The Heart of Humanity: A Review

This is a movie about Nanette, an American who lived in Canada. Nanette was betrothed to  John Patricia, the eldest of five brothers, whom she married. Their honeymoon was interrupted by the war in Europe in 1914 and after 2 weeks of their wedding, John went to war with his three younger siblings, leaving Nanette at home with Patricia, her mother-in-law and Louis, John's youngest brother. A year later, Nanette gave birth to their son.
The movie represents Foner’s take on America’s position with Woodrow Wilson as the president of the United States, and the resentment towards America by the rest of the world. This fact was made evident in the scene where aid items sent by America arrived and the European soldiers destroyed them, instead of distributing the items to the refugees. It also showed America’s resolve to stay neutral than fight in the war (P. 776). America did not join the war until after Wilson’s reelection in 1916 but changed the dynamic of the war when the American troops arrived in Europe in 1918.
Religion also played an important role in the movie. Priests were shown to have influence in this era and suggests that Father Michael, Nanette's uncle, could have used his position as a priest to prevent his people from joining the war. Father Michael declined to do so because of his belief that it was God who called men to bear arms.
            Nanette subsequently joined the Red Cross to care for the refugee children and wounded soldiers after receiving news from John about the sufferings of the children, leaving her own child behind to be cared for by her mother-in-law and her uncle, Father Michael. During her service in the war zone, Prussian Lieutenant, Von Eberhard, who attacked her and caused her to stab herself with a knife before John could come to rescue her, terrorized Nanette. Significantly, the Prussian Lieutenant's attack on Nanette depicts the propaganda of the world view of Germany during the war. According to Foner, Germany was viewed as a country with a "repressive government" (P. 776). In this case, there was no regard for women and children and ultimately, human life.

            These series of events with Nanette is a representation of the strength, determination, love, and selfless acts of women in this era. These qualities were not recognized but the women were determined to show that they help run the world and should be heard and recognized. According to Foner, the activism and service performed by women during the war helped to push the granting of women’s suffrage (P. 783). President Wilson as quoted by Foner said, " We have made partners of women in this war,...[sic]...Shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege and right?" (P. 784) While at the hospital, Nanette was given a medal of honor for her services to the children and the wounded soldiers.
Children were important in this movie because it demonstrates that children suffer most in times of war, are very resilient, and when shown love, forget their sufferings. The significance to this film is that war does no one any good and we can all get along, no matter who we are or where we come from. This fact was demonstrated in the dining room scene where all the children had different flags of different nations, and slowly waved the flags in unity as they cheered.
Additionally, the movie also shows that anyone can reach out and help in caring for a disadvantaged child. When Nanette returned to Canada, she had five refugee kids with her and called on the mothers who lost sons in battle to adopt the kids. "These little waifs are humanity's wards. Who will mother them?" (Nanette, The Heart of Humanity)

Give Me Liberty: An American History/ Foner, Eric - 3rd Ed.