Lettres De Poilus Censurées 14 18

Cet article est d’un traduction aux : La gros Guerre : du témoin jusquà l’historien, de la mémoire à l’histoire ?

1The abondance between witnesses and historians ont figures, narrators et as writer united passant par their interest in narratives of thé past et reflecting in part the canonical abondance between memory et history, is typically accepted. In thé crystallisation of these deux entities et of their opposition, auto Great War theatre a role that cannot be neglected, at least for France. With thé death in 2008 du Lazare Ponticelli, auto “last continuing to be poilu”, and at a temps when there are seulement un a few centenarians still alive in auto world that lived the sapin World War as children, the era de witnesses de the Great War seems certainly to ont given room to historians. And the coincidence between thé deaths native the 1990s onwards du the critical generations having actually lived thé Great War and the historiographic revival, established mainly nous the criticism du testimonial voices, appears at first glance to give evidence of this.1

2We deserve to observe, indeed, since around twenty years, a really keen auditeur interest in the Great War2 and a significant increase in auto study du historiography together with debates3 (on consent, the culture of war, soldier testimonies) of which conditions météorologiques can wonder si they don’t owe as much to the renewed interest in the memory conflicts de the 1920s and 1930s than to science. Nous shall nonetheless follow Henry Rousso with the following remark ont he compares thé links between auto memory et the history ns both conflicts:

4 Rousso, Henry, ‘Preface’, in Nicolas Beaupré, Les exorbitant Guerres 1914-1945, op. cit.

Vous lisez ce: Lettres de poilus censurées 14 18

, 7.

Whereas thé controversies surrounding auto memories de the captation and, an ext precisely, auto involvement of the french state in thé genocide du the Jews, steadily increased in the 1990s, thé field du historiography to be experiencing conditions météorologiques the divers hand, a form of consensus, auto authors favourable to the regime jaune attempting venir defend its results, as it was the case until the 1960s and 1970s, proving to be more et more rare because of the lack du solid arguments. Conversely, the polemic that recently raged among (French) historians to determine whether thé soldiers in the trenches had accepted unusual degrees de violence par consent or de force, has merely had a weak echo in the public et political sphere, mobilized rather passant par the commemoration de this war, ont of currently without any survivors left, and the an interpretation that we could confer to auto event a century later.4

3Now v full attention on auto commemorations ns the centenary, auto interest has never to be greater. There is undeniably a very keen société demand and a creativity à la the memory of the Great War. Thé main la honte of this memory space the millions of homme that fought auto war at the front and who, proficiency allowing, were both actors et narrators ns their experience providing a key contribution to auto elaboration ns a great monument narrative that has actually reached us. In this perspective, cette seems interesting to retrace in broad outline the history de the periodically tumultuous branchement between historians et witnesses, in between history et memory, from 1914 to 2014.

4As antoine Prost et Jay Winter wrote, “the battle in 1914 does no belong venir anyone, not even venir historians.”5 In fact, since ce begun, we ont not end telling and explaining the Great War, exercises in which historians have only played a boy role. In fact, they were early conditions météorologiques confronted by other writings du the Great War and, namely, to the voice ns witnesses who really quickly, as early as 1914-1915, were thought about just ont legitimate venir talk du the war. Indigenous then, the relation that historians maintained v this sort of expression was pour a longue time ambivalent, or du a vain nature. Still, it cannot be reduced to a facile opposition.

Exhibition Fields de Battle / Terres de Paix 14-18.


Agrandir original (jpeg, 192k)

All photographs in this article are taken from auto exhibition Fields du Battle / Terres aux Paix 14-18, nous display from 4 April venir 4 August 2014 conditions météorologiques the railings bordering the jardin du Luxembourg et directly in front of the Palais du Luxembourg. Photographer: michael St Maur Sheil.

the emergence testimonies oui a source…
6 Ibid.

5If nous follow Jay Winter and Antoine Prost,6 thé historiography de the Great War articulates chin chronologically around three henchmen writing periods carefully related à their political uses et to the memory preoccupations of their contemporaries. Within this historiographic, as well as memory configurations, the place du witnesses et of testimonies would have evolved.

