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Born Jan. 2, 1807, in Stuttgart; died Sept. 22, 1878, in Mergentheim. German historian and member of the Heidelberg school of historians; petit bourgeois democrat.
Zimmermann taught history at the Oberrealschule in Stuttgart from 1847 to 1850, when he was dismissed from his position for taking part in the Revolution of 1848–49 as a member of the extreme left wing of the Frankfurt Assembly. Zimmermann’s work on the Peasant War of 1524–26 (Russian translation under the title Istoria krest’ianskoi voiny v Germanii, vols. 1–2, 1937) dealt sympathetically with the struggle of the peasants and T. Münzer for German unification and freedom from feudal oppression. F. Engels, who praised the book highly (see K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 16, pp. 412–13), made use of its factual material in his work “The Peasant War in Germany” (ibid., vol. 7, pp. 343–437). The Enlightenment foundations of Zimmermann’s world view, however, prevented Zimmermann from correctly analyzing the social trends of the Reformation.
In his work The German Revolution (vols. 1–2, 1849) Zimmermann was the first German historian to offer a factual account of the peasant movement during the Revolution of 1848–49 in Germany. He devoted most of his attention, however, to the parliamentary struggle. Zimmermann overrated the role of the petit bourgeois democrats in this struggle and underrated the fatal damage done to the revolution by the conciliatory line of the liberals in the Frankfurt Assembly.