The dark side of automobilism_ 1900C30 by fdh56iuoui


									                                    The dark side of ‘automobilism’, 1900–30
                                    Violence, war and the motor car

                                    Kurt Möser     Landesmuseum für Technik und Arbeit, Mannheim

                                         or most historians it is a commonplace that motor cars should not be stud-
                                    F    ied just in the context of machines, companies or inventors. Indeed, over
 The Journal of Transport History

                                    the last thirty years, scholars have studied the wider political, institutional,
                                    organisational, economic and cultural dimensions of the car. Nevertheless
                                    there are still some aspects which merit closer attention if we are properly to
                                    understand the early diffusion of the ‘mobility machine’ throughout Europe.1
                                    Contextualising the diffusion of the motor car, as with any technological
                                    artefact, involves historiographical choices. However, scholars are far from
                                    agreed on what made mobility machines so attractive to contemporaries;
                                    there is no consensus over the focus of this aspect of automobile history or
                                    about the questions that should be investigated. Is it best developed as a sub-
                                    field of the history of technology, of social, institutional or economic history,
                                    or of transport history? If the last is the case, then how should this new kind
                                    of transport history be written?
                                       There are certainly problems with some of the other possibilities. The
                                    most recent attempts to develop a historiography of mobility within the his-
                                    tory of technology try to integrate social, economic and political aspects and
                                    are open to the use of cultural forms of evidence. But even these historians
                                    still seem to have difficulty in looking beyond artefacts and coming to terms
                                    with the complexities of what has become the largest techno-social system
                                    on earth.2 On the other hand, when automobile history is treated as part
                                    of economic, institutional or social history and, as such, focuses on the ‘large
                                    system’ of infrastructure, it tends to disregard the ‘small system’ of the auto-
                                    mobile and its components.3 Yet understanding cars within the framework
                                    of traditional transport history leaves much to be desired, because many fea-
                                    tures of this ‘means of transport’ have little to do with transport as a utili-
                                    tarian function but much to do with non-rational, or symbolic, social and
                                    psychological choices. It is this last aspect of mobility history that this arti-
                                    cle addresses, by exploring a subject which was crucial for the social accep-
                                    tance and early diffusion of the motor car in Europe – the ‘culture of
                                    aggression’ before the First World War. The aim is not a comprehensive
                                    treatment of this vast field but a review that indicates some directions for
238                                 future research.
                                                                                      The dark side of ‘automobilism’
   This article argues that in the formative decades of automobilism the use
of automobiles and aeroplanes in the context of races and other technologi-
cally oriented mass spectator sports played a significant role in generating a
collective mood that anticipated and prepared individuals and societies for a
European war.4 Automobilism and aeronautics provided a system of cultural
references that could later be used to understand, shape and express wartime
experience. Several important works of historiography suggest that motori-
sation played a role in preparing society, mentally and culturally as well as
practically, for the ‘Big Bang’ (große Kladderadatsch) anticipated by most
European elites.5 Together with other components of an evolving ‘speed cul-
ture’ – cycle races, aviation gatherings, motorboat regattas – automobiles
played an important part in the creation of a collective mentality appropriate
to the coming war. This future contest between nations was perceived in
terms of a Darwinistic struggle for which every major European power felt it
had to be prepared. Car culture was thus highly significant for what has been
termed the ‘European civil war’ and its cultural, political and social history.6
   The relationship between aggression and early automobilism has been
noticed before.7 The German historian Klenke draws parallels between the
aggressive habit of the front-line fighter and the ‘antisocial’ behaviour of the
driver, referring to the aggressive car culture of the early decades of the Ger-
man Federal Republic and, thus, offering an explanation of the ‘Darwinistic’
behaviour of German motorists in the period after the Second World War.8
Violent ‘road battles’ and conflicts between automobilists and other road
users in the early diffusion period have also received attention.9
   There is one period in the history of motorisation where the link between
the history of automobilism and the political and social history of aggression
has been researched thoroughly, namely the Nazis’ ‘motorisation policy’
(Motorisierungspolitik). Research has been done on the role played by private
cars, the promotion of car ownership and the building of Autobahnen
(motorways) in the economic and military preparation for mechanised war.
Less attention has been paid, however, to how automobilism prepared people
for war in mental terms. The Nazi programme to make Germany a ‘nation
of drivers’, and to make Germans ‘car-minded’ in order to ensure victory in
any future mechanised war, has been widely discussed, while the military role
of the Autobahn programme has also been debated extensively.10 But more
recently scholars have tended to downplay the significance of the Nazis’ ‘poli-
tics of motorisation’ in preparation for war.11 Generally speaking, automo-
bile historians writing about Germany find themselves in a similar situation
to those dealing with the First World War. While they have learned from
British or American scholars, they have not acquired the wide perspectives,
and particularly the sensitivity towards cultural matters, found in works by
Clay McShane or Sean O’Connell.12 And there are no volumes of essays in
German on popular car culture comparable to that edited by Thoms et al.13
   In order to fit the diffusion of the automobile into its broader political con-
text, it is necessary to refer to scholarship on the social, political and cultural
paths leading to the Great War. British and American historians have done                  239
                                    extensive research into the prehistory of what George Kennan described as
                                    this ‘great seminal catastrophe of the century’ whereas in Germany the First
 The Journal of Transport History

                                    World War has been largely overshadowed by Nazism and the Second World
                                    War.14 A crucial question concerns the way the motor car fitted into the
                                    aggressive and militaristic mainstream before 1914. Did this cultural associ-
                                    ation merely speed the distribution of the car, or was the car an agent in the
                                    cultural remaking of society? Such an approach might lead to significant revi-
                                    sions in the history of the automobile. Mom and Merki have done much to
                                    question the common notion that the early diffusion of internal combustion
                                    engine motor cars was straightforward. Mom has raised the issue of the com-
                                    plicated choices that had to be made between competing technologies and
                                    has pointed out that the internal combustion engine automobile was an
                                    ‘adventure machine’, compared with its more ‘civilised’ steam and electric
                                    rivals. Merki has focused on resistance to cars and political ‘crash barriers’
                                    (Leitplanken).15 Their analysis, however, needs to be extended so that it can
                                    be understood in the context of wider cultural currents concerning violence,
                                    aggression and war.

                                    The favourite artefacts of violent societies
                                    John Keegan has asked why European ruling classes who were given both
                                    choice and leisure preferred dangerous pastimes linked with war or prepara-
                                    tion for it. Heroic indifference to danger was part of the socialisation of the rul-
                                    ing elites in several European societies, especially among the nobility. This long
                                    tradition of esteem for courage, violence and war was reactivated again and
                                    again during the nineteenth century.16 Dangerous activities like duels, horse
                                    races and motor sports were the most prestigious. This holds true especially of
                                    the militaristic period in Europe leading up to the First World War. Whole
                                    societies, especially the arch-enemies France and Germany, prepared for war.
                                    The question is: for which kind of war were they preparing; an all-out war
                                    including economic warfare, or a more limited one with the aim of a short, deci-
                                    sive campaign? What is widely accepted is that this preparation was not limited
                                    to military and economic measures, but also included ‘moral mobilisation’.17
                                       Military training was aimed at reducing cultural restraints on violence and
                                    killing.18 Other, less direct forms of cultural preparation included encourag-
                                    ing youths to take part in violent group sports, to learn to live with danger,
                                    and drilling from an early age. But the link between socially valued violence
                                    and individual mobility was not limited to youth culture. Nor was it limited
                                    to motor cars. Early aviation or motor-boat racing was even more risky and
                                    therefore even more highly regarded.19 From this perspective it can be argued
                                    that danger, violence and aggression were not arbitrary features of early
                                    motor vehicles but were at the core of this new technology, forming an
                                    important part of its attraction. The core question therefore is: did these
                                    aggressive mobility machines merely form part of a more general drive
                                    towards war? Or did they assume, or were they given, a more active role in
240                                 constituting the cultural forms at the core of preparations for war?
                                                                                     The dark side of ‘automobilism’
Violence, mainstream culture and counter-culture

