Version classiqueVersion mobile

Justices militaires et guerres mondiales

 | 
Jean-Marc Berlière
, 
Jonas Campion
, 
Luigi Lacchè
, 
et al.

War, Discipline, and Politics

Desertion and Military Justice in the German and British Armies 1914-1918

Christoph Jahr

Texte intégral

  • 1 Rupprecht von Bayern, Mein Kriegstagebuch, ed. by Eugen von Frauenholz, 3 vols, Berlin: Mittler, 1 (...)

1At the end of May 1918, Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, commander-in-chief of an army group, intimated in his diary the suspicion that many soldiers committed crimes solely to avoid the front. He looked with envy at the other side: ‘The English are much stricter in such cases than we are and generally punish absence without leave by death’.1 It is certainly true that in proportion to its size, ten times as many death sentences were carried out in the British army between 1914 and 1918 as in the German army. This reality does not correspond with the picture of rigid German militarism, nor with that of British liberalism. The picture becomes even more complex if the Second World War is taken into account. During this conflict, at least 15,000 to 20,000 German soldiers were executed for military offences, compared to only four British servicemen. In the light of these diverging developments, the significance of desertion in the First World War as a military and political problem should first be discussed by comparing the application of military law in the German and British armies (Jahr 1998; Bröckling and Sikora 1998; Babington 1993). The investigation is based on court martial records of the 2nd and 4th Bavarian infantry divisions, and the 1st, 4th, 17th, 19th, 47th and 49th British divisions. The Bavarian records are extremely informative, the British, unfortunately, rather sparse. The focal point is the Western Front, first because it was the most important theatre of war, secondly because it was the only place where the British and German armies confronted each other for the entire duration of the war. Based on the availability of sources, I have concentrated on the Bavarian Contingent in the German army. For the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) I have dealt only with soldiers from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, thus excluding troops from the colonies and Dominions.

1. War

2A soldier’s life during the war was marked by numerous contradictions. On the one hand, an almost factory-like adherence to structure and routine was the norm; the rhythm of combat duty followed by a period of recuperation. On the other hand, a constant threat of devastation and death loomed. There were relatively peaceful sectors, such as the Vosges front, but also theatres of war with constant fighting, for example Flanders. Major offensives alternated with long periods of relative calm, while comparatively minor raids on both sides broke up the routine of the trenches. The exceptional and the normal constantly clashed and soldiers behaved accordingly. The conflict between the military norm and reality was not only inevitable frictions in Clausewitz’s sense; they were precisely what constituted everyday life in the trenches. On a front that stretched across large parts of Western Europe and in a war that dragged on for many years, the battlefield could no longer be controlled in the same way as was possible, at least in theory, in the battles of earlier times that were restricted in time and location. Power relationships always provoke resistance, and even social systems as obviously hierarchical as armies are never without friction. The latter was manifested not so much in major acts of insubordination as in the daily strategies soldiers used to try to avoid routine. Everyday life in war was determined by many ‘small escapes’, so that from the perspective of the ordinary soldier the ‘great escape’ – absence without leave or desertion – was by no means as extreme or exceptional as the military authorities considered it to be. The line between ‘conformist’ and ‘non conformist’ behaviour is thus not defined by the behaviour of the soldiers, but by the demands of military leaders, determined by the system and situation, and those of their immediate superiors. In a mechanised war, increasing faith had to be put in soldiers’ own initiative. Nevertheless, tactical planning was still based on the idea of attacking in a closed line for fear that if left to their own devices, soldiers would take advantage of their greater independence to escape from battle: ‘La solidarité n’a plus la sanction d’une surveillance mutuelle’ (Howard 1986: 513; Gat 1990), is how the influential French military theorist Charles Ardant du Picq had already formulated this fear before 1870. The responsibility of the individual soldier did indeed increase during the First World War, as shown by a German infantry division report of 1918:

  • 2 Chef des Generalstabs des Feldheeres (ChGFH), 1 August 1918, Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv-Kriegsa (...)

The more the enemy splits up into individual nests of resistance… the more the individual fight comes to the fore. Thus disposition and up-bringing take over from drill. But reward and punishment must also play a greater role.2

3The link between concepts of how an army should function and the contradictory multiplicity of what actually happened in the war was provided by military law. Admittedly, maintaining discipline was always given priority over meting out justice, but even in the army the power of the law was not absolute but relative, albeit heavily weighted in one direction. According to Prussian military judge (Kriegsgerichtsrat) Karl Rissom, this was precisely because:

The interests of discipline, i. e. setting an example […] easily prevail; the danger cannot be overstressed of the short-sighted assumption that military law is only there to reach more or less favourable compromises with these everyday interests. […] Yet everyone knows […] that there are conflicts between law and justice. (Rissom 1909: 183)

4Thus every verdict had to reconcile competing, often mutually exclusive principles, which inevitably led to conflicts. This clash became particularly fierce, for example, over the problem of the form in which sentences for disciplinary offences should be imposed. As the adjutant of John French, the first commander-in-chief of the BEF, Sir Wyndham Childs recognised, imprisoning condemned soldiers produced quite a dilemma. Childs wrote:

I was walking through the streets of St Omer […] when I met about a hundred and twenty soldiers being marched under escort through the streets. They were singing and whistling and in very good humour. I ascertained that they were all on their way to the base to undergo punishments in the military prisons there […]. [I] t was evident that certain types of men would commit crimes solely to avoid duty at the front. (Childs 1930: 137)

5Regardless of the actual motives of soldiers who incurred punishment, a prison sentence did protect them from the dangers and discomforts of life at the front. Punishment threatened to become an advantage, completely undermining the intended deterrent effect. The Oberste Heeresleitung (OHL) – German High Command – took a very similar view of the problem. In August 1918, Erich Ludendorff circulated a divisional report which stated:

  • 3 ChGFH, 1st August 1918, BKA, 4. I. D., vol. 89.

We must warn against lenient treatment of disciplinary offences […]. The reduced sentences that have become common practice […] amount to a reward for bad behaviour.3

6Though there were similar demands and problems in all armies, the legal conditions in the British and German armies were very different. The German Militärstrafgesetzbuch of 1872 was relatively progressive. Punishments were comparatively mild and professionally trained lawyers were used, though admittedly they were dependent upon the convening officer, generally the divisional commander. Under German law, desertion was just a special case of absence without leave, which occurred when a soldier ‘leaves his unit with the intention of removing himself permanently from his legal or accepted duty to serve’ (§ 6 Militärstrafgesetzbuch). On the other hand, the length of absence played no role in distinguishing between desertion and absence without leave. If the legal basis was taken seriously, it was virtually impossible to be convicted of desertion since intentions can seldom be proved. ‘In the field’ desertion was punishable by 10 – 15 years in prison; mass desertion, as well as ‘deserting one’s post in the face of the enemy’, or defecting to the enemy, could even carry the death penalty. Thus desertion was one of the most severely punishable offences, comparable with treason, cowardice, mutiny, and disobedience.

7British military law was based on the Army (Annual) Act of 1881 (Oram 2001; Stuart-Smith 1969, 1963). The Manual of Military Law determined how military justice should be dispensed and a new edition was published in 1914. Intention also played a major role under British law, but was not the only determining factor:

  • 4 Manual of Military Law (War Office), London 1914, Section III. 13, highlights by the author.

The offence of desertion […] implies an intention on the part of the offender either not to return to His Majesty’s Service at all, or to escape some particular important service.4

8The last half-sentence is crucial, since it means that someone who hangs back when his unit is advancing to the front is to be treated as a deserter. According to German law this would only have been absence without leave (or possibly cowardice). Punishments in the British army were much more severe than in the German army: for desertion the death sentence could be applied or a lesser legally acceptable sentence could be imposed, i. e., punishment ranging from temporary withdrawal of wages to the death sentence. The scope of discretion in reaching a verdict and sentencing was thus quite considerable. Apart from that, most officers had only superficial knowledge of military law, as one officer recalls from his training in 1902:

  • 5 Statement of Sir Arnold Wilson before the Oliver Committee, 17 May 1938, National Archives (NA, fo (...)

[...] the only bit of instruction which I thought was really third class at Sandhurst was military law, the text books were bad and the instruction was rotten.5

9A memorandum of 1879 drew attention to a further difference between German and British military law. By comparing the new German Militärstrafgesetzbuch with the earlier regulations, it indirectly also described a characteristic of British military law:

  • 6 Memorandum on the various Methods of Punishment adopted in Foreign Armies for Soldiers in the Fiel (...)

The former [German] Military Law insisted on the theory of deterring from crime; and threatened severe punishments for […] repeated desertion, desertions combined with conspiracy […]. The grave punishments were rarely carried out, and the imprisonment was in fact constantly remitted. The new code ignores the theory of systematic pardoning, and adopts that of a less severe punishment strictly enforced.6

10This is an important difference in the penal practice of the two countries: relatively lenient sentences in Germany, which were actually carried out, in contrast to severe sentences in Britain which were generally remitted according to the ‘theory of systematic pardoning’, although this could not be guaranteed. Thus under British military law there was a massive element of uncertainty. Soldiers had the feeling that they were virtually at the mercy of their superiors’ moods.

