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WW1 Home Fronts
Transcript of WW1 Home Fronts
Germany - Social and Economic Impacts
Pre-War, War and Post-War Women's Status
Home Front Context
German Changing Attitudes on the Home Front
German Recruitment, Conscription, Censorship and Propaganda
Britain's Changing Attitudes on the Home Front
British Recruitment, Conscription, Censorship and Propaganda
Impact of the War on Women's Lives and Experiences in Britain
Recruitment, Conscription, Censorship and Propaganda Similarities
WW1 Home Fronts
Yr 12 Modern History
a war in which every available weapon is used and the nation's full financial resources are devoted. Every aspect of people's lives were affected by the war, both of soldiers, women and children on the home front.
the struggle for women to achieve the vote during the early twentieth century. This was later referred to as the First Wave of Feminism.
an organized association of workers in a trade, group of trades, or profession, formed to protect and further their rights and interests.
ammunition, equipment, and stores.
A balance of hate existed between the Allied countries and Germany as nations held ancient enemies (or perceived ancient enemies) from prior European wars.
Wartime propaganda demonised enemy peoples, fueled the fire of this feud especially among western democracies outraged by the atrocities Germany committed on the neutral state of Belgium. However this relationship was mutual, with Germany releasing similar propaganda against France and Britain.
Such high levels of suffering could unleash passions and emotions in the opposite direction, namely against the very political establishments that sent armies of men to their slaughter. The likelihood of revolution in terrible times hinged on the degree of distrust or, inversely faith people had in their governments.
Authoritarian systems in Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia that had denied equal rights to the lower classes in peacetime, and continued to treat workers as second or third-class citizens during the war, suffered more serious home front disruptions than did maturing democracies in Britain and France which responded to pressure from below with concessions.
Aloof ruling elites in Central and Eastern Europe also proved more vulnerable to charges of mismanaging a war that dragged on with no victorious end in sight.
Low pre-war living standards factored explosively into the mix, furthermore, for states drafted or recruited heavy dissatisfied lower-paid unskilled workers, while skilled ‘labour aristocrats’ either stayed in armaments factories or were returned from the front.
Social Impact on British Civilians
British Home Front Context
In 1901 Britain had a constitutional government, but it was not a fully-fledged democracy. In 1918 it became a democracy, with the introduction of universal adult male suffrage and votes for women aged over 30.
When Britain entered World War One, it did so in the name of 19th century liberal values - the rights of small nations and the rule of law.
What justified these claims, which became the touchstone of British propaganda, was Germany's invasion of Belgium, as its army bypassed France's eastern defenses by swinging round them to the north.
Britain's government coalesced (joined together) during the course of WW1 to a smaller war cabinet
The 1915 election was postponed until post-war
The military believed that they could do the best job of running the country
An interesting comparison with France: France was under a 'State of Emergency' and major decisions were made by High Military Command and effected by a Presidential decree (decision). High Military Command held excessive power until Clemenceau restored civilian authority, war "was too important a matter to be left to the generals"
London Air Raids:
On February the 12th 1915, the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, expressed a hope to his aides that 'the air war against England will be carried out with the greatest energy'.
By May 1915, the German High Command had made the strategic decision to bomb the British mainland using airships. The initial target list included: military bases; fuel, ammunition and other military stores, military barracks; and, above all, the London Docklands.
Zeppelins were used in a continuous campaign at a frequency of around two air raids a month until 1917, when they were largely replaced by heavy bomber aircraft.
