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Of Little ComfortWar Widows, Fallen Soldiers, and the Remaking of the Nation after the Great War$
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Erika Kuhlman

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814748398

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814748398.001.0001

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“The Other Trench”

“The Other Trench”

Remarriage, Pro-natalism, and the Rebirthing of the Nation

Chapter:
(p.123) 5 “The Other Trench”
Source:
Of Little Comfort
Author(s):

Erika Kuhlman

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814748398.003.0005

In Germany and France, government and private organizations began encouraging women to have more babies, in part to replace the millions of men lost in the war but also as a response to the rise of feminism. This chapter places the history of war widows in the context of some belligerent nations' postwar pro-natalist campaigns. Because the propaganda insisted that the mothers be married, for widows that implied another trip to the altar. Remarriage, however, interrupted the ability of war widows to retain the honorable mantle of having sacrificed to their nations. In some ways, it implied a betrayal not only to her dead husband but also to the nation for which he had fought and died. In Germany, where economic crises were routine during some periods, officials knew that remarriage could save a widow from destitution and, of course, from making claims upon government welfare. The drive to help re-populate the country strengthened, at least potentially, the bonds uniting women with their nations.

Keywords:   war widows, remarriage, postwar pro-natalist campaigns, Germany, France, repopulation

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