In 1917 French and foreign agents reconstructed sections of Picardy destroyed by Operation Alberich, a “scorched-earth” program implemented by departing Germans. The region’s unanticipated maltreatment led French Third Army forces to evaluate and assist Picardy’s devastated homesteads and refugee-residents. Under General Georges Humbert, the Third Army implemented juxtaposing reconstruction policies in Picardy. Along with inhabitants, bureaucrats, and German prisoners of war, the Third Army initiated “a regime of temporary aid” that repaired property and provisioned civilians. Humbert’s subordinates also evacuated residents judged too ill, infirm, treacherous, or indolent for massive reconstruction projects. When extemporized statist programs proved insufficient for Picardy’s civilians, French ministries invited American and British humanitarians to inaugurate complementary and supplementary rehabilitation schemes designed to revive rural society and commerce. The conflicting confluence of these individuals’ consensual, coercive, patriotic, and philanthropic cultures de guerre within Picardy helped residents “demobilize” as refugees and “remobilize” for continued participation in World War I.
Humanitarian Aid, French Women, and Popular Mobilization during the Front Populaire
The Spanish Civil War stirred an array of humanitarian relief campaigns in France that placed women in the front lines of popular mobilization. As communists, socialists, liberals, antifascists, feminists and pacifists, French women invoked the iconography and language of sexual difference to construct pro-Republican aid appeals as an expression of gendered social concern above party politics. Through exploring the female leaderships, organization, and popular participation in different relief campaigns, this article emphasizes the extent to which Spanish aid efforts were dominated by tensions within the Front Populaire.