11The task of military law was to punish soldiers’ disobedience. Measuring disobedience, however, is a major problem, as official statistics on court proceedings are more open to interpretation than they are objective reality. A German troop commander put it like this:

  • 7 Maasgruppe Ost, 1st November 1916, BKA, 4. I. D., vol. 86.

The fact that there are a large number of legal proceedings against malingerers in a certain troop section does not necessarily mean […] that this section is worse than another. A comparison of this sort on the basis of statistics, without the possibility of checking, would encourage suppression.7

12Some company commanders did not want to have a ‘penal battalion’ and ‘therefore [gave] out punishments as rarely as possible and most unwillingly’ (van den Bergh 1934: 91), because this called their leadership qualities into question. On the other hand, by taking strong measures a superior could demonstrate that he intended to bring the full weight of military authority to bear.

13Power relationships within the military hierarchy also influenced the way in which verdicts were reached. In his war memoirs a British officer on the front reports a case in which the presiding officer at a field general court martial exonerated the accused. His superior then took him to task:

  • 8 War Diary, p. 115, Imperial War Museum (IWM), R. S. Cockburn-Papers, RSC 1/1.

‘What the devil do you mean by letting this man off?’ – ‘It was the only possible decision, Sir’ – ‘What the […] do you mean? The man was obviously guilty.’8

14There is a dilemma here. On the one hand, desertion statistics reflect actual behaviour. On the other hand, how this behaviour was punished depended upon many barely calculable factors. It is therefore always a deliberate decision, whether a high rate of desertion is primarily interpreted as the expression of a crisis or of crisis awareness, especially since ‘morale’ – in the sense of a soldier’s unconditional willingness to serve – cannot be objectively measured. On the contrary: the notion that a clear dividing line can be drawn between obedience and disobedience is itself part of the internal discourse on military discipline which should not be followed without a critical eye (Englander 1997).

2. Discipline

  • 9 An ear-witness’ testimony, BKA, MilGer 6479, 2.

15The forms of and motives for desertion were just as similar on the two sides of the front as was everyday life at the front. In the trenches, soldiers were under the constant control of their superiors, yet at the same time, nowhere were the threat to life and the deprivations greater. This discrepancy between the desire to desert and the opportunity to do so could only be overcome by defecting or being taken prisoner, which involved considerable risks. For example, German soldier Johannes Wittlinger tried this in January 1917. He had previously said to his comrades: ‘It is not possible to control who has defected or has let himself be taken prisoner’.9 Wittlinger paid for his failed attempt at escape with his life because the French shot him by mistake. About one fifth of deserters fled earlier on, on the way to the front, in order to avoid their next combat duty.

  • 10 Publication of the judgment, 9 March 1915, BKA, Gericht stv. 3. I. B., Courts Martial Record Derwa (...)

16The best opportunities for desertion were during off-duty periods when the soldiers were relatively free and an individual could disappear quite easily, especially as false documents, etc., were not difficult to come by. But often the army itself was the most secure place for a soldier wanting to desert. One German managed to avoid the front for months on end ‘by reporting to other military authorities who did not know he was absent without leave and letting them employ him’.10 There was a similar case of a British deserter who spent two and a half months as a mechanic with the Royal Flying Corps (Putkowski and Sykes 1993: 220).

  • 11 NA, WO 71/406.
  • 12 NA, WO 71/390.
  • 13 E. g. NA, WO 71/447 and/393.
  • 14 Interrogation, 12 June 1916, BKA, MilGer 6259, 3.

17Many of the deserters lingered in the French or Belgian hinterland, in areas whose language most of them did not understand and whose inhabitants were – to say the least – not always well disposed towards them (Simkins 1985; Gibson 1998). One British deserter was taken in by a local, having knocked on his door at night, freezing and almost starving. Although his host questioned all passing troops about his uninvited guest, it was more than two months before he was eventually arrested.11 These cases show that lack of surveillance behind the front was the best protection against the system. Other deserters took a much more active, sometimes even aggressive approach to the problem of how to disappear in a foreign country by plundering empty houses.12 Yet others tried to get to know local women, which made it much easier to go to ground.13 Desertion was often combined with various other offences arising from the need to acquire food, shelter, and money for survival. Many sought to go to ground in their own country, which for German soldiers was relatively easy to reach.14

18Because of the danger of being overrun by the enemy and the constant threat of discovery, many deserters tried to make their way to neutral countries. Some 20,000 German deserters lived in Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands. Given the location of the front, however, it was virtually impossible for British soldiers to reach neutral countries. The possibility remained of going to Ireland, since conscription had never been introduced there. However, most deserters were captured in France or after a few days at home.

  • 15 BKA, HS 2348.
  • 16 Cf. NA, WO 90/6 and 8.

19The social composition of deserters was also very similar in the two armies. The ‘typical’ deserter was an ordinary soldier, since NCOs and officers were hardly ever found guilty of desertion. According to statistics for the Bavarian Army (admittedly not complete), 3,975 soldiers from the rank and file were found guilty by Field General Courts Martial of desertion or absence without leave at the front, but not a single officer.15 The picture in the British Army was very similar: throughout the war only 21 officers on the Western Front had to appear before a court martial for desertion and 189 for absence without leave.16 A Battalion Commander recorded in his war memoirs:

An officer is discovered in a disused French dugout behind the lines, asleep – apparently a deserter […]. I see him and put him back for trial by court martial for cowardice and desertion […]. One day we receive a wire. Rochdale [the officer] is to be ‘released from arrest and all consequences’. (Frank P. Crozier 1950: 81)

20There can be few cases where the social dimension of the phenomenon of desertion is more clearly illustrated than this.

  • 17 A similar picture can be drawn for deserters in the Austro-Hungarian Army, cf. Überegger, 2003: 35 (...)

21About 85% of soldiers accused of desertion or absence without leave were single, which seems to suggest that having his own family tended to prevent a soldier from deserting. On the other hand, denominational affiliation did not play any role in a soldier’s behaviour, unlike social or occupational position. Soldiers who were farm labourers deserted extremely rarely, while workers and the sub-proletarian classes were clearly over-represented.17 Certainly many deserters already had criminal records of some sort or another. Yet three-quarters of those found guilty of desertion had previously been good, at least inconspicuous soldiers. The simple assertion that deserters were, in principle, weak characters on the margins of society does not stand up to empirical analysis.

22Great caution is needed when trying to establish the motives for desertion, since covering up the real reasons was one of the deserters’ survival strategies. Problems having to do with the army in the broadest sense, especially trouble with superiors or comrades, were the most frequent motives for desertion. Another reason that comes up frequently was the soldier’s yearning for home, for his girlfriend or wife. There is hardly any evidence of obvious political motives.

  • 18 Cf. Oram, 1998a; Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire during the Great War 1914 (...)

23The frequency of desertion varied considerably throughout the course of the war.18 The following picture emerges for troops from the United Kingdom:

Diagram 1: Charges and Convictions for Desertion, BEF (Western Front)

Diagram 1: Charges and Convictions for Desertion, BEF (Western Front)

Source: Jahr 1998: 170.

24Altogether there were 7,600 Field General Courts Martial for desertion (and 17,000 cases of absence without leave). In absolute terms, the figures clearly rose as the war progressed and peaked in April 1918 and again at the end of the war. It would seem that in 1917/18 the British Army was experiencing a crisis of command authority. Yet the relative number of courts martial, measured against the number of troops, produces a completely different picture:

Diagram 2: Quota of Charges with Desertion, BEF (Western Front)

Diagram 2: Quota of Charges with Desertion, BEF (Western Front)

Source: Jahr 1998: 171.

25The proportion of courts martial for desertion was by far highest in the winter/spring of 1914/15. The rise in the absolute number was more than compensated for by the sixteenfold increase in the strength of the army up to the summer of 1917, so that the monthly quota settled at an average of 0.13% of troops. This quota remained stable at first and rose only moderately in 1918. Was the British Army thus alone in escaping serious crises of discipline and morale? This question cannot be answered by statistics alone, but it is highly improbable that in the crises of 1917 and the first half of 1918, military leaders would have hesitated to implement disciplinary measures. The conclusion therefore seems to be that the willingness of British soldiers to endure and carry on fighting, regardless of motivation, remained largely intact, despite widespread longing for peace. Alexander Watson, however, suggests that it was not moral fibre or the supposed superiority of the Entente cause that won or lost the war, but the Allies’ superiority in material (Watson 2008).

26Nonetheless, military law in the British Army was applied very strictly. In a circular based on a War Office instruction, Douglas Haig then Commander of the First Army, wrote:

  • 19 General Routine Order Nr. 585, 31 January 1915 (ACI, 27 January 1915), in: Extracts from General R (...)

Proof that the absence did in fact lead to the avoidance of any such duty raises a presumption that the accused absented himself with that object in view; and the Court is entitled to act on that presumption unless the accused can prove that it is not well founded […]. [I] f a soldier is charged with desertion, it will depend upon the evidence adduced by the accused whether the Court find him guilty of that graver charge, or the less serious one of absence only.19

27The accused thus had to prove his innocence, not the Court his guilt. Major Hurst, an officer in a Territorial Division during the war, reported his experiences to the House of Commons in March 1919, after a court martial had found several accused not guilty:

  • 20 Both quotes House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates. Official Reports, 5th Series, London, vol. 11 (...)

After acquitting these men, a memorandum was sent to us by the General Officer Commanding, asking for a full explanation to be furnished in writing why we had allowed these men to be acquitted. It is absolutely impossible to do justice when a tribunal is surrounded by the prejudices of the convening officer; where its hands are fettered before trial and where, after the trial, the Court is liable to be so troubled and tested with complaints with regard to the decision they have come to.20

28Another problem was the ‘theory of systematic pardoning’. One MP quoted what an officer had described to him:

I always impose the maximum sentence laid down by the Army Act. I know there is a confirming officer behind me who will, if he thinks fit, reduce the sentence.

29Unfortunately there was a flaw in this reasoning, because another officer stated that he never reduced a sentence imposed by the court:

  • 21 Both quotes MP Wood, 11 March 1921, ibid., vol. 150, Col. 863.

[...] the members of the court, having seen the man, were in a better position to judge what was the proper sentence to inflict, and therefore it would be exceeding his duty if he exercised his power and reduced the sentence passed on any prisoner.21

30Thus it becomes clear that the logic of the British military law gave scope for interpretation that tended to disadvantage the accused – and often did. The opportunity for a prisoner to have a friend at his side was often not granted, as Hurst showed using another example:

  • 22 Ibid., vol. 113, Col. 117.

I myself have heard a divisional general lay down to the field officers of his division that he wished none of them to appear as friends for prisoners brought up for trial in that division.22

31And many officers would not even accept ‘shell shock’ as a reason for giving a lenient punishment for desertion. The commander of the 12th Middlesex Regiment wrote to his wife:

  • 23 Ltn.-Col. Frank Maxwell, letter to his wife, 26 July 1916, quoted in Simkins 1996: 305.

‘Shell shock’ is a complaint which, to my mind, is too prevalent everywhere; and I have told my people that my name for it is fright, or something worse, and I am not going to have it. Of course, the average nerve system of this class is much lower than ours, and sights and sounds affect them much more. It means […] that they haven’t got our power of self-control, that’s all.23

32He essentially suggests that the upper class, with its ‘will power’ and ‘self control’, was biologically superior to ordinary troops. Old clichés about the supposedly ‘inferior’ rank and file were still in circulation, even though since 1914, and especially with the introduction of conscription in 1916, soldiers had been drawn from all classes of society. Deserters often became scapegoats because no outcome appeared to be in sight for what was a seemingly endless war. James C. Dunn betrayed this in an October 1917 diary entry on the front at Ypres:

Plainly no action whatever is to be taken against our habitual deserter […]. And yet, what use? To gratify a mawkish humanitarianism two or three score mean fellows are encouraged to ship away every time there is risk to their skins, so more and more average men learn to shirk with impunity; attacks fail, and losses run into untold thousands, because the most dutiful of our men are not backed up. (Dunn 1989: 410)

33All these examples show that the behaviour of the accused was only one of several factors that determined how a case of desertion was punished.

34The following diagram shows how strictly military law was applied in the British Army.

Diagram 3: Sentences for Desertion passed by Courts Martial, BEF (Western Front)

Diagram 3: Sentences for Desertion passed by Courts Martial, BEF (Western Front)

Source: Jahr 1998: 244.

35The quota of death sentences passed in 1914-1917 was often 50-70%, i. e. the most severe penalty was the most usual. On average, 11% of the death sentences passed were actually carried out, so that during the entire war 346 soldiers came before the firing squad, 269 of them on the Western Front. However, in the course of 1918, a change in trend emerged: even in the crisis month of April, the quota of death sentences passed was only 36%, half of what it was during the Spring Offensive of 1915. Although the top brass of the military hierarchy did not approve, awareness was obviously developing that the exceptional severity with which the British Army dealt with military offences was not at all necessary in order to win the war. Moreover, the gradual change in attitude did not go unnoticed by soldiers. One of the few working-class soldiers to publish his war memoirs wrote:

I believe that an important modification of the death sentence also took place in 1917. It appeared that the military authorities were compelled to take heed of the clamour against the death sentences imposed by courts martial. There had been too many of them. (Coppard 1969: 76-77)

36Why this change came about cannot be explained by statistics. Since the field courts martial were largely made up of subalterns, there is a strong possibility that this development reflected the rapidly changing composition of the officer corps. For with voluntary mass recruitment from autumn 1914 onwards, many men from the middle and upper classes, who previously had nothing to do with the military in their lives, entered the army. Thus, according to my theory, civilian modes of thought and behaviour came to play an ever greater role, the more these ‘temporary gentlemen’ (Petter 1994) supplemented the old officer corps of the pre-war period and ultimately replaced it. A similar development in the French Army can also be established (Suard 1994). There, the number of death sentences carried out constantly diminished during the war, disregarding executions carried out after the mutiny of 1917. The trend in the proportion of death sentences passed to those carried out was similar; this sank from around 70% in autumn 1914 to below 15% in 1917. In both countries the excessively harsh application of military law at the beginning of the war became significantly more lenient as the war continued. Something else, however, became apparent after the ceasefire: once the widely accepted war aim, namely the defeat of Germany, had been achieved, large sections of the army ‘demobilised’ in the winter of 1918/1919. This made the burgeoning plans of the British military and politicians to intervene in the civil war raging in Russia largely untenable.

  • 24 For 1918 see Jahr 1999.
  • 25 ChGFH, 16 January 1918, Sächsisches Hauptstaatsarchiv-Kriegsarchiv, Dresden (SKA), 9658, 1; cf. Ch (...)

37In many respects the picture in the German Army was quite different. At a very early stage, a general desire for peace had engulfed large sections of the rank and file (Lipp 2003). The decisive turning point must have been the end of 1916 at the latest. The victory over Russia and the hope that the ‘decisive battle’ now pending in the West would finally bring peace through victory had created another ‘high’. So the ‘low’ was all the worse when it became obvious in April 1918 that the result of their immense efforts would not be victory, bringing with it peace, but yet another round in the seemingly endless war of attrition.24 But while there were large-scale acts of insubordination in the French, Russian, Italian and Austrian-Hungarian (Cornwall 2000) armies, at the latest from 1917 onwards, the German army was not at first affected. The events in Russia in 1917, however, had a particularly powerful effect on the German Army. As of late 1917, reports of excesses and disobedience were constantly being released and fear was expressed that revolutionary ideas might be infiltrating the troops on the Western Front. ‘Appropriate reading material, education and propaganda’ were advocated to counter this risk25. A report from the British Secret Service gives a good picture of the precarious mood in the German Army in the high summer of 1918. This is how the state of affairs amongst the troops stationed in the Baltic States is described:

  • 26 British Intelligence Report, Petrograd 13 July 1918, NA, FO 175/6.

There is a bitter hatred between the officers and men, but the strictest discipline prevails. Men coming from the Western Front relate with horror of the terrific losses and conditions there. They do everything they can to prevent being sent there. In some cases soldiers have been court-martialled and shot.26

  • 27 GQM-OHL, 25 July 1917, BA-MA, N 234/6, p. 11; cf. A. O. K. 5, BKA, 2. I. D., vol. 119; Chef stv. G (...)

38It is difficult to say whether there was really any danger of the German Army becoming revolutionary. What is clear, however, is that the Officer Corps’s old fears of revolutionary upheavals caused by the working-class rank and file revived as the war progressed. Particular attention was therefore paid to the supposed agitation by the left-wing socialist Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) that was ‘highly damaging to discipline’27. The OHL announced in March 1918

  • 28 ChGFH, 12 March 1918, BKA, 4. I. D., vol. 96.

[…] that soldiers on leave have been talking openly of a revolution that will break out after the war. A soldier said to be from the industrial area of Rhineland-Westphalia declared in the train that where he lived soldiers on leave were bringing in weapons for this purpose.28

  • 29 Cf. stv. Generalstab, 5 June 1917, BKA, MKr 11484.
  • 30 Cf. stv. Generalkommando (s. G. K.) XIV. Armee-Korps (A. K.), 29 August 1918, Badisches Generallan (...)
  • 31 Cf. Preußisches Kriegsministerium (PKM), 22 July 1918, quoted in Revolution und Heer, Doc. 28: 60- (...)

39Likewise, in the summer of 1917, increasingly defeatist talk and graffiti could already be heard and seen on trains, culminating in slogans such as ‘Nieder mit dem Krieg!’ (Down with the War!), or ‘Gleiche Löhnung, Dienst und Fressen, Wär der Krieg schon längst vergessen’ (equal pay, duty, and food and the war would be over instantly29). It was often soldiers from the industrial areas of Rhineland-Westphalia and the Saarland who were reported to have been ‘stirred up’ while on home leave.30 Even as the military authorities were still hoping to win the war, they had already found those soldiers guilty of losing it. The measures decreed by the OHL for maintaining or re-establishing discipline also stressed that all available means should be employed to enforce discipline and that the whole range of punishments, including the death penalty, should be imposed.31

  • 32 Cf. British balloon propaganda, 2nd report, 16 August-10 September 1918, NA, WO 32/5143.

40The ‘symptoms of disintegration’ of 1918 were blamed not only on the supposed ‘infiltration’ of revolutionary thinking from Russia or the USPD, but also to a large degree on allied propaganda. Indeed, at a fairly early stage, isolated attempts had been made to persuade German soldiers to defect by means of propaganda leaflets. But British propaganda in this area started only slowly in mid-1916 and tried above all to exploit the particularism in southern Germany and hatred of Prussia. In the months of May to July 1918 alone, four million leaflets were distributed behind German lines.32 Propaganda for desertion may have encouraged some ditherers to carry out their plans, but it did not really make any significant impact until the final months of the war, by which time it was obvious to any thinking soldier that Germany’s military position was hopeless.

