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Edition 1. Expand all About This Publication. Physical Description pages : illustrations ; 25 cm. Januar Reichstagsbrand und Kommunistenverfolgung Die letzte demokratische Wahl vom 5. ISBN hd. Notes Includes bibliographical references pages and index. Keywords and Subjects. Subjects Jews--Germany--History. National characteristics, German. Germany--Civilization--Jewish influences. Librarian View Give Feedback. Further Your Research. We do not know the situation in the Jewish community of over 46, back then.

Vnímanie nacistických zločinov v Spolkovej republike Nemecko a v západnej Európe

The poorest could rely on monthly financial benefits. For example, already when the economy picked up in such assistance was received by Jewish beggars. One should be under no illusion, however, that the other Cracow residents lived comfortably and in luxury. On 18 July , the aforementioned Act was adopted on social assurance in the case of unemployment.

Those entitled to benefit included persons who had lost a job and registered the fact at the PUPP within a month, and had worked for at least 20 weeks in the year preceding the job loss. The Act also provided for setting up Unemployment Funds to manage the monies to be paid out as benefits. For example, out of around 3, unemployed persons registered at the PUPP at the end of , the benefits were paid out to just half and they were a mere drop in the ocean of the needs of the unemployed.

Worse still, the Act completely ignored white-collar workers, which they received with an angry uproar. The living conditions of the unemployed receiving benefits improved as compared with those who failed to meet the registration requirements. The hardship of the jobless was exploited by many Cracovian crooks, particularly at the time of the great crisis of the s.

Job seekers were supposed to pay 2. It was not long before it became obvious that the whole project was a sham created and managed by professional tricksters, but the Cracow police soon managed to apprehend them. In the period discussed here, extensive charity work — which started even before the outbreak of the First World War under the supervision of Bishop and from onwards Archbishop Adam Sapieha — was done by the Catholic Church. The Union collected and distributed cash benefits, food, clothes, medicines, etc. It also organised summer camps for poor children and took care of old and ill persons as well as orphans.

The Committee focused, above all, on helping orphans, yet it did not neglect unemployment-related problems. For instance, the AKR tried to organise as many free-of-charge and cheap canteens for the unemployed as possible. Incidentally, canteens and kitchens were the basic form of assistance offered to the jobless by both Churchbased organisations and the city authorities.

In alone, the kitchen run by Ladies of Charity of St Vincent de Paul gave out , meals to poor adults and , to children. Tomasza Street. In November , the city, too, launched two budget canteens for whitecollar workers which gave out 1, lunches daily. The need to offer cheap or free meals was also addressed by the Municipal Committee for Combating the Consequences of Unemployment Miejski Komitet do Walki ze Skutkami Bezrobocia; hereinafter, MKB , established in as a response of the Cracow city authorities to the crisis and its local consequences.

Humiliated and discouraged from accepting such a form of assistance by unpleasant experiences, the unemployed occasionally turned to theft and robbery as a means to provide for themselves and their families. Between September and June , the MKB collected over , zloty sourced from various contributions, collections and the tram ticket tax. Interestingly, it was as early as that the Townhall started to interfere in ticket or electricity prices in order to collect more funding for combating unemployment.

As many as 6, unemployed people approached the MKB for assistance and they were subject to special verification so as to ensure that the support would go to those who needed it most. As a result 1, single persons received assistance as well as 3, families, i.

More than , lunches were given out, food vouchers worth , zloty were offered to unemployed persons, around — were employed on various public works, also children of unemployed parents were taken care of. It seems that all this could not have happened without the generous approach of fellow Cracovians. Appeals to support the MKB and Church-based organisations reverberated throughout the city. Help came from industrialists, 60 office workers, 61 labourers, 62 artisans, 63 tradesmen, 64 physicians, 65 tram drivers, 66 and scouts.

Although there had been some squabbles and misunderstandings between the Townhall and the archbishop in the past, now, in the face of the progressive economic downturn and raging unemployment, it was clear that all hands were needed to work for the improvement of the living conditions of the poor and unemployed. The Church, in turn, was doing some things for the City as regards helping the needy.

Still, poor residents of Cracow liked best the hospital operating under the auspices of the aforementioned Ladies of Charity of St Vincent de Paul in Lea Street. It is often thought that such establishments offer poor conditions. Was this really the case? Thursday: breakfast — ham, borsch or tea; lunch — chicken broth with dough, roasted veal with cream, potatoes and beetroots; dessert — fruit cake — stewed apple beverage; dinner — schnitzel, cucumbers, potatoes or apple pie, cauliflower;.

Friday: breakfast — cheese, borsch or tea; lunch — mushroom soup and fried fish, red cabbage, potatoes; dessert — sweet sponge-cake dish with sweet cream sauce, stewed apple beverage; dinner — dumplings with plum filling with sour whipped cream. No comment seems necessary; let us just remember that the menu is not from a restaurant but a kitchen in a hospital for the poor.

While the MKB was doing its charity work, the voivodeship authorities began to combat unemployment too, and in numerous letters sent to the institutions they controlled called on officials to pay voluntary taxes to benefit the Committees fighting the consequences of unemployment, both at the county and municipal levels. The scenario was similar in the case of special stamps that officials offered to their clients who wanted to attend to some administrative business at a given institution.

