In March, 1918, French teacher, feminist and socialist activist, Hélène Brion was trialed for treason and defeatism in regards to the spread of her propaganda items throughout France, that challenged the Allies war efforts in World war 1(Michallat, W. 2013). The primary source to be analysed in this essay is the statement Brion delivered at her trial for treason.
When the war began on August 1st 1914, the women of France put aside their fight for women’s suffrage, that had been intensifying over the years leading up to this time, to assume a role assisting the war efforts for their nation. There were some however, such as Brion, who refused to step down from their own battle and used the Great War itself as a means to further their own feminist agenda(Corbin,K. 2015). This was done through the release of multiple propaganda documents condemming the war itself and its complete dismisal and downplay of the existence of women in the decision making process in French society(Michelle,W. 2013). Brion’s propaganda documents, in their most basic form argued for peace in terms of the larger, pointless war occuring and more emphasis placed on the feminist battle within France(Corbin,K.2015). They also outlined that France’s role in the war was unjust as half of French citizens, the women, who were still denied the right to vote in the parliamentary setting had no say in the actions of their country in the way their male counterparts did. For this, Brion was viewed as a traitor to France, with many newspapers throughout the country slandering her as an enemy of nationalism and patriotism, and a freak within French society(Encyclopedia.com. 2015). When arrested in late 1917, and found guilty of treason in March 1918; although her t...
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...he Great War was extravagant and large-scale, it was not the only thing going on in history during that time, and it wasn’t always accepted by people within the nations fighting it. Brion’s statement allows readers to connect historical events, ideas and themes within society during World War 1, especially in regards to the lack of rights women had during this period and to what extent they had no say in such a far-reaching war that caused so much horror and suffering across Europe. This connection of ideas enables a more overall and accurate view of the war and what was taking place in the social setting of nations that participated. Therefore this primary source is highly useful to those researching the First World War as it provides context, opposing views and coinciding themes that enables for a more in-depth and precise analysis of the Great war and its impacts.
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