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The Social Consequences of World War I: The Case of Germany

  • Wolfgang J. Mommsen

Abstract

World War I had been fought by all belligerents with the utmost vigour and, as the fighting continued without an end in sight, all available human and material resources were mobilised in order to maintain the war effort. It is no easy task to assess its consequences. Not only the losers but also the victors found themselves at the end of the war in a state of utter exhaustion, and their economies were in considerable disarray. Admittedly, the destruction by enemy action was, with the exception of France and Belgium, limited, at any rate if compared with the Thirty Years War or World War II. Yet things were never again to be the same as they had been before 1914. In three European countries, the governmental systems collapsed entirely — in Czarist Russia, in Austria-Hungary, and in what was still Imperial Germany — and reconstruction proved if not impossible, at least a long-drawn-out affair. The German Revolution which broke out early in November 1919, even before the armistice had been signed, was in the first place a rebellion against the Imperial authorities, in order to put an end to the fighting at any cost.

Keywords

Trade Union Real Wage Wage Level National Wealth Weimar Republic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    These data cf. Marc Ferro, The Great War 1914–1918 (London, 1973)Google Scholar
  2. and for the German case, Gerald Bry, Wages in Germany (Princeton, 1960).Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Gerd Hardach, Der Erste Weltkrieg 1914–1918 (Munich, 1973) p. 173.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    According to Gerhard Bry, Wages in Germany 1871–1945 (Princeton, 1960) p. 209; (the contemporary indices vary slightly, Calver gives 229 per cent, Quente 257 per cent and the Statistische Reichsamt 313 per cent).Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Jürgen Kocka, Facing Total War, German society 1914–1918 (Leamington Spa, 1984) p. 35–6.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    G. Hohorst, J. Kocka and G. A. Ritter, Sozialgeschichtliches Arbeitsbuch. Materialien zur Statistik des Kaiserreich 1870–1914 (Munich, 1975) p. 83.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Gerhard Bry, Wages in Germany 1871–1945 (Princeton, 1960) p. 310.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Cf. B. B. Gilbert, British Social Policy 1914–1939 (London, 1970) p. 12.Google Scholar
  9. D. Petzina, W. Abelshauser, A. Faust (eds.), Sozialgeschichtliches Arbeitsbuch 111. Materialien zur Statistik des Deutshen Reiches 1914–1945 (Munich, 1978) p. 82.Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    Knut Borchardt, Wachstum, Krisen, Handlungsspielräume der Wirtschaftspolitik. Studien zur Wirtschaftsgeschichte des 19. and 20. Jahrhunderts (Göttingen, 1982) p. 154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 15.
    Roessler, Konrad, Die Finanzpolitik des Deutschen Reiches im I. Weltkrieg, Schriften des Instituts für das Spar-, Giro- und Kreditwesen an der Universität Bonn, Bd. 37 (Berlin, 1967), p. 177.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Wolfgang J. Mommsen 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang J. Mommsen

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