2008

DG Europe


Dictionnaire de la Grande Guerre [Dictionary of the Great War]. Ed. Jean-Yves Le Naour. Paris: Larousse, 2008. 476 p. 21 cm. ISBN 9-782-03583-7899: EUR 26

An RREA Original Review by Sarah B. Sussman (Stanford University)

In 2008 there were three dictionaries published in French with the same title: this compilation by Jean-Yves Le Naour, Jean-Jacques Becker’s Dictionnaire de la Grande Guerre (Bruxelles, 2008), and Dictionnaire de la Grande Guerre: 1914-1918, by François Cochet and Rémy Porte (Paris, 2008). The Cochet and Porte work is the most encyclopedic and weighs in at 1,120 pages, while the Becker is the shortest at 263 pages, leaving the subject of this review in the middle. Le Naour’s book belongs to a series of subject dictionaries on contemporary history published by Larousse. Other select titles in the series treat the Left and the extreme Left, the Right, the extreme Right, Russia, French colonization, May ‘68, and similar topics. They are primarily meant for university students or others interested in the issues; they are not aimed at the advanced researcher, although they would be useful in providing quick summaries of terms, persons, events, and historiographical issues.

Le Naour, whose other books include both popular and scholarly works on the First World War, has written most of the articles in this dictionary, assisted by a team of recognized specialists in the field. They and their contributions are listed at the front of the book, which is divided into three sections. The first, entitled “La Grande Guerre en questions” [The Great War in Questions], poses six historiographical questions. The second section, “Temps forts” [Highlights], offers a detailed narrative timeline of the war, while the third section comprises the dictionary. Annexes include a brief timeline, a bibliography divided by subject, and an index.

While the title, Dictionnaire de la Grande Guerre, seems to imply that this work covers all aspects of and perspectives on World War One, in reality it seems aimed primarily at an audience interested in the French experience of the war. This tendency begins in the first section, which provides useful historiographical overviews of key questions. The first question is the role of memory and commemoration of the Great War in France. Discussion of the Union sacrée [Sacred Union]—the French effort to provide a unified political front in the face of war and the consequences for both the Right and the Left—remains in the French realm. The third question examines over time the two different French schools of thought on why French soldiers fought: the nationalist view that they participated out of a sense of patriotism and conviction or the pacifist view that they were duped into fighting. Other questions on responsibility for the war, why Germany lost, and the war’s end-date move outside of the French context but still use France and French historiography as their main points of reference.

The second section consists of a chronological narrative of the Great War using wellknown themes to structure the material. These 30 pages provide dense coverage and a broader picture of the war than does the previous section. Here we find an overview of the events of the war as they unfolded on an international scale, illustrated with primarily French commentary by political and military figures as well as historians. This section replicates a detailed textbook chapter on the events and themes of the war.

The dictionary section rightly takes up most of the rest of Le Naour’s Dictionnaire de la Grande Guerre. Arranged alphabetically, it contains short yet well-written and detailed definitions for a mixture of political, social, and cultural terms and persons pertaining to the war. Just before the entries for “M,” one finds a section of colored maps showing the international scope of the war, battles, and fronts. There is also a useful map illustrating the various nationalities within Eastern and Central Europe. Thematic dossiers [sections] interspersed in alphabetic order with the dictionary terms offer more encyclopedic entries on issues such as women, atrocities, peace, and literature (including memoirs). Again, the focus is on the French context, with terms, authors, battles, and cultural, political, and military figures appearing more frequently than do their counterparts in other countries. Much of this is due, obviously, to the fact that the dictionary is in French and highlights terms—whether the slang of the poilus [French Great War soldiers] or expressions like gueule cassée [wounded veteran]—that have completely different translations in other languages. In fact, one of the strengths of the dictionary for the scholar is this cultural specificity. Terms range from the expected to the more obscure; among the latter are entries for the bouillon cube Maggi-Kub, which was blamed for the economic invasion of France in the pages of the right-wing periodical L’Action française, and the expression téléphone à Guillaume [literally, “telephone William,” i.e., the German Kaiser Wilhelm II], used by soldiers on their way to the latrines. Asterisks within the definitions indicate terms that are given fuller description as entries elsewhere in the dictionary, providing easy-to-use links across the material.

Because of the range of terms covered, the index in the back of the book is indispensable, if somewhat flawed. It is better for finding people, places, and things than expressions. For example, in the index the term téléphone à Guillaume is filed under “Guillaume,” rather under téléphone or even latrine. Likewise, there is no entry for femmes [women] or cinéma in the index, even though these terms are the subject of lengthy entries. For this reason, it would have been useful to include a list of dossiers to guide users. Other annexes [appendices] include a detailed though brief (three-page) chronology of the war’s main events and a useful and up-to-date bibliography for the beginning researcher, which is arranged thematically and contains recent notable scholarly works in both French and English.

Overall, this is a well thought-out dictionary written by specialists that would be useful to undergraduates and beginning researchers working on the Great War, particularly from the French perspective. In addition to working descriptions of the political and military aspects of the war, it is particularly notable for its coverage of social and cultural aspects of the daily life of civilians and soldiers during wartime, as well as for skillfully integrating historiographical and political debates about the war.

