In Germany, in 1914, a civil peace was declared at the time of the proclamation of war. This meant that all previous inner and exterior conflicts would be put to the side until after the war. At the same time that this was declared, the troops were being mobilized to fight. German citizens’ opinions changed from being excited during the proclamation of war to ignoring the main effects and law of civil peace during the war, and then to being upset and frustrated after the war. I think it is important to notice how this behavior changes from the start to the end of the war.
During the start of the war in August of 1914, people were excited to begin war because they had a nationalistic perspective and were confident that they would win. A speech from the German emperor, Wilhelm II, says that he “appreciates the German faith” and “wants Germans to work together to achieve victory. ” He wants to appeal to his people and prevent any chaos from happening. (Doc 1) Also, a democratic, German news service shows a picture of factory workers and owners raising their hats to salute the proclamation of war. It shows their confidence in winning the war. Doc 2)
In the same time that was occurring, another democratic newspaper released news that the parliament had voted to approve war funding and that democratic strength would come after the war. They think going to war is a necessity to save Germany and that it will bring a strong political party. (Doc 3) A women’s right activist, Helen Simon, speaks about how the war will benefit women and bring them new opportunities. She says how it is beneficial to women to be able to fight alongside men, work on land and fill in for them.
She thinks the war will bring economic and moral victory for Germany and their women. (Doc 4) Once the war had started and people had begun to see the effects of being in total war, the opinions of the citizens changed. They weren’t as confident in winning as in the beginning and they weren’t as interested in the civil peace law. Oskar Schmidz, a pan-German league member, uses nationalist ideas to prove that Germany is stronger than England. He says that the strength of the country comes from their unity.
Although they think they have faith in the war, the people are forced to think that they will win. Germans don’t have the option to have an opinion on the war. Oskar says the freedom that England gives its people to have their own concerns and beliefs about the war, makes them weak. (Doc 6) The army chief of staff, Wilhelm Groener, demands that anyone who is fighting in the war listens to Commander Hindenburg. Anyone who doesn’t obey or goes on strike is considered a “stinking dog”.
He then orders all of the factory workers to tell their friends to work hard until the end of the war in order to do what Germany needs them to do. The opinion of war is not as excellent as it used to be. Instead of fighting, people are striking; instead of working hard, they’re slacking. General Groener wants people to be motivated to work hard and get the job done. (Doc 11) In a political cartoon from a Munich-based magazine, two large men, stand next to and squeeze a small, skinny man between them.
One of the larger men is a factory owner and the other is a rich man. Both lean on a man that is lower-middle class. The leaning on him symbolizes their reliance on him to fight in the war. The factories need him to fight so they can make money for the materials they are making. The rich man invests in the war and gains from it. (Doc 12) When the war had ended and Germany had not successfully won, Germans felt like the war was useless.
People denied the fact that they were excited about war in the beginning. S. Jobs, a columnist for a liberal newspaper, writes, “It isn’t true that war brought a rush of enthusiasm among the population”. He claims that on the night of the proclamation, everyone was quiet and serious. Pedestrians were unmoved by the experience. The pedestrians that Jobs saw could have been mainly lower class and they knew they would be fighting in the war and weren’t excited about it. (Doc 5) A German soldier, who is in trenches, writes in a national liberal newspaper that he was disturbed to hear news of high prices and food shortages in Germany.
It made him angry that the people who aren’t in war are taking advantage of the soldiers who are fighting. He says it isn’t fair that people are using the lives of the soldiers’ to fund their own families and businesses. (Doc 7) Evelyn Blucher von Wahlstatt, English wife of a German prince hears women in the street saying “why should we work, starve and send our men to fight? ” The people who had declared war can’t even provide their country with the necessary materials, food, and water. (Doc 8)
A police eport that was sent to the chief of police stated that the radical labor leaders made demands to free the party’s leaders, free people in custody, lift the ban on assembly, give complete freedom to party’s leaders, lift the martial law, provide enough food for the people of Germany and end the war without any damages made. The labor leaders want to have these freedoms so that they can have the access to meet with each other. They don’t want the military patrolling everyone’s lives and they feel that this invades the rights they have. (Doc 10)
All together, Germany’s opinion on the concept of civil peace and war changed from the beginning of the war until the end. During the proclamation, many people were excited that they could go into war because they were confident in the fact that they would get something out of it to benefit Germany. By the middle, when the effects of being in a total war situation started to sink in, the people weren’t as thrilled to be in that situation. Finally, by the end of the war, the positivity over any aspect of the war situation had worn off. People were not confident in what they used to feel as nationalism or in civil peace.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 November 2016
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