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Why were the German's referred to as "Huns"???

Haversack

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I tend to believe that "Hun" was picked up from the Kaiser's speech. Ethnic caricature was a staple part of popular entertainment such as the music halls and world events provided grist for their mills just as they do today for comedians. Additionally, the British operated a very succesful propaganda organization which capitalized very early on depicting the Germans as barbarians from out of the east. Take a look at any of the political cartoons and posters of the day. Kipling, who was very involved in Britain's propaganda campaigns, wrote the poem/hymn "For All We Have and Are" in 1917. It begins:

"FOR all we have and are,
For all our children’s fate,
Stand up and meet the war.
The Hun is at the gate!..."

Haversack.
 

reetpleat

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Smithy said:
Edward and John I believe you are right, it was a reference to "barbarous", threatening hordes from "the east" (from Britain's perspective) which was the view cultivated during the Great War.

Interestingly, I found some info on German mythology in which Atla, (Atilla) and other elements of the Huns have become a part of German Mythology and stories, so there might be an element of that too.
 

Haversack

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reetpleat wrote: "Interestingly, I found some info on German mythology in which Atla, (Atilla) and other elements of the Huns have become a part of
German Mythology and stories, so there might be an element of that too."


Oh, of course. Attila, or Atli, is one the main characters in the 13th C. Nibelungenlied, (Song of the Nibelungs). He marries Grimhild, the widow of Siegfried as part of her revenge on Hagen. THe Norse also have a version of the story which appears based on events in the 5th C. Migration Period. The Kaiser's speech was not out of context. There was a lot of Germanic mythology running around the popular culture of late 19th C. Germany.

Haversack.
 

Haversack

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As I opined above, the WWI association of Germans with the Huns of the Migration Period was inspired by the Kaiser's speech some 15 years prior to 1914. It was however gleefully seized upon very early in the war by British propaganda organizations, (of which there were several), as a way to demonize the Germans. (The Germans handed many of the propaganda victories of that war to the British on a silver platter. the Lusitania Medal, the Zimmermen Telegram, usw.). Combined with the reports of German atrocities in Belgium, (real, imagined, and manufactured), this association proved very succesful in convincing the "decent white people" of Britain, the Commonwealth, and the USA that the "otherwise decent white people" of central Europe were at heart apelike, rapacious brutes from some dark and distant land. Having the Ottomans as Germany's ally also helped in this association as it implied a "touch of the Tarboosh" in German ancestry.

This association was most successful realized through the use of posters and pamphlets. Initially, these were produced by Britain. Later, Canada and especially the USA got heavily into the act. Interestly enough, the British also used the Hunninsh association to mock the Germans as foolish little boys, (who likely pulled the legs off of flies and needed a good spanking). The USA however strictly used "The Hun" to create fear and hatred.

Here are some examples of all of these types of posters. Be warned that some are brutal and graphic. However, I did not included the one of the little Belgian girl holding her arms up.

How the Hun Hates
http://library.georgetown.edu/dept/speccoll/britpost/p16l.jpg

The Hun and the Home
http://www.library.georgetown.edu/dept/speccoll/britpost/p21l.jpg

Remember Belgium
http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca/vexhibit/warpost/images/posters/45.jpg

The Hun - His Mark
http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca/vexhibit/warpost/images/posters/43.jpg

Beat Back the Hun
http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca/vexhibit/warpost/images/posters/44.jpg

Keep These Off
http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca/vexhibit/warpost/images/posters/42.jpg

Help to Catch the Hun
http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca/vexhibit/warpost/images/posters/49.jpg

They Crucify
http://mssa.library.yale.edu/madid/showzoom.php?id=mss&msrg=671&msrgext=0&pg=1&imgNum=4325

Destroy This Mad Brute
http://www.learn-ict.org.uk/projects/secondary/propaganda/destroy_brute.html

?
http://www.learn-ict.org.uk/projects/secondary/propaganda/question_mark.html

Avenge Them
http://exhibitions.library.temple.e...ootelement=Image&viewheight=500&viewwidth=400

It is well to remember that these images were very successful in changing and shaping public opinion and that memory of them lasted well into the Golden Age of this site.

