Disabled veterans were the First World War's most conspicuous legacy. Nearly eight million men in Europe returned from the First World War permanently disabled by injury or disease. In The War Come Home, Deborah Cohen offers a comparative analysis of the very different ways in which two belligerent nations--Germany and Britain--cared for their disabled.
At the heart of this book is an apparent paradox. Although postwar Germany provided its disabled veterans with generous benefits, they came to despise the state that favored them. Disabled men proved susceptible to the Nazi cause. By contrast, British ex-servicemen remained loyal subjects, though they received only meager material compensation. Cohen explores the meaning of this paradox by focusing on the interplay between state agencies and private philanthropies on one hand, and the evolving relationship between disabled men and the general public on the other.
Written with verve and compassion, The War Come Home describes in affecting detail disabled veterans' lives and their treatment at the hands of government agencies and private charities in Britain and Germany. Cohen's study moves from the intimate confines of veterans' homes to the offices of high-level bureaucrats; she tells of veterans' protests, of disabled men's families, and of the well-heeled philanthropists who made a cause of the war's victims. This superbly researched book provides an important new perspective on the ways in which states and societies confront the consequences of industrialized warfare.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Reconciliation and Stability
PART I: CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE GREAT WAR'S AFTERMATH
1. A Voluntary Peace: British Veterans, Philanthropy, and the State
A Land Fit for Heroes
The Voluntarists Take Charge
Service, Not Self
2. The Nation Accused: German Veterans and the State Regulation of Charity
The Thanks of the Fatherland
Veterans versus the Public
PART II: THE WAR'S RETURNS
3. Life as a Memorial: Ex-Servicemen at the Margins of British Society
The Objects of Charity
Shattered Soldier Laughs at Fate
4. Life Reconstructed: The Reintegration of German Veterans
The Iron Will to Work
The Subjects of Welfare
For Wounded and Unconquered Soldiers
Deborah Cohen is Assistant Professor of History at Brown University.
“A thoughtful and thought-provoking book.”—Bernhard Rieger The Historical Journal
“A valuable study that vividly presents the social and political ramifications of modern warfare. It is highly recommended to social historians of interwar Europe.”—Alon Rachamimov H-Net Reviews In Humanities & Social Sciences
"Based on a breathtaking range of research in British and German archives, The War Come Home
is written in an engaging, immediately accessible style and filled with rich anecdotes that are excellently told. This impressive book offers a powerful set of insights into the lasting effects of the First World War and the different ways in which belligerent states came to terms with the war's consequences."—Robert Moeller, author of War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany
"With verve, compassion, and above all else, clarity, The War Come Home
makes the dismal story of the failed reconstructions of disabled veterans in interwar Britain and German into engaging and provocative reading. Cohen moves from astute analysis of the interventions of high level bureaucrats to sensitive interpretations of how disabled veterans wrote and talked about their lives and the treatment they received at the hands of public and private agencies. She beautifully interweaves histories from below and above, showing how the two shaped -- but also collided with -- one another in profoundly consequential ways for the history of the 20th century."—Seth Koven, coeditor (with Sonya Michel) of Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States
2002 Sharlin Memorial Award in Social Science History, Social Science History Association