Christa Hämmerle


Frontline Nursing – a paradigmatic gender history of World War I


This talk focuses on those thousands and thousands of women who – driven by various motivations – worked as nurses or assistant nurses during World War I and moved to the battlefields in that capacity. For their often dangerous and extremely exhausting war deployment behind the fire lines international research has coined the term “frontline nursing”.

What did this frontline nursing mean in terms of gender? Was is an adoption or transgression of ascribed gender roles? Which experiences did these women, who came from very different backgrounds, make during their war deployment? How was their work organized and were they appreciated by the military, the medical staff, war society or the public of the time? Did they find a place in the collective memory of World War I after 1918?