After the Ruins: Restoring the Countryside of Northern France after the Great War

By Hugh Clout | Go to book overview

7
Achievements of the
Emergency Phase

Conflicting Views, Inconsistent Information

The emergency phase of direct intervention by state-run services to assist rural reconstruction in the devastated départements was undoubtedly both complex and controversial. Some organizations had come into existence before hostilities had ceased, others were established immediately afterwards. All experienced virulent criticism from sinistrés who had managed to return to their home areas and from others who were still waiting to do so. Four months after the Armistice, Edouard De Warren noted how the government’s failure to coordinate rural recovery meant that ‘refugees are shocked and discontented and their disappointment may grow to such an extent that it will become threatening’ (AN F12 8030 Warren, De. E., Reorganisation des régions libérées, 27.03.19). In the opinion of the American observer Herbert Gibbons, ‘the first winter of liberation was a cruel deception. So inadequate and dilatory were the steps taken by the military authorities that the people had become bitter’, hence ‘six months after the Armistice one is tempted to doubt the efficiency, the capacity, and the ability of a government in Paris to undertake and carry through reconstitution in the invaded départements’ (Gibbons 1920: 189, 191). A full year later The Statist reported that some settlements in the devastated régions, especially adjacent to the controversial red zone, still remained ‘more or less isolated, because communications by rail, road and telegraph have not yet been fully restored. The assistance provided by the government seems slow in coming, and families decimated in number and deprived of their moveable wealth complain bitterly

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After the Ruins: Restoring the Countryside of Northern France after the Great War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Tables ix
  • Plates x
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - The War-Torn Zone 1
  • 2 - The Intensity of Devastation 19
  • 3 - The Start of Emergency Action 59
  • 4 - The Service Des Travaux de Premiére Urgence 85
  • 5 - Motoculture 109
  • 6 - The Office de Reconstitution Agricole 125
  • 7 - Achievements of the Emergency Phase 149
  • 8 - Principles of Compensation, Rules of Reconstruction 175
  • 9 - Reconstruction Cooperatives 207
  • 10 - Land and Livelihood: Continuity and Change 241
  • 11 - Toward a Balance Sheet 273
  • References 301
  • Index 329
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