Gerhard Oestreich

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Gotthold Herbert Gerhard Oestreich (2 May 1910 – 5 February 1978) was a German historian specializing in early modern history. Oestreich held chairs in the history of political theories at the Otto Suhr Institute in Berlin (1960–1962), in medieval and modern history at the University of Hamburg (1962–1966), and in modern history at the University of Marburg (1966–1975). In the sixties and seventies he was one of the most influential representatives of the forming German early modern research.

Biography

Gerhard Oestreich was born in Cedynia. He was the son of a pastor. His mother worked as a teacher. After his father had death in 1912, the family moved to Berlin. Oestreich studied history, German, religious studies and philosophy in Berlin and in the summer semester of 1935 in Heidelberg. His academic teachers Robert Holtzmann, Hermann Oncken and Fritz Hartung had a particular influence on him. He received his doctorate from Hartung in Berlin in 1935 with an administrative history thesis on the Brandenburg-Prussian Privy Council from the beginning of the Great Elector's reign to the reorganization of 1651. As a Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) scholarship holder from 1935 to 1939, he worked on editing the letters of the Prussian army reformer Gerhard von Scharnhorst. The results of the edition were lost in 1945. Oestreich was also employed as an assistant at the Wehrpolitisches Institut of the University of Berlin from 1935 to 1939.[1] There he tried to establish the new discipline of "Wehrgeschichte." His habilitation failed due to the state of war in Berlin. In 1939, Oestreich was drafted for military service. During the World War II he became an American prisoner of war.

From 1947 to 1949, Oestreich was a research associate of the "Deutsche Literaturzeitung" at the German Academy of Sciences. At the publishing house Walter de Gruyter, he took over as head of the academic editorial department in 1949, and from 1950 to 1954 edited Kürschners Deutscher Gelehrten-Kalender ("Encyclopedia of Living German-Speaking Scholars"), and in 1952 Minerva. Jahrbuch der Gelehrten Welt.

He habilitated at the Free University of Berlin in 1954, with the thesis Antiker Geist und moderner Staat bei Justus Lipsius (1547 bis 1606), which appeared only posthumously (1989). At the Deutsche Hochschule für Politik ("German Academy for Politics"), he taught first as a Privatdozent then as Diätendozent.

In 1958, he was appointed associate professor. Oestreich was appointed associate professor in 1960 to the newly established chair of the history of political theories at the Otto Suhr Institute; a year later he was appointed full professor. From April 1962 to December 1966, he held a chair in Medieval and Modern History at the Department of History at the University of Hamburg. He then taught as Professor of Modern History at the University of Marburg until his retirement in 1975. He had declined an appointment to the Justus Liebig University of Giessen in the winter semester of 1966/67. In the 1960s, Oestreich was one of the founding editors of the legal-historical journal Der Staat. His academic students during the Hamburg and Marburg periods included the constitutional historian Hartwig Brandt and the early modern scholars Thomas Klein and Kersten Krüger.

Oestreich is considered one of the co-creators of the "early modern period" as a separate discipline within the science of history. With the concept of "social disciplining", which he coined, he provided an interpretative concept of the early modern process of nationalization.[2] His work on early parliamentarism, the history of human rights, and research on the Estates was groundbreaking. His overview of constitutional history, Verfassungsgeschichte vom Ende des Mittelalters bis zum Ende des alten Reiches ("Constitutional History from the End of the Middle Ages to the End of the Old Empire") in the "Gebhardt", the handbook on German history (1955), also became fundamental. Oestreich reissued the Gesammelte Abhandlungen of the constitutional and social historian Otto Hintze in three volumes from 1962 to 1967. He was the author of the first German-language monograph to offer a general and comparative Geschichte der Menschenrechte und Grundfreiheiten ("History of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms)".[3] He was a member of the Commission Internationale pour l'Histoire des Assemblées d'État, the Johannes Althusius Society, and the Nederlands Historisch Genootschap.

Oestreich was married to Brigitta Oestreich (1925–2011), who published various studies and an edition on the historian Hedwig Hintze. He was buried in the old village cemetery in Kochel am See. At the University of Rostock, an Oestreich Foundation was established in his honor by his widow in 1994. The foundation supports historical research in the field of early modern history.

