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August Experience

(1,226 words)

Author(s): Verhey, Jeffrey
August Experience Augusterlebnis (August Experience) was the contemporary German term for the patriotic enthusiasm among the German population at the outbreak of the war. The well-known images from the last weeks of July and from August of 1914 depict masses of people in the streets. The contemporary captions under the pictures suggest that these people were unanimously filled with “war enthusiasm.” The pictures are impressive but they do not tell the whole truth. In reality there was no near-ecst…

Ideas of 1914

(1,265 words)

Author(s): Verhey, Jeffrey
Ideas of 1914 The concept “Ideas of 1914” alludes to two different, yet related phenomena. The first meaning refers to all discursive reflections that were formulated and published by intellectuals in 1914, to all attempts to interpret the significance of the war. The second has to do with a particular category of “ideas” which the contemporaries subsumed under the notion “Ideas of 1914.” At the beginning of the war, the vast majority of German intellectuals were united in their almost unconditional support of the German war effort, which they attempted to …

Burgfrieden (Fortress Truce)

(937 words)

Author(s): Verhey, Jeffrey
Burgfrieden (Fortress Truce) On August 1, 1914, Emperor Wilhelm II spoke the following words from his balcony: “Should it now come to a battle, then there will be no more political parties. Today we are all German brothers.” These words mark the beginning of the propagated state of peace within German society of which the term Burgfrieden (“fortress truce”) became constitutive. Wilhelm repeated his message, in slightly altered form, when he opened the Reichstag on August 4: “I no longer recognize any parties, I recognize only Germans.” Wilhelm thus m…

War Welfare Office

(930 words)

Author(s): Verhey, Jeffrey
War Welfare Office Wide sections of the population that had never before been counted among the recipients of poor relief turned for help from the government care services. Many working women were dismissed from their jobs at the beginning of the war. These were joined by the families of soldiers and the surviving dependents of the fallen. The existing statutes in Germany, France, and Great Britain failed to fully address the real needs of those made poor by the war circumstances. The laws passed by the combatant nations early in the war still did not address the problem adequately. Wartime w…