Publication Date

Spring 2020


This paper is about the havoc World War I unleashed on Germany and its impact on the Weimar Republic. While the war dismantled Imperial Germany, a second war soon began to brew within the newly-formed republic. This war over the memory of the Great War was a key player in Weimar’s destruction, and was rooted in differing interpretations of the war’s meaning, which existed as soon as the declarations of August 1914. The first of such narratives was the “Spirit of 1914,” an exuberant celebration of the war’s conception that took hold of Germans and drove them and their celebrations into the streets. Roger Chickering, Professor of History in the Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown University, argues that this “rhapsody on national unity offered no realistic formula for solving the problems that beset Germany in 1914 [and] …. was bound instead to raise expectations that the pressures of industrial warfare were calculated to frustrate.”1 As colossal losses and the realization that this war would not be quickly fought and won beset Germans, many realized that the optimistic promises the “Spirit of 1914” offered would come to naught. The almost immediate frustration of the “Spirit of 1914” was a dark foreshadowing of the effects of the Great War.

Document Type



Weimar Republic, German History, Spirit of 1914


European History | History | Political History