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Title:A People's War: The Transformation of German Politics, 1913-1918
Author(s):Smith, Jeffrey Robert
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Peter Fritzsche
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, Modern
Abstract:This dissertation explores the manner in which one form of political legitimacy came to replace another, how the Volk enfranchised themselves at the expense of monarchy during World War I Germany, and its primary focus is the public display of nationalism in July-August 1914. In 1913, Germany's so-called "festive year," the Wilhelmine regime celebrated the centennial of the Wars of Liberation as well as Kaiser Wilhelm II's Silver Jubilee. In these ceremonies the monarchy attempted to legitimize itself before the German public but failed to achieve broad, popular participation. The imperial celebrations stood in sharp contrast to the nationalist demonstrations of July-August 1914, which quickly assumed a problematic relationship to the police and the regime, who ultimately came to fear these aggressive and spontaneous patriotic displays. In depicting the nationalist crowds, the German press began to recast political legitimacy in favor of the "masses" as newspapers reported crowds engaging in loud demonstrations in front of the kaiser's palace and forcing a reluctant monarch to repeatedly appear before the public. Not only does the kaiser never engage the crowds, but he emerges as a distant and shadowy figure when juxtaposed to the vibrant throngs. Moreover, throughout August 1914, the war was being persistently translated from an official to a popular version, dominated by rumors and vigilante crowds in a sensationalized urban landscape that the government was unable to shape, direct, or control. The dissertation concludes by exploring the ongoing popular manifestations of the war: the food riots in 1915, postcards, celebrations of the "common people" in wartime, and the ultimate collapse of the Wilhelmine monarchy in November 1918, which in many respects was a revolutionary re-manifestation of the themes and images of August 1914.
Issue Date:1997
Description:271 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9737255
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:1997

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