A Right to Rehabilitation? The Legal Status of Russia’s War Invalids from the Great War, 1912-1927

Soldiers' Health, Between War and Peace: 1830-1930
By Alexandre Sumpf

In Tsarist Russia, the status of war invalid was recognised before the First World War, unlike for any civilian handicap. However, the 1912 law, multiple civilian and military regulations, private initiatives and the community will were not enough to face the magnitude of traumas caused by mechanised warfare. The authorities viewed the influx of ‘incapacitated’ men not as a social problem, but instead as a mosaic of individual cases. However, this critical situation triggered the emergence of the ‘war invalid issue’ as a social cause. For the experts opposed to an administration that they deemed ineffective, the law on invalidity became a programme for action, a political weapon, and the driver of a new conception of the Russian nation. Especially, as early as 1915 but even more so in 1917, the war invalids adapted to the regulation on an individual level and became organised as a group in order to have an influence on issues of pensions, housing and jobs.

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