The proceeds from the stamp sale were also supposed to support the Committees. By April , that is when the collection ended, the MKB coffers received 4, zloty. Another type of assistance for the unemployed different from cash contributions were in-kind donations offered by both the city authorities and Church-based organisations. Most typically, the donations included such products as bread, lard, groats, rice, flour, fat, beans, soap, clothes, underwear, fuel, etc.

When they voiced their concern, a notice was put up in the canteen saying that the zinc white received might be exchanged for flour. Nonetheless, the donations had a significant impact on the material standing of the needy and, which I find of particular importance, their morale.

For its part, the AKR distributed not just in-kind donations. For example, in late Christian residents of Cracow were offered vouchers worth 0. If that was the case, they received a hot meal free of charge. In total, over the nine weeks when the kitchen operated, more than 2, persons ate there. As many as , lunches were given out, including 65, free of charge.

As much as they could, the local authorities also made efforts to offer jobs to the unemployed. There was pressure exerted on entrepreneurs to take on new staff, if only on a part-time basis. Unfortunately, the jobless often did not enjoy their posts for long as some companies were forced to cut jobs just a few months after employing new staff. The jobless could also count on various training programmes helping them improve their qualifications or acquire new ones.

Consequently, the labour market prospects became much better for those people, as with additional skills they were more attractive for employers. Above all, however, the unemployed were posted to public works, a popular practice throughout the inter-war period. In , as many as jobless persons were employed, including in road construction and repair and in sewer building; also persons doing the earthwork on the Mound of Krakus. As late as in early , the MKPZB employed around jobless persons and, weather permitting, their number rose, including women, who were usually employed to do the gardening in the Krakowski Park, Henryk Jordan Park, or along Mickiewicz Avenue.

At the same time the Townhall, sometimes in conjunction with the voivodship authorities, called on the Polish government to provide considerable funding for that purpose 98 or to offer appropriate loans. Just in alone, the expenditure for public works amounted to , Thanks to the charges collected on top of the electricity bills and tram tickets, a sum of , Analysing the prices back then, one can see that for such a daily sum, a worker could buy, for instance, a loaf of wheat bread 0.

With time, particularly in the s when due to the crisis the number of unemployed was growing, less was paid for their public work. In , blue-collar workers received 2. As many as came on the opening day although only a half was needed. A selection had to be made, ending in a bitter dispute between the chosen and rejected ones. Sometimes, however, it would turn out that despite their hardship the jobless were not that desperate to take any given post.

More precisely: they were not ready to work far from home. Still in the s, workers would keenly travel to Upper Silesia to work in mines and steelworks or to France to do some seasonal work. With time, however, some of the unemployed preferred to work in the city of Cracow or as close to it as possible.

Such an attitude was not appreciated by the authorities. In May , workers were sought to construct the Zakopane-Cracow road and regulate the Vistula river near Sandomierz. Around persons were needed in total. Those with families were to be paid 2. Still, no-one reported for work. To summarise briefly the considerations presented above, one must say that — contrary to what is sometimes thought — the unemployed residents of Cracow usually were not left to their own devices unaided, and that throughout the inter-war period.

As I have shown, the great crisis that hit the city in the early s did not mark any breakthrough in the policies pursued by the local authorities and Church-based organisations as regards support offered to the jobless and the poorest. One could even risk saying that with their rich — as I intended to show in this text — experience in mobilising such support they were still ready to do more, as it was necessary in the face of an economic downturn induced by the crisis.

Consequently, the range of assistance offered by the Townhall, the Catholic Church, and Jewish associations was relatively impressive, although, given the realities of Cracow back then, far insufficient.

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After all, not all unemployed residents were able to cope not just with the conditions in which they had to subsist, sometimes from one day to the next, but also with their own weaknesses which in times of hardship tend to haunt one with doubled force. Literature on the great economic crisis — its root causes, course and consequences both in the field of economy and society — is very rich. However, not much attention is paid to the issue of remembering the crisis.

This is not surprising: after all the matter at hand is highly complicated. The same is true for Cracow itself. In the case of Cracow, as I have shown in my considerations presented above, the crisis did not leave a wasteland in its wake as was the case in some other parts of Poland, partly due to the fact that the city was poorly industrialised. Coupled with the fact that Cracow had known unemployment, poverty and social exclusion — permanently, although more or less acutely felt — since the end of the Great War, this helps to understand why the crisis of the late s and the early s was seen as just another economic slump.

It was not a collapse to mark a divide between the times of prosperity and a great recession. Additionally, the intensified efforts on the part of the city authorities and Church-based organisations described here reduced those negative consequences. Yet another aspect is the perspective of Cracow residents on what was happening around them. It must be remembered that in the first years of the inter-war period Cracovians compared their situation not with the global conflict that had just ended but with the pre-war times, which in their recollections were much better than their contemporary realities.

That first post-war period, a time of high prices and shortage of provisions, was some sort of a benchmark and a reference point in the successive years leading to the crisis. Fresh in the public memory are the impoverishment of broad strata of society, the atrophy of savings and healthy credit, and, in terms of ethics, the decline of morality.

Because of all this, the memory, and today — since there are very few left who have direct experience of those times — just the post-memory the memory of the memory of the great crisis did or does not arouse much emotion. It has become part of the general reflection on the weakness of the Polish economy in — and its consequences: unemployment and poverty.

