Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Night In A German Munitions Factory

“Approximately 1,600,000 women joined the workforce between 1914 and 1918 in Government departments, public transport, the post office, as clerks in business, as land workers and in factories, especially in the dangerous munitions factories which were employing 950,000 women by Armistice Day (as compared to 700,000 in Germany)” (http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/womenww1_four.htm)

A Night in German Munitions Factory by Kรคte Kestien tells us a story about a typical day in the factory in the life of women during World War I. When the war started most of the men left for the front lines, which left no one to work. Although receiving welfare, women had to go to work in order to support the household. Most of the women, who did work in the munitions factories, chose to work the night shift because they would have to be home caring for the children during the day. The unfortunate side of this is that most of these women did not get much time to sleep before coming into work. This is one of the many things that added to the dangerous working conditions. There are a couple of key quotes that I have picked out, which summarizes the story.

“It’s the ether ‘said an elderly worker’ you’ll get used to it. Tomorrow you won’t even notice it.”

I feel this quote is a great way to visualize the way it must have smelled in the factory. “Munitionettes produced 80% of the weapons and shells used by the British Army and daily risked their lives working with poisonous substances without adequate protective clothing or the required safety measures.”(http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/womenww1_four.htm)

“I was working with gun powder which had to be filled into missiles”

“It was my job to reach past razor sharp blades, grab the neatly cut sticks of gun powder and push them across the table where four pairs of hands were putting them into bundles and packing them into cases.

The materials and machines that are described here (gun powder, missiles, razor sharp blades) are dangerous on their own and when you put them together, they seem to be a disaster waiting to happen.

“The machine had severed half her hand” “She simply had not been quick enough”

“Her response, “Thank God, its only the left.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

the child of the enemy

THE CHILD OF THE ENEMY : Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Historic and literary representations of the first world war have traditionally been male centred, constructed around the powerful imagery of trench warfare and the haunting words of a small group of tragic soldier poets. Colette,  was one of the "other" voices of war, pursued through the writings of women who lived through,served in or otherwise experienced the nightmare first hand.                                                                                           
Child of the Enemy was written about the woman during WWI, Its written about occupying soldiers having sex with women in the occupied territory. Some of that sex was consensual, some prostitution, some was rape.

It talks from a womans point of view and how they feel having these babies. " They areno longer in those first hours, those first days of dark madness in which they cried out their shame and asked themselves: "what am i to do?" Do you really think that a bitter, nine month meditation bears no fruit? By all means, give shelter to those who need it, give them support and whatever else they may need: work..some baby clothes.. but after that leave them alone sothey can get on with it. Even the most desperate and vindictive of victim mothers, will in the end, not really be capable of a crime, despite those who are already absolving her in advance.

A war child refers to a child born to a native parent and a parent belonging to a foreign military force (usually an occupying force, but also soldiers stationed at military bases on foreign soil). It also refers to children of parents collaborating with an occupying force. Having a child with a member of a belligerent foreign military, throughout history and across cultures, is often considered a grave betrayal of social values. Commonly, the native parent is disowned by family, friends and society at large.

Children whose either parent was part of an occupying force or whose parent(s) collaborated with enemy forces were innocent of any war crimes committed by their parents. Yet these children have felt condemned by the crimes uncovered in the subsequent prosecution of their parents' acts. As they grew to adolescence and adulthood, many of them harbored the feelings of guilt and shame.

....Leave her be; no doubt she does not know herself. But it will come to her in time. She suffers, but the optimism transmitted to the female laden with a precious human life, will subdue her torment. It will plead for the child which trembling there, endows its mother with an extra instinct.

But let us have confidence in the moment when she will see, exhausted and subdued, defenceless against her best instincts, that the monster is only a new-born baby, nothing but a baby greedy for life, a baby with vacant eyes and silvery down, with crimped and silky hands like a poppy which has only just opened its cup

Leave the woman alone.Say nothing...Hold your PEACE