The central focus of this book is the traumatized German war veteran. Using previously unexplored source material written by the psychologically scarred veterans themselves, this innovative work traces how some of the most vulnerable members of society, marginalized and persecuted as ‘enemies of the nation,’ attempted to regain authority over their own minds and reclaim the authentic memory of the Great War Under Weimar Germany and the Third Reich, the mentally disabled survivor of the trenches became a focus of debate between competing social and political groups, each attempting to construct their own versions of the national community and the memory of the war experience. Views on class, war, masculinity and social deviance were shaped and in some cases altered by the popularised debates that surrounded these traumatized members of society. Through the tortured words of these men and women, Jason Crouthamel reveals a hidden layer of protest against prevailing institutions and official memory, especially the Nazi celebration of war as the cornerstone of the ‘healthy’ male psyche. He also shows how these ‘social outsiders’ attempted to reform healthcare and reconstruct notions of ‘comradeship’, ‘manliness’ and the national community in ways that complicate the history of the veteran in this highly militarised society. By examining the psychological effects of war on ordinary Germans and the way these war victims have shaped perceptions of madness and mass violence, Crouthamel is able to illuminate potent and universal problems faced by societies coping with war and the politics of how we care for our veterans.
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