Great War Belittled


"Non-bipartisan" (see point four) book review: What does a couple of German historians make from a centenary of First-World-War historiography in an anthology with a United States publishing house?

Two scholars from Germany published a memorable post-World-War-One-centennial anthology in the United States. With the help of the Max Weber Foundation, this Sammelband available as an open source. What you get, is a survey about a hundred or somewhat more years of World-War historiography as of 1918. A memorable hiatus is palpable.

Here's our critique in a few points:

1. Christoph Cornelissen and Arndt Weinrich clearly stay in alignment with the prevailing Anglo-Saxon tradition. 🇬🇧 Individual authors though point at the necessity for challenging this narrative, as Aufa💯 is advocating (e.g. see J. Winter 109-110).

2. The bulk of reflections deal with the "military" First World War respectively the catastrophe from which the notion of seminal catastrophe should be essentially distinguished. In the editors' introduction, the parameters 1914-1918 are being used and Paris/Versailles is not at all being mentioned. In their essay contribution's paragraph The Historiography of the World War in the War Years 1914-18, they address historiographical issues about the famous question of war guilt, which was set up in the would-be final week of the Paris Conference. What about the preceding five months, what about the spectacular, though forgotten opening including the groundbreaking question of colonial guilt, when United States President Woodrow Wilson had been left waiting in Western Europe for about a full month? Commensurately, they invited Thus they apparently chose against any "Writing" the full length of the war lasting five years from August 1914 to June 28, 1919. The duo-authors left it up to us guessing about their motivation for this choice.

3. See the copy of p. 171 from Jay Winter's essay British and Commonwealth Historiography of
World War I: 1914-2018

Both contributor and editor seemed to miss out on a second-to-none transnational title on exactly this issue. At the time of their book release, De Bourgraaf's Hundert Jahre Urkatastrophe. Der Kolonialvertrag 1919 has been available for more than two years.

4. "Non-bipartisan". The interesting ensemble of editors and contributors belongs seamlessly to the belligerent nations, that is either the German or the 25-nation and five-colony Allied side of 1914-1919. Admittedly, the United States 🇺🇸 have a somewhat different position. Were any experts from the third camp of neutrals invited? They are in no way represented.

The same applies to the almost 150 titles listed in the imposant bibliography. There is no literature from the non-belligerent side. Is this due to a lack of expertise in other countries than the formerly warring ones? Moreover, in the extended, nineteen-page index keywords such as "neutral and neutrality" are completely lacking.

Writing the Great War. The Historiography of World War I from 1918 to the Present is a recommendable collection of post-Centenaire writings. It overtly encourages us to pursue our mission. Let us get rid of the aforesaid hiatus together.