Berliner Prominentenlexikon: ein Adressbuch [Prominent Residents of Berlin: A Directory]. Klaus-Martin Kersten. Berlin: Berlin-Edition, 2005. 312 p. ill. 19 cm. ISBN 3-8148-0140-7: EUR 19.90 [08-1/2-312]

Eine noble Adresse: Prominente in Berlin-Dahlem und ihre Geschichten [A Classy Address: Prominent Residents of Berlin-Dahlem and Their Stories]. Harry Baalkow-Görlitzer. Ed. Burkhard Sonnenstuhl. 2d rev. ed. Berlin: Berlin-Edition, 2006. 287 p. ill. 19 cm. ISBN 2-8148-0136-9: EUR 19.90 [08-1/2-313]

Prominente in Berlin-Grunewald und ihre Geschichten [Prominent Residents of Berlin-Grunewald and Their Stories]. Harry Balkow-Görlitzer. Ed. Burkhard Sonnenstuhl. Berlin: Berlin-Edition, 2006. 312 p. ill. 19 cm. ISBN 978-3-8148-0149-0: EUR 19.90 [08-1/2-314]

Prominente in Berlin-Lichterfelde und ihre Geschichten [Prominent Residents of In Berlin-Lichterfelde and Their Stories]. Harry Balkow-Görlitzer. Ed. Burkhard Sonnenstuhl. Berlin: Berlin-Edition, 2006. 309 p. ill. 19 cm. ISBN 3-8148-0164-3: EUR 19.90 [08-1/2-315]

Prominente in Berlin-Wannsee und ihre Geschichten [Prominent Residents of In Berlin-Wannsee and Their Stories]. Harry Balkow-Görlitzer. Ed. Burkhard Sonnenstuhl. Berlin: Berlin-Edition, 2006. 312 p. ill. 19 cm. ISBN 978-3-8148-0146-9: EUR 19.90 [08-1/2-316]

Prominente in Berlin-Westend und ihre Geschichten [Prominent Residents of Berlin-Westend and Their Stories]. Harry Balkow-Görlitzer. Ed. Burkhard Sonnenstuhl. Berlin: Berlin-Edition, 2007. 298 p. ill. 19 cm. ISBN 978-3-8148-0158-2: EUR 19.90 [08-1/2-317]

The first title under review, the Berliner Prominentenlexikon, differs significantly from the rest in authorship and content. It contains short biographies of “nearly a thousand prominent residents,” mostly from the 20th century, and mostly no longer living, with the exception of a few who permitted the author to include them and list their address. Kersten’s particular interest is in following changes of address, e.g., Walter Benjamin’s six changes prior to 1933. Addresses with district, street, and number are appended to the end of each article. Articles are sometimes accompanied by a black-and-white photo and list name, occupation, birth and death dates and places, and a highly compressed biography with special attention paid to the time in Berlin. Due to limited historical scope and shortness of entries, it cannot replace the Berliner biographisches Lexikon (see RREA 10:255).

The other five omnibus volumes all originate from the same group of four authors—Harry Balkow-Gölitzer, Bettina Biedermann, Rüdiger Reitmeier, Jörg Riedel—and all deal with expensive residential areas in western Berlin. Each contains introductory contributions about the development of the district and its prominent residents, discussed in groups (e.g., Jews, famous authors) and epochs (e.g., Third Reich, Resistance), followed by biographical essays on individual families (for example, the Jewish Kempner family or the circle around Stefan George in the volume on Lichterfelde) and finally individual biographies (2-5 pages each, often with photos of the person and/or the residence), always of individuals who have died, except for Michael Blumenthal in the Dahlem volume. Appendixes include (sparse) bibliographic information, recommended walking tours (for the Dahlem, Grunewald and Westend districts only), lists of gravesites and singleparagraph biographies of both the already-listed and additional prominent residents associated with the districts. The Dahlem volume contains icons for the current state of each address of persons in an “at a glance” section, classifying the condition of the residence as “unchanged and a designated historic site,” “mostly unchanged,” “new building of similar character,” or “no longer standing.”

These volumes contain material appropriate for tourist and researcher alike and are recommended for the public and academic libraries. For books containing short descriptions of streets, buildings, and prominent residents of the former eastern sector of the city, see the unnumbered series Berliner Bezirkslexikon (see RREA 8:250 for a review of the Berlin Mitte volume). [sh/rb]

Das große Bremen-Lexikon [Comprehensive Dictionary of Bremen]. Herbert Schwarzwälder. Bremen: Edition Temmen. 25 cm. [08-1/2-318]

