Ww1: German Perspective
Posted 10 April 2008 - 07:26 AM
Posted 10 April 2008 - 07:51 PM
In 1961 Fischer rocked the history profession with his first postwar book, Griff nach der Weltmacht: Die Kriegzielpolitik des kaiserlichen Deutschland 1914-1918 (published in English as Germany's Aims in the First World War), in which he argued that Germany had deliberately instigated the First World War in an attempt to become a world power. For most Germans at this time, it was acceptable to believe that Germany had caused World War Two, but not World War One, which was still widely regarded as a war forced upon Germany. Fischer was the first German historian to publish documents showing that the German chancellor Dr. Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg had developed plans in 1914 to annex all of Belgium, part of France and most of European Russia. Furthermore, Fischer suggested that there was continuity in German foreign policy aims from 1900 to the Second World War, implying therefore that Germany was indeed responsible for both world wars. These ideas were expanded in his later books Krieg der Illusionen (War of Illusions), BŁndnis der Eliten (From Kaiserreich to Third Reich) and Hitler war kein Betriebsunfall (Hitler Was No Chance Accident).
Posted 27 October 2009 - 10:31 AM
Hi, i would like to have a German perspective of WW1, anyone willing to help?
After the war, numerous German soldiers and politicians wrote memoirs including generals, such as Hindenburg, and junior officers, e.g. Rommel. Some of these (such as the latter) were translated into English and a few have been reprinted more recently. Perhaps the most famous example is 'Storm of Steel' by Ernst Junger, republished in translation by Penguin in 2004. It is a fascinating contrast to some of the British memoirs, as explained in the introduction.
In 2007 the excellent military historian, Christopher Duffy, published his 'Through German Eyes: The British and the Somme 1916' which looks at the 1916 battle from the German point of view, using German primary sources. Jack Sheldon has also produced at least two books on the German Army in the First World War, however I have not looked at these and am therefore not able to recommend them.
Posted 31 December 2011 - 04:04 PM
Jack Sheldon has also produced at least two books on the German Army in the First World War, however I have not looked at these and am therefore not able to recommend them.
I have just finished reading Jack Sheldon's The German Army on the Somme 1914-1916, published by Pen and Sword Books in 2005. It's an excellent book in many ways, however it's use by school students may be problematical, as I will explain. Many of the official German records from the First World War were destroyed by Allied bombing in 1945. Most British historians of the Great War do not possess fluent German. These two factors mean that the German side of the Western Front has received relatively little attention. However, like the Duffy book mentioned above, Sheldon has used German regimental and official histories to give a lengthy narrative overview of the fighting on the Somme from the autumn of 1914 until the end of December 1916.
Reading this book has certainly changed my view of the Western Front in some ways. It is packed full of very detailed accounts, some of which are very vivid. For example, anyone reading this will be left in no doubt of the terrifying destructive power of artillery on the battlefield, a factor which does not usually receive the coverage it deserves. There are several accounts of being buried either in trenches or dugouts. It reminds us that, however terrible conditions were for the British, Imperial and French troops, things were just as bad, indeed often worse, for the Germans. By the end of the Somme Offensive of 1916, for both sides it was a question of surviving the terrible weather and ground conditions rather than attempting large-scale attacks. There is also a lot of interesting material on how the Germans gave up using the heavily-defended trench systems as shown in so many worksheets. Instead, fighting increasingly took place from shell-holes, the very front line only lightly held, with reserves held positioned further back. Another prominent feature of trench warfare which is seldom covered is the German counter-attacks, which often took back Allied gains.
However, although there is much to be learnt from this book (which I will endeavour to incorporate into future replies on the Forum) there isn't actually that much in the way of analysis. This, together with the chronological, narrative structure and a length of over 400 pages, makes it far too detailed for most students, even at A-Level.
Don't let me put you off; I think it's a really interesting book. I am looking forward to reading some of Sheldon's other works.
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