See also

Major publications

A bibliography of Gerhard Oestreich appeared in: Brigitta Oestreich (ed.): Strukturprobleme der frühen Neuzeit. Duncker & Humblot: Berlin, 1980, pp. 403–29.

Monographs

  • Der brandenburgisch-preußische Geheime Rat vom Regierungsantritt des Großen Kurfürsten bis zu der Neuordnung im Jahre 1651. Eine behördengeschichtliche Studie (= Berliner Studien zur neueren Geschichte. H. 1, ZDB-ID 1449128-x). Triltsch, Würzburg-Aumühle 1937 (Zugleich: Berlin, Universität, Dissertation).
  • Die Idee der Menschenrechte in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung (= Geist und Wissen. Bd. 6, ZDB-ID 254464-7). Völker, Düsseldorf 1951.
  • Geschichte der Menschenrechte und Grundfreiheiten im Umriß (= Historische Forschungen. Bd. 1, ISSN 0344-2012). Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1968.
  • Das Reich – Habsburgische Monarchie – Brandenburg-Preußen von 1648 bis 1803. In: Theodor Schieder (Hrsg.): Handbuch der europäischen Geschichte. Band 4: Fritz Wagner (Hrsg.): Europa im Zeitalter des Absolutismus und der Aufklärung. Union-Verlag u. a., Stuttgart 1968, S. 378–475 (Auch Sonderdruck).
  • Geist und Gestalt des frühmodernen Staates. Ausgewählte Aufsätze. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1969.
  • Friedrich Wilhelm, der Große Kurfürst (= Persönlichkeit und Geschichte. Bd. 65). Musterschmidt, Göttingen u. a. 1971, ISBN 3-7881-0065-6.
  • Verfassungsgeschichte vom Ende des Mittelalters bis zum Ende des alten Reiches (= Handbuch der deutschen Geschichte. Bd. 11 = dtv 4211 Wissenschaftliche Reihe). Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, München 1974, ISBN 3-423-04211-7 (Mehrere Auflagen).
  • Friedrich Wilhelm I. Preußischer Absolutismus, Merkantilismus, Militarismus (= Persönlichkeit und Geschichte. Bd. 96/97). Musterschmidt, Göttingen u. a. 1977, ISBN 3-7881-0096-6.
  • Strukturprobleme der frühen Neuzeit. Ausgewählte Aufsätze. Hrsg. von Brigitta Oestreich. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1980, ISBN 3-428-04635-8.
  • Antiker Geist und moderner Staat bei Justus Lipsius (1547–1606). Der Neustoizismus als politische Bewegung. (= Schriftenreihe der Historischen Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Bd. 38). Herausgegeben und eingeleitet von Nicolette Mout. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1989 (zugleich: Habilitationsschrift, Freie Universität Berlin 1954), ISBN 3-525-35938-1.

As editor

  • Otto Hintze: Gesammelte Abhandlungen. 2., erweiterte Auflage. 3 Bände. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1962–1967;
    • I: Staat und Verfassung. Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur allgemeinen Verfassungsgeschichte. 1962;
    • II: Soziologie und Geschichte. Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur Soziologie, Politik und Theorie der Geschichte. 1964;
    • III: Regierung und Verwaltung. Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur Staats-, Rechts- und Sozialgeschichte Preussens. Mit Personen- und Sachregister zu den Gesammelten Abhandlungen Bd. 1–3. 1967.

Notes

  1. Miller (2002), p. 169.
  2. On the concept of social disciplining, see Behrisch, Lars (2010). "Sozialdisziplinierung". In: Friedrich Jäger, ed., Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. 12. Stuttgart: Metzler, pp. 220–29; Schulze, Winfried (1987). "Gerhard Oestreichs Begriff „Sozialdisziplinierung in der frühen Neuzeit“." In: Zeitschrift für historische Forschung, 14, pp. 265–302.
  3. Baumgart, Peter (1978). "Gerhard Oestreich zum Gedächtnis," Historische Zeitschrift, 227, No. 1, p. 254.

References

External links