6The first configuration, starting during auto war et confirmed immediately after 1918, would essentially be political and military. Its score was à study thé causes ns the Great War, to understand why such jaune such battle – or even the war – was either mourir or won. All that came to domestic or internationale politics was included later. The highly controversial (especially in Germany) article 231 du the Treaty du Versailles proposed ne sont pas more no less 보다 a historical analysis ns the causes of the conflict. Ce stipulated indeed that “Germany et its allies are responsible, since they brought about them, for every ns and all the damage suffered de the governments du the allies, associates et their nationals oui a consequence du the war that to be forced upon them by Germany et its allies’ attack.” plenty of historians, whether explicitly jaune not, ont since then taken a position conditions météorologiques this article.7

9 Quoted in Penser la grande Guerre, op. cit., 27.

7The score was to study thé causes, auto consequences et the development ns the conflict. This to be a way venir write a really political history that corresponded then to the triumph ns the so-called positivist jaune methodical history. In this configuration, little regard was given to history from auto bottom. Those more, even historians that are former soldiers favor Henry Contamine, one de the most renowned specialists of french military history jaune even calcul Renouvin,8 founder du a new approach to international relations, distrusted the voice of structure soldiers et witnesses, despite a constitue soldier himself. Also though Renouvin lost an arm, hey wrote in 1939: “The testimonies de soldiers, though very useful venir read in order venir understand the atmosphere du the battle, have the right to seldom give any informations on comment operations were conducted, as the horizon of the witnesses was also limited.”9 However, the war period and, à a lesser extent, auto time that automatically followed, was marked par the plethora du publications de “testimonies” in a large sense. At the end du the 1920s a lively conflict even opposed their most fierce critic, jean Norton Cru, à a bien sur number du what to be then called “soldier poets”.10 chroniclers felt a form du disinterest for these narratives, also though abundant, that were founded on the testimonies of soldiers. As if background had started with a divorcé rather 보다 a wedding.

11 Ibid.

8The seconde configuration would seemingly ont emerged at the end of the 1950s et at thé beginning du the 1960s. The se concentrer was climate redirected towards the social actors de the war, firstly to auto soldiers. Qualified oui “social”, this period was without doubt marked by the emergence of social history et of Marxist interpretations changing the attention toward actors other than diplomats, politicians et generals. Yet, according to Winter and to Prost, this social shift from auto field de historiography was essentially en raison de to thé success of one book: Vie et mort des Français published passant par Hachette in 1959, co-written passant par Jacques Meyer, Gabriel Perreux and André Ducasse, three constitue students du the Ecole ordinaire who passed auto agrégation in history et who to be also structure soldiers. The livre was seul accepted by the publisher because cette was prefaced passant par a fourth structure soldier that was meilleur known than his comrades, Maurice Genevoix. This ‘hybrid work’, a combination de ‘academic historiography and an anthology du the writers-combatants’11 profoundly renewed thé way thé conflict was viewed de focusing on society, at the front and at home, and by providing nouveau questions. Thé place de witnesses et of testimonies remained non less faint in thé works of historians, even si the attention in the attitudes of the French, from thé beginning till after auto war – we recall right here namely the doctoral theses de Jean-Jacques Becker and Antoine Prost both published in 197712 – progressively contributed in making testimonies recognised as toutes les personnes other documents, destined venir be both submitted to critical analysis et also included into historiographic writing.

9The third configuration that emerged in thé late 1980s et beginning 1990s was both social and cultural. We calmer find ourselves at this duration today. Cette is namely a period founded nous a pronounce interest à la “representations”, thé intimate, individual histoire woven into thé larger history, thé practices, the experiences, thé suffering, auto wounds, the traumas… A privileged source parce que le this type of history, testimonies and witnesses seemingly accounting a central place exactly at a temps when they to be dying. Thé two editions du Témoins passant par Jean Norton Cru in 1993, climate in 2006, exemplify this. Moreover, many recherche are now specifically specialized to the voice de soldier testimonies thus coming to be not seul a source, marqué also an object of history, a subject à la doctoral projects, books et articles.

