This chapter considers the status of young people in civil defence. Although adolescents were praised for their enthusiasm, there was some resistance amongst civil defence organisers and colleagues to accepting their service because they were seen as irresponsible and the work was considered too dangerous. Yet this age group often represented their civil defence work as the most active contribution they could make and as important training for their future military careers. Furthermore, youth organisers believed that participation in civil defence would improve health, reduce delinquency and produce good postwar citizens. The wartime status of adolescents also impacted their memories of civil defence service. They experienced a greater degree of freedom when telling their stories after the war than older volunteers, due to dominant narratives which have emphasised excitement and adventure in the war experience of the young. Moreover, those who served in the military following their time in civil defence had the authority to question hierarchies of service. Their stories continued to be framed by the rhetoric of the ‘people’s war’, but this generation rejected the central theme of ‘equal sacrifice’ to stress the continued value of their particular contribution.
This chapter discusses how civil defence communities were created and represented. Personnel were often left to devise their own strategies for developing a sense of community and esprit de corps within civil defence – as local authorities lacked the necessary time, money and interest – but on the whole they were enthusiastic in doing so. The chapter examines how local communities were developed, where boundaries were placed within them (on lines of class, age and gender, and between full- and part-time staff), as well as the benefits of community membership, including for emotional management. Even though many members of civil defence expressed the hope that these associations would be as active during peacetime as they were during the war, after 1945 they lost their unifying purpose and soon disappeared.
The conclusion draws together the three key themes of the book: the development of community within civil defence; the use of the language of the ‘people’s war’ by those communities in their self-representations; and the role of local social groups in producing these representations. It argues that these themes have important implications for thinking about the experience of the Second World War more generally. Historians need to pay more attention to social groups, not just in terms of how the differing circumstances of war across the country affected experience, but, more importantly, how individuals made sense of those circumstances in groups of family, friends and colleagues. The Second World War was a time of intense national mythmaking, and the impact this had on individuals has tended to be studied through the relationship between dominant public narratives and individuals in isolation. But this ignores the social setting in which much storytelling and sense-making took place. To fully understand the reception of myths, the power of dominant narratives and the negotiation of sameness and difference in wartime, we need to examine how understanding and meaning were developed in local social groups.
This chapter considers the experience of registered conscientious objectors (COs) who found work in civil defence. The treatment that COs received changed, sometimes dramatically, across time and place. Although many were accepted by their civil defence communities, most were aware that this acceptance was fragile and, unlike the other groups discussed through this book, it was not uncommon for COs to be ostracised. This unstable position influenced the self-narratives which COs produced both during and after the war and led them to position themselves as part of a pacifist community outside civil defence, rather than as members of a civil defence community. The explanations given by other members of civil defence for excluding COs were different from negative representations in popular culture: they were concerned about slacking and skiving rather than male sexuality. Some feared that accusations of COs shirking their duty could be extended to the whole organisation and this led members to exclude or ignore them. COs, therefore, demonstrate both the boundaries of toleration and community within civil defence and the limits to the usability of the ‘people’s war’ myth
This book is the first to consider how the ‘people’s war’ was created and lived by groups of ordinary people: how did civilians in everyday life understand and represent their ideas, feelings and behaviour in line with wartime ideas about civil duty? A political and cultural narrative about citizenship and national identity was developed during the conflict, which was vague enough to encompass most civilians but, nevertheless, reinforced hierarchies and inequalities. This book considers the ‘people’s war’ from a fresh perspective and argues that, to fully understand the power and resilience of the ‘people’s war’ mythology, we need to investigate its use by local social groups. Examining national identity through a local lens shows how individuals and groups used elements of this narrative to write themselves into the war effort, how they framed their experience and how they explained their status and value. The ‘people’s war’ is a narrative which was created from the bottom up as well as top down; within social groups civil defence personnel created a version of civil duty which bolstered their own status by embracing some aspects of the ‘people’s war’ narrative and rejecting others. Community was both central to these representations and vital for their production.