The obvious focus here is on Cracow. The end of the crisis, or its actual delineation, is still a difficult notion as chronologically it was close to the outbreak of the Second World War. The war, in turn, and then its repercussions, forced a completely different perspective on how Cracow residents and others see the Second Polish Republic and its economic and social problems.

The great crisis became part of the background. Krzysztof Kloc. O dawnej i obecnej biedzie w Polsce Warsaw, , p. Mieszkania i gospodarstwa domowe. Stosunki zawodowe. XII r. Panek, Krakowskie organizacje charytatywne w latach — , Cracow , p. In the late s, money was paid out in alphabetical order: for instance, on Monday to the unemployed persons whose family names started with letters A-J, on Tuesday — K-P, and on Wednesday to all the rest.

The protest soon developed into violent clashes of the workers with the police and armed forces, and were brutally suppressed, with 3 officers, 11 privates, 18 workers and civilians dead, and a total of nearly persons injured. Rozprawy i studia Cracow, , p. This article has been published in the fourth issue of Remembrance and Solidarity Studies dedicated to the memory of economic crisis. Od r. W r. The history of west Ukraine and of former Galicia is more complicated than that of the rest of Ukraine. Galicia has belonged to many different states and powers.

After the founding of Lviv by Prince Danylo in the region belonged to Poland for years and was subsequently ruled by the Habsburg monarchy for years — After the extermination of the Jews and the expulsion of the Polish population Lviv stood 85 percent empty. Today, in contrast to the strongly russified eastern part of the country, the city of Lviv, which is also the centre of western Ukraine, has become a haven of Ukrainian identity.

After , in their search for a connecting narrative which would show a continuous and uninterrupted Ukrainian past, the local authorities in Lviv commemorated a number of people, renaming streets after them, erecting monuments and commemorative plaques to them or honouring them in public commemorations. Leading figures of Ukrainian literature such as the poet Taras Shevchenko and the writer and freedom fighter Ivan Franko had already been previously celebrated as the bearers of Ukrainian culture under the Soviet regime. The leader of the Cossack Uprising in the 17th century, Bohdan Khmelnytsky, had also been included in the pantheon of Soviet-Ukrainian remembrance, even though he had attacked the city, which was Polish at the time, and did not defend it.

The celebration of famous historical personages such as the historian of Ukrainian history Mykhailo Hrushevskyi or Mykhailo Drahomanov aims at constructing a pan-Ukrainian identity. The city has additionally contributed to creating a local tradition based on the specific history of Galicia Halychyna in Ukrainian. This construction rests on complex processes of reversal, positive revaluation, rehabilitation, but also on the concealment of historical events and processes.

But there are almost no public inscriptions indicating this. Today, only a few traces of this past remain: Yiddish or Polish inscriptions sometimes reappear as the paint flakes away. The monument to the victims of the ghetto in Lviv, erected in , was privately financed. Everything which recalled the Soviet presence in the city also had to disappear. Similar to what took place in Riga and other Baltic cities, many monuments to the Red Army were dismantled.

Russian schools were closed. The second characteristic of this history policy is the creation of a Ukrainian national continuum in a city which only became ukrainised after and where there was practically no Ukrainian continuity. This invented continuity starts with Daniel, a 13th century Galician ruler, and stretches to include the Ukrainian pop singer Ihor Bilozir, who was beaten to death by Russians in Ultranationalists, right-wing extremists and collaborators of the Nazis are being rehabilitated because they fought against the Russians.

In the suite of rooms, theorists and proponents of a radical fascist nationalism such as Dmytro Doncov, members of the Ukrainian Wehrmacht battalions Nachtigall and Roland and of the SS Division Galizien , which attracted almost 80, Ukrainians volunteers, are portrayed as heroes without any criticism or qualifications. Elisabeth in , and Roman Shukhevych, the commander of the Nachtigall Battalion. Changes to the names of the military units who collaborated with the Nazis are a new feature since —, with the German names now yielding to Ukrainian denominations.

The third characteristic of the politics of remembrance commemorating the city of Lviv is the invention of a new martyrdom. In Lviv remembrance focuses particularly on the massacres carried out by the NKVD in the prisons of Lviv in the last days prior to the invasion of the city by the Germans in June As the Germans rapidly advanced on the city, more than persons were shot in the prisons. Since such atrocities can once again be openly spoken of. But none of these new monuments bear any references to the brutal pogrom openly perpetrated against the Jewish civilian population after the invasion by the Wehrmacht by a vengeful mob, the Ukrainian auxiliary police force and Ukrainian nationalists under the approving eyes of the Nazis.

The amalgamation of nationalist heroes and victims of Stalinism in a joint mausoleum amounts to a sanctification of Ukrainian suffering. Lviv has been seized by a remembrance mania — but only a selective politics of remembrance and musealisation is brought to bear on the past. The focus is only on the rebirth of the Ukrainian nation and on Ukrainian suffering. How will Polish, German, American and Jewish tourists recognise themselves and their narratives in this landscape of monuments?

How do such policies fit in with the hoped for integration of Ukraine in Europe? All serious questions in view of the problematic selective representations of history which have changed and shaped the museums, streets and monuments in Ukrainian Lviv since The scope of her scientific interests encompasses among others: Yiddish literature and culture in Central and Eastern Europe, politics, culture and literary contacts between German and Jewish authors writing in Hebrew or Yiddish in Central and Eastern Europe Russia, Poland , multi-cultural cities in Central and Eastern Europe.