10Nevertheless, our reading can be reversed. Indeed, auto centrality du testimonies has dirige Annette Becker et Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau, who oui abundantly check testimonial sources, to appel téléphonique in year 2000 à la freedom from auto “dictatorship ns testimonies”.13 ce is true that auto death de witnesses is paradoxically not characterised de a diminishing of their voice nor du their influence. Until today,14 over there is année increase in tous sorts of testimonies et this indeed will not cease with thé turn of the centenary. Their libération encourages certain publishing houses venir specialise in this kind du text. In fact, by writing this, both chroniclers were absolutely not calling for the abandonment of testimonies ont a source, marqué rather to more critical attention in the face à face of this editorial surge.

Exhibition Fields of Battle / Terres ns Paix 14-18.


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…or auto return du witnesses
15 Norton Cru, Jean, Du témoignage , Paris: Gallimard, 1930, 9.

11This is comment we might retrace in broad strokes auto story de what could be a progressive integration du testimonies within historiographic discourse. According à Prost and Winter, thé transition from auto period ns witnesses to auto period du historians, native memory venir history, is neither progressive nor linear. Both this writings, one testimonial, the est différent historiographic, are occurred in parallel, coexist et cross over at times, oui is the des boites for Ducasse, Perreux et Meyer or even pour Jean Norton Cru who, however, proposed a supposedly uncompromising criticism of the testimonies that he considered “scientific”.15

12Thus, cette is necessary à nuance Winter and Prost’s affirmation that the beginning du the Great War marked auto beginning de a political, diplomatic and military era within thé field ns historiography and, thereby, a distancing de the voice de witnesses par historians. Yet, ce now transforms out the the auditeur voice de the soldiers has end up being a highly legitimate regard of the war et represents a strong voice that the public immediately listens to. Année interest has emerged at least as much, si not more, for the daily lives ns the soldiers, à la the shape modern-day war takes. Now, auto voice ns the soldiers, responding à a société demand, is thought about legitimate. Conditions météorologiques would it is in mistaken venir believe that ce is a marginal phenomenon. A couple of hundred testimonies, in a vast sense, were released during auto war in France. A similaire phenomenon took place in the divers engaged countries. Venir such année extent that avec certitude historians that took aller in the war additionally judged it useful to write their own war narrative as Marc Bloch did. However, Bloch made decision not to publish it and following thé war he became interested, in an article published in 1921, in thé circulation de “false news” during thé war. This to be a means to revenir to a criticism de testimonies native a historian perspective, whilst gift preciously ahead of its time, to année analysis du the social function ns the circulation of informations during war time.16 In any kind of case, si historical and testimonial voices seem perfect distinct, historians, conditions météorologiques the contrary, have not mourir interest in thé work ns soldier writers. Thus, Ernest Lavisse – believing that chroniclers ought to be engaged in your day – accepted to preface at least three livre written passant par soldiers during the war. Follow me with thé sociologist Emile Durkheim, cette created at thé publishing house Armand Colin the “Études und documents sur la guerre circuits électoraux with the aim du defending auto social justice in France. Si in this collection, he did not publish any testimonies strictly speaking, his prefaces expose his interest for “genre” the was climate successful. In thé same vein, La revoir historique, though orthodox in its branchement to systematic history, regularly offered between 1914 and 1918 reviews de narratives et testimonies du war.17

13Concerning the immediate post-war period, disinterest parce que le war literature was not specific to historians. Nous easily notification a decline in the quantity ns testimonies being composed at the beginning of the 1920s, seul picking back up at auto end de the decade. Auto decline in the relaxer of war récit ought venir be analysed in parallel à historical works pertaining to the conflict. This to be perhaps périmé to a wider disinterest than just parce que le the dispute itself. Moreover, at the beginning at the 1930s, soldier writers much more readily chapitre to create fiction. Cette is thus not surprising that chroniclers turned away from these messages that had a an ext ambiguous status, lying between narrative and journal, testimony and fiction. If it appeared logical to do reviews in background bestbocadoctor.com, either du a testimony or de a war narrative, this was very much less soja the caisse for a novel, even si it had a testimonial dimension et vocation.

19 Norton Cru, Jean, Témoins and Du témoignage, op. cit. 20 Norton Cru, Jean, Témoins, op. cit., S57-S59.

14Let’s recall now the henchmen outline du the debate nous testimonies initiated par Jean Norton Cru. A French, English and American academic et a former soldier,18 he proposed in deux books, Témoins and Du témoignage,19 released at auto very time when there was a revival de war literature, a crucial review of more than 3 hundred french works gathering testimonies. Though not a historian de trade, his livre was published in a renowned circonscriptions of history livre subsidised by the Carnegie foundation à la peace cible was poorly got in France. However, jeans Norton Cru plan this work oui a historian to be beneficial at least pour historians, passant par selecting among thé three hundred works hey had studied. In stimulate to à faire so, cette used the methodology de historians de basing his analysis conditions météorologiques the external et internal criticism ns the sources, in i m sorry his very own subjectivity likewise emerged. As more than one historian had actually correctly suggested, jeans Norton Cru, wishing at first to create his own testimony, was unable to et Témoins, adhered to a year later de Du témoignage, deserve to be thought about as année indirect testimony. Conditions météorologiques here ont the example du a hybrid job-related that is neither history nor testimony et yet the is both at auto same time. Additionally, si the scandal provoked by Jean Norton Cru’s agree in literary circles is fine known, auto reception de his work by historians is much less so. Nous already an alert that chroniclers did not remain distanced from auto reception of blue jeans Norton Cru’s occupational even si it to be essentially homme of letters who reacted. In auto resource supplement published in the second edition of Témoins in 2006, we noter that part historians, et including famed ones (Pierre Renouvin, jules Isaac), participated in it, ont did constitue soldiers who passed the agrégation in history (André Ducasse, Charles Delvert).20

15In a bien sur way, past Prost et Winter’s reviews nous the meekness et the absence of thé war suffer in thé academic historical discourse ns the time, we know very au sens propre on how war literature and testimonies were received in historical bestbocadoctor.com and by historians. Quel is certain, is that in 1914-1918 et after 1918, thé voice du soldiers and testimonies could not be qualified ont marginal. Quite the opposite.

16After the seconde World battle however, things seemed venir operate in reverse. Ont the interest de historians came closer to auto experience of soldiers, namely from the 1960s, the directement voice du witnesses struggled à be heard et the publication of testimonies and of war récit about 1914-1918 lessened. Admittedly, auto success ns Vie et morte des Français (1959) shows all the potential interest in addressing soldier testimonies as a historical source, but the three authors intervened more in the field ont historians and as popularisers than oui former soldiers. Whereas they had, before 1939, released their testimonies, Meyer et Perreux published in the 1960s a tous les jours life at the front et another at home, et these to be presented oui history books.21 even Maurice genevoix who prefaced this book, affiliated himself personally in thé Foundation and the discourse du the musée of auto Battle of Verdun. Benefiting from his fame, cette comes back to his war suffer with a quick narrative, La Mort du près .

17The memory of the seconde World War, its existence today and the arguments that surround thé event surely contributed venir a certain fading de the memorial illustration of “moral witness” ns the Great War.22 A moral witness who ethical manifestation could not prevent a new conflict, worse than the previous one, from being triggered. Even worse, auto pacifist discourse upheld by former soldiers in the 1920s to be able to hinder thé understanding and correct apprehension du the nature of auto Nazi threat. Whereas chroniclers progressively flourished interested in your testimonial writings as sources, the former 14-18 soldiers ended up being ambivalent figures oui the sketches Papy Mougeot jaune L’ancien combattant Dumoulin par Coluche testify par presenting auto poilus as ridiculous rambling fools. From thé side of historians, the homme at war staged at the central of your preoccupations, cible more oui a fixed than oui individuals captured in auto maelstrom de the violence du war.

18From the beginning du the 1990s, the relationship in between historians et witnesses has further developed just as the respective place that every person’s récit take. Auto passing of the “last poilus” synchronizes with a return to Sarajevo de European history. On an epistemological level, est différent ways of writing background had created themselves, thus permitting the en fonctionnement in a much more regular way ns the testimonial sources oui the history ns mentalities followed by a cultural history founded nous the study ns representations, micro-history or even of critiquing them with new tools prefer those ns the Linguistic Turn or of the study of “collective memories”. This is translated by new relationships between witnesses and historians.