  • 33 Cf. Liaison Officer Army Group Rupprecht at 4th Army Head Quarter, 15 October 1918, BKA, HgrRuppr, (...)

41During the last weeks of the war, when it was lost but not yet officially ended by military leaders, more and more German soldiers defected from duty. The central collecting point for stragglers of the 4th Army in Gent alone had to cater to 2,000-3,000 men per day, and the additional collecting points of the four armies subordinate to it had a further 600-700. Three days before the cease-fire, 25,000 stragglers are said to have congregated in Namur alone.33 But numbers of this magnitude were only reported in the last three to four weeks before the cease-fire. A British soldier wrote in his war memoirs about the state of the German Army in the final weeks of the war:

It was never a retreat, for that suggests disorder. Considering the conditions and what it was up against, the German Army’s retirement was truly wonderful, and it was not until the very last that the enemy began to show signs of disorder, and that they were being hunted. (Dolden 1980: 179)

  • 34 Probably the most thorough study of the Dolchstoßlegende is Boris Barth 2003.

42The total disintegration of command authority, which Wilhelm Deist has described as a ‘covert military strike’ (Deist 1991; Ziemann 1996), thus only applies to the very last weeks of the war. The decisive date was undoubtedly the start of cease-fire negotiations on 3 October 1918, in which defeat finally became obvious. It is one of history’s bitter ironies that the OHL managed to shift responsibility for its own failure on to its heirs: the new democratic government in Berlin and the soldiers at the front.34

43The rate of desertion throughout the course of the war in the German army cannot be exactly quantified in the same way as in the British army because the files of the Prussian army (i. e., ca. 80% of the entire German army) were irretrievably destroyed during World War II. The figures for the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Division therefore serve as an example:

Diagram 4: Charges for Desertion/Absence without Leave, 2nd Division Bavarian

Diagram 4: Charges for Desertion/Absence without Leave, 2nd Division Bavarian

Source: Jahr 1998: 157.

  • 35 Cf. Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army which participated in the (...)

44In this division, one of the most reliable in the entire army,35 the absolute figures are very low. The way things developed as the war progressed may, however, be considered as representative. The rate of conviction for desertion or absence without leave in the German Army was about 0.13% of total troops until 1916. In 1917, however, this increased threefold, and the only reason why it did not increase further in 1918 was that the revolutionary developments in Germany meant that many courts martial could not be completed. All in all, between 130,000 and 150,000 men were convicted of desertion or absence without leave in the German Army, 40-50,000 of them in the field army. Even if this number is increased threefold, to include the unknown number of unpunished deserters, given a total of 13.5 million mobilised German soldiers it is clear that this did not have any significant effect on the outcome of the war, especially since enemy armies had similar problems.

  • 36 All following quotes from BKA, MilGer 6242, 67f.
  • 37 BKA, HS 2348.

45In the German army military law was applied relatively leniently. The story of the Bavarian soldier Friedrich Anton Dechant may serve as an example. He took advantage of leave in Munich to settle in a hotel. After four weeks, he was arrested and charged with desertion. The court came to the conclusion ‘that the accused was living with a bar-maid in the Hotel Glassner and… wanted to have a pleasant time in Munich, which is why he extended his leave’.36 But because the court could not prove the intention to remain absent permanently, Dechant was only convicted of absence without leave, not of desertion. The sentences were also fairly lenient since the courts only occasionally made use of the full range available. In the 2nd and 4th Bavarian Infantry Divisions, for example, only 33% of offenders were sentenced to more than three years imprisonment in 1915, 40% in 1916, 8% in 1917 and 18.7% in 1918, even though the maximum sentence for absence without leave alone was five years (Jahr 1998: 232-234). The decline in the proportion of prison sentences was connected with the Gesetz betreffend die Herabsetzung von Mindeststrafen (Law concerning the reduction of minimum sentences) of April 1917, which made it possible to pass considerably more lenient sentences in cases of desertion and absence without leave than was previously the case – a possibility frequently used. It is significant, however, that in 1918 the proportion of prison sentences rose again. This creates the impression that the trend towards radicalisation perceptible from 1915 to 1916 continued from 1917 to 1918, only from a lower starting point determined by a change in the law. Statistics for the entire Bavarian Army present a similar picture.37 The proportion of penal servitude increased from 0.6% in 1915 to 7.4% in 1918, and likewise the proportion of sentences of more than one year: 26.5% in 1914 to 38.3% in 1917. In 1918 this proportion dropped to 18.8%, which is probably attributable to the enormous increase in short prison sentences following the meteoric rise in the number of minor cases of absence without leave in the summer of 1918. These figures also show a certain tendency toward more severe sentences as the war progressed, but this was a moderate trend. In the German army, however, hardly any use was made of the death penalty; only 150 death sentences were passed and only 48 of them carried out. 49 of the death sentences were for desertion, and 18 of them were carried out (Volkmann 1929: 63). There must be some doubt as to whether these figures really include all death sentences; certainly there were a large number carried out without legal proceedings. On the other hand, much the same can rightly be said of the official British figures.

3. Politics

3.1. National Minorities

46Desertion is not only a military and juridical problem, but also a political one. This becomes clear in the case of soldiers from national minorities. In Germany, soldiers from Alsace-Lorraine, annexed from France in 1871, were a priori accused of lack of loyalty to Germany (Kramer 1997; Jahr 1998). From the outset of the war, they were therefore subjected to a host of discriminatory regulations – both formal and informal. In particular, their letters were more strictly censored, their home leave was restricted, they received more severe punishments for disciplinary offences etc. The legal norms that applied to other German soldiers did not apply to the national minorities. This is where we see a first sign of that duality between ‘normative state’ and ‘prerogative state’, which Ernst Fraenkel later described as characteristic of Nazi rule (Fraenkel 1941). One Army Group described the psychological effect of this discriminatory treatment as a self-fulfilling prophecy:

  • 38 Armee-Abteilung Woyrsch, 6 August 1917, WMA, M 30/1-73.

If a man is expected to lay down his life for a country, he has to have the feeling that this great sacrifice […] is for a ‘fatherland’. But if, by means of all sorts of measures, he is given to understand that he is actually a step-child of this fatherland, then he is bound to develop the feeling that it is not a question of a fatherland at all […]. The next step towards defection thus becomes a very small one.38

  • 39 S. G. K. XXI. A. K., 7 April 1917, WMA, M30/1-50.
  • 40 Cf. G. K. XIII. A. K., 27 February 1918, WMA, M33/2-682; 84. I. D., 24 April 1918, WMA, M30/1-117.
  • 41 Ibid.
  • 42 4. I. D., 18 June 1918, ibid.

47The effect on the soldiers’ morale can easily be seen from the war memoirs of the Alsatian Dominik Richert (Richert 1989). After almost four years at the front he finally defected. Although the morale of the soldiers from national minorities was undoubtedly always lower than that of those from the rest of Germany, there was not much difference in their pattern of desertion until 1916. Around the end of 1916, war-weariness took on a new quality, both amongst the German population as a whole, and in the army. In April 1917 the deputy commander general of the 21st Army Corps, responsible for sections of Lorraine, ascertained: ‘The attitude of a large proportion of the population of Alsace-Lorraine has become increasingly hostile to things German’.39 In April of the following year the postal monitoring station at Mülhausen concluded from a censored letter that ‘anti-German feelings and sympathies for France’40were the most common motives for desertion. Reports were constantly cropping up in which the failure of individual military operations in 1918 was attributed to defectors from Alsace-Lorraine having betrayed the plans of attack,41 and in May 1918 there was a mutiny in the Belgian training camp at Beverloo by soldiers largely from Alsace-Lorraine. Nonetheless, when the Crown Prince Rupprecht Army Group was questioned about the behaviour of the Alsace-Lorrainers, most of the divisions expressed the same opinion as the 4th Bavarian Infantry Division: ‘The soldiers from Alsace-Lorraine in this division have given no cause for complaint.’42In the summer of 1918 criticism of the special measures applied to the Alsace-Lorrainers increased, even in the Reichstag. Alsace deputy Karl Hauß posed the question:

  • 43 Verhandlungen des Reichstags. Stenographische Berichte und Drucksachen (VdR). Berlin, 1872, vol. 3 (...)

Is the proportion of misdemeanours – let’s be quite open about this – of desertions greater amongst those from Alsace-Lorraine than amongst the others? I don’t think we need to worry about the answer to this question. So why such a degree of severity for the Alsace-Lorrainers?43

48As an answer to this question, we can look at the cases of desertion in the Duke Albrecht of Württemberg Army Group – which took in almost the whole of Alsace-Lorraine – from December 1917 to September 1918. Hardly surprisingly, there was a sharp increase in the rate of desertion towards the end of the war, but it was not primarily attributable to the Alsace-Lorrainers:

Diagram 5: Charges for Desertion, Army Group Duke Albrecht of Württemberg

Diagram 5: Charges for Desertion, Army Group Duke Albrecht of Württemberg

Source: Jahr, 1998: 278.