This chapter focuses on two distinguishing features of HIV/AIDS in Italy, and
their intersection: the prevalence of HIV transmission via intravenous drug
use in Italy, and the interventions of the Catholic Church. It uses as a
case study the controversial founding by Caritas of an AIDS care centre in
Rome in 1988, to serve young current or former heroin users who lacked a
stable home. There is also an important international context in that the
controversy that delayed the opening of the centre coincided with the
passing of stricter drug legislation in the USA and the visit of Italian
Socialist Party Secretary Bettino Craxi to New York and Washington to
discuss related matters. Craxi soon introduced similar legislation into
Italian parliament. The confluence of these events and their conflation in
government and media discourse alike, this chapter argues, affected
attitudes towards the care centre, and led to the effective criminalisation
of HIV/AIDS in Italy. The sources cited and analysed to reconstruct
this history include print and audio-visual media from both Italy and the
USA. These sources highlight Italy’s concern for its image on the
international stage; the ‘activism’ of Caritas and the counter-activism of
neighbourhood residents; the fears of these residents of social contagion
and drug use in their wealthy area; and how all of these factors contributed
to the construction of an aetiology that posited intravenous drug users as
the ur-sources of HIV, outside the bounds of ‘normal’ society and the
traditional Italian family.
Agata Dziuban, Eugen Januschke, Ulrike Klöppel, Todd Sekuler, and Justyna Struzik
Mobilising a queer theoretical framework, by which we mean embracing
unhappiness, ephemerality, and instability, this chapter reflects on
processes of archiving oral histories as part of the European HIV/AIDS
Archive (EHAA). It presents selected challenges and tensions that lie at the
heart of remembering, narrating, and archiving the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the
broader European region. The EHAA, an online collection of oral history
interviews and digitised materials, has been developed to further establish
HIV/AIDS history as part of the broader social memory, so as to work through
the trauma of mass death and social discrimination and to document
innovations, tensions, and inconsistencies in engaging with the epidemic
across the region. Building on a growing interest in archiving
histories of HIV activism across Europe and North America, the EHAA project
dates back to efforts by the ‘AIDS History into Museums Working Group’ to
preserve such histories in Germany. The project was further developed and
expanded in two research projects: ‘Disentangling European HIV/AIDS
Policies: Activism, Citizenship and Health’ and ‘Don’t Criminalize Passion!
The AIDS Crisis and Political Mobilization in the 1980s and early 1990s in
Germany’. Explicitly deviating from an investment in offspring as a
route for the transmission of memory, the EHAA joins other queer archival
work imagined as sites for handing down queer history. This chapter argues
that the EHAA contributes to queer memory work as a necessary revision of
public remembrance and current perceptions of the epidemic, and, at the same
time, as a source of inspiration for future activism.
As the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s recedes from popular memory,
researchers are once again beginning to engage with the subject from historical
perspectives. This collection brings together some of the exciting new work
emerging from this resurgence, addressing essential but much less well-known
histories of HIV/AIDS. Focusing on regions of Western Europe, Histories of
HIV/AIDS introduces aspects of the epidemic from places including Scotland,
Wales, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Switzerland, and draws
attention to the experiences and activities of often-overlooked people: sex
workers, drug users, mothers, nurses, social workers, and those living and
working in prisons. It also examines the challenges, opportunities, and risks at
the heart of how we archive and remember this epidemic. Highlighting the
importance of understanding local and national contexts, transnational
interactions, and heterogeneous forms of policy, activism, and expertise, it
encourages attention to the complexity of these histories and their ongoing
importance today. Of particular interest to historians of modern Europe and
health, area studies specialists, and those working with archives and museums,
this book is an essential addition to HIV/AIDS studies and histories.
This chapter examines how housewives used ideas about female citizenship and their status in the ‘people’s war’ to argue for better treatment within civil defence. Volunteering for civil defence could have many benefits for married women, but it was complicated by the inflexibility and incompetence of civil defence organisers and the government, as well as the restrictions of home and family. The status of housewives as wives and mothers within the ‘people’s war’ gave them power. They could justify working fewer hours or even giving up the work because they had to put their family first, and they were able to resist the expectations of colleagues about how they should behave and the type of work they were best suited to perform. Finally, the chapter turns to informal volunteering within civil defence, including in the housewives’ service, which was the most successful of the neighbours’ civil defence associations established during the war. These groups were generally reliant on local enthusiasm and initiative and thus their success varied hugely, but at a national level the government once again proved incapable of fully appreciating the potential worth of housewives’ labour.
The introduction provides a contextual, theoretical and methodological overview of the book. It describes civil defence planning at a national level in the 1920s and 1930s, and the role of local authorities from the mid-1930s. The chapter outlines the different services within civil defence – air raid warden, messenger, firewatch, decontamination, rescue and demolition, casualty, report and control, and fire – and explains how the experience of war and civil defence working conditions changed during the war in different parts of the country. It then examines the development of ideas about active citizenship and voluntarism in the early twentieth century. Finally, the chapter discusses the significance of group identity and storytelling, introduces the theoretical approach taken to individual and group narratives in contemporary and memory texts, and provides an overview of the source material.