The Occupation of Northern France in WWI with Dr. James E. Connolly

The Occupation of Northern France in WWI with Dr. James E. Connolly

00:00 / 1:10:44

Gary: Today’s special episode is an interview with Dr. James E. Connolly about his new book, The Experiences of Occupation, in the Nord, 1914 to 1918, Living with the Enemy in First World War France, which took second place in the inaugural Eugene Faber Book Award and was shortlisted for the 2018 Franco British Society Book Prize. Dr Connelly is a lecturer in modern French history at University College London and has previously worked at the University of Manchester, the Sorbonne, King’s College, London and Royal Holloway University of London. He received his PhD in history from King’s College, London in 2013. His research considers military occupation in modern Europe, especially the experience and perspective of the French. Today he joins me to discuss his new book about the German occupation of northern France during World War One. Many historians consider this to be a forgotten occupation since it was overshadowed by World War Two. Yet this was a striking event for those who lived it and how they survived for four years. Please enjoy.

Gary: All right, well, thank you very much for being on the podcast with me, Dr. Connelly.                     So, your book is about the occupation of France, but during World War One, it seems like most books focus on World War Two.  You particularly focus on the département du Nord. Can you tell us what the people were like, what divisions there were and what was its culture like? Can you sort of paint the picture before we get started?

Connolly:  Sure. Well, firstly, thanks for having me on the podcast. It’s great to talk about this occupation, which is not very well known. So, yeah, I studied the Occupied Nord, which, as you say, is the départment du Nord, essentially a kind of, well, equivalent of the British county administrative unit in France.  And as the name suggests, that means north in French, it’s the northernmost department in France. And in 1914 it was part of a wider region known as the Nord-pas-de-Calais. And today it’s actually part of a different region called the Haut de France, which is called the top of France, essentially. And therefore, it is essentially the tip of France. It’s on the Belgian border. And that meant that historically it has been a kind of corridor for invasion and it had shifted between different countries, different nations, different kingdoms in its history. So, for example, in the Middle Ages, the allegiance, which is quite a lot, eventually becomes contested by the French and the Spanish, Austrian, Netherlands, and it only really becomes French in 1820, essentially, when the border with what would become Belgium is kind of crystallized really. By 1914, so by the time the First World War happens, of course, it’s a very urban area. So you get, for example, 71 percent of people living in towns of over 2000 people, which is the French definition of an urban area. So that’s 71 percent compared to a national average of 56 percent. It’s also very densely populated, which kind of comes with the territory, as it were, of being an urban area. And most people are concentrated in this, what’s known as the industrial triangle of the towns of Lille, Roubaix and Tourcoing which are relatively close to each other. They’ve got a population of about 600,000 in 1914, one of the largest, most populated areas in France.  It’s also, as I said, an industrial area. So what you get is, you get high production of iron, for example, 20 percent of France’s iron in the wider region, 30 percent of its steel, for example, and a large proportion of the textiles that France makes, for example, 90 percent of its linen. It does have an agricultural sector in particular focused on sugar production, that sugar beets. So all this means that it’s actually quite problematic territory for the French to lose in the context of war. Clearly, they can’t rely on the kind of economic bonus that this area would provide normally in a time of war. Now, due to this large number of factories and the urban nature of the department, this was also a very working-class area essentially.  About 60 percent of the big cities such as Lille are working class. And with that comes some of the negatives, as it were, in this time period, which is social inequality, workers suffering from poor housing, poor sanitation, actually below level or so below average levels of education in this area. On the flip side, you get the kind of specific political culture that grows out there. So trade unions flourish, socialism gains ground in the early 20th century. With that also comes class tensions. And so you get middle class individuals who want to protect their property. Sometimes they are the factory owners, sometimes their politicians, particularly the radicals who are kind of center left, but they still want to protect the essentially protect property and also the retention’s regarding religion. And a kind of interesting dynamic when it comes to religion, because it’s a very Catholic area which is not always necessarily tally with the very socialist area in France. It’s one of the most Catholic areas of France. And this means the Catholics by the WWI, are unhappy with the recent separation of church and state in 1905 and still quite bitter about this, which means they’ll be interesting divisions that can potentially shift and change in the face of the military occupation. Frankly, in the face of war. One final thing I’d say is that beyond this kind of political culture, there is a distinct local, actual culture, you might say, and so locals speak in their regional dialects, which is called chtis and that’s named after the way the speakers pronounce the S and C sounds in French, it sounds like “sh”.  So they’re basically kind of sound like Sean Connery speaking French; and they tend to be workers, the people who speak this. But it’s also defended by some middle class intellectuals who want to preserve this identity. On top of that, you get Flemish speakers because it’s on the Belgian border and you get a lot Flemish architecture and very strong connections to Belgium, whether that’s family members from Belgium or day workers who cross the border. For example, lots of Belgian immigrants as well. And then finally, and there are very frequent processions, carnival processions and kind of working class culture and religious processions as well. As I said, this is a very religious area.

Gary: So, I really like how you talk about the variance in this region and how complex it was, particularly with the socialists and also a high Catholic area. It really shows how this wasn’t a monolithic region.  So let’s get into the onset of war itself. So, war is declared and it looks pretty evident that Germany is going to be able to overrun the north. Can you set the stage for the actual onset of the German invasion?

Connolly:  Yes, so this is a time of absolute uncertainty in some senses, obviously, famously, the French government was away during the July crisis, during the period in which the world kind of slid into war. Essentially, the French government was literally and metaphorically at sea, as historian John Keiger said, actually on a trip to Russia, as the other powers are kind of moving towards war. But when the invasion comes, it’s not immediately clear, obviously, that it will go through Belgium. People thought some kind of error. France would be invaded, clearly, but the Germans famously, actually broke international law by invading through Belgium, breaching Belgian neutrality. And therefore, that was quite a shock to the locals. And the speed of the German advance itself was shocking and the idea of seeing French troops retreating to locals who are obviously stuck in these areas themselves most of the time, although some also retreated. This is actually a kind of precursor to the exodus, the exit of the Second World War as people just flow away essentially from the area. And with this, there are heightened tensions. How should local politicians, how should the army actually defend? How should they act essentially? How should they defend French territory in this period? Should they abandon their posts? Should they remain? Should the army defend towns? Or is that actually going to lead to further disruption on the part of the Germans? Is it better to actually declare them open cities where they’re not going to fight and let the Germans march through? Once the army goes through go for the back and hopes to launch a counterattack. So everything is up in the air. There’s just a massive confusion in this period as the front ebbs and flows in the early days of the war, essentially.

