ABSTRACT

Fisher had noted that childbirth was more dangerous than war, but that was before the slaughter of the Great War. The welfare systems created in most combatant nations for the bereaved and the broken of the war rarely figure in research on war and commemoration, yet they were both a costly investment of resources and may have had consequences for what could come after. Partly they have been neglected because they are seen as incapable of doing the emotional work of grieving and remembrance that has so fruitfully been the focus of recent research.1 As Jay Winter and Emmanuel Sivan suggest:

Winter has thus proposed that research should focus not on this bureaucracy, but on the civil society organizations that did the work of ‘collective remembrance’ – a term he prefers to ‘collective memory’. In his argument, states might dispense benefits and choreograph commemorations, but were too impersonal to help with collective remembrance, which was left to what he calls associations of ‘fictive kinship’.3