By J. Crouthamel
This eye-opening learn offers a nuanced, provocative account of the way German infantrymen within the nice struggle 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
87 In some cases men were told not only to avoid physical contact with these women but also to avoid even fantasizing about them. The Deutscher Bund der Vereine naturgemässer Lebens- und Heilweise (German Coalition of Associations of Natural Ways of Life and Healing) insisted that abstinence could only be achieved if men cleansed their minds as well as bodies. In addition to regularly cleaning genitals and avoiding alcohol, the association recommended the following in their 1915 flyer sent to frontline troops: “Avoid coming into the proximity of women and girls with whom you might stray from the path; also keep your thoughts pure and discipline your fantasies.
In 1908, F. W. 18 Germany’s doctors, religious elite, and conservative critics eagerly sought a transformative event that could regenerate decaying masculinity and resuscitate traditional values threatened by rapid social, political, and economic change. 19 During the Wars of Liberation, songs and poems sanctified “camaraderie” as a masculine characteristic and national value. 21 Popular media thus became an important instrument for constructing and disseminating notions of militarized, martial masculinity.
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.