Gary: In your book, you talk about how many men were mobilized for war and consequently the majority of people left in the Nord were women. How did this impact the occupation?

Connolly: Yeah, exactly, so actually, two thirds of the occupy population or the occupied area of the north, 70 percent of which was occupied at the outset, and for two thirds of the area that’s occupied in this department are women. So it’s a unique demographic in this area. And to complicate that, even among the men who did remain, they tended to be very young or very old because many men, as you said, mobilized, left before or during the invasion to join the army because they were conscripted. Other the men who maybe weren’t yet conscripted but could be at some point left. And even those who stayed were often taken by the Germans and forced to work in other parts of the occupied area. So this is a very female population, essentially, and this clearly creates an important kind of gender dynamics whereby the occupying force is composed completely, almost completely of men and the occupied population, mainly of women. And add on to this that the German troops often lodged with locals. And you can see how tensions and other kind of relationships could evolve or develop in this area, essentially. And regarding these tensions, from what I’ve read in my research, including wartime testimony in post-war memoirs, many women disliked having German lodgers in particular, but also having to deal with German troops in general. And they preferred to have as little as possible to do with these men who could, of course, potentially kill their loved ones at the front if they’re members of the fighting army that’s moving through or who could punish them at home if the members of the army of occupation. Now, of course, in reality, they could not avoid having contact with the occupying forces and in particular with the occupying administration. And because you had to ask Germans permission for many different things, as I might discuss later. And of course, having so many men around who held the reins of power and were quite literally armed posed further problems. So local women tended to be quite cautious of German men lodging with them. And there is evidence of unwanted advances. There is surprisingly little evidence of rape or sexual assault during the occupation, although that that’s something that’s more associated with the invasion period. But of course, this is a very difficult topic for which to find evidence, actually. So that doesn’t necessarily mean anything in that regard. Just the evidence is not there. On the other hand, there is considerable evidence that local populations and even the French and in other occupied France were absolutely obsessed with the idea of local women having relationships with or sleeping with Germans. And they thought this was widespread. And this is particularly noticeable in the testimony of those who were voluntarily or forcibly repatriated during the war so that the Germans sent them through Switzerland and back into France, essentially because they didn’t want to have to look after them, did not have to feed them. That’s the main logic that historians agree on. And so what you get is cases such as a police commissioner of a town called Comines who was interviewed in December 1917 as he comes back to unoccupied France. And he estimated that eight out of 10 women had, in his words, “were frequented the Germans,” middle class women as much as working-class women. And he noted that the lattice of working class women at least had the excuse of suffering and misery. And then from another town, a whole group of repatriated inhabitants estimated that 60 percent of women engaged in what they refer to as debauchery with the Germans. Now, these are probably exaggerated statistics, but it’s true that thousands of women were reported by repatriated compatriots for intimate relations, as they were called, with the occupier. And hundreds were investigated for this after the war. Now, some of these relationships probably ended up being made up. They were just accusations. Some are definitely confirm there are women who admit to having these relationships. What did this mean? While some were probably kind of informal forms of prostitution, some were actually formal forms of prostitution, where they can get access to resources and to the power to the occupying men had essentially.  Others, of course, represented genuine love and affection. But many among the occupied population regarded these intimate or loving relationships with Germans as kind of morally or patriotically repugnant. And they threatened vengeance against such women, although this actually really, really came at the end. Of course, as always, it’s very difficult for the historian to work out the kind of actual extent of sexual unloving relationships between French women and German men. Or you can say conclusively, really, is that the belief in such relationships? Absolutely. In my opinion, form the backbone of this experience of occupation. So what you get here, then, is that this gender dynamic creates a certain way of living through the occupation. And understanding it, understanding one’s role within it, and if anyone’s interested, a great recent book on the topic in French is by Belgian historian Emmanuel Debruyne, he really delves into the minutiae of relationships in France and Belgium with the occupier.

Gary: So we started to talk about life during the occupation itself, with Germans often occupying lodges of or I should say lodgings of civilians. Can you get more into what life was like and the challenges that these people face, particularly the challenges of the different social classes?

Connolly: Yeah, so what you get is, in a way, there are some precursors to what happens in the later kind of more famous occupation of the Second World War and a kind of echoes of what happens in most military occupations with regard to power dynamics and how the occupying forces like to administer the territory. But because it’s quite a small area, eventually it’s this is not just the Nord, but the entire occupied area is only a fraction of France’s occupied. It’s a very concentrated, a kind of very dense form of occupation and flooded clearly with enemy soldiers. It’s never that far from the front. I mean, in the occupied area, you can hear the gunshots, you can hear the cannons of artillery and so on. So there’s an acute sense of being involved in a war here. And this concentrated for the experience, as I said, now occupied France was entirely under the jurisdiction of the German military. So unlike, for example, occupied Belgium. And therefore you get an even more kind of, let’s say, hardcore version of occupation, in a way. In this sense, it’s unsurprising that almost every aspect of life was minutely regulated by the occupying authority. And so from that, you get the imposition of German time, which then was an hour ahead of French time. You get public hygiene measures such as having to sweep the pavements in front of your house. There are curfews in public circulation. So locals needed passes, for example, to move between different communes. Curfews were imposed and sometimes actually inhabitants were forced to keep the doors to their houses open at night in case of an air raid so that soldiers who were on the street could run inside…not great in the freezing area of northern France. They also had to, for example, post lists of inhabitants on their front doors. The Germans kind of engaged in a massive surveillance project in the occupied area. Now thousands of posters inform the population of these numerous rules and regulations. And some of them actually, when you look at them from the historical point of view, bordered on the ridiculous. So one post-war memoir, for example, stated that the population of the countryside around Lille, again, the kind of the capital of French Flanders. People in the countryside here informed  that all chickens, both male and female, had to produce eggs to be handed to the Germans, and if you didn’t, you would get punished. Essentially on top of this, you get things like having to declare all the various material and property that you own. Even material that she first seems to have had little military value and actually came across one poster that said all the inhabitants have to declare the underpants for men that they had, and it’s not entirely clear what the purpose of this was. And if you broke the German rules, you could be punished by various different means: fines, imprisonment, deportation to Germany, forced labor, even, of course, execution.

