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George V, King of Great Britain and Ireland

(357 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
George V, King of Great Britain and Ireland (June 3, 1865, London – January 20, 1936, Sandringham), king of Great Britain and Ireland (from 1910; from 1921 “of Northern Ireland”; from 1911 also “Emperor of India”). Grandson of Queen Victoria; originally third in succession to the throne. He received military training in the Royal Navy before succeeding his father Edward VII on the throne in 1910. After the outbreak of the First World War, George won great popularity with several visits to the front (on …

Brittain, Vera

(232 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Brittain, Vera (December 29, 1893, Newcastle-under-Lyme – March 29, 1970, London), English writer. Brittain became particularly well-known through her memoir Testament of Youth (1933), which was based on her correspondence with her younger brother Edward, her fiancé Roland Leighton and other friends, as well as her own diaries from the time of the First World War. Already a student at Somerville College (Oxford) at the beginning of the war, she decided to go to France, Malta, and London first to work as a Voluntary A…

Brooke, Rupert Chawner

(370 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Brooke, Rupert Chawner (August 3, 1887, Rugby, Warwickshire – April 23, 1915, off Skyros, Greece), English poet. While studying at King’s College (Cambridge) from 1906 to 1909, Brooke was an active member of the Fabian Society (an association of British Intellectuals with socialist leanings) and became a popular focal figure for a circle of friends and nature lovers (“Neo-Pagans”) that had emerged from the youth movement. After travelling through Europe and North America he spent some considerable …

Poppy

(327 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Poppy The poppy is a wildflower that commonly bloomed on the battlefields of the Western Front. A perennial that grows in disturbed soil, the poppy would be one of the first plants to sprout in the barren stretches of no man’s land. Because of its red color, the poppy became a symbol of the copious soldiers’ deaths and bloodshed during the war, especially in the British war and remembrance culture. The poppy likewise developed into a symbol of new life on the blood-soaked battlefields, of hope an…

Stereotypes

(627 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Stereotypes Combatants developed their images of “us” and “them” along the lines of national stereotypes that echoed, to some degree, cultural impressions coined before the war. Frequently this involved the clearly pejorative, somewhat racist disparagement of the enemy. Occasionally this also involved the judgment implicit in their evolving typification of national characters, which sometimes was in effect along the fronts of the war and beyond. The oldest typification existed in the figure of Tommy Atkins, the typical British soldier. This idealization of the valorou…

Kipling, Rudyard

(455 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Kipling, Rudyard (December 30, 1865, Bombay – January 18, 1936, London), English writer. This extraordinarily successful author was for his whole life a prominent advocate of the ideals of British imperialism. Liberal critics in particular associate him with the Victorian and Edwardian culture of imperial “jingoism,” or belligerent nationalism. Kipling spent his early childhood years (until 1871) in Lahore, India, the son of a museum curator, before being educated in English boarding schools. The …

Lost Generation

(423 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Lost Generation A collective expression in postwar Anglo-American culture denoting a group of American writers of the generation of World War I. The formula goes back to a remark of Gertrude Stein about Ernest Hemingway, “You are all a lost generation.” Hemingway himself used the expression as an epitaph in his novel The Sun also Rises (1926). The literary “lost generation” movement was characterized by a feeling of lost worth, existential disorientation, and opposition to postwar normality – particularly to the civilian middle-class attitude, and t…

Soldiers’ Jargon

(393 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Soldiers’ Jargon In all armies in the First World War there developed during the war a vocabulary specific to the group. Soldiers’ jargon related primarily to soldiers’ immediate environment at the front and in rest areas; at its center were duties, equipment, and weapons. In general, soldiers’ jargon followed a minimizing tendency: for example, describing large caliber artillery shells as “coal boxes,” hand grenades as “pineapples,” and an artillery attack as “calico” or “music.” Onomatopoeic ele…

Rumors

(703 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Rumors In all societies involved in the World War, social culture was influenced by “informal communication” media. In addition to military letters, trench newspapers, and unofficial leaflets and pamphlets, a large number of rumors supplied the lack of social information once censorship had caused the public media to lose credibility. In many places these rumors contained could a mixture of propaganda, popular cultural mythology, visions driven by panic fear, and (though very rarely) genuine information. An initial surge in war rumors can be observed in connection with…

Union of Democratic Control

(305 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Union of Democratic Control British association of radical-liberal and socialist politicians and intellectuals who spoke out against imperialistic politics and annexationist war aims while advocating a democratically controlled foreign policy. The U.D.C. was founded on September 5, 1914, as a manifestation of open protest against British politics during the July Crisis by James Ramsay MacDonald, Norman Angell, Arthur Ponsonby, and Edmund Dene Morel. Other co-founders included, among others, Bertrand…

Albion

(236 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Albion (Celtic: white-land) Earliest known name given to the island of Great Britain by Greek geographers of the 5th century BC, transmitted by the Roman poet Avianus. In Roman times the term was also associated with the white cliffs of Dover (Lat. albus = white). During the Middle Ages, “Albion” came to be used as a synonym for the Kingdom of England, and later the British Empire, most often in a negative connotation as “perfidious Albion.” This derogatory slogan has its origins in France, where it can be traced a…