Mark R. Stoneman deposited The Bavarian Army and French Civilians in the War of 1870-1871: A Cultural Interpretation in the group War Studies on Humanities Commons 1 year ago
This article examines the mixture of hostile and amicable relations that Bavarian fighting men had with French civilians during the Franco-Prussian War, when civilians provided food, fodder and quarters to the invading armies and sometimes took up arms against them. Relying mainly on published personal narratives, this article looks at the everyday circumstances of Bavarian soldiers and officers, the motivations for their sometimes draconian acts of retribution, the cultural factors that militated against or permitted violence, and veterans’ postwar justifications for their behaviour. In light of the cultural meanings that veterans’ experiences held for them, this article also addresses the question of how “modern” the war was within the context of the “total war” debate. Because the other German armies had comparable policies, armies and experiences, the Bavarian example has broader relevance for the history of Germany. This article concludes by considering how official and private postwar interpretations of armed French civilians and German acts of retribution helped to create a cultural understanding of war in Germany that – under the banner of “military necessity” – would ease acceptance of civilian casualties in future wars.