But the use of fines is a frequent form of punishment, exacerbated the economic problems facing the occupied area. So you get restrictions on movement. As I said, you need a pass to get to different communes, the restrictions on communication as well. There were general requisitions with the Germans come in and take your goods and also general shortages. This all meant that life economically, at least in the occupied area, came to a standstill. And on top of that, there was a kind of near famine situation developing as the Germans took over livestock, took a lot of the food for themselves, for their army, essentially. And tens of thousands of people would have died were it not for the aid of international relief organizations such as the Commission for Relief in Belgium, actually run by future President Herbert Hoover, the American president and its French subsidiary, which was called the Comité d’Alimentation du Nord de la France the Committee for Feeding Northern France, and they gave food and other goods to the occupied population. At the time, it was the largest humanitarian relief effort in history. And on top of that, occupied life was very isolating and isolated. It’s kind of an extreme version to an extent of what we’ve been experiencing in covid times. French locals were cut off from their loved ones on the other side of the trenches, but also within the occupied area. Passes were required as I mentioned, it was illegal and dangerous to communicate with people through letters. Even in neighboring communes or French language. Newspapers were banned apart from the ones that were approved by the German authorities. So they had little news that the outside well beyond German propaganda, essentially. So what you get in some is occupied life is very difficult and harsh. But not all social classes experience the occupation in the same way. And this is where your question about social tensions and how social classes dealt with it is really important. So, for example, in general, the wealthier members of the population have better access to food and resources, especially given the impact of inflation, whereas the working class tended to suffer a lot more. And this pushed workers to volunteer to work for the Germans so they could get some money to get by, essentially. And unsurprisingly, they were criticized for this. Poor women were more likely to engage in both official and unofficial prostitution or genuine relationships with German men. But they could also use their newfound influence to kind of invert the social hierarchy. They had the power to, for example, whisper in their lovers ear and get someone else they disliked, maybe someone from a different social class in trouble with the German authorities. At the same time, it’s not that black and white as it never is during the occupation. So the wealthy members of society, kind of the notables as it were of the population because they had the best houses. They often had to lodge more Germans, especially aristocratic German officers. There were also often held responsible for the conduct of the wider population, quite literally held hostage and threatened with execution if the population misbehaved, according to the German understanding of the term. Just as factory workers were criticized for working on projects to help the Germans, that is making sandbags, so to with the factory owners who are employing these factory workers. And all of this led to social tensions that built on pre-war tensions and took on their own meaning during the situation of the military occupation and ultimately German rules. The policies of exploitation made few exceptions that everyone suffered at the hands of the occupied authorities.

Gary: So you spend a good deal of time in your book talking about different kinds of resistance. Can you explain what those were? And was resistance effective?

Speaker 2: Sure. So in my book, I put forward three kind of major types of categories of resistance to this occupation. And I should probably say from the outset, there was no organized armed resistance, like in the case of the Second World War for a few reasons. Firstly, the atrocities during the invasion, they discourage this. People have seen how brutal the Germans could be. Also, there are very large concentrations of Germans, as I mentioned, in a relatively small area. So you’ve literally got millions of German troops almost on your doorstep or at least within easy marching distance or train distance. So civilian that armed action would be completely suicidal. Essentially. On top of that, the French authorities actually actively discouraged any such action because again, due to the invasion atrocities, they were worried about reprisals. The Germans could take out an entire populations, essentially, that the French authorities actually asked people to hand in their weapons during the invasion. So the Germans did not think any. He was trying to attack them, but resistance did exist just not in this armed organized form. Some of these forms that I suggest may be familiar to those who’ve studied other occupations and in particular the occupation of the Second World War, the first type is what I refer to as respectable resistance. This is that the protests of local notables are clergymen, factory owners, municipal councilors, mayors, the prefect to these kind of people. And these are key civilian leaders, essentially, who had to attend frequent meetings with the German commandant. So that’s the kind of the high ranking German commander of the region. Sometimes they need them once a week, twice a week, sometimes every day it depended. But they also wrote hundreds of letters on top of these meetings to the Germans about in the meetings and the letters, these notables, these French civilian leaders, tended to criticize German policies, but couched it in very polite language. And that’s kind of why I refer to as respectable resistance in a way that kind of funny to read. The many attempts to convince the German authorities that their policies were unfair or asking them to reverse their decisions. And sometimes they tried to tap into what they hoped would be a shared sense of honor among these military men, between the French civilians and the military men, or a shared sense of respect maybe. That’s also why I used the phrase respectable resistance. But they also invoked international law to bolster their argument, something I can talk about a bit later, if you like. The second type of resistance is what I termed symbolic resistance. So actions such as wearing clothes in the French colors, the tricolor of the French flag. And you see examples of people wearing blue, white and red clothes, ribbons, badges, even waving a displaying French flags. But the Germans soon banned these displays. They took a dislike to this and they punish those who broke the rules. Now, this might not immediately seem like a clear cut form of resistance, but if we think about the fact the Germans ban such displays, suggest that they saw it as something that was in opposition to their domination of the area, something clearly worth punishing. So it’s the very least opposition to German rule on the line between resistance and opposition can sometimes