By J. Crouthamel
This eye-opening learn supplies a nuanced, provocative account of ways German infantrymen within the nice battle skilled and enacted masculinity. Drawing on an array of proper 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 resources for An Intimate History of the Front: Masculinity, Sexuality, and German Soldiers in the First World War
12 Through practiced restraint, men could protect themselves from the irrational, “feminine” passions that threatened to erode their naturally rational selves. Fully developed “manliness” and heterosexual stability, conservative critics argued, could only be achieved within the context of the bourgeoisie’s carefully defined universe of socially appropriate marriage. 14 Without proper discipline, “antisocial” behavior could spiral out of control. Men who delayed marriage were more susceptible to developing “sexual abnormalities,” including homosexual tendencies.
8 Fears about the spread of homosexuality dominated medical and popular debates about an alleged crisis in male sexual behavior. While some doctors warned that this homosexual “epidemic” came from below, as working-class “degeneration” expanded with the onslaught of urban life, there were also anxieties that the spread of homosexuality came from above, a symptom of aristocratic decadence. In the wake of the 1907 Eulenburg scandal, in which the Kaiser’s confidante was exposed as a homosexual, middle-class critics questioned whether or not the aristocracy had lost control of the officer corps as a pillar of masculine virtue.
A soldier from the 83rd Infantry Division sent one of these postcards to his wife from the front in late July 1916, only a few horrifying weeks after the outbreak of the Battle of the Somme, which inflicted half a million German casualties. 54 This image of a ghostlike woman in the idealized Heimat permeated front newspapers. The cover of a supplement to the Liller Kriegszeitung offered a drawing of a soldier steadfastly standing guard, while behind him is an equally determined mother nursing her son, both of whom are framed by a halo.
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