49The policy of military leadership towards the Alsace-Lorrainers was vacillating and contradictory. The fundamental dilemma was that the deep mistrust of their loyalty meant that they were treated as a special group and, in particular on the Western Front, were strictly supervised. From the point of view of ‘troop morale’, however, all discriminatory special measures likely to cause embitterment should have been avoided, also to prevent worsening morale amongst their relatives in Alsace-Lorraine. But then there was a danger of mass desertions by the Alsace-Lorrainers. The dilemma was that the military authorities wanted to force the Alsace-Lorrainers to take part in the war, but at the same time saw them as a ‘fifth column’ of the enemy.

50The most important national minority in the British Army were the Catholic Irish. Since the union with Great Britain in 1801 Ireland had played a strange dual role: on the one hand it was an integral part of the United Kingdom, and thus a core area of the empire, on the other hand it was, in many respects, treated as a colony. The Home Rule Act of 1914 was supposed to resolve this dilemma, but in fact gave rise to a gradual militarisation of domestic affairs in Ireland by the Protestant-Unionist Ulster Volunteer Force under Sir Edward Carson and the Catholic-Nationalist Irish Volunteers under John Redmond (Vaughan 1996; Muenger 1991; Fitzpatrick 1995). Both sides increased their weapons arsenals in the spring of 1914, incidentally by means of illegal deliveries from Germany.

51Civil war was only prevented by the outbreak of the Great War. The Home Rule Bill was given royal assent on 18 September, but by mutual consent it was not to become law until after the war. The number of volunteers in southern Ireland remained far below those in the north, where the proportion was much the same as in the rest of the United Kingdom. But the government in London did not dare to introduce conscription, since this would almost certainly lead to political unrest. There also seem to have been other arguments against it. General Maxwell, Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, saw great danger in trying to force unwilling Irishmen into the war:

If they were drafted into the existing Irish reserve battalions which are at the moment contented and loyal, they would probably poison the minds of these, and it would be a matter for grave consideration whether they could be trusted and armed while in Ireland. (quoted in Denman 1992: 137)

52The British image of the Irish soldiers was strongly influenced by religious, social, and racial prejudices (Denman 1991). They were considered to be uncouth, carnal, dirty, and addicted to alcohol. These prejudices persisted during the war. In January 1915 a Catholic Irish officer complained about his British colleagues:

The Irish soldiers are regarded with dislike and contempt by their British officers […]. Irishmen are treated with contempt, addressed as if the name of Irishman and rogue were synonymous terms. (quoted in Speer Lemisko 1992: 28)

  • 44 Cf. Denman, 1992: 141-152; Lemisko, 1992: 41-88; War memoirs, 25, IWM, J. W. Roworth-Papers.
  • 45 Report to the War Office, 13 May 1917, NA, WO 32/9574, quoted in Denman 1992: 151.

53But despite this discrimination the number of charges of desertion in the infantry battalions of the 16th Division, recruited from Catholic Irish, were no higher than in other divisions, in fact the reverse. Even during the Easter Rising, the loyalty of Catholic soldiers clearly remained intact. In his war memoirs one Catholic soldier in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers still described the agitation by Sinn Fein supporters in the army as treason.44 Nonetheless, anti-Irish resentment on the British side flared up more strongly than ever and was directed indiscriminately at all Irish Catholic soldiers, regardless of whether they sympathised with the moderates around John Redmond or with the radical Sinn Fein. As General Maxwell put it in May 1917: ‘[It is] very difficult to differentiate between Sinn Feiner and Redmondite. It is merely a question of degree.’45On 26 October 1916, concerned for political reliability, the War Office decreed that the 16th Division’s new battalions should be filled with English soldiers. Given the changes in Ireland and the fact that victory over Germany still had not been achieved, the atmosphere become increasingly unpleasant for the Irish soldiers, so that in his study of the 16th Division Terence Denman comes to the conclusion that:

  • 46 Ibid.

By the end of 1917 there was widespread suspicion of southern Irish troops among certain sections of the military high command that prevented dispassionate analysis of the division’s performance. There was a temptation to use the division as a scapegoat.46

  • 47 Cf. ibid.: 166, 180-181.

54When the British front virtually collapsed in March 1918, Haig, as Commander-in-chief of the B. E. F., held the 16th Division, amongst others, responsible,47 as did the Commander of the Fifth Army, Sir Hubert Gough (Speer Lemisko 1992: 89). The German March Offensive cost Gough his job and his reputation. Four years earlier he had been one of the officers to bring the government to its knees in the Curragh Affair with their ‘mutiny’ against the Home Rule Bill, so his view cannot be regarded as objective as he was far too biased on this issue. Considering the harsh, and in this form unjustified criticism of the 16th Division’s performance during the March Offensive of 1918, it was probably as Fielding, one of its battalion commanders, wrote in a letter: ‘People are apt to criticise Irish troops perhaps more than others’ (Denman 1991: 365). As Gerard Oram puts it, ‘the pervading British attitude towards the Irish was one of deep mistrust’ (Oram 1998b: 72) and they were sentenced to death at a far higher rate (approx. 1: 4) than in relation to their actual numbers. There had not, however, been an open and systematic policy of discrimination and repression pursued by the High Command against the Irish soldiers as there was in the case of the Alsace-Lorrainers.

3.2. Parliamentary Debates

  • 48 VdR, vol. 307: 931, and ibid., vol. 317: 395.
  • 49 Cf. PKM, 13 July 1916, BKA, 2. I. D. vol. 119.
  • 50 VdR, vol. 309: 2887.
  • 51 ‘Bemerkungen zu Caprivi, Disziplin und Strafen im Weltkriege’, 5 [about 1940], BA-MA W-10/50606.

55Political life in Germany during the war was severely curtailed by the Prussian Gesetz über den Belagerungszustand (état de siège or martial law) of 1851, which allowed the military authorities to infringe upon civil rights almost entirely, and even gave them quasi-legislative powers. Nonetheless, the Reichstag did manage to exert some influence on the army. In April 1916 it passed a resolution supporting a law to reduce the minimum sentences in the Militärstrafgesetzbuch, which included the sentences for desertion.48 The deputy War Minister, von Wandel, expressed certain reservations, but the Prussian War Ministry still instigated enquiries among all the top commando authorities to see whether a reduction of minimum sentences would be possible without endangering ‘troop discipline’.49 Despite numerous critical voices from the army, the Gesetz betr. die Herabsetzung der Mindeststrafen (Law regarding the reduction of minimum sentences) of 25 April 1917 was passed unanimously by the Reichstag.50 If a study by the army war history research department is to be believed, this innovation was very much welcomed at the front.51

  • 52 Cf. VdR, vol. 309: 3048, 3071, 3076; VdR, vol. 321: 1440; vol. 310: 3498, 16.5.1917; cf. vol. 321: (...)
  • 53 VdR, vol. 312: 5385, 11 June 1918.

56In the spring of 1917, demands for further sentence reductions became more vehement in all factions. This applied in particular to the abolition of close arrest which was favoured by the Catholic Centre Party and the parties to the left of it. The Conservatives and the Prussian War Ministry, however, did not think it necessary, or else considered that it would endanger discipline.52 A resolution passed by a majority of the Reichstag to abolish close arrest was not, however, without its effect since less than four months later War Minister von Stein presented the Reichstag with a bill to change the Militärstrafgesetzbuch once again. So doing, he uttered words in June 1918 which, in light of the stab-in-the-back legend, deserve particular attention: ‘We do not fear that this greater leniency will cause any erosion of discipline’.53 Once again the law was passed unanimously.

  • 54 Report of the 35th committee on a draft of the ‘Gesetz, betreffend Milderung im Militärstrafgesetz (...)
  • 55 Cf. PKM, 22 July 1918, BKA, MKr 11040.
  • 56 Cf. ChGFH, 16 August 1918, quoted in Volkmann 1925: 314-315.
  • 57 PKM (undated), quoted in ChGFH, 30 August 1918, BKA, HGrRuppr, vol. 17.

57Although a further attempt54 at making the laws more lenient came to nothing because of the turbulent developments in the autumn of 1918, the Prussian War Ministry had sent out a questionnaire in July 1918 regarding the Militärstrafgesetzbuch and the Militärstrafgerichtsordnung.55 The answers received are particularly illuminating given the stab-in-the-back debate that developed later, since amongst the lower commando authorities at least the majority were in favour of more lenient sentencing, even in fall 1918. On the other hand, as one might expect, the OHL was not keen. The chief of the general staff, von Hindenburg himself, explicitly warned against greater leniency and the erosion of discipline it would cause.56 Although the Prussian War Ministry rejected this general criticism, it recommended to officers that ‘in serious cases of insubordination or cowardice, etc. they use their weapons. This is the most sure means, just like a death sentence’.57 The idea of deterrence became verbally more radical. On the one hand, in this area military leaders were increasingly less able to maintain control over events at the front, but on the other, they were not able to do anything to counter the all-party political pressure for more lenient sentences. Admittedly, initiatives for changing the law always came from the socialist left, the liberal parties and the Catholic Centre, but even parties of the right and the Prussian War Ministry overcame their original objections fairly quickly. Thus throughout the war, an astonishingly far-reaching consensus prevailed in the Reichstag to the effect not only that military penal laws should be more lenient, but also that they could be without posing a serious threat to discipline.

