German Heroes: The Cult of the Death for the Fatherland in Nineteenth-Century Germany

TitleGerman Heroes: The Cult of the Death for the Fatherland in Nineteenth-Century Germany
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsHagemann, Karen
EditorDudink, Stefan, Karen Hagemann, and John Tosh
Book TitleMasculinities in Politics and War: Gendering Modern History
PublisherManchester University Press

This chapter in the 2004 edited volume Masculinities in Politics and War: Gendering Modern History explores the myth of "death for the fatherland" and its representation in the rituals and festivals invented during and  after the German Wars of Liberation against Napoleonic France from 1813 to 1815. The state and military in Prussia, in collaboration with the Lutheran church and with the willing support of the producers of patriotic-national literature, established during these wars a tradition that not only became a lasting component of the national political culture of Prussia and Germany. It also strongly influenced, and vice versa was influenced by, the formation of gender images. In this context, the model of "patriotic valiant masculinity", which corresponded to the altered political conditions of a national "society of state citizens" with universal conscription, became hegemonic for the first time, securing male power in the state by tying the political rights of a citizen to military service. The article examines the formulations of the myth in poetry, sermons, obituaries and press accounts.

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