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11-08-2015, 16:54

CIVILIANS GREET THE WAR

The first reaction for many on the home front was a surge of patriotism. One of the most eloquent commentators on this emotion was Stefan Zweig, a leading Austrian author and a widely traveled member of Europe's intellectual elite. He found himself in a Belgian seaside resort as war approached, and he left Belgium on the last train for Germany. Upon returning to his native Vienna, even this cosmopolitan writer discovered that he had been caught up in a wave of popular patriotic emotion that affected his countrymen at every level of society. Zweig's distaste for war and superheated nationalism soon reasserted itself, but he found, to his horror, that most of his fellow writers, like the poet Ernst Littauer, were busy producing diatribes against enemy countries. In Littauer's case, patriotism brought forth nothing less than the poem "Hymn of Hate" against Great Britain. But the hardships of war arrived soon enough. For many Europeans who had established personal ties across national borders, the war created deep personal conflicts. Before 1914, marriages between citizens of different countries were common. The mother of Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, Germany's prime minister during most of the wartime years, was a Frenchwoman. The brother of Georges Clemenceau, France's prime minister during the final year of the war, was married to an Austrian. One of the most famous people caught between two sets of loyalties and identities was Princess Daisy of Pless (1873-1943). Born into an upper-class English family, Mary Theresa Olivia (Daisy) Cornwallis-West married a prominent German aristocrat. Prince Henry of Pless, in 1891. Her husband and one of her three sons served in the German army in World War I, and she herself tried to balance her mixture of loyalties. In the end, her marriage could not survive the strains brought on by the war, and she was divorced from her husband in 1922.

 

 

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