Back to work. Riccardo Galeazzi’s re-educational work in Milan for the mutilated veterans of the Great war, between German model and Italian approach

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The question of disabled veterans of the Great war has many aspects, that historiography has been dealing with: the surgical advancements, the political role of invalid ex-service men in the aftermath, their social reintegration, the acceptance of disfigured bodies. All European countries shared a huge number of dead and invalid, so much that the interwar period has been described as a process of collective mourning. The integration of maimed veterans was not only a medical, economical, political and economical question, but also a cultural and educational one. Belonging to a country that had won or lost the war was a key point. In France and in England the community supported the invalid veterans, who were recognized as symbol of national strength. To the contrary, in Weimar Republic they became a symbol of defeat. So whereas the welfare policy in favour of war invalids was very poor in France and England, but the social recognition was high, in Germany the war victims were totally protected and integrated in the work system, but were also socially marginalized by the community, not being recognized with visible rituals of thanksgiving. Being considered as victims of the war, instead of heroes, they incarnated the humiliation of the defeat in their shattered limbs, rather than the proud of courage. Aim of this paper is to concentrate on the Italian case, and the key figure of Riccardo Galeazzi in particular, the Italian orthopaedist who pioneered rehabilitation for maimed soldiers, comparing his idea of repairing bodies (and minds) with Konrad Biesalski’ concept. Biesalski was one of those doctors and orthopaedists who did not limit their work to the medical cure, but extended it to educational care and social provisions. To show the relationship and the difference between them, we will first go back to their attitude towards born cripples. We will underline Galeazzi’s debt towards Biesalski, but also his originality, particularly in the role played by work in education and rehabilitation and in repairing not just bodies, but also minds.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteRevival after the Great War. Rebuild, Remember, Repair, Reform
Numero di pagine20
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2020


  • Great war
  • Milan
  • Riccardo Galeazzi
  • disabled veterans
  • work rehabilitation


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