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Attitudes Case

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History B200

3 December 2012

Final Paper: Attitudes of Warfare

84-year old war veteran Peter Thomas once said, "During the war you go in as a teenager and you come out as a man" (Naples 2007). Clearly years of war cause many physical changes to a soldier, but there are far more severe changes that go on in their mind. The violence of war warps people in numerous ways. Violence spurs certain aspects of human nature that emphasize autonomy and the ability to make independent choices along with deep routed troubles that result from killing another man. Throughout a wartime experience, men can both embrace war and flourish in its effects, and they can flatly reject it.

Despite the fact that military units are focused groups that take orders from a higher command, it was not uncommon for soldiers to act autonomously and embrace violence on their own accord. Many people were inspired to fight in the war and gladly accepted their gruesome duties because they were inspired by patriotism. Pro-war propaganda administered by the government inspired strong feelings of patriotism in their citizens. The World Wars especially saw film propaganda to be "a new, 'modern' weapon of war" that "brought the joy of slaughter into the living room" (Bourke 1999, 11-13). Propaganda even had its role on the battlefield motivating the soldiers. Governments recognized that they needed to keep their soldiers excited, bloodthirsty, and even to reassure them, especially because they relied largely on the draft for men. So, they administered pro-war and very patriotic propaganda to the incoming soldiers. Their goal was to show all of their country's people these pro-war messages in various forms of the media to make the men who watched it "feel like killing a bunch of those sons-of-bitches" and motivate the families at home to keep working to support their country and reassure them of their victory (Bourke 1999, 13). The propaganda shown to the soldiers often contained deeply unsettling scenes that were chosen specifically to anger the men and convince them to act out of passion, not just because they were ordered to. Additionally, soldiers often embraced violence out of necessity and in light of natural instinctual behavior. Often deprived of basic necessities, fatigued, and homesick, soldiers had to rely on stealing from villagers and fighting in order to stay alive and moving. "Anything we found became ours," one soldier writes, recounting "pull[ing] boots off the old men and women on the street if ours were wanting," and resorting to "taking the last piece of bread from women and children" (Reece 2003, 35-37). In a particularly gruesome recount, he describes, "We drove women out of their homes... pregnant or blind, they all had to go. Crippled children were shooed out into the rain"(Reece 2003, 36). The central idea for these men was that "the need to survive didn't go around getting permission from conscious" (Reece 2003, 35). The war made them not just want to fight, but need to fight. It boiled them down through hardship and depression to the point where they had to accept their own brutal and considerably evil actions as a step necessary to survival. Violence drove them men down to their barest of instincts, acting autonomously to save themselves. Furthermore, violence often inspires a dominance effect. The bare roots of war - conquering another man's land, using brute force, establishing dominance over more people - are fundamental aspects of masculinity. Especially during times when women played minimal at best roles on the battlefield, much of the soldiers' inspiration drove from the primal instincts that their actions aroused. As mentioned previously, the men would raid villages for food out of necessity sometimes, but after a while stealing was out of pure greed and the desire to assert to the citizens that they were helpless. When they stole the food, they "weren't bothered by the tears, hand wringings, and curses. [They] were victors. War excused [their] thefts [and] encouraged cruelty" (Reece 2003, 35). And it wasn't just a desire to dominate the other soldiers - it was the whole country. Alan Kramer writes, "The enemy was not the enemy army, but the enemy nation and the culture through which it defined itself" (Kramer 2007, 31). After so long of relying on basic instincts, the violence began to arouse the most primal functions of a soldier - kill, protect, and survive. They embraced the violence because it lifted them up on a pedestal above another entire nation and



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