Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars

Couverture
Oxford University Press, 12 déc. 1991 - 272 pages
1 Commentaire
At the outbreak of the First World War, an entire generation of young men charged into battle for what they believed was a glorious cause. Over the next four years, that cause claimed the lives of some 13 million soldiers--more than twice the number killed in all the major wars from 1790 to 1914. But despite this devastating toll, the memory of the war was not, predominantly, of the grim reality of its trench warfare and battlefield carnage. What was most remembered by the war's participants was its sacredness and the martyrdom of those who had died for the greater glory of the fatherland. War, and the sanctification of it, is the subject of this pioneering work by well-known European historian George L. Mosse. Fallen Soldiers offers a profound analysis of what he calls the Myth of the War Experience--a vision of war that masks its horror, consecrates its memory, and ultimately justifies its purpose. Beginning with the Napoleonic wars, Mosse traces the origins of this myth and its symbols, and examines the role of war volunteers in creating and perpetuating it. But it was not until World War I, when Europeans confronted mass death on an unprecedented scale, that the myth gained its widest currency. Indeed, as Mosse makes clear, the need to find a higher meaning in the war became a national obsession. Focusing on Germany, with examples from England, France, and Italy, Mosse demonstrates how these nations--through memorials, monuments, and military cemeteries honoring the dead as martyrs--glorified the war and fostered a popular acceptance of it. He shows how the war was further promoted through a process of trivialization in which war toys and souvenirs, as well as postcards like those picturing the Easter Bunny on the Western Front, softened the war's image in the public mind. The Great War ended in 1918, but the Myth of the War Experience continued, achieving its most ruthless political effect in Germany in the interwar years. There the glorified notion of war played into the militant politics of the Nazi party, fueling the belligerent nationalism that led to World War II. But that cataclysm would ultimately shatter the myth, and in exploring the postwar years, Mosse reveals the extent to which the view of death in war, and war in general, was finally changed. In so doing, he completes what is likely to become one of the classic studies of modern war and the complex, often disturbing nature of human perception and memory.
 

Avis des internautes - Rédiger un commentaire

LibraryThing Review

Avis d'utilisateur  - kant1066 - LibraryThing

This book, one of the best and most insightful I have read in a long time, rests at a cross-section between art, culture, sociology, and memory. At 225 pages, it is both extremely short, and yet ... Consulter l'avis complet

Fallen soldiers: reshaping the memory of the world wars

Avis d'utilisateur  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This review of the cultural and political impact of World War I complements Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory ( LJ 7/75) by tracing primarily the German experience. Mosse draws less upon ... Consulter l'avis complet

Table des matières

A Different Kind of War
3
Volunteers in War
15
Tangible Symbols of Death
34
Youth and the War Experience
53
The Cult of the Fallen Soldier
70
The Appropriation of Nature
107
The Process of Trivialization
126
The Brutalization of German Politics
159
Building on War
182
The Second World War the Myth and
201
Droits d'auteur

Autres éditions - Tout afficher

Expressions et termes fréquents

À propos de l'auteur (1991)

George L. Mosse is Bascom-Weinstein Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and Koebner Professor of History, Emeritus, at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His previous books include The Crisis of German Ideology, Nazi Culture, The Nationalization of the Masses, Nationality and Sexuality, and Toward the Final Solution.

Informations bibliographiques