By J. Crouthamel
This eye-opening learn provides a nuanced, provocative account of the way German infantrymen within the nice battle skilled and enacted masculinity. Drawing on an array of suitable narratives and media, it explores the ways in which either heterosexual and gay squaddies expressed emotion, understood romantic beliefs, and approached intimacy and sexuality.
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Additional info for An Intimate History of the Front: Masculinity, Sexuality, and German Soldiers in the First World War
64 The military attempted to control prostitution on the Eastern and Western fronts as well as bordellos in Germany, which generated lucrative business The Ideal Man Goes to War O 29 with millions of young men entering war service and separated from social controls of home. 65 The Baden-Württemberg and Prussian armies also mobilized VD prevention campaigns by early 1915. 66 As the military mobilized its resources to deal with the VD crisis, it struggled with a chronic shortage of doctors trained to treat men who were infected.
51 Lieutenant L’s “little wife” is his perfect fantasy of the ideal, selfless woman on the home front. As a figment of the soldiers’ imagination, the ideal woman was dedicated entirely to bolstering her husband emotionally, in this way serving the fatherland by keeping him psychologically focused on his duty. Her sense of honor and national loyalty was thus defined entirely through him. Civilians held up the image of the chaste, loyal, idealized woman at home as fodder for male fantasies. In addition to bolstering the front soldier’s will to “hold through” with their self-control and willing to sacrifice personal needs, military and civil authorities tried to reassure men that dreaming of women at home provided sufficient sexual satisfaction.
23 Through war, men could demonstrate their commitment to newly defined concepts of “manly valor” and “national sacrifice” that German poets and cultural elite enshrined as essentially “German” male characteristics. Notions of military camaraderie in the nineteenth century, which culminated in notions of “comradeship” during the age of total war, gave men a sense of meaning and self-actualization. The idea of a Männerbund, which provided belonging and emotional support outside traditional social structures while at the same time being worshiped by those same social institutions for protecting “traditional” life, appealed to millions of German men.