Protest and Mutiny Confront Mass Slaughter: Europeans in World War I

Storming the beach at Omaha / Wikimedia Commons

By Dr. William A. Pelz
Professor of History
Elgin Community College

All wars give rise to myths and World War I is certainly no exception. In most Anglophone countries, people “know” that the war was caused by an aggressive and expansionist Germany. Yet much of the evidence suggests a much more nuanced picture.[1] Likewise, it is commonplace wisdom that the conflict was almost universally welcomed by the common people everywhere, with this support only weakening, if at all, at the very end of the fighting. Even a century later, many find evidence contrary to these ingrained beliefs hard to accept.[2] One radical argues that even right from the start, “the popularity of the war was not as widespread or deeply ingrained in the mass of ordinary people [as one might think].”[3] French socialists, in July 1914, agreed to “use every means at their disposal, including the general strike, to prevent a European war.”[4] In the week before the shooting started, hundreds of thousands demonstrated for peace in Germany.[5] Many of Europe’s leaders, like Kaiser Wilhelm II, thought that going to war would fan the flames of socialism.[6] At the other end of the social pyramid, Berlin metalworker Richard Müller saw no nationalist euphoria among workers and his view seems vindicated by recent research.[7]

Despite the protests, there were also significant pro-war feelings at various times and among diverse populations; one would do well to remember that much of this was orchestrated by ruling pro-war institutions. From the start, the British propaganda against Germany employed highly sexualized undertones. Concluding that legalistic discussions of treaty violations would fail to stir human emotions, the invasion of Belgium was conflated with images of sexual violation.[8] The promotion of the notion that the Germans were setting a new record for heartless atrocities against innocents such as women and children became a major campaign. As early as June 1915, it is estimated that the British government had already distributed 2,500,000 copies of printed material in 17 different languages.[9] Another ironic example of the pro-war propaganda was the recruitment of Mussolini, then working as a journalist in Milan, by British MI5. His job was to publish pro-war propaganda and pay Italian veterans to attack peace protesters. For these services to (another country’s) king and country, the British treasury weekly paid the future fascist dictator what would amount to £6,000 in twenty-first-century terms.[10] Of course, some people caught war fever, but as an eminent British historian observed, the “myth that European men leapt at the opportunity to defeat a hated enemy has been comprehensively dispelled. In most places and for most people, the news of mobilization came as a profound shock, a ‘pearl of thunder out of a cloudless sky.’”[11] Mass disbelief was followed by fear, confusion and fatigue certainly, but also by resentment and even fury.

Before discussing the war itself, a brief analysis of why it broke out is in order. First, certain possibilities can be eliminated. It was not merely about an assassination, as Europe had sadly seen a number of important people
murdered without a war ensuing. The war wasn’t about race as it was fought mainly by Europeans and colonial people dragged into the fight by their European overlords. It was not about religion as French Catholic killed
German Catholic, German Protestant slaughtered English Protestant, Arab Muslim attacked Turkish Muslim and Jews fought for their nation regardless of its predominant creed. Many other circumstances worked in tandem to spark the war. One enabling factor was that the European rulers had to a large extent forgotten how destructive war could be. With the notable exceptions of the Crimean War (1853–56) and the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), the European powers had either been at peace or had only fought ill-equipped “natives” in colonial wars since the Napoleonic War ended at Waterloo in 1815.

What had changed in the century since Napoleon’s defeat was the industrialization of much of Europe with resulting economic competition. Even US President Woodrow Wilson commented, “… is there any man
or any woman—let me say any child, who does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?”[12] Nor did this competition take place solely within national boundaries. By the early twentieth century, there were numerous industrial or financial organizations that destabilized the international political arena. For these companies, there was no limit to their accumulation of capital since “the ‘natural frontiers’ of Standard Oil, the Deutsche Bank or DeBeers Diamond Corporation were at the ends of the universe, or rather at the limits of their capacity to expand.”[13]

Economic warfare had led to imperialism and the search for colonies across the planet. Approximately a quarter of the earth’s landmass fell to the onslaught of a handful of dominant nations, while the formerly independent inhabitants were reduced to the status of colonial subjects with few rights. In the period from 1876 to 1915, Britain alone amassed 4,000,000 square miles of new territories with France coming in a close second with 3,500,000. Even tiny Belgium and relatively weak Italy were able to carve out immense empires of slightly under a million square miles each. Germany, only unified in 1871 and a relative latecomer to the scramble for colonies, was still forceful enough to conquer a landmass of over a million square miles.

