Below, Georg von

(1858-1927)
   historian; among the Republic's lead-ing academic opponents. He was born in Konigsberg to a family renowned for landholdings, officers, and bureaucrats. After abandoning plans to join the civil service,* he studied history, taking a doctorate in 1883. Following an editorial assignment with Prussia's Abgeordnetenhaus, he completed his Habilitation in 1886 at Marburg. Ausserordentlicher Professor in 1889 at Konigsberg, he was full professor at Münster (1891), Marburg (1897), Tübingen (1901), and Frei-burg (1905). He became emeritus at Freiburg in 1924.
   Below's encyclopedic writings accentuated constitutional and economic his-tory. He was a generalist, and his work blended history, law, economics, and sociology; however, he embraced Ranke's dictum that all areas of historical study are subservient to political history. Intrigued by institutional origins, he promoted the concept that contemporary public institutions had private, family-related foundations. His central work on this idea, Der deutsche Staat des Mit-telalters (The German state of the Middle Ages), was incomplete at his death. He also stressed historical method, demanding its exclusive validity for all writ-ing, including area studies. When he sensed the intrusion of a materialistic or positivistic methodology, he launched his considerable intellect against the vi-olator. Yet he refused to acknowledge that his own work was imprinted with Lutheran religiosity and devotion to the German nation. Henry Pachter, his stu-dent at Freiburg, referred to him as "a Prussian Junker* and a monarchist, an enemy of any type of progress, to the point of ignoring women* students in his classes. He hated the Republic and the bourgeoisie."
   Below became active in 1907 with the Pan-German League. In 1917 he founded, with Houston Stewart Chamberlain,* the journal Deutschlands Erneu-erung (Germany's renewal) and, with Otto Spann, Herdflamme (Hearth blaze); both were antidemocratic, anti-Semitic, and militaristic. Named Freiburg's rector in 1916, he was immediately embroiled with the liberal historian Veit Valentin,* forcing the latter's dismissal in 1917. When Carl Becker,* Prussian Cultural Minister, tried to enhance higher education's relevance with interdepartmental offerings, Below, tracing the concept to Becker's "Marxist leanings," became the Minister's relentless opponent.
   REFERENCES:Richard Bauer, "Veit Valentin"; NDB, vol. 2; Pachter, Weimar Etudes; Fritz Ringer, Decline ofthe German Mandarins.

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

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