Library of Social Science
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Essays/Papers on War, Sacrifice and Genocide

Atran, Scott
  • For Cause and Comrade: Devoted Actors and Willingness to Fight (Paper)
    This report provides initial evidence that ‘devoted actors’ who are unconditionally committed to a sacred cause, willingly make costly sacrifices—including fighting and dying.
  • Reframing Sacred Values (Paper)
    People believe that devotion to essential or core values—such as the welfare of their family and country, or their commitment to religion, honor, and justice—are absolute and inviolable.
Azzam, Shiekh Abdullah
  • Martyrs: The Building Blocks of Nations (Lecture)
    “History does not write its lines except with blood. Glory does not build its loft edifice except with skulls, Honour and respect cannot be established except on a foundation of cripples and corpses.”
Bailey, J. & Susman, M.
Baird, J. W.
  • To Die For Germany: Heroes in the Nazi Pantheon (Book Excerpts)
    “During the Great War, propagandists and poets alike joined hands in exalting the blood sacrifice of the youth of Germany, thus transforming carnage into ethereal national revelation.”
Bessel, Richard
  • Nazism and War (Book Excerpts)
    “Only weeks before unconditional surrender, on April 7, 1945, Donitz called upon all naval officers to fight to the bitter end. Military police and SS units patrolled behind the lines to catch and kill any soldier who might be suspected of desertion.”
Bonadeo, Alfredo
Bryson, Michael
Bryson, Michael
Burrin, Philippe
  • Hitler and the Jews: The Genesis of the Holocaust (Book Excerpts)
    “Hitler viewed his war against the Jews as a battle for the salvation of the world, a fight to the death that could only end with the extinction of one of the two adversaries.”
Chen, Zhou
Denton-Borhaug, Kelly
Denton-Borhaug, Kelly
Eckhart, Dietrich
Elshtain, Jean Bethke
Elshtain, Jean Bethke
  • Identity, the State and Sacrifice
    “The Sovereign may bear a masculinized ‘face’ but the nation itself is feminized, a mother, a sweetheart, a lover. One can rightly speak, as Anderson does, of ‘political love, a love that retains the fraternal dimensions of medieval caritas,” but incorporates as well a maternalized loyalty symbolized domestically. The nation is home and home is mother. No more than one chooses one’s parents does one choose one’s country and this adds even greater force to the nature of political love. We fall in love early through language, ‘encountered at mother’s knees and parted with only at the grave,” and through this language ‘pasts are restored, fellowships are imagined, and futures dreamed.’”
Fornari, Franco
  • The Psychoanalysis of War (Book Excerpts)
    “War is a spectacular establishment of a general human situation whereby death assumes absolute value: the ideas for which we die have a right to truth, because death becomes a demonstrative process.”
Frank, Walter S.
  • The Reality of Battle: First World War, 1914-1918 (Book Excerpts)
    “In the deeper shelters, old and battle-hardened troops shook their heads. The new recruits with big eyes and quivering bodies were watched with apprehension. Some turned green and began vomiting. Some began sobbing.”
Fritz, Stephen G.
Griffin, Roger
Griffin, Roger
  • The Meaning of ‘Sacrifice’ in the First World War
    “It was as if the fantasy of redemption through sacrifice—stubbornly entertained by both fighters and onlookers—was fueled rather than quenched by the blood of the fallen, like pouring oil on flames. The whole war can be seen as a collective act of redemptive self-sacrifice—transcendent meaning produced by the relentless flow of blood.”
Gullace, Nicoletta
Gullace, Nicoletta
  • White Feathers and Wounded Men: Female Patriotism and the Memory of the Great War
    On August 30, 1914, Admiral Charles Penrose Fitzgerald, an inveterate conscriptionist and disciple of Lord Roberts, deputized thirty women in Folkstone to hand out white feathers to men not in uniform. The purpose of this gesture was to shame “every young ‘slacker’ found loafing about the Leas’ and to remind those ‘deaf or indifferent to their country’s need’ that ‘British soldiers are fighting and dying across the channel.”
Hillgruber, Andreas
Himmler, Heinrich
  • Himmler’s Speech at Posen, October, 1943 (Speech - Text)
    “We had the moral right, we had the duty to our own people, to kill these people who wanted to kill us. But we don’t have the right to enrich ourselves even with one fur, one watch, one mark, one cigarette, or anything else. Just because we eradicated a bacillus doesn’t mean we want to be infected by the bacillus ourselves.”