Haversack.
 

Miss Neecerie

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Haversack said:
As I opined above, the WWI association of Germans with the Huns of the Migration Period was inspired by the Kaiser's speech some 15 years prior to 1914. It was however gleefully seized upon very early in the war by British propaganda organizations, (of which there were several), as a way to demonize the Germans. (The Germans handed many of the propaganda victories of that war to the British on a silver platter. the Lusitania Medal, the Zimmermen Telegram, usw.). Combined with the reports of German atrocities in Belgium, (real, imagined, and manufactured), this association proved very succesful in convincing the "decent white people" of Britain, the Commonwealth, and the USA that the "otherwise decent white people" of central Europe were at heart apelike, rapacious brutes from some dark and distant land. Having the Ottomans as Germany's ally also helped in this association as it implied a "touch of the Tarboosh" in German ancestry.

This association was most successful realized through the use of posters and pamphlets. Initially, these were produced by Britain. Later, Canada and especially the USA got heavily into the act. Interestly enough, the British also used the Hunninsh association to mock the Germans as foolish little boys, (who likely pulled the legs off of flies and needed a good spanking). The USA however strictly used "The Hun" to create fear and hatred.


It is well to remember that these images were very successful in changing and shaping public opinion and that memory of them lasted well into the Golden Age of this site.

Haversack.


Exactly! and in -that- context.....which is what the OP was asking about....its got -little- or nothing to do with actual Huns..or Hungarians...etc.
 

reetpleat

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Seattle
The funny thing is, why huns. I mean, granted, it was ninety years ago, but wre people of that time that much more knowledgeable of ancient european history? I know nithing about the huns and calling someone a hun would mean nothing to me. Might as well call them gallic or norman. what does that mean to me. Was the memory of the huns still fresh in their minds a thousand years later? or wre they just that much more educated?
 

Twitch

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And from text of the eras they used it like "The Hun this or that," in WW I and WW II.

OK so only in WW I the French exclusively called the Germans Boches- plural, Boche- singular. The only French I've ever asked acted a bit embarrassed and answered "it is a bad word."

Anyone know the definition/origin?
 

Smithy

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Norway
Hi Twitch, sorry I can't tell you the origin of the word. But I can add a little about the word...

It is also sometimes seen spelled "bosche" and was used by both the French and British (who obviously picked it up from the French). I have quite a lot of material on 56 Squadron, RFC and there are a lot of references to both boche and bosche.

As you probably already know it was also used by the French during WWII and I even have some examples of it being used by the members of the RAF squadrons of the AASF in France in 1939 and 1940.

Cheers,

Smithy.
 

reetpleat

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Seattle
cooncatbob said:
Boche: cabbage, blockhead, offensive term for Germans.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Boches

I would guess then, that it has to do with Saurkraut, jut as we call them krauts. If that is an odd food that you would want to make un of them for, you would call them cabbage eaters or cabbage heads or some such. I imagine that at one time, since it is fermented, it would have been kind of stinky and require developing a taste for it.

Mind you, this insult is coming from people that eat the liver of a force fed goose, snails, and horse meat.
 

reetpleat

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Smithy said:
Apparently cabbage has little to do with it...

http://www.billcasselman.com/wording_room/boche.htm

And by the way Reetpleat, although I'm no fan of snails, French food has to be (IMHO) some of the best in the world. And foie gras is beautiful ;)


INteresting. Makes perfect sense. What stikes me as funny is taht back then, even though we were engaged in a huge war, the worst we were inclined to call them was kraut, jerry, fritz, and cabbage head.

I guess, even today, while calling someone a rag head or towel head would be quite offensive, it isn't much worse. I imagine they were called worse when they were shooting at you.

If my old comic books are any indication, the germans called us swine Amerikaneishe Sweinhund?) I think. have no idea what they really called us.

As for French food, no expert but I hear it is good. I must say though, i went to a french restaurant recently and was excited to try snails. they wre awful. Reason I was excited, when I was in Vietnam, I had fresh snails sold on the street, which I imaging are the same the french eat and brought there, they were dilicious, served with a little spich chile sauce. I was so dissapointed. The restaurants were nothing like the Vietnam ones/
 
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