The Great War and German Memory
Society, Politics and Psychological Trauma, 1914–1945
The central focus of this book is the traumatized German war veteran. Using previously unexplored source material written by the psychologically scarred veterans themselves, this innovative work traces how some of the most vulnerable members of society, marginalized and persecuted as ‘enemies of the nation,’ attempted to regain authority over their own minds and reclaim the authentic memory of the Great War
Under Weimar Germany and the Third Reich, the mentally disabled survivor of the trenches became a focus of debate between competing social and political groups, each attempting to construct their own versions of the national community and the memory of the war experience. Views on class, war, masculinity and social deviance were shaped and in some cases altered by the popularised debates that surrounded these traumatized members of society. Through the tortured words of these men and women, Jason Crouthamel reveals a hidden layer of protest against prevailing institutions and official memory, especially the Nazi celebration of war as the cornerstone of the ‘healthy’ male psyche. He also shows how these ‘social outsiders’ attempted to reform healthcare and reconstruct notions of ‘comradeship’, ‘manliness’ and the national community in ways that complicate the history of the veteran in this highly militarised society.
By examining the psychological effects of war on ordinary Germans and the way these war victims have shaped perceptions of madness and mass violence, Crouthamel is able to illuminate potent and universal problems faced by societies coping with war and the politics of how we care for our veterans.
'...Crouthamel's work is a welcome complement to the existing work on war-related psychological issues...'
'Perhaps most central, Crouthamel gives the veterans a voice, albeit one filled with anger and anguish at being mistreated in war and misunderstood in peace.' (Journal of Modern History Vol 83, no. 3, September 2011)
‘His multifaceted exploration of this theme (…) provides a new dimension to Weimar history’.
‘This is a superb study, focusing on the unexplored theme in Weimar/Nazi history which greatly amplifies and clarifies what we had known. The author’s delving into medical records bypassed by other historians, and his handling and articulating the significance of such materials makes this work immensely important in understanding both Weimar and Third Reich history. (Journal of Social History April 2012)
‘Crouthamel’s book is an insightful addition to the scholarship on Weimar and Nazi Germany.’ (English Historical Review, Volume 127, No 528, October 2012)
‘Their story [...] richly deserves the nuanced and balanced reading that Crouthamel provides.’ (German Studies Review 35/2, May 2012, Thomas J. Saunders)
Jason Crouthamel is Assistant Professor of History at Grand Valley State University, Michigan. He has published several articles on war neurosis and psychological trauma in inter-war Germany and has presented papers on the subject at conferences including those of the American Historical Association, the German Studies Association and the German Historical Institute. Author’s note on pronunciation of his name – ‘Kraut-hamill’