be quite blurred when we think about it conceptually, the fact that there were punishments means that those who continue to engage in these symbolic acts of opposition to the Germans risked their own being, essentially risked their lives, potentially risking fines. They were transgressing German rules. So in that sense, it is a form of resistance. In my opinion. It was also visible, the symbolic resistance and things like singing songs, reading poems, telling jokes that not the Germans or the targeted and kind of laughed at the situation of occupation. Some of these jokes were in the local dialect or jokes or or songs or poems, and it’s kind of reinforced local identity as well. And on top of that, actually, it made it quite useful tool, because then the Germans who can’t speak French can’t understand this local dialect, essentially. The final form of resistance is what I refer to as active resistance, and these are kind of actions that you might consider to be more obviously forms of resistance are more familiar to those who have an experience of the Second World War, for example, the classic resistance of other kinds. They tend to be organized as well at this point. They’re also the riskiest form. And those engaged in such resistance risked imprisonment, deportation to Germany, forced labor or death. That therefore means it was the rarest form of resistance. So what did this actually involve? First, there were resistance networks, kind of precursors to mobile, to networks run by both men and women seeking escape networks which provide shelter to allied men caught behind enemy lines. So that could be people from 1914 who didn’t make it out in time. It could be airmen and aviators essentially who were shot down and hide among the local population. And these networks hide them, they feed them, they clothed them. And this is a very dangerous thing because these men would be taken by the Germans and considered to be spies, essentially, and executed. So they’re trying to save the lives of these people in doing so, risking their own lives, these French civilians. Eventually they work with smugglers. And these networks manage to help these allied personnel escape through the Belgian border. And eventually the Dutch border will often they go back to Folkstone in England and then back to the front, as it were. One of the most famous examples of a network like this is the Comité Jacquet the key committee named after its one of its leaders. This was based in Lille. It had five men leading it.  There was Eugène Jacquet, Georges Maertens, [two others]; and they helped at least 200 allied servicemen and escape until the network was brought down by German counterintelligence in late 1915. When this happened, over 200 civilians who helped out the network were arrested. The four main members were executed. In September 1915. We got another resister called Louise de Bettignies who oversaw a larger network known as the Service Alice, the Alice Service, which worked directly with British and French intelligence. And that we’re getting really similar to what happens in the Second World War essentially. She herself, Louise de Bettignies, was arrested in October 1915 and died in a German prison just before the end of the war in September 1918. It’s estimated that her network helped at least a thousand servicemen escape. And they also engaged in espionage, which is another way of doing things, so this involves networks that were looking at troop movements, the placement of artillery in general, just gathering information on the Germans to send back to the allies, essentially to the French and British in particular. And they worked with British and French intelligence. You get some that go across the border with Belgium like, La Dame Blanche, ‘The White Lady.’ And actually the other really interesting aspects of this, such as essentially spies dropped in to the local area, recruited from the local area and then air dropped in by the British, dropped in balloons, actually, and they tried to encourage locals to engage in more espionage. And finally, the final form of resistance is clandestine publications, essentially, which their aim is to inform the locals beyond German propaganda about what’s going on in the world. They want to preach faith in allied victory. And they also mock the Germans kind of, again, great jokes that people can share about the occupation. This is nowhere near as widespread as in the Second World War, just a few publications, one of which is based in again in Lille-Roubaix and Tourcoing this industrial triangle in the north. One is led by a priest, essentially, and a factory owner as well and a pharmacist. And then make an illegal radio receiver that captures news from the Eiffel Tower that’s been transmitted by the allies. And they just write that down and keep it on publications, little pamphlets that they send around to occupied areas. They’re putting through people’s letterboxes, that kind of thing. And this newspaper was published in February 1915 until December 1916. Again, it’s dismantled by their own intelligence, essentially has various names, patients, the bird from France and the Germans thought it was airdropped, this kind of thing. But it’s again, it’s a smaller version of what happens in the Second World War. As you can see by the fact I said that a lot of these active forms of resistance were dismantled, this means the effectiveness of resistance is actually quite questionable in the long run. It depends what you mean essentially by effective. So symbolic resistance that I mentioned doesn’t do anything in practical terms to undermine the German war effort or even undermine the occupation. All it does is kind of preach patriotism, preach a sense of cultural identity, and it creates some kind of hostility to the Germans. Otherwise, it doesn’t really do much but to give people a sense of control of their life. Respectable resistance, these letters of protest, again, they have very little impact, really. In the long run, the Germans rarely reverse the decisions. What it does do, though, is something which a French historian François Marcot refers to in the context of the Second World War as administrative breaking. That is, it forces the Germans to be slow, essentially in the way they administer the occupied area because they have to respond to so many letters. They have to answer so many questions from local leaders so they can’t implement their policies as effectively as they would have liked to have done. It was also a kind of morale boosting exercise because it showed to the rest of the population that our local leaders are willing to stand up to the Germans. Active resistance, well as I mentioned, we can think about between hundreds and thousands of allied personnel, allied men, essentially who are smuggled out of the occupied area. But would that really change the tide of war? Probably not, because we’re talking about vast numbers of war, vast numbers of soldiers essentially at the front. So maybe a few thousand here and there would not really change things. So overall, the effectiveness of resistance is probably not that great. But it was kind of a, unto itself it was a symbolic gesture of opposition to the Germans.

