By J. Macleod
The legacy of defeat in battle reverberates via deepest and collective reminiscence and continues to be a sub-text in diplomacy and political discourse. This booklet examines the way within which a chain of army defeats were understood and remembered by means of participants and societies within the period of contemporary industrialised struggle.
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Additional resources for Defeat and Memory: Cultural Histories of Military Defeat in the Modern Era
A second issue, however, considerably complicates the task of coming to terms with the responsibility for war and defeat - the dead and returning soldiers and servicemen. For it is here that both the rhetoric of wartime sacrifice and the human cost of the conflict for the society prosecuting it are most intense, and hence that the disjuncture between war and defeat is at its sharpest. The opposite is the case with victory, which redeems the military sacrifices of the living and the dead (and hence the suffering of their families) in a process that finds expression in national commemorative rituals.
This characterized the remaking of the political cultures of Germany and Japan after the Second World War. In less extreme cases, reconciliation with the former enemy by a country that retains its autonomy may mean seeking concessions on the defeat itself while stressing common endeavours (peace, social reform and shared political values) that dissolve enmity and repudiate conflict. This was the tenor of those currents in Germany and the former Western Allies that sought reconciliation and a new diplomatic order in the second half of the 1920s, through the Locarno treaties and the League of Nations.
32. 33. 34. The German Memory of the Napoleonic Period romanischen VOlker, vol. 2 (Berlin: 1881), p. 126; Dahn, Armin der Cherusker: Erinnerungen an die Vams-Schlacht im Jahre 9 nach Chr (Munich: 1909), pp. 9, 17. See Johann Gustav Droysen, Geschichte der Preussischen Politik, part 2, vol. 3/1 (Leipzig: 1863), p. 4. On this double function of political concepts as indicators as well as factors of changes in political consciousness, see Reinhart Koselleck, 'Einleitung' in Reinhart Koselleck, Otto Brunner and Werner Conze (eds), Geschichtliche Gmndbegriffe: Historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland, vol.