Tag Archives: Military History

British obsession with German history

201311The financial crisis, and Germany’s subsequent role as a reluctant ‘saviour of the eurozone’, has  given rise to a renewed discussion of the country’s historical role in Europe. In the UK, this debate has borne especially strange fruit. At the beginning of the crisis, the supposed ‘national trauma’ of the Weimar hyperinflation has been used to explain Germany’s alleged reluctance to enter a more active role. Now the tone has changed to a fear of a too powerful Germany: the Daily Mail recently predicted another war started by Germany, while the cover of the current edition of the New Statesman talks of a ‘German problem’, depicting Angela Merkel and Helmut Kohl alongside Bismarck and Hitler. In the accompanying article, historian Brendan Simms describes the long way towards German democracy, all the way from the 15th century, but goes on to argue that  it only took the last five years to put it all in danger again.


Secret rearmament after 1918

The study Die bellizistische Republik. Wehrkonsens und “Wehrhaftmachung” in Deutschland 1918–1933 sheds new light on the secret rearmament of the Reichswehr during the Weimar Republic. The central argument is that the rearming was supported by republican forces and based in an intellectual tradition of ‘Wehrhaftigkeit‘, but led to the formation of a ‘state within a state’, outside of legal norms and democratic control.

>> review (in German)

New Study on 1918

A harbinger of the great flood of books on the First World War that will be published in 2014, David Stephenson study With Our Backs to the Wall. Victory and Defeat in 1918 takes an unusual look at the last year of the war. In his view, even after the US entered the conflict, its outcome was still undecided in 1918.

>> review (in English)

>> review (in German)

Journal Review: VfZ 2/2012

In the current issue of Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Daniel Schmidt charts the life of Hans Ramshorn (1892-1934), from Prussian officer to SA leader:

‘How does the conventional life and career of a Prussian officer veer off course and onto the winding path of a Völkisch (ethnic nationalist) paramilitary? This article will address the above question using the biography of Hans Ramshorn (1892–1934) as an example. Continue reading

CfP “Marginalized War Veterans in postwar Germany”



Call for papers for a panel, “From Frontgemeinschaft to Volksgemeinschaft? Marginalized War Veterans in postwar Germany,” at the German Studies Association meeting, October 4 – October 7, 2012, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Deadline: January 15, 2012

Germany’s defeat in 1918 as well as “front experience” left an indelible mark on the postwar German veterans’ culture. War veterans had been traditionally accorded immense social prestige in modern Germany. After the First World War, however, the veterans’ movement was increasingly clad in a nationalist mantle that excluded many groups blamed for Imperial Germany’s defeat – Jews, socialists, communists, and pacifists. Moreover, many former soldiers from Alsace, Lorraine, or the territories ceded to Poland and Belgium became pariahs under their new governments. Despite the different national and political contexts, all these individuals shared several similarities that were shaped by the experience of war, defeat, and questioned patriotism.

I am looking for one or two more papers on post-WWI German war veterans for a panel at the upcoming 2012 GSA meeting. Specifically, the panel shall address those former soldiers ostracized from the mainstream veterans’ community due to racial or political reasons, or rendered “homeless” in an actual and spiritual sense through postwar territorial settlements.

Please send a 1-2 page paper proposal by January 15, 2012 to Michael Geheran at <mgeheran@clarku.edu.edu>

CfP: Perspectives on the ‘Great’ War

International Conference  August 1 – 4, 2014

Perspectives on the ‘Great’ War / Rückblick auf den Ersten Weltkrieg

ANNOUNCEMENT AND CALL FOR PAPERS: An interdisciplinary conference will be hosted at Queen Mary, University of London to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. The parties presently involved are the School of Languages Linguistics and Film (QMUL); the School of History (QMUL); the Leo Baeck Institute (London); the Centre for Anglo-German Cultural Relations (QMUL); and the German Department (UCL).

Keynote speakers will include:

– Professor Christopher Clark (Cambridge)

– Professor Jonathan Steinberg (Pennsylvania)

– Professor Samuel Williamson (Sewanee History Project)

It is intended that the conference be truly international and interdisciplinary. Subject sections will include political, military and social history; historiography; colonialism; discourse analysis and cultural history. We welcome all suggestions for the conference as well as offers to chair sections and round-table discussions.

Please address all initial enquiries to: Professor Felicity Rash f.j.rash@qmul.ac.uk or Dr Falco Pfalzgraf f.pfalzgraf@qmul.ac.uk

Cultural History of WWI in France and Germany

No. 54 of the Historische Zeitung‘s Beihefte series takes a comparative look at the political consequences and literary interpretations of Burgfrieden and Union sacrée after the war. Contributions include a juxtaposition of French republican and German völkisch nationalism by Manfred Kittel, and a study on the use of literary sources in historical research by Nicolaus Beaupré. David Midgley adds a British perspective.

Wolfram Pyta, Carsten Kretschmann (eds.): Burgfrieden und Union sacrée. Literarische Deutungen und politische Ordnungsvorstellungen in Deutschland und Frankreich 1914-1933

>> review (in German)