Oxford Centre for European History Special Annual Lecture 2018
A hundred years ago, defeat struck the Germans as the worst catastrophe of their modern history – even worse than the Thirty Years War and the defeat against the French in 1806.
Not surprisingly, this catastrophe was interpreted in biological terms: not only had Germany lost 2.5 million people (civilians included), but it was, according to many Germans, deprived of its very means of survival by the Treaty of Versailles. After famine in the First World War, tuberculosis and famine again broke out in the wake of the Great Crisis of 1929, and the sense of biological panic in Germany was redoubled. Drawing on a great number of sources, the Nazis argued that it was high time for Germany to return to nature and the law of nature if it wanted to survive.
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The Lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in the Joan Thirsk Room.