University of Hertfordshire

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'Forgotten female soldiers in an unknown army': German women working behind the lines 1914-1918

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  • Helen Boak
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-594
JournalWomen's History Review
Early online date26 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Some 50,000 German women served behind the lines during the First World War, as nurses, war auxiliaries and in the civilian administrations of Belgium and Russian Poland. After the war only nurses had a place in the collective memory while the women who served in the women's war auxiliary service and those who worked within the occupied territories were forgotten. Although women's war auxiliaries were held in disrepute by some contemporaries, an exploration of the service reveals not only the high regard in which the majority of women and their work were held by their employers but also the class and generational prejudices of the upper- and upper-middle-class women running the service and the tensions in their relationships with the German women working within the civilian administrations, who displayed organisational flair and strong collegiality

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