Gary: So there’s so much to unpack there, and I’m going to zero in on the talk of international law, because I think one fascinating thing about your book, is you talk about how French citizens relied on the Geneva Convention of 1864 and The Hague Convention of 1907 for legal defense to protect them from having to surrender information to their occupiers. I think most people would be surprised to hear that there were such powerful agreements before the United Nations or even the League of Nations. Can you explain how the French used these international treaties and why Germany at times even adhered to them?

Connolly: Yes, it is a really fascinating topic, essentially, to see that the frequency with which these locals just repeatedly used this international law. Essentially, even though sometimes actually offered the Germans did not completely agree with their understanding of international law. But just to say a bit more about the specifics, as you mentioned, you got the Geneva Convention from 1864. But actually there’s a revised version in 1906 as well. And in the 1907 revised Hague Convention, they kind of cover humanitarian and then international law, respectively, thinking about the treatment of populations and particularly the treatment populations in a situation of war and also eventually in certain articles in a situation of military occupation. And when you see the kind of flood of correspondence between the French notables who are protesting and the Germans, as I said, this is constantly invoked, this international law. It’s actually not that simple, though, with regard to how you implement and understand these various tenets of international law, because, for example, The Hague Convention, well, it defines military occupation in Article 43. And actually people can still look this up now if they want. But military occupations are confusing because the kind of a situation that is in between war and peace, it’s not the front as such. It’s kind of this no man’s land beyond no man’s land in the First World War, as it were. On top of that, The Hague Convention had been undermined because there were certain objections and caveats during the signature of it. There were there was no compliance during the signature. Russia, Austria, Hungary and Germany actually said, for example, we reserve the right not to apply Article 44, which banned belligerents from forcing occupied populations to provide information on the army or the means of defense of another belligerents. So according to German understandings here, because they didn’t sign up to this, they could force an occupied member of the population to say, OK, what do you know about, for example, the position of French troops nearby? And that would not for then be breaching international law because they hadn’t actually signed that part of international law. Also confusion in the wording in general. So you get a distinction in The Hague Convention between the so-called army of occupation and on the other hand, the fighting army. But when, as I said, the front is not that far away, it’s not clear where the army of occupation ends and where the fighting army begins, essentially. And this is even more important for the occupied population. In Article 52, which states, requisitions in kind and services shall not be demanded from municipalities or inhabitants except for the needs of the army of occupation. So when the German troops come into French people’s houses and start taking all the goods, for example,  copper, they’re going to melt it down, use it to to make munitions. But in theory, is breaching Article 52. But the Germans could say, well, actually this is for the army of occupation and actually the ends that will be useful is not ammunition, for example, but something else essentially says a really blurred line, a complicated situation, even if you are going to rely on international law. So finding out what the needs of the occupation finished and whether those are the wider fighting army began was not easy. Also particularly problematic when it comes to things like food, obviously, that could go to the entire German army, not just specific sections of it. But despite all these complications, as you said, the French notables did hope that the Germans would kind of respect and adhere to international law, even though, as I said earlier, they started the war by breaking that, by invading neutral Belgium and breaching international law. Should add a kind of disclaimer here. Of course, all belligerents essentially broke international law during the war. For example, the British with a naval blockade which effectively starved Germany was it was a breach of international law, but still. So to go back to the occupied area, we have local notables invoking international law, for example, protests against forced labor or manufacturing goods for the enemy. And give you a very specific example. In April 1916, you get the commandant, the German commander of the town of Loos received two letters of protest concerning the events of the previous morning in which 30 local men had been forced to work in railway construction. And they were worried that this railway was being used to transport goods or even people to the front, essentially. So this is engaging in the enemy’s war effort.  The mayor of Loos invoked Article 52 of The Hague Convention, which you mentioned, which forbade belligerents from forcing the occupied population to take part in operations against their own country, essentially you don’t want to be a traitor. According to this municipality, said that this railway was behind enemy lines and it was being used, as I said, for operations against its own country. And therefore, the Germans don’t respond very kind of clearly to this or they don’t really buy into these arguments sometimes. We can see this elsewhere. Other examples include protesting against the use of collective punishments. So one really frequent thing was entire towns would be punished, a fine would be imposed on an entire town or curfew would be imposed just because one person, one local, one inhabitant engaged in an action the German army disagreed with. Sometimes, very rarely, this included killing members of the army of the occupation. But collective punishment was forbidden by Article 50 of The Hague Convention. On top of that, you get the French refusing to carry out German demands because it breached French law, because that itself is theoretically guaranteed to exist in occupied territory under Article 43 of The Hague Convention. So, you kind of get a double protection of the law there. On top of that, local notables protesting against the use of French civilians for even more explicit military tasks, such as digging trenches at the front. Again, they cited Article 52 of The Hague Convention, also Article 46, which protected and I quote, family honor and the rights, the lives of persons. They certainly honor and rights the lives of persons and private property. And in many of these cases, the Germans just simply ignored or rejected these understandings. But there’s one case where that’s not that’s not the case. And that is the use of Article 46 to protect family honor and the kind of the make up of the family within the occupied area. And that is to do with what’s known as the deportations of April 1916, when you get 20,000 men, women and children deported from the Nord from Lille-Roubaix, Tourcoing this industrial triangle, then mainly to engage in kind of forced labor in the fields, whether involved in food production or the selling of trees. And this meant they saw a kind of chorus of protest from locals who cited Article 46 of The Hague Convention, said you’re breaching international law here. This is illegal. And one historian, a French historian  suggested that actually these protests did their way. And it’s true that there was international outrage in response to this, including, for example, neutral players, including the king of Spain. And that actually saw the end of these deportations in November 1916. So the Germans did go back on a policy partly because international outrage based on international law forced them to really. But if this was rare, then why did locals continue to rely so much on international law? Well, I think there’s a few reasons for this. The first one is that just might work. Know it’s the only tool we have, really. So maybe they could get some success with this. And it also proved that they were doing something. They were protesting maybe with the might of nations or the international community behind them. On top of that, there was a wider discourse in the war, particularly in France, but also in Britain, kind of civilization or French ‘civilisation’ versus German Kulture with a K the German culture, kind of barbaric culture. And so emphasizing what you might consider to be civilized agreements between nations about the conduct of war reinforces French understanding of their position within the war and how they were basically the good guys and that the Germans were bad guys. It’s even more useful of course, it gives them the kind of stick with which to beat the Germans. And finally, the Third Republic, which is the regime that oversaw the forcible, was known as the Republic of Lawyers. So there’s a wider political culture among the French or the French politicians that was particularly kind of enamored with the law and legalistic in its thinking. But, yeah, it’s a complicated issue to think about. Why did you keep repeating this, even though it didn’t work? It kind of seems very naive and odd to the historian. But that itself tells you something about, as I say, the understanding of the occupation.

Gary: So you’ve done a good job in covering how the French resisted. Let’s talk about those French that complied with the Germans. You mentioned how some complied simply because they were afraid of retribution. But where there are other reasons for why some French would comply. Were some of them pro German?

