Germ Masks for the Crowds

GB 1941. Dir Pathé News.

Pathé’s film Germ Masks for the Crowds (1941) demonstrates how fashion also became a tool which could feminise war, easing the traumatic transition from peacetime to wartime. Shown in a good light, the new civilian accessories such as gas masks, shelter suits, tin hats and germ masks, in themselves indexes of war threat, could be made familiar, “normalised” and even, bizarrely, sold to women via news items as fashionable and desirable. The emphasis these films put on protection equipment and functional clothing asserts that qualities such as heroism and resilience were now desirable in women as much as men.