Alfred Kelly, the Edgar B. Graves Professor of History, recently published an article in D’UNE guerre à l’autre. Que reste-t-il de 1870-1871 en 1914? (From one war to another. What remains there of 1870-1871 in 1914?). The book is a publication of the Musée de la Guerre de 1870 et de l’Annexion in Gravelotte, France.
“Dieu et l’Allemagne: continuités et discontinuités des interprétations théologiques de la guerre en 1870 et en 1914” (“God and Germany, 1870 and 1914: Continuities and Discontinuities in the Theological Interpretations of War”) is an expanded version of Kelly’s invited talk on the occasion of the museum’s opening in 2014. He analyzes the way many Germans combined Christianity, nationalism, pagan beliefs and old anti-French prejudices to understand the larger meaning of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. These ideas were dusted off and adapted to the conditions of 1914.
The article concludes: “If God is on your side and you win, then the path to an easy national self-justification is open. That is the subtle tragedy of 1870. If God is on your side and you lose, then there must a Judas in your midst. That is the not-so-subtle tragedy of 1914.”