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COSergeant

Societal Aftermath

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COSergeant

I have read many of the posts here concerning shell shock, economic turmoil and the like. I'm wondering what were some of the unforeseen results of the Great War? Beyond the standard history coursework of Dada, Germany's collapsing economy, prohibition in the USA, what were some of the lesser known affects of the Great War? Opinion, fact or complete speculation, please.

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dfaulder

Waiting for this book to come out - looks as if it will be an interesting read:

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Amazon link (GWF tagged)

At the end of the First World War more than 192,000 wives had lost their husbands, and nearly 400,000 children had lost their fathers. A further half a million children had lost one or more siblings. Appallingly, one in eight wives died within a year of receiving news of their husband's death. Few people remained unscathed and the effects of the conflict are still with us. The Quick and the Dead will pay tribute to the families who were left to suffer at home while their husband, fathers and sons went off to fight, and the generations that followed. Through the stories in this groundbreaking history, we realise not just what became of our grandfathers but how their experiences influenced the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of a generation that they left at home. Against all the odds some stories ended happily - missing fathers did return, men thought to be dead returned from prisoner of war camps to a joyous reunion. For others the loss, while difficult to bear at the time, gave them an independence, drive and ambition that ensured that their lives were successful and a fitting tribute to those who died. Very few people know that only the first minute's silence on Armistice Day is in memory of the dead of the Great War and all the subsequent wars. The second minute is for the living, the survivors of the war, and the wives and the children they left behind. Through a unique collection of over fifty interviews, private diaries and a remarkable collection of unpublished letters written by the soldiers to their families back home, The Quick and the Dead is a history of those who are commonly forgotten and neglected when the fallen are remembered on Armistice Day.

David

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truthergw

I am not sure how you define lesser known but certainly one result of the war was a move toward the emancipation of women. Not all plain sailing by any means and it took another war and about 4 decades but the Great War was a big step along the way. It might also be possible to posit an effect at one or two removes. If we assume that Hitler was a direct effect, we might then look at the move from Germany of Jewish scientists, mathematicians and intelligentsia out of Germany and in many cases to USA. Perhaps the West owes its development of nuclear weapons to the Great War? I would not go to the barricades on that one but it is an intriguing idea.

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Terry_Reeves

How about the position of women in the aftermath, or more precisely that of single women- the so called "war spinsters" - who had lost their boy friends or fiances, or those who simply could not find an eligible man because of the deaths and injuries suffered by the male population. Virginia Nicholson's book "Singled Out - How Two Million Women Survived Without Men after the First World War" provides an interesting insight.

TR

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COSergeant

I had pondered how so many women adjusted after the war. I hadn't considered sufferage. A quick look at the Wikipedia, and only Norway gave women the vote before WW1 (1913). Denmark next in 1915, then a slew of nations after peace. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage

Many of us remember the "Generation Gap" that was hailed in the late '60s and early '70s. The children of WW2 vets had never suffered a Depression or privation and felt they were different from their parents. Were there any similar cultural uprisings or changes among the Allied nations because of The Great War? (Aside from the Russian Revolution)

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COSergeant

And an anecdote: I read a book called "Private Pete" written in 1915 by a Canadian who was injured at Ypres. He said he ate so much plumb jam at the front that he never wanted to eat plumb jam again. Bully beef was another constant. Anyone know of a foodstuff that simply went out of style after 1918?

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CarylW

The number of divorces increased post war, according to Britain between the wars: 1918-1940 Charles Loch Mowatt

The average number per year in Great Britain had been 823 in 1910-12, 3619 in 1920-22 and 4249 in 1930-32. The highest number in any year in the twenties were 4522 in 1928.

Caryl

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kenf48

Last year the UK 'celebrated' 40 years of Disability Legislation introduced as a Private Member's Bill in 1970 by Labour MP Alf Morris (now Lord Morris), in spite of opposition from his own party then in Government.

In a radio interview he recalled how his father lost a leg and an eye in the First World War, although he died as a result of lung damage sustained during a gas attack.

He said, "I was born into a disabled family. My father died when I was seven in 1935. My earliest memories are of seeing my father waiting to die sitting in a chair by the fire."

His mother was denied a pension and his family's struggles left him in no doubt as to what he would do when he won the equivalent of the Parliamentary lottery.

The legislation was the first to recognise the rights of the disabled, and followed in many other countries.

Fifty years on, but still a legacy of the Great War.

Ken

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centurion

Beyond the standard history coursework of Dada, Germany's collapsing economy, prohibition in the USA

Prohibition was not unforeseen. there was. A strong temperance movement in both Canada and the USA. During the war and some provinces and states w ere introducing measures before the war. Ended.

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COSergeant

Prohibition was not unforeseen. there was. A strong temperance movement in both Canada and the USA. During the war and some provinces and states w ere introducing measures before the war. Ended.