With the world divided up, the only way to gain more territory was through war. Britain planned on a transition from coal- to oil-fired ships and looked greedily at the rich oil fields belonging to Germany’s ally, the Ottoman Empire.[14] The ever-growing importance of oil led Britain’s foreign secretary to contend after the war that the “Allies floated to victory on a wave of oil.”[15] It may be more than coincidence that World War I was between one side that represented the vast majority of colonial empire owners versus Germany and her allies, who were devoid of overseas holdings.[16] None other than Lloyd George, Britain’s war leader, admitted that it was an imperialist war.[17]

Another factor leading up to the war was the alliance system whereby each nation was tied by treaty to other nations. The result was that what might have been a local conflict between Serbia and the Austro-Hungarian
Empire snowballed into a global conflict. These alliances deterred compromises that might have prevented the outbreak of hostilities. That is, might not little Serbia have backed down in the face of Austria-Hungary had it not had the backing of the czar’s Russia? Wouldn’t even France have thought longer about another war with Germany, if they had lacked the promise of British naval and military support, and wouldn’t Britain have insisted on serious peace efforts if they had lacked US financial support? Of course, it is commonplace for historians to point to the backing from Berlin that firmed up Austro-Hungarian resolve to punish Serbia as contributing to the pre-war crisis.

Arms races often precede wars and World War I was no exception. Germany’s frenzy of naval construction had deeply worried the Lords of the British Admiralty.[18] Some have argued that anxiety about German naval expansion, particularly as regards submarines, led Britain to enter a war they might have avoided, in order to destroy the German fleet. However, it would be a mistake to consider this the only arms race that encouraged Europe to drift into military conflict. All the major powers saw themselves running to keep up with their rivals, as boots on the ground were augmented with new technological innovations: machine guns, barbed wire, heavy artillery, telegrams, airplanes, and so on. War had become industrialized and it would be a race to produce large quantities of the new industrial killing machines as well as develop new and wonderful methods of dispatching the other side (for example poison gas).[19]

The Limehouse CID in disguise, c1911 / Wikimedia Commons

To add to all these pro-war pressures was the feeling some had that a war would rally to the nations their troublesome ethnic minorities, like the Irish in Britain, or the Slavs in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Likewise,
socialists or radical labor movements might be tamed with a sizable dose of nationalism stemming from armed international conflict. Failing that, the war would give Europe’s rulers the perfect excuse to repress all those who, in a manner of speaking, didn’t salute the flag. Before the guns of August began their murderous firing, Basil Thompson, chief of the British politically directed Criminal Investigation Department (CID), feared that “unless there was a European war to divert the current we were heading for something very like revolution.”[20] In a very similar mindset, one army officer wrote, “A good big war just now might do a lot of good in killing Socialist nonsense and would probably put a stop to all this labor unrest.”[21] What the common people of Europe got was not just war but repression and the suspension of most basic civil liberties. Even in famously tolerant Britain, by the end of the war people were being convicted for their beliefs “almost solely on the basis of military opinion.”[22] It has even been suggested that, despite real and important gains, in the process of supporting the war, British feminism “lost its ability to advocate equality and justice for women.”[23]

Once the shooting had begun, both sides initially thought that the war would be over if not by Christmas, certainly by the spring. Naturally, most on both sides assumed their own side would win. Reality soon intervened. The war was neither to be short in duration nor heroic fun as so many military recruiters had promised. Because the opposing armies bogged down into trench warfare after the initial German offensive was stopped outside of Paris, the fighting took on an almost otherworldly quality. Living for long periods in trenches, shared with lice, filth, mud and often their dead comrades, soldiers found the misery of everyday life almost as painful as actually fighting. “We are living the life of moles or rabbits,” wrote one British major, “the stench is awful, for there must be hundreds
of dead never collected … .”[24] During the lulls, the fighting continued to a certain extent with shooting at the enemy trenches. Given the closeness of the trenches and the lack of real hatred among many soldiers, it appears
that direct “communication of friendly sentiments was not uncommon.”[25] This often led to what have been called “Live and let Live” agreements, where the uniformed warriors simply refused to provoke firefights. As one scholar commented, “on many occasions tacit agreements existed between the opposing troops to restrict offensive activity.”[26]

