E Wilcock Posted 9 November , 2013 Share Posted 9 November , 2013 On Wednesday my husband and I went to hear Prof Christof Rass speak at the German Historical Institute, London, on "Bringing back the Dead. Mapping the Military casualties of the Great War on Civil Society". Prof. Rass explained the largely quantitative and geographical research he has lead on the volunteers from Osnabruck and from Aachen who died in or as a consequence of service in World War One. His study mapped the social background and home location of volunteers, the location of deaths in action relative to the home town of volunteers, the extent to which the death rate per month for each town mirrored or failed to mirror the overall army death rate, the social consequences for surivivng families of losing sons and husbands. There seemed to be some misunderstanding among German academics present of exactly what information has or has not survived in UK archives. Much of the wider social information revealed by this study of volunteers, might have been discovered in UK via the 1911 census which in many cases provides residential address,occupation and family setting for men who served. On the other hands the German local government authorities recorded all residents and their families in Personal files and Adressbooks and when the system changed subsequently recorded the occupancy of all houses. This enables historians to see the downward social mobility of those who lost bread winners. Professor Rass mentioned the very full lists of the war dead collected in some UK villages and towns and when I enquired about an example, the work down by Trevor Harkin in Coventry he suggested that these lists might be used in a similar way to explore the impact of the war on the civilian population. We gathered from another questioner that Heritage lottery money is being used to document the war dead of Islington. It really seems to me that questions need to be asked about the use of public money to list only the dead. I welcome the initiative of the Imperial War Museum to rectify the balance and collect data on all who served. However, I would like to see this extended to look, as Professor Rass has done, at what happened after the war. When studying the 4th South Midland Brigade of the RFA (Territorial Force) I have tried to link names to the 1911 census and look at what I am beginning to suspect was the detrimental affect of the War on men and officers who survived. However, we In the UK do not as yet have the records to follow up the post war experiences of the people who survived, nor of the families of those who died. For that we need the 1921 Census which will not become available for study until 2021 more than two years after the centenary ends and after the date when the Imperial war Museum is going to call a halt to public contributions and remove its site from free public access. I know very little about research on the First World War done in Europe nor of Forums comparable to this. So it was a welcome opportunity to hear a speaker from Germany. Professor Rass made me wonder about the timing of these public projects and the use or neglect of our many UK lists of those who fell. I decided to post here to invite members views and a wider discussion Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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