Outbreak of the war
End of the war
Photo of an Austrian war brothel

Copyright: privater Leihgeber


Sexuality during the War

Sexual morality and state intervention in the First World War

Sexual morality and behaviour were influenced by cultural factors and changed dramatically during the course of the First World War. The separation of husbands and wives and the associated increase in extramarital sexual relations had a particular impact on prevailing gender images and on individual sex life. The belligerents attempted to regulate sexuality, to increase the dwindling birth rate and to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. The discussion on the regulation of prostitution and the use of contraceptives and protection against venereal infections confirmed the prevailing double standards. The massive sexual assaults, which peaked in the Armenian genocide of 1915–18, were amongst the most terrible consequences of the war, but were part and parcel of daily life for women in all conquered and occupied territories.


Translation: Nick Somers