also served a symbolic function for the fighting men. Women
were the subjects of sentimental poetry; poems to sweethearts
at home or to French mademoiselles appeared in several issues.
The protection of women was held up as an honorable justification
for the war. An article entitled "German Brands Young Mother
with an Iron" that appeared in the first issue of The Stars
and Stripes typifies the manner in which sentimental and protective
feelings towards "womanhood" were aroused to encourage the
soldiers to fight: "It is in accordance with other stories
of the prostitution of womanhood which the Kaiser is forcing
in order to repopulate the German Empire. The rapid British
advance at Cambria, in November, when towns which the Germans
had occupied for three years were captured before the latter
could deport the civilian population into Germany as is their
custom, disclosed the latest effort of the German army. French
women and girls had been made the victims."
The article then
quoted an American officer: "Among the refugees who passed
along the roads making their way southward farther into France
after we made our first big advance were scores of women and
girls, each marked on her breast by a cross in red paint.
. . . the cross indicated that German soldiers were the fathers.
The crosses had been painted on them, the women explained,
to show that their children would belong to the German Government.
. . . Thank God, America, by coming into the war, will help
to stamp out this beastly 'kultur' from the world and make
it a safe, clean place to live in for your womenfolk and mine?-our
mothers, our sweethearts, our wives, and our daughters".
In keeping with
the concept of honoring womanhood, The Stars and Stripes encouraged
the doughboys to write letters home to "Mom." In support of
their intensive Mother's Day campaigns, the newspaper published
heart-wrenching cartoons depicting a forlorn mother waiting
for the postman or tearfully reading her son's letter. Editorials
and headlines touted the millions of letters sent back home
by dutiful soldiers. The newspaper also promoted the War Orphans
Project, in which companies and officers "adopted" French
war orphans by pledging to provide them with financial support.
Articles promoting the effort were often accompanied by images
of little girls and descriptions of the orphans' plight.
much more in this fascinating 71 week publication run of Stars
is a must have collection for any World War I history buff!