A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 125

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EFFECTS OF MOBILIZATION


reposed in it by the government. No troubles broke out during the feverish and anguished days which the country had just lived through. The threat of invasion united all the citizens.

Despite the reassuring explanations of the government, no one doubted that there would be war, for it would have needed a miracle to calm Germany, seized with bellicose fury, and scenting already the pillage and booty to be reaped in the rich provinces of the east of France up to Paris itself. War, since German madness had imposed it, was accepted as a deliverance—a deliverance not only from the nightmare of torture of the last few days, but also from the continual alarms with which Germany had harassed France for years past—a deliverance from the threats and reiterated insolence of the brutal policy and arrogant diplomacy of a nation afflicted with megalomania—a deliverance, too, from the humiliation of defeat undeserved and unceasingly demanded for 44 years past by a conqueror swollen with pride.

Moreover, it meant the abolition henceforth of the clauses of the treaty of Frankfort (1871), which hindered and opposed the development of the whole economic activity of France. Nowhere was there any manifestation of misplaced enthusiasm; there was no turbulent agitation, no discordant voice. The spontaneous sacrifice of all provoked a patriotic impulse, which found vent in cheering and acclaiming the regiments on their way to the eastern frontier, in innumerable flags hung out at the windows as on the national fête day, July 14.

It is difficult for an Englishman to realize what is meant by mobilization in a country subject to compulsory military service. It means profound disorganization of civil life, complete disintegration of national activity. Every French citizen at the age of 21 is forced to discharge military duties for a period of three years. After that he remains at the disposition of the military authorities until the age of 48. Each man is furnished with a military booklet, which indicates his position in the army; the same booklet contains a special notice on blue or red parchment, on which are printed particular directions which it will be his duty to carry out in case of mobilization. The calling up of men extends over a period of several days, according to whether they belong to the regular army or the regular army reserve, to the territorial army or the territorial army reserve. The instructions given in the booklet are perfectly simple and

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