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Germany - The First World War, 1914-18

3. What is "Total War"?

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In this module, we look at “Total War”, and how this term applies to Germany’s experience of the First World War, focusing on: (i) the extreme violence of Germany’s front lines, and the consequent development of shell shock; (ii) the experiences of Belgian civilians living under German occupation; (iii) British and French wartime propaganda, and the characterisation of the ‘Hun’; (iv) the impact of the Hindenburg Plan in Germany; and (v) the severe cold and food shortages of Germany’s “Turnip Winter” in 1916-17.


In this course, Professor Belinda Davis (Rutgers University) looks at Germany during the First World War. In the first module, we consider why Germany went to war, and who wanted war. In the second module, we outline the basic elements of the First World War, including its unprecedented violence, the divisions it caused within German society, and the hardship that it brought upon Germany. In the third module, we turn to consider the concept of “Total War” and how it applied to Germany during the First World War, and in the fourth we look at the German Home Front. In the fifth and final module, we look at the immediate legacies of the First World War.


Professor Belinda Davis is a Professor at Rutgers University. Her research interests lie in modern Germany and Europe, especially food, popular politics, and gender history. Her recent publications include The Internal Life of Politics: Extraparliamentary Opposition in West Germany, 1962-1983 (2019), Changing the World, Changing Oneself: Political Protest and Transnational Identities in 1960s/70s, West Germany and the U.S (2010, editor), and Home Fires Burning: Food, Politics, and Everyday Life in World War I Berlin (2000).

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APA style

Davis, B. (2022, September 01). Germany - The First World War, 1914-18 - What is "Total War"? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Davis, B. "Germany - The First World War, 1914-18 – What is "Total War"?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 01 Sep 2022,

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