The Tears of 1939: German women and the emotional archive of the First World War

Siebrecht, Claudia (2020) The Tears of 1939: German women and the emotional archive of the First World War. In: Langhamer, Claire, Noakes, Lucy and Siebrecht, Claudia (eds.) Total war: an emotional history. Proceedings of the British Academy, 227 . Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780197266663

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This chapter focuses on tearful reactions to the outbreak of war in 1939 as described and recalled by German women in diaries, memoirs and oral histories. Women who were at different life stages in 1939 offer nuanced and explicit testimonies of their emotional responses, which were predominantly framed with references to the First World War. Retained memories of bereavement and hardship are particularly striking and this chapter argues that both personal and familial experiences of the period between 1914 and 1918 were of key importance as they accumulated into an emotional archive. This emotional archive represented a crucial reference point for women to gauge a contemporaneous response to a political event - the outbreak of war in 1939. It also facilitated the construction of a personal stance and political positioning to war in a retrospective post-Second World War context. Women’s tears of 1939 therefore were about more than the outbreak of war, they were about owning and disowning different parts of their past.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: emotion, emotional archive, tears, crying, memory, women, family history, First World War, Second World War, Germany
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History > D History (General)
D History > D History (General) > D204 Modern History, 1453-
D History > D History (General) > D501 World War I
D History > D History (General) > D731 World War II
D History > DD History of Germany
Depositing User: Claudia Siebrecht
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2019 11:36
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2022 02:00

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