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Representing Australia's Involvement in the First World War

Discrepancies between Public Discourses and School History Textbooks from 1916 to 1936

Heather Sharp

This article investigates discrepancies between narratives of national independence in public discourses surrounding the First World War and narratives of loyalty in school textbooks in Queensland, Australia. Five textbooks commonly used in schools from 1916 to 1936 are analyzed in order to ascertain how the First World War was represented to pupils via the history curriculum. This article argues that, although public discourses were in a state of flux, and often viewed Australia as a country that was becoming increasingly independent of its colonial ruler Great Britain, textbooks that maintained a static view continued to look to Great Britain as a context in which to teach national history to school pupils.

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Michael Scholz

The publication of comics from the 1950s onwards in East Germany started as a defensive reaction against Western comics. It did not take long for the medium to be used as an instrument for socialist propaganda. This was especially the case with the historical-political comics in the magazine Atze. This article provides an overview of the representation of the First World War and the German Revolution of 1918–1919 in Atze. It shows that Atze's stories closely followed the historical perspective prescribed by the communist party as well as the concept of the socialist picture story developed in the 1960s. These stories unfolded across series of individual images that generally avoided word balloons and sound effects and were accompanied by detailed text. Using a realistic style, such stories tried to convey a strong sense of authenticity but they remained unable to develop complex characters or stories. However, in refl ecting the changing political climate of their times, these comics provide a rich source of material for studying the portrayal of history in East Germany.

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Marc Saperstein

Joseph Krauskopf immigrated from his native Prussia to the United States at the age of fourteen, and was ordained with the first class of students at the newly established Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. Quickly establishing a reputation for his spellbinding oratory, he became rabbi of Knesseth Israel in Philadelphia, one of the largest Reform congregations in the United States, with a membership composed predominantly of congregants with German background. Although he was a strong supporter of US military action during the Spanish-American War, the First World War caused him considerable anguish, as he remained attached to his roots in German culture throughout his career. In a series of Sunday morning discourses and holiday sermons beginning on Rosh Hashanah 1914, Krauskopf expressed horror at the widespread suffering caused by the war, strongly supported the initial US policy of neutrality, and vehemently criticized expressions of growing support for the Entente Cordiale. While upholding the US war effort after America's entry into combat, as the end drew near he continued to excoriate policies that would humiliate and impoverish Germany, with prescient warnings of future disasters.

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Daniel Dratwa

For more than four years during the First World War Belgium was almost completely occupied. In response to the brutal occupation of the country, while many Belgian Jews were in the army, some played a more or less important role by various kinds of effective or spiritual resistance. A few others collaborated with the enemy. 'The soul of the moral resistance' was Chief Rabbi Armand Bloch (1861–1923), a man who was quiet by nature, but who put himself in danger; among other things, he delivered a sermon on the first day of Passover 1916 that would bring him, in May, in front of the War Council, which sentenced him 'for insult' to a six-month prison term. By describing his career and analysing his published works, this article will try to understand his reasons for resistance.

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Kees Ribbens

Bruno Denéchère and Luc Révillon, 14–18 dans la bande dessinée: Images de la Grande Guerre de Forton à Tardi [‘World War I in [Franco-Belgian] comics: Images of the Great War from Forton to Tardi’], Collection La bulle au Carré (Turquant: Cheminements, 2008), 167 pp. isbn 978-2-84478-697-5 (€24).

Vincent Marie and L’Historial de la Grande Guerre, Images de la Grande Guerre dans la bande dessinée de 1914 à aujourd’hui [‘Images of the Great War in Comics from 1914 to the Present’] (Milan: 5 Continents Editions, 2009). 111 pp. isbn 978-88-7439-518-7 (€25).