Many established aspects of nineteenth-century culture were modernised and
‘motorised’ before 1914. Romantic ideas of ‘free roaming’, of enjoyment of
landscapes and closeness to nature were revived and relived by early
motorists. The Bavarian poet Otto Julius Bierbaum, travelling on a ‘senti-
mental journey’ by automobile to Italy, claimed that the enjoyment of travel
by motor car brought people ‘closer to Goethe’; for Bierbaum this new type
of transport was in the true romantic spirit.20 Less harmless was the ‘motori-
sation’ of other ways of thinking. For instance, the longing for the most
intense and, therefore, most dangerous way of life got a new impulse from
mechanisation. A new type of motorised vitality evolved, stressing the height-
ening of the spirit, the ‘fuller life’ induced by the danger and speed of motor
cars. The prevalent culture of decadence around 1900 gained resonance from
the new mobility of aeroplanes and cars.
   Violence was also highly regarded in certain parts of the counter-culture.
‘When I hear the word culture,’ wrote Hanns Johst, ‘I cock my Browning.’21
The Italian Futurists praised ‘violence, the only hygiene of the world’. Typi-
cally, the narrative in the Futurist Manifesto of 1912 centred on a reckless
drive in a motor car, ending in an accident after swerving to avoid a cyclist.
Despite being injured, the Futurist motorists laugh about their fate. A truly
‘poetic’ death would no longer be caused by consumption or a ‘broken heart’
but by a road or air accident. Whereas earlier decadents played with the idea
and symbols of a passive, beautiful death, with Futurism it became violent,
hard and cold. Expressionists, Dadaists, Futurists and others developed dif-
ferent cultural patterns of a violent aesthetic.22 Parts of the avant-garde as
well as the cultural mainstream shared the notion that aggression was by no
means deplorable but noble, valid and necessary. They shared a pose of
‘heroic acceptance’ of, even enthusiasm for, violence, struggle, triumphant
victory and lethal defeat. These updated and ‘technicised’ vitalistic ideas
formed a strong vein within the ‘ideas of 1914’ – the enthusiasm for the start
of the war during the heady August days of that year.
   This behavioural complex, in its turn, became connected with another of
the vulgar ideologies – or ‘hooded religions’, as a best-selling book of the
1920s termed it – namely Social Darwinism.23 The idea of an ongoing
struggle for the ‘survival of the fittest’ could easily be applied to the situation
on the roads. Driving appeared to be a biologically determined activity,
allowing motorists to perceive themselves as a higher species in evolutionary
terms, better adapted to the new demands of the modern world, having
faster reactions, more developed senses and a better intellect. Some contem-
porary psychologists backed these ideas. Alfred Adler, for instance, stressed
aggression as a driving force in man. He saw it as a means of gaining satis-
faction in a harsh environment: ‘From the moment of birth, a child tries to
gain pleasure. But the child is small, the world seems determined to thwart
it. So a drive develops that makes the child fight for satisfaction. That is the
aggression drive.’                                                                        241
                                       Adler’s ‘individual psychology’ (Individualpsychologie) interpreted aggres-
                                    sion as a way of overcoming and compensating for one’s inferiority complex.
 The Journal of Transport History

                                    Weakness could be compensated for by brutality and aggression; ‘by acting out
                                    these feelings inferiority becomes superiority, powerlessness becomes power’.24
                                       Naturally the culture of decadence at the fin de siècle was countered by a
                                    strong current of mainstream opinion which saw technology in an altogether
                                    more optimistic and progressive light. Even so, respect for indifference in the
                                    face of danger was a common feature in the German middle classes as well.25
                                    And this became more widespread in right-wing extremist circles during the
                                    Weimar Republic. Ernst Jünger, for example, linked disdain for pacifism and
                                    quiet living with a liking for the ‘heroic acceptance’ of modernity in its most
                                    unpleasant forms.26 A new cult celebrating the ‘dangerous moment’ evolved
                                    and fixed upon cars and aeroplanes.27 In this complex of ideas the link
                                    between danger and speed was crucial.

                                    The metaphors of aggressive motoring
                                    In order to understand and culturally integrate the new mobility machines,
                                    specific metaphors and new discourses about automobiles and automobilism
                                    were developed.28 Cars were described as ‘steeds’, linking them with the old
                                    horse culture, or as other living creatures, even as semi-humans. The com-
                                    plex images employed to integrate automobility in the older cultural patterns
                                    included the comparison of the vehicle–driver relationship to centaurs, as
                                    new beings made from human tissue and machine parts. The symbiotic rela-
                                    tionship between the drivers and their machines involved deep understand-
                                    ing and concerted action.29 Another cultural representation of the conflict
                                    between automobilists and other road users was the idea of an opposition
                                    between the sane and the insane. ‘Mad’ motorists, driving recklessly without
                                    regard for others, were contrasted with the ‘mad’, backward-looking enemies
                                    of automobilism, who were fighting a lost cause against progress represented
                                    by speeding cars. The mad had to be disciplined, contained or cured. The
                                    necessity of a cure was central to yet another cultural framework of conflict,
                                    that of the sober and the drunk. Automobilists were described as victims of
                                    a new type of intoxication or drunkenness, of ‘speed euphoria’. As in any
                                    drug-induced state, this was seen as mixing enjoyment with danger. The
                                    metaphor of drunkenness emphasised the narrow divide between ecstasy and
                                    disaster – mentally (or literally) crashing in a speeding automobile.
                                       A further significant cluster of metaphors linked cars with duels or war.
                                    Again, we see a close similarity with aviation. The ‘duel in the air’, an expres-
                                    sion which had become familiar in Germany to describe air races long before
                                    the dogfights over the trenches of the western front, or the ‘duel on the rac-
                                    ing track’, or the ‘battle of the motors’ were all common figures of speech.30
                                    Before 1914 many ‘knights of the air’ started their dangerous activities road
                                    racing in cars or on motor cycles. The battle metaphor was itself transformed
                                    historically in the context of romanticism: it alluded not to modern warfare
242                                 but to archaic battles. Automobilists and aviators were reinterpreted as
                                                                                    The dark side of ‘automobilism’
medieval knights and racing was seen as a tournament or a medieval clash of
horsemen. This allowed a recontextualisation that dignified aggressive
behaviour and increased the status of participants; it was the cultural antici-
pation before 1914 of the real battles in a future war. Death and injury on
the battlefield also provided metaphors for motoring. The ultimate aim was
‘sacrifice’. German soldiers dying on the altar of the Fatherland and racing
drivers participating in races like the Gordon Bennett Cup were seen as heroes
dying for a higher cause. Around 1900 all international sporting events were
in any case charged with nationalistic overtones. Death or injury on the road
became related to the ‘honourable’ death of heroes, and memorials for
‘fallen’ automobilists became linked with war memorials. C. Lefèvre’s 1907
monument in Paris for Emile Levassor, who died in a car crash, employed the
full repertoire of classical sepulchral art.
   Another noble cause to die for was progress, or the propagation of the
modern world which was deemed the next step in the evolution of Man. This
implied the diffusion of new, dangerous but ‘Darwinistically’ necessary tech-
nologies. Especially in aviation, sacrifices for progress were deemed unavoid-
able. Karl Vollmoeller’s poem ‘Volare necesse est’ (1912), which expresses
the necessity of sacrificing lives for a higher goal, is a case in point. The last
words of one of the earliest documented victims of flight, Otto Lilienthal,
were reported to have been ‘Sacrifices have to be made.’ Racing drivers, too,
living at the cutting edge of automobility and exploring the limits of their
‘steeds’’ performance, were regarded as willing to give their lives for the
development of better technology. Even today the official history of Daimler-
Chrysler links the development of the faster but safer Mercedes in 1900 with
a lethal accident involving a company driver. His sacrifice, it is suggested, led
to a decisive modernisation of the car.31
   All this raises the question of the ‘modernity’ of automobile culture as a
particular instance of the culture of technology, a question that could prove
to be as controversial as that concerning the modernity of the Nazis’ tech-
nological culture.32 Automobilism displayed a similar ambivalence and it
seems to have combined archaic heroic ideals of knighthood and courage
with specifically modern qualities, especially a personal relationship with

Automobilism as conditioning for the demands of
the modern world
There was another important social role played by the automobile after
1900. Cars were seen as objects perfectly suited to teaching ‘social survival’
and how to cope with a harsh and violent modernity.

