The special attention paid to the role of women in the First World War gives rise to two misunderstandings. The first of these is that this is another side of the story; that women represented a ‘different face’ of the war, which was actually men’s business. The second is that women’s experiences of war, unlike those of men, were somehow homogenous. However, neither of these conceptions is accurate.
The history of women in the First World War draws attention to the homeland, the ‘home front’, and the female commitment to the ‘war for the Fatherland’. Because their men were at war, women were not only responsible for supporting their families: they also had to make up for the lack of male workforce. Many became involved in what were known as war welfare or war relief societies, collected donations of goods or worked in one of the many sewing workshops making new clothing for the soldiers in order to support their husbands, fathers and sons at the front. However, alongside the women on the ‘home front’, we must not forget all those who made their contribution to the war at the front itself: nurses, female auxiliaries, and, last but not least, women soldiers.
Translation: Aimee Linekar