This unique book traces the past 200 years of German history, using an iconic German folk hero as a bellwether of changing politics and culture. In 1809, at the height of Napoleons power in Europe, the Prussian Major Ferdinand von Schill led a revolt against the French empire. Within a month his rebellion was crushed, and Schill became a martyr for German nationalists. As the years passed, Schills legend grew and evolved until he had become one of Germanys most famous and celebrated Napoleonic figures: the subject of hundreds of novels, poems, plays, operas, films, biographies, and monuments.Sam A. Mustafa explores the radical changes in German society and politics in the two centuries since Schills death. In the first English-language work on the subject, he shows how Schill remarkably endured as other heroes fell in and out of fashion. For imperial propagandists, Liberal Democrats, Nazis, and Communists alike, he was a favorite historical icon and cultural touchstone. The author traces how an obscure failed rebel became a revered national symbol of patriotism and heroism and the ways each successive German regime coopted his story for its own ideological mission. Drawing on a rich array of primary and secondary sources, Mustafa considers the nature of patriotism, the creation of heroes and heroic mythology, and the fragility of history itself in a masterful narrative that will be an invaluable reference for anyone interested in the German experience during the Napoleonic Wars.