chapter  4
11 Pages

WOMEN IN THE LINE OF FIRE

Perhaps the most vivid example of how the First World War affected women’s lives can be found not in their wartime mobilisation but in their wartime experience of both traditional and new kinds of warfare. The First World War began typically enough with the mobilisation of national military forces to attack those of the enemy, and this would have a profound effect on the civilian populations that stood in their way. Invading armies like Germany’s not only subjected civilian women in the territories that they overran to oversight by the military, but they also produced waves of refugees. In some instances, people fled internationally; such was the case with Belgians who sought refuge in France and in Britain. In other circumstances, the exodus of refugees was internal; this was the case in France, parts of Austria-Hungary, and most dramatically in Russia. Yet, what made this war different, in addition to its scale, was that it threatened women far beyond the battle zone.