Duty of humanity

“Diary of a gendarme 1914-1916”, in the intimacy of the Great War

Among the numerous diaries and private correspondence which continue to renew our knowledge of the Great War, the publication of this testimony by Jules Allard, captain of the gendarmerie, reveals the thankless and unloved role of his army corps. Indeed, the gendarmes escape the trenches even if they are present on the battlefields. In addition, they fulfill the unpopular police tasks tracking down rebels and deserters… Jules Allard’s very modest little notebook allows us to correct this image: if he dwells very little on his emotions, as a man of his time, the Captain reveals a weariness for bureaucracy and bitterness for the expeditious justice of courts-martial. However, with an unalterable sense of duty, he will fulfill his mission to the point of exhaustion like many other of his comrades. