Dominican University of California
 

Presentation or Panel Title

Humanization of the Enemy: The Pacifist Soldier and France in World War One

Location

Guzman 113, Dominican University of California

Start Date

4-20-2017 4:20 PM

End Date

4-20-2017 4:35 PM

Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Student Type

Adult Degree Completion

Faculty Mentor

Sr. Patricia Dougherty, O.P., Ph.D.

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Not all French citizens were enthused by the prospect of war in 1914, nor were they all so willing to embrace a dehumanized view of the enemy. Some French citizens believed the “Great War” to be a patriotic endeavor. Propaganda encouraged this nationalism and the dehumanization of the enemy. “Political” pacifism existed within the French Third Republic psyche following France’s defeat in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War. However, these pacifistic undertones were systematically undermined as France began to militarize itself. Drawing from a series of notebooks, and established academic sources, this paper shows that some French soldiers endured a world at war by their pacifism and war resistance, despite being called to defend their nation against invasion. The individual soldier’s resistance and “spiritual” pacifism is contrasted with aspects of “political” pacifism. A key example of this sort of resistance is found in the diaries of a wine barrel maker from southern France, Louis Barthas. Barthas saw action from the beginning of the war until its conclusion (1914-1918). He was a self-described pacifist soldier. An essential quality of a pacifist soldier is an ability to humanize the enemy. The nature of the pacifist soldier’s ability to humanize an enemy demonstrates the qualities of humanity necessary to resist the moral degradation of warfare on philosophical grounds. As such, modern parallels with World War One and Barthas’ individual example also show the relevancy of humanization in today’s world.

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Apr 20th, 4:20 PM Apr 20th, 4:35 PM

Humanization of the Enemy: The Pacifist Soldier and France in World War One

Guzman 113, Dominican University of California

Not all French citizens were enthused by the prospect of war in 1914, nor were they all so willing to embrace a dehumanized view of the enemy. Some French citizens believed the “Great War” to be a patriotic endeavor. Propaganda encouraged this nationalism and the dehumanization of the enemy. “Political” pacifism existed within the French Third Republic psyche following France’s defeat in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War. However, these pacifistic undertones were systematically undermined as France began to militarize itself. Drawing from a series of notebooks, and established academic sources, this paper shows that some French soldiers endured a world at war by their pacifism and war resistance, despite being called to defend their nation against invasion. The individual soldier’s resistance and “spiritual” pacifism is contrasted with aspects of “political” pacifism. A key example of this sort of resistance is found in the diaries of a wine barrel maker from southern France, Louis Barthas. Barthas saw action from the beginning of the war until its conclusion (1914-1918). He was a self-described pacifist soldier. An essential quality of a pacifist soldier is an ability to humanize the enemy. The nature of the pacifist soldier’s ability to humanize an enemy demonstrates the qualities of humanity necessary to resist the moral degradation of warfare on philosophical grounds. As such, modern parallels with World War One and Barthas’ individual example also show the relevancy of humanization in today’s world.