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The First World War And German Memory

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Chapter Summary

This chapter outlines the German memory of the First World War. It discusses collective memory, political culture and historical scholarship in the period 1918 to 1939, the Second World War, and since 1945. The memory of the war was increasingly a battleground in the final years of the Weimar Republic. The obsessive campaign waged against the ‘war guilt lie’ and reparations payments stood for nationalist Germany’s refusal to accept the consequences of defeat. Hitler and the German army learned the lessons of offensive warfare from the First World War and succeeded in combined, all-arms, mechanized, motorized operations (Poland, the West 1940, Barbarossa) which overcame the stagnation of trench warfare: ‘lightning warfare’ spearheaded by tanks and aircraft to ensure mobility. The memory of 1914 strongly influenced German warfare at the start of the Second World War.

Keywords: First World War; German memory; lightning warfare; Weimar Republic



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