Raffael Scheck, Professor of modern European history at Colby College, will pose the questions: For what did Germans fight in World War I? Was the achievement of democracy worth between 2 and 3 million deaths? Did the social welfare state or women’s suffrage justify it? How did the struggle change German society and politics? Taking some concrete biographical examples, the talk traces the impact of the war on Germany and centers on the haunting question in 1918 about the sense of the atrocious losses. The suffering of the war provided a moral capital and a question of meaning to be answered. Many political groupings seized the challenge and sought to use the moral capital of the collective suffering, often conveniently forgetting the suffering Germans had caused to other Europeans.
Scheck is author of five books and thirty articles and chapters on German history 1871-1945. Among them, Hitler’s African Victims: The German Army Massacres of Black French Soldiers in 1940 and French Colonial Soldiers in German Captivity during World War II.