Children 1903

Children 1903.
Children in sailor suits play with guns. Film length 00:30. A licence fee of 1 x 30 seconds is charged to purchase a licence for the complete film.

Children 1903 from Historiathek – zb Media on Vimeo.

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Children 1903

Historical context

The footage from the early days of the film shows children in sailor suits playing with guns. The militarisation of education is part of the prehistory of the First World War.

Around 1900, the militarisation of society was a widespread phenomenon that could be observed in many countries, particularly in Europe. This process was characterised by the increasing permeation of civilian life by military values, norms and institutions.

Nationalism was a driving force behind militarisation. Nationalist ideologies promoted the idea that military strength was necessary to preserve national honour and independence. Militarism, which saw military power as the highest value of society, was particularly strong in Germany and Prussia. Here, the military played a central role in society and the state.

The race for colonial territories in Africa and Asia led to intensive armament and military expansion. Colonial powers such as Great Britain, France and Germany expanded their armies and navies in order to defend and expand their overseas territories. This colonial competition contributed significantly to the militarisation of the European powers.

The industrial revolution enabled the mass production of weapons and military equipment. New technologies, such as the machine gun and dreadnought battleships, changed the nature of warfare and increased the importance of a strong industrial base for military power. The availability and improvement of weapons led to a constant rearmament and modernisation of the armed forces.

In many countries, military virtues such as discipline, obedience and a sense of duty were also emphasised in civilian education. Schools and youth organisations taught these values and prepared young men for military service. In Germany, for example, organisations such as the Kadettenanstalten played an important role in the militarisation of young people.5 Political and social structures

The political structure of many countries was strongly characterised by military interests. In Germany, the military had a direct influence on political decisions and enjoyed a high social status. General conscription, which was introduced in many European countries, meant that large sections of the male population gained military experience and internalised military values.

The culture of the time often reflected military ideals. Literature, art and the media glorified war and soldiering. Military parades and commemorations became important social events that further promoted militarism. Propaganda played a decisive role in presenting a positive image of the military to the public and mobilising the population for military objectives.

The militarisation of society around 1900 meant that military values and institutions became deeply embedded in everyday life. This created an environment that encouraged the willingness to go to war and ultimately contributed to the outbreak of the First World War.

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