Health care in the service of war Cover Image

Skrb v službi vojne
Health care in the service of war

war nurses in Carniola

Author(s): Irena Selišnik
Subject(s): Pre-WW I & WW I (1900 -1919)
Published by: Inštitut za novejšo zgodovino
Keywords: world war I;1914–1918;nurses;women;care attendants;profession;morality;Carniola

Summary/Abstract: Even before World War I an ongoing discussion took place in Austria whether medical nurses should be mobilised to take care for wounded soldiers in case of extensive military conflict, natural disasters or epidemics. After the outbreak of the Great War the Austrian authorities encouraged the professionalisation of nursing, and especially women were invited to join. Special conditions for schooling were enacted and the first courses were opened at local hospitals. In the Austrian Monarchy, Carniola was no exception. The Red Cross organised special courses for nurses with the promise of salary, retirement benefits and possibility of vacation. Austrian propaganda portrayed war nurses as heroines, and at least part of the public perceived them as a personification of motherly care and love which could be compared with the sacrifices of the soldiers. However, war nurses also represented modern women who successfully avoided social control and headed towards imminent danger in the battlefield. In the public doubts about their morality emerged, as nurses had direct contact with soldiers and were especially close to doctors. With their presence they invaded the dichotomy between public/battlefront-private/home front. The image of war nurses clearly reveals the awkward relationships between the attitudes to war and women as well as the rapidly changing values in times of war.

  • Issue Year: 55/2015
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 90-102
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: Slovenian