    The fights with his machine often lead a motorist to bitter anger and sor-
    row. But the good side is that this creates precious qualities like patience,
    skill, inventiveness and courage. Our motorist will therefore accept all
    adversities of the road without despair but with laughter: for the automo-
    bile bestows strength of will.33                                                     243
                                    Linked with this idea were suggestions that technology or its image should
                                    be used as a tool for aggressively modernising a backward society; for
 The Journal of Transport History

                                    instance, with the Futurist movement. Italian culture and industry were seen
                                    as lagging behind other European nations, in need of a push towards moder-
                                    nity from automobiles and aeroplanes.
                                       To live on the narrow ledge between life and death, to provoke death, was
                                    a central feature of the New Man. Ernst Jünger’s specific ‘new man’, the
                                    worker (Arbeiter), was characterised by his indifference to danger. Jünger
                                    illustrates this with the image of motor racing, in which activity

                                        the closeness to death appears in connection with high speeds. Speed gen-
                                        erates a form of sober drunkenness, and a flock of racing drivers, sitting like
                                        puppets at the wheel, gives an impression of the curious mixture of preci-
                                        sion and danger.34

                                    The same author decreed that the modern type of elitist mechanical
                                    warrior – in his case a fighter pilot – must have a ‘cool head on top of a hot
                                    heart’ and that in the turmoil of battle a glance at the instrument panel would
                                    be essential to success.35 This thinking attempted to combine mechanisation
                                    and sensitivity to ‘the motor’ with the desirable qualities of the modern war-
                                    rior, reflecting an important tendency of society in the 1920s to reconcile
                                    technology and culture.
                                       Speed was a deeply disturbing feature of early motor mobility which
                                    threatened to break up the old road traffic system. Speed was regarded as the
                                    truly distinctive feature of the new machines, despite being anticipated to a
                                    certain extent by the bicycle. The characteristics of the new driver, concen-
                                    trating on fast driving, developing a sense of other forms of traffic ahead,
                                    behind and alongside, were seen by contemporary interpreters as unique.
                                    Often drivers’ expressions were interpreted in the contemporary context of
                                    physiognomy – a turn-of-the-century fad – as a ‘speed face’ (Geschwindig-
                                    keitsgesicht).36 This influence of speed on man was not restricted to the users
                                    of the new mobility machines. The dangers and attractions of high speed
                                    began to be appreciated by spectators watching motor and aeroplane races
                                    long before the First World War. But in the 1920s it became a mass pheno-
                                    menon. Gravity-defying motor cyclists riding the ‘wall of death’ at funfairs
                                    fascinated the masses, as well as poets and people from high society who
                                    developed a great liking for these ‘vulgar’ forms of motorised popular cul-
                                    ture. After the war the link between automobility and ‘manly’ qualities was
                                    firmly established. Artur Fürst stated in 1924, ‘The enemies of the automo-
                                    bile are identical to pacifist and weakly men . . . At the wheel one will find
                                    therefore the cold-blooded, the energetic, in short: the sane men.’37 This con-
                                    nection was so common that it was frequently employed by caricaturists.
                                    Schilling, for instance, depicted the German general elections of 1925 as a
                                    violent car race, a duel more than a democratic exercise.
                                       The need to develop new personal qualities in order to cope with road
244                                 traffic and high speeds was widely discussed. Independence was required,
                                                                                  The dark side of ‘automobilism’

Figure 1 A car accident in Naples, newspaper illustration by A. Beltram, 1907.
Source R. Zeller, Automobil, p. 37, courtesy Reimar Zeller collection

as well as resourcefulness, calm behaviour under stressful conditions, cold-
bloodedness, fast reactions, the ability to concentrate and to anticipate other
road users’ moves.38 Lastly it was necessary to learn to cope with the multi-
tasking of the three distinct functions: handling a machine, driving and
participating in road traffic.39 In short, good automobilists had to develop            245
                                    human ‘nerves’ to their fullest potential. Thus the enthusiastic supporters of
                                    automobilism modernised Nietzsche by creating a ‘super human’ (Übermen-
 The Journal of Transport History

                                    sch) at the steering wheel. This Social Darwinism of the road was applied
                                    particularly to overtaking. To escape the ‘dust cloud’ of the vehicle in front
                                    was the object, to show your ‘opponent’ that your machine and therefore you
                                    yourself were faster, better and more courageous. This often led to spon-
                                    taneous racing, developing into bitterly fought contests with both cars speed-
                                    ing dangerously side by side. The vehicle that won made its opponent,
                                    literally, ‘bite the dust’. Contemporary driving textbooks explained this at
                                    length, although they warned that one’s ‘racing instinct’ and ‘natural’ aggres-
                                    sion must not be allowed to get out of hand and had to be disciplined.
                                       Accidents also had to be reinterpreted and integrated culturally. Under cer-
                                    tain conditions, accidents could be characterised as aesthetic as well as as ‘manly’
                                    or heroic experiences. The ultimate ‘techno-romantic adventure’ (techno-
                                    romantisches Abenteuer), as Karl Kraus called it, of fast driving could find ‘ful-
                                    filment’ in a fatal climax. Typically the Futurists employed images of romanti-
                                    cism, the sacred and the military, to elevate drivers killed in accidents to the
                                    status of sacrifices on the altar of technology. They were depicted as martyred
                                    saints. Crashed pilots would appear with a halo round their heads, as in, for
                                    example, D’Annunzio’s aviator novel Forse che sì forse che no (1910) or
                                    Euringer’s novel Fliegerschule 4 (1929). The idea of a ‘sacred death’ for airmen
                                    and automobilists, paralleling the ‘sacrifice’ of soldiers or saints, was found
                                    across Europe. Meanwhile surviving a serious crash was given fresh meaning
                                    by turning the experience into a high adventure. And this cultural process
                                    whereby accidents are ‘reinterpreted’ explains the tolerance most ‘motorised
                                    societies’ display towards the vast numbers killed and injured on the road.
                                       Another typical representation of the mortal dangers inherent in the new
                                    mobility machines was eroticism: death was a lover, desired and eagerly antici-
                                    pated. The attraction of ‘embracing death’, of ‘loving’ danger and submitting
                                    to its alluring power, was exploited again and again. This was in line with the
                                    older tradition of the danse macabre, an artistic form portraying a personified
                                    Death commonly portrayed as a skeleton entering an everyday situation ‘in
                                    the midst of life’. The danse macabre was revived after 1900 in, for example,
                                    Hoffmannsthal’s Jedermann or some of James Ensor’s paintings representing
                                    death in the midst of life. Whereas these artists modernised traditional images,
                                    playing with the motifs of a trivialised romanticism, there were also more
                                    direct modernisations, combining the danse macabre with the new mobility
                                    machines.40 The Futurist way of looking at accidents – nonchalantly playing
                                    down death and injury, and preparing motorists for their occurrence – can be
                                    found in a more prosaic fashion in motorists’ textbooks, especially those deal-
                                    ing with motor cycling. Thus a crash was described as a totally normal
                                    experience, and novice riders were given to understand that ‘falls’ should be
                                    expected as a matter of routine. Such a textbook, by Filius in 1922, dedicated
                                    a whole chapter to this: dealing with common causes of accidents, preparing
                                    riders for injuries, and giving advice on coping with the inevitable ‘wound-
246                                 ings’.41 First-aid kits, as permanent mementi mori, quickly gained importance.
                                                                                      The dark side of ‘automobilism’
Class struggles on the road
The ‘classical’ confrontation on the road, described in detail by contempo-
rary motorists, and interpreted by essayists, journalists and caricaturists,
became class-related. Fights between the speeding, arrogant, whip-brandish-
ing upper-class driver, sitting on his or her motor ‘warhorse’ with co-driver
or mechanic (a social underling) at his side and stone-throwing peasants
defending their village road, acquired a distinctly political edge. As President
Woodrow Wilson was to remark later, ‘Nothing has spread socialist feeling
in this country more than the automobile. To the countryman they are the
picture of the arrogance of wealth.’42
   Cars were mobilised (literally) as the perfect means of expressing conspicu-
ous consumption and demonstrating class superiority. By owning and dri-
ving an automobile a form of conflict could be re-established which was
attractive to those who feared a reduction of class conflict. The nouveaux
riches, in particular, were more hedonistic and less reluctant to show their
wealth. Little wonder that they took to the motor car with alacrity, uniting
the power of the engine with the size of their egos, speeding through the
world of the lower orders, looking down their noses from their cars much as
they had done from their horses in earlier days. And the view from ‘below’
matched the one from ‘above’; travelling in Italy in 1905, the German inven-
tor Eugen Diesel encountered a socialist demonstration and nearly got
attacked by party workers.43
   But the picture is more complex than that. Among motorists there were
strong class distinctions which were reflected in the ‘class’ of vehicle one owned.
‘Good morning! I’m Count Dohna, 40 h.p.,’ was the way a rich capitalist intro-
duced himself in a cartoon of 1906.44 As William Plowden noted of Britain, the
class of cars and of people is linked.45 Early German automobile clubs mirrored
this social stratification.46 The Imperial Club (the Kaiserliche) was reserved for
gentlemen of private means and good social standing, while drivers of lesser
vehicles or those not qualifying as gentlemen joined the Mitteleuropäische
Motorwagenverein or, later on, the Allgemeine Deutsche Automobilclub.47
Social divisions helped to distinguish between ‘true’ motorists and ‘upstarts’, the
latter being rude, uncivilised and boastful. A ‘true’ German motorist would
claim that there were pleasures of automobilism that the ‘motoring upstart’ was
incapable of enjoying. Independence, the feeling of speeding through fresh air
and the romantic notion of the open road ‘provide a joy of living which is more
refined and much tastier than the usurping bossiness and showing-off of a
minority, the motoring riff-raff’.48 Speed and aggression on the road became a
matter of distinction, not only for men but for women. Indeed, there are many
accounts of women drivers overtaking dangerously and entering into competi-
tion with other drivers in an attempt to gain equality with men.49

