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Erster Weltkrieg: Kindheit, Jugend und Literatur

Deutschland, Österreich, Osteuropa, England, Belgien und Frankreich


Edited By Hans-Heino Ewers

Die Beiträge dieses Bandes befassen sich mit Kriegsbilder-, Kinder- und Jugendbüchern der Jahre 1914 bis 1918 aus nahezu allen kriegsbeteiligten Ländern sowie mit später erschienenen und aktuellen Jugendromanen, die sich rückblickend mit dem Ersten Weltkrieg auseinandersetzen. Zur Sprache gelangen daneben auch Kriegstagebücher von Jugendlichen sowie kriegsbegeisternde Lektüreerlebnisse. Die Zusammenstellung von Beiträgen aus den verschiedenen Ländern lässt zahlreiche Gemeinsamkeiten hervortreten. Dabei zeigt sich nicht nur hinsichtlich der durch das Gedenkjahr 2014 beflügelten jugendliterarischen Beschäftigung mit dem Ersten Weltkrieg ein deutlicher Aufarbeitungsvorsprung in der französisch- und englischsprachigen Welt.
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Boy of my heart. The Death of Roland Leighton


This paper offers a case study of the peculiarly militaristic influences of juvenile literature and the culture of childhood that were at work in the Edwardian period. It focuses on Rowland Leighton, a young and enthusiastic volunteer of 1914; who, raised in such a militaristic culture, was desperate to experience the ‘excitement and romance’ of war on the Western Front.


On 23 December 1915 Lieutenant Roland Leighton of the Worcestershire Regiment died of wounds in the casualty clearing station at Louvencourt on the road between Amiens and Albert. He was just twenty years old. Given that the average life expectancy of a junior officer on the western front was about six weeks, there is nothing surprising about this particular death. After all, young men were dying in considerable numbers on both sides of the line all through that so-called ‘quiet period’ of Christmas and New Year 1915–16, and Leighton had served for more than his allotted span.

Leighton, like so many of the young middle-class men who died, was believed by his family and friends to be one of the most promising young men of his generation. In some cases this was probably true, but more often than not it was part of an idea that came later, the myth of the ‘missing generation’ – that generation of the brightest and the best young men needlessly wiped out in the trenches who, had they been spared to take up their rightful place...

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