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War Collections

(416 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
War Collections From the first weeks of the war, so-called “war collections” were set up in many of the countries at war. Most people were convinced that they were witnessing a revolutionary event. They accordingly attempted to collect as many things as possible from this “great time,” in order to be able to inform future generations about the Great War. Collectors included museums, libraries, archives, and also private individuals. In 1917 in Germany alone more than 200 such collections are known…

War Exhibitions

(775 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
War Exhibitions In a number of warring countries, public exhibitions of war objects were already organized during the war for the purpose of informing the civilian population about the military aspects of the war, but also with the intention of influencing public opinion in a propagandistic manner. The first war exhibitions placed captured enemy cannons on display in order to demonstrate the superiority of the respective country’s own army. In Berlin, captured artillery pieces lined the Siegesallee (Avenue of Victory); others stood in the inner courtyard of the Zeughaus (a former a…

Film (1914–1918)

(1,029 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
Film (1914–1918) The triumphal progress of film began with the first cinema shows in Paris and Berlin in 1895. In Berlin alone, in 1914 there were already more than 200 cinemas, with a total capacity of 120,000. And the audience constantly grew in number: according to contemporary estimates, between 1 million and 1.5 million people visited the cinema each day in Germany before the First World War. Many attended regularly, with a third of the total seeing a performance every week. Most of the regul…

Bild- und Filmamt (Photo and Film Office)

(575 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
Bild- und Filmamt (Photo and Film Office) The Bild- und Filmamt (BUFA, “Photo and Film Office”) was created in January of 1917 by order of the Prussian War Ministry to facilitate and coordinate the use of film and photography for the German propaganda effort. As it formed part of the Supreme Army Command (OHL) and was also attached to the Military Department of the Foreign Office (Militärische Stelle des Auswärtigen Amtes, MAA), it reported to both institutions. Among other responsibilities the BUFA pr…

Battlefield Tourism

(601 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
Battlefield Tourism This term covers visits both to former war locations and landscapes and to military cemeteries of the First World War. The majority of “battlefield tourists” during the 1920s and 1930s were relatives of the fallen. Every French citizen, for example, received a free railway pass every year to visit the military cemeteries. The English travel bureau Thomas Cook specialized in accompanying British visitors to the cemeteries and memorials in Belgium and France, which had begun to be constructed soon a…

Friedrich, Ernst

(362 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
Friedrich, Ernst (February 25, 1894, Breslau [modern Wrocław] – May 2, 1967, Le Perreux sur Marne), German pacifist. In 1924 Friedrich, a member of the SPD, published the still well-known volume of photographs titled Krieg dem Kriege! ( War against War!). With his multilingual captions he addressed an international audience. In 1925 he established the first International Antiwar Museum in Berlin. His life-long struggle against militarism and war was based on the conviction that an education for peace must start on the playground and, …


(297 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
Postcards Nearly 28 billion items were conveyed to and from the front by the German Army Postal Service during the First World War. Postcards above all were a favorite medium used by soldiers to maintain contact with the people at home. Since 1873 the postage for postcards had been half that for letters, and, since that date too, postcards produced by private companies had been permitted alongside official versions. They enabled a brief and moreover rapid greeting, as, in many major cities, post was delivered up to eleven times per working day, or conveyed by pneumatic means. Furthermore, p…

Central Office for Public Information

(370 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
Central Office for Public Information A public opinion bureau conceived in March 1918 under the aegis of the Foreign Office, to be officially free from military oversight. Initially established in October 1918 as the Zentrale für Heimatdienst (Central Office for Homeland Service) under State Secretary Erzberger, it was renamed the Reichszentrale für Heimatdienst in November 1919. The establishment of the Central Office indicates the growing opposition among the German Supreme Army Command, the Kaiser, and the civilian Reich leadership. Politician…

Wartime Cookbooks

(280 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
Wartime Cookbooks Recipe books from periods of war-induced food shortage are now largely no more than amusing flea-market finds. Wartime cookbooks are, in fact, tokens of a significant problem of the First World War. Important foodstuffs were rationed in most countries during the war. Food was “eked out,” for instance by adding a proportion of potato flour to bread dough. Bread produced with a high proportion of potato was disliked by consumers. Suggestions as to how food could be supplemented, an…

War Correspondents

(545 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
War Correspondents During the World War selected domestic and foreign reporters and cameramen, as well as politicians, writers, and other public commentators were granted official permission, or even invited, to travel throughout the various war theaters in order to report on their impressions. These reports were published in newspaper articles and in weekly newsreels, and in speeches and books. All journeys to the front had to be approved by the military authorities. In the case of Germany, it was necessary to obtain a pass issued by Department IIIb (P…


(373 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
Camouflage Measures undertaken to prevent, or at least to hamper the detection and identification of targets by merging their visual appearance as closely as possible with the surrounding terrain. With the rapid development of aerial reconnaissance during the First World War the use of camouflage came to be of vital importance. Key weapons systems and facilities whose loss would cripple the army, such as heavy artillery and supply depots, needed to be hidden from enemy air and artillery bombardment. Thus, efforts were made …

German War Graves Commission

(615 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
German War Graves Commission Founded in 1919 this commission, entitled the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (VDK), was the most important private organization of the interwar period concerned with the creation and maintenance of German war graves. After 1923 the Zentralnachweiseamt für Kriegerverluste und Kriegergräber (‘Central Office for War Victims and War Graves,’ or ZAK) in Berlin was officially charged by the Interior Ministry with the many tasks involved in the care of war graves, and of fallen soldiers’ next-of-kin, as wa…