58As far as post-war developments are concerned, a few key points must be mentioned here. In the face of fierce resistance from the right-wing parties, the Deutsche Volks-Partei and the Deutschnationale Volkspartei, military law was abolished in 1920. This decision, which they never accepted, formed one of the many starting points for their fundamental criticism of the Weimar Republic. The so-called ‘malingerers’ were held partly responsible for the defeat. Thus the debate about the deserters in the First World War was one of the means by which the Germans were persuaded to undertake a second ‘Griff nach der Weltmacht’ (drive for world power). Consistent with this, military law was reintroduced at the beginning of 1934 and now thoroughly corresponded with the bloody image of military law, which was not at all appropriate in the Kaiserreich. 22 years after the First World War, military lawyer Erich Schwinge formulated the interpretation of the causes of Germany’s defeat, which had become state doctrine in 1933. He maintained

[…] that the outcome of the great battle of the nations very probably would have been different if the spread of certain symptoms of disintegration in the years 1917 and 1918 […] had been fought as energetically as in other countries. (Schwinge 1940: 33)

59Ironically enough, Schwinge‘s shining example was the harsh application of military law in the British Army 1914-1918. Thus in the Second World War, German military law became more radical and inhumane than ever before (Jahr 2002). At least fifteen thousand German soldiers were executed from 1939 to 1945. The successful one-sided redefinition of the war experience in the years after 1918, which had very little in common with the manifold and contradictory reality, made the long history of Germany as a Rechtsstaat (constitutional state) seem nothing more than an obstacle to the uncompromising unleashing of military power. No Wehrmacht judge needed to be a convinced Nazi in a narrow sense in order to function along the lines of the Nazi rulers. All he had to do was share their fanatical desire not to let a second ‘November 1918’occur by any means.

  • 58 Cf. House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates. Official Reports, 5th Series, London, for example: vo (...)
  • 59 Cf. ibid., vol. 80: col. 815; vol. 88: col. 1286f; vol. 90: col. 2201 sq. and 2233.
  • 60 Cf. ibid., vol. 105: col. 824.

60In Britain as well, civil liberties were curtailed during the war by the Defence of the Realm Act (Ewing and Gearty 2000). This did not, however, affect the control and legislative functions of Parliament. The most important impetus for parliamentary questions about the state of affairs in the army came when death sentences were carried out. MPs picked up on spectacular individual cases, most of which had been brought to their attention by members of their constituency.58 These individual cases became the focal point of all criticism of military law. Another important point was the question as to the fairness and justice of the court martial process, and now and then a comparison of the legal standards of military law with those of civilian law was called for, as well as more professional legal training for judges.59 A few months before the end of the war, the Conservative MP Hume-Williams expressed the view that was to characterise the post-war debate. He described the court martial process as ‘not consonant with the ordinary principles of English justice.’60

61But even the critics did not deny on principle the legitimacy of the court martial procedure. Their apprehension was that cases of injustice might weaken the people in their power of endurance. The government’s reaction to the numerous questions posed was basically always the same and was dictated by the War Office. The legal procedures were fair and a right of appeal unnecessary. Furthermore, if there were a delay in carrying out a sentence, it lost much of its deterrent effect. Therefore, during the war there were no substantial changes to military law.

62Even after the war, the prevailing view in the Conservative and Liberal camps was that the practice of military law during the war had basically been satisfactory and that criticism was only justified in a few regrettable cases. However, Major Christopher Lowther, on the left wing of the Tories, compared the way in which military and civil law had developed as follows:

  • 61 Ibid., col. 110.

The procedure is old-fashioned and out of date. It does not compare with civil procedure the least bit in the world. It seems a very curious thing that our Army, which is perhaps the most modern, the most up-to-date, and certainly the best disciplined among the finest fighting forces in the world, should be so much behindhand in the administration of its justice.61

  • 62 Ibid., col. 119.

63During the course of the war, the traditional structures of the British army and its legal procedures, orientated towards a small professional army, had proved unsuitable for the state of affairs in the 20th century, with an army whose social composition had been completely changed by mass mobilisation. Recognising this fact, the aforementioned Major Hurst called for a sort of ‘belated modernisation’ whereby those principles fought for over centuries in the civilian sphere would also be applied to the army, not least in order to ensure that society’s attitude towards the army was essentially positive. He described the activities of the courts martial as ‘contrary to the main currents of public opinion, which it is very important to conciliate if the Army is to be a success’.62 The aim of all this was that the soldier should really be perceived as a citizen. The Labour MP Palmer formulated this in a very impressive way:

  • 63 Ibid., vol. 127: col. 1984.

The less we demand that any one who comes into the army shall surrender his fundamental citizen rights […] the more we shall make the army popular and the more we shall ensure that if once again we have to face a foe we shall face it with an army even better disciplined and with a higher morale than the glorious army which from the year 1914 down to 1918 fought for us.63

  • 64 For the following cf. McHugh 1999.

64The number of MPs who were no longer prepared to accept this discrepancy between the civilian and military spheres gradually increased. Matters of principle were mixed here with the purely pragmatic consideration that an army broadly anchored in society would be more successful in a war than one that was estranged from civilian society. It was essentially thanks to Ernest Thurtle and a small group of backbench Labour MPs who sustained their parliamentary campaign in the face of opposition from the military establishment, the Conservatives, and finally the House of Lords.64 A first proposal for the restricted use of the death penalty was put to Parliament in 1924, but it was not until 1928 that it was abolished for most offences – apart from mutiny, treason, and desertion. It was another two years before the death penalty was also abolished for desertion. This was a victory for a small, committed group of MPs around Thurtle, not for public opinion, which had basically lost interest in this seemingly marginal issue from a now distant war. The decision reached in April 1930 proved to be irreversible, despite criticism and attempts to have it revised. In the Second World War, although the military situation was often extremely precarious, only four soldiers were executed for mutiny or treason, and not a single one for desertion (French 1998).

65It was only in the 1990s, however, that the application of military law during the First World War, long a peripheral matter, vaulted from the field of grassroots activism to the legislative, executive, and judicial arenas of government. The pardon campaign in Britain culminated in a blanket pardon for soldiers executed for cowardice and desertion during the First World War. The pardon came into effect in 2006 (Peifer 2007).

4. Conclusion

66The phenomenon of desertion is a classic example of the gulf that can exist between real events and the way they are interpreted, not only synchronically, through the comparison of two armies and societies, but also diachronically, with changing times. In quantitative terms, in both the British and the German armies, desertion was a marginal problem which did not significantly influence the course of the war. This is true of the British Army, but also for the German Army, despite the obvious signs of disintegration from 1917 up to the autumn of 1918. Since mechanised war could only be influenced to a limited degree even from headquarters, the great attention constantly paid to desertion reflects crisis awareness rather than an actual crisis. Thus the deserter was blamed for the hopeless military situation and became a scapegoat for the lack of success, the cause of defeat personified.

67Yet despite all this, the political system in Germany showed itself to be remarkably flexible, since the Reichstag did in fact have considerable rights of codetermination in the army. The most obvious example is the fact that during the war military laws were made more lenient on several occasions. However, there was no question of flexibility or willingness to be more democratic when it came to national minorities; significantly, these were limited along nationally or ethnically defined lines. In Britain, the harsh application of military law was not altered by legislators, but in a lengthy process driven by public opinion. Yet neither military leaders nor the government were prepared to accept any sort of official changes, thereby proving to be less flexible than in Germany.

68On the other hand, after the war there was a fairly pragmatic approach in Britain to the experiences of war. Ultimately civilian society appropriated the army, which up to then had been relatively autonomous, and imposed its own norms on the fighting forces. This shows the strength and solidarity of British society at that time which, though not immune to making mistakes, was capable of correcting itself.

69In Germany after 1918 a radical break with the old system seemed to take place, which, paradoxically, was to have fatal consequences in the long run. The debate about the abolition of military law polarised public opinion to a considerable extent, without any long-term ‘civilisation’ of society being achieved. Under National Socialism this issue then took on a new quality when it became part of the concept of a totalitarian restructuring of society. The idea of general crime prevention was radicalised to a degree that was not seen in other countries of central and Western Europe. In this attempt to adjust to the supposed exigencies of the next war, the harsh measures applied by the English seemed to be the key to success. On the other hand, the learning process that had taken place in Britain was completely ignored. The crucial point for the way things were to develop was thus the learning process after the First World War. In Britain the army was domesticated and integrated into the socio-political system. But in Germany there was no broad consensus as to the basis of society. The result was a constricted and inhumane adjustment to the exigencies of the modern age because, as in other countries with totalitarian and inhumane tendencies, there were insufficient socio-political control mechanisms. The attempt to balance modernisation and democratisation of society failed. For better or for worse, military justice in Britain and Germany respectively had played a part in this course of events.

Bibliographie

Bibliography

Babington, Anthony, 1993 [first published 1983]. For the Sake of Example: Capital Courts Martial 1914-1920. London, Leo Cooper.

Barth, Boris, 2003. Dolchstoßlegende und politische Desintegration: Das Trauma der deutschen Niederlage im Ersten Weltkrieg 1914-1933. Düsseldorf, Droste.

