This project explores the manner in which one form of political legitimacy came to overtake another, the enfranchisement of the Volk at the expense of monarchy during World War I Germany. The project begins with the "festive year" 1913, when the Wilhelmine regime celebrated the centennial of the Wars of Liberation as well as Kaiser Wilhelm II's Silver Jubilee. In these ceremonies the monarchy attempted to legitimize itself before the German public, but failed to achieve broad, popular participation. The study then shifts to the nationalist demonstrations of July-August 1914, their problematic relationship to the police, and the regime that ultimately came to fear these aggressive and spontaneous patriotic displays. Not only does the kaiser never engage the crowds, but he emerges as a distant and shadowy figure when juxtaposed to these vibrant throngs. The project then investigates the persistent translation of the war from an official to a popular version beginning in August 1914, which the government was unable to shape, direct, or control.
These popular manifestations of the war included the interactions of rumors and crowds, celebrations of new wartime heroes independent of the kaiser, and new forms of popular mobilization that contributed to the ultimate collapse of the Wilhelmine monarchy in November 1918.
Jeffrey R. Smith received his B.A. from Rice University and a Master's and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently Associate Professor of History at Northwestern State University in Louisiana.
Part 1 Acknowledgements Part 2 List of Abbreviations Chapter 3 Introduction: Wilhelmine Germany and the First World War Chapter 4 The "Festive Year" 1913 and Wilhelmine Patriotic Management Chapter 5 The Nation on the Street: The Nationalist Crowd and the Austro-Serbian Conflict, July 1914 Chapter 6 The Kaiser and the Crowd: Recasting Images of Authority in August 1914 Chapter 7 A Vernacular War Chapter 8 Visions of a New Germany Chapter 9 Enfranchising the Nation Chapter 10 A People's Revolution Part 11 Bibliography Part 12 Index