Hintze, Otto

(1861-1940)
   historian; helped maintain the Rankean tra-dition that emphasized the state as the focus of historical analysis. Born to a Prussian civil servant in the Pomeranian village of Pyritz (now Pyrzyce), he began studying philosophy and history at Greifswald. In 1880 he transferred to Berlin,* where he remained the rest of his life. His teachers included Wilhelm Dilthey, Theodor Mommsen, Heinrich von Treitschke, and Johann Gustav Droy-sen. In 1895 he wrote his Habilitation for Treitschke and Gustav Schmoller. He was appointed ausserordentlicher Professor in 1899 and became Professor of Constitutional, Administrative, and Economic History and Politics in 1902. The ponderous title framed a career in which he became one of Germany s foremost interpreters of Western institutions. In 1914, the year he published Die Hohenzollern und ihr Werk (The Hohenzollerns and their work), he was elected to the Prussian Academy of Sciences.
   Although impaired eyesight, aggravated by years of archival research, forced him to leave the classroom in 1920, Hintze retained his intellectual commitment throughout the Weimar era, as was testified by the many essays delivered at the Prussian Academy and published in Historische Zeitschrift. He was a pillar of historical tradition and an authority on the Prussian state; his paramount interest was the comparative study of European institutions. With Friedrich Meinecke,* a friend and colleague, he debated the respective historical significance of in-dividuals and institutions. He was fond of claiming that through him the traditions of Ranke lived on.
   Hintze s comprehension of Western civilization slowly and reluctantly led him to embrace democracy. He also admitted to a missing element in Germany s heritage, a recognition that caused this quip about Hitler*: "This man is not of our race; there is something totally alien about him, something like an otherwise extinct primordial race which was totally amoral. He remained active with the Prussian Academy until 1938, when, upon completing a questionnaire, he con-fessed his marriage to a woman of Jewish ancestry. Hedwig Hintze, herself an accomplished historian, committed suicide in Holland four years later.
   REFERENCES:Gerhard, "Otto Hintze"; Lehmann and Sheehan, Interrupted Past; NDB, vol. 9.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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