedly brought explosive findings to light.

Deist was a founding member, from 1995 to 2002 chairman and from 2003 honorary chairman of the Working Group on Military History , which in 2007 awarded the Wilhelm Deist Prize for Military History .

Fonts (selection)

  • (Ed.): Military and domestic politics in World War 1914–1918 (= sources on the history of parliamentarism and political parties . Row 2: Military and politics ). Droste, Düsseldorf 1970.
  • with Manfred Messerschmidt , Hans-Erich Volkmann , Wolfram Wette : Causes and requirements of the German war policy (= The German Reich and the Second World War . Volume 1). Edited by the Military History Research Office, DVA, Stuttgart 1971, ISBN 3-421-01934-7 . (updated edition 1989/91, English edition 1990)
  • (Ed. With Herbert Schottelius ): Navy and naval policy in imperial Germany, 1871–1914 . Military History Research Office, Droste, Düsseldorf 1972, ISBN 3-7700-0319-5 . (2nd edition 1981)
  • Fleet Policy and Propaganda. The message office of the Reichsmarineamte 1897–1914 (= contributions to military and war history . Volume 17). DVA, Stuttgart 1976, ISBN 3-421-01775-1 .
  • The Wehrmacht and German rearmament (= St. Antony's, Macmillan series ). With a foreword by AJ Nicholls, Macmillan, London 1981, ISBN 0-8020-2423-8 .
  • (Ed.): The German military in the age of total war . With a foreword by Paul Kennedy , Berg, Leamington Spa 1985, ISBN 0-907582-14-1 .
  • with Volker Berghahn : Armaments under the sign of Wilhelmine world politics. Basic documents 1890–1914 . Edited by the Military History Research Office, Droste, Düsseldorf 1988, ISBN 3-7700-0762-X .
  • Military, state and society. Studies on Prussian-German military history (= contributions to military history . Volume 34). Oldenbourg, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-486-55920-6 .
  • (Ed. With Annika Mombauer ): The Kaiser. New research on Wilhelm II's role in imperial Germany . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2003, ISBN 0-521-82408-7 .


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