Trauma

  

Die Schrecken des Krieges, Karl Reisenbichler (1885 – 1962), Um 1920, Öl auf Leinwand, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. 13-75
Die Schrecken des Krieges, Karl Reisenbichler (1885 – 1962), Um 1920, Öl auf Leinwand, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. 13-75Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern
Selbstbildnis als Soldat, Anton Faistauer (1887 – 1930), Um 1916, Bleistift, Aquarell und Farbkreide auf weißem Karton, Salzburg Museum (Dauerleihgabe Salzburger Museumsverein), Inv.-Nr. 1071-2007
Selbstbildnis als Soldat, Anton Faistauer (1887 – 1930), Um 1916, Bleistift, Aquarell und Farbkreide auf weißem Karton, Salzburg Museum (Dauerleihgabe Salzburger Museumsverein), Inv.-Nr. 1071-2007Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern
Georg Trakl als k. u. k. Militär-Medikamentenakzessist (Beamter im Range eines Leutnants), Dr. Hans Oellacher (1889 – 1949), 1914, Reproduktion nach Galsplatte, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. F 22208
Georg Trakl als k. u. k. Militär-Medikamentenakzessist (Beamter im Range eines Leutnants), Dr. Hans Oellacher (1889 – 1949), 1914, Reproduktion nach Galsplatte, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. F 22208Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern

Destroyed in Body and Soul#
Of the eight million or more imperial-royal soldiers in the First World War, around 1.5 million fell at the front. 2.7 millions were taken prisoner. Tens of thousands of these died. 350,000 war widows and orphans in the territory that is Austria today mourned their husbands and fathers.

  
The Consequences
The psychological and physical effects of the experiences at the front were disastrous, with traumatisation of all kinds. Homecomers from the war experienced enormous difficulty adapting to normal everyday life again. More than 100,000 war cripples in Austria were cast out of mainstream society and had great problems finding work. Many lived in poverty, as state welfare was hopelessly inadequate. Over and above this, the war had destroyed social relations, families and trust in society.

  
Shell Shock Sufferers
Exposure for hours to artillery attacks, shellfire, mortal fear, the sight of the dead and dying on the front and the state of being held captive in trenches and army positions, helpless and at the mercy of the situation: all this led to severe psychological traumatisation among the soldiers. Many of the traumatised no longer had any control over their bodies after these shattering experiences and trembled uncontrollably. The suffering of the “shell-shocked” is known today as combat stress reaction, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

  
“Guinea Pigs”
At the time, psychologically traumatised soldiers were regarded as dissemblers and used as “guinea pigs” for psychiatric and neurological experiments. “Treatments” included electro-shock therapy, sometimes resulting in death, forced drill exercises in the cold and administration of blood from malaria patients.

  
An Army of Cripples
Industrial warfare led to countless mutilations and amputations, unprecedented in number. First aid on the front was hampered by lack of bandaging material, medication and medical staff. Soldiers with severe facial injuries were deformed for life and restricted in all everyday activities. Some of them even had to be drip-fed.

  
Wooden Legs and Metal Arms
The need for prostheses increased enormously and led to the development of moveable surrogate arms and legs equipped with joints and hinges and adaptable in form to the respective work process. However, many of the amputated couldn’t afford these flexible prostheses.

 

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