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Catherine Emerson

This article explores attitudes toward boyhood shaped by the traumatic experiences of the First World War. It focuses particularly on the work of the little-known French author, Paul Cazin, and his attempts to commemorate the entirety of “the lost generation” by transcending divisions of religion and secularism that characterized boyhood activities in France before the war. The figure of the “Manneken-Pis” enables him to do this and is particularly suited to the expression of conflicting attitudes toward militarism in boyhood. Cazin’s intellectual program leads to a reading of the famous Manneken-Pis fountain depicting a urinating boy as a religious artifact. A variety of interwar responses to the statue demonstrate the strength of emotion provoked by the figure of the young boy. The fact that these responses have been enshrined in modern cultural and artistic practices suggests the extent to which the experience of the First World War still conditions attitudes toward boyhood.

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Marc Saperstein

A graduate of Jews' College, Morris Joseph became the leading spokesman for British Reform Judaism as spiritual leader of the West London Synagogue. Though not a pacifist, he was one of the founders of the Jewish Peace Society in 1913. Unlike French and German colleagues who emphasized their patriotic loyalty to their ruler, love of their fatherland and bonds with their fellow citizens in fighting an evil adversary, Joseph expressed deep dismay in his first sermons following the outbreak of war in August 1914. His subsequent sermons – some printed the following Friday in the Jewish Chronicle, others eventually published in his third and final book of sermons – were delivered on various occasions: on ordinary Sabbaths and holidays, on National Days of Prayer and Intercession, at funeral services for members of his congregation killed in action, and at Confirmation services for students who might be joining the army a few years later. Central themes include the theological issues about God's role in the war, and the effort to define a coherent position, personally repudiating the pacifist refusal to serve in the struggle, while condemning any glorification of war and insisting that peace was an ultimate value of his Judaism.

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Pierre Birnbaum

Like their German colleagues the French rabbis enthusiastically supported the war effort. They even seemed to move away from the French style of patriotism, concerned with reason and universalism, to associate themselves with the prevalent nationalism by acknowledging in their sermons the tones of Maurice Barrès, the apostle of anti-Semitism, who, for the first time, included the Jews amongst the great French families. Contrary to the 'barbarians' from across the Rhine, who made obeisance to their new Pharaoh, the French Jews found themselves summoned to sacrifice themselves for the fatherland. The death of Rabbi Abraham Bloch, the report of which affirms that he was killed while bringing a crucifix to a dying Catholic soldier, symbolizes this now supposedly permanent unity of the religions.

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Marc Saperstein

As illuminated by the contemporary Jewish press and the texts of Jewish sermons, many British Jews were initially deeply ambivalent about going to war on the side of Czarist Russia, with its legacy of recent pogroms, against Germany and Austria, both with emancipated Jewish communities. Jews in the west were reassured by reports that the Russian Jews had been uplifted by a wave of patriotic enthusiasm, expressed in massive numbers of volunteers for the Czarist army. For many weeks in the autumn of 1914, articles in the Jewish press featured the bravery and devotion of Russian Jewish soldiers, some of whom were rewarded by high military honours, amid claims that even Russian anti-Semites were re-thinking their assumptions. In dramatic contrast comes the report of a Russian Jewish soldier who suffered a breakdown when he heard the words Sh'ma Yisra'el from the lips of an Austrian soldier he had just fatally bayoneted. The beginning of the Great War exposes the clash of these themes: sacrificial patriotic identification by Jews with the war effort of their own countries, and the international solidarity of the Jewish people being painfully subverted by Jews fighting in opposing armies. The story - perhaps something of an 'urban legend' - would be re-told in many different contexts and literary expressions.

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A War Like Any Other . . . Or Nobler?

The Great War in the EC Comics

Jean-Matthieu Méon

The U.S. publisher EC Comics produced several war comics between 1950 and 1955. These comic books, especially the issues published during Harvey Kurtzman's editorship, are still considered masterpieces, as rare examples of war comics attempting to present an unvarnished account of the ordeals of war. This article focuses on the treatment of the Great War in comics. While current stories about the First World War usually underline its inhuman realities for the soldiers, the EC stories offered a more ambivalent representation. The now traditional stories of trenches and suffering infantry soldiers were counterbalanced by stories of heroic air fights and chivalrous aces. This approach towards the First World War as a 'noble war' progressively increased during the run of these comics, refl ecting the shifting balance that characterised the production of EC war comics: that between the constraints of the market, artistic ambition and the popular cultural mythology of air aces.