Deutschland, Österreich, Osteuropa, England, Belgien und Frankreich
“I want to be a munitionette!” – The Depiction of Young Women’s War Work in British and German Popular Fiction for Girls in the First World War
This article discusses and compares the depiction of young women’s work for the war effort in German and British popular fiction for girls published during the First World War. Looking at British examples taken from novels by Bessie Marchant, Angela Brazil, and Brenda Girvin, and at German fiction by Sophie Kloerss, Else Hofmann, and Charlotte Niese, the motivation of the various protagonists for finding work to do with the war will be identified and examined. Moreover, the article will investigate the way in which the protagonists’ social environment deals with the fact of their engaging in such activity and in the nature of their war work as such, thereby illuminating the divergent attitudes to girlhood and the ways in which they were reflected in and reinforced by stories aimed at a mass reading culture both in Britain and Germany.
“You can be ‘field-grey’ in a woman’s way – give all your young strength to the Fatherland. Just wait and keep your eyes open. There will be work, and more than you can accomplish, work for those at the front and for those who stayed at home!”1 (Glass 1915, 146) Thus 15-year-old Sabine, desperate to support Germany’s war effort in August 1914, is advised by her uncle in Luise Glass’ Jüngferchen Feldgrau, published in 1915.2 “Excited, happy, full of expectation and hope for her war work,” (Glass 1915, 147) Sabine exemplifies the feelings of many adolescent girls, in fiction and reality, in the frenzied...
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