As a history undergraduate student, I fell in love with World War II. Unlike all of my classmates, however, what interested me was the home front, not the battles. I did take the occasional class about the war itself, yet I did so to give myself a better background of the timeline to make the events at home make more sense.
Even after more than twenty years, I still remember one article that I read in The Historian.
It compared the role of women in the war effort in the United States and Germany. I’d been studying the opportunities being made to American women (as well as the role of race), and I was interested to see how the German government harnessed the forces of their female population. As it turned out, German women did not volunteer in substantial numbers the way their American counterparts did. First, the war was on their soil, thus creating a feeling of need to stay at home to help protect their families. More importantly, however, the German population felt that the government was already in control of so much of their lives, there was resistance to giving up what little control they still had. Since there was no draft of people into the factories, the women stayed home en mass. Learning things like that, especially the comparative part, was what made me want to get my PhD and write articles like that.
Strangely enough, going through school, I wasn’t exposed to what life was like in England during that time period. Of course I read about the blitzkrieg, but there wasn’t a course going through the primary documents of the era. I didn’t realize the gap in my education until I watched Foyle’s War last year! How did I miss this when I was living in England?!?!?
I strongly recommend this series! It is about a detective in England during the war. It portrays the home front during that era. What was fascinating to me was how those hardships continued on after the war was over. Since battles weren’t fought on American soil, we saw the HUGE jump in our productivity in the post-war years. Much of England’s infrastructure was destroyed, and they lost a substantially higher percentage of their men compared to the US, thus taking quite a while for their recovery.
Much like with the home ec video I found, I was fascinated when I stumbled across a British government nutritional video of that era.
This made me want a house with a yard! If it were up to me, there would be no grass – only edibles! I’ve gotten a bit obsessed about all of this. There is just something about eating food that has unbelievable flavor, unlike supermarket produce, and having some level of control that makes me want to out and plant more things. I try to imagine what it must have been like for my grandparents when their victory gardens gave them much needed freshness and variety to their diet during the war. It’s another way that I feel closer to them.
Anyone else out there a WWII buff? or What activities that you do make you feel closer to previous generations?