Road conflicts
When cars encountered non-motor road traffic they disturbed the old order
in many ways: in terms of speed, dust, noise and fumes, and the recklessness               247
                                    and anonymity of the rapidly disappearing faceless driver.50 A quotation from
                                    1907 sums this up: ‘A horseless carriage passed by with considerable noise.
 The Journal of Transport History

                                    On it were sitting disguised shapes with big goggles, and a dragon’s tail of
                                    dust and nasty smoke trailed behind.’51
                                       This phenomenon sparked off violent hostility to cars (Autofeindschaft) in
                                    other road users, and counter-violence and fantasies of dominance from auto-
                                    mobilists themselves. Stone throwing was common, and contemporary
                                    motoring textbooks explained how to deal with it. Speeding drivers who had
                                    killed or injured other road users were even lynched. In some instances
                                    barricades were erected to stop drivers, and non-motorists set up ‘car traps’
                                    (Autofallen). This rather ambivalent term means either a deliberate attack on
                                    automobilists or, in some countries, it also meant a concealed local policemen
                                    trying to catch and punish speeding drivers. A notorious attack on motorists
                                    in Hennersdorf in 1913 involved a wire stretched between trees, which decap-
                                    itated a couple and injured their daughters sitting on the back seat. After this
                                    incident some motorists equipped their cars with wire deflectors or cutters;
                                    interestingly, during the First World War, French franc-tireurs used similar
                                    tactics on German staff and despatch riders.
                                       This was by no means the only weaponry deployed on both sides. German
                                    automobilists carried whips which they used against children trying to hitch a
                                    ride, ‘dog bombs’ against aggressive animals, and even pistols, which were
                                    freely available in Germany before 1914. A literary view of these German
                                    ‘road wars’ is provided in ‘Hunt for automobiles’ in Hermann Hesse’s 1927
                                    novel Steppenwolf. Here the clash of technology and the pastoral is allegori-
                                    cally presented in the outbreak of war between men and machines: ‘The

                                    Figure 2 Motorists passing through a village, lithograph by C. Leandre, 1904.
248                                 Source R. Zeller, Automobil, p. 33, courtesy Reimar Zeller collection
                                                                                   The dark side of ‘automobilism’
battle between people and machines, long prepared, long expected, long
feared, was starting now.’52
  Car historians have been tempted to interpret resistance to automobilism
as anti-modernist, reactionary struggles by marginalised Luddites, fighting
for a lost cause. But one has to be careful of adopting the winners’, i.e. the
motorists’, point of view and uncritically accepting their cultural baggage.

Dangerous races, nationalism and public fascination
It would be wrong to see early automobilism as civil war, since motorists
living in close contact with danger and violence formed only a minority;
pistols, whips and wires across the road were, after all, an insignificant aber-
ration in an otherwise tranquil process in which the motor car became
accepted in European societies. However, this minority had a cultural impact
well beyond its size. The high drama of aeroplane and automobile races drew
huge crowds and brought them into contact with the dangers of the new
mobility machines. Earlier, cycle racing had set this trend. The fact that the
Olympic Games were revived just before the turn of the century was no
coincidence. In fact the organisers of dangerous races and record-breaking
events on the road and in the air formed a powerful coalition with the emerg-
ing popular press. The most prestigious automobile race before the First
World War was sponsored by the American press tycoon Gordon Bennett.
Speed in itself and its inherent dangers became a drug for participants and
spectators alike.53 Attracted by sensational journalism, crowds lined the
streets and later, when racing on public roads was stopped because of the
number of accidents, they flocked to the most dangerous bends on racetracks.
Often it was not only the participants but also the spectators themselves who
became victims. The Paris–Madrid race in 1903 claimed several dead and
injured bystanders before it was finally abandoned. For spectators a new
collective attitude developed: crashes at races were expected and keenly
observed; injuries and death became common sights, conditioning the masses
for the industrialised violence of the next war.
   Moreover crowds and dangerous races became interwoven with national-
ist instincts and creeds. International races ruled that each driver (or pilot),
his machine and his engine all had to come from the same country. Thus the
rivalry of individuals, and cars and engines, developed into a rivalry of nation
states. National prowess could now be demonstrated by the collective virtues
of engineering ‘ingenuity’ and production quality, as well as by courageous,
daring individuals. The French automobile racing ‘pilots’ shouted ‘À Berlin!’
at the last great pre-war motor race – a shout which was repeated in a rather
different context in August the same year (1914).54

The ‘offensive spirit’ and dangerous mechanised sports
French and German military doctrine after the Franco-Prussian War
(1870–71) favoured attack as the only admissible method of warfare.                     249
                                    Although taught grudgingly by the military authorities as the only way to
                                    counter the impact of modern weapons, defensive strategies were held in low
 The Journal of Transport History

