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During the Great War, mutiny challenged and sometimes overcame state authority. When the state remained strong, mutiny served to articulate and in some cases even affirm it. Mutiny could also demarcate the limits of the wartime state. The best-known mutiny in the armies of the British Empire took place in September 1917 at the training camp at Etaples in France. The French army mutinies of 1917 were more about consenting to the war than about rejecting it. In an agonised way, mutiny in France thus affirmed and articulated the mutineers' accountability to the wartime state, even as they challenged it. In Germany, mutiny both invoked the destruction of the Kaiserreich and seriously undermined the formation of the Weimar Republic. Mutiny became so successfully incorporated into state building in Kemalist Turkey that it ceased to be referred to as mutiny at all.
This innovative study of remembrance in Weimar Germany analyses how experiences and memories of the Great War were transformed along political lines after 1918. Examining the symbolism, language and performative power of public commemoration, Benjamin Ziemann reveals how individual recollections fed into the public narrative of the experience of war. Challenging conventional wisdom that nationalist narratives dominated commemoration, this book demonstrates that Social Democrat war veterans participated in the commemoration of the war at all levels: supporting the 'no more war' movement, mourning the fallen at war memorials and demanding a politics of international solidarity. It describes how the moderate Socialist Left related the legitimacy of the Republic to their experiences in the Imperial army and acknowledged the military defeat of 1918 as a moment of liberation. This is the first comprehensive analysis of war remembrances in post-war Germany and a radical reassessment of the democratic potential of the Weimar Republic.