Living with the enemy in First World War France

This study considers the ways in which locals of the occupied Nord responded to and understood their situation across four years of German domination, focusing in particular on key behaviours adopted by locals, and the way in which such conduct was perceived. Behaviours examined include forms of complicity, misconduct, disunity, criminality, and resistance. This local case study calls into question overly-patriotic readings of this experience, and suggests a new conceptual vocabulary to help understand certain civilian behaviours under military occupation.

Drawing on extensive primary documentation – from diaries and letters to posters and police reports – this book proposes that a dominant ‘occupied culture’ existed among locals. This was a moral-patriotic framework, born of both pre-war socio-cultural norms and daily interaction with the enemy, that guided conduct and was especially concerned with what was considered acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Those who breached the limits of this occupied culture faced criticism and sometimes punishment. This study attempts to disentangle perceptions and reality, but also argues that the clear beliefs and expectations of the occupied French comprise a fascinating subject of study in their own right. They provide an insight into national and local identity, and especially the way in which locals understood their role within the wider conflict.

This book will be useful to undergraduates, post-graduates and academics interested in an understudied aspect of the history of modern France, the First World War, and military occupations.

Mass graves in post-war Malaysia

10 Remembering the Japanese occupation massacres: mass graves in post-war Malaysia Frances Tay The violence visited upon British Malaya during the Japanese occupation of December 1941 to August 1945 has prompted several historians to evoke comparisons with the atrocities that befell Nanjing.1 During this time, numerous civilians were subjected to mass killings, summary executions, rape, forced labour, arbitrary detention, and torture. In particular, the shukusei (cleansing) or daikensho (big inspection) operation of February to April 1942 – known locally as the

in Human remains and identification
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Liberation, remembering and forgetting

swathes of locals, transporting them to Belgium or the Netherlands, allegedly to prevent v 283 v 284 The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914–18 civilian casualties during forthcoming combat. Thus, the population of Cambrai was evacuated in early September 1918, sent initially to Valenciennes, then to the outskirts of Liège, before being repatriated to Évian on 4 October.6 The roughly 14,000 inhabitants of Douai were also evacuated to Mons on 2–​4 September.7 In October, Habourdin, Aniche, Condé, Valenciennes, Fresnes, Denain, Bruay and Anzin were evacuated.8

in The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914– 18
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1 Introduction On 19 October 1918, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau visited Lille and its environs. The capital of the department of the Nord and its sister towns Roubaix and Tourcoing had been liberated by the British army two days previously, after four years of German occupation. In Tourcoing, Clemenceau addressed the local population and remarked: Nothing will be forgotten. Now, all of you, be with France […] which has made you into veritable combatants, whilst you were under the German boot. You have led the battle no less than the soldiers

in The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914– 18
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much as working-​class women  –​ the latter having ‘at least the excuse of suffering and misery’.8 Rapatriés from Valenciennes estimated that 60 per cent of women engaged in ‘debauchery’ with the Germans.9 In 1925, Gromaire estimated that tens v 37 v 38 The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914–18 of thousands of women had engaged in sexual relations with Germans across occupied France, which Debruyne concludes ‘does not seem unrealistic’.10 Even if the reality was less dramatic, the belief that this was the case was ubiquitous, and the disdain in which such

in The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914– 18

examined here involved asserting Frenchness and opposition to the occupiers. The disparate actions studied include singing songs, writing poems, telling jokes or using humour to mock the occupation and occupiers, wearing or displaying national colours, demonstrating v 223 v 24 The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914–18 humanitarian impulses towards Allied prisoners of war, and preventing successful German requisitions. Similar actions in Europe in the Second World War have been understood as resistance.8 Many of these had an explicitly performative element to

in The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914– 18
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Criminality during the occupation

134 v 5 v Moral borderlands: Criminality during the occupation Examining misconduct has already required a blurring of the lines between illegal and legal definitions of behaviours in occupied France. This chapter leans towards the legal by considering general criminality, another neglected area in works on the occupation. Studying criminality poses well-​known challenges. Police reports and statistics evidently only demonstrate reported crimes, simply offering a glimpse into actual criminality  –​albeit a useful, suggestive one. Thus, the reality of

in The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914– 18
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96 v 3 v Male misconduct Men suspected of misconduct were often high-​profile individuals in positions of authority. Municipal, administrative forms of misconduct –​ roughly analogous to what Nivet calls ‘political collaboration’1  –​ were taken seriously by the French authorities after the liberation. Members of the Gendarmerie Nationale and the Commissariat Spécial of Lille carried out time-​consuming investigations up to the end of 1919. All but two of these involved accusations of questionable occupation conduct on the part of the Mayor, the Municipal

in The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914– 18
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Respectable resistance (coups de gueule polis)

‘moral resistance’,3 ‘resistance of religious and civic authorities’,4 ‘passive resistance’ or ‘defiance’.5 This phenomenon meets all four criteria outlined by Hollander and Einwohner, thus does comprise resistance: it constituted a form of action that opposed the occupiers and was recognised as resistance by the Germans and the French at the time and beyond. Indeed, when President Millerand opened an exhibition in Lille in May 1921 dedicated to the occupation, the display ‘French Resistances’ contained a subsection entitled ‘The Protests of Civic and Religious

in The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914– 18
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Conflict continues

16 v 4 v Une sacrée désunion? Conflict continues Occupied culture drew on both pre-​war norms and the experience of daily interaction with the enemy; it did not mark a wholly clean break with what went before. The occupation did not erase all pre-​war conflicts and tensions, but provided a new context for these and fresh areas of contention. Only a few scholars have examined such division among the occupied population. Salson demonstrates that the Aisne experienced class conflict, ‘social violence’ and criticism of municipalities  –​especially regarding their

in The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914– 18