1st Edition

Identity, Motivation and Memory The Role of History in the British and German Forces

By Sarah Kayss Copyright 2019
    228 Pages 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    228 Pages 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the connection between British and German officer cadets’ perceptions of the past and their motivations for enlisting in the military forces in the United Kingdom and Germany. Drawing upon qualitative interviews and survey data conducted at officers’ academies in the UK and Germany, the author offers a comparative analysis using differing approaches towards history and memory in Britain and Germany, while considering the roles of individual goals and societal orientations in the decision to enlist. Employing the notion of pragmatic professionalism, which reflects the fact that occupational and institutional reasons for enlisting are not opposite points on a single scale, Professionalism, Memory and Identity examines history-orientated reasons for enlistment by shedding light on officer cadets’ values, beliefs and wider cultural understandings of the past. With attention to differences in motivation as a result of differing national backgrounds and former military training, as well as the extent to which these divergences contribute to the emergence of different types of soldiers in the two countries, this comparative, international study will appeal to scholars of sociology, politics and war studies with interests in the military profession and the role of history in contemporary Britain and Germany.

    List of Figures and Tables

    Abbreviations and German Words Used


    1. Introduction

    2. The Origin of Initial Interest in a Military Career

    3. Perceptions of History and Reasons for Enlistment with a Special Focus on History-Oriented Reasons for Enlistment

    4. Concluding Remarks





    Sarah Katharina Kayss received her PhD at the War Studies Department at King’s College London. She has studied Modern History and worked as a lecturer in War and Conflict Studies. Her main research interest is the development of European defence in the twenty-first century and the role of memory in contemporary societies.

    'Combining the literature on recruitment with studies on memory and culture, Kayss’ book provides a fresh new answer to the classical question of why people join the military. Based on a well-designed comparative approach and rich empirical material, she is the first to study systematically history-oriented reasons to enlist. A must-read.' - Chiara Ruffa, Uppsala University and The Swedish Defense University, Sweden

    'A superb study of emergent military professionalism in the contemporary period. Required reading for anybody with an interest in civil-military relations and military sociology today.' - Timothy Edmunds, Professor of International Security, University of Bristol, UK

    'A remarkable, innovative and original contribution to the discussion of the values and identities of British and German officer cadets. Based on a timely and illuminating analysis of an impressive amount of empirical data, this book provides new insights into the sociology of military professionalism.' - Heiko Biehl, Senior Research Director of the Military Sociology Department at the Bundeswehr Centre for Military History and Social Sciences