“These […] well-produced DVDs […] have achieved an effective middle ground regarding the simplification of facts and historical portrayals, which can sometimes be found in other similar products. Because of the plethora of documentaries, commentaries, and online links, pupils can explore the subject on their own, experiencing the process as an adventure.” (Bert Freyberger, H-Soz-Kult)
Between 1914 and 1918, the world of the 19th century perishes on the battlefields of Europe. This DVD with school films is the first of a three-part documentary about the “original catastrophe” of the 20th century.
World War I is the first global war to develop from a European conflict into a world war through the involvement of allied nations and colonial troops. The modern warfare technology – artillery, gas, air and submarine warfare – claims lives on an unprecedented level. The battles on the Western and Eastern Fronts have a distinct character: Whereas in the West the war ends in static warfare with brutal material warfare (Verdun, Somme), in the East it is characterized by mobile warfare (Tannenberg, Galicia) with devastating consequences for the population living on the border regions. Diaries and war correspondence sent from the field provide insight into the difficult life on the front and at home. Particularly in multi-ethnic empires, war crimes are revealed in the outbreak of violence through deportations, pogroms, and genocide.
The main film (29 min.) deals with the political causes, key figures, and main events of the first few years of the war. The modules (13-23 min.) show how Europe’s path into war is influenced by imperialism and its alliance systems. In addition, we prepare complex, often controversial aspects of the First World War in a manner suitable for pupils, such as the new dimension of violence in the civilian population (in Belgium, Serbia, and against Armenians in the Ottoman Empire) and the war in the East. We use art and literature to further explore themes that can be handled in an interdisciplinary way. Painters such as Otto Dix and Paul Nash as well as writers like Edlef Köppen, Erich Maria Remarque, and Robert Graves convey their experiences on the front in impressive works.
Experts such as Gerd Krumeich (University of Düsseldorf), Jörn Leonhard (University of Freiburg) and Jörg Baberowski (Humboldt University of Berlin) explain the new dimensions of the First World War and address the current discussion regarding the question of war reparations.