                                    esteem and seldom practised. The French doctrine of ‘all-out offensive’
                                    (offensive à l’outrage) matched the ‘Prussian offensive spirit’ (Preußische
                                    Offensivgeist).55 The moral advantages of the offensive were matched by
                                    practical ones: one could ‘dictate’ the activities of the battle and ‘force one’s
                                    will upon the foe’. The resulting mass attacks were seen as ‘the only way of
                                    wrestling down the enemy’.
                                       The duty of the subaltern officers was to lead their men into battle. The
                                    success of mass attacks depended upon them; their social prestige was based
                                    on aggression and preparation for future actions.56 Consequently, during
                                    peacetime junior officers were encouraged to exercise extensively for
                                    wartime duties and the most dangerous sports were eagerly adopted. Steeple-
                                    chasing and long-distance horse races, especially the ‘Military’ riding sport,
                                    became popular among younger officers. Soldiers were often sponsored by
                                    their units if their ‘private means’ were not sufficient. As flying was more
                                    dangerous than motoring, aviation became a highly prestigious activity, a
                                    kind of ‘super-automobilism’ which strongly influenced motoring culture.57
                                    Motoring, too, was done under the approving eyes of commanders who
                                    encouraged junior officers to learn to drive in order to use this ‘art’ in their
                                    military duties. After the turn of the century, risk-oriented automobility, avi-
                                    ation and military motorisation were combined. The former racing driver
                                    and ‘gentleman mechanic’ Capitaine Genty, for example, was made auto-
                                    mobile adviser to the French army, from 1903 commanding the new corps
                                    d’automobilistes militaires and constructing in 1908 a machine-gun-carrying
                                    automitrailleuse which fought insurgents in North Africa, the first military
                                    car used in combat.58
                                       Many such ideas originated with younger officers, whereas staff officers
                                    were in general more sceptical. Not surprisingly, utopian and disutopian nov-
                                    els and ideas began to combine motor vehicles and battle.59 Most visions of
                                    war before 1914 assumed that the next European conflict would be a mech-
                                    anised one, fought by aerial fleets and ‘landships’; typical of this genre was
                                    H. G. Wells’s 1904 novel The War in the Air. On the surface these visions
                                    clashed with the idea of a traditional, romantic war which was revived in
                                    1914, but there was a common denominator in the desire for ‘sacrifice’ and
                                    a longing for death, and this could take the form of either a pre-modern or
                                    a mechanised battle. Various combinations were possible – as an illustration
                                    of a future ‘Battle of Petrolewna’, fought by cavalry mounted on automobiles
                                    and motor cycles, demonstrated. This seemingly humorous picture decorated
                                    the official catalogue of the Gordon Bennett race in 1905.

                                    Car culture and the preparation for war: the Kaiserliche Automobil
                                    Korps and subsidised lorries
                                    Crucial to the militarisation of the image of early motoring in Germany was
250                                 the Kaiserliche Automobilkorps (Imperial Automobile Corps), an organisation
                                                                                     The dark side of ‘automobilism’
of ‘gentlemen drivers’ who joined the army together with their automobiles
and mechanics. At the beginning of the First World War the army had not a
single staff vehicle. The Kaiserliche Automobilkorps (later joined by the Kaiser-
liche Motorbootkorps) was founded in 1905 with encouragement from the
Kaiser’s brother, Prinz Heinrich, a car enthusiast. Many upper-class motorists
volunteered, one reason being that its members were given a temporary reserve
officer’s commission, which was much coveted among the upper middle class.
Their mechanics were given the rank of NCO. The attractions of this organ-
isation filtered down through the motorists’ ranks; even volunteer motor
cyclists could become military despatch riders in the Kaiserliche Motorfahrer-
Korps. For these volunteers military training was not regarded as necessary;
the ability to drive was sufficient. In wartime it became evident that ‘to prac-
tise automobile sports in peacetime was highly advantageous for steeling one’s
body and for refreshing one’s mind’.
   And races and rallies were seen as ‘exercises for eventual service’.60 In prac-
tice, during the early enthusiastic ‘spirit of August’ 1914, the Kaiserliche
Automobilkorps proved ‘loyal to the Emperor’, but as the war progressed the
gentlemen drivers of the Automobilkorps lost their exclusive status. From
May 1915 they became formally part of the officers’ list and therefore part
of the army and of the organisation of total warfare.
   Part of the preparations for a mechanised system of military transport were
the subsidies for lorries which several European countries introduced before
the war. Germany, France and Britain supported the cost and upkeep of
private lorries in order to use them in wartime. In Germany, M 800,000 were
allocated to this programme in the first year and M 1 million a year later. Only
a special type of ‘subsidy truck’ (Subventionslastkraftwagen) was eligible for
this programme. Subsidies not only influenced the growth of German road
haulage but also helped shape the direction of truck technology for years to
come: weights, power trains, speeds and engine torque were developed accord-
ing to military requirements. More important, the army’s subsidies were
at least partly responsible for the technological choice of propulsion system;
since only vehicles with petrol engines were eligible, the rival technologies of
steam and electricity were suppressed.
   For the workers in this system of military transport the experience of
wartime driving was familiar. They used and maintained the same vehicles,
although they drove longer hours on rougher roads with more shoddy mate-
rial and inferior petrol. But in reminiscences their wartime experience often
comes over as only slightly more intense than civilian motoring, adding just
a little to the usual dangers and risk of being injured or killed. The ‘motorist’s
song’ (Kraftfahrerlied) of a motorcycle despatch rider unit in 1915 presents
driving under wartime conditions as peacetime driving plus some interven-
tion by ‘the enemy’.
   Motorisation brought a new kind of war.61 Despite their limited numbers,
motor vehicles had a profound impact on the fighting and even created an
embryonic form of Blitzkrieg (lightning war) by allowing the rapid movement
of troops behind the lines.62 The conflict was instrumental in creating among              251
 The Journal of Transport History

                                    Figure 3 ‘Vote communist!’ Painting by A. Kampf, 1918. Source R. Zeller, Automobil,
                                    p. 67, courtesy Berlinische Galerie collection

                                    combatants and noncombatants alike a desire for cars in the post-war period
                                    that was later exploited by the Nazis and ultimately facilitated the acceptance
                                    of a car-centred consumer society.63
                                      In general, the increased contact of a whole generation of male Europeans
                                    (and quite a few females) with motor vehicles from 1914 to 1918 not only
252                                 familiarised them with these hitherto exclusive machines but also established
                                                                                   The dark side of ‘automobilism’
a firm link between aggression, war and automobiles or aeroplanes. Kittler has
explored the case of the Italian army and the genesis of Fascist iconography,
where automobiles played an important role.64 His results should inspire simi-
lar research into the early history of the Nazi movement, since the image of
motor transport in the 1920s was linked with agitation and collective aggres-
sion. During these years, elements of collectivity were added to the aggressive
image of speed. A typical sight in the troubled Germany of 1918–23 was a
troop of soldiers, revolutionaries or Freikorps, crowded into the back of a
speeding truck, flags waving above. It is remarkable that this image of ‘public’
transport was employed both by the regular army (Reichswehr) troops and
the Freikorps of the revolutionary right. This type of agitation, where motor
vehicles enhanced new forms of political mobilisation, foreshadowed their use
in the 1930s.65

Aggressive car culture and the contrasting image of peaceful and
functional transport
Public images of early car culture were sharply divided. Whereas automo-
bilists presented their driving habits as peaceful and tranquil, and automobil-
ism as a way to revive the bucolic aspects of the country road, non-car owners
portrayed cars as demonic machines and their drivers as dangerous maniacs.
Images fell into two distinctly different categories: ‘travel’ and ‘speeding’.
Increasingly, however, the violent image was at odds with the increased use
of motor vehicles as a functional means of transport. A new practical, peace-
ful car culture seemed to supplant the earlier one of danger and adventure.
Recent research also argues that after about 1910 automobiles became less
risky and more practical.66 The ‘doctor’s car’ is typical of this development.
The history of automobiles is the history of a domestication process: private
motor vehicles were pacified and became ordinary family possessions. Early
on, a contemporary distinction existed between a more civilised town-car
culture and a more adventurous cross-country travel culture. Thus automo-
bilism around 1900 was seen as being divided into a flâneur culture, often
linked with women’s use of cars in big cities like Paris, and a male-dominated
speeding and dangerous racing culture, on the ‘open road’.
   It is doubtful, however, that contemporary images of early car culture were
so sharply divided. Firstly, women did not drive ‘tamely’, as was often
claimed. Secondly, the spontaneous and informal development of racing on
the open road represented a crossover from an aggressive, competitive car
culture to its supposedly gentle, pastoral equivalent; often the tranquillity of
a drive ended abruptly when another car attempted to overtake. Many sto-
ries of dangerous races against fellow motorists are found in the accounts of
early automobile journeys. Even drivers alone on the road were tempted to
try out the speed of their machines – ‘to see what the engine can do’ (schauen,
was der Motor hergibt) was a common phrase in Germany. Thirdly, the ‘auto-
mobile risk culture’ did not die but simply retreated into specialist niches
later in the twentieth century, most notably into racing and motorbiking, but           253
                                    also into specialised forms of youth culture such as ‘hot rodding’. Other
                                    forms of protest and aggression expressed through car cultures and fast dri-
 The Journal of Transport History