Bröckling, Ulrich and Sikora, Michael (ed.), 1998. Armeen und ihre Deserteure: Vernachlässigte Kapitel einer Militärgeschichte der Neuzeit. Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Coppard, George, 1969. With a Machine Gun to Cambrai: The Tale of a Young Tommy in Kitchener’s Army, 1914-1918. London, HMSO.

Cornwall, Mark, 2000. The Undermining of Austria-Hungary: The Battle for Hearts and Minds. Basingstoke, Macmillan.

Crozier, Frank P., 1930. A Brass hat in No Man’s land. London, Jonathan Cape.

Deist, Wilhelm, 1991. “Der militärische Zusammenbruch des Kaiserreichs. Zur Realität der ‘Dolchstoßlegende’”, in W. Deist, Militär, Staat und Gesellschaft: Studien zur preußisch-deutschen Militärgeschichte. Munich, Oldenburg: 211-233.

Denman, Terence, 1991. “The Catholic Irish Soldier in the First World War: the ‘Racial Environment’”, Irish Historical Studies, 27/108: 352-365.

— 1992. Ireland’s unknown Soldiers: The 16th (Irish) Division in the Great War 1914-1918. Dublin, Irish Academic Press.

Dolden, Stuart A., 1980. Cannon Fodder: An Infantryman’s Life on the Western Front 1914-1918. Blandford, Poole.

Dunn, James C., 1989. The War the Infantry Knew 1914-1919: A Chronicle of Service in France and Belgium with the Second Battalion, His Majesty’s-Twenty-Third Foot, the Royal Welch Fusiliers. London, Reprint Cardinal.

Englander, David, 1997. “Discipline and Morale in the British army, 1917-1918”, in J. Horne (ed.), State, Society and Mobilization in Europe during the First World War. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 125-143.

Ewing, Keith D. and Gearty, Conor A., 2000. The Struggle for Civil Liberties: Political Freedom and the Rule of Law in Britain, 1914-1945. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Fitzpatrick, David, 1995. “The Logic of Collective Sacrifice: Ireland and the British Army, 1914-1918”, The Historical Journal, 38/4: 1017-1030.

Fraenkel, Ernst, 1941. The Dual State. A Contribution to the Theory of Dictatorship. New York, Oxford University Press.

French, David, 1998. “Discipline and the Death Penalty in the British Army in the War against Germany during the Second World War”, Journal of Contemporary History, 33/4: 531-545.

Gat, Azar, 1990. “Ardant du Picq’s Scientism, Teaching and Influence”, War & Society, 8/2: 1-16.

Gibson, Kenneth Craig, 1998. Relations between the British Army and the Civilian Populations on the Western Front, 1914-1918, Thesis Ph. D., University of Leeds (School of History). Leeds, University of Leeds.

Howard, Michael, 1986. “Men against Fire: The Doctrine of the Offensive in 1914”, in P. Paret (eds) in collaboration with A. Gordon and F. Gilbert, Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, Oxford, Clarendon: 510-526.

Jahr, Christoph, 1998. Gewöhnliche Soldaten: Desertion und Deserteure im deutschen und britischen Heer 1914-1918. Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

— 1999. “Bei einer geschlagenen Armee ist der Klügste, wer zuerst davonläuft. Das Problem der Desertion im deutschen und britischen Heer 1918”, in J. Duppler and G. P. Groß (eds). Kriegsende 1918. Ereignis, Wirkung, Nachwirkung. Munich, Oldenburg: 241-271.

— 2002. “Militärjustiz als Steuerungsinstrument soldatischen Verhaltens in den Weltkriegen 1914 bis 1918 und 1939 bis 1945”, in B. Thoß and H. -E. Volkmann (eds), Erster Weltkrieg – Zweiter Weltkrieg. Ein Vergleich. Paderborn, Schöningh: 323-334.

Kästner, Albrecht (ed.), 1987, Revolution und Heer: Auswirkungen der großen sozialistischen Oktoberrevolution auf das Heer des imperialistischen deutschen Kaiserreichs 1917/18. Dokumente. Berlin (East), Militärverlag der DDR.

Kramer, Alan, 1997. “Wackes at War: Alsace-Lorraine and the Failure of German National Mobilization, 1914-1918”, in J. Horne (ed.), State, Society and Mobilization in Europe during the First World War. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 105-121.

Lipp, Anne, 2003. Meinungslenkung im Krieg. Kriegserfahrungen deutscher Soldaten und ihre Deutung 1914-1918. Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Mchugh, John, 1999. “The Labour Party and the Parliamentary Campaign to Abolish the Military Death Penalty, 1916-1930”, The Historical Journal, 42/1: 233-249.

Muenger, Elizabeth A., 1991. The British military Dilemma in Ireland: Occupation politics 1886-1914. Lawrence, University Press of Kansas.

Oram, Gerard, 1998a. Death sentences passed by military courts of the British Army, 1914-1924, ed. Julian Putkowski with a preface by Andrew Mackinlay. London, Francis Boutle Publishers.

— 1998b. Worthless Men: Race, Eugenics and the Death Penalty in the British Army during the First World War. London, Francis Boutle Publishers.

— 2001. “‘ The Administration of discipline by the English is very rigid’: British Military Law and the Death Penalty (1868-1918)”, Crime, Histoire et Sociétés/Crime, History and Societies, 5/1: 93-110.

Peifer, Douglas, 2007. “The Past in the Present: Passion, Politics, and the Historical Profession in the German and British Pardon Campaigns”, The Journal of Military History, 71/4: 1107-1132.

Petter, Wolfgang, 1994. “Temporary Gentlemen in the Aftermath of the Great War: Rank, Status and the Ex-Officer Problem”, The Historical Journal, 37: 127-152.

Putkowski, Julian and Sykes, Julian, 1993. Shot at Dawn: Executions in World War One by authority of the British Army Act. London, Leo Cooper.

Richert, Dominik, 1989. Beste Gelegenheit zum Sterben: Meine Erlebnisse im Kriege 1914-1918, ed. by A. Tramitz and B. Ulrich. Munich, Knesebeck & Schuler.

Rissom, Carl, 1909. “Militärgerichtsbarkeit und Kommandogewalt”, Archiv für Strafrecht und Prozeßrecht, 56: 168-183.

Schwinge, Erich, 1940. Die Entwicklung der Mannszucht in der deutschen, britischen und französischen Wehrmacht seit 1914. Berlin, Schweitzer.

Simkins, Peter, 1985. “Soldiers and Civilians: Billeting in Britain and France”, in I. Beckett and K. Simpson (eds), A Nation in Arms. A social Study of the British Army in the First World War. Manchester, Manchester University Press: 166-191.

— 1996. “The War Experience of a Typical Kitchener-Division: The 18th Division”, in C. Hugh and P. H. Liddle (eds), Facing Armageddon. The First World War Experienced. London, Leo Cooper: 297-313.

Speer Lemisko, Lynn, 1992. Politics, Performance and Morale: 16th Irish Division, 1914-1918, M. A. thesis, University of Calgary (Department of History). Calgary, University of Calgary.

Stuart-smith, James, 1963. “Without Partiality, Favour or Affection. An Account of the History and Present Functions of the Judge Advocate at a British Court Martial”, Revue de droit pénal militaire, 2: 223-248.

— 1969. “Military Law: Its History, Administration and Practice”, Law Quarterly Review, 85: 478-504.

Suard, Vincent, 1994. “La justice militaire française et la peine de mort au début de la Première Guerre mondiale”, Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, 41/1: 136-152.

Überegger, Oswald, 2003. “Auf der Flucht vor dem Krieg. Tiroler und Trentiner: Deserteure im Ersten Weltkrieg”, Militärgeschichtliche Zeitschrift, 62/2: 355-393.

Van Den Bergh, Max, 1934. Das deutsche Heer vor dem Weltriege: Eine Darstellung und Würdigung. Berlin, Sanssouci.

Vaughan, William E. (ed.), 1996. A New History of Ireland, vol. 6: Ireland under the Union, II: 1870-1921. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Volkmann, Erich O., 1925. Der Marxismus und das deutsche Heer im Weltkriege. Berlin, Reimar Hobbing.

— 1929. “Soziale Heeresmissstände als Mitursache des deutschen Zusammenbruchs im Jahre 1918”, in Die Ursachen des deutschen Zusammenbruchs im Jahre 1918. Berlin, Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft für Politik und Geschichte: 11/2.

Watson, Alexander, 2008. Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914-1918. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Wyndham, Childs Sir, 1930. Episodes and Reflections: being some records from the life of Major-General Sir Wyndham Childs, […] one time second Lieut. 2nd Volunteer Battalion the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. London, Cassell.

Ziemann, Benjamin, 1996. “Fahnenflucht im deutschen Heer 1914-1918”, Militärgeschichtliche Mitteilungen, 55: 93-130.

Notes

1 Rupprecht von Bayern, Mein Kriegstagebuch, ed. by Eugen von Frauenholz, 3 vols, Berlin: Mittler, 1929, ii. 402. This paper was first presented in 1999 at the German Historical Institute, in London, which provided me invaluable support during several stages of my research; I am also indebted to Julian Putkowski and Gerard C. Oram for their learned comments, and to Jane Rafferty for the translation.

2 Chef des Generalstabs des Feldheeres (ChGFH), 1 August 1918, Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv-Kriegsarchiv Munich (BKA), 4. I. D., vol. 89, Akt 1.

