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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg April 19, 2010

Die Spanische Grippe 1918/19. Verlauf, Folgen und Deutungen in Deutschland im Kontext des Ersten Weltkriegs

Eckard Michels


Zwischen 25 und 39 Millionen Opfer weltweit – kein Krieg, kein Genozid, sondern eine gewöhnliche Seuche: Die spanische Grippe traf 1918 auf eine Welt, die vom Ersten Weltkrieg zutiefst gezeichnet und erschöpft war. Aber war diese Pandemie tatsächlich eine Folge des Krieges? Und vor allem: Welchen Einfluss hatte sie auf den Ausgang dieses globalen Konflikts? Eckard Michels, ein in London lehrender Historiker, räumt mit vielen falschen Vorstellungen auf und präsentiert überraschende Antworten.


Responsible for approximately 320 000 to 350 000 deaths, the Influenza Pandemic of 1918/19, also known as the Spanish Flu, claimed more victims in Germany than any other epidemic of the last 150 years. However so far, the event has been researched mostly from a local perspective, and only as a phenomenon of the home front while neglecting the military and its medical statistics. An analysis of both civil and military sources establishes a much more complete picture of the course and consequences of this pandemic on a national scale. It becomes obvious that compared to the looming collapse of Imperial Germany and despite its virulence in the summer and autumn of 1918, the epidemic attracted relatively little attention in public or from the military and civil authorities. An international and comparative perspective reveals that the war situation of 1918 did not result in a more severe course of the epidemic in Germany than in other belligerent or neutral countries, as many contemporaries believed at the time (and some historians have claimed since). On the contrary, there are clear indicators that the state of war in 1918 led to fewer losses of life in Germany than if the Spanish Flu had hit a prosperous and internationally integrated society during peacetime.

Published Online: 2010-04-19
Published in Print: 2010-01-15

© by Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, München, Germany

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