The Wounded Soldiers’ Memoirs of the World War I Recorded by Nurse L.D. Duhovskaja

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Zherdeva Yu.A., Samara, Russian Federation

The Wounded Soldiers’ Memoirs of the World War I Recorded by Nurse L.D. Duhovskaja


The article analyses a collection of soldiers memories from the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI) which were recorded by nurse Ljubov' Dmitrievna Duhovskaja. The paper strives to reconstruct the military experience of the soldiers drawing on memoirs written in the Moscow hospitals. The author establishes that the records were made by several nurses who worked under the direction of Ljubov' Duhovskaja in three Moscow hospitals; the documents were recieved in RGALI in 1945. The study is based on a comparison of materials of the said collection with records of Sof'ja Zaharovna Fedorchenko. The author emphasizes the fundamental difference between these two materials, which manifests primarily in pointed “documentalism” of Ljubov' Duhovskaja’s records, as opposed to “literariness” of Sof'ja Fedorchenko’s text. The military experience of wounded Russian soldiers comes across in the reconstruction as a tangle of inner turmoil caused by the destructive power of war and of invented subjective reality. Mobilization, first impressions of the theatre of operations, face-to-face contacts with the enemy and circumstances of their receiving wounds are key events figuring in the soldiers’ stories. The collection of Ljubov' Duhovskaja makes apparent the differences in soldiers’ and junior officers’ perception of the front, which are most notable in the interpretation of war aims and in the perception of the enemy. Documents indicate that military experience of the soldiers of the Caucasian Front was markedly different from the moving warfare experience of the Eastern front soldiers and more like the trench warfare experience of the Western Front soldiers. The author identifies the following specific features in the wounded soldiers’ stories: low-grade manifestation of escalation and simplification of violence, banalization of death and transformation of gender roles. The author concludes that the excess of heavy emotions accompanying the military experience was a crucible in which a new type of consciousness was forged and the soldiers became carriers of a new cultural paradigm.


World War I, wounded soldiers, military experience, war memoirs, 1914-1918.

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About the authors

Zherdeva Yulia Aleksandrovna, PhD in history, associate professor at Samara State University of Economics, Samara, Russian Federation. 8-917-159-05-82, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

You can read completely article in the russian historic-archival magazine “The Herald of an Archivist”. Read more about terms of subscription here.

Полностью материал публикуется в российском историко-архивоведческом журнале ВЕСТНИК АРХИВИСТА. Ознакомьтесь с условиями подписки здесь.