The First World War: trauma and memory
The First World War: trauma and memory

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The First World War: trauma and memory

Week 2: Civilian war experiences


First, watch this video in which Annika explains what you’ll be studying this week.

Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_ww1_vid_1011.mp4
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Hello, and welcome back to Week two. Last week you studied some of the devastating physical and psychological effects of the First World War on combatants. You saw that some 10 million soldiers died during the conflict, but they weren’t the only casualties of war. The First World War is often referred to as a total war, because it engaged and impacted on the entire populations of all the belligerent nations. As a consequence, non-combatants did not always escape the physical and psychological devastation wrought by the conflict. So this week you will be learning about two aspects of civilian war experiences, atrocities committed against civilians and the experience of hunger on the home front.
The effects of wars on children have only recently been studied by historians in any detail. As you study the material for this week, you might want to reflect on the trauma inflicted on children and other non-combatants and how it affected the rebuilding of societies after the fighting had finished.
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Last week, you looked at some of the devastating physical and psychological effects of the First World War upon combatants. This week, you will reflect on the traumatic experiences of civilians in wartime.

First, you will examine some of the excesses of war committed by invading and occupying armies. Then you will focus on an experience common to most civilians during the war: hunger. This affected everyone on the home front, and one of the examples here focuses on the experience of children at war who were the innocent victims of this conflict.


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