In spring 1915, the delicate issue of French factory workers fabricating sandbags for the German army led to various breaches of public order in occupied Roubaix. These workers were criticized and physically assaulted by their occupied compatriots. At roughly the same time, many such workers refused to continue working for the German military authority. This unrest continued for months, putting the French administration, especially the local police force, in a difficult situation: these civil servants sought to restore public order and avoid punishments for the population, but did not want to encourage working for the Germans. Scandals involving policemen further undermined this challenging task. This article examines and explains these understudied events in detail, considering the nature of public disorder, the narrative of the “sandbag affair,” and the problems faced by the police. This allows for an insight into occupied life, especially the primacy of public perception and judgment.
Public Disorder and Problematic Policing in Occupied Roubaix during World War I
James E. Connolly
Unlike Anglo-Saxon countries, France, along with other Mediterranean democracies (Italy, Spain)1 has waited until the end of the twentieth century to publicly identify the various forms “public misconduct” can take2 and to begin to address them politically. Two convictions mark a breach in the national tradition of impunity for public corruption: that of the treasurer of the Socialist Party, deputy and former minister Henri Emmanuelli, in March 1996 for concealment of trading on his influence (earning him an18-month suspended jail sentence and, more notably, two years of attainder and political ineligibility); and that of the mayor of Grenoble, RPR deputy and minister Alain Carignon, in July 1996 for corruption (earning him four years imprisonment).
This article narrates the development of the antinuclear movement from the bottom up, showing how local protests initiated changes in Germans' ideas about democracy and public participation, precipitating the Green Party's emergence. The narrative begins with the pre-history of the 1975 occupation of the Wyhl reactor site in Southern Baden. It shows that vintners' concerns about the future of their livelihoods underpinned protests at Wyhl, but argues that the anti-reactor coalition grew in breadth after government officials' perceived misconduct caused local people to connect their agricultural concerns with democracy matters. It then explains how local protests like the Wyhl occupation influenced the formation of the German Green Party in the late 1970s, showing how the sorts of convergences that occurred amidst “single issue” protests like the anti-Wyhl struggle enabled a wide variety of activists to come together in the new party. Thus, the article argues that particular, local concerns initiated a rethinking of participation in electoral politics. Far from fracturing society, these local concerns promoted diverse new coalitions and shaped an inclusive approach to electoral politics.