Home Fires Burning: Food, Politics, and Everyday Life in World War I Berlin

By Belinda J. Davis | Go to book overview

1
GERMANY FROM PEACE TO WAR

Germany entered the war in 1914 a country in which rapid industrialization and urbanization had helped to produce a polarized society, often discontented and anomic, a nation that inspired both great pride and a gnawing sense of inadequacy among its subjects. Germany boasted a booming commercial sector and unequaled consumer offerings coupled with inflation, reliance on imports, new strains on small shops, and a perceived distancing between merchant and customer. In the years before the war, the young nation experienced the power of mass politics and the rise of extremist pressures on politics. In this mix, people formulated notions of what it meant to be German. Such notions made war appealing to some. In turn, the war experience drew on and transformed these notions.


WILHELMINE STATE AND SOCIETY

Throughout 1890 to 1918, Wilhelmine officials sought to rule by coalition, buttressing the leadership of the Conservative and National Liberal Parties with, variously, Center and Free Liberal Party support while attempting to stave off the growing influence of the Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, or spd). As historians have often characterized Wilhelmine rule, its leaders offered reforms from above to quash populist challenges and nourished popular societal divisions to create inner enemies, segments of the population whose true Germanness was cast in doubt. Yet Wilhelmine leaders were from the outset sensitive to popular desires and demands, contradictory as they were, and often conceded to them in some fashion. The state attempted to diminish its susceptibility to popular influences at the outbreak of war, a war fought in part in deference to such forces. 1 Officials invoked the Prussian Law of Siege, instituting new chains of command, intensifying restrictions in public expression and public assembly, and permitting more general militarization of civil society. Despite such measures, the Wilhelmine government grew increasingly vulner

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Home Fires Burning: Food, Politics, and Everyday Life in World War I Berlin
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations *
  • Maps & Figures *
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Home Fires Burning 15
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Germany from Peace to War 9
  • 2 - Bread, Cake, and Just Deserts 24
  • 3 - Women of Lesser Means 48
  • 4 - Battles over Butter 76
  • 5 - One View of How Politics Worked in World War I Berlin 93
  • 6 - A Food Dictatorship 114
  • 7 - Soup, Stew, and Eating German 137
  • 8 - Food for the Weak, Food for the Strong 159
  • 9 - The End of Faith 190
  • 10 - Germany from War to Peace? 219
  • Conclusion 237
  • Notes 247
  • Bibliography 307
  • Index 343
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