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Orianna2000
11-08-2012, 07:53 PM
The country my MC lives in is now at war with their neighboring country. It's a different world, but they're about equivalent to our 1930s. I've been researching WWII to find out how the war might affect the general populace. Things like rationing, blackouts, air raids, evacuations, etc. In the UK, they apparently encouraged people to carry ID labels that wouldn't easily get lost or damaged--I'm assuming that was in case of an attack, so they could identify the bodies? Alarmingly practical.

Anyway, there's not a whole lot out there that I'm finding, other than some pamphlets that were distributed to the citizens of England at the outbreak of WWII about rationing and how to not aid the enemy parachutists that might land in the middle of the night. (Hide your maps, people!) Those were very interesting to read, but I'm still curious about how life would have changed for the people in my novel, once war broke out. They were already living in a strict militaristic community, with rationing and such already in effect. But I want there to be some marked changes.

Thus far, I'm mentioning blackout curtains and curfews after dark, stricter rationing, gas masks passed out to every citizen, air raid sirens during an attack, plus mandatory evacuations of the elderly, infirm, and children to cities that aren't military targets. (My MC lives near an air base, so her city is a target.) Is there anything else I could mention to raise the tension and add to the atmosphere of wartime?

WriteKnight
11-08-2012, 08:41 PM
"Oh... you're not leaving your house m'am? Well then here, would you mind filling out this toe tag, and attaching it to your left big toe? It will be ever so helpful later. G'nite m'am."

shadowwalker
11-08-2012, 08:44 PM
What about conscription? Who served in the military and under what circumstances were they selected? Was it something people worried about? Sudden selection or accepted 'schedule' (turn 18, enter the military)? Were families with people in the military treated any different (given extra privileges, rations, etc)?

Buffysquirrel
11-08-2012, 09:04 PM
They took down all the signposts here during WWII. Made things very confusing for anyone travelling, especially as asking the way made people suspicious. Also, there were blackouts on vehicle headlights, which made for a lot of crashes.

Maybe they're not so much evacuating people to cities as sending them to work on the land. Lots of women here took on men's jobs so the men could fight. Also, we had to become a lot more self-sufficient in food, what the whole being an island thing.

Orianna2000
11-08-2012, 09:16 PM
What about conscription? Who served in the military and under what circumstances were they selected? Was it something people worried about? Sudden selection or accepted 'schedule' (turn 18, enter the military)? Were families with people in the military treated any different (given extra privileges, rations, etc)?

They already had a draft in effect, but now anyone in a position that might be useful to the military or government is pressured to "volunteer" their services. I might say that the MC gets extra rations for her work at the local air base. That's a good idea, thanks.


They took down all the signposts here during WWII. Made things very confusing for anyone travelling, especially as asking the way made people suspicious. Also, there were blackouts on vehicle headlights, which made for a lot of crashes.


No signposts? That fits with the whole "hide your maps" mentality. A bit awkward if you're visiting from out of town, though! I may use that, thanks.

Dave Hardy
11-08-2012, 11:45 PM
No signposts? That fits with the whole "hide your maps" mentality. A bit awkward if you're visiting from out of town, though! I may use that, thanks.

There might be scares about enemy spies or 5th columnists, perhaps from some political faction at odds with the regime (eg Communists) or a disaffected or rebellious minority. The regime might encourage this or it might be the work of media scaremongers or simply popular paranoia or some combination thereof.

A major issue would be treatment of minorities. The massive changes in borders since the Balkan Wars & WW I had left many minority groups isolated on the "wrong" side of the border. Ethnic irredentism drives a lot of warfare, then and now (Sudeten Germans, Hungarians in Transylvania, the Yugoslav issue, etc), so your country might have a minority group that was considered unreliable, or even in league with the enemy and subject to varying levels of persecution (Japanese internment for example). Whether or not there is some substance to the accusation is up to your world-building.

Orianna2000
11-09-2012, 12:19 AM
I hadn't given much thought to minority groups, to be honest. It's a good point, though. The war is ostensibly because the neighboring country worships gods and goddesses, while the MC's country is atheistic. They distrust anyone who believes in "fairy tales" and distrust leads to hostility, which eventually leads to war. They've been hostile toward each other for hundreds of years, sort of like England and France. I'm probably under-thinking things a bit, but this is my first venture into a world that includes politics, so it's been difficult for me.

Dave Hardy
11-09-2012, 12:38 AM
I hadn't given much thought to minority groups, to be honest. It's a good point, though. The war is ostensibly because the neighboring country worships gods and goddesses, while the MC's country is atheistic. They distrust anyone who believes in "fairy tales" and distrust leads to hostility, which eventually leads to war. They've been hostile toward each other for hundreds of years, sort of like England and France. I'm probably under-thinking things a bit, but this is my first venture into a world that includes politics, so it's been difficult for me.

An interesting alt-history/SF take on a 1930s-era war pops up in The Wheels of If by L Sprague De Camp. Basically the Vikings colonized Vinland, but now a Plains Indian Mussolini wants to invade & secure Skraelings' rights. It's a bit on-the-nose at times, and played for comedy, two of LSDC's weaknesses, but not bad overall.

I could see doing something cool with the shock effect of tanks & dancing maenads.

