Between writing and silence: Experiences of violence in diaries and autobiographical texts of the First World War (Austria-Hungary)

By using diaries and autobiographical texts written by Austro-Hungarian combatants and noncombatants, Lisa Kirchner investigates in her PhD project (University of Vienna, supervised by Christa Hämmerle) experiences of violence during the First World War. With a particular interest in acts of violence applied by the k.u.k. army against civilians, she examines the discursive patterns of what was reported about these atrocities and how gender concepts shaped their representation in personal accounts. The project focuses on low-ranking soldiers and noncombatants such as nurses and female auxiliaries whose voices had little impact on public discourses of wartime violence. In general, public discourses during and after the war ignored, concealed and tabooed the violence that the k.u.k. army actively committed (e.g. massacres, lootings and sexual violence) between 1914 and 1918.