By Jenny Macleod
The legacy of defeat in battle reverberates via inner most and collective reminiscence and continues to be a sub-text in diplomacy and political discourse. This publication examines the style during which a chain of army defeats were understood and remembered via participants and societies within the period of recent industrialised battle.
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56 So, it is small wonder that the basic structure of the anti-Semites’ interpretation of defeat and foreign rule, its pessimistic assumption of a repetition of foreign rule and its notion of ‘inner’ foreign rule, became influential after the trauma of the defeat in the First World War. Weimar Republic After the First World War, the old mainstream interpretation of the Napoleonic foreign rule as the initial period of a national ascent climaxing in the present had become dysfunctional. 58 Max von Szczepanski stated in 1922 in the conservative periodical Grenzboten that the defeat of 1918 was much more shameful than the one of 1806 because it had been initiated by a treacherous revolt from the ranks of Germany’s own Volksgenossen (national comrades).
After the unification, both conservatives and liberals considered the defeat of 1806 as the initial event in Germany’s national rebirth which climaxed in 1871. Thus, the memory of defeat and foreign rule attained the function of a foundation myth. The defeat of 1918 changed the function of the memory of 1806 again. It now had to console the nationalists and to give them hope that one day there would be a new Leipzig. After Hitler’s seizure of power, these parallels were used to legitimate several elements of Nazi politics.
144–64; Marc Bloch, L’Etrange Défaite (Paris: Editions du Franc-Tireur, 1946). 24. Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West (1922; abridged English translation, 1959; new edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 397. 25. Gerhard L. ), Hitler’s Second Book: The Unpublished Sequel to Mein Kampf, (1961; English translation, New York: Enigma, 2003), pp. 7–15; Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1936–1945. Nemesis (London: Allen Lane, 2000), pp. 751–94; John Dower, War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (London: Faber, 1986), pp.
Defeat and Memory: Cultural Histories of Military Defeat Since 1815 by Jenny Macleod