helpless pose, passive, almost in prayer, places him as a quiet victim – a sacrifice to the warmachine. His vulnerability makes him sympathetic, but it also renders him childlike, if not effeminate.
Pity was an emasculating emotion, and injured and disabled men were well aware of that.
The doctor leads Anderson through the train looking at his patients, telling stories of heroic surgeries and narrow escapes from Zeppelin attacks. She wonders at how the patients were ‘so pitiful
Mobilisation, militarisation, and medicalisation in WWI Germany
Heather R. Perry
in this study is
the organisation of these material bodies themselves.
Therefore what this book has laboured to illustrate is how, through the
intricate web of army, medicine, and society, the disabled body itself became
regimented, rationalised, centralised – even industrialised – during the war
in order to achieve the state’s belligerent goals. By turning soldiers into war
materiel with cheap, interchangeable parts, German orthopaedists fundamentally became part of the warmachine itself, enlisted not simply as healers of
violence, but rather as wagers, or
women; and here they differ from male narratives. While the
writings of men tell of being led up to the war front and held there
either to survive or to be dragged into and destroyed by the warmachine, for those female writers not attached to ‘official’ services,
flight was possible and could occur at almost any time. Memoirs such
as Violetta Thurstan’s Field Hospital and Flying Column have this tone.
They are about freedom, not captivity. Nurses who avoided ‘official’
enlistment, and offered their services, instead, to ‘freelance’ hospital
units or to Red Cross
, her brother, and two close friends –
it was also written for those women who had served in wartime, to
ensure that the female voice would be heard, and that one particular
feminine perspective would be understood.
Enid Bagnold: military medicine as part
of the ‘warmachine’
If some wartime nurse writers may be viewed as ‘heretics’ – as individuals who attacked the received wisdom of their day – then Enid
Bagnold is perhaps one of the most skilful and least openly aggressive
of these. Her soft irony and quiet observations evoke a more muted
form of horrified
conditions of total mobilisation from 1914 to 1918. This process of medicalisation
included both the militarisation of medicine as well as the militarisation of the
disabled body in Germany’s first ‘total war’. Fundamental to these two developments, however, was the growing participation of medical professionals – in
this instance orthopaedists – in the organisation of the modern ‘warmachine’.
As this book demonstrates, the so-called ‘recycling of the disabled’ was a direct
result of the convergence of multiple war-time processes.
Medicine and war
Given the centrality of
the insult of our
curiosity and the curse of our purpose, the purpose to remake him.’66
The scenario is not only reminiscent of rape – full of what Trudi Tate
refers to as ‘eroticised horror’67 – it is also an affront against humanity
‘en masse’: the repair of one small element of a larger warmachine,
the purpose of which is not to restore a human being but, rather, to
remake a component. What is most disturbing is the patients’ gratitude: ‘When we hurt them they try not to cry out, not wishing to hurt
our feelings. And often they apologise for dying.’68
’Serclaes, Flanders and Other Fields: 62–3.
10 T’Serclaes, Flanders and Other Fields: 66–7.
11 T’Serclaes, Flanders and Other Fields: 69.
12 Arthur Gleason and Helen Hayes Gleason, Golden Lads: A Thrilling
Account of How the Invading WarMachine Crushed Belgium (New York: A.
L. Burt, 1916).
13 T’Serclaes, Flanders and Other Fields: 78–9.
14 Baroness de T’Serclaes, MS diary; 9029-2, Imperial War Museum, London.
15 T’Serclaes, Flanders and Other Fields: 63–4.
16 Claire Tylee: The Great War and Women’s Consciousness: Images of Militarism
and Womanhood in
and with representing them as victims of the American warmachine, she
acknowledges that her more intense emotional response is to the wounded
Americans. Visiting an American military hospital to beg supplies, she sits
with a severely wounded Marine and comforts him as he dies: ‘I had seen
injuries like this – and worse – in our own triage, but my feelings were
different. The frustration I felt caring for Vietnamese in an ill-equipped,
civilian hospital was worlds apart from the revulsion that filled me as
I looked down at the Marine’s sunken blue eyes in a pallid