Twenty-Four Years of Mondays

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Unlike the situation after , the German public, East, West, and reunited, no longer derived positive meaning at any level from war experience in a nationalist or militarist context. Armed forces were justifiable only as a deterrent, and then grudgingly.

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The recent wave of publications openly asserting German victimhood may seem iron- ic in the context of events from to In another sense, how- ever, it is a sign of German normalization in a world where every group and every nation glories in victim status. The language used to describe them, however, has changed over time, shifting in particu- lar from tropes of hysteria to tropes of anxiety. The emotions evoked by modern war, according to Bourke, are less liable to be linked to fear based on threats to survival, and more to anxiety caused by the loss of agency.

Remaining constant, however, was the relief of ten- sion when men were able to act against the immediate enemy they perceived as the author of their dismay. The result could often be indiscriminate killing when soldiers came face to face with an enemy who was, after all, human. Alf Luedtke presents another way of coping with the stresses of twentieth-century war: contextualizing it with industrial society.

The factory system and its spin-offs—schools, businesses, hospitals—fea- ture compartmentalization of tasks in an environment of stress, not exactly a counterpart of the battlefield, but not the worst preparation for it either. A dirty job in civil- ian life and a dirty job in combat are both things to be endured, then either forgotten or processed into the general sense of anomie.

At the same time, Luedtke argues, responses to industrial work at the point of production are ambivalent. Workers appropriate the settings of work, establish personal niches, and adjust systems.

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The same process occurs in non-industrial settings organized on industrial models. Even the comradeship, the small-group fellowship so often described as characteristic of twentieth-century war, replicates to a significant degree the characteristics of the industrialized workplace.

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It features a code of conduct separated from that of the controlling institution, featuring acceptance in return for conformity, and having a short way with dissenters who go beyond the limits of consensus. Doubts, scruples, and inhibitions are experienced before and after the collective behaviour that affirmed the group against external challenges. She begins by establishing a paradox. On the one hand, extreme violence creates a zone where no rules apply. Focusing on the Indian experience in —8, Pandey describes women as central to the processes of extreme violence.

Underlying that behaviour was the concept of women as property—a concept so strongly reinforced by religious and social pressure that it was internalized by many women as well as for practical purposes all men. While some attempts were made between India and Pakistan to recover stolen women, Pandey cor- rectly states that no punishments have been imposed for the rape, loot, and murder. Racial violence on the one hand and sectarian violence on the other might seem to have lit- tle in common beyond surface manifestations. Cherry, in fact, makes a solid case that both feature localized, low-intensity conflict in per- manent environments of violence.

She argues as well that the state she describes is a state of war, whose personalized cruelties are the more painful for being marginalized by the global media. She pres- ents a context of state repression of unarmed civilians, which in turn leads armed groups to mobilize support against the state and against each other.

Beginning with the Balkan wars of —13, states and armies lost much of their roles to paramilitary groups and similar non-state entities.

Killing became arbitrary, increased in scale and randomness, and was strongly sexualized. Restrictions protecting noncombatants— children, the elderly, and, above all, women—were inverted, making them prime targets because of their helplessness. All this may sound distressingly familiar form recent headlines. Instead he asserts that in particular the fluid boundaries between regular armies and armed civilians reflect specific historical traditions, as opposed to prefiguring a new post-modern type of violence.

In that he is perhaps the most optimistic of the contributors. The intention in each case, he argues, is the same: to com- pel unconditional compliance by an overwhelming display of power.


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Violence becomes a religious act confer- ring eternal values, even in the secular forms advocated by George Sorel and Franz Fanon. The essays individually and collectively depict not mere- ly the breakdown of restraints on violence, but the affirmation and legitimation of that process. None of the contributors address the prospect of rehabilitat- ing or reconfiguring hard power. Yet a light may possibly exist at the end of the tunnel constructed in this book.

In it he advocated challenging extreme violence in failed states and societies by inculcating and appealing to a sense of honour: there are things a warrior does not do precisely because he is a warrior. This concept, in many ways as old as civilization itself, may seem eclipsed by the factors described in these essays: industrialism, fundamentalism, ethnicity, and the rest. Talk of reviving it may be idealistic, even Quixotic.

Yet there are worse beginnings to a way out of the abyss that is so eloquently described here. ISBN- 0 ISBN 9 They anecdotally recount the story of this remote and exotic theatre of war where about 3, Germans and several thousand African mercenaries askaris under the leadership of General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck defended themselves against vastly superior British, South African, Indian, Portuguese, and Belgian forces for more than four years. They did not stop fighting until the middle of November , when they found out about the ceasefire in Europe.

The events of —18 are anchored more firmly in the collective historical memory of Britain than of Germany, thanks not least to their popularization in the Hollywood film African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, based on the novel by C. While there is a wealth of English-language publications on the topic, German historians have so far displayed a total lack of interest in this aspect of East African colonial history. This was the first overall account of the campaign which satisfied academic standards and was based on the sources of all the states involved.

At the end of his book he mentions, almost in passing, that one con- sequence of this war that lasted more than four years and took place in what is today Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Ruanda, Mozambique, and Zambia was a considerable loss of life among the civilian popu- lation. The two studies under review here make an important contribu- tion towards closing these gaps.

