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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Matt Perry
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An Austrian submarine torpedoed the cruiser-battleship Léon Gambetta on 27 April 1915. With 681 deaths, this constituted the French navy’s greatest loss of life during the Great War. This article examines this event and what it might add to discussions about death, trauma and war. First, the cultural realm of the signification of the events is scrutinized. The press treated this as a moment of heroic sacrifice as their account and that of the navy converged. Secondly, there is a discussion of the official manipulation of the traumatic event and its implications. Finally, the survivor testimony, experience and the psychological aspects of the death at sea are considered. This is based upon the depositions of 132 survivors noted down by naval investigators a few weeks after the event. It considers the traumatic nature of the sinking and how this is negotiated in the testimonies of the survivors.
Author(s): Perry M
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: French History
Print publication date: 07/07/2012
ISSN (print): 0269-1191
ISSN (electronic): 1477-4542
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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