EDIT: I was going to add you've got a rich set of tropes in '30s-era politics (totalitarian ideologies, messianic-dictators, spies, nascent super-weapons, etc), but I don't want to get carried away, since it's your vision. :-)

Orianna2000
11-09-2012, 01:44 AM
EDIT: I was going to add you've got a rich set of tropes in '30s-era politics (totalitarian ideologies, messianic-dictators, spies, nascent super-weapons, etc), but I don't want to get carried away, since it's your vision. :-)

Yes, I'm definitely having fun with it. It's sort of 1930s steampunk. They use zeppelins instead of airplanes. They have a few slightly more advanced technologies, but they're backwards in many ways. For the first time, I'm delving into politics, so I've got spies and undercover missions, military dictators, and in the midst of it all, an alien from another world. Fun stuff. :)

blacbird
11-09-2012, 05:34 AM
It's SF. You get to make up stuff.

Really, I think you're spending way too much time and energy nitpicking useless details. Write the story.

caw

Trebor1415
11-09-2012, 11:18 AM
There are tons and tons of first person accounts of life in wartime from WWI and especially WWII from the U.S., UK, and even Nazi Germany. (Haven't seen as much from the USSR, but I'm sure there out there, but maybe not in English).

Personally, I'd research the conditions in Germany and Italy as the Nazi/Facist experience might be a bit closer to your country than the U.S. or UK experience.

Some things to consider include forced relocation of parts of the population for one of many reasons. It could be to evacuate militarily sensitive areas, or to remove the population from danger in a particularly bad targeted area. (In WWII the Brits evacuated kids away from London into the countryside, but not whole families). In the U.S. we forcibly rounded up Japanese Americans from the west coast and put them in concentration camps in the interior, including confiscating their businesses and most of their possessions.

In the UK they took over whole villages to use as training areas and the villagers were never allowed to return, even decades later.

I think they'd be past the point of "pressuring" people to volunteer and they'd be outright conscripting people for service, either military or factory or farming, or whatever. It's not that you'd get extra rations for volunteering, it's that you WOULDN'T get your full rations if you couldn't show you were "volunteering" in some accepted way.

Other things include general restrictions on travel and needing special approval and paperwork to go from one area to another. The govt doesn't want the population to move around at will, unless it's for the benefit of the govt.

Everything would be rationed. Food, clothes, gas, oil, rubber. In WWII many people put their vehicles into storage for the duration due to strict rationing on gas and tires. (Gas rationing was actually more to save rubber for tires more than to save gas, btw).

Look into wartime weddings in the U.S. and UK. Men would get married in their uniforms, if they were in the service, and women would sew or recycle family dresses that were generally pretty plain compared to pre war.

I've read of wedding cakes that were actually just cardboard boxes with a thin layer of "frosting" (might not even be edible) that were more for the pictures than anything else. That's because sugar, flour, butter, etc, were all rationed.

Oh, and don't forget the black market. There will be one, in any society. If nothing else it will serve the elites who generally don't always live by the rules they set for everyone else.

Don't forget things like scrap drives, paper drives, women turning in aluminum kitchenwear to make planes, etc.

Kids would be mobilized as well. Organized groups such as the Boy Scouts (or in Germany, the Hitler Youth) did all sorts of work to free adults for the military or other jobs. Depending on how desperate your country becomes, these groups can also be armed and drafted to actually fight.

Orianna2000
11-09-2012, 06:22 PM
Those are some great ideas, thanks!

The draft has been in effect for several years. A certain percentage of kids graduating mandatory school are conscripted, unless they qualify for further education, in which case they're encouraged to become something "useful," like scientists, doctors, nurses, engineers, technicians, etc.

There is a black market. Luxury foods have been rationed for years, so things like sugar and chocolate are scarce and expensive. Probably coffee and tea, as well. Even hot water (for showers and dishwashing) is a rarity for these people. Certain food items only appear in the stores on certain days, so people tend to camp outside the markets, waiting in line overnight, just for the chance to buy a pound of beef, or sugar, or whatever.

I'll consider evacuating her city, or at least, evacuating the kids and elderly, because they're right near an airbase, which would be a major target.

There already were travel restrictions. You had to have permission just to travel outside your home city; leaving the country was practically impossible. Now there's a dusk curfew and enforced blackouts. Your windows must be covered and you're only permitted one candle per household with which to perform any tasks that need doing after dark. If you have a reason to be outdoors after curfew, you need authorization papers or you'll be arrested.

I've given everyone gas masks and identification tags. If I can think of anything else, I'll be sure and incorporate it.

ClareGreen
11-09-2012, 08:38 PM
If you can get to them, try watching 'The Wartime Farm' and 'The Supersizers Go... Wartime'. If you're researching the lives of ordinary people in the period, I think you'll find them both interesting and useful.

Orianna2000
11-09-2012, 09:06 PM
If you can get to them, try watching 'The Wartime Farm' and 'The Supersizers Go... Wartime'. If you're researching the lives of ordinary people in the period, I think you'll find them both interesting and useful.

Are these TV shows? Documentaries?

ClareGreen
11-09-2012, 11:16 PM
TV shows and documentaries - 'The Wartime Farm' is a series on a couple of archeologists and a historian trying to live as farmers did during the war and investigating rural life then (complete with how the people like those they're being helped with the war effort), and 'The Supersizers Go... Wartime' is the wartime-focused episode of a series in which a food critic and his friend eat the food and wear the clothes of the appropriate period, and supply bits and pieces of relevant information about the history. It's not as historically-focused, but it's a view of life in the city at the time.

Both sets of people have done the same thing with several different bits of history, but that's the series/episode you want for wartime England.

Orianna2000
11-10-2012, 12:29 AM
Thanks. I just watched that "Supersizers" episode. Very insightful.