  • Himmler’s Speech on the Extermination of the Jews (Speech - Video)
    Pozan, Poland, October 4, 1943 - Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, the second most powerful man in Nazi Germany, speaks to SS officers for three hours in a secret meeting. He reminds his officers of the loyalty he expects in their extermination of the Jews.
Holmes Jr., Oliver Wendell
  • The Soldier’s Faith (Speech)
    “In the midst of doubt, the collapse of creeds, there is one thing I do not doubt, and that is that the faith is true and adorable which leads a soldier to throw away his life in obedience to a blindly accepted duty, in a cause which he little understands, in a plan of campaign of which he has little notion, under tactics of which he does not see the use.”
Howard, Michael
Kahn, Paul
  • Political Evil: Killing, Sacrifice, and the Image of God (Chapter 5 of Out of Eden)
    “The willingness to sacrifice for the creation and maintenance of political meanings always appears inconceivable to those outside of the community.”
  • Torture and International Law (Chapter 2 of Sacred Violence)
    “We have not so much abandoned the practice of torture as shifted its locus. The battlefield is strewn with the disemboweled and beheaded, with severed limbs and broken bodies. All have died a terrible death in a display of sovereign power. To view the battlefield is to witness the awesome power of the sovereign to occupy and destroy the finite body; to stand before the modern, democratic equivalent of the spectacle of the scaffold.”
Library of Social Science
Linderman, Gerald F.
  • Embattled Courage: The Experience of Combat in the American Civil War (Book Excerpts)
    “The linkage between honor and courage manifested itself in Civil War solders’ frequent referenced to the ‘honorable death’—inevitably the courageous death— and the ‘honorable wound’—inevitably suffered in the course of courageous action.”
Lockwood, Renee
Lockwood, Renee
  • Sacrifice and the Creation of Group of Identity: Case Studies of Gallipoli and Masada
    “It has often been acknowledged that nations are born of war. Yet recent scholarship suggests that it is not the sacrifice of the enemy that creates a unified group identity, but the sacrifice of the group’s own. This essay demonstrates the truth of this hypothesis on the basis of two primary case studies: the ‘sacrifices’ made at Gallipoli and Masada.”
McPherson, James
  • For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (Book Excerpts)
    “Civil War soldiers wrote much about courage, bravery, valor—the mark of honor. But they wrote even more about cowardice—the mark of dishonor. Most wanted to avoid the shame of being known as a coward—this is what gave them courage. Civil War soldiers went forward into a hail of bullets because they were more afraid of showing the ‘white feather’ than they were of death.”
Mineau, André
Mosse, George L.
Novak, Ben
Rahimi, Babak
Rahimi, Babak
  • The Transhuman Soldier: A Comparative Look at World War I and the Iran-Iraq War
    With his sacrifice, the soldier transforms the ordinary cycle of existence into something livelier and more transhuman. His sacrifice on the battlefield becomes a creative event to conquer death. He attains a sacred quality with his ability to generate an all-too-superhuman vitality, a sacred death of transcendental reality. The act of sacrifice empowers the self of a soldier against the natural process of demise—and towards the creation of a transcendent entity.
Sagan, Eli
Salimi, Rana
Salimi, Rana
  • Review Essay of Mark Schantz’s Book Awaiting the Heavenly Country: The Civil War and America’s Culture of Death
    The political system of U.S. society in the Civil War era demanded that its citizens sacrifice their lives and commit violence against their fellow countrymen so the nation as a whole could survive. The dominant religious ideology of the time required citizens to voluntarily exchange the mundane world for the heavenly rewards of the afterlife. The individual could achieve the eternal life in heaven and could be commemorated as a hero if he was ready to sacrifice himself.
Seitz, David W.
Strenski, Ivan
Strenski, Ivan
  • Sacrifice, Gift and the Social Logic of Muslim ‘Human Bombers’
    To understand Muslim ‘human bombers’, we must see them within the discourse of jihad, but also within that of ‘sacrifices’ and ‘gifts’. ‘Human bombings’ are not, therefore, simply matters of utilitarian military tactics, but are also religious and social as gifts, martyrdoms and sacrifices. This article proposes that we need to pay greater attention to the ‘sacrificial’ designations of these ‘human bombings’ as made by Muslims and which are rooted in Islamic discourse.
  • Sacrifice: Bad Math, Bad Grammar
    Sacrifice means loss, giving up, destruction and death. But, much talk about sacrifice carries on as if this loss, this subtraction, actually achieves addition. The soldier ‘sacrifices’ themselves in battle, but this doesn’t count as diminishment. It actually adds to whatever social body of reference is in play. So, the question is why and how can sacrifice add to the social whole, when, in the fact of destruction and death, it subtracts from the social whole, by removing one of its members from the body of the living?