                                    ving styles were developed and often had a strong anti-bourgeois taint in –
                                    to use J. McNeill’s evocative phrase – all ‘motown societies’.67
                                       But the dark side of motorisation is by no means limited to automobile sub-
                                    cultures. It was, and is, always possible to drive dangerously, to chase slower
                                    cars, to force others to swerve into a slower lane or ‘cut them up’ – in short,
                                    to act on the road in a socially unacceptable way. The aggressive components
                                    of today’s car culture – ‘road rage’, reckless driving styles and dangerous
                                    youth races – are widely acknowledged. But they are commonly seen as aber-
                                    rations from a peaceful norm, or as the exceptional behaviour of a few young
                                    and delinquent drivers. This view appeals to both critics and supporters of
                                    automobilism alike. The supporters can downplay any dangerous potential
                                    in motor cars, while critics can claim that aggressively used cars are in the
                                    wrong hands and it is the drivers who have to be disciplined. By contrast, this
                                    article argues that forms of collective automobile-based aggression are not
                                    aberrations from an ideal but an essential part of car culture, part of its inher-
                                    ent attraction and therefore at least partly responsible for its extraordinarily
                                    successful long-term distribution and acceptance.
                                       Putting this into a broader perspective, it is clear that the central question
                                    concerning the success of the road traffic system and individual motorisation
                                    in twentieth-century Europe should be revised. Much could be gained by
                                    analysing the ‘dark side’ of automobilism – the dangerous attraction of dri-
                                    ving from the earliest period of automobilism to the present day. Only thus
                                    shall we be able to understand why such a dangerous technology has been so
                                    successful.68 In most industrialised countries road traffic fatalities peaked in
                                    the early 1970s, when cars had become faster and more powerful, and adver-
                                    tising stressed the ‘fun’ and satisfaction of driving, when an optimistic,
                                    sports-oriented image of automobilism prevailed. In this ‘naive’ period,
                                    before the disillusioning experience of the oil crisis and the strengthening of
                                    the ecological debate, reckless driving was a habit. Here the connection
                                    between aggression and the popular and successful growth of the automobile
                                    system is evident. Is it then too far-fetched to suppose that if the history of
                                    the ‘dark side’ of the motor car were to be more thoroughly researched, more
                                    phenomena, far removed from the usual picture of a pacified, rational and
                                    ‘natural’ transport system, would come to light?

                                     1 Research into automobile history still concentrates on just one segment of ‘mobility
                                       machines’ – a fact P. J. G. Ransom has deplored (The Archaeology of the Transport Revolu-
                                       tion, 1750–1850, Kingswood, 1984). Research into other mobility machines seems to be
                                       more advanced. Wohl has demonstrated in an excellent study of early aviation the poten-
                                       tial of an histoire totale, looking deep into the cultural attraction of flying and the social
                                       dimension of the diffusion of aeroplanes. There is no comparable history yet written by
                                       automobile historians. (Robert Wohl, A Passion for Wings: aviation and the Western imag-
                                       ination, 1908–1918, New Haven CT and London, 1994.)
                                     2 T. Buddensieg and H. Rogge, Die Nützlichen Künste. Gestaltende Technik und Bildende
254                                    Kunst seit der Industriellen Revolution (exhibition catalogue, Berlin, 1981).
                                                                                                    The dark side of ‘automobilism’
 3 This distinction has been drawn by G. Schmidt in his editorial to ‘Die Zeit fährt Auto’.
   (Gert Schmidt, ed., Jahrbuch Technik und Gesellschaft, Frankfurt and New York, 1999,
   pp. 7–14.) Older research focusing on the interaction of human beings and technology
   regards drivers as ‘behaviouristic units’ without emotions or desires. If social psychology
   or psychology tries to get these factors into focus, the ‘hard core’ of the artefact tends to
   be neglected, along with the historical conditions in which mobility machines are used.
   (H. Popitz, H. P. Bahrdt, E. A. Jüres and H. Kesting, Technik und Industriearbeit, second
   edition, Tübingen, 1964; W. Sachs, Die Liebe zum Automobil. Ein Rückblick in die
   Geschichte unserer Wünsche, Reinbek, 1984; M. Hilgers, Total abgefahren. Psychoanalyse
   des Autofahrens, second edition, Freiburg, 1992.)
 4 ‘Automobilism’ in contemporary usage spans automobile culture and use, technology and
   organisation. I find the term useful for setting the subject of any research into the early
 5 The author’s approach relies heavily on the work of British and American historians deal-
   ing with the World War I culture of aggression and its representation, especially Fussell’s
   impressive study, showing how war artists draw on pre-war cultural patterns in order to
   give form to their experiences. Other historians, e.g. Leed, Eksteins and Hynes, adopted
   similar models without talking explicitly about automobiles. But a remark in the preface of
   Eksteins’s book about the close relation between automobile graveyards and World War I
   military cemeteries sparked off the author’s interest in this field. (P. Fussell, The Great War
   and Modern Memory, London, 1979; E. C. Leed, No Man’s Land: combat and identity in
   the First World War, Cambridge, 1979; M. Eksteins, Rites of Spring: the Great War and the
   birth of the Modern Age, London, 1989; S. Hynes, A War Imagined: the First World War
   and English culture, London, 1990. All German quotations translated by this author.)
 6 Further research has to identify and specify the ‘violence levels’ of the different European
   societies, as well as their common denominator vis-à-vis other countries and continents,
   especially the United States. See, for Germany, K. Möser, ‘The First World War and the
   creation of desire for cars in Germany’, in Susan Strasser, Charles McGovern and Matthias
   Judt (eds), Getting and Spending: European and American consumer societies in the
   twentieth century (Washington DC, 1998), pp. 195–222.
 7 Harry Niemann, ‘Gleich nach dem Fall kommt der Unfall. Propädeutische Überlegungen
   zu einer Geschichte der Straßenverkehrssicherheit’, in H. Niemann and A. Herrmann
   (eds), Geschichte der Straßenverkehrssicherheit im Wechselspiel zwischen Fahrzeug,
   Fahrbahn und Mensch (Bielefeld, 1999), pp. 9–18; G. P. A. Mom, ‘Das “Scheitern” des
   frühen Elektromobils 1895–1925. Versuch einer Neubewertung’, Tecnikgeschichte 64
   (1997), pp. 269–85; T. Donelly, ‘Cars, culture and war’, in David Thoms, Len Holden and
   Tim Claydon (eds), The Motor Car and Popular Culture in the Twentieth Century (Alder-
   shot, 1998), pp. 210–26.
 8 Dietmar Klenke, ‘Die deutsche Katastrophe und das Automobil. Zur ‘Heils’geschichte
   eines nationalen Kultobjekts in den Jahren des Wiederaufstiegs’, in M. Salewski and I.
   Stölken-Fitschen (eds), Moderne Zeiten. Technik und Zeitgeist im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert
   (Stuttgart, 1994), pp. 158–73.
 9 L. Diehl, ‘Tyrannen der Landstraße. Die Automobilkritik um 1900’, Kultur und Technik 3
   (1998), pp. 51–7; C. M. Merki, ‘Die “Auto-Wildlinge” und das Recht’, in H. Niemann and
   A. Herrmann (eds), Geschichte der Straßenverkehrssicherheit im Wechselspiel zwischen
   Fahrzeug, Fahrbahn und Mensch (Bielefeld, 1999), pp. 51–74; Kurt Möser, ‘Zwischen Sys-
   temopposition und Systemteilnahme. Sicherheit und Risiko im motorisierten Straßen-
   verkehr’, in H. Niemann and A. Herrmann (eds), Geschichte der Straßenverkehrssicherheit
   (1999), pp. 159–68.
10 R. J. Overy, ‘Cars, roads, and economic recovery in Germany, 1932–38’, Economic History
   Review 28 (1975), pp. 466–83; C. Kopper, ‘Modernität oder Scheinmodernität national-
   sozialistischer Herrschaft. Das Beispiel der Verkerspolitik’, in C. Jansen, L. Niethammer
   and B. Weisbrod (eds), Von der Aufgabe der Freiheit. Festschrift für Hans Mommsen (Berlin,
   1995), pp. 399–411; A. Kube, ‘Von der “Volksmotorisierung” zur Mobilmachung. Auto-
   mobil und Gesellschaft im “Dritten Reich”’, in Landesmuseum für Technik und Arbeit in
   Mannheim (ed.), Räder, Autos und Traktoren. Erfindungen aus Mannheim – Wegbereiter der
   mobilen Gesellschaft (Mannheim, 1986), pp. 138–57; Friedrich Kittler, ‘Auto Bahnen’, in
   W. Emmerich and C. Wege (eds), Der Technikdiskurs in der Hitler-Stalin-Ära (Stuttgart and
   Weimar, 1995), pp. 114–22; E. Schütz, ‘Faszination der blaßgrauen Bänder. Zur “organis-
   chen” Technik der Reichsautobahn’, in W. Emmerich and C. Wege (eds), Der Technik-
   diskurs in der Hitler-Stalin-Ära (Stuttgart and Weimar, 1995), pp. 123–45; R. Stommer                 255
                                         (ed.), Reichsautobahn. Pyramiden des Dritten Reiches. Analysen zur Ästhetik eines unbe-
                                         wältigten Mythos (second edition, Marburg, 1984).
 The Journal of Transport History