During the first Christmas of the war, a strange (one is tempted to say surreal) series of events occurred at places all along the trenches. After months of attempting to murder and maim each other, soldiers decided that there should be a Christmas truce. Not only was the fighting suspended for a time, but enemies wandered tentatively into “no man’s land” to exchange greetings, gifts and even play sports together. Hushed up at the time and downplayed since, the truce actually took place. Although once called a “latrine rumor,” “eyewash” and far less polite things, it is now accepted that it not only took place but was far more extensive than once believed.[27] In 2005, the truce was dramatized in a $22 million European movie called Joyeux Noel. By 2014, a United States military collectors’ company issued a catalog offering “World War I Christmas Truce Figures” for sale.[28] At the
time, the warlords appear not to have taken such a kindly view towards their subordinates’ expressions of human solidarity. On December 29, 1914, the German high command forbade all fraternization and made approaches to
the enemy punishable as high treason. A few days later, the British warned that informal dealings with the enemy would result in court martial.[29] All the same, there was still some, limited fraternization during the Christmastime of 1915.[30]

Nor was fraternization limited to the Western Front. Often overshadowed by the later, greater drama of the 1917 Revolutions are earlier incidents of Russians communicating with German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers. “We send them sausage, white bread and cognac,” one 1915 letter to home reads, “the Germans give us cigarettes.”[31] It is, of course, tempting to see all such incidents as isolated and insignificant kinks in the otherwise well-functioning military machines possessed by all sides. Still for the pro-war rulers, these were dangerous seeds that might take root and lead to mutiny as, in fact, happened in Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, Germany and even Britain.[32] “If the truce had gone on and on, there’s no telling what could have happened. It could have meant the end of the war,” one British veteran remembered, “After all they didn’t want war, and we didn’t want war and it could have ended up by finishing the war altogether.”[33] Not very likely, but still an indication that many combatants were far less bloodthirsty than their rulers at home.

After the war, groups of former officers and some ultra-nationalist veterans attempted to make a great deal of noise about the nobility of sacrifice and comradeship of the trenches. One historian warns that it “would be hopelessly misleading to regard the testimony of literate, educated, upper-and middle-class combatants as descriptive of the war experience as a whole.”[34] Some soldiers, particularly socialists, saw the war as merely a harsher version of pre-war bourgeois society. “There was no comradeship in the trenches,” one British veteran remembered, “it was simply a case of members of the working classes held down by brutal and iron discipline. Different rations, different pay and different risk. The class line was as clear in France as it is at home … .”[35] Many argued that the war was the logical extension of proletarianization in civilian life; human beings in both cases being reduced to the handmaidens of machines.

Authors often quibble about the exact quantity of suffering on the battlefields of Europe, yet all the differing figures still point to an almost inconceivable number of dead, maimed and missing. Just look at the numbers in Table 8.1 below.

What these numbers fail to show, however, is that suffering extended beyond just those soldiers killed and wounded, to the qualitative horrors of trench warfare. The terrible emotional and psychological impact of industrialized warfare resulted in scars less obvious, but no less real, than those caused by bayonets. Simply put, some soldiers lost a leg or an arm, while others forfeited their joy of life, their nerves, or even their minds
completely. Angst, anxiety, worry became a long-term or even permanent condition for millions.[36]