19The nouveau identical editions du Témoins par Jean Norton Cru in 1993, followed de a an important edition in 2006, and also de his second livre Du témoignage in 1966, 1989 and 1997, reveal this return ns testimonies at the centre of the writing du history. Castle are also accompanied by the publications de “new” testimonies. In reality, this testimonies were no strictly speak “new” – since auto last witnesses to be dying –, this were thé publications de the writings of soldiers, that had remained until then unpublished jaune that had not to be reedited because the 1920s. This wave de unpublished texts retrieved from the attics of families is hardly likely venir diminish and we must be pleased around it, due to the fact that some significant troves oui been discovered. This attention from historians, publishers, thé public, has additionally made cette possible to oui access à testimonies de non-soldiers, namely du occupied bestbocadoctor.com.

Exhibition Fields ns Battle / Terres ns Paix 14-18.


20Testimonies became, from the point, central to the writing de history et to such année extent that bien sur books – in certain those relating to auto history of the poilus et of soldiers – giant resorted venir them,23 not à say exclusively. Cible they have also become centre well beyond thé historical sphere. Manga books, films, heavily draw nous testimonies or at least nous types of signaler that are motivated from them, namely neighboring the illustration of the soldier in thé trenches or the “primary group”.

21Surfing thé wave de renewed interest pour soldier testimonies, différent projects much less scrupulous on a historical level have exploited thé interest pour testimonies that additionally corresponded to thé transformation ns the poilu indigenous hero venir victim. The climax was got to with thé anthology Paroles du poilus24 which was sapin published in 1998 et which to this day, with an ext than 3 million copies sold, remains passant par far the most extensively sold livre in la france on the Great War, despite the questionable quality du the chercheur demploi of letters et of shortened testimonies, at times without also mentioning auto cuts the were made.25 Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau and Annette Becker warn against this excessive use in year 2000. Leonard V. Forgeron amongst others, agreed through their warning et criticised an ext precisely the use of testimonies ont a form de proof in argumentation, showing that it is possible to twist a corpus of testimonies venir say both one thing et its opposite. Part de a larger dispute opposing historians of the Great War then focused nous the place of witnesses and on thé work de Jean Norton Cru. Some historians, prefer Rémy Cazals and Frédéric Rousseau26 ont defended jeans Norton Cru’s position and his technique that intended to approve the good et the bad witnesses, even pursuing his work with a dictionary de witnesses published on the internet and continually supplemented with new notices “like a continuer of the pioneering work de Jean Norton Cru.”27

22We are now at a temps when the voice du the poilus is search after et heard as never before, when testimonies, and particularly soldier testimonies, room central. That social and historiographic uses continue to causer a stir. But oui we have the right to observe, conditions météorologiques did not passage in a straight manner from a writing ns history par witnesses to a writing of history par historians. Venir this day, atelier written par witnesses et other soldier writers, posthumously, remain privileged ways de accessing thé Great War and their livres often sell much meilleur than those by historians. Mnemosyne has actually not yet certainly handed over à Clio.


1 Beaupré, Nicolas, Ingrao, Christian & Duménil, Anne, ‘Des guerres 1914-1918 et 1939-1945 jusqu’à l’étude des expériences aux guerre ns 1914-1945’, in id. (eds.), L’Ère aux la guerre T.1: Violence, mobilisations, deuil (1914-1918) Paris: A. Viénot, 2004, 11-13.

2 Offenstadt, Nicolas, 14-18 aujourd’hui. La grande Guerre à lintérieur la france contemporaine , Paris: oiseau Jacob, 2010.

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3 for a explication on these arguments see namely Beaupré, Nicolas, das Grandes guerre 1914-1945 , Paris: Belin, 2012, 1046-1050.

4 Rousso, Henry, ‘Preface’, in Nicolas Beaupré, Les super Guerres 1914-1945, op. cit., 7.

5 Prost, Antoine & Winter, Jay, Penser la super Guerre. Un dessais d’historiographie , Paris: Seuil, 2004, 9.

6 Ibid.

7 In the boîte of Germany, check out Majerus, Benoît & Beaupré, Nicolas, ‘Écrire la gros Guerre. L’historiographie allemande face pour “catastrophe originelle” de XXe siècle’, in P. Causarano et al. (eds.), Le centre des guerres. Penser esquive guerres aux premier XXe siècle , Paris: L’Atelier, 2004, 443-450.

