Shadows of Total War in French and British
Military Journals, 1918–1939
TIMO BAUMANN AND DANIEL MARC SEGESSER
The debate continues over whether World War I can be called a total war.1 For many of the officers who had survived the war or been commissioned thereafter, however, this great conflict marked a watershed in the development of military theory, doctrine, and organization. The changes that the war had spawned needed to be taken into account as planners made decisions about national security and the defense of territorial integrity in the future. All these decisions were debated in the shadow of the Great War, which some thought at the time to have been a total war.2 Although no officer went as far as some socialist or pacifist politicians, who claimed that national defense by military means was no longer a viable option,3 they all tried to digest the manifold practical lessons of the war. Furthermore, they were under strong pressure from politicians and public opinion to avoid another war, or if this option were impossible, to win it with minimal costs in lives and property.
This chapter grows out of a research project on" Military Journals and the International Debate on Past and Future Warfare, 1918—1939," which
1 See Roger Chickering and Stig Förster, eds., Great War, Total War: Combat and Mobilization on the
Western Front, 1914–1918 (New York, 2000).
2 The term total war (in French guerre totale, guerre intégrale, or lutte totale) was used infrequently by French
officers and not at all by their British counterparts. Among those who used these terms were: Bernard
Serrigny, "L'Organisation de la nation pour le temps de guerre" Revue des Deux Mondes (hereafter
RDDM) Septiéme Période 18 (1923): 586; Lucien Loizeau, "Succés stratégique, succès tactiques,"
Revue Militaire Française (hereafter RMF) 40 (1931): 194; Charles de Gaulle, Vers l'armée de metier
(Paris, 1934), 78; Edouard Dupont, "La Guerre totale par le general Ludendorff," Revue d'Artillerie
(hereafter RA) 117, no. 59 (1936): 194—207; Georges Kitcheef, "Conditions d'éfficacité stratégique
de l'aviation," Revue de l'Armée de l'Air (hereafter RAA) 2, no. 10 (1938): 848.
3 Martin Ceadel, Pacifism in Britain, 1914–1945: The Defining of a Faith (Oxford, 1980), 62—75,
87—108; Maurice Vaïsse, "Le Pacifisme français dans les années trentes," Relations internationales 53
(1988): 37—52; Jean-François Sirinelli, "La France de l'entre-deux-guerres: Un 'trend' pacifiste?" in
Maurice Vaïsse, ed., Le Pacifisme en Europe des Annèes 1920 aux Années 1950 (Brussels, 1993), 43—50;
François-Georges Dreyfus, "Le Pacifisme en France 1930—1940" ibid., 137—44.