The conduct of the German forces in their attack on Belgium that brought Britain into the Great War has long been controversial. Reports of atroctities – including the mass shooting of civilians and wanton vandalism – were played up in Allied propaganda – and subsequently widely disbelieved, only to be revived by modern scholars. This book is something of a rarity – and caused a furore when it was first published – as it is a propagandist work written from the German side and published in English in 1915 shortly after the events it describes, while the war was raging and hatred for Germany at its height. Its author, the celebrated Swedish explorer and mountaineer, Dr Sven Hedin, although officially a neutral, was an unashamed admirer of Germany given priledged access to interview German soldiers as well as Allied prisoners. He denies that his beloved Germans took part in any cruel atrocities and in his preface he berates Britain for entering the war at all – and re-states his faith in German victory. In an apologetic note, Hedin’s English publisher, John Lane, says his purpose is to ‘rouse the British Lion by tweaking its tail’, pointing out that Hedin’s account of the 1914 campaign gives a true picture of the efficiency of the German military – which Lane calls ‘the wonderul organisation against which we are fighting’. Plentifully illustrated with photos, drawings and maps, this eye-witness account of the campaign that set the course of the war, despite its admitted bias, is a must for all Great War buffs – and for students of wartime propaganda. Hedin went on to write other similar pro-German books in both world wars, and became an adm irer of Hitler and the Third Reich, though he was never an open Nazi.
WITH THE GERMAN ARMIES IN THE WEST
Propagandist and openly admiring account of Germany’s 1914 campaign in Belgium and France written by a Swedish neutral. An interesting corrective to Allied war propaganda, and a rare view from the other side of the hill.