A morale depressing side-effect of these German air raids on the British public was the imposition by the British authorities in 1916 of a total 'black-out' in areas thought to be liable to air raids. This meant that all but the most essential outside lighting was forbidden, and individual households and businesses were bound by law to ensure that windows and doors were heavily curtained to avoid the escape of any man-made light
Economic Impacts on British Civilians
Governments demonstrated nativity towards economic issues at the beginning of war
Britain became the main financier of the war for the Allies and they did this through increasing taxation and borrowing funds from the US
Lloyd George (became PM in 1916) pushed for a total war organised economy, however this process was a lot slower than the German total war economy)
In order for a successful total war based economy, the workers had to be kept happy, and this was achieved through direct intervention with trade unions which maintained wages throughout the war
The maintenance of worker wages also kept British standards of living at pre-war levels
Governments took control of all related industry fields, controlled awarding of government contracts, adjudication (mediating) in labour disputes, exemption of skilled metal workers from service and the return of skilled workers from the front
Munitions was the key industry for both home fronts
Text Response: Using the source, what is the message Britain is attempting to convey?
Social Impacts on German Civilians
British Naval Blockade or 'Hunger Blockade':
Aware that Germany's coastlines could only be accessed through the North Sea, the British mounted its long-range blockade - 'economic warfare' - with the aim of sealing off the whole North Sea, and thus closing all the German ports to international trade
By the end of 1914, the British had succeeded in their overall aim of sealing off the German North Sea ports. But, this had very little apparent effect on the economies of the Central Powers and the execution of the war on the Western Front, or elsewhere
March 1915 the Allies (Britain, France and Russia - the United States became an 'Associated Power' in April 1917) formally decided to prohibit all international import and export trade with the Central Powers
Slowly but surely, shortages of raw materials and goods began to affect the daily needs of people on the home front and essentially the soldiers eventually felt the pain
Regular imported goods were no longer available and in 1916 the rationing of bread was established
Most historians still maintain that the 'hunger blockade' contributed hugely to the outcome of the First World War. By 1915, German imports had fallen by 55% from pre-war levels.
"In the second half of 1918, individual rations, when available, in comparison with pre-war levels of consumption per head were down to 12 per cent of the peacetime diet of meat, 5 per cent in fish, 7 per cent in fats, 13 per cent in eggs, 28 per cent in butter, 15 per cent in cheese, 6 per cent in beans and pulses, 82 per cent in sugar, 94 per cent in potatoes, 16 per cent in margarine, and 48 per cent in the bread diet. The failures of the rationing system deepened social inequalities in Germany by the end of the shooting war."
Jans Flemming, 'Landwirstschafliche Interessen und Democratie' (Bonn, 1978),p. 87. Part 1 On the extent of the food shortages in Germany, cited in N. P. Howard, p. 163.
Using this source and prior knowledge, outline the social and economic effects of the British Naval Blockade on the German Home Front.
Economic Impacts on German Civilians
Before the war, "in 1914 the German economy was almost completely reliant on the outside trade and therefore not ready for a protracted (extended) war" (Duffy, 2009)
When the war started "Germany reordered its economy to support the war effort (total war). Civilians were asked to perform new jobs and give up many of their conveniences in order to help the war effort; every member of society was mobilised in a single goal of defeating the enemy" (Pendergast, 2002)
The government spent 83% of total expenditure on military items and only 2% on civilians, where other countries had a more realistic expenditure where civilians received up to 16% of the total expenditure (Rogers, 2010)
Farmers were short of labourers to bring in the harvest as young unskilled men had been drafted into the military
Production fell by 70% and this was amplified by the poor weather conditions during the war years
When the smallest amount of wheat was available, people would add sawdust to their bread
The war bestowed two valuable legacies on women. First, it opened up a wider range of occupations to female workers and hastened the collapse of traditional women's employment, particularly domestic service.
Secondly, the dramatic increase in women's unionisation.
The munitionette became the signature of women's liberation during WW1 and by 1915 they were responsible for the majority of Britain's munitions output
Before the war there were major debates surrounding women receiving the vote, however this was put on the back burner as war broke out. However the movement regained momentum during the war particularly as more women began working in areas other than their traditional domestic service realm
Britain's radical suffragette, Christaben Pankhurst, initially described the war as "God's revenge upon [those] who held women in subjection," but by 1915 she stood squarely behind men "who at the risk of death are resisting the leader of the Anti-Suffragettes - William II".
