Marcks, Erich

(1861-1938)
   historian; monarchist and neo-Rankean who championed the dominance of foreign policy (Primat der Aussenpolitik) in Eu-ropean history. Born in Magdeburg to a prosperous architect and a mother de-scended from Huguenots, he studied ancient history at Strassburg under Heinrich Nissen. He took his doctorate in 1884 and completed his Habilitation at Berlin,* where, inspired by Heinrich von Treitschke, he turned to modern history and focused on the Reformation and French religious wars. With Treitschke's rec-ommendation, he gained appointment at Freiburg in 1892; positions followed at Leipzig, Heidelberg, and Hamburg. In 1913, after serving as guest professor at Cornell, he returned to a professorship at Munich. He finally joined Berlin's faculty in 1922 and became emeritus in 1928.
   Marcks, an emissary of the "Ranke Renaissance," was an esteemed writer, "a master of a rich and flowing style" (Stewart). His first major monograph, Zusammenkunft von Bayonne (Conference of Bayonne, a study of Franco-Spanish diplomacy in the sixteenth century), appeared in 1889. The initial vol-ume of a biography of Gaspard de Coligny, a Huguenot hero, appeared in 1893 and was a centerpiece for much of his instruction on the Reformation. Upon the death of Heinrich von Sybel, the editors of Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie chose him to write an entry on Kaiser Wilhelm I. Sensitive and clear, the entry was a springboard for much of his later work. Otto von Bismarck's son Herbert gave him access to the family archives in 1901. Although he planned a multi-volume Bismarck biography, only two volumes (taking Bismarck's life to 1851) were ever published. Numerous essays covered John Calvin, Philip II, the Younger Pitt, Albrecht von Roon, and the historians Sybel and Treitschke. Two popular compilations of essays, which underscore his emphasis on the role of great men in history, are entitled Manner und Zeiten (Men and times, 1911) and Geschichte und Gegenwart (History and the present, 1925).
   Marcks favored the National Liberal Party during the Kaiserreich. Convinced of the preeminence of foreign policy, he championed Germany's aim to become a world power, longed for the day when all of central Europe would fall under German influence, and deemed England Germany's chief enemy. Viewing World War I as the last stage in Germany's evolution, he was among those academics who publicly endorsed annexationism. His Weimar-era writings, es-pecially Die Versklavung des deutschen Volkes (Enslavement of the German people), advocated revision of the Versailles Treaty* and a special course (Son-derweg) for German politics. Old friendships, notably those with Friedrich Meinecke* and Hans Delbrück,* cooled when the latter became Vernunftrepub-likaner.* Nevertheless, he was among the most honored historians of the period. He was the secretary from 1916 and the president from 1923 of the Historical Commission of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, and he helped found the Historische Reichskommission in 1928.
   Marcks called the age of Bismarck the "brightest height in the ups and downs of Germany's fate" and referred to the revolutionary era of 1918 as a "mon-strous fall from the brightest height to the darkest depth." Not surprisingly, he supported Paul von Hindenburg* and followed the old President into the Third Reich. Coeditor since 1910 of the Historische Zeitschrift, Germany's premier historical journal, he joined Heinrich von Srbik and Karl Alexander von Müller as honorary members of the Third Reich's Reichsinstitut fur Geschichte.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Iggers, German Conception of History; NDB, vol. 16; Gordon Stewart, "Erich Marcks."

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

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