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Title: Killing in the German army : organising and surviving combat in the Great War
Author: Murphy, Brendan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7233 7577
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2016
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The following dissertation presents an integrated military history of combat and killing, as experienced and conducted by soldiers of the Imperial German army from 1914-1918. Its general argument is that the practice of killing in the German army was dominated by a 'Taylorisation' of the battlefield that placed killing and its attendant psychological trauma and risk disproportionately on picked troops, while assigning the vast majority of soldiers a supporting role in combat as labourers and defensive specialists. By emphasising the role of weapon and the numerous chance encounters that took place as German troops moved through the trenches and bunkers of positional war, this dissertation argues that peculiar organisational practices and specialised weapons managed individual risk while providing psychological and physical space between killers and killed. The consequences of the killing act were therefore subsumed within less traumatic actions. The specific argument of this dissertation is that violence was a constructive force within the Imperial German army. Shifting form a reliance on the combination of skill and motivation and the expectation that all soldiers share equally in all combat tasks, the German army later embraced veterans to carry the burdens not just of leadership but of combat. Veterans were tapped to provide the corps of 'violence specialists', the storm troops, who assumed the burdens of leading attacks and fighting close combats. Similarly, veterans were entrusted with the training of replacements in an effort to reproduce their skills and attitudes towards combat in inexperienced troops.
Supervisor: Ziemann, Benjamin ; Moses, Julia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available