Another perspective is from Helena Swanwick who refused to change course with her opinion, "the sanction of brute force by which a strong nation 'hacks its way' through a weak one is precisely the same as that by which the stronger male dictates to the weaker female... not till the idea of moral law has been accepted by the majority of men will there be freedom and security for women".
It's hard to say whether women workers understood from the beginning that their employment could only be temporary but so it was. The same situation was repeated in the main belligerent countries: women were dismissed back home to make room for the returning veterans, only in some cases their efforts were thanked with the right to vote.
is information and ideas that are presented in such ways as to persuade people to adopt a certain point of view about a particular matter. It was commonly used by governments including organisations such as the army.
is when someone, normally a member or representative of the government, removes items from newspapers, books, films and other forms of media, which that person or government thinks are unsuitable or dangerous for the people of the country to know about.
the action of enlisting new people in the armed forces.
compulsory enlistment for state service, typically into the armed forces
The war of munitions. How Great Britain has mobilised her industries. Poster showing 14 illustrations of the British munitions industry, including related descriptions and facts. Date Created/Published: 1917.
Aims of Censorship for both Britain and Germany
1. To ensure civilians and soldiers had high morale and confidence that their side would win. If they didn't do this, they thought people would develop defeatism, the belief that they would lose the war.
2. To maintain people's determination to keep waging the war, on both the battlefield and the home front. Many people were becoming disillusioned with the war, wanting it to be ending sooner rather than later.
3. To prevent the enemy from gaining any useful information.
4. To prevent people on the home front finding o9ut exactly what trench life was like.
Aims of Propaganda for both Britain and Germany
The aims of propaganda were similar to those of censorship.
1. To prevent defeatism and to strengthen the morale and confidence of both soldiers and civilians.
2. To stop becoming disillusioned about the war, to maintain their determination and ultimately working towards the overall victory.
In both Britain and Germany, government departments were established early in the war to develop and circulate propaganda. This was often labeled as 'information' or 'patriotic instruction' rather than propaganda.
The most effective weapon used during World War One wasn’t the shell or the tank, it was morale. The British Army believed that it was crucial to an Allied victory, and it looked to the Post Office for help.
Soldiers sent a variety of different items home from the front lines. Souvenirs such as buttons and matchboxes often accompanied letters, and some even sent silk cards - embroidered motifs on strips of silk mesh which were mounted on postcards.
Letters from serving soldiers had a powerful role, not just in keeping families informed of the well-being of their loved ones; they also helped to sustain popular support for the war across the home front.
A completed field postcard, posted on 22 March 1916
Collection of British WW1 Propaganda Posters
Collection of German WW1 Posters
At the outbreak of war in 1914, the British Army had 700,000 available men.
Germany’s wartime army was over 3.7 million.
When a campaign for volunteers was launched, thousands answered the call to fight.
Among them were 250,000 boys and young men under the age of 19, the legal limit for armed service overseas.
Recruitment officers were paid two shillings and sixpence (about £6 today) for each new recruit, and would often turn a blind eye to any concern they had about age.
The minimum height requirement was five feet, three inches, with a minimum chest size of 34 inches, so a 16 year-old was very likely to be let through.
Britain's Underage Soldiers WW1
A young man undergoes a medical examination.
The first two years of war saw a massive recruitment drive, with over a million men volunteering. By 1916-1917, this was no longer a problem as conscription had been introduced.
First Service Act was introduced by early 1916 and all single men aged 18-41 were called for service, but by mid-1916, this was changed to include married men.
Men who worked in industries deemed 'essential' were excluded.
The policy of conscription divided British society.
Between August 1914 and the introduction of the first Military Service Act as many as three million men volunteered for military service. From January 1916 until the close of the war a further 2.3 million men were formally conscripted into service.
Prime Minister Lloyd George needed to talk directly to the British civilians and influence their attitudes and their behaviour.
