Graduation Date

5-2017

Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Department or Program Chair

Chase Clow, Ph.D.

First Reader

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

Abstract

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 degradations 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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