This is an apolitical forum for discussions on the Axis nations, as well as the First and Second World Wars in general hosted by Marcus Wendel's Axis History Factbook in cooperation with Michael Miller's Axis Biographical Research and Christoph Awender's WW2 day by day.
For all the books written on the Great War, very few shed real light on the society that fought it. This book does just that, painting a fine picture of the war experience of the men and women of rural Bavaria both at home and in the army. While telling both the stories of the men at arms and those left behind, Benjamin Ziemann shows clearly that the two were deeply interlinked in their attitudes and experiences. These are tracked from their stunned acceptance of war in 1914 (which matches Jeffrey Verhey's study of the `Spirit of 1914'), through disillusion and hopes for peace to the reintegration of those who returned and commemoration of those who did not.
The experience of the ordinary soldier is particularly important for those interested in the war in military terms. While not covering specific battles fought, the general trends of experience and the variations between old and young and urban and rural soldiers are very interesting. Young soldiers were relied on for fighting as veterans became disillusioned; further, this disillusion was spread to the home front by soldiers' letters and those on leave. Rural soldiers were given more leave from the army (and often held in the Replacement Army in Germany) to assist with the harvest so essential to their blockaded country. This book provides useful insights into the workings of the Imperial German army, particularly the progress of soldiers' disillusion from early in the war and the increasing desire for peace and often refusal to fight on in 1918.
The study of the rural home front through the period shows a rural community with a strong feeling of victimisation. Despite their soldiers' extra allocation of leave and the much more reliable supply of food, Bavarian farmers continued to feel hard done by in comparison with their urban contemporaries. Matching the soldiers' disillusionment, there was a profound movement away from the (previously inherent) belief of rural communities in the nation and church, leading to a widespread protest vote for the Social Democrats in 1919. This book gives a fascinating picture of this turbulent period in Germany history, both in general terms and from the specific perspective of rural communities. The results show that broad generalisations about war experiences, like `war enthusiasm' in 1914 and radicalisation of returning soldiers should not be taken for granted. This is a fascinating book, giving a real insight into the Germany and its army in the First World War.
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