In: KulturPoetik 2016, Heft 2


Sabina Becker


»Kreuzzug des Geists zur Rettung des Menschen«. Die Expressionisten und der Erste Weltkrieg




The representatives of the ›Ideas of 1914‹ as well as the avant-garde of the years before World War I referred to cultural explanations as proof of the meaningfulness of the war. Expressionist scepticism of civilization aligned well with the enthusiasm for the war amongst conservatives. One cannot deny either the modern and innovative character of Expressionism, or its contribution to establishing modernism in Germany. Nevertheless, we have to ask why the young Expressionist generation supported World War I almost unconditionally. Furthermore, we have to look for explanations of their uncritical and unreflecting longing for a ›cleansing‹ war – not least as testimony to a lack of cultural criticism on their behalf.