Connolly: Yeah. So it’s a really interesting question. It’s very hard to, as I said, with thinking about women who had relationships with Germans, it’s very hard to really gauge the extent of complicity with the Germans. And it’s the variety of sources that do allow us at least an insight into this, if not a complete understanding of this through a few forms of complicity. And what I would say is that it was more widespread, in my opinion, than certain French scholars suggest. And that’s why I devote a large chunk of my book to that and this complicity took various forms, I think is worth just outlining these briefly before answering about why did they do this. I won’t go into too much detail, don’t worry. But what you have is things like denouncing compatriots for breaching German rule. So you could say, for example, my neighbor is hiding goods and the goods should be declared to the Germans and are therefore going to write a letter, maybe anonymously, maybe not to the Germans to to get them into trouble, essentially. So that failure is a form of complicity that is also actively working for the Germans, something I hinted at before, and a variety of different roles that you can see here. You could be a paid informant. So, kind of like what I just mentioned with the letter denunciation, except you get paid by the Germans for doing that. In a way, you’re kind of almost like a German spy on your neighbors. You’re spying on your neighbors. For the Germans, you could work in factories that produce sandbags or fences, uniforms, gas masks or these things that clearly were destined for the front. So actually, to go back to your other point about international law, if they knew about international law, those who are engaging in this, they would know they were breaching international law by building. So by constructing such or fabricating such goods, you can also work for the Germans in the fields, helping them get food, cutting down trees, which again, would be used to often reinforce the transit.  But probably the most common form of complicity beyond the suggestions of kind of sexual complicity that I mentioned before was mayors or councilors, local politicians who worked with the Germans very closely, or maybe even who in the eyes of their fellow citizens just were too friendly with the Germans or maybe didn’t resist them enough, didn’t protest enough. That could be conceived of as a form of complicity. And that’s where it gets really complicated when you’re looking at the sources, essentially. And so what they might have done, for example. I mean, there are verified cases of this. A local mayor have been asked by the Germans to provide a list of men of military age that the Germans could then use to force to work for them, and also avoiding the idea that they might run off and join the French military as well. Now, a lot of mayors would actually say no, but certainly they said no, that’s fine. I’ll completely give you this. And then maybe they would get something from the Germans in return, maybe a kind of lightning, as it were, of policies to be less harsh policies in the area, maybe that even get direct goods themselves or money. So there was a clear form of complicity there for some men, essentially. As always, it’s hard to disentangle this perception from reality because these mayors had to work with the Germans. They had absolutely no choice but to do this. And that was often seen as being too close to them, essentially. But it is true that complicity did exist. I think the vast majority of those engaged in these actions, which we might consider to be a precursor of collaboration in the Second World War and what I call misconduct from a kind of moral, patriotic point of view, I think most of them probably were doing it for self-centered reasons. It’s about gaining access to power, a better situation, access to resources, sometimes even just personal vendettas, like in the case of the denouncing your neighbor. Maybe it’s your neighbor who you’ve never really liked and they’ve got a chance to get rid of them essentially, or to do them some harm. And so we can even see, for example, in April 1917, inhabitants of occupied Belgium and France were informed by the German authorities that those who volunteered to work for them would be able to receive and write a four page letter a week, as opposed to just a short pre written postcard, which is kind of responses you had to cross out. So the Germans are tempting people saying, well, if you work for us, then you get better treatment. And those who did, obviously they’re doing so for self-centered reasons. Voluntary workers were also paid more by the Germans. So there’s an economic interest. There also verified cases of people denouncing the neighbors to the Germans just because, they were doing so because they did not like the neighbors. As I mentioned, the French police reports show that this was definitely the case for some. There’s even accusations of mayors or politicians denouncing their political opponents. And in particular, you kind of see the tensions between the socialists and the radicals, these two different left parties actually center, left and far left, and punishing their opponents, denouncing them to the Germans and using the occupation for their own political ends, the kind of selfish ends there. There are some very rare cases where Frenchmen wore German uniforms and help the occupier carry out these searches, these requisitions in the houses of their compatriots. There are some cases of French women who definitely spied for the Germans. And again, this seems to be more about thirsted power or even money are just the spoils of war rather than anything ideological. And this is partly because there’s no real political collaboration in the sense of the Second World War. There’s no real German ideology that the French people could share. And so it makes it a very interesting and unique occupation compared to the Second World War, which adds extra complexities to it. But then here we have to think without that ideological aspect, why on Earth, as you said, why do people become so close to the Germans?

Gary: As anyone who’s studied World War One knows, the great powers love to accuse each other of committing atrocities. As far as France’s accusations against German treatment of the people of the Nord, how much was truth and how much was fiction?

Connolly: Yes, as you said, that there is this understanding of atrocities that were committed during the invasion period and this happened throughout France and Belgium, essentially. But it’s an interesting question. It’s actually quite difficult to answer in a way, as most interesting questions are, because it kind of depends how you define atrocity and also actually what you mean by kind of accusations of atrocities. And I think one useful definition that I use in my research and in my teaching as well is one by historian Alan Kramer, who in his book Dynamic of Destruction, puts forth the definition of acts of violence condemned by contemporaries as breaches of morality or the laws of war, as well as the destruction of cultural monuments and the devastation of property beyond military necessity. And so these kind of standard invasion atrocities, which you and listeners may be familiar with, were actions that were carried out by German troops during the initial invasion period between roughly August and October 1914, before the trenches, you know, solidified, as it were, the front line. And the French and British governments carried out and published a variety of investigations into these German atrocities during the war itself in 1914 and 1915. And you can find some clear cases of this. You can read it for free online, for example, the Brice Report, as it’s known into German, outrageous was the phrase they used, which was published in Britain in 1915, and this is people at the time denouncing what’s going on with the Germans. The problem is, of course, this is tied up into notions of propaganda, of demonizing the enemy, of othering the enemy. Now, Alan Kramer and another historian, John Horn, have published an excellent work on this topic, notably the book German Atrocities 1914 A History of Denial. And they highlight that genuine atrocities did occur because actually in the interval period in particular, actually in the post-World War Two period, there was a sense that all this was entirely propaganda. This was nothing actually happened. Well, they showed this did occur across France and Belgium, and they involve things like the execution of civilians, sexual assault, burning villages, the use of human shields. The list goes on and they estimate about 6000 civilians died in Belgium and France during this invasion period. Actually, John Holland once told me at a conference that he thinks the number is actually a lot higher than that. If he were to publish now he called for a higher number. In their book they actually argue convincingly, in my opinion, that the reason for this is that the Germans are absolutely paranoid about being attacked by civilians, by kind of sharpshooters, what’s known as francs-tireurs, by civilians picking up weapons and shooting them. And this actually, because it’s a psychosis as it were due to the Franco Prussian war of 1870 to 1871, because that is what happened during that war. So this memory lives on for a few decades. That means the Germans see attacks. Even when there aren’t attacks, they hear a gunshot. It could be a German shooting his own gun. And suddenly they think they’re being shot by civilians, essentially, and they react in kind of an extreme manner. So that’s the idea of atrocities in general regarding the Nord, specifically, the invading troops definitely did commit atrocities in 1914. The most striking, I would say, involved a village called Orchies.  In September the 26th of September 1914. The Germans, as elsewhere, believe that they’ve been shot up by civilians and the response was to burn the entire village to the ground. They did evacuate the population first at a population of 5000 evacuated. But this was just an extreme response to something that probably didn’t happen. They probably would not shot at here. And this could arguably be a form of propaganda if we were using it to explain German atrocities, but actually the Germans themselves admitted that this took place in the clearest evidence we have is that they referred to it using it as a warning to other populations. So there’s a poster that I saw in the archives addressed to the population of Roubaix stating that they should obey German orders or suffer the same terrible fate, is how they put it, as Orchies, so this was kind of a warning to the rest of the population. And this is as you mentioned, this is why the resistance is kind of less obviously active during this occupation because of events like this. This is what people are worried about happening again, essentially. Now, although atrocities are typically associated with the invasion. Historian Annette Becker argues that certain French people actually regarded the occupation itself as a form of atrocity, essentially. And there is clear evidence of actions that meet this criteria or these criteria that I mentioned of atrocities that meet the definition of atrocity during the occupation itself. Firstly, the sense of outrage at the time. Well, I’ve already established that with the deportations of April 1916, there was international outrage and there is outrage at German actions in occupied France. And actually, there’s a surprising amount of interest into these are these events outside of France as well. So, for example, the British parliament sometimes debate what’s going on in occupied France and of course, Belgium, knotted together in British consciousness and neutral Spain the Americans, they’re all interested in what’s going on here during the occupation, not just during the invasion. And without going into too many details, I’d say there are three main forms of atrocity that took place during or at the end of the occupation and not just during the invasion. The first of what I mentioned before is the use of forced labor. So the extreme ends included civilians digging trenches at the front lines and under their own shell fire from their own side, as it were, and the use of torture to kind of persuade people to engage. And this is why it’s forced to persuade people to work for them. The evidence I found of that included things like beatings or even attacking civilian men, two fields with barbed wire sorts of posts in a field with barbed wire. Sometimes they were stripped naked or in the underwear left outside in terrible weather conditions in rain and snow. This is clearly a form of atrocity. The second was kind of related to that, and that was the deportation of civilians, which I’ve already hinted at. So these are civilians, men, women and children deported from their homes against their will. And this, as I mentioned, that the international outcry and eventually you get a kind of pulling back of this policy from the from the German perspective. And the final one is more about the cultural side of atrocities, which is the removal of works of art from museums in the Nord. And allegedly I mean, it mainly happened at the end of the war. This was mainly, according to the Germans, to protect the works of art from the advancing allies who might shell the museum and destroy the artwork. And on top of that, you get the Germans going beyond what’s required for military necessity and burning and destroying lots of buildings during their final retreat in 1918 with essentially scorched earth policies here. So that could also be considered a form of atrocity.