Indeed, Prohibition had supporters many decades before it became a Constitutional Amendment in the U.S. in 1920. It was helped into place by The War Time Prohibition Act of 1918 to save grain for the war effort. But the popular repeal is what was unforeseen. Some historians have postulated that, "How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm After They've Seen Paree" was the post-war change that ultimately swung the popular pendulum for Repeal. Naive enlistees left the U.S. later to return as experienced soldiers having seen, tasted and experienced. Coming home to a (mostly) dry America was greatly unpopular with the veterans. Although they were a minority of returning vets, many of the smugglers, bootleggers or "Gangsters" were post-war soldiers. Did they want or needed booze? Did they enjoy the adrenaline rush? Unknown. But we do know that veterans from subsequent wars have had terrible addictions and affections for alcohol to ease their mental afflictions.

Ernest Hemingway wrote his novel, The Sun Also Rises, addressing the1920s issues of the "Lost Generation," prohibition and the effects of WWI. Likewise, F. Scott Fitzgerald became popular voice being disaffected with society and Prohibition after the war.

The unforeseen was the U.S. post-war population's shift toward acceptance of alcohol and a greater backlash than most anyone anticipated after Prohibition became law.

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David  B

I had pondered how so many women adjusted after the war. I hadn't considered sufferage. A quick look at the Wikipedia, and only Norway gave women the vote before WW1 (1913). Denmark next in 1915, then a slew of nations after peace. http://en.wikipedia....en%27s_suffrage

Many of us remember the "Generation Gap" that was hailed in the late '60s and early '70s. The children of WW2 vets had never suffered a Depression or privation and felt they were different from their parents. Were there any similar cultural uprisings or changes among the Allied nations because of The Great War? (Aside from the Russian Revolution)

CO Sergeant,

Please don't forget our antipodean women who had the vote long before Any European suffrage. New Zealands'women could vote by 1893 and Australian women could not only vote but stand for parliament

by legislation passed in 1902.

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truthergw

Indeed, Prohibition had supporters many decades before it became a Constitutional Amendment in the U.S. in 1920. It was helped into place by The War Time Prohibition Act of 1918 to save grain for the war effort. But the popular repeal is what was unforeseen. Some historians have postulated that, "How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm After They've Seen Paree" was the post-war change that ultimately swung the popular pendulum for Repeal. Naive enlistees left the U.S. later to return as experienced soldiers having seen, tasted and experienced. Coming home to a (mostly) dry America was greatly unpopular with the veterans. Although they were a minority of returning vets, many of the smugglers, bootleggers or "Gangsters" were post-war soldiers. Did they want or needed booze? Did they enjoy the adrenaline rush? Unknown. But we do know that veterans from subsequent wars have had terrible addictions and affections for alcohol to ease their mental afflictions.

Ernest Hemingway wrote his novel, The Sun Also Rises, addressing the1920s issues of the "Lost Generation," prohibition and the effects of WWI. Likewise, F. Scott Fitzgerald became popular voice being disaffected with society and Prohibition after the war.

The unforeseen was the U.S. post-war population's shift toward acceptance of alcohol and a greater backlash than most anyone anticipated after Prohibition became law.

A few years after the war, Churchill lost his seat in parliament to a Scottish prohibitionist candidate.

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Desmond7

Societal change ...

Domestic abuse (in simple terms 'wife beating') is often referred to in the interviews with those who lived in the aftermath of the GW.

You know the form ... documentary refers to how hubby's personality changed, mood swings etc etc

Sometimes I think this is overdone .. I research old newspapers and the weekly court reports demonstrate to me that Edwardian society was absolutely bulging with domestic abuse cases. And, it has to be said, I would be pretty sure that a punter who was prone to walloping the wife pre-war was just as prone to such behaviour post-war .. never mind what kind of experiences he had.

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COSergeant

Societal change ...

Domestic abuse e .. I research old newspapers and the weekly court reports demonstrate to me that Edwardian society was absolutely bulging with domestic abuse cases.

I had a neighbor who was born in Chicago in the late teens. In a conversation once, she related that she remembered her father hitting her mother different times, and was drunk each time he threatened to shoot the family while brandishing a pistol. The police responded multiple times. Each time they were cordial to her father, told him to keep the noise down, and said, "what goes on between a man and his wife is their business." Nothing else ever came of the matter legally.

Wendy (Wildemar was her real name) said Chicago police back then didn't fool around when dealing with criminals. But for a man who beat his wife, it was commonly believed that a man owned his wife and could do what he wanted. To me, the police's response appears to be one of familiarity to that type of situation. I wonder how often they encountered such abuse?

She grew up in that environment and was later married and divorced twice. Her father was not a veteran, but her husbands were (WWII). From time to time she spoke of their PTSD (which of course, was detrimental to her marriages).

Wendy moved into a condominium next to mine in 1991. I am the richer for her wonderful stories.

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COSergeant

From the Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flapper)

["Flapper" in the 1920s was a term applied to a "new breed" of young Western women who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms.

Flappers had their origins in the period of liberalism, social and political turbulence and increased transatlantic cultural exchange that followed the end of the First World War, as well as the export of American jazz culture to Europe.]

