War Experiences in Rural Germany, 1914-1923

War Experiences in Rural Germany, 1914-1923

War Experiences in Rural Germany, 1914-1923

War Experiences in Rural Germany, 1914-1923


This pathbreaking book paints a vivid picture of the dynamics of total war on rural communities, from the calling up of troops to the reintegration of veterans into society. Drawing on intimate firsthand accounts in diaries and letters, it challenges some strongly held assumptions about the Great War. The author shows that through the exchange of letters and frequent furloughs, rural soldiers maintained a high degree of contact to their home lives and suggests that the war's effects were perhaps not as completely devastating as previously suggested.


Belinda Davis was the first to suggest that my work about the First World War and its consequences should be translated into English, and she gave helpful advice on how to change the presentation of my argument for an anglophone readership. Jay Winter accepted my manuscript for publication in this series and offered help at a crucial moment. Richard Bessel has provided intellectual inspiration, hospitality and – most crucially – friendship, and not only during my stay at the University of York in 2003/4. I wish to express my gratitude to these persons and to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which funded my year in York with a Feodor Lynen fellowship.

Over the years I have accumulated a great debt of gratitude to several friends who have always been supportive and ready to share their insights into the history of violence in the twentieth century. My thanks go to Christine Brocks, Christa Hämmerle, Christian Jansen, Frank Kebbedies, Thomas Mergel, Josef Mooser, Dirk Schumann, Bernd Ulrich and particularly to Thomas Kühne.

Alex Skinner has translated my manuscript with verve and professionalism. Many of the quotations from war letters and diaries, written by ordinary peasants and their wives, are crafted in a peculiar style, very often without any punctuation and in blatant breach of the rules of grammar. For the convenience of the reader and because the specific flavour of the original is almost impossible to convey, these quotations have been translated into grammatically correct English.

Benjamin Ziemann Sheffield, May 2006 . . .

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