Gary: So let’s wrap this up by talking about the aftermath. After the war, there was something of a reckoning as the occupied French accused one another of collaborating with the Germans. Can you explain how these inquiries affected the people of the Nord and our memory of the occupation?

Connolly: So what you get is, as you say, you get during the liberation and after it for a few years, locals actually denounce their compatriots. So they say that, for example, this mayor was too close to the Germans and they will not just write to for example, the prefect is the highest official within the department, but also to the minister of the interior, essentially. So are writing to central government to complain about the actions of some of their compatriots. And this leads to investigations by police, sometimes by the military, although actually during the liberation, as the allied armies are advancing into these areas, they themselves already have less of what’s known as suspect individuals, and they’re doing investigations into them as well. That’s not just the French, it’s also the British. And what these investigations are concerned with is obviously they have to look at the legal definition of treason, essentially, and that is known in the French penal code as intelligence or commerce with the enemy. So did you help them with information? Did you kind of work for them that would count as full intelligence as well or commerce? Did you provide them good with goods that could be used for the war effort against the nation, so that’s clearly what you see, a form of treason. In my research, I found extremely detailed investigations into about 30 high profile men, some mayors, municipal councilors, police commissioners. And most of them had been denounced after the liberation, and that’s where I mentioned this idea of postcards, for example, written to the prefect or the minister of the interior. You also see a large number of investigations that are much shorter, and that’s about 600 women from the Nord who are under investigation. The conclusion of these ones, these investigations is essentially, yes, they had slept with Germans, but that’s not technically a crime, essentially. And they often say things like from the patriotic point of view, there is no problem here. And so you actually get a different view from the official French authorities coming from outside the area compared to what was happening during the occupation, when, as I said, they’re kind of obsessed with this idea and very critical of this idea of women sleeping with Germans. Now, there’s probably more documentation in general than just these 30 men and these 600 women that I mentioned. You should go to every local archive and find that. But what’s striking is that overall, the number of cases that made it to core of intelligence or coerce with the enemy was actually low and the number of prosecutions even lower, as the late historian René Martinage showed that actually only 43 people were found guilty of treason by the Assize court of the Nord. And so what you get is a sense sometimes among locals that too many people who’d been, let’s say, who’d acted badly, join the occupation, have actually escaped punishment. You can see this in things like local press articles, complaints that the masters of the occupation are still among us in the post-war period. But the problem is essentially that it’s very hard to prove this act of treason unless I said that one of the main targets during the occupation were women, but that’s not illegal to sleep with a German, is not illegal. So there’s a sense of dissatisfaction among some in the occupied area or the formerly occupied area in the post-war period. What this means is, though, for our memory of the occupation, well, there weren’t many cases of say in court. There are many big cases that became celebrated or famous. And this means that it’s easier to move towards a different understanding of the occupation, that maybe that kind of, say negative aspect of things was never as widespread as people thought. And therefore, they could look towards more positive aspects of the experience of occupation, in (??58:40) such as resistance, so you get a memory of the occupation that leans more towards resistance, potentially because the post-war trials did not kind of conclusively prove, as it were, that there had been complicity and bad behavior by the French.

Gary: Finally, when people think of French occupation and resistance, they think about World War Two, not World War one.  Why did the memory of northern French resistance in World War One fade from the public consciousness?

Connolly: That is a great question, because, as I said, that’s the way the memory kind of evolved essentially was towards resistance. So you think that’s such a positive kind of patriotic understanding of the occupation would remain? It would be something in a way to be proud of. And yet that’s eventually not the case. And there are a few different reasons for this. So in a way, you kind of have to look at this as two discrete periods of memory. One is the interwar period and the other one is the post-war period in the sense of the Second World War period. So in the interwar period, you do get a kind of flourishing of this memory and the promotion of this understanding of resistance in particular. This is centered around those who were executed during the occupation for resistance. They’re clearly martyrs, as it were there. They’re clearly resisters because they were executed for their actions. And what you get is a variety of organizations that are dedicated to supporting the memory of continuing the memory of these individuals and by proxy kind of, of resistance as a key experience of the occupation. And so you get these groups, these organizations named after specific individuals all about promoting, safeguarding their memory.  What they do, interestingly, is they have very clear objectives, very tangible objectives. It’s not just let’s keep the memory alive, but it’s things like let’s publish a book or in particular, let’s build a statue, let’s build a plaque and place a plaque where they executed. Let’s make sure there are pilgrimages to the sites of execution and so on. And in a way, I mean, this is a tentative argument, but I kind of wonder whether it’s the case that because their aims were so tangible, once they achieve them, which they did in the 1920s and 1930s, particularly by 1930, most of these resistance had statues dedicated to them, had plaques, etc. And by that point, it’s almost like they’ve pulled the memories into the concrete of the statues, as it were. And that becomes a receptacle for the memories and the humans themselves to not need to keep these memories. And the aims of the organizations were met fairly efficiently. The wider community participated in this often because they would raise money, for example, for the for the statues to be made. But once that was done, well, what was left for these organizations to do? How do they safeguard the memory? They’ve got the statues, they’ve got the plaques, they’ve had pilgrimages. They’ve had days of kind of celebration and remembrance. What else do they do? And it kind of gradually fades naturally by the certainly the mid 1930s. You actually see that certain organizations which had charitable status and these organizations that were about safeguarding the memory of certain individuals, a shutdown, you can find the administrative evidence for this.  Interestingly, the kind of restarted in 1939 as a new war is looming on the horizon. And clearly, someone thought it would be useful to reignite this understanding of occupation and this extending of understanding and resistance to the Germans as Nazi Germany. That’s increasingly kind of belligerent, essentially. But so that’s the antiwar period. It’s a combination of very concrete aims that were achieved almost to efficiently and also actually a willingness to forget the occupation because it was a messy experience. It was a harsh experience. Reconstruction took a very long time in the entire former battlegrounds and former occupied areas. But by 1930, it actually makes surprisingly successful. People wanted to forget about the war and move on essentially. Things change when of course, there’s another occupation, the decapitalized occupation, if you will, of the Second World War, which had much more significance on a national level and therefore changed the political landscape of France during and after that conflict. And of course, that means that, that occupation dominated the memory of occupation in general in France. And it’s been the case for me that when I sometimes go to France and speak to people about occupation in the first war, they’ll say, no, you’re making a mistake. You mean the Second World War? And you have to remind them that this was a different occupation that preceded that, the Second World War. So it’s a combination of a natural dying of the memory of resistance in the interval period because of the tangible aims, because of the willingness to forget, and then the absolute dominance of the memory of the occupation of the Second World War with its own form of resistance. Its own issues of collaboration, it’s the way completely remolded the political landscape of France.

