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date: 19 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

It is a commonplace to see the First World War as a major caesura in German and European history. This article records the war years from 1914–1918 in Germany. Not least, such an interpretation can rely on the perceptions of influential contemporary observers. In Germany, as in other belligerent countries, many artists, intellectuals, and academics experienced the outbreak of the war as a cathartic moment. While it is straightforward to see the mobilization for war and violence as a major caesura for any of the belligerent countries, it is much more complicated to account for causalities and for German peculiarities. Difficult methodological questions arise, which have not always been properly addressed. While Germany was facing a ‘world of enemies’, as a popular slogan suggested, the semantics of the political shifted to an articulation of emotions, excitements, and promises, contributing to a dramatized narrative centered around the notions of sacrifice and fate. The effect of World War I concludes the article.

Keywords: Germany, total war, mobilization for war, semantics

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