The Enemy Reviewed: German Popular Literature through British Eyes between the Two World Wars

The Enemy Reviewed: German Popular Literature through British Eyes between the Two World Wars

The Enemy Reviewed: German Popular Literature through British Eyes between the Two World Wars

The Enemy Reviewed: German Popular Literature through British Eyes between the Two World Wars

Synopsis

An innovative interdisciplinary study of crosscultural relations between England and Germany in the decisive years between the two World Wars.

Excerpt

German war novels portrayed a traumatic war experience and exposed, in the process, a host of ideological and moral conflicts in the English literary world. the aftermath of the war in Germany was to prove no less troubling. the political, social, economic, and moral turbulence that convulsed that nation in the interwar years was to reverberate loudly in England through the influx of novels about postwar Germany.

Germany had not been prepared for surrender. Defeat was hard to swallow and bred reactions that were predictably extreme and violent. a short flurry of anti-militarism quickly subsided and was replaced by the emergence of the various newly formed paramilitary organizations, later organized into private armies engaged in street warfare against rival factions. the humiliation of Versailles, aggravated by the "stab-in-the-back" myth, served to unite different segments of society in opposition to their duly elected government. the November Revolution fizzled out, disillusioning those who had believed in the imminent rebirth of a new Germany. For these believers the socialist experiment had died before it could be born, betrayed by Social Democrats turned solidly bourgeois. Violent clashes and putsches ensued. the murders of political figures such as Kurt Eisner, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Walter Rathenau, and Matthias Erzberger made a mockery of law and order. the French occupation of the Ruhr fanned old hatreds to fever pitch and promoted a reaction of extreme nationalism, breathing life and purpose into the numerous private brigades of militant veterans.

On the economic front, Germany presented a polarized dual image. On the one hand it experienced a stupifying inflation which even today defies imagination. On the other, Germany had a progressive, go-ahead industry that, from the war years onward, had embarked on a course of active modernization and diversification. Inflation produced a loss of confidence in the democratic system within large segments of German society. This was not to be reversed . . .

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