It took me just a few visits to the State Archive (Staatsarchiv) in Hamburg to realize that there had taken place an impressive revolutionary overthrow in ownership. The documents reveal that up until the 19th century communitarian foundations had been the most important property owners. (Real estate and capital). In Hamburg the so called „Reformation“ and „Secularisation“ did not take place. (!)
And this could be true for the rest of Germany as well. (!)
But is it really possible that well known historians should be that ignorant of the truth? Let's have a better look at the 18th century. (The „Age of Enlightenment“ when allegedly everything is getting better, when at last humanity and human rights are discovered.!!?) Let's look at the regional history that is documented in the archives. During his research in the archives Prof. Kaltenstadler found out that the landowners in the Bavarian area Pöttmes-Neuburg (on the Danube) had been at first Christian monasteries (!) and not (!) the local nobility. And even though it is taught everywhere at schools and colleges that serfdom was introduced as early as the12th century it cannot (!) be detected anywhere in the sources (for Old Bavaria) of the 15th and 16th century.
Prof. Kaltenstadler arrives at the conclusion (in a letter to me in spring 2006) that the „living-conditions deteriorate significantly in the mid-18th century“ while the establishment of the 18th (and 19th century) seemed to have covered this social deterioration with beautiful theoretical phrases and the discussion of highflying notions.
And he writes referring to our research on the big foundations (Heiligen Geist Hospital, St. Johannis Kloster, St. Georg Kloster): „Your discoveries concerning the economic importance of the Heiligen Geist Hospital (Holy Spirit Hospital) are indeed of great importance and could mean a revolution in historiography“. („zwingt zu einem radikalen historischen Umdenken“). He continues that in his view secularization can no longer be seen as a step towards progress even though state historians copy (and paste) one another in claiming so. He writes:
„Die Aufklärung spricht zwar über die Menschenrechte, aber die politische Entwicklung ist genau gegenläufig. Die Theorie der Aufklärung und die politische Praxis stimmen damals genauso wenig überein wie heute die Inflation der Ethiklehrstühle und die wirtschaftliche und politische Praxis. (..) Trotzdem wird die Säkularisation noch heute von beamteten Historikern als große Tat gepriesen. Der eine plappert es dem anderen nach.“