Tomb of Louis Barthas in Peyriac-Minervois, Southern France / Wikimedia Commons

While pro-war narratives and mainstream cinema have stressed the frontline soldier’s noble courage, the reality as seen by the rank and file was often quite different. One French veteran in his 1916 autobiographical novel Under Fire, confronts this attitude: “They’ll tell you: ‘my friend, you were a great hero!’ … Heroes? Some kind of extraordinary people? Idols? Come off it! We were executioners. We did our job as honest killers … military glory is not even true for us ordinary soldiers.”[37] Another Frenchman, Louis Barthas, was a worker and political radical re-minted by his government in 1914 as a corporal. He witnessed an attack order issued in circumstances where it was little short of madness. Rather than viewing this as stoic patriotism, Barthas describes the scene as heartbreaking: “In the trench, the men trembled, wept, pleaded. ‘I have three children,’ cried one. ‘Mama, mama,’ said another, sobbing. ‘Have mercy, have pity,’ one could hear. But the commandant, out of control, revolver in hand, cursed and threatened to send the laggards to the gallows.”[38] Barthas goes on to recount that the men were given a reprieve when their commanding officer fell over, a bullet through his head. Barthas says no more, leading the reader to assume it was a German sniper but perhaps it was not.

Even early in the conflict, there were a large number of officers who appear to have been killed by their own men. The military high command didn’t broadcast this fact nor, for rather obvious reasons, did the soldiers who shot them. This seems to have mainly occurred to particularly cruel officers who treated their men with hostility and disdain. But it also happened to sadistic leaders who mistreated the “enemy.” German soldier Julius Koettgen reported instances early in the war in which officers ordered that defeated French combatants be killed rather than made prisoners. Koettgen wrote:

… not all the soldiers approved of that senseless, that criminal murdering. Some of the “gentlemen” who had ordered us to massacre our French comrades were killed “by mistake” in the darkness of the night, by their own people, of course. Such “mistakes” repeat themselves almost daily … .[39]

In his memoirs, William Hermanns who was a German veteran of the Western Front, reported on the hatred felt towards many officers. Marching on the way to the battlefield of Verdun, “… [he] first heard the whispered slogan ‘A bullet from the rear is just as good as a bullet from the front.’”[40] The war took an almost unbelievable emotional and psychological toll on the people at the front. One French soldier told how, when he

… took a couple of steps to the left, I saw, as if hallucinating, a pile of corpses … At the entrance to the connecting trench, leaning on the slope, was a young German who looked like he was asleep. There was no visible wound. Death had brushed him with its wing, and preserved the smile which still marked his youthful face.[41]

Little wonder that one author concluded one “should not rule out the possibility that almost half of the survivors sustained more or less serious psychological disturbance.”[42] This is famously on display in the war art of
German veteran Otto Dix.[43] Jay Winter argues that “Dix represents every possible manifestation of dehumanization: madness, mutilation, horrific wounds, putrescent corpses, rapes, civilian casualties, sexual depravity, wretchedness.”[44]

Nor was the pain limited solely to those in uniform. Besides the obvious suffering caused by artillery shelling and the like, the stationing of German, British and other, soldiers outside their home country inevitably led to various crimes, both petty and major, against the occupied civilian population.[45] In the Ottoman Empire,[46] a form of genocide was carried out against Armenian civilians whose Christian beliefs had made them suspect. Even those civilians left unmolested saw their lives turned upside down, as witnessed by women who were thrown into dangerous factory war work.[47] In Britain, many female armaments workers were poisoned by TNT or other materials they had to handle.[48] For Germany and its allies, the war meant civilians would be starved, frequently to death, by the British naval blockade of formerly food-importing nations.[49] If German industrial growth had threatened Britain’s claim to economic supremacy, it handed the Royal Navy a potential hostage, “in the form of a German urban working class.”[50] The resulting illness and death may have even been decisive in the outcome of the war.[51]

For some people, the war was added incentive to attempt to redress ancient wrongs. In the “jewel in the crown” of the British Empire, Indian rebels hatched a number of conspiracies to promote revolt. One of the more significant was the Ghadar Mutiny, focused on the British Indian Army and planned for February 1915.[52] Troops in the Punjab were detailed to kill their officers and seize arms. This was to be followed by other armed risings by Indian troops. The whole plot, with its connections to overseas Indian expatriates, Irish rebels and the German government, was discovered by British spies and nipped in the bud.[53] About half of the 5th Light Infantry stationed in Singapore actually revolted, but within a week were crushed. Several hundred mutineers were arrested and 47 sent to public execution by firing squad.

