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The First World War was the first time American soldiers had participated in a war at a distance from home that did not easily facilitate home furloughs. Although the United States and Europe are physically separated by more than 3,500 miles, the relative distance between American World War I soldiers on the war front and their families on the home front was minor; the correspondence between them mitigated the physical and cognitive distance.
Historians of the First World War have explored soldiers’ contact with their families while in training camps and the US military’s intentional cultivation of a balance between strong masculine and gentle feminine characteristics through that contact, the development of a network of Hostess Houses in which soldiers could find rest and entertainment and families travelling to visit them would have accommodations, and the effects of total war mobilization on the relationship between home and war fronts. Benjamin Ziemann studied Bavarian soldiers’ correspondence to determine the ways personal letters connected home and war fronts and how they experienced the war. This paper aims to enhance the extant scholarship on correspondence between home and war fronts from an exclusively American perspective, building upon Benjamin Ziemann’s analysis and conclusions in his 2007 book War Experiences in Rural Germany. He asserts that the death and destruction witnessed and partaken of by front line soldiers was not a brutalizing experience, rather it either faded in their memories or was transformed into an enhanced appreciation of home and family.
Thole, Michelle, "Graduate, 1st Place: World War I War Front and Home Front: The Correspondence that Brought Them Together" (2023). 2023 Awards for Excellence in Student Research and Creative Activity - Documents. 1.
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