Home/Front: The Military, Violence and Gender Relations in the Age of the World Wars

TitleHome/Front: The Military, Violence and Gender Relations in the Age of the World Wars
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsHagemann, Karen
EditorHagemann, Karen, and Stefanie Schüler-Springorum
Book TitleHome/Front: The Military, War and Gender in Twentieth-Century Germany
CityOxford; New York

This introduction of the edited volume  Home/Front: The Military, War and Gender in Twentieth-Century Germany offers an overview of the state of reserach on the four periods covered in this volume: The First World War,  the interwar period, the Second World War and the post-1945 period. The new demands of "total war" exacerbated and accelerated tensions in the gender order, undermining traditional ideas of appropriate male and female roles. Changing social relations also generated new expectations and desires--as well as new perceptions of ability and vulnerability--among both women and men. After 1914, women shattered gender boundaries by entering the work force and flocking to war-related charity and aid work. For men, war offered an opportunity to redefine the German male by breaking down the rarefied elitism of the aristocratic officer corps, consequently democratizing the concept of the male warrior. In both cases, social changes fundamentally altered gender relations, and also increasingly emphasized the duty of women and men to the nation rather than to each other or the individual family. Over the span of the world wars, a growing presence in public affairs increased women's "scope of action and responsibilities." At the same time, men experienced increasing vulnerability (physical and psychological) in industrial mass slaughter. Their traditional roles as national defenders and domestic providers were called into question.

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