Deutschland, Österreich, Osteuropa, England, Belgien und Frankreich
Edited By Hans-Heino Ewers
The Great War Generation: French Children’s Private Experiences of the First World War
The Great War was not only a turning point in the history of European conflict, it was also a cultural turning point, as the new role given to children can attest. The Great War brought about an immediate, massive and deliberate effort to mobilize the child masses, and this was undoubtedly one of its specificities. Children not only constituted an essential discursive tool in the endeavor to mobilize adults, as the great number of posters advertising war bonds show, they were also, and this will be our focus here, full-fledged actors on the home front just like any other category of civilian. For the most part non-combatants, childhood experiences of WWI are no less experiences of war. Important disparities exist – notably geographic and social ones – and the modalities of experience vary accordingly. It is nonetheless possible to consider the children of the Great War in terms of generation and to use the concept to examine some of the key elements that constitute the foundation of the childhood war experience: cultural mobilization, the disruption of family equilibrium, and the exposure to violence.
The Great War, as the first conflict to so dramatically usher in the dehumanization of armed confrontation and the idea of fighting to the death, was not only a turning point in the history of European conflict, it was also a cultural turning point, as the new role given to children can attest1. The Great War brought about an immediate, massive and...
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