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12 - Love Letters from Front and Home*

A Private Space for Intimacy in the Second World War?

from III - The Private at War

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2019

Elizabeth Harvey
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
Johannes Hürter
Affiliation:
Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History Munich - Berlin
Maiken Umbach
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
Andreas Wirsching
Affiliation:
Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History Munich - Berlin
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Summary

This chapter uses a selection of wartime love letters between soldiers and their wives/girlfriends to make two arguments. It shows how the world that couples constructed for themselves through the conventions of exchanging love letters was subject to many outside influences. It considers among others the case of a young woman who corresponded with multiple soldier penfriends, doubtless motivated by her own quest for pleasure and attention but also encouraged by regime messages to young women on the home front urging them to send ‘love tokens’ to unattached men at the front. Overall, however, the chapter makes the case that intimate correspondence between home and front, particularly where it evoked sexual feelings, could for all its conventional qualities constitute a refuge for individuals from the anxieties caused by the war and the dangers faced by front-line soldiers and civilians on the home front.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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