Gary: So, I like that story you told and it feeds in well to my next question, which is, why does the World War One era occupation and resistance appeal to you, seeing as how so many other people, so many more historians have chosen to write on World War Two?  Why do you look at World War One?

Connolly: Well, there are a few reasons for this. Partly it’s precisely what you just said, which is that because so many people have written on have started have looked at the Second World War. Initially, I just came to this thinking when I was doing my master’s actually many years ago. Now, sadly, what happened here? Why have we never heard of this? Why are people so interested in the Second World War, but not in the First World War when it comes to occupation? And I thought they must have had to have been an occupation behind the trenches, essentially. So the first answer is, well, it’s just it’s understudied. That almost makes it more interesting unto itself. Although sometimes you could argue being understudied might be because there aren’t enough documents out there to actually study it. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case for this occupation. The second thing is actually I really, really enjoyed studying and I enjoy reading about the Second World War and that occupation. So it kind of came to this. You can’t help but come to this retrospectively in that sense. I mean, obviously, all history is retrospective, but here you can’t help but come to earlier occupations with the notions and the categories and the understandings of the occupation of the Second World War. So I thought it would be interesting to look at potential precursors to that experience, but also see how it differed. So when, for example, I was talking about complicity, kind of precursor to collaboration, that itself in a way is more interesting because you don’t have, as I said, that political element. So let’s look at the specificities. And I just find that really, really exciting, essentially. I think this offers this occupation, it offers us a way of conceiving occupation as a phenomenon in general, the makes us move beyond these some of these kind of tropes, as it were, of the Second World War and makes us think about occupations more globally as a phenomenon in general, other things that happen across occupations. And that’s something I’m interested in, in my own research. And I’ve commented in the book that deals with kind of transfers of occupation as well, as other things that people take from one occupation to another, whether the foreign occupiers of the occupied this kind of thing. So I think this particular occupation is useful as a kind of litmus test for what is an occupation. Are there specificities, Yes. Other things that also appear in other situations of occupation that maybe take away from the specificities of any other situation of occupation. And that’s really what interested me when I was studying this topic.

Gary: As a fellow World War One historian, I commend you for fighting the good fight. I know we’re generally outnumbered, but I agree that I think World War One is pretty fascinating, too. So let’s stick together then. So very, very last question, which is how do you want the historiography to evolve?  Because it seems like there aren’t quite as many historians working on the occupation of France in World War One. But do you see a sort of sea change with what is being written?

Connolly: Yeah, well, there’s been a boom, it’s more rediscovery and maybe we’re getting towards the beginning of a boom in writing on World War One in particular, but actually this occupation specifically. So what happened was you had essentially a silence on this and until the nineteen eighties at the earliest, but really the 1990s with the rediscovery of cultural history, the cultural history of war, people’s perceptions, also social history, the kind of history from below, and the idea that we move away from the military history of war, particularly, I mean, as a specialist in the first war yourself, you know that the history of the First World War was very tied into high politics and diplomacy and military strategy and all this kind of thing. At the beginning. It took a while to think about the different facets of this experience. So what would I like the historiography to do? I would like people to kind of speak to each other, as it were, with regard to different occupations and different experiences of war. I would in general, I’d like more people to just know about this occupation, and they can do it by reading my book for free if they like. But I think it would be useful to see how these different phenomena, as I said, kind of play out in different situations of occupation. So when you’re talking about collaboration in the Second World War, maybe you can think about complicity or maybe you want to call it collaboration in this occupation. Of course, I myself am guilty of some of this because I don’t talk that much in my work about, for example, the occupation that happened during and after the Franco Prussian war. I mean, from 1870 actually to 1873, France was occupied by the Germans, occupied until 1873, because actually they had to pay the kind of payments for losing the war, essentially kind of reparations payments in that way. And I don’t draw that much on that occupation. So I’m guilty of this lack of a kind of through line of occupations throughout time, essentially. But I think everyone can benefit from doing that and from thinking about what came before. And also what’s the memory that’s been passed on, particularly in this area? I mean, you think about, as I say, the exodus of the Second World War in 1940, June 1940. People are fleeing millions of people fleeing from northern France. Why? Well, partly because they remember this occupation, or at least they have a kind of local memory of this or they’re aware of how bad it was before. And that informs their decisions. So I think it’s just it’s useful to think about this first experience of kind of occupation in total war. That’s what differentiates it from the Franco Prussian war and apply it to other situations of occupation. And in general, the First World War in France was such an important experience that you can’t understand anything that came afterwards without properly delving into it. So we can’t really start histories of the Second World War, of course, without thinking about the first.

Gary: While the book is The Experience of Occupation in the Nord in 1914 to 1918, Living with the Enemy in First World War France.  Thank you very much for being on the show, Dr. Connelly.

Connolly:  Thanks, it’s been fun.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email