As seen from France, World War I was first and foremost a matter of transporting men who had to be brought en masse to the front. This article describes the first departures and analyzes the sentiments they elicited: sadness, resignation, fear. Men climbed into the trains and went off to war: these first voyages were followed by countless others that bore little resemblance to those of August 1914. Wounded, exhausted, discouraged, and occasionally rebellious, soldiers passed through the railway stations, which had become the heart and soul of the country. In the towns, fear spread as supplies began to be scarce and living conditions deteriorated. Life unfolded to the rhythm of the passing trains until, at the end and in the aftermath of the war, other train cars arrived bearing those who had died.
World War I is the most important single event in the history of globalization. The war ended the first significant era of increasing economic ties among nations and thereby shaped the economic history of the twentieth century. The war set off both a search for ways to re-create the prewar liberal world economy and attempts to create statist alternatives to it. The collapse of interbank cooperation and expansion of controls on trade, migration, and agriculture meant that economic globalization re-emerged only very slowly over the rest of the twentieth century. Indeed, the long-term effects of World War I lasted until the 1990s. The lesson of this story for the twenty-first century is to check the dangers inherent in a multipolar world, where globalization produces both economic growth and social tensions.
This article discusses the experiences of Russian nurses in World War I. An examination of Russia's sisters of mercy—as Russian nurses prior to 1918 were called—in World War I reveals the significance of women's medical service and exposes the fallacy of the notion of war as a distinctly male experience. Russian women's wartime nursing experiences share many of the features of the male war experience. Although conventional wisdom draws lines of demarcation between the active killing and dying of combat and the passive nurturance and support of nursing, in reality, Russian women's wartime medical service blurred such separations. In many ways, the narratives of female medical personnel mirror those of male combat personnel. The nurses who served in Russia during World War I indicate clearly the variety of ways that women intersected with and were affected by the war and the inadequacies of gendered notions of wartime experience.
Elif Mahir Metinsoy
Ordinary women are among the least known subjects of Ottoman Turkish historiography. One of the most important reasons for this lack of information is that the Turkish archives are not organized in such a way that researchers can easily access documents on ordinary women. However, the difficulty in finding women’s voices in historical documents is only one part of the problem. Whereas conventional Ottoman-Turkish historiography prioritizes the acts of those holding power, most Turkish feminist historiography focuses on the organized activities of elite and middle-class women rather than ordinary women due to various paradigmatic and methodological restrictions. This article explains these limitations and proposes less conventional methods for conducting research on ordinary Ottoman women, who were important actors on the home front during World War I. It discusses theoretical approaches, methodology, and alternative sources that can be used to conduct research on women in the Turkish archives. It also presents some examples of ordinary Ottoman women’s voices and everyday struggles against the violence they suffered during World War I, using new, alternative sources like women’s petitions and telegrams to the state bureaucracy as well as folk songs.
Kyri W. Claflin
In the early twentieth century, French academic veterinarians launched a meat trade reform movement. Their primary objective was the construction of a network of regional industrial abattoirs equipped with refrigeration. These modern, efficient abattoirs-usines would produce and distribute chilled dead meat, rather than livestock, to centers of consumption, particularly Paris. This system was hygienic and economical and intended to replace the insanitary artisanal meat trade centered on the La Villette cattle market and abattoir in Paris. The first abattoirs-usines opened during World War I, but within 10 years the experiment had begun to encounter serious difficulties. For decades afterward, the experiment survived in the collective memory as a complete fiasco, even though some abattoirs-usines in fact persisted by altering their business models. This article examines the roadblocks of the interwar era and the effects of both the problems and their perception on the post-1945 meat trade.
Occupation, Liberation, and Reconstruction
George Robb and W. Brian Newsome
The avalanche of ruin photography in the archives, albums, publications, and propaganda of World War I France challenges us to understand what functions such images fulfilled beyond their use as visual documentation. Did wartime images of ruin continue the European tradition of ruiniste art that went back hundreds of years? Or did their violence represent a break from the past? This article explores how ruin photography of the period fits into a larger aesthetic heritage in France, and how the depiction of ruins (religious, industrial, residential, etc.) on the French side of the Western Front provided means of expressing the shock and grief resulting from the unprecedented human losses of the war. Using official and commercial photographs of the period, the article resituates ruin photography as an aesthetic response to war, a symbol of human suffering, and a repository of rage.
An Auxiliary Nurse’s Memories of World War I
The scrapbooks and wartime papers of American Alma A. Clarke reveal how one woman repurposed gendered propaganda during the Great War. Clarke was in France from January 1918 to July 1919 as both a child welfare worker with the Comité franco-américain pour la protection des enfants de la frontier and as an auxiliary nurse in the American Red Cross Military Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine. The Great War provided Clarke with new ways to contribute, new arenas in which to share her expertise, and perhaps most importantly, new perspectives on the significance of her contributions to society.
Jack Corbett and Tezcan Gumus
David Runciman, The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War I to the Present (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2013), xxiii+408 pp., ISBN: 9780691148687
Todd Landman, Human Rights and Democracy: The Precarious Triumph of Ideals (New York and London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 192 pp., ISBN: 9781849663458
The article examines the ways in which French officers manipulated the image of the "savage and violent" African colonial soldier. While the background for the development of this image was the general European perception of Africa as a violent space, during World War I, officers, as well as parts of the French public, began to see Africans as "grown children" rather than savages. However, as this image served French military purposes and made the soldiers useful on the battlefields, it was not rejected outright. I look at the debate around recruiting Africans to serve in Europe on the eve of World War I, and the French attempts to refute the German accusations around the deployment of African soldiers in the Rhineland during the 1920s. Finally I examine how, thirty years later, during the Indochina War, African officers dealt with these conflicting images in reports about violent incidents in which African soldiers had been involved.