In the U.S., the 1920's were called the "Roaring Twenties" and "The Jazz Age." Of course there was a backlash to all of that too. We saw a pronounced difference between Conservative and Traditional versus Liberal and Progressive that has only grown in intensity.

In the UK, the election of 1929 was nicknamed "the flapper election." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_general_election,_1929

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COSergeant

... he never wanted to eat plumb jam again.

LOL! Plum vs Plumb. Lead poisoning is always a good reason to avoid Plumb Jam.

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AlanCurragh

Please can we stay on topic here - I'm aware that the topic, is by its nature, what happened post-war, but not every event in the 1920's was necessarily influenced by the war, neither has every book published about the 20's got anything to do with the war

Thanks

Alan

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COSergeant

1920: The Year of the Six Presidents

I have not yet read this book. I found it online and have requested it from my library. The following is an amalgam of some editorial reviews on Amazon:

The book isn't really about the Presidential Race. The author is telling a grander tale, of a country toppling into "modernity, or what passed for it." In 1920, the automobile had overtaken the horse, jazz and the fox-trot were replacing the camp meeting as popular entertainment, people were learning to buy on installment, and more and more of those fox-trotting shoppers lived in cities. Presidential candidates, for the first time, courted women voters.

Under the slogan "Let us return to normalcy," Republican Warren Harding crushed Democrat James Cox in the 1920 presidential election. But "normalacy" after the war was different from what it was before the war.

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Alan Tucker

This thread is getting a bit scatter gun. It is not easy to unravel which were consequences of the war, which would have happened anyway and which were longer term trends exacerbated by the war.

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centurion

One very strong but overlooked change was that Britain had overcome a strong aversion to conscription in any form (and one dating back at least two centuries) so that this was introduced as soon as WW2 broke out and National service continued for some time afterwards.

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Terry_Reeves

[/quote

Sometimes I think this is overdone .. I research old newspapers and the weekly court reports demonstrate to me that Edwardian society was absolutely bulging with domestic abuse cases. And, it has to be said, I would be pretty sure that a punter who was prone to walloping the wife pre-war was just as prone to such behaviour post-war .. never mind what kind of experiences he had.

Quite agree Des. This also applied to sundry other thugs and thieves. The idea that somehow all WW1 servicemen were somehow hero's for surviving the trenches so to speak, is a myth.

TR

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centurion

Sometimes I think this is overdone .. I research old newspapers and the weekly court reports demonstrate to me that Edwardian society was absolutely bulging with domestic abuse cases. And, it has to be said, I would be pretty sure that a punter who was prone to walloping the wife pre-war was just as prone to such behaviour post-war .. never mind what kind of experiences he had.

Quite agree Des. This also applied to sundry other thugs and thieves. The idea that somehow all WW1 servicemen were somehow hero's for surviving the trenches so to speak, is a myth.

TR

Possibly post WW1 the more emancipated women were more likely to protest about it so that it was reporting (whether formal or publicising) of domestic violence that increased as opposed to the incidence itself. It certainly was no secret pre WW1 - Kipling wrote a moving short story about a victim.

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MichaelBully

Indeed Centurion. I think that an unforeseen consequence was the rise of Pacifism in the early 1930's. Although Britain and her allies were the victors, the fact that amongst the generation of young people, those born in the 1890's , there were a number who were prepared to embrace Pacifism when it became apparent that another major war could occur again. They might have been a minority , but certainly an articulate one. The staggering rise of the Peace Pledge Union is signficant in this respect. I can't see this being predicted in 1919.

With regard to the emancipation of women, I think that it has been discussed already on threads relating to Vera Brittain that a paradox emerges. In her seminal work 'Testament of Youth' (1933) , Vera focused a lot on the human suffering generated by the Great War, but also she also made it clear that she loathed the constrictions of life as a provincial upper Middle Class lady. Yet already by 1915, she was permitted to travel alone without a chaperone. In 1914 Vera had to have an aunt present when meeting her boyfriend. The Great War , which Vera maintains was a catasrophe for her generation, did help to give opportunities for many women of Vera's class background. Perhaps to a lot more women.

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Terry_Reeves

There are some interesting questions posed by this. By that I mean, what processes were started before the war; and what were hastened by the war or stayed the same in the post-war period?

With regard to women, the process for the right to vote was started before the war. The right to vote was hastened by the war, but not absolutely because of it. The vista of employment for women was broadened because of the war, but in the aftermath it largely collapsed because of the wartime agreements between trades unions and employers to re-employ ex-servicemen at the conclusion of the war. Many working class women, who had become temporarily accustomed to a little freedom, found themselves back to square one at the end of the conflict.

Another subject that I find endlessly fascinating is the situation of servicemen's widows in the inter-war period. Many found themselves in financial difficulty, despite a pension, and it is not difficult to find examples of women who probably re-married for purely economic reasons, particularly those with young children. This also includes those women from the middling classes of British society who had expectations in regard to the education of their children.

TR

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