17 October 2012
Horrors of War
Men returning from the trenches on the frontlines of WWI were the first men to truly experience the magnitude of sheer power and what destruction artillery could wreak when used in mass numbers, forced to sit in trenches and bunkers for hours on end while being hit by barrage after barrage of battery fire. Some of those who lived through this may have returned home much different men than when they left, suffering from what was called shell shock at the time. Men returning from the heart of Europe after WWII saw a much different style of combat, but it was just as brutal and personal as their WWI counterparts experienced. They were the men who cut down the Nazi war machine and re-conquered the land that was steamrolled by the German military in the years before, like WWI, men were returning home with what was then called “combat fatigue”. Regardless of the differing circumstances and situations soldiers went through in the great wars, the affects of shell shock and combat exhaustion on infantry was too much too handle for many men, ultimately leading to post traumatic stress disorder and all the issues it created during a time when it was not officially recognized or treated compared to modern standards. Both In A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway and Band of Brother by Stephen Ambrose, are first-hand-account about both WWI and WWII, respectively. In both books, there are instances when men with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are brought up, and the question is whether or not the authors’ portrayed it accurately compared to modern understanding.
In A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, parts of the book take place on or near the frontlines of combat during the First World War. As part of Hemingway’s nature to simply yet eloquently describe the scene and characters, there are several occasions when he describes someone with shell shock, one being when...