“England’s difficulty,” it was said, “is Ireland’s opportunity.” During Easter week 1916, there was an armed insurrection in Dublin in the vain hope that it would end British rule. The Easter Rebellion saw the occupation of vital positions throughout Dublin by armed Irish republicans. Hopelessly optimistic, if not naively romantic, the rebels had no real likelihood of seeing their poorly planned project succeed. The British armed forces had little difficulty in suppressing the unrest and they court-martialed and executed the rising’s leadership.[54] Hopeless though the uprising was, it sent shock waves through the Anglo-Saxon ruling circles. They feared what an uprising might bring next time, not just in Ireland but maybe elsewhere in the Empire.[55] In the French African colonies, mass recruitment resulted in drawing 450,000 soldiers and 135,000 factory workers to Europe.[56] Immigrant workers who replaced those called up to the frontlines in France made a valuable contribution to war production.[57] Even though no insurmountable problems arose, the French leader Clemenceau feared that these policies could provoke a mass revolt in France’s African colonies.[58]

Photograph of Evelyn Fürstin Blücher von Wahlstatt, c.1896 / Wikimedia Commons

Most scholars agree that given such international carnage, support for the war was tenuous; this went from bad to worse the longer the war dragged on. An Englishwoman married to a German prince, spent the war in Berlin and recorded her impressions in a diary. While such sources are always highly personalized and thus somewhat suspect, they can be useful for understanding the range of emotional responses to World War I and the general outlook of the populations. As early as autumn 1914, Princess Eveyln Blücher records many events that upset her privileged social circle. She reports of German soldiers, after being hit by sniper fire, being ordered to shoot into crowds of fleeing Belgian civilians so “many innocent perished with the guilty.” The much-respected Imperial German Army also comes in for criticism as the princess learns from a wounded German officer how “his regiment had been practically annihilated by their own side, through a mistake of his Colonel’s.”[59] By late 1915, the princess expresses the fear of many of the elite that “Germany will be a very difficult country to live in after the war, as, whether she wins or loses, the Socialists are going to revolt—I feel quite sure of that.”[60]

It was not only the German left who would revolt; even Cambridgeeducated British officers began to reject the war, as is clear in the following excerpt. After serving in the trenches and being wounded in action, Siegfried Sassoon wrote a protest saying the war had “become a war of aggression and conquest … I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.”[61] The Army decided it would be politically unwise to court-martial a brave and popular officer. Instead, they sent him off for psychological treatment arguing that his mind must have been ill if he opposed the war. Sassoon was told if he resisted he would be locked up in a lunatic asylum.[62] Of course, mutiny would soon grip the French and mutiny would lead to revolutions in the Russian Empire and elsewhere.

What led to such dire reactions on the part of presumably patriotic citizens in uniform? One vital factor was that the class conflict of industrial life was reproduced in the officer/enlisted men split in the trenches. Nor was this only true for such undemocratic societies as the Russians or the Ottomans, it was just as true for the British. “Between the [British] officer and the ranker there stood a gulf,” it has been argued, “which had no bridge.”[63] This was more than a matter of tradition or class prejudice. The actions of officers reinforced, over and over again, the difference between the privileged and the proletarians.

“What about the way the officers live, when not in action? Pheasant served on slices of pineapple, with champagne, is a mere item in a long menu,” wrote Princess Eveyln Blücher in 1915

… whilst others are starving. The bread they get is so hard that they cannot bite it, and often there is not even that. The injustice of all this is bound to make them cry out for equality and fairness, not that they should be sent out to fight other men, called enemies, who are just in the same plight as themselves.[64]

It was no different in the French Army, where officers commonly thought the men would work better if you gave them hardly “anything to eat.” At the same time, their officers drank, filled their bellies and were warm. In protest, French enlisted men attempted to report themselves sick, only to be refused by the medical officer. As they bitterly retreated from the officers, they began to sing the “Internationale,” the socialist hymn.[65]