Ergänzungsband [Supplement]. 2008. 200 p. ill. ISBN 978-3-86108-986-5 EUR 29.90

The 2002 first edition (832 pages) and the 2003 second edition (1,016 pages) of Das große Bremen-Lexikon were reviewed in RREA 8:252 and 10:244 respectively. Together these two works contain some 8,000 articles and entries. In this supplemental volume, a brief sampling of the 11 articles in the alphabetical range A-Ad includes some repeated citations, such as that for Abels Schokolade Werke GmbH, which, however, gives bibliographic references and cross-references lacking in the original entry. New entries include, for example, ADAC (one of the two major German automobile clubs), the 100-year-old shipping firm Addicks & Kreye, Admiral Brommy (a minesweeper and later destroyer in the German Navy), Adventists, and two deceased personages, Hans Abich (1918-2003), a film and television producer and journalist for Radio Bremen, and Claus von Aderkas, a Baltic-German pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. In spite of a few editorial inconsistencies, this is one of the better-written city encyclopedias, even when compared with the 2002 Stadtlexikon Nürnberg (see RREA 8:248) and the Erlanger Stadtlexikon (see IFB 02-2-457), both of which have large, dedicated staffs. Purchase of this supplement to Das große Bremen-Lexikon is, of course, recommended. [sh/jmw]

Hamburgische Biografie: Personenlexikon [Hamburg Biography: Dictionary of Persons]. Ed. Franklin Kopitzsch and Dirk Brietzke. Göttingen: Wallstein-Verlag, 2008. 27 cm. [08-1/2-319]

Vol. 4. 2008. 421p. ill. ISBN 978-3-8353-0229-7: EUR 29.90

The fourth volume of the Hamburgische Biografie adds 276 new biographical entries to the 1,100 included in earlier volumes, for a total of 1,376 so far. In order to reach the promised goal of 2,400 total biographies, the forthcoming two volumes will each need to include more than 500 new entries.

Like volumes 1-3 (see RREA 8:253, 11:200, and 12:224) this volume focuses on individuals who lived during the 19th and 20th centuries. Among the 46 names beginning with A and B, 32 are 20th-century figures, only five of whom are women. Eleven are from the 19th century, two are from the 18th century, and one from the 17th century.

Signed articles by one of the 86 contributors average three columns long, provide ample information, references to secondary literature, and often a photo. The final two volumes should follow in two-year intervals. [sh/jmw]

Der Adel der Habsburgermonarchie im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert: Index zu seinen Genealogien [Habsburg Nobility in the 19th and 20th Centuries: Geneaological Index]. Georg Freiherr von Fröhlichsthal. Insingen: Bauer & Raspe, 2008. 362 p. 28 cm. (Genealogisch-heraldisches Informationssystem, 2). ISBN 978-3-87947-201-7: EUR 59.80 [08-1/2-327]

Although it seems as if general indexes to biographical reference works may be a dying breed, this is not the case for special indexes in the field of genealogical research. Proof of this is offered by the new series Genealogisch-Heraldisch Informationssystem [Genealogical-Heraldic Information System]. The forward to this second volume in the series provides a very detailed summary of the contents. All geographic areas belonging to the Habsburg Monarchy since 1800 are covered. To be included, there must be at least two generations of a family (“father and son”), and all families covered must have had a relative who lived between 1800 and the present.

More than 500 works with well over 5,000 volumes were completely evaluated, without taking into consideration whether the resources were new or already well known. In the forward the author indeed gives some information about the quality of the resources, recommending that traditional resources be consulted first, but unfortunately he provides no annotations for the sources in the abbreviations list. Monographs concerning individual families were not evaluated. Approximately 23,000 family names are included, with sources provided for names consolidated under a single heading.

To make full use of the genealogical information in this volume one should study the three sections appended to the forward that cover territory, statistics, and ceremonies and directories of the nobility, as well as coats-of arms for particular regions. [sh/jmw]

Altrussisches Kulturlexikon [Cultural Dictionary of Old Russia]. Erich Donnert and Edgar Hösch. 3d rev. ed. Stuttgart: Steiner, 2009. 248 p. ill. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-515-09224-1: EUR 57 [08-1/2-339]

This new edition stems from Erich Donnert’s first and second revised editions published by the Bibliographisches Institut in Leipzig in 1985 and 1988. Since 1993 Donner has taught Eastern European history at the universities of Jena, Leipzig, and Halle, and for this third edition he brought on board his colleague Edgar Hösch from the University of Munich.

The editions published in the German Democratic Republic form the point of departure. Many of their articles are included in the new edition with only minor revisions, mainly updates to the bibliographies. The transcription scheme for the Cyrillic alphabet has been changed from that popular in the GDR at the time to the current German scholarly transliteration scheme. Professor Hösch’s articles are new to this work. Unfortunately, the number of illustrations has been significantly reduced. Bibliographical references are given only in the articles and are not cumulated in a bibliographical index. On the other hand, there is a helpful index of Internet resources, databases, and links, as well as a two-page list of entry headings.

The term “Old Russian” includes the Ukrainians and Belarusians, although these two nation-states did not exist during the historical period under consideration. Historically the period extends from Kievan Rus’ (from the 9th through the mid-13th century) through Muscovite Russia (ca. 1450-1600) up to the time of Peter the Great (born 1672). This revised and reworked cultural dictionary of Old Russia is a reliable information source. [ks/ga]


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