Mondays at the Mess – 2nd December 2019 at 11am
Lecturers: Dr Ingrid Sharp, Professor of German Cultural and Gender History, and Dr Corinne Painter, Cultural Historian and Lecturer at Leeds University (UK)
Chairperson: Mary McAuliffe, Assistant Professor, Gender Studies, UCD
The Home Front in Germany at the end of the First World War erupted in revolution. After enduring four years of food shortages, strikes and unrest, men and women took to the streets to demand peace, bread and an overhaul of the political structures they believed had led to the war. At the beginning of November 1918, the revolution was sparked in Kiel, a naval town in North Germany, when a group of sailors refused to follow orders and the townspeople joined them in protest. The revolution spread rapidly, engulfing Germany within two days and sweeping away entrenched hierarchies. On November 9th, the Kaiser fled; a Republic was then declared, and universal suffrage for men and women over the age of 20 was introduced. It seemed that the revolutionaries were in charge.
These dramatic events are usually told from the position of the military and political leaders of the time. But what about the people involved in the revolution? What were their perspectives? What role did women play and why do their stories feature so little in the historical account so far?
This talk will tell the story of the revolution through the voices of the revolutionaries themselves. Using eye-witness accounts, it will introduce some key figures who have been almost written out of history today and explore their visions for a post-war world. It will conclude with a discussion of whose history we tell, and what happens to our understanding of historical events when we add the voices of those hidden from history.
Ingrid Sharp is Professor of German Cultural and Gender History and Dr Corinne Painter is a cultural historian and lecturer at Leeds University (UK). Their research aims to write revolutionary women into historical accounts and public commemorative activities of the German Revolution and the end of WWI. This research has been used in the production of a 2018 play (Women of Aktion) and a travelling exhibition.