The issue of the reaction of German literature to the defeat of the Reich in the First World War is based in the first part of the analysis on reflection on the phenomenon of modernization, which had a bearing on the character of the Great War and its consequences. In the historical-literary context it is also vital to point to the essence of German nationalism and the role of the idea of the Reich in the creation of the German national state. It required a new coherent national identity which emerged from the (re-)construction of different themes of the German tradition. Among direct references of German literature to the defeat of 1918, attention is drawn to selected but representative examples. Thus, the following phenomena are briefly analyzed: German expressionism with a variety of connotations to the historical-political sphere, literary dimensions of the rise of the Bavarian Soviet Republic, a broadly understood Conservative Revolutionary movement with special emphasis on the work of Ernst Jünger and Ernst von Salomon related to the defeat or more generally to 1918 as a turning point, and finally typical examples of the so-called anti-war literature (the prose works of Erich Maria Remarque and Ernst Glaeser). Indirect references to the defeat in the Great War can be traced in the dispute between Thomas and Heinrich Mann (presented here within the framework of a debate concerning the direction of the future development of Germany), contemporary drama (Zeitstück) on the example of 'Neue Sachlichkeit' and Rudolph Borchardt's project of national revival through a specifically conceived 'high literature'. The article is an attempt at an interdisciplinary analysis, which enables a multifaceted view of the problem of defeat by including a whole spectrum of issues bordering on literature.
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