By J. Crouthamel
This eye-opening examine provides a nuanced, provocative account of the way German squaddies within the nice struggle skilled and enacted masculinity. Drawing on an array of correct narratives and media, it explores the ways in which either heterosexual and gay infantrymen expressed emotion, understood romantic beliefs, and approached intimacy and sexuality.
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Extra info for An Intimate History of the Front: Masculinity, Sexuality, and German Soldiers in the First World War
1 This chapter argues that the perception of front soldiers as heroic comrades changed in the wake of perceived sexual immorality. Civilian morality organizations accused men of capitulating to their selfish instincts, and the image of the abstinent, selfless front soldier deteriorated into fears that the war produced morally and sexually damaged men. Medical and religious authorities feared they were losing control as men succumbed to sexual promiscuity away from home, especially as the venereal disease crisis unfolded and the military began to regulate brothels just behind the lines.
Aufhauser emphasized the need to protect the home front from the menace of “other peoples” who might mix with German troops and weaken “the German race” through miscegenation. As “sons of a heroic race (Heldenvolkes),” real men should be able to distinguish between moral and immoral behavior. Dr. ”84 Deepening tensions emerged between the military and home-front morality crusaders over how to control male sexual behavior. ” Morality crusaders were concerned that unless men remained abstinent, soldiers would suffer spiritual crisis and moral degradation that was just as threatening to the nation as the spread of venereal disease.
Just as the greetings from Wilhelmsdorf make me happy, old memories arise and swiftly overwhelm me. That’s where I spent a good part of my youth, where I was a free and happy child and could frolic about in God’s nature. Memories! Since then I’ve become a man and must live in the land of the enemy, to fight for German truth against lies, British treachery, Slavic deceit; and this battle for truth makes us proud and gives us courage. For this reason we may lay down our lives. 33 The letter attempted to reassure his family that he still cherished his memories of home and his carefree childhood but that he now embraced his new role as a man with unwavering devotion.
An Intimate History of the Front: Masculinity, Sexuality, and German Soldiers in the First World War by J. Crouthamel