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Langemarck - Legende und Wirklichkeit by…
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Langemarck - Legende und Wirklichkeit

by Karl Unruh

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An excellent short account of the disastrous events that led to the massacre of the untrained, under-led, ill-equipped, unsupported and even hungry German reserve divisions in the Belgian plains north of Ypres. In a fortnight in November 1914, the German command sent 60.000 reservists and volunteers to their death. The much vaunted German generals and staff blundered, on and on. From the Marne to the end, they were all to eager to spill their soldiers' blood without developing a winning strategy. The author clears up many of the myths surrounding the battle of Langemarck. Firstly, Langemarck was not the place where most of the actions took place. Its suitably Germanic name appealed to the propagandists (similarly, no Swedish band would sing about Braine l'Alleud). Secondly, the "Kindermord" is only partially true. These reserve divisions packed old and young together. Students were only a minority of those who served, some of which has to do with the fact that academic studies were reserved for the country's elite. Unruh shows that even an university's total student body would have been unable to fill the ranks of the regiments recruited there. Finally, the myth about the soldiers attacking with "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles" on their lips is a myth that can not be backed up by any witnesses. A few lines in the official bulletin created a powerful meme that propagated on and on.

A chapter on the influence of the Langemarck myth on National-Socialism would have been welcome, as one of the survivors of November 1914 was Adolf Hitler, serving in the 16th Bavarian reserve infantry regiment. Unruh mentions and quotes him only in a footnote. Overall, highly recommended. ( )
  jcbrunner | Jul 9, 2011 |
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