The focus of this paper is to discuss the criteria for the meaning of violence in the context of the history of war. To be able to classify the instances of violence during the First World War, the following paper will attempt to present the relationship between different levels of war, and thus to determine the criteria for the meaning of violence.

The Great War of — was characterized by the transformation of how war was waged, as well as an unlimited awareness of violence 1. Here we have in mind the most comprehensive of all images of violence: the totalitarian image of man. This begs the question of how we can generate an acceptable relationship between the mechanism of violence and violence awareness and thus bring about the renunciation of violence.

This pivotal question can only be answered in the wider context of the history of violence. To understand the failure of reason in the battlefields of the Great War we need fundamental anthropological reflections 3. It is generally recognized that history does not boil down to reconstruction of actual life and experience. It also constitutes a process of interpreting which occurs in the minds of the subjects who create it.

When looking at historical figures, historians demand that each person takes full responsibility for their own story. In the context of the history of violence and war such a perspective first requires the formulation of rough definitions. A solemn speech about the solid foundation of war, about the father of all things Ger. Vater aller Dinge or just about history as a set of rational rules and regulations, expires in the trenches of war.

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A glimpse at the inter-existential dimension is a look at the everyday reality of war, including the moments of mass killing. This is a totalitarian moment. Lenin recognized it, as did Mussolini, Hitler, and others. They perceived war as a powerful fatality in which everything sweeps away, as an uncontrollable torrent and a total power, which ends in nihilism.

John Keegan, an eminent war theorist, also focuses on such an existential perspective, when he embarks on a journey to find The Face of Battle Keegan To his mind, the classical military history records create a picture of war which leaves many questions unanswered. They delve into genre scenes and spectacle and create an atmosphere in which bravery, heroism, defeat, and attacks are described from a ruthless point of view. A traditional military historian can find words to describe great military moves and maneuvers, but not the individual deaths and individual lives of soldiers.

Keegan, however, is intensely interested in the inconspicuous individuals and events behind the great wars. He sees the efforts to create a historical narrative as entwined with the commitment to comprehend the fundamental position and the existential condition of an individual in a battle.

The difference between victory and defeat, which is the main way in which historians, commanders, and chroniclers approach the battle, fades away when we take a closer look at the reality. A soldier has no well-defined picture of a battle in his mind. If in this way we grant an individual the right to veto, we treat everything less as a revolution in the historiography then, to put it mildly, a glance at the core situation, the bare existence and the image of war.

As we well know, the First World War meant the collapse of civil society. The reasons for this are varied, but they include the negation of what civil society essentially represented: the idea of a free individual who takes responsibility for his actions. Given the mass executions, the mud of the trenches, and the mechanized nature of war, this idea came to an abrupt end.

Verdun and the Somme have shaped the face of battle. In the century of violence, war became an independent entity. It became ubiquitous anonymity and omnipresent death; the very essence of war was exposed.

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They were characterized by their willingness to accept a subordinate role in the anonymous, mechanized, and technological operations, rather than adopting the warrior tradition. The workers who lost their lives in the hail of grenades and machine guns usually could not see their opponents; the enemies remained mostly invisible and beyond reach.

Do we have to present the face of battle in all its hideousness, as evidenced here, and in many other historical examples? No; we are aware of the horrors of war, the suffering of soldiers and civilians, the fury of violence, and we do not want to increase our knowledge of it. Nevertheless, we must attempt to remember and to grasp the meaning of the horrors of war; a meaning which is difficult for us to decipher and which is overshadowed by constant doubt concerning our existence.

For Theodor Lessing, for example, history in the face of war was an arduous process of making meaning of meaninglessness. Deeply affected by the First World War, he opposed the religious delusion by which history reflects reason and significance, progress and justice Lessing , He doubted both the idealist and the materialist delusions in history. Hence, he tried not to present history with all its glorifying embellishments, but as an attempt to make meaning out of something which is inherently meaningless. His aim was not only to demolish the solid foundations of war, but also to explicitly inquire into the criteria for potential meaning — criteria for meaning in the context of the history of war.

This fundamental question is still valid as a question. How can sociology and historiography contribute to the understanding of the notions of peace and war in our day? It seems that this question may be answered off the cuff: one should forbid war, avert violence, and protect rights. This may serve as a starting point for the following reflections. To be able to classify the instances of violence and the totalitarian logic of the First World War, the following paper will attempt to present the relationship between different levels of war, and thus to determine criteria for the meaning of violence.

The Great War of — was characterized by 1. It also showed 2. The distance which was shaped during mass executions was subject to the abstraction of new proportions and it also pointed to the most comprehensive of all violence abstractions: the totalitarian image of a man. How can we can generate an acceptable relationship between the mechanism of violence and violence awareness and thus bring about the renunciation of violence? To understand the failure of reason in the battlefields of the Great War we need a fundamental anthropological reflection 3.

In this context, the role of historiography is far from insignificant. The historical notion of violence can be discussed from various points of view. On the one hand, in the mechanized form of battle we have evidence of the radical, technically-oriented alienation of man: as many as 2. The use of chlorine gas made a new form of nervous impairment of the enemy possible. The massive annihilations of soldiers in June marked a tragic climax in the history of war. All these factors point to a radicalized, unrestricted, and industrialized form of violence. Hordes of people waiting in the trenches in order to trudge through destroyed devastated area and barbed wire towards certain death: at this point such an image recalls a form of totalitarian destruction which was to become a reality in the war yet to come Metz , ; Keegan , Nevertheless, insight into the terrible events of the war also requires the wider perspective of the historian.