Szink, Terrence L.
Tepora, Tuomas
Tepora, Tuomas
  • Redirecting Violence: The Finnish Flag as a Sacrificial Symbol, 1917-1945
    National flags are essential in making sense of the citizens’ sense of belonging to the nation. National celebrations—as well as the routine, everyday ‘lagging’ of the nation in the media—form a context which shapes peoples’ experience of their environment. National flags represent the shared feelings and values of a collective, forming a link between civil society and the state.
Terrell, Robert
Trueman, Chris
Vlahos, Michael
Vlahos, Michael
  • D-Day (June 6, 1944), the Invasion of Normandy: “A moment of unique American sacrifice” (Audio, John Batchelor Show, WABC)
    Michael Vlahos podcast on the John Batchelor radio show: “We had to create—not just a mythic moment—but a moment of unique American sacrifice. We managed to do that. As we look back, it is the great liturgy of the American experience—not just in World War II—but of the America that was born on that day. It’s a kind of high mass of the nation—of the American ethos.”
  • Fighting Identity: Sacred War & World Change (Book Excerpts)
  • Rites of Spring: Sacrifice, Incarnation, and War
    The 20th century’s wars—from 1914-1951, and their aftermath—killed perhaps 150 million individual human beings. We casually ascribe this calamity to madness, evil, or the inevitable efficiencies of an industrial economy. Yet I argue that this killing was embedded in the desire of peoples to fulfill—through war—the vision that drove them. This was the paradoxical, unconfessed vision of Modernity—which replaced universal institutions of collective identity (for centuries vested in social order and Church) with a dynamic new alternative.
  • Terrorism’s Sacred Heart: The Sacrifice
    “What makes terrorism so powerful is that it leverages the most powerful of human actions: the sacrifice. For thousands of years, human sacrifice has represented a sacred rite, with many layers of explicit ritual and symbol—in which our most precious loss transforms into our most precious gift. Think of the sacrifice—enacted and memorialized—as the mortar of our collective belief and belonging.”
  • The Ideology of Sacrifice is Hemorrhaging
    In his essay, “The Rites of Spring,” Michael Vlahos stated that War in Modernity was an “extended ritual demanding mass sacrifice in which the literal ‘body and blood’ of millions at once renewed and re-fertilized the nation.” However, this national theology “no longer rules America as it once did.” The fervent faith of a whole nation—leading to sacrifice on the high altar—has been “emptied of belief.”
Weddle, David
Weddle, David
Weiner, Robert
  • Prof. Robert Weiner: The Nature & Impact of WWI (Video)
    “All the capacity of industrial society—straining at the bit for destruction. One of the French soldiers called it extermination. I call it routinized, mechanized genocide: The genocide of people on their own citizens.”
Weir, Peter
  • Gallipoli (1981) - Ending (Video Excerpt From Peter Weir’s Film)
    Several young men from rural Western Australia enlist in the Australian Army during the First World War. This scene depicts the film’s sad ending.
  • Gallipoli (1981) - Massacre (Video Excerpt From Peter Weir’s Film)
    Depicts the charge at Nek at Gallipoli (August 7, 1915). Anzac troops are massacred by the Turks when they get out of the trench armed only with bayonets. This astonishing scene, according to Michael Vlahos, represents an accurate depiction.
Whalen, Robert
  • Bitter Wounds: German Victims of the Great War, 1914-1939 (Book Excerpts)
    “Disabled veteran speaking at a convention in 1930: “Everyone here sensed the demonic quality of the war. It was like some elemental catastrophe, which threw the entire planet into torment. We who have lived through this inferno can never be free from it.‘”
  • German Casualties of the First World War (Statistics)
    “The Great War lasted fifty-two and a half months. Roughly 9,500,000 soldiers, from all nations, were killed, which comes to about 181,000 deaths per month, or about 6,302 deaths every 24 hours. Of some 15.6 million males born between 1870 and 1899, about 13 percent died in the 52 ½ months of the Great War.”
Zhu, Pingchao
Zhu, Pingchao
  • Mao’s Martyrs: Revolutionary Heroism, Sacrifice, and China’s Tragic Romance of the Korean War (Paper)
    “China entered into the Korean War at a critical historical moment: the new Communist regime had just celebrated its first anniversary in October 1950. In military strength and industrial capacity, China was no match for its opponent, the well equipped and supplied United Nations Command (UNC) under the United States military command leadership. What China could rely on was its massive manpower and political propaganda—entrenched in the Marxist doctrine of anti-imperialism and internationalism.”