While the 1917 mutinies in the Russian armies[66] that led to revolution are more celebrated, it is important to remember the mutiny of the French Army as well.[67] On April 16 of that historic year, French General Robert
Nivelle thought he could order a successful breakthrough that would take place within 48 hours of the first assault on German lines. Of course, he was wrong. Over a million men were sent to assault the enemy trenches in what has been called “France’s go-for-broke gamble to end World War I.”[68] The mass murderer, as he was known to some of his troops,[69] was too proud to admit his mistake and after ten days, France had lost upwards of 30,000 citizens in uniform. Next, the unthinkable happened. Units refused orders to attack. The soldiers were willing to defend their own trenches but not throw away their lives in suicidal and pointless heroics. Not all of the army was affected, but roughly 49 divisions of France’s 113 infantry divisions were mutinous. Louis Barthas described how one general who dared to harangue a group of mutineers

… was grabbed, slammed against a wall, and was just about to be shot, when a much-beloved commandant succeeded in saving the general … [the next day] they assembled us for departure to the trenches. Noisy demonstrations resulted: cries, songs, shout, whistling; of course, the “Internationale” was heard. I truly believe that if the officers had made one provocative gesture, said one word against the uproar, they would have been massacred without pity, so great was the agitation.[70]

Scenes like that described above doubtless took place throughout the French lines on the Western Front. The replacement of General Robert Nivelle by General Philippe Pétain saw the mutiny broken by a subtle combination of lethal repression and concessions to the troops, most importantly to end the hopeless attempts to overwhelm the enemy’s entrenched positions. Good political training for the man who would become Hitler’s puppet ruler of
unoccupied France after the Nazi victory in the Second World War.[71] The number of those executed may never be known. It appears that of over five hundred death sentences only about fifty were carried out. However, there remain recurring reports of mutinous soldiers shot out of hand and then listed as “killed in action.” More may be known if historians gain access to archives on the mutinies, which were scheduled to remain closed until 2017.[72] In any case, the mutiny remained a secret to the German high command or, more likely, they refused to believe intelligence reports saying common people had taken matters in their own hands.

Friedrich Adler, c.1917 / Wikimedia Commons

In the months to come, many ordinary Europeans would certainly defy the age-old stereotype of being docile and unthinking. Little wonder when one considers the suffering that almost all sectors beyond the rulers had endured since the outbreak of war. Russia may stand out as the example where mutiny led to victorious revolutions but it was only the weakest link in the European chain. Central Europeans were hardly much better off. Added to the losses on the battlefield, the home front was, by 1916, “defined by food shortage.” As early as March, a letter from Hamburg tells how queues of 600, 700 or 800 people formed outside shops whenever butter was delivered.[73] While all urban areas in central Europe suffered, Vienna probably was hardest hit. By 1917, a quarter of million people stood daily in one of 800 food lines spread throughout the city.[74] In Berlin, even the privileged could complain that everyone was “all growing thinner every day, and the rounded contours of the German nation have become a legend of the past. We are all gaunt and bony now, and have dark shadows round our eyes, and our thoughts are chiefly taken up with wondering what our next meal will be … .”[75] By the end of the war, 760,000 German civilians had died because of the food shortages caused by the British blockade.[76]

Friedrich Adler, a radical anti-war socialist, publicly shot a high Austro-Hungarian official in October 1916. At his trial, Adler damningly indicted the rulers for waging war without the people’s consent. Although sentenced to death, Adler’s sentence was commuted to 18 years because of the wide support the assassin enjoyed among the working class and even beyond.[77] While this act was exceptional, the feelings that motivated it were not. It can be argued that World War I, even allowing for the new industrial technology, was no more brutal or murderous than any number of previous wars. What may have been more unique was the level of collective anti-war opposition to it.[78]

Be that as it may, by 1916, perhaps 1917 at the latest, Europeans in war-locked nations were tired of the conflict. The populace was tired and more than a little angry at those they believed had begun the conflict, as well as those who were seen as profiting from it. Certainly, there were some who still bought into the romantic myths of the extreme right, for example Adolf Hitler, who at this point was an insignificant corporal in the war. Yet, one wonders if these supporters were as common as was later claimed. What is not in dispute is that the war gave birth to anti- war agitation throughout the continent of Europe. In turn, these peace movements evolved towards revolution, as millions came to believe that their rulers wouldn’t end the war. In the face of such belief, the response was that they must dispose of the rulers themselves.


1. Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914, New York: HarperCollins, 2013.

2. Note the slightly mocking tone of Rob Hughes, “Tale of 1914 Christmas Day Truce Is Inspiring, Though Hard to Believe,” New York Times, December 23, 2014.

3. Dave Sherry, Empire and Revolution: A Socialist History of the First World War, London: Bookmarks, 2014: 54.

4. Harvey Goldberg, The Life of Jean Jaurès, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968: 461.

5. Jeffrey Verhey, The Spirit of 1914: Militarism, Myth and Mobilization in Germany, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003: 55.

6. Clark, The Sleepwalkers, 183.

7. Ralf Hoffrogge, Working-Class Politics in the German Revolution: Richard Müller, the Revolutionary Shop Stewards and the Origins of the Council Movement, Leiden: Brill, 2015: 25.

8. Nicoletta F. Gullace, “Sexual violence and family honor: British propaganda and international law during the First World War,” The American Historical Review, 102(3), June 1997: 723–5.

9. Gullace, “Sexual Violence,” 717.

10. Ben Jackson, “Review of MI5 in the Great War,” London Review of Books, 37(2), January 22, 2015: 24.

11. Clark, The Sleepwalkers, 553.

12. Wilson was fond of this statement and used it in many speeches. See, for example, The Nation, 111, 1920: 371.

13. Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, 1875–1914, New York: Vintage Books, 1987: 318.

14. Clark, The Sleepwalkers, 337.

15. Sherry, Empire and Revolution, 23.

16. W.E. Burghardt DuBois, “The African Roots of War,” The Atlantic Monthly, 115 (5), May 1915: 707–14.

17. Richard Rathbone, “World War I and Africa,” The Journal of African History, 19(1), 1978: 4.

18. Martin Gilbert, A History of the Twentieth Century, Vol. I: 1900–1933, New York: William Morrow, 1997.

19. David Stevenson, Armaments and the Coming of the War, Europe 1904–1914, New York: Clarendon Press, 1996, and David Herrmann, The Arming of Europe and the Making of the First World War, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.

20. Adam Hochschild, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914–1918, New York: Mariner Books, 2011: 70.

21. Ibid., 71.

22. Brook Millman, “HMG and the war against dissent, 1914–18,” Journal of Contemporary History, 40(3), 2005: 439.

23. Susan Kingsley Kent, “The politics of sexual difference: World War I and the demise of British feminism,” Journal of British Studies, 27(3), 1988: 253.

24. “A letter from the trenches,” The Advocate of Peace, 77(10), November 1915: 252.

25. A.E. Ashworth, “The sociology of trench warfare 1914–18,” The British Journal of Sociology, 19(4), December, 1968: 408.

26. Ibid., 421.

27. Malcolm Brown and Shirley Seaton, Christmas Truce: The Western Front December 1914, London: Pan Books, 1994: xxi.

28. Military Issue, Holiday 2014, Minneapolis: 1–2.

29. Brown and Seaton, Christmas Truce, 163.

30. Ibid., 196–206.

31. Marc Ferro et al., Meetings in No Man’s Land, Christmas 1914 and Fraternization in the Great War, London: Constable & Robinson, 2007: 212.

32. Gloden Dalas and Douglas Gill, The Unknown Army: Mutinies in the British Army in World War I, London: Verso, 1985.

33. Ferro et al., Meetings in No Man’s Land, 8.

34. Eric J. Leed, “Class and disillusionment in World War I,” Journal of Modern History, 50(4), December 1978: 682.

35. Ibid., 681.

36. E.J. Leed, No Man’s Land: Combat and Identity in World War I, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. For more on the psychological damage on the men who fought it, see Michéle Barrett, Casualty Figures: How Five Men Survived the First World War, London: Verso, 2007.

37. Henri Barbusse, Under Fire, New York: Penguin Books, 2004: 317.

38. Louis Barthas, Poilus: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker, 1914–1918, trans. Edward M. Strauss, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014: 48.