Albrecht Graf von Bernstorff

They differ fundamentally, howev- er, in respect of structure, source material, and thematic emphasis. In both cases the number of primary sources consulted and the amount of new information they convey even to experts in the field is impres- sive. However, the strange emphases they sometimes place are sur- prising.

They complement each other to the extent that Uwe Schulte- Varendorff hardly draws on English-language literature, while in his overall account of the war in East Africa, Edward Paice avoids the German archives and the German academic literature. Schulte-Varendorff aims to destroy the myths which have grown up around Lettow-Vorbeck, that is, the master narrative of the chival- rous and brilliant officer whose black soldiers remained loyal to him to the end, and who thus became the symbol of an allegedly popular German rule in Africa. This soon used up any political credit which he had enjoyed, even on the left.

Unfortunately, in his zeal to deconstruct the myth of Lettow- Vorbeck, Schulte-Varendorff often overshoots the mark. For exam- ple, he emphasizes that many askari deserted during the war, but does not mention that the majority did not. Thus many Africans must have had some loyalty to the German colonial force.

Schulte- Varendorff does not try to explain this.

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Ninety years after the end of the First World War it is certainly necessary to adjust the historical image of Lettow-Vorbeck. The author, by contrast, sifts the sources for evidence as if for an indictment. Unfortunately, he makes no attempt to place Lettow-Vorbeck and his actions in a historical context, to explain them in terms of his social- ization, or to compare them with those of other officers. Such an analysis would have shown, for example, that after Lettow-Vorbeck by no means sought the limelight of publicity and became politically active out of oppor- tunism and greed, as the author suggests.

Rather, Lettow-Vorbeck mutated into a public figure because society needed models from an allegedly better past. It does not explain his personality and place it in the context of German military, colonial, and political history from the Kaiserreich to the Federal Republic. Nor does it provide new information about the professional group and social class that he rep- resented, or the institutions that shaped his life.

Despite its title, the book by Edward Paice deals exclusively with the war in East Africa from to The presentation of this exciting, anecdotally written study, however, makes it look like a cof- fee-table book addressed to a broad reading public. This has the unfortunate consequence that the author sometimes succumbs to a style dominated by superlatives.

Other evidence, however, is drawn from rather dubious sources, suggesting a lack of heuristic rigour. This memorandum, in turn, refers to a British wartime publication as the source of the letter. Most of the account is devoted to military events at tactical and operational level. These inter- nal tensions and losses caused by friction within the Entente in East Africa made it possible for the German colonial force to hold out for so long against an enemy force that was, at least on paper, far supe- rior, as Paice demonstrates in relation to the battles of —18 in Portuguese East Africa.

Less convincing, however, are the passages about the German side. Thus, for example, Paice interprets the dispatch of an air ship to East Africa in the autumn of as evidence that Berlin regarded the survival of the German colonial force as important. U-boats, it seems, were required for more important things, and the air ship was sent merely as a symbolic ges- ture to show the colonial force that they had not been totally forgot- ten. They eat sausage before battle and worry about the beer supply, and while they are efficient in battle, they—unlike the British soldiers—lack a sense of humour and are uncommonly brutal and unfeeling towards the Africans.

However, someone who has not taken the trouble to look for such figures, whether in the records of the German colonial office in Berlin or in what has remained from colonial times in the Tanzania National Archives in Dar-es-Salaam, and, it seems, is unaware that most of the papers were lost either dur- ing the First World War in East Africa or in , when the war archive in Potsdam was bombed, should perhaps pass less sweeping judgement.

However, I fully agree with Paice when he points out that after the German side was less than willing to acknowledge its part in causing the humanitarian catastrophe that was the First World War in East Africa. Rather, Germans collectively rejected the state- ment made by the Entente that Germany had been inhumane towards the Africans, and had therefore forfeited the right to have colonies. Any such admission was therefore avoided where possible, in order not to give the Entente additional ammunition, after the event, for the statements made at Versailles.

Yet the books by Schulte-Varendorff and Paice establish beyond a doubt that the war in East Africa between and was one of the darkest chapters of German colonial history and cost the lives of more Africans than the Herero or Maji Maji rebellions.


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  • ISBN 1 9. Indeed many, if not all, of his conclusions have stood the test of time if ten years is an adequate test ; and the on-going influence of his book can be seen in the numerous references to it in other scholarly works. For instance, rural conscripts were less frequently deployed on the front line than their urban counterparts, and were more likely to be given leave, especially at harvest time p.

    Often they were transferred to artillery regiments in the rear area of the fighting zones where their knowledge of horses came in useful , or to garrison duty in the replacement army on the home front. Even the Western Front itself had quieter sections where nothing much hap- pened for months on end. Regular contact with home in the form of letters and periods of extended leave in turn allowed civilians to embrace some of the prejudices being forged in the trenches such as the anti-Prussian sentiment which became widespread in Bavarian regiments while vice versa, farmer-soldiers also interpreted the war in domestic terms as a battle over food and food prices between rural producers and urban consumers.

    In this sense, home front and fight- ing front were connected through a constant stream of communica- tion, rather than being opposites unknown to and irreparably alien- ated from each other. This also allowed for a relatively swift reinte- gration of veterans into rural society after Secondly, Ziemann looks at the importance of popular piety as a means of coping with the terrible moments of large-scale death and mourning which faced Bavarian villages and their menfolk at the front at particular junctures in the war.