                                    11   C. Kopper, Handel und Verkehr im 20. Jahrhundert (Enzyklopädie Deutscher Geschichte
                                         LXIII, Munich, 2002), pp. 91–101. The German National Socialist attitude to automobil-
                                         ism is beyond the scope of this article, though, since it is limited to the period up to 1930.
                                         But the impression remains that the full impact is still somewhat underestimated.
                                    12   C. McShane, Down the Asphalt Path: the automobile and the American city (New York,
                                         1994); Sean O’Connell, The Car in British Society: class, gender and motoring, 1896–1939
                                         (Manchester, 1998).
                                    13   D. Thoms, L. Holden and T. Claydon (eds), The Motor Car and Popular Culture in the
                                         Twentieth Century (Aldershot, 1998). On the other hand, the link between aggression and
                                         driving has received attention from traffic psychologists for a long time. Their main
                                         interest is in the present motoring culture and they do not try to historicise the object of
                                         their study. (H-J. Berger, G. Bliersbach and R. G. Dellen, Macht und Ohnmacht auf der
                                         Autobahn. Dimensionen des Erlebens beim Autofahren, Frankfurt, 1973; M. Hilgers, Total
                                         abgefahren. Psychoanalyse des Autofahrens, second edition, Freiburg, 1992; H. Holte,
                                         Rasende Liebe. Warum wir aufs Auto so abfahren (und was wir dabei bedenken sollten),
                                         Stuttgart and Leipzig, 2000; R. W. Novaco, ‘Automobile driving and aggressive behavior’,
                                         in Martin Wachs and Margret Crawford, eds, The Car and the City: the automobile, the
                                         built environment, and daily urban life, Ann Arbor MI, 1992, pp. 234–50.)
                                    14   Cultural and social aspects of World War I were seldom researched by German historians
                                         before 1990, whereas in English-speaking countries the volumes mentioned earlier were
                                         discussed by a much wider public. (W. Michalka, ed., Der Erste Weltkrieg. Wirkung –
                                         Wahrnehmung – Analyse, Munich and Zürich, 1994; K. Vondung, ed., Das wilhelminische
                                         Bildungsbürgertum. Zur Sozialgeschichte seiner Ideen, Göttingen, 1976.)
                                    15   Gijs Mom, Geschiedenis van de auto van morgen: cultuur en techniek van de elektrische
                                         auto (Deventer, 1997); Christoph Maria Merki, Der holprige Siegeszug des Automobils.
                                         Zur Motorisierung des Straßenverkehrs in Frankreich, Deutschland und der Schweiz
                                         (Vienna, Cologne and Weimar, 2002).
                                    16   For this prehistory see Michael C. C. Adams, The Great Adventure: male desire and the
                                         coming of World War I (Indianapolis IN, 1990).
                                    17   See Keegan, Face of Battle.
                                    18   See Grossman, On Killing; S. L. A. Marshall, Soldaten im Feuer (eleventh and twelfth edi-
                                         tions, Frauenfeld, 1966), first published as Men against Fire (1946).
                                    19   See Wohl, A Passion for Wings.
                                    20   See O. J. Bierbaum, Automobilia. Reiseskizzen und Betrachtungen aus den Kindertagen
                                         des Automobils. Ausgewählt und mit einem Nachwort versehen von M. Krause (Bonn,
                                         1988), p. 45.
                                    21   Recently the aggressive and militaristic strain in the German youth movement has been
                                         researched. (G. Ille, ‘Von andrer Art gibt’s jetzt ’ne Fahrt. Die bürgerliche Jugendbewegung
                                         an der Schwelle des Ersten Weltkrieges’, in Berliner Geschichtswerkstatt, ed., August 1914.
                                         Ein Volk zieht in den Krieg, Berlin, 1989, pp. 49–59; J. Wolschke-Bulmahn, ‘Kriegsspiel
                                         und Naturgenuß. Zur Funktionalisierung der bürgerlichen Jugendbewegung für mil-
                                         itärische Ziele’, Jahrbuch des Archivs der deutschen Jugendbewegung 16, 1986/87, pp. 251–
                                    22   Kurt Möser, ‘“Knall auf Motor.” Die Liebesaffäre von Künstlern und Dichtern mit Motor-
                                         fahrzeugen 1900–1930’, in Mannheims Motorradmeister. Franz Islinger gewinnt die
                                         Deutsche Motorradmeisterschaft 1926 (exhibition catalogue, Mannheim, 1996), pp. 18–
                                         29; P. Gendolla and C. Zelle (eds), Schönheit und Schrecken. Entsetzen, Gewalt und Tod in
                                         alten und neuen Medien (Heidelberg, 1990).
                                    23   C. C. Bry, Verkappte Religionen (Gotha and Stuttgart, 1924).
                                    24   Quoted by H. Ansbacher and R. Ansbacher, Alfred Adlers Individualpsychologie (fourth
                                         edition, Munich, 1995), p. 95.
                                    25   K. Vondung, Kriegserlebnis. Der Erste Weltkrieg in der literarischen Gestaltung und sym-
                                         bolischen Deutung der Nationen (Göttingen, 1980).
                                    26   See R. P. Sieferle, Die Konservative Revolution. Fünf biografische Skizzen (Frankfurt, 1995).
                                    27   E. Jünger, Der gefährliche Augenblick. Eine Sammlung von Bildern und Berichten, ed. Fer-
                                         dinand Bucholtz (Berlin, 1931).
                                    28   See J. Link and S. Reinecke, ‘“Autofahren ist wie das Leben.” Metamorphosen des
                                         Autosymbols in der deutschen Literatur’, in H. Segeberg (ed.), Technik in der Literatur
256                                      (Frankfurt, 1987), pp. 436–82.
                                                                                                The dark side of ‘automobilism’
29 See Möser, ‘“ Knall auf Motor”,’ pp. 24–9.
30 Von Saldern has explored these topoi for the 1920s and the National Socialist period but
   many of her observations could be supported by much earlier quotations. (Adelheid von
   Saldern, ‘Cultural conflicts, popular mass culture and the question of Nazi success: the
   Eilenriede motorcycle races, 1924–39’, German Studies Review 15, 1992, pp. 317–38.)
31 See D. Fack, Automobil, Verkehr und Erziehung. Motorisierung und Sozialisation zwischen
   Beschleunigung und Anpassung 1885–1945 (Opladen, 2000); id., ‘Das deutsche Kraft-
   fahrschulwesen und die technisch-rechtliche Konstitution der Fahrausbildung 1899–
   1943’, Technikgeschichte 67 (2000), pp. 111–38.
32 See Emmerich and Wege, Der Technikdiskurs in der Hitler-Stalin-Ära.
33 Allgemeines über den Automobilismus (H-n), Stein der Weisen XXVII (1901), pp. 329–34,
   at p. 233.
34 E. Jünger, Der Arbeiter. Herrschaft und Gestalt (1932, reprinted Stuttgart, 1982), p. 148.
35 E. Jünger, Werke I, Tagebücher I, ‘Das Wäldchen’ 125 (Stuttgart, n.d.).
36 J. Radkau, ‘Auto-Lust. Zur Geschichte der Geschwindigkeit’, in T. Königs and R. Schäffer
   (eds), Fortschritt vom Auto? (Munich, 1991), pp. 113–30; P. Kirchberg, ‘Die
   Motorisierung des Straßenverkehrs in Deutschland von den Anfängen bis zum Zweiten
   Weltkrieg’, in H. Niemann and A. Hermann (eds), Die Entwicklung der Motorisierung im
   Deutschen Reich und den Nachfolgestaaten (Stuttgart, 1995), pp. 9–22; Klaus Verfuß,
   ‘Vom anstößigen zum umweltfreundlichen Verkehrsmittel. Anmerkungen zum Fahrrad’,
   Sowi 25 (1996), H.4, pp. 274–81.
37 Quoted by Martin Scharfe, ‘Die Nervosität des Automobilisten’, in R. van Dülmen (ed.),
   Körpergeschichte (Frankfurt, 1996), pp. 200–22, at p. 206.
38 See Filius (A. Schmal), Ohne Chauffeur. Ein Handbuch für Besitzer von Automobilen und
   Motorradfahrer (eleventh edition, Berlin, 1924), p. 34.
39 See Kurt Möser, Geschichte des Autos (Frankfurt and New York, 2002).
40 In the collections of the Mannheim Landesmuseum there is a drawing of the pilot and
   Death (as a skeleton) boarding the plane on opposite sides.
41 Filius (A. Schmal), Die Kunst des Fahrens. Praktische Winke, ein Automobil oder Motorrad
   richtig zu lenken (third edition, Vienna, 1922).
42 Quoted by B. Bruce-Briggs, The War against the Automobile (New York, 1977).
43 Eugen Diesel, Autoreise 1905 (Stuttgart, 1941).
44 See R. Zeller, Automobil – das magische Objekt in der Kunst (Frankfurt, 1985), p. 239.
45 W. Plowden, The Motor Car and Politics, 1896–1970 (1971).
46 See Barbara Haubner, Nervenkitzel und Freizeitvergnügen. Automobilismus in Deutschland
   1886–1914 (Göttingen, 1998).
47 Ibid.
48 E. Heyck, ‘Die Kultur des Reisens’, in Moderne Kultur. Ein Handbuch der Lebensbildung
   und des guten Geschmacks II (Stuttgart and Leipzig, n.d. [1900]), pp. 361–88.
49 ‘Women are created to compete, and to compete on every field – why not in Automobil-
   ism, too?’ (Hans Forsten, Automobilismus. Die Pariser Weltausstellung in Wort und Bild,
   Berlin, 1900, pp. 109–11, at p. 110.) Margarethe Winter in Gert Schmidt (ed.), Technik
   und Gesellschaft. Jahrbuch 10. Automobil und Automobilismus (Frankfurt and New York,
   1999), p. 276; Virginia Scharff, Taking the Wheel: women and the coming of the Motor Age
   (New York, 1991). Mechanisation obviously fitted well into a much older constellation
   typical of the symbolic representation or the relation between the European upper classes
   and ‘other ranks’, the horse rider above, the pedestrian below. (F. M. L. Thompson, ‘Nine-
   teenth-century horse sense’, Economic History 29 (1976), pp. 60–81; id., Victorian Eng-
   land: the horse-drawn society (1970); id. (ed.), Horses in European History: a preliminary
   canter (Reading, 1983).
50 See Möser, Geschichte des Autos, pp. 77–80
51 Quoted by Hermann H. Gläser, Via Strata. Roman der Straße (Wiesbaden and Berlin,
   1987), p. 71.
52 H. Hesse, Der Steppenwolf (Frankfurt, 1971), p. 196.
53 Radkau, ‘Auto-Lust’.
54 A. Strobel, ‘Automobilismus in Deutschland. Industrieller Aufbruch, Rennsport, Clubs und
   Industrie’, in Landesmuseum für Technik und Arbeit in Mannheim (ed.), Räder, Autos und
   Traktoren. Erfindungen aus Mannheim – Wegbereiter der mobilen Gesellschaft (Mannheim,
   1986), pp. 48–67.
55 See Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt (ed.), Deutsche Militärgeschichte 1648–1939 (9
   vols, Herrsching, 1983).                                                                          257
                                    56 See Adams, The Great Adventure.
                                    57 C. Asendorf, ‘Die Luftfahrt und der Wandel ästhetischer Leitvorstellungen um 1910’,
 The Journal of Transport History

