If you are just looking for some quick information on German soldiers and French civilians in the war of 1870–71, see an older post on this blog, “Atrocities in the Franco-Prussian War, 1870–71.” Otherwise, please read on.
I decided to upload my MA thesis to Google Docs to make this information available to the general public. The file is huge, 34.9 MB, because I had to scan the original some time ago, having produced it on my 1987 Mac in 1994 and not having electronic copies of the illustrations or a way to make the pagination of the text come out the same as the original on my old ImageWriter. I tried to reduce its size with the usually magical PDF Shrink, but the result looked awful in this case.
Before I get to the thesis, though, let me list two relevant articles I wrote, which are better, in case that is what you are after. This might seem like a silly, self-agrandizing exercise to some, but since this blog frequently get hits from people using search engines like Google to learn about this war, I think getting this information together in one post could be helpful.
First, there is “The Bavarian Army and French Civilians in the War of 1870–1871: A Cultural Interpretation,” War in History 8.3 (2001): 271–93. (Reprinted in Warfare in Europe 1825–1914. Edited by Peter Wilson. The International Library of Essays on Military History, ed. Jeremy Black. Ashgate Publishing, 2006. 135–58.) Here’s the abstract. The advantage to this article is it is all in English, and it integrates my earlier findings into the total war debate discussed at a productive series of conferences launched in 1992 by the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC. (See the titles that contain “total war” on this page, but ignore the links, which don’t seem to work outside the institute.) In terms of the actual subject, it devotes quite a bit of space to a close-up view of Bazeilles.
The other article I wrote on this topic is “Die deutschen Greueltaten im Krieg 1870/71 am Beispiel der Bayern,” in Kriegsgreuel: Die Entgrenzung der Gewalt in kriegerischen Konflikten vom Mittelalter bis ins 20. Jahrhundert, ed. Sönke Neitzel and Daniel Hohrath (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2008), 223–39. If you don’t read German, I’m sorry. Check out the link at the end of this paragraph and then move to the next one. If you do read German, this article lets you see the original language of the sources, instead of making you read my translations. It is also in an interesting edited collection on atrocities. The big difference between this and the article in English is that I do not spend much time on Bazeilles here, instead devoting much more attention to other interactions with civilians, both positive and negative. Also, I had to try to frame it in a way that fit the volume’s overall concept. For more information, see an older post on this blog, “Atrocities in the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-71,” which summarizes the highlights.
Personally, I think my articles on the Franco-Prussian War are much more readable than my old master’s thesis, and their arguments are certainly more mature, not least because they engage more recent historiography. Still, I own the copyright to this thesis, but not my articles, so why not share? Here: “The Bavarian Army and French Civilians in the War of 1870–71.” M.A. thesis, Universität Augsburg, 1994. One oddity: It is written in English, but all the quotes are in the language in which I found them, usually German. That will irritate some, but it will possibly help anyone who wants to see the original German quotes that I translated into English for the War in History piece.
Lastly, for the sake of completeness, here’s a short blog post that explains how I happened upon this topic: “Paradoxes.” It was my first post on this blog. I thought it would become a part of a series, but the blog has had less focus than that, as blogs often do.
Now if anyone wants to suggest an appropriate internet archive to upload my MA thesis to and can explain why that particular archive is a good bet, I’m all ears. I’d be especially interested in finding something that deals with either the military topic or this period in German history. For now, though, my Google Docs solution will have to do.
Update, Feb. 12, 2012: For more posts on military and other history, please visit my new blog, Stoneman’s Corner.
Here’s my syllabus for the summer course. It is different than most I have done, because the class will help plan the content of more than half the sessions. Such collaboration is desirable, I feel, because it will help drive home some key lessons about the methodological and thematic diversity of the field.
Here is the description for the course I’m planning to teach at George Mason University this summer:
Hist 388-B01: Approaches to European Military History.
This course examines manifold approaches to the military history of Europe. On one hand, it is a historiography course about military history’s questions, methods, and assumptions. On the other hand, it is an overview of the varieties of history that focus on war and the military in their societal context. In part, we will consider military history’s location within academic history more generally, as well as its relationship to military education and even the mainstream book market. In the main, though, we will focus on the varieties of academic military history and its many areas of research, including how battles were fought, how soldiers experienced those battles, how war and war planning looked in staffs and cabinets, the position of peacetime militaries in their societies, the effect of war on civilian societies and economies, the implications of gender studies for military history, and images of soldiering and war
amongaimed at youth. We will also address some of military history’s controversies, including the role of technology in effecting historical change.
This course is intended for anyone interested in history. It assumes no prior knowledge of military history, though a basic knowledge of European history would be helpful. The course will be based on readings and discussions, not lectures. Part of the time we will read articles and books in common, and other times students will read individualized assignments and discuss their findings with the class. In this way we will leverage our numbers to learn more as a group than we could as individuals. We will concentrate on secondary sources, though we might occasionally look at primary source excerpts that shed light on the historiography. Grades will be based on class participation (including reading presentations), three short historiographical papers based on the readings, and an annotated bibliography that focuses on a specific historical topic.
