'Mentally Broken, Physically a Wreck…': Violence in War Accounts of Nurses in Austro-Hungarian Service

Title'Mentally Broken, Physically a Wreck…': Violence in War Accounts of Nurses in Austro-Hungarian Service
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsHämmerle, Christa
EditorHämmerle, Christa, Oswald Uberegger, and Birgitta Bader Zaar
Book TitleGender and the First World War
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan

In the early 1960s Marianne Jarka, who had been a Red-Cross surgery nurse during the First World War in the Austro-Hungarian Army and later emigrated to the United States, started writing her autobiography. A remarkably large part of her memoirs deals with the time between early 1916 and the end of war, when Jarka was stationed at two mobile military hospitals on the Southwestern Front. Here, she witnessed the consequences of industrial warfare for soldiers with all their horrors — an experience she apparently could never overcome: ‘Today, I am 72 years old. Until I draw my last breath, the torn bodies will haunt me’, she wrote. Towards the end of her autobiographical text, Jarka also discussed the issue of war remembrance during the difficult post-war years. As a single mother of two illegitimate children, one from her relationship with a medical student who used to be her colleague at the Isonzo Front, she had to scrape through life during these years. Impoverished, she was forced to do menial jobs. Her former war commitment, her medical expertise as a nurse, and the war decorations she had received no longer counted. Laconically, Jarka recollects the public absence of praise for her war mission: ‘I gave my war decorations to the milk woman for a litre of milk; she gave them to her boys to play with.’ [Author]

Entry by GWC Assistants / Work by GWC Assistants : 

Type of Literature:

Time Period:

Library Location: 
Call Number: