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Pride and Privilege: Military Honor and Hegemonic Masculinity in German and British Courtrooms, 1914-66

Anthony A Foreman, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Honor – the word often evokes images of a bygone age of men of high social status and within military societies dueling each other over perceived transgressions. This project reorients male, military honor as an influential concept in twentieth-century courtrooms, moving its influence and privilege in the modern era from dueling in a field of honor to legal sparring with a shield of honor. It interprets the culture of four different German militaries from 1914 through the mid-1960s through a microhistory of five legal case studies: the 1914 British court martial of German spy Carl Hans Lody, the 1924 Hitler Trial following the Beer Hall Putsch, post-World War II trials involving former Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, Fritz Bauer’s 1952 slander trial against Otto Ernst Remer, and the trials of the Bundeswehr’s 1963 Nagold Affair. Most of the defendants and jurists in these case studies belonged to an international military honor group who recognized each other through their rank, behavior, and words. Several lines of inquiry direct the reading of the sources, some of which were accessed for the first time in archives through requests to shorten protection periods. How did the concept of masculine, military honor buy a defendant currency in courts martial, military tribunals, and civilian trials? What are the tangible rewards for an “honorable” defendant versus the punishments for a transgressor? How was the concept of honor manipulated to serve the needs of the ruling political elites in Germany/West Germany and other Western nations? Were German/Prussian military honor and ethics different in substance from other contemporary Western militaries? Instead of being a code which should make men more virtuous, the case studies show just how easily hegemonic men and the nations they control can manipulate male honor as a tool for social domination. Domestic abusers, liars, fascist leaders, and war criminals walked out of courtrooms with privileged, favorable outcomes by cloaking their true intentions, actions, and character behind a shield of honor.

Subject Area

History|Military studies|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Foreman, Anthony A, "Pride and Privilege: Military Honor and Hegemonic Masculinity in German and British Courtrooms, 1914-66" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI30488280.