We can therefore describe the history of the First World War as a process which was characterized by the transformation of war, in terms of a political, as well as material and technological change. After the relatively peaceful period of one hundred years before the First World War, when the five major European powers followed the policy of balance, the German Wars of Unification again raised the question of power.

With the emergence of the German Empire a new power also emerged. The developing economic and military power resulted in a new form of imbalance hereinafter Kennedy ; Neitzel ; Craig International relations fell into a trap which they managed to avoid throughout the comparatively peaceful nineteenth century. Sobering, as these reflections may seem, the nearly ten millions casualties were nothing new when we consider the total population of Europe.

The novelty was not in the number of the casualties.


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The novelty was rather in the method , in the way decisions concerning human lives were made, and in the technological dimension of elimination. In the First World War armed countries clashed in a battle between man and machine. The mechanization of war brought lethal innovations: poison gas, tanks, submarines, but also machine guns, which were invented a long time before, but were now being used on a massive scale. Compared to the war of , over 58 per cent of the soldiers died of artillery fire.


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Hundreds of thousands of opponents lost their lives as a result of machine gun fire, which, in a symbolic way, marks a turning point in the history of violence. However, let me go back to discuss a distinct military capability of the great powers. The main factors which promoted, extended, and shaped the war are well known. The final collapse of the Central Powers must be perceived as closely correlated with the economic and industrial resources available to the Allies.

By way of example, Kennedy , ff. He perceives the Austro-German coalition at the beginning of the war as a military force with the superior military capability as its front troops operated efficiently and were supported by an increasing number of recruits. Russia and France, on the other hand, had difficulty in coordinating a military strategy. We are able to answer why the Allies did not manage to gain significance three years after the beginning of the war when we take a closer look at the notion of military capability. The Coalition was strong in the areas which could hardly contribute to a quick and decisive victory.

For instance, the closing of the German overseas trade caused major damage, but was not as significant as British representatives expected. German export industry focused on military production and the Central Powers were self-sufficient in food supply as long as the transport system could be properly maintained. The Allies outnumbered their enemies, but this did not contribute to their rapid victory, which was partly due to the type of war itself.

Both parties used forces which were deployed over hundreds of kilometers. Major operations which were methodically and strategically prepared well in advance and aimed at a decisive blow were in fact split into hundreds of smaller operations on the battlefield. The events on the Western Front clearly show that the fronts on both sides could not achieve a real breakthrough and thus expand short-term territorial gains.

Each side was able to make up for its losses through reservists, grenade supply, barbed wire, and artillery, and to minimize the advantage of the assailant. The major image inscribed in the memory of the war is that of prevented offensives and destructive crossfire. The role of the individual in the war is well understood: a growing number of new waves of recruits were mobilized at various sites to compensate for the loss incurred on the battlefields. Hence, in order to assess the properties of the violence in the First World War, an analysis of the battlefields is insufficient.

There is no doubt that the Great War electrified national economies and led to a significant increase in armor volume. Before armor generated less than four percent of the national income. Since the total war led to the increase of this number up to more than 30 per cent, it was inevitable that the overall production volume of the defense industry grew by leaps and bounds.

The wartime governments grew to be in charge of the industry, workforce, and finances. The long-lasting complaints about the chronic shortage of ammunition on both sides ultimately led to the cooperation of politics with business and employment, the aim of which was to provide the necessary supplies. Inevitably, then, after an early period of readjustment to these new conditions, armaments production soared in all countries.

People waged wars for a long time to achieve economic goals, but war itself was less an economic than a political goal. The Westphalian sovereignty was an attempt to place the state in the center of the war on a permanent basis, also with a view to separate religious or economic influences from political ones. The war between the cabinets and the war between the nations are the two classical types of war. In this period the general public was completely excluded from the war events, at least they were not systematically used for defense purposes. The war was a matter of the governments which had manageable and limited purposes.

Opposing forces changed their positions, tried to cut off the enemies from the supplies or to confront them in a decisive battle. The population waited in the background and was responsible for financing the war and yet the costs incurred due to armed conflicts could often be extremely burdensome. Overall, it can be argued that the war of this period did not acquire an existential dimension. To some degree it remained calculable and, significantly, it was consistent with the justified renunciation of the use of force when the balance of forces was observed.

We recognize a significant turning point in the history of war when both mechanical calculability and moral factors gained significance in the course of battle. When the population, ready to take action and make sacrifices, was put in the balance in the course of revolutions, social power relations were renewed. As regards the form of battle, the era of strategic maneuvers had ended. War was based on the requirements of the concentration of forces in a specific time and space. This meant a battle set-up which depended on the physical and moral exhaustion. Civil infrastructure became a central element of modern military capability, leading to a long-lasting merge of civil economy and military establishment.

The unreasonable alliance between the state and war became visible Krippendorff Its ideological aspect, however, should not be neglected. The violence mechanism that we observe in the age of extremes Hobsbawm goes back to the moral factor, in a sense that the nationalist fervor of the people became the resources of military capability. The turning point that we can observe here is complex and contradictory. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there was the idea that a republican society, unlike an aristocratic one, would avoid and tame war, since it corresponded to the common sense of the citizens concerned, and it could now decide on questions of life and death.

