Discontinued posting

I have (sadly) discontinued posting to this blog. My department has decided that it does not believe in online learning, hence the rationale for devoting time to it no longer holds. I will post occasional cross-references from my Western Civ blog or updates regarding The Stab-in-the-Back Myth.

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The Stab-in-the-Back


This week I received my author’s copy of The Stab-in-the-Back Myth and the Fall of the Weimar Republic in the mail. Bloomsbury Press has done an excellent job. The documents are clearly set out within the text and the visual sources are beautiful. The book is now available for pre-order, with publication in August.

When we began the project, our goal was simple. The centenary of the end of the Great War would soon be upon us and countless students would decide to write term papers and theses on the question of the Stab-in-the-Back. While the Dolchstoß is a common trope in the English-language literature – and is widely seen as a major component in the Nationalist/Antisemitic critique of the Weimar Republic – there were few primary sources available in the English language. Our hope was to provide such material for both students and instructors.

Once we began to collect and translate our source documents, it became clear not only that there were a variety of anti-Republican myths, other Germans (particularly Communists and leftist Social Democrats) also felt that they had been stabbed-in-the-back. Unravelling these various strands of memory proved to be an exciting, if difficult task. I look forward to seeing how the book is received.

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German snipers training in Russia

Rob Schäfer has posted an interesting picture of German snipers training in the East.

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Remembering the Great War in Bonn

Since I first started travelling to Germany 35 years ago, I have always sought out monuments to the fallen in World War 1. One memorial in particular has always struck me: that in the entryway to the main university building in Bonn. On my last trip, I finally got a worthwhile photo.

It was eerie the year I attended there to go past every day and imagine all of those who died.

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The Diary of a Nursing Sister

I have learned of an incredible resource via Twitter:

Kate Luard was a British nurse serving on the Western Front. Her experiences are sure to be fascinating to my many students interested in health issues.

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Tracing the Great War in Berlin

I have just finished a productive trip to Berlin, where I dedicated myself to visiting the many museum exhibits dedicated to the topic.

First and foremost, I spent a long afternoon in the German History Museum. My last couple visits, I was more concerned with the Weimar and Nazi periods. The sections on the Great War and the Revolution were quite good. I read, snapped pictures, thought about how to integrate the material into class.

When I got back to my hotel that evening, I decided that I had failed to photograph a Dolchstoss-themed item. So it was back the next morning – musta been a false memory!

I have never been to the Museum of Photography. Went to an excellent exhibition on photography in the Great War. Not at all what I expected. I was surprised to learn how German land and air units used repeated, detailed photographic surveillance to reconnoiter the enemy’s positions.

I also visited an exhibition on the effects of the Great War on German fashion. About what you would expect. I neglected to pick up the exhibition guide, which I’m sure some students would have found useful for their Extension Projects. Darn!

One of the more interesting places in Berlin is the Museum of Things. They had an exhibit on the Cologne Werkbund Exposition of 1914. The Werkbund, akin to the Wiener Werkstatt arts and crafts tradition, was dedicated to making high-quality, exquisitely designed products. Consumer goods, furniture, houses. The Werkbund brought together designers and industry, bringing quality craftsmanship and high production standards to German products. There was an export incentive as well. Great Britain had drafted a new law that all Herman products (assumed to be shoddy) must be marked with the “Made in Germany” label. German export manufacturers decided to turn the table and make “Made in Germany” a quality mark by setting high production standards. The initiative was seen as so important that the Emperor opened the exposition. When War broke out in August, the exposition area was razed and became a staging area for troops and supplies moving West. Just another part of the Old World destroyed by the War.

The bookstores, new and used, got their usual working over, as well as the Sunday book flea market along the Spree. Too little time, not enough money, and no way enough space to bring back everything that I would like to have purchased.

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new from digital 1418

Otto Vervaart continues to provide excellent source materials for students of the First World War. He has recently posted four new resources that I have added this site:

Wartime Canada:

“an educational resource for teaching the history of Canada during both World Wars by using documents and artifacts to get closer to actual experiences. The resources at this portal are organized by ten category headings with a verb, such as Fighting, EatingRelaxingRemembering and Worshipping. The selection of themes under these headings is very wide and instructive. The section on education gives guidance to larger subjects such as the war effort, government and economy, identity and culture, historical inquiry and society.  For each theme you can set the selection of items to either the First or the Second World War by choosing this period from a dropdown box. The portal can be visited in English and French.”

The Virtual Gramophone: First World War Era:

“The virtual exhibition The Virtual Gramophone: First World War Era has been created by Library and Archives Canada at the portal Collections Canada as a part of the section The Virtual Gramophone concerning the history of music in Canada. The portal gives an overview of Canada’s musical history. The section about the First World War has four focuses:

Popular Songs, 1914-1918
Songs of the First World War
The Music on the Home Front: Sheet Music from Canada’s Past
The Music Scene in Quebec, 1915-1920

The section with popular songs gives lists of song arranged in chronological order by year. You can listen to a number of sound recordings of them. The section on songs of the First World War has songs arranged by a number of subjects. The section on sheet music is at present missing from the site. There are also biographies of musicians, and the reference list contains a succinct bibliography about First World War music. This virtual exhibition can be viewed in English and French.

At Sheet Music from Canada’s Past, another section of the portal Collections Canada, you can search for items created during the First World War era (select 1914-1920). Searching for the subject World War 1914-1918 brings you to nearly 200 items.”

World War I Postcards from the Bowman Gray Collection:

“The digital collection World War I Postcards from the Bowman Gray Collection has been created by the library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The collection contains some 6,400 postcards from the main belligerent countries (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Russia and Italy), but also from other countries. The sheer number of postcards in this collection is equivalent to the number of interesting subjects, for example cavalry or children. Some commercial series, too, are completely present. You can browse the collection in its entirety (530 records with often multiple items), choose among the subjects, names and places, or use the free text search. The general introduction to this collection gives also a succinct bibliography on the subject of First World War postcards.”

The Western European Theatre Political Pamphlet Collection:

“The digital collection Western European Theater Political Pamphlet Collection 1894-1918 has been created by Princeton University Library (collection MC 248). The collection contains in 77 boxes items from European countries collected since 1914.  Apart from pamphlets in English there are items in French, German, Russian, Italian and other languages.  The pamphlets do not only touch upon politics but on many aspects of the First World War and the period immediately before the war. The digitized pamphlets are accessible using an online finding aid. In the left side bar you can click on subjects and time periods which open either an item or a set of items within a record. You can use the general search field for a free text search. It is also possible to view the entire finding aid as a page or to download it as a PDF.”


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