Wednesday, October 04, 2017

[Frauenarbeit im ersten Weltkrieg] / [Women's Work in the First World War]

Image not from the movie. Women producing soap (1917). Photo: Süddeutsche Zeitung.

[Il lavoro femminile durante la prima guerra mondiale], ? (DE 1917), photog: ?, prod: ?. DCP, 15′; no intertitles, source: Landesfilmsammlung Baden-Württemberg.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone: Grande Guerra 100.
    Grand piano: Neil Brand.
    Teatro Verdi, no intertitles, 4 Oct 2017

Jay Weissberg (GCM 2017): "There’s a surprising degree of visual whimsy in the footage retrospectively titled Frauenarbeit im Ersten Weltkrieg, far more than in La Femme française pendant la guerre. The opening shot plays like comedy, as three women carrying ladders walk towards the camera, their gait more reminiscent of slapstick than propaganda. Their uniforms identify them as employees of the gas company, and they’re cleaning and servicing lamp posts. Many of the women in this strictly urban compilation film have a delightfully self-conscious manner as they set about their tasks before the camera, whether washing down train cars or cleaning windows. Also seen are women train engineers, telegram messengers, and, unusually, women shoveling coal. The range of employment is heterogenous and the tone upbeat."

"In truth the presence of women in the German workforce was less stable than in France or, especially, Great Britain. Employment opportunities expanded in areas where the war effort demanded extra bodies, and decreased in sectors where women had traditionally found work, such as textile factories. Although farms were largely now worked by women throughout the year, rotating groups of soldiers were granted leave during harvest time, and the government encouraged the use of prisoners of war and foreign nationals on occupied territory over female laborers. Things changed somewhat in January 1917, when the Prussian Ministry of War appointed Marie-Elisabeth Lüders as the head of the newly instituted Frauenarbeitszentrale (Women’s Central Work Office), tasked with the mission of increasing the number of women in the workforce, especially in industry. By 1918, 600,000 women were working in munitions, and the total number of women employed by mid-sized to large factories increased by over 700,000 between 1913 and the Armistice. Nursing, traditionally thought of as a female occupation, also expanded, with approximately 1.1 million nurses registered by the war’s end. Layoffs when peace was declared were swift, and the role of women in the upheavals during the German Revolution of 1918-19 can be unquestionably linked to the haphazard taste of independence of the war years, combined with the significant privations they suffered.
" Jay Weissberg

AA: Non-fiction. There is little to add to Jay Weissberg's remarks above. The great spirit of the women is a notable feature. Visually, there is a special atmosphere as the Gasgesellschaft women seem to be working in a thick fog.

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