Lloyd-George’s response was to set up a semi-official group, (removed from the government), with an annual budget of £240,000 (over £10 million today). This was called The National War Aims Committee.
German Recruitment and Conscription
Germany had no need for a recruitment drive (unlike Britain) because they already had a firmly cemented military service process.
Men, for the age of 17 undertook part time training, at the age of 20 undertook full timing training for a period of 2-3 years. Following this, they then had to serve in the first reserve for a period of 4-5 years and remain in the second reserve until the age of 45.
In 1914 Germany had 94 divisions, and with millions in the reserves (3.7 million).
By August 1915 this was increased to 5.3
million and in 1816 it increased to 5.8 million.
Britain's population (including Ireland) in 1914: Approximately 46 million
Germany's population in 1914: Approximately 65-67 million
Similar to Britain, all content moving to and from the front was extensively monitored and controlled.
Newspapers were required to write pro-German, morale building articles.
Newspapers were not even allowed to say how many or who had died during the war.
By the defeat of Germany in 1918, civilians were so utterly disillusioned about their defeat because of the high level of censorship.
Since Germany had initially invaded Belgium, they felt the need to defend their decision and propaganda fueled the idea that Germany had been suffering constant pressure from Britain, France and Russia.
Germany had no specific propaganda ministry, and thus the military controlled the information to the public.
Posters predominantly contained images of de-humanised Allies, Germany represented as defending their territorial borders/self pity and encouraging civilians to donate to the cause.
Compare and Contrast
Approximately 1,600,000 women joined the workforce between 1914 and 1918 in government departments, public transport, the post office, as clerks in business, as land workers and in factories, especially in the dangerous munitions factories, which were employing 950,000 women by Armistice Day (as compared to 700,000 in Germany).
Employers circumvented wartime equal pay regulations by employing several women to replace one man, or by dividing skilled tasks into several less skilled stages. In these ways, women could be employed at a lower wage and not said to be 'replacing' a man directly.
Munitionettes produced 80% of the weapons and shells used by the British Army and daily risked their lives working with poisonous substances without adequate protective clothing or the required safety measures.
Employed mothers were stung by the closure of day nurseries that had been vastly extended during the war.
Some historians believe that the war was a key element in the granting of the franchise to women over the age of 30 years who held property in 1918.
But it was not until 1928 that women over the age of 21 were finally allowed to vote.
In effect, this meant that in 1918, 8.5 million women were enfranchised, or 40 per cent of the total number of women. In 1928, this was boosted to 15 million, or 53 per cent of total number of women.
By 1931, a working woman's weekly wage had returned to the pre-war situation of being half the male rate in more industries.
From the 19th century to 1911, between 11 and 13 per cent of the female population in England and Wales were domestic servants.
Domestic service was the only work outlet women had and would usually involve working class women, serving the households of middle to upper class families.
Women had no right to vote in elections.
Feminism and The Right to Vote
Feminist women were to be found in all classes but always as a minority.
The letter that the Little Mother sent to the editor of the Morning Post (1916) and that Robert Graves reproduces and comments on in his memoirs stands out as an example of the extreme patriotism often attributed to home front women. This letter, released as a pamphlet, sold 75,000 copies in just own week. "We women," Little Mother writes, "pass on the human ammunition of 'only sons' to fill up the gaps, so that when the 'common soldier' looks back before going 'over the top' he may see the women of the British race at his heels. Reliable, dependent, uncomplaining." It is tempting to believe no woman wrote this letter and if she did, it was only by taking dictation from a man.
Specific Women's Organisations
Women's Hospital Corps - September 1914
The Women's Volunteer Reserve - August 1914
The Women's Legion - July 1915
Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps/ WAAC - February 1917
The Voluntary Aid Detachments (Men and Women) - August 1909
Women's Auxiliary Force - 1915
Women's Auxiliary Forage Corps - 1915
Women's Forestry Corps -
Women's Land Army - February 1917