39. Julius Koettgen, A German Deserter’s War Experience: Fighting for the Kaiser in the First World War, Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword Military, 2013: 69.

40. William Hermanns, The Holocaust: From a Survivor of Verdun, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1972: 61.

41. Barthas, Poilus, 80.

42. Annette Becker, 1914–1918: Understanding the Great War, London: Profile Books: 25–6.

43. Paul Fox, “Confronting postwar shame in Weimar Germany: Trauma, heroism and the war art of Otto Dix,” Oxford Art Journal, 29(2), 2006: 247–67.

44. Ibid., 250.

45. Craig Gibson, Behind the Front, British Soldiers and French civilians, 1914–1918, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

46. For more on this fatally declining empire, see Eugene Rogan, The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914–1920, New York: Basic Books, 2015.

47. Deborah Thom, Nice Girls and Rude Girls: Women Workers in World War I, London: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 1998.

48. Ibid., 122–43.

49. Note the significance of food shortages in the Austro-Hungarian Empire: Maureen Healy, Vienna and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire: Total War and Everyday Life in World War I, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. For Germany, see C. Paul Vincent, The Politics of Hunger: Allied Blockade of Germany, 1915–1919, Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985.

50. Avner Offer, “The working classes, British naval plans and the coming of the Great War,” Past & Present, 107, May 1985: 226.

51. Marion C. Siney, “Britis0h official histories of the blockade of the Central Powers during the First World War,” The American Historical Review, 68(2), January 1963: 400–401.

52. Tilak R. Sareen, Secret Documents on Singapore Mutiny 1915, New Delhi: Mounto Publishing House, 1995. Also, see Harish K. Puri, “Revolutionary organization: A study of the Ghadar movement,” Social Scientist, 9(2/3), September–October 1980: 53–66.

53. Don Dignan, The Indian Revolutionary Problem in British Diplomacy, 1914–1919, New Delhi: Allied Publishers, 1983.

54. Donal Nevin, James Connolly, A Full Life: A Biography of Ireland’s Renowned Trade Unionist and Leader of the 1916 Easter Rising, Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2014.

55. Akinjide Osuntokun, “Disaffection and revolts in Nigeria during the First World War, 1914–1918,” Canadian Journal of African Studies, 5(2), Spring 1971: 171–92.

56. C.M. Andrew and A.S. Kanya-Forstner, “France, Africa, and the First World War,” The Journal of African History, 19(1), 1978: 23.

57. John Horne, “Immigrant workers in France during World War I,” French Historical Studies, 14(1), Spring 1985: 57–88.

58. Andrew and Kanya-Forstner, “France, Africa, and the First World War,” 15.

59. Princess Eveyln Blücher, An English Wife in Berlin, New York: E.P. Dutton & Company, 1920, 39.

60. Ibid., 93.

61. Siegfried Sassoon, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, New York: Penguin Books, 2013: 229.

62. Ibid., 245.

63. Dalas and Gill, The Unknown Army, 20.

64. Blücher, An English Wife in Berlin, 95.

65. Barthas, Poilus, 134–5.

66. Ferro, Meetings in No Man’s Land, 212–31.

67. Richard M. Watt, Dare Call it Treason: The True Story of the French Army Mutinies of 1917, New York: Dorset Press, 2001.

68. Rick Smith, “France commemorates a dark chapter in World War I history,” The New York Times, April 15, 2007.

69. Barthas, Poilus, 310.

70. Ibid., 328.

71. Pétain stated at the time that he believed in social hierarchy while “rejecting the false idea of the natural equality of men”: Mark Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century, New York: Vintage, 2000: 73.

72. G.J. Meyer, A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918, New York: Random House, 2007: 540.

73. Alexander Watson, Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I, New York: Basic Books, 2014: 330.

74. Watson, Ring of Steel, 332.

75. Blücher, An English Wife in Berlin, 158.

76. Vincent, The Politics of Hunger, 170.

77. Watson, Ring of Steel, 373–4.

78. John Mueller, “Changing attitudes towards war: The impact of the First World War,” British Journal of Political Science, 21(1), January 1991: 11.