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British Germanophobia During WW1: 'The Enemy at Home'

See how anti-German sentiment during World War 1 changed British social, economic, and political life forever.

912 enrolled on this course

Re-enactors of the first world war (British troops)advance towards enemy troops

British Germanophobia During WW1: 'The Enemy at Home'

912 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 2 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Learn why the Germanophobia of WW1 was a watershed moment for Britain

Communities reacting to outside threats sometimes lash out against a perceived enemy within. This three-week course from the University of Hull looks at how this happened in Britain during World War 1 (WW1), with the mushrooming of fierce Germanophobia.

Unpack the causes and development of Britain’s Germanophobia

You’ll start the course with a look at England before the War, including the Edwardian and Victorian love for German food and culture, before delving into the tensions and events (including the arms race) leading up to the declaration of war.

With this history, you’ll gain insights into the way that British Germanophilia became Germanophobia and the riots and assaults that ensued. You’ll also learn about the sizable role that propaganda played, embellishing or even creating stories of German atrocities.

Explore the far-reaching legacy of World War 1

You’ll see exactly how the effects of the propaganda and anti-German sentiment manifested at the time, noticeably in the creation of the House of Windsor (changing the name from the German Saxe-Coburg) and the promotion of ‘English’ music.

As well as the War’s immediate impact, you’ll get a detailed explanation of the effects that are still seen today. This includes the continued changes to the House of Windsor, negative media reports, and even new pub opening times.

See WW1 realities through the eyes of experts

This course is presented by two senior lecturers from the University of Hull, who are both leading authorities on the First World War.

Dr Jenny Macleod has published several books and articles on the cultural history of the First World War, while Dr Nicholas Evans specialises in how the conflict ended Britain’s love affair with all things German. Together, they deliver an engaging and enlightening course.


  • Week 1


    • Welcome to the course

      Welcome and overview.

    • Would Britainnia always Rule the Waves?

      The British ruled approximately one quarter of the habitable globe and perhaps 400 million people.

    • Spies and invasion fears

      At the turn of the twentieth century, Britain was by far the most powerful country in the world. In an age of imperialism, of conquest and plunder, the British empire was the richest and most extensive of all the European empires.

    • Admiration for German culture

      Let’s investigate British admiration for German culture a little further.

    • Conclusion

      Britain’s relationship with Germany before the outbreak of the First World War was complex.

  • Week 2


    • German invasion of Belgium

      Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the trigger for Britain’s declaration of war on 4 August 1914 was Germany’s invasion of Belgium.

    • Evaluating atrocity stories

      There was an outpouring of about 250,000 refugees from Belgium to Britain.

    • German naval raids on English ports

      The atrocity stories that were shared in the autumn of 1914 provoked outrage in Britain and underpinned the recruitment drive in support of the country’s war effort.

    • Propaganda

      A huge amount of propaganda was created during the First World War. In the early months of the war this took the form of pamphlets, postcards and, most strikingly, posters.

    • Patriotism on the Home Front

      In this section we look at how patriotism was on the home front.

    • Over by Christmas?

      This section looks at the belief that the war would be over within a year.

    • Conclusion

      A look back on the previous week.

  • Week 3


    • Total war

      This section looks at the concept of total war.

    • Zeppelins

      This section explores the use of zeppelins during the war.

    • Lusitania riots

      This section looks at the riots that ensued following the sinking of the Lusitania.

    • Personal stories of war: Hohenrein family in Hull

      This section looks in detail at an example of how Germanophobia was manifested in Hull.

    • Reactions

      We’ve looked at three examples of British civilians being targeted during the war. Let's explore this further.

    • Reflection

      What do you think drove the rise of Germanophobia during the war?

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore social & cultural responses to the early months of the First World War
  • Evaluate how total warfare transformed attitudes in British society
  • Investigate surviving evidence from the war

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in understanding WW1 more, especially its impact on the home front and the early 20th century in general. No previous experience or research is required to learn about its dramatic effect on British life.

What software or tools do you need?

This course is designed for anyone interested in understanding WW1 more, especially its impact on the home front and the early 20th century in general. No previous experience or research is required to learn about its dramatic effect on British life.

Who will you learn with?

I'm a Senior Lecturer in Twentieth Century History at the University of Hull.

I'm Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Hull. Passionate about helping people discover the rich history of the UK, I love revealing forgotten stories about how migration shapes our country

Who developed the course?

University of Hull

The University of Hull has been changing the way people think for more than 90 years. As England’s 14th-oldest university, they have a proud heritage of academic excellence, life-changing research and excellent teaching. Their vision is to shape a fairer, brighter and carbon neutral future for all. As the Official University Partner of Team GB they believe extraordinary is in everyone, and together with Team GB, they’re going to help you find it.

  • Established

  • World ranking

    Top 60Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021

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Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$79/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 13 Aug 2024

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