Front Page Titles (by Subject) 92.: The Swedes in Germany - Judgments on History and Historians
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92.: The Swedes in Germany - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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The Swedes in Germany
It is correct that at first glance German Protestantism seems to have been saved only by the appearance of the Swedes; to be sure, one has to put up with the subsequent conduct of Sweden, its armies, and other things. (The Swedes came; Protestantism lived on. Now the two things seem to be causally inseparable.)
However, the question is permissible whether German Protestantism would not have been helped without this horrible remedy, too. (Any miserable government had long ago become accustomed to seeking foreign intervention for whatever cause.)
In the first place, it is scandalous for a creed, no matter whether it is Catholic or Protestant, to place its salvation above the integrity of the nation. Thus Germany could be torn to shreds for metaphysical reasons. If one approves of such behavior, one must also approve of the fact that the popes led the German princes to weaken the Empire.
Secondly, no German government or faction helped to call Gustavus Adolphus; it was, rather, foreign countries—Richelieu and his followers, Holland, to a slight extent England as well. But it was Gustavus Adolphus himself who had the strongest desire to force himself on Germany. The Duke of Pomerania was immediately horrified at his arrival.
Well, if one imagines things without him:
Either Wallenstein would have remained at the helm and asserted his command over North Germany in his own spirit as we know it, involving non-observance of the Edict of Restitution, parity, even a coup d’état which would easily have been possible for him because of his army’s indifference to creed; or, as actually happened, after Wallenstein’s dismissal his army, too, would have been greatly curtailed, i.e., made incapable of continuing to enforce the Edict of Restitution even if it had wanted to.
And finally: even assuming a completely tenacious imperial army and government, would it not have been better and more desirable for the whole future if the North German people had at least done what the Upper Austrians did with infinitely slighter prospects, namely, fight a national fight for their religion?
But people were not prepared for this, because in the sixteenth century the Reformation had been accomplished so very easily, with people actually receiving it as a gift. In Magdeburg some real desperation finally made an appearance.
Because of that, people now had to submit to a foreign king who stepped on imperial soil, intending to deprive the Empire of the entire Baltic coast. Scandinavia desired a slice of Germany. Christian IV, at least, was still a German prince, on account of Holstein, when he directed his greed at Hanseatic cities and ecclesiastical lands and then waged war in Germany as the head of the Lower Saxon Circle. Gustavus Adolphus had no connections whatever with Germany.
The religious situation here was as follows:
If Ferdinand II had quite forcibly and cruelly made all of Northern Germany Catholic only about as far as the Elbe, but had left the rest unmolested, Gustavus Adolphus would have stayed at home. If, on the other hand, a Protestant emperor, or a Wallenstein turned indifferent to creed, had subjugated, or wanted to subjugate, the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, Gustavus Adolphus would have set out against him.
The Swedes, no less than the French, simply could not bear to see German imperial power gain strength in any way.