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Re-visiting World War I

Interpretations and Perspectives of the Great Conflict

Jarosław Suchoples and Stephanie James

This book discusses various aspects of World War I. It focuses on topics proposed by contributors resulting from their own research interests. Nevertheless, as a result of common efforts, re-visiting those chosen aspects of the Great War of 1914–1918 enables the presentation of a volume that shows the multidimensional nature and consequences of this turning point in the history of particular nations, if not all mankind. This book, if treated as an intellectual journey through several continents, shows that World War I was not exclusively Europe’s war, and that it touched – in different ways – more parts of the globe than usually considered.
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Arnd Bauerkämper - World War I in Twentieth-Century European History


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Arnd Bauerkämper

Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

World War I in Twentieth-Century European History

Abstract: More than one hundred years after the beginning of World War I, no common memory culture of the bloody conflict has emerged in Europe. Despite the hot controversies that characterised the centenary in 2014, memories of the first global conflict will continue to be overshadowed by World War II, especially in Germany. By contrast, Frenchmen and the British still remember World War I as the ‘Great War’ and Grand Guerre, respectively. Altogether, national memory cultures have persisted in Europe. Nevertheless, a convergence in favour of memorialising innocent victims is clearly discernible. This narrative highlighting the suffering of soldiers and civilians has gradually replaced the previously dominant heroic and patriotic memories. The new departure has been triggered by public remembrances of the Holocaust. They, in turn, have been influenced by the recent rise in concerns and debates about human rights. Moreover, layers of memories have related the two world wars to each other in many European states. In 2014, the considerable public attention that the ceremonies received on the occasion of the one-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the war demonstrates this change in memory cultures. At least in Western and Central Europe, learning from the suffering of helpless victims seems to be the only remaining sense of World War I.

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