8 concerning the des boites of calcul Renouvin, see Audoin-Rouzeau, Stéphane, Combattre. Une Anthropologie historique ns la guerres moderne (XIXe – XXe S.) , Paris: Seuil, 2008, 93-102.

9 Quoted in Penser la grande Guerre, op. cit., 27.

10 Beaupré, Nicolas, ‘Du Bulletin des Ecrivains de 1914 jusquà l’Association des Ecrivains combattants (AEC): des lutter à la mémoire, 1914-1927’, in La politique et la guerre. Pour comprendre le XXe siècle européen, Hommage jusquà Jean-Jacques Becker , Paris: A. Viénot/Noêsis, 2002, 301-315. On the polemic check out Rousseau, Frédéric, Le procès des témoins aux la super Guerre, L’affaire Norton Cru , Paris: Seuil, 2003 and the republishing ns Norton Cru’s Témoins from 1929 (Nancy: Presses universitaires du Nancy, 2006).

11 Ibid.

12 Becker, Jean-Jacques, 1914. Comment das Français sont entrés en guerre , Paris: Presses du la établir nationale des sciences politique (FNSP), 1977; Prost, Antoine, Les vieille Combattants und la compagnie française , Paris: Presses aux la FNSP, 1977.

13 Audoin-Rouzeau, Stéphane & Annette Becker, 14-18, Retrouver la Guerre, Paris: Gallimard, 2000, 52. (14-18: Understanding the Great War, New York: Hill & Wang, 2002.)

14 In a thesis that will shortly be defended, Benjamin gel did part calculation that show this. In a book, to be published also, he mentions 1,265 french testimonies published from 1914 to 2011. See Benjamin Gilles, Lire dans les tranchées , Paris: Autrement, 2013.

15 Norton Cru, Jean, Du témoignage , Paris: Gallimard, 1930, 9.

16 this writings space gathered in thé work de Marc Bloch, L’histoire, la guerre, les résistance , preface passant par Annette Becker, Paris: Gallimard, 2006.

17 Prochasson, Christophe, ‘Les Mots convecteur le dire, jean Norton Cru, ns témoignage jusquà l’histoire’ , Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine 48, 2001, 161-189. See also Penser la grande Guerre, op. cit., 30-31, à la the duration after 1919.

18 His battle letters were recently published through a thorough presentation ns the author: Norton Cru, Jean, Lettres ns guerre rang d’Amérique 1914-1919 , Aix-en-Provence: Presses ns l’Université ns Provence, 2007.

19 Norton Cru, Jean, Témoins et Du témoignage, op. cit.

20 Norton Cru, Jean, Témoins, op. cit., S57-S59.

21 Meyer, Jacques, La brut quotidienne des légion pendant la gros Guerre , Paris: Hachette, 1967; Perreux, Gabriel, La ailé quotidienne des civils en france pendant la grande Guerre , Paris: Hachette, 1966.

22 Winter, Jay, ‘Le témoin moral et das deux guerres mondiales’ , Revue leurope  d’histoire sociale 8, 2003, 99-117. Nous the moral et social dimensions of testimonies, view Dulong, Renaud, Le témoignage oculaire. Les hachette sociales du l’attestation personnelle , Paris: EHESS, 1998.

23 See for example : Rousseau, Frédéric, La guerres censurée: une biographie des combattants européens de 14-18, <1999 ; the censored war. A history de the european combatants ns the first World War>, Paris: Seuil, 2003 and Cazals, Rémy & Loez, André, 14-18, relancer et deum dans les tranchées <2008; Living and dying in the trenches>, Paris: Tallandier, 2012.

24 Guéno, Jean-Pierre & Laplume, Yves (eds.), Paroles ns Poilus poilus>, Paris: Librio, 1998.

25 Audoin-Rouzeau, Stéphane, ‘La super Guerre, ns deuil interminable’ , Le Débat, 104(2), 1999, 117-130.

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26 Cazals, Rémy & Rousseau, Frédéric, 14-18, le crier d’une génération , Toulouse: Privat, 2001.