This summer I am teaching “Approaches to European Military History.” I suppose the European caveat is unfortunate, but I haven’t read widely enough to feel comfortable teaching a world history course on military history, not yet anyway. You see, I trained as a European historian first and foremost, and I just happened to do military topics along the way.
The course will be in a compressed summer session that meets for over two hours per night, twice a week, for seven weeks. My experience with a World War One course last summer was that time was too short to cover a book per session, even though we did this for many classes. In the two best sessions we had, everyone presented a different book in only about five minutes and then fielded questions. The format worked particularly well, because in some cases students noticed common themes and addressed those spontaneously in their presentations. I am thinking about using this format for more classes and also having students work on different articles.
Still, there will have to be a common set of readings too. The first one will be Michael Howard, War in European History (1976, 2009). While its results are somewhat outdated in places, it covers the grand sweep of developments in war and society in Europe in well under 150 pages, making for a manageable text that will provide the class with a common knowledge base.
The other book I have been able to settle on is Stephen Morillo with Michael F. Pavkovic, What is Military History? (2006). Parts of it are quite basic, discussing how historians think about various issues in history. Just that quality lends itself to an undergraduate course that will include mainly, but not exclusively, history major who are still learning to talk about history per se—as opposed to specific topics in history. The book also includes some sophisticated explanations of the historiography in this field and its relationship to separate and overlapping audiences in the academy, the military, and general book trade. (Academics in general would do well to read this material before prejudging the entire subfield of military history.)
Other than these two books, which I will probably break into several reading assignments, I will offer some articles and primary sources that everyone reads in common. The other reading assignments will be individualized.
The last nut to crack is assessment. Reading quizzes for materials that everyone covers are probably necessary, because undergraduates often need this motivational aid, even for a 300-level class, at least in a compressed summer format. Beyond that, I have noticed that a good quiz question at the beginning of class in History 100 can get everyone on the same page and ready for discussion, especially if I also have students compare answers right after I have collected the quizzes.
Beyond these quizzes, though, I am not sure if exams will work for this kind of course. I’m not sure how they would even look. So I will need to build in some sort of writing assignments that relate to their readings and presentations. To do this, though, I need to wrestle with the compressed format and the amount of time I can devote to helping them sharpen their analysis and prose. Right now I am thinking about a combination of book reviews and summaries or journal entries, but I’m still very much at the beginning of this thought process.
I’ve made a little more progress in my Great War course thanks to the early deadlines for book orders. We can’t cover as many books as I might have liked because of the compressed time period: three three-hour meetings per week for one month. I can’t fill all that time with lectures either, for then the main question would be who succumbs to fatigue first, me from speaking or the students from listening. More depth and less breadth is my goal, though the reading schedule will remain rigorous.
We’re going to do four major units with six books. First, there will be the origins question with July 1914: Soldiers, Statesmen, and the Coming of the Great War by Samuel R. Williamson, Jr. and Russel Van Wyk (Bedford/St. Martin’s 2003). We’ll supplement this documentary history with the first chapter of The First World War by Hew Strachan (Penguin 2005) Second, we will use several classes to cover the course of the global conflict using Strachan’s survey together with the personal narratives in Intimate Voices from the First World War by Svetlana Palmer and Sarah Wallis (HarperCollins 2005). Third, we will use Modris Eksteins’ Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age (Anchor 1990) to consider the cultural impact of the war. Finally, we will look more closely at the war in two countries with Imperial Germany and the Great War by Roger Chickering (Cambridge 1998) and France and the Great War by Leonard V. Smith, Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau, and Annette Becker (Cambridge 2003).
I might add some articles or online sources when I write the syllabus, and students will get a broader feel for the literature through brief oral book presentations at the end of the semester.
Because students will need a little time to begin reading in the first place, I will begin the class by looking at a selection of classic films. There could also be a lecture at the beginning on broader trends in war and society, although I’m tempted to forego that in favor of students raising related questions during discussions.
Incentives for students to read will be not only the subject matter and two short papers, but also a midterm and final exam. While I am no big fan of exams in history courses, many undergraduate students seem to need this carrot and stick. They might even appreciate it, though I would expect none to admit as much.
What happens during classroom time will depend largely on class size. The theoretical upper limit is 45, but I’m told 25 is more usual in the summer. Even that would be too large for meaningful discussions, so I’m thinking about what kind of discussions among small groups of students could occur within the larger classroom, with the groups then reporting results to the class as a whole. I have little experience with this setup in history; however, I regularly use the technique when teaching English to non-native speakers. I believe that this student-centered approach could be applied to history, in which learning historical thinking and a new topic is also about doing. Students need to read, think about, and discuss history in order to make it their own. Discussions in small groups could significantly increase the amount of practice that each student gets in a larger class.
Integrating these student-centered discussions into classroom time should also help with the pacing of each three-hour evening session. There will be more variety for everyone, and time usually passes more quickly for students when they are actively engaged in the class.