3 ChGFH, 1st August 1918, BKA, 4. I. D., vol. 89.

4 Manual of Military Law (War Office), London 1914, Section III. 13, highlights by the author.

5 Statement of Sir Arnold Wilson before the Oliver Committee, 17 May 1938, National Archives (NA, former Public Record Office), WO 225/5: 9.

6 Memorandum on the various Methods of Punishment adopted in Foreign Armies for Soldiers in the Field: 6, NA, WO 32/6045.

7 Maasgruppe Ost, 1st November 1916, BKA, 4. I. D., vol. 86.

8 War Diary, p. 115, Imperial War Museum (IWM), R. S. Cockburn-Papers, RSC 1/1.

9 An ear-witness’ testimony, BKA, MilGer 6479, 2.

10 Publication of the judgment, 9 March 1915, BKA, Gericht stv. 3. I. B., Courts Martial Record Derwart, 48.

11 NA, WO 71/406.

12 NA, WO 71/390.

13 E. g. NA, WO 71/447 and/393.

14 Interrogation, 12 June 1916, BKA, MilGer 6259, 3.

15 BKA, HS 2348.

16 Cf. NA, WO 90/6 and 8.

17 A similar picture can be drawn for deserters in the Austro-Hungarian Army, cf. Überegger, 2003: 355-393.

18 Cf. Oram, 1998a; Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire during the Great War 1914-1918, London (War Office), 1922.

19 General Routine Order Nr. 585, 31 January 1915 (ACI, 27 January 1915), in: Extracts from General Routine Orders issued to the British Armies in France by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, Part I, London, 1918: 59.

20 Both quotes House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates. Official Reports, 5th Series, London, vol. 113, Col. 118f.

21 Both quotes MP Wood, 11 March 1921, ibid., vol. 150, Col. 863.

22 Ibid., vol. 113, Col. 117.

23 Ltn.-Col. Frank Maxwell, letter to his wife, 26 July 1916, quoted in Simkins 1996: 305.

24 For 1918 see Jahr 1999.

25 ChGFH, 16 January 1918, Sächsisches Hauptstaatsarchiv-Kriegsarchiv, Dresden (SKA), 9658, 1; cf. ChGFH, 19 november 1917, in Kästner 1987: 27-28 and ChGFH, 21 July 1918, in ibid.: 59-60.

26 British Intelligence Report, Petrograd 13 July 1918, NA, FO 175/6.

27 GQM-OHL, 25 July 1917, BA-MA, N 234/6, p. 11; cf. A. O. K. 5, BKA, 2. I. D., vol. 119; Chef stv. Generalstab IIIb, 24 August 1917, Hauptstaatsarchiv-Stuttgart, Militärarchiv (WMA), M30/1-20.

28 ChGFH, 12 March 1918, BKA, 4. I. D., vol. 96.

29 Cf. stv. Generalstab, 5 June 1917, BKA, MKr 11484.

30 Cf. stv. Generalkommando (s. G. K.) XIV. Armee-Korps (A. K.), 29 August 1918, Badisches Generallandesarchiv, Karlsruhe, 456F8-62; cf. ChGFH, 3.9.1918, WMA, M30/1-106.

31 Cf. Preußisches Kriegsministerium (PKM), 22 July 1918, quoted in Revolution und Heer, Doc. 28: 60-63; PKM, 22 July 1918, in ibid., Doc. 29: 63-64; ChGFH, 9 August 1918, BKA, 4. I. D., vol. 89; PKM, 15 August 1918, ibid., 2. I. D., vol. 119; PKM, 21 August 1918, SKA, 23492, 50; ChGFH, 24 August 1918, BKA, 4. I. D., vol. 89; PKM, 28 August 1918, ibid., 75; PKM, 8 September 1918, ibid.: 90; 242. I. D., 16 October 1918, WMA, M1/7-28; PKM, 24 September 1918, SKA, 23492: 93.

32 Cf. British balloon propaganda, 2nd report, 16 August-10 September 1918, NA, WO 32/5143.

33 Cf. Liaison Officer Army Group Rupprecht at 4th Army Head Quarter, 15 October 1918, BKA, HgrRuppr, vol. 175 and ChGFH, 8 November 1918, ibid.

34 Probably the most thorough study of the Dolchstoßlegende is Boris Barth 2003.

35 Cf. Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army which participated in the War (1914-1918). Compiled from Records of Intelligence Section of the General Staff, American Expeditionary Forces, at General Headquarters Chaumont/France 1919, Reprint London, 1989.

36 All following quotes from BKA, MilGer 6242, 67f.

37 BKA, HS 2348.

38 Armee-Abteilung Woyrsch, 6 August 1917, WMA, M 30/1-73.

39 S. G. K. XXI. A. K., 7 April 1917, WMA, M30/1-50.

40 Cf. G. K. XIII. A. K., 27 February 1918, WMA, M33/2-682; 84. I. D., 24 April 1918, WMA, M30/1-117.

41 Ibid.

42 4. I. D., 18 June 1918, ibid.

43 Verhandlungen des Reichstags. Stenographische Berichte und Drucksachen (VdR). Berlin, 1872, vol. 313: 5457.

44 Cf. Denman, 1992: 141-152; Lemisko, 1992: 41-88; War memoirs, 25, IWM, J. W. Roworth-Papers.

45 Report to the War Office, 13 May 1917, NA, WO 32/9574, quoted in Denman 1992: 151.

46 Ibid.

47 Cf. ibid.: 166, 180-181.

48 VdR, vol. 307: 931, and ibid., vol. 317: 395.

49 Cf. PKM, 13 July 1916, BKA, 2. I. D. vol. 119.

50 VdR, vol. 309: 2887.

51 ‘Bemerkungen zu Caprivi, Disziplin und Strafen im Weltkriege’, 5 [about 1940], BA-MA W-10/50606.

52 Cf. VdR, vol. 309: 3048, 3071, 3076; VdR, vol. 321: 1440; vol. 310: 3498, 16.5.1917; cf. vol. 321: 1439-1442; VdR, vol. 311: 3999, 4097-4098, 4105-4107 and 4135.

53 VdR, vol. 312: 5385, 11 June 1918.

54 Report of the 35th committee on a draft of the ‘Gesetz, betreffend Milderung im Militärstrafgesetzbuch’, 4 July 1918, VdR, vol. 325: 2498.

55 Cf. PKM, 22 July 1918, BKA, MKr 11040.

56 Cf. ChGFH, 16 August 1918, quoted in Volkmann 1925: 314-315.

57 PKM (undated), quoted in ChGFH, 30 August 1918, BKA, HGrRuppr, vol. 17.

58 Cf. House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates. Official Reports, 5th Series, London, for example: vol. 77: col. 1578f, ibid., vol. 82: col. 128f; ibid., vol. 98: col. 1954.

59 Cf. ibid., vol. 80: col. 815; vol. 88: col. 1286f; vol. 90: col. 2201 sq. and 2233.

60 Cf. ibid., vol. 105: col. 824.

61 Ibid., col. 110.

62 Ibid., col. 119.

63 Ibid., vol. 127: col. 1984.

64 For the following cf. McHugh 1999.

Table des illustrations

Titre Diagram 1: Charges and Convictions for Desertion, BEF (Western Front)
Légende Source: Jahr 1998: 170.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2958/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 357k
Titre Diagram 2: Quota of Charges with Desertion, BEF (Western Front)
Légende Source: Jahr 1998: 171.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2958/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 302k
Titre Diagram 3: Sentences for Desertion passed by Courts Martial, BEF (Western Front)
Légende Source: Jahr 1998: 244.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2958/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 345k
Titre Diagram 4: Charges for Desertion/Absence without Leave, 2nd Division Bavarian
Légende Source: Jahr 1998: 157.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2958/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 268k
Titre Diagram 5: Charges for Desertion, Army Group Duke Albrecht of Württemberg
Légende Source: Jahr, 1998: 278.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2958/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 316k

Auteur

Private lecturer at the Humboldt University Berlin. He has studied History, Political Studies, and German in Freiburg and Berlin. His major publications include: Antisemitismus vor Gericht. Debatten über die juristische Ahndung judenfeindlicher Agitation in Deutschland (1879-1960), Frankfurt a. M., 2011; Gewöhnliche Soldaten. Desertion und Deserteure im deutschen und britischen Heer 1914-1918, Göttingen, 1998; Lager vor Auschwitz. Gewalt und Integration im 20. Jahrhunderts, Berlin 2013 (co-edited with Jens Thiel); “Keine Feriengäste. ‘Feindstaatenausländer’ im südlichen Bayern während des Ersten Weltkrieges”, in Hermann J. W. Kuprian/Oswald Überegger (Hg.), Der Erste Weltkrieg im Alpenraum. Erfahrung, Deutung, Erinnerung/La Grande Guerra nell’arco alpino. Esperienze e memoria, Innsbruck, 2006, p. 231-245; “Ahlwardt on Trial: Reactions to the Antisemitic Agitation of the 1890s in Germany”, in Leo Baeck-Institute Year Book 48, 2003, p. 67-85; “Désertion et déserteurs dans la Grande Guerre. Phénomènes et groupe marginaux?”, in 14-18 Aujourd’hui, 4, 2001, p. 111-123

© Presses universitaires de Louvain, 2013

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search