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The Spirit of 1914: Militarism, Myth, and Mobilization in Germany (Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare) [Kindle Edition]

Jeffrey Verhey

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Book Description

This book, first published in 2000, is a systematic analysis of German public opinion at the outbreak of the Great War and the first treatment of the myth of the 'spirit of 1914', which stated that in August 1914 all Germans felt 'war enthusiasm' and that this enthusiasm constituted a critical moment in which German society was transformed. Jeffrey Verhey's powerful study demonstrates that the myth was historically inaccurate. Although intellectuals and much of the upper class were enthusiastic, the emotions and opinions of most of the population were far more complex and contradictory. The book further examines the development of the myth in newspapers, politics and propaganda, and the propagation and appropriation of this myth after the war. His innovative analysis sheds light on German experience of the Great War and on the role of political myths in modern German political culture.

Product Description


'Verhey's research is exhaustive and innovative. His use of sources is clever and subtle.' Adrian Gregory, The English Historical Review

'Scholars and students alike will be grateful to Jeffrey Verhey for having analysed [his subject] with care and great detail.' Aribert Reimann, German History

Book Description

This book, first published in 2000, analyses German public opinion at the outbreak of the Great War. Jeffrey Verhey's powerful study demonstrates that the myth of war enthusiasm was historically inaccurate. This analysis sheds light on the role of political myths in modern German political culture.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4542 KB
  • Print Length: 284 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (4 May 2000)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001ECQGP6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,374,172 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but padded. 13 Oct. 2000
By - Published on
This is a book which seeks to challenge a major myth about the first world war, and to describe the consequences of that myth throughout the war. That myth is that the masses of the European countries vigorously and optimistically applauded the declaration of war in August 1914. Uncounted textbooks and middlebrow documentaries have referred to this primordial chauvinism and naivetee. But is it true?
Verhey's book is about Germany, and in what is roughly the first half of his book, he answers no. The demonstrations that occurred in late July 1914 were largely middle class and urban, with university students playing a particularly prominent part. The working classes showed little enthusiasm, the marches were smaller than many previous Socialist demonstrations (as well as Socialist calls against war), and the countryside and smaller centers were largely quiet. Verhey demonstrates these facts by copious sources such as newspapers, the large secondary literature, and whatever archival sources he can find. A problem develops here. When the war began the German government concluded that the war was sufficiently popular enough that it would not bother its agents with reporting popular opinion. So Verhey must look for other sources. One source is underdeveloped in my view. It has long been argued by the supporters of German Social Democracy that they voted for war credits because they feared being abandoned by the working class. Verhey argues that German Social Democrats in fact were rarely influenced by this source, not surprisingly given his thesis of working class unenthusiasm. But I believe there is not sufficient attention paid to the papers of Social Democratic leaders in order to learn how their opinions developed.
As for the second half of the book, about how the myth of 1914 percolated throughout society, it is comparatively bland and rather straightforward. There are some interesting accounts of the failure of pro-war groups to cross class divides, and there is an interesting deflation of the Rightist Fatherland Party, which according to Verhey was not a proto-Nazi populist movement, but another unsuccessful political mobilization by the elites. Otherwise, there is much talk about myth and propaganda and the general failure of the myth of 1914, which gives the second half a somewhat padded feeling.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE SPIRIT OF 1914 by Jeffrey Verhey 11 July 2013
By william mathews - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There have have been numerous books written since August 1914 on the so-called "ideas of 1914", ultimately linking those ideas with and to the Nazis and the development of the Third Reich. Yet Verhey manages to bring a new perspective and to put these ideas into critical perspective by judiciously analyzing German public opinion of the events of August 1914 during and after the outbreak of the Great War. He shows there were several different sets of experiences about the sense of community and nationalism that competed then, in August 1914, and afterwards through to the Weimar Republic and the coming of the Third Reich. The eventually dominant social interpretation or myth of "the spirit of 1914", was borne by the educated middle and upper classes in the larger cities, with university students and younger, Protestant cohorts leading the way in enthusiasm for the war. The working classes as well as most women and rural areas took much more somber and sober views about the outbreak of the war. Thus, a contest developed over the meaning and significance of August 1914 that eventually was resolved by Germany's defeat in 1918 and its humiliation in the 1920s and '30s. It was the myths of the radical Right, the Pan-German and the Nazis that eventually supplanted rival versions and led to 're-fighting of World War I in World War II the way the,radical Right thought the First War should have been fought. Very well researched and well written.
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