This idea was inextricably linked to the notion of political freedom, but it did not obtain the desired confirmation during the revolutionary wars. The revolution engaged civil society again in the war. Out of the ideologization of war there emerged a new form of military force which, in turn, severely affected the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In this broader sense, the military capability and the violence mechanism encompass an expanded notion of violence awareness. The new army was a mass army characterized by unlimited recruitment possibilities. As a result, it could afford much heavier losses, provided that war was perceived as an existential notion Metz , 80 ff. The total war of the nineteenth century became a totality, insofar as it introduced the possibility of exhausting human resources on the battlefield. This form of a mass, total warfare was formed in the nineteenth century on the condition that the psychological mobilization of the masses was a consequence of revolutionary nationalism.

Such a mobilization was then extended by means of technological and infrastructural resources. Factors such as crowd, technology and ideology formed the face of total war and, as a result, created the experience of physical and mental exhaustion which, in turn, resulted in the horrors of war. It is common knowledge that the economic performance of the countries involved in the war decreased throughout the war, and that the moral exhaustion of the entire population was also visible. Germany to some extent relied on submarine warfare in order to cut off the enemy from essential supplies by sinking merchant ships.

As early as this instance of senseless battle and rational military leadership we observe a turning point in the history of war, for which there are no compelling definitions. Having discussed the criteria of violence organization, we can look at the First World War as an attempt to penetrate into the heart of the enemy country in a battle. After and it was certain that such a war was feasible. August marked the beginning of a war in which a seemingly unbearable tension culminated and was defused. To many people it seemed a liberation from existential emptiness.

The ecstatic celebration of the August events was apparently followed by apathetic killing and anonymous deaths in the trenches. The longing for the existential human illumination and purification during the war were followed by dirt, stench, and death. When the following sections inquire into the causes which led to the failure of reason, and when we further inquire into the possibility of remembering the horrors of war, it is to be understood in a specific way. Quite reasonably, the political explanations for the outbreak of war turn attention to the threat resulting from the Franco-Russian Alliance , which Great Britain joined in The idea of preventive war was virulent, not least due to the fact that the progressive development of infrastructure made it technologically possible to use mass transport.

Beyond this, however, we must ask why the failure of reason occurred, and to what extent politics and diplomacy prioritized the logic of military confrontation. We must ask how the limits of diplomacy could be reconciled with the unleashing of violence. Also, we must not forget that there were definite attempts to let the leap in the dark Bethmann-Hollweg follow solutions involving the limited renunciation of the use of force.

When in November there was no hope left for a quick military success, Falkenhayn asked Bethmann-Hollweg to negotiate a separate peace with Russia, then with France, in order to be able to confront England, the opponent, on an equal footing Neitzel , This initiative was based on the notion of adhering to the policy of escaping from the war as soon as all the military resources had been used.

The political leadership could not take a firm stand on this matter, as there was disagreement early on in defining Germany as the main war opponent. There was a policy that prioritized geo-strategic interests over reason. While the negotiation of a separate peace with Russia was postulated, at the same time Germany was trying to maintain influence in South-East Europe and the Middle East.

Although the Foreign Office initially rejected the idea of freedom through renunciation, there were still Danish mediation attempts to explore the theoretical possibility of a separate peace with the Tsar. There was hope to build bridges for Russia on which it could walk with its head held high. Although the Russian army suffered heavy losses, this did not have an impact on its determination to wage war. Russia adhered to the treaty of and avoided the exclusion from the War Coalition. In retrospect, one could definitely say that the path toward peace was obstructed by many parties.

The Tsar and his political advisers were unable to define the load limits of the country. The Central Powers, on the other hand, probably due the understanding of their limited military capability, offered a push for peace but rejected the serious general Peace Congress vehemently ibid. In this context it is worth asking why the only serious and genuine proposal of Pope Benedict X suggesting a solution to the exhausted Europeans was rejected, or why the policy of balance and a temporary limited peace never had a real chance of victory. At the beginning of the war there was euphoria which there was hope of preserving for domestic policy and which also, to some extent, led to absurd expectations concerning the aim of the war.

There appeared, for instance, memoranda of Pan-Germanism which called for far-reaching annexations and assumed an imperious and hegemonic role of Germany in Europe. The tentative and ambivalent attempts to walk the path of non-violence in the face of imminent defeat were therefore problematized. In early September Bethmann-Hollweg, for example, established guidelines for a potential preliminary peace. According to the Chancellor, the main purpose of the peace dictated by Germany should have been to secure its own country from the eastern and western side for good, i.

Based on these symptomatic points we can see the core demands of the German policy concerning the aim of the war, extensive territorial claims and grandiose plans which, from the beginning, rejected the idea of returning to the status quo ante. The focus on a clear victory through peace was indeed strong and visible in all warring parties. The adviser of the U. In terms of the areas of influence and territorial borders, the warring parties, politicians, and military officers focused on improving the status quo. It seemed impossible at any time that a lasting peace could be established without moral clarity, and that the negotiated solutions could be taken into account, considering the military force of the enemy.