                                       Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte 2 (1999), pp. 51–62; K. Möser, ‘Amphibien, Land-
                                       schiffe, Flugautos – utopische Fahrzeuge der Jahrhundertwende und die Durchsetzung des
                                       Benzinautomobils’, Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte 2 (1999), pp. 63–84.
                                    58 C. Ellis and D. Bishop, Military Transport of World War I (1970).
                                    59 Möser, ‘Amphibien, Landschiffe’, pp. 63–84.
                                    60 Both quotations from the archives of the Wehrgeschichtliches Museum, Rastatt.
                                    61 Armin Adam, ‘Raumrevolution. Ein Beitrag zur Theorie des totalen Krieges’, in M. Stin-
                                       gelin and W. Scherer (eds), HardWar / SoftWar. Krieg und Medien 1914–1945 (Munich,
                                       1991), pp. 1145–58.
                                    62 Möser, Geschichte des Autos, pp. 123–39.
                                    63 See Möser, ‘Creation of desire for cars’.
                                    64 Friedrich Kittler, ‘Il fiore delle truppe scelte’, in H. U. Gumbrecht, F. Kittler and B. Siegert
                                       (eds), Der Dichter als Kommandant. D’Annunzio erobert Fiume (Munich, 1996), pp.
                                    65 See Möser, ‘“Knall auf Motor”,’ pp. 18–29.
                                    66 See Kirchberg, Die Motorisierung des Straßenverkehrs.
                                    67 See K. Möser, ‘Autodesigner und Autonutzer im Konflikt. Der Fall des Spoiler’, in Gert
                                       Schmidt (ed.), Technik und Gesellschaft. Jahrbuch 10. Automobil und Automobilismus
                                       (Frankfurt and New York, 1999), pp. 219–36.
                                    68 The automobile is the most lethal technological system man has developed. It has been
                                       estimated that in the Federal Republic of Germany between 1950 and 1985 half a million
                                       people died on the roads. Worldwide today 1 million are killed annually on the roads.
                                       (W. Wolf, Eisenbahn und Autowahn. Personen- und Gütertransport auf Schiene und
                                       Straße. Geschichte, Bilanz, Perspektiven, Hamburg and Zürich, 1986; Klaus Gietinger,
                                       ‘Der Tod hat einen Motor. Im Straßenverkehr werden jedes Jahr eine Milllion Menschen
                                       getötet – die meisten davon in den Entwicklungsländern’, Die Zeit, 16 January 2003,
                                       p. 27.

                                    I am indebted to Gijs Mom and to Rolf Peter Sieferle for advice in the early drafting of this arti-
                                    cle. The former also helped me tighten the argumentation and Colin Divall and Peter Lyth did
                                    their share in fashioning my English. I also thank an anonymous referee for helpful comments.

                                    Address for correspondence
                                    Landesmuseum für Technik und Arbeit, Museumstraße 1, D-68165 Mannheim, Germany.


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