Nr. 43 | empire is coming home | Abstract

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Patrick Wagner

Empire’s hero is coming home. Lord Kitchener of Khartum: Symbolfigur einer autoritären Option für das Großbritannien der »edwardianischen Krise«

Lord Kitchener was one of the last popular military heroes of the British Empire, but unlike former Victorian heroes he was a disputed one. When his soldiers conquered the Sudan in 1898 they killed thousands of prisoners of war. And when he gained victory in the Second Boer War (1899–1900), he did so by scorched earth policy, shooting prisoners of war, and interning civilians in concentration camps. At home public opinion was harshly divided about Kitchener. As the articles argues, by quarrelling about Kitchener’s methods abroad the British public of the Edwardian Crisis discussed, if they should maintain their Empire by unbounded violence and military autocracy and if they should even import some elements of this strategy to Britain itself. At the eve of World War I Kitchener had become the symbol of an authoritarian and militarist option in British politics. But in 1918 this war was won by a civilian government despite serious failures of the military leadership including Kitchener. Democracy had shown its superior capacity to deal with national crisis.

Kurz-Bio: Patrick Wagner

Historiker, Institut für Geschichte der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle Wittenberg

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