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World War I dramatically transformed Germans’ subject position regardless of whether or not they participated in the war or supported Imperial Germany. In addition to exposing Imperial Germany’s dependence on commodities from abroad for its industry and its residents’ well-being, it witnessed a kind of economic warfare that was just as unprecedented as the military conflict that took place in Europe. Around the globe, the Allied powers targeted Germans—citizens of Imperial German as well as ethnic Germans who were not that. That led to internments and confiscations; but the Allies applied pressure outside their territories as well. Latin America, in particular, became a site of extreme pressure as first the British and then the United States used the war to increase their economic and political power in the region at the expense of the German networks that had long competed against them. Facing a shared set of challenges actually served to bind many of these disparate German communities in the Americas together even as they radically reduced the size of many German communities in other European states and the colonial territories.
Chapter 17 of Earthopolis: A Biography of Our Urban Planet explores the Urban Planet from the bourgeois Belle Époque to World War I and the protest, strikes, and revolutions that followed on the left and the right. It begins in Vienna, St. Petersburg, and Tokyo to show how forces of both revolution and counterrevolution gained strength in an age of apparent bourgeois triumph, and how rival nationalist imperialists and their industrial military industrial complexes, railroads, and new oilfields predisposed Europe toward global war. The chapter also delves into the micro- and macro-geography of the newly renamed city of Petrograd to understand how Bolshevik revolutionaries were able to seize power there and then in Moscow. A wide-ranging survey of general strikes, revolutions, and counterrevolutions follows, showing how anti-capitalist and anti-imperial movements then spread to cities worldwide, followed by ominous resurgences of racist and right-wing forces in the streets of Chicago, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Rome, and Munich.
The beginning of the twentieth century saw the end of Ottoman rule in Palestine. It was also a period of urbanization and modernization cut for a while by the outbreak of the war. The war caused famine, expulsion by the Turkish governor but also brought hope for a different future under the new rulers. These hopes were shattered when the British gave the Balfour Declaration in November 1917. Such clear support gave a new focus to the already existing Palestinian national movement.
In January 1918, Congress began public hearings on the American war effort in World War I due to widespread reports of gross inefficiency and incompetence within the War Department. In particular, unhealthy conditions and the outbreak of disease at hastily constructed training camps led to the deaths of thousands of newly drafted soldiers and prompted a public outcry. The criticism was led by Democratic Senator George Chamberlain, and the adversarial response of Secretary of War Newton Baker and President Wilson established a cleavage between the legislative and the executive branches during the last year of World War I that carried over into the postwar period. Furthermore, it highlights tensions within the progressive movement, as the use of expanded federal authority led some progressive Democrats to emphasize loyalty to the Wilson administration, while others continued to emphasize reform and governmental transparency.
The great Migration started in World War I as the demand for war work rose. The United States broke the European stalemate and ended the war. The Treaty of Versailles created a lot of economic trouble that led to World War II. Unrest during the 1920s led to women’s suffrage and immigration restrictions. The Great Depression was partly the result of the Versailles Treaty. Roosevelt’s New Deal alleviated American worker’s problems, but Blacks were excluded from the New Deal programs. World War II enlisted Black soldiers who were victimized as they returned to Southern homes after the war.
Who should pay the costs of civil unrest? Germans confronted this dilemma in the aftermath of the First World War, as thousands of claimants petitioned the government to compensate for varied losses, from stolen crops to medical bills for bullet wounds. By far the greatest demand for redress came from businesses who described “catastrophic” damages caused by looting crowds. To make their case, claimants invoked a seventy-year-old Prussian law that aimed to suppress protest by making the “community” financially liable for “tumult.” And yet the Weimar Republic owed its very existence to the tumult of agitated crowds. This chapter explores how the Weimar Republic and later the Nazi regime staked their legitimacy on their ability to provide sufficient public order to sustain capitalism. But when the costs grew too high, both tried to extricate themselves from liability: the Weimar Republic by citing economic crisis, the Nazi regime by implementing a racial solution.
This chapter first scans the historical context of the “labor question” in the United States and the radically diverse interpretations and experimentation with “industrial democracy,” widely seen as the answer. Second, it outlines how industrial democracy ultimately came to have meaning through collective bargaining, with the enactment of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, and how optimism about the law’s promise and achievements turned into disenchantment. Third, the essay sketches the glimmerings of industrial democracy’s revival, with the labor question’s reemergence. Creative experimentation is underway, older notions are being reimagined, collective action is on the rise, and the threat posed by worker’s diminished bargaining power is a matter of public debate.
This article uses a linked sample of World War I Army veterans from the state of Missouri to study the impact of vocational rehabilitation on labor market outcomes for men wounded and disabled during the war. Veterans’ military service abstracts are linked to the 1940 US Census and a subset are linked to rehabilitation records. This creates a new dataset that contains information on military service, rehabilitation, and labor market outcomes. I find that 70 percent of veterans that were both wounded in action and disabled when discharged from the army participated in the rehabilitation program. These same veterans had significantly better labor market outcomes, which can be attributed to the rehabilitation program under certain assumptions.
Britain took the territory of Palestine from the Turkish Empire and decided to stay when World War I ended, in the face of opposition from the population. Once in control, Britain began to promote immigration of Jews on the basis of its commitment to foster the development of a Jewish national home. Britain ultimately had to pronounce this policy a failure and asked the United Nations to recommend a solution for the governance of Palestine. The General Assembly suggested dividing Palestine, leading to hostilities. The General Assembly then backtracked on partition and worked on a possible trusteeship for Palestine that would function under the United Nations for a limited time while a permanent solution was negotiated. That plan was under consideration when Britain withdrew its forces and a council declared a Jewish state. During the hostilities, which continued until the end of 1948, most of Palestine’s Arab population fled, dramatically altering the demography of the country.
Britain and France were pressured not to take over the Arab territories of the Turkish Empire as colonies. Those territories had been governed under Turkey not as colonies, but as participants in the Turkish Empire, with representation in the Turkish Parliament. The World War I Allies, as part of the peace treaty with Germany, wrote what they called a covenant for a new international organization that would hopefully keep the peace, the League of Nations. This covenant set up a system whereby states taking territories from Germany and Turkey might opt to govern them by committing to promote the interests of the populations. For the Arab territories being taken from Turkey, the covenant said they should be deemed provisionally independent. France and Britain both opted for this system, France taking Syria, and Britain taking Iraq and Palestine. The populations in all three objected that their independence should be immediate. They asserted a right of self-determination and deemed the provisional independence mentioned in the covenant to violate that right.
This chapter is the first of three which attempts to question the assertion according to which the justifications brought forth by States when they resort to force were political and moral and had not legal content or reverberations. It focuses on instance of intervention in the 'centre', i.e., between so-called civilized nations. Five precedents are more particularly analysed in this Chapter: the Austrian intervention in Naples (1821), the Crimean War (1853–1856), the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), the Spanish-American War (1898), and the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia (July 1914). It shows how, in each of these instances, States took care to develop legal arguments to explain and justify their actions, sometimes even engaging in thorough debates about the legality of their respective behaviours.
This chapter examimes the acute crisis of the world war and its role in destabilizing the political balance in both cities and in the overthrow of both the Habsburg Monarchy and the German Empire (as well as its constituent state, the Bavarian Monarchy). It compares the revolutions and counterrevolutions and the violence that accompanied the political struggles in both cities.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, a combination of military and economic advantages had allowed imperial powers to expand the territory under their jurisdiction to include large parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. This conquest of territory was both driven by and helped to facilitate the movement of people, goods, and capital in the decades leading up to World War I, with varied impacts on the development of both colonized countries and their colonizers. At the same time, imperial expansion also contributed means and motivation for the global conflicts which erupted during the twentieth century. After these conflicts, empires proved to be fragile. Little more than a half-century after they had reached their peak, most European empires had collapsed, and a new hegemonic order had emerged. This chapter examines the origins and legacies of empires, and asks why European countries lost their empires, despite persistent gaps in technological, military, and economic assets. It also examines the similarities and differences of the new order with the old.
In the wake of the First World War and Russian Revolutions, Central Europeans in 1919 faced a world of possibilities, threats, and extreme contrasts. Dramatic events since the end of the world war seemed poised to transform the world, but the form of that transformation was unclear and violently contested in the streets and societies of Munich and Budapest in 1919. The political perceptions of contemporaries, framed by gender stereotypes and antisemitism, reveal the sense of living history, of 'fighting the world revolution', which was shared by residents of the two cities. In 1919, both revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries were focused on shaping the emerging new order according to their own worldview. By examining the narratives of these Central European revolutions in their transnational context, Eliza Ablovatski helps answer the question of why so many Germans and Hungarians chose to use their new political power for violence and repression.
Within weeks of the Great War’s outbreak, American Jews rushed to send relief for Jews caught in the crossfire of crumbling empires. To aid Jewish war sufferers, American Jews founded the Joint Distribution Committee. To move aid in wartime, American Jews worked with the US government, the largest neutral power. Cash aid traveled to Jews in war zones through the US diplomatic pouch and family connections. Preexisting Jewish organizations in Europe delivered the monies. The war promoted the growth of new American charitable organizations, and these organizations took their American visions abroad to help others, with the support of the US government, which had no government programs like USAID in place at the time. American Jews joined America’s expanding state at the critical juncture of the war, wandering into the center of American foreign policy and less official humanitarian relief initiatives to carry out basic relief to Jews abroad. They became more “American,” while relying on the Jewish diasporic network and immigrant practices.
This chapter examines Bertolt Brecht’s complicated and fraught relationship with his homeland Germany. Brecht was always attracted by the adventure of foreign lands and was particularly fascinated by the cultures of the United States and East Asia. He was devastatingly critical of Germany and its cultural traditions, and during the Hitler dictatorship he was one of the fiercest intellectual opponents of Nazism, producing some of the most articulate and best-known literary and cultural attacks on Hitler’s Third Reich. Brecht also severely criticized what he, together with Friedrich Engels, referred to as “deutsche Misere” (German misery), i.e. the slavish fealty of German intellectuals to political power. However, during the Third Reich and later Brecht also insisted on the hope for a certain kind of German normality and nonjingoistic patriotism that recognized the qualities and achievements of other nations and peoples. For this reason, Brecht’s conception of a national feeling that is also open toward other cultures has the potential to be of use in today’s multicultural Germany.
This article explores Brecht’s origins and life in Augsburg from the time he was born in 1898 until he left Augsburg for Berlin in 1924. Brecht came from a well-educated and prosperous middle-class family, and he was raised as a Lutheran by his mother, although he soon rejected any form of Christian religious belief. From an early age he demonstrated great promise and ambition as a writer and soaked up influences from all around him, including the fairs that occurred in Augsburg on a regular basis. He read widely and was influenced by what he read. Among his most important influences were Frank Wedekind, Georg Büchner, Rudyard Kipling, Friedrich Nietzsche, François Villon, Arthur Rimbaud, and Paul Verlaine. In his adolescence Brecht became the center of a group of friends in Augsburg devoted to literature, music, and a nonconformist approach to life. In Augsburg Brecht experienced the Bavarian Revolution after the end of World War I. Brecht’s first plays Baal and Drums in the Night reflect some of his experiences and thoughts while living in Augsburg, and his revolutionary first book of poetry, Domestic Breviary, also emerged above all out of his life in Augsburg.
This article provides an introduction to the volume, briefly relating the primary aspects of Bertolt Brecht’s life and writing and exploring particularly his importance as a writer for the German language. Brecht was the most influential playwright of the twentieth-century worldwide, and modern theater would be unthinkable without his plays and theoretical concepts such as estrangement/distanciation. Brecht was also one of Germany’s greatest poets and a distinguished writer of prose. As a prime example of Brecht’s cultural influence, the article explores the impact that Brecht and his use of language had on Bob Dylan, the Nobel Prize-winning singer-songwriter from the US, who testifies eloquently in his memoirs to the extraordinary effect that Brecht had on him as a young man. The introduction also examines some of the key controversies involving Brecht, including above all controversies about his revolutionary politics and his approach to collaboration and sexual morality. Brecht was not a hero but a flawed human being, and he himself was well aware of his own imperfections. He wanted to use his art and his work in order to create a world in which flawed human beings, in spite of their imperfections, could still lead decent lives of dignity and humanity.
The years 1918–1933 were a time of such rapid and far-reaching change in Brecht’s life and artistic development that the period defies definition as a single “context.” His writings in these years were embedded in a multidimensional matrix of factors (social, intellectual, cultural, theatrical), at times complementary, at others pulling in contrary directions, some bearing the imprint of earlier experiences (particularly World War I), while others adumbrate developments that would unfold more fully in the following decades (the economic crisis of the late 1920s and the accompanying radicalization of German politics). The youthful “spirit of contradiction” that he hoped never to lose was fully in evidence in all Brecht’s efforts to master the multiple challenges facing him and his generation as it emerged from the war, with an intense hunger for life and eagerness to put its own stamp on an evolving and expanding world. In these efforts, which produced the first forms of epic theater and the Verfremdungseffekt, Brecht drew on an exceptionally diverse range of resources, including the Bible and Nietzsche, expressionism and new sobriety, Shakespeare and Shaw, Karl Valentin and Karl Marx, Georg Kaiser and Charlie Chaplin, film and circus, boxing matches and fairground entertainments.
Bertolt Brecht in Context examines Brecht's significance and contributions as a writer and the most influential playwright of the twentieth century. It explores the specific context from which he emerged in imperial Germany during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as Brecht's response to the turbulent German history of the twentieth century: World Wars One and Two, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi dictatorship, the experience of exile, and ultimately the division of Germany into two competing political blocs divided by the postwar Iron Curtain. Throughout this turbulence, and in spite of it, Brecht managed to remain extraordinarily productive, revolutionizing the theater of the twentieth century and developing a new approach to language and performance. Because of his unparalleled radicalism and influence, Brecht remains controversial to this day. This book – with a Foreword by Mark Ravenhill – lays out in clear and accessible language the shape of Brecht's contribution and the reasons for his ongoing influence.