This was clearly reflected in the German foreign policy since the spring of This political move led to the demolition of political relations, the entrance of the USA into the war in April , and to the escalation of the long-term war which, with hindsight, was not an objective inevitability. More specifically, in order to understand why the path to a tentative renunciation of violence remained blocked, one has to consider the perception of reality of the German leadership, as well as the increasing powerlessness of politics against the independent military forces.

Until people were led by the conviction that one could achieve peace through force. This may be illustrated in the peace treaties of Brest-Litowsk and Bucharest, which sort of reflected the aim to extend power at the expense of others and, even more, the degree of the denial of reality which was determined by the strategies used by military forces until the final shedding of blood. The forces which did not strive for settlement and the post-war order, but attempted to reach what appeared enforceable by means of their own military capability were key.

The fundamental notion of the turning points and the aspects of violence can be fragmented into various intertwined issues. From a historical point of view, it is crucial to realize that the extreme severity and relentlessness of the war was rooted in the unconditional desire to gain power. Is it sufficient for the purpose of this paper to point out the alleged lust of the decision-making elites, the circulating ideas of Social Darwinism, the excessive desire to gain prestige, or the overwhelming nationalism?

Or is there be some other criteria for meaning that could be included in the summation? Nevertheless, the failure of reason remains enigmatic: nine million soldiers were killed before the end of the war, probably around the same number of civilians lost their lives as a result of hunger and disease. Is it estimated that, in Germany, around , people died of hunger due to the British naval blockade — all this apparently could not change the internal logic of politics.

What remains worth mentioning is the a priori enmity which apparently constituted the approval of the senseless suffering. Even millions of deaths could not break the iron will of the governments. In a fight without a real winner, those who had greater military capability and power at their disposal determined the victory morale.

As such, the meaning criterion of violence is not only technological, but also ideological. The willingness to wage war can ultimately be explained by the absoluteness of evil embodied in the enemy. Real redemption of the world through war could only be achieved by defeating evil, an obviously blind mechanism, which continued even after the horrors of Verdun. In this respect it is necessary to pose fundamental anthropological questions from the quagmire of political and state regulations and to disclose the criteria for the meaning of violence and non-violence in the context of historical experience.

In other words, how to explain the discrepancy between the civilizational accomplishments of the war between the nations and the historical evolution toward universal condemnation of the concept of war? The unrestricted nature of both world wars raises a legitimate question of why there were wars even after the consolidation of the modern statehood. Let us keep the devastating effects of war in mind. Then the question needs to be posed: How did it happen that an idea of war remained so firmly anchored as a signifier of meaning: as a means to an end , as apparently legitimate continuation of politics , as a guiding principle which nations adhere to?

To understand this, it does not suffice to steer clear of the axiom of war as a political means see Clausewitz , since this is anachronistic. Quite on the contrary, it requires insight into the political existentialism of a given time. A glimpse at the philosophical concepts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries reveals an additional moral aspect.

Fichte, for example, based his reflections in the Address to the German Nation Ger. Reden an die deutsche Nation , on the civilizational existential crisis in Prussia. He aimed at the concept of the true war of his times, which was no longer a dynastic war of a sovereign, but a legitimate war that had to be a total, so that the people could be formed into a national unity.

We can see how discrepant — or how similar — the nineteenth century was in relation to the beginning of the twentieth century, in the conviction that the war was no longer interpreted as an isolated political or military action, but rather that it embraced all of life. It is not easy for us today to comprehend the depth of political existentialism where the terms death, victory, country, and eternity are used in the same context without hesitation. In the history of war, however, it indicates the focus on the moral dimension necessary to understand total war: Fichte discusses the notion of war as a moral effort of the whole nation in its struggle to survive as a free community.

If we are talking here about the philosophical struggle to overcome the anti-Napoleonic wars, then we pose a question which goes beyond the narrow historical context, i. During a war, a continuous collective battle, people become a nation. This marks a threshold of the national and moral awakening of the nineteenth century, which is important to the understanding of a modern total war of the nations.

The ambivalence becomes evident: if we no longer perceive war as a means to an end, or as a calculation used to achieve our clearly defined objectives, but rather as a non-material means of self-constitution, then a totalized meaning dimension becomes tangible. It is no longer simply a matter of rational interests but the existential relationship within large groups.

The aspect of hostility becomes existential. These philosophical reflections express the depth of the existential hostility which we noticed in the lasting failure of reason during the long war. We can comprehend the political situation of the early twentieth century only when we consider the criteria for the meaning of violence over an extended period of time.

The development extending from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries was marked by the sign of a promising replacement, the essence of which is reflected in the conversion of eschatology into utopia. One set hope for salvation not in transcendence, but in worldliness. The focus was on the question of who or what would occupy the vacant position of metaphysics, who or what ought to serve as the highest and safest reality and, therefore, the final legitimate point of historical reality.

It is known that there appeared at least two new worldly realities. The tragic climax lies in the fact that, in principle, a man cannot lead an ex nihilo life. This terrible freedom pertains to a type of historicity that may be based only on something which is predetermined existentially.

Corpses with arms ripped off, parts of skulls, blood and carcass could be found everywhere. In this way a Bavarian soldier described the battlefield of Sedan on the day after the fight. The trenches which characterized the First World War did not yet exist. However, Sedan anticipated some elements of the following world wars: the totality of the war in which all human values are lost.

In order to answer this question we also need to take a wider perspective and inquire into the criteria for the meaning of reason and non-violence as reflected in the human ability to create meaning. One of such creation of meaning is visible in the still-relevant idea of war removal which was pointed out at the beginning of the twentieth century as a possibility.

The First World War brought an end to the bourgeois era in Europe Mommsen ; despite growing discrepancies, it was a period of economic prosperity and thus growing wealth. Slowly, democratic structures emerged in the European structure, but this process found no reflection in constitutional norms. All these factors — the idea of peace, increasing prosperity, vague democratization — could not, of course, prevent the acrimonious struggle of the European powers.

There emerges a pivotal question which has been discussed in history studies to this today, i. It is important to emphasize one thing here: the explication of the meaning of political violence should include different aspects, i. Only in combining these aspects can we approach a profound sense of the understanding of violence.

Was the war inevitable? In and the Hague Peace Conferences were organized, with a view to creating an international legal framework for the prevention of war. Their effects were short-lived. Bourgeois pacifism, which now acted in public independent of church and religion, as well as of the state and its logic, remained abrupt. The international peace societies in London in , in Paris in , and later in Germany and Austria, agreed on nothing other than the idea of the global peace.

Their operations were far-sighted and visionary. The International Mediation Institute, the formation of an international court of justice and the establishment of a league of nations were the requirements which became reality as late as at the end of the following century. Die Waffen nieder by B.

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Suttner or the establishment of the Army Medical Services were possible at that time. Inspired by the battle of Solferino in the Franco-Sardinian war against Austria, Henry Dunant wrote A Memory of Solferino and sent it to the leading political and military figures. Under the impression of 40, casualties and the injured, he stimulated the formation of voluntary aid organizations. During the conference such proposals were discussed. In other words, humanitarian ideas and the possibility of the renunciation of violence and peace as a bourgeois principle of reason were more than just lofty ideas.

All the possibilities of the renunciation violence beg the question of how the European, and especially German elites could engage in the nationalist transformation of politics and the world war, which surpassed the radicalism of previous conflicts. The vast majority of European societies were in a transitional phase, characterized by sensitivity and fragility.

The key functions of the government were in the hands of a few elites, all this taking place in spite of voting rights, which were becoming widespread. It was simple to appeal to nationalist sentiments during political upheavals. Nationalist movements gained momentum. Under the influence of the zeitgeist, they developed into imperialist ideologies, which culminated in the demanding attitude of world empires. Only those with great military capabilities were capable of surviving. Only those who had to face the war for a long period of time could survive in the rings of power.

These ideas, as we know, survived throughout the extreme twentieth century. The development of mass armies, the pillarisation of powers systems, the development of warfare technologies, the arms race, but also the general consent to the emerging war — all this contributes to explaining this ideological viewpoint.

This traditionally deeply divided nation, which suffered for a long time due to its internal conflicts, overcame this discrepancy by means of commitment to the war conflict. Even if this was true for only part of the population, the virtually religious character, expressed in national excitement about the future and war-related hopefulness, was evident. The general consciousness perceived the war as a welcome opportunity to escape from the misery of normality, to succumb to the process of rebellion and to submit to the hegemonic objectives.

There were days of solemn deceptions that were ended in September by the hastily appointed political leadership. Finally, we will attempt to draw conclusions and describe the turning point of the war. If we do so, we are left with an irritating reflection.

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It was not reasonable to assume that the masses of republican citizens would join the war. According to Kant, history was no longer about the actions of the minority, but was supposed to reflect the actions of all the people. But, as we know, this future fell apart during the First World War. Which criteria for meaning can we finally gather from this tragic turning point in history? In death was looking for a new venue. This is an inconsistent picture, since it encompasses both orderly arrangement of cemeteries as well as the radical devaluation of human life.

It is important to ask how one can now shape the memory of the Great War. One of the most basic views here is that, despite thorough examination and unbiased assessment, history is continuously shaped and reinterpreted, and therefore it is susceptible to political interpretation. This, of course, particularly applies to the history of war: the well-known events of a war, the turning points and battlefields, are more than just space for what is accidental and possible.

They are more than nodes of individual memories; they turn into events in the culture of remembrance, in which the battle for sovereignty in interpreting events is ignited and memory takes cultural and political shape. There are a plethora of examples, e. Magdeburg , Leipzig and Sedan , which need not be discussed in great detail here. Is it possible to preserve the essential moment of a site before it becomes a political instrument?

This is an interesting twist in modern historiography. The idea to perceive each historical process as spatial, in which history is expressed by means of an endless effort to control space, is of the utmost importance for the present considerations. It means less political instrumentalization than existential and political reflection. The location-oriented approach may oppose long-lasting deconstruction, the fragmentation of objects, as far as it maintains the mental reproduction of coexistence and allows the retelling of the history of the twentieth century with all its horrors, discontinuities, and fractures.

To perceive a site as a historical moment is nothing less than to establish a reference to a single totality of historical formations and to focus more on spatial aspects of political matters. Let us take a look at one such historical site: the Somme, July Between Noye and the Somme there is a strip of land which grows the most traditional product of the region — sugar beet. Plowing becomes arduous when, on closer inspection, there appear strange objects, i. Mortars, howitzer grenades, aerial torpedoes and smoke shells have been found on this site up to the present day.

The Somme was not the densest battlefield of the Western Front.