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He argues that Germany got away with its responsibility for World War I and its behaviour during it; that the treaty was nowhere near as punitive as has been long felt; that the German hyper-inflation of the s was at least partly a deliberate policy to minimise the cost of paying reparations; and that World War II was a continuation of Germany's longstanding war aims. History Politics Military Nonfiction. Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget. You can still place a hold on the title, and your hold will be automatically filled as soon as the title is available again.

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A Perfidious Distortion of History

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GCSE HISTORY: Life in Nazi Germany - Women in the Third Reich

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There was no end in sight to the haggling over the entry conditions of the South German states to the new Germany. Worn out by so much stress, Bismarck was confined to bed for several days during December He had recovered by New Year, but news from the French countryside, where francs-tireurs continued to harass German troops, did not lift his spirits. He demanded that towns and villages which had co-operated with or sheltered francs-tireurs be burned to the ground and all male citizens hung.

Revisiting Versailles

There was no need to take prisoners of war. Delinquents who spat on German soldiers from bridges were to be shot; so were the women and children who scavenged for potatoes on the fringes of Paris. His wife, Johanna von Bismarck, showed even less mercy: all the French, down to the little babies, should be shot or stabbed to death. The German soldiers did not need much prompting. The burning of towns and villages and mass killings of civilians had become widespread by the end of The longevity of the conflict, coupled with the serious supply problems that had arisen by the late autumn, rekindled a level of savagery reminiscent of the seventeenth century.

The spirit of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment had not failed to have an impact on military conduct. While, for example, there were no international treaties regulating warfare, by the nineteenth century it had become a convention that private property was not to be appropriated, that there was to be no plundering, and that the occupying power was to maintain law and order — for example, that there was to be no theft or rape on the part of the soldiers.

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A Perfidious Distortion of History by Jürgen Tampke - Book - Read Online

The Prussian armies, since the wars of Frederick II in the eighteenth century, had stood out for their strict discipline on and off the field. In this tradition, the Prussian King Wilhelm I reminded his army at the beginning of the —71 war that he expected orderly conduct on their entering enemy territory. They were not to turn upon the civilian population; rather, it was the duty of every honourable soldier to protect private property and not to damage the reputation of the Prussian army by lack of discipline.

The commander in charge of the Prussian army units, General von Werder, ordered a bombardment of the city.

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Four nights of continuous pounding with high explosive and incendiary shells destroyed a large part of Strasbourg, including some of its finest buildings. The Museum of Fine Arts, the Library with its treasures, the Palais de Justice, the Arsenal, and the Huguenot Temple Neuf were all burned to the ground, and fire also destroyed the roof of the Cathedral.

Thousands of civilians were left dead or injured, and the killing or maltreatment of defenceless non-combatants, including women and children, quickly spread. His letter of 31 December illustrates the deterioration that had occurred in the conduct of the war:. Yesterday between Amiens and Abbeville a detachment of ours ran into enemy troops who were supported by inhabitants of a neighbouring village.

The Commander of the detachment had immediately all 60 male inhabitants shot. Fortunately we have now reached a stage where we execute without fuss or delay anyone causing any kind of harm, and we now burn down whole villages.

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To force the fortress Peronne to surrender we shot within 48 hours shells into the town which is now ablaze with a gigantic fire. Near Orleans, the town of Ablis was razed, and all males killed, in retaliation for an attack by irregulars. There is little evidence that the non-Prussian army corps behaved any better.


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By mid-January, it was obvious that capitulation by the Republican government was imminent. Now the formal unification of Germany could at last take place at Versailles. He is reported to have grumbled to Bismarck that his old Prussia had come to an end. That the German unification was based on six years of success on the battlefield earned enormous admiration and prestige for the army leadership, not only in Prussia but among a large section of the German population. This encouraged a widespread, rapidly growing tendency to reduce politics to a simple matter of military might and strong-arm tactics.

Little more than a generation later, a publication of the German general staff on the conduct of war demonstrated the legacy of — Kriegsbrauch im Landkrieg published in English as the German War Book was critical of the tendency to humanitarianism claimed to be common in the nineteenth century. Hence the German officer must be wary of false views about the essential character of war. This helps to illustrate what little impact the attempts in the early twentieth century to prevent a reoccurrence of the savagery of the Franco-Prussian war by way of international treaties would have upon the German military, its supporters, and theoreticians.

The largest of these constructions, the Hermann Monument near Detmold, rose to 54 metres. Its purpose was to commemorate the annihilation of three Roman legions in the nearby Teutoburg Forest by the Cheruscan leader, Arminius now renamed Hermann , in 9 A. Opera composer Richard Wagner provided the musical embodiment of this new Teutonic spirit. His bride, Elsa, embodying in her purity the German folk-spirit, was devoted, loving, and — as long as she was not seduced by the cunning perfidy of dark and hostile forces — blindly trusted by her saviour and leader.

Having achieved the financial support of King Ludwig II, Wagner in the mids was able to stage magnificent performances at the Bavarian town of Bayreuth. The Wagner festival there became a cult for music lovers and for German patriots. When Catholic clergymen refused to undergo training at state institutions and to submit church appointments for government approval, the chancellor turned upon them. Soon, nearly 1, parishes were without a pastor, most Catholic religious orders had been suppressed, over priests jailed, three bishops and two archbishops removed from office, and the archbishop of Trier had died shortly after he was released from a nine-month imprisonment.

Although resentment lingered, particularly among the Bavarians, the Catholic Church was beaten into submission and was transformed, through its political arm, the Centre Party, into a conservative institution and one supporting the German Reich. The second shadow was cast by the German socialists. Founded in the s, the German labour movement was peaceful and law-abiding.


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  5. In , two assassination attempts on Kaiser Wilhelm I led to a wave of hysteria. In the late s, Bismarck introduced anti-socialist laws that were passed by both the conservatives and the liberals. Mass arrests and widespread imprisonment followed. The socialist party was outlawed, meetings banned, and newspapers suppressed, and capital punishment was reintroduced in Prussia and other German states. Things were quiet domestically, at least for a while.

    Then, ten years later, a new wave of dissatisfaction and discontent swept the country, due not to new quarrels over church and religion, or even the socialist threat the anti-socialist laws had been abandoned in after Wilhelm II had ascended to the throne and dismissed Bismarck. The new concern was that the young German empire was not enjoying the status it rightfully deserved among the world powers.

    In particular, the colonial carve-up of the globe was believed to have severely disadvantaged the Reich. The Reich that Bismarck had created ensured that power firmly rested with the crown. The kaiser could appoint and dismiss any member of cabinet at will. There was a parliament made up of an upper house the Bundesrat and a lower house the Reichstag , but neither the chancellor nor ministers had to account to these houses or accept any resolution passed by either.

    The kaiser was also in charge of all the chief aspects of the political decision-making process.