Violence and Politics in the German Revolution 1918-19
Title: Violence and Politics in the German Revolution 1918-19
Author: JONES, Mark William
Series/Report no.: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
This dissertation explores the history of the German Revolution of 1918-19 through the prism of violence. It is based upon extensive research which draws upon the contents of military and judicial archives, diaries, and newspapers. The study is organized chronologically. However it is led by five key concepts: cultural mobilization the ‘thick description’ of violence the representation and behaviour of crowds rumours autosuggestion and fear. Together, this conceptually led narrative history seeks to explain the transformation of the intensity and forms of violence over the course of a short seven month period of German history: November 1918 to May 1919. Its focus is upon Berlin and Munich. It argues that the study of violence must always turn to the history of mentalities. Thus, having explored the violence of November through an exploration of the revolution’s gunfire, the second and third chapter analyse the transformation of the imagination and fear of violence in the eight weeks which followed the abdication of the Kaiser and subsequent armistice. The dissertation contends that highly threatening and contagious subjective fears were the product of how fears of local violence interacted with the transnational reconfiguration of the political imagination unleashed by the war. The third part of the dissertation explores the consequences of this transformation. It is the first work of its kind to approach violent atrocities in the German Revolution through the paradigm of thick description. The dissertation’s use of press sources is also unique: up to now the political history of the revolution has largely been organized around a top-down perspective. By recapturing politics as a series of communicative processes, this study reconfigures our understanding of the history of post-war German politics. As it does so, it increases historian’s understanding of the course of the German Revolution 1918/19, the foundation of the Weimar Republic, and the human capacity for violent extremes.
Defence date: 7 October 2011; Examining Board: Prof. Heinz-Gerhard Haupt (EUI) - Supervisor Prof. Dirk Moses (EUI) Prof. Richard J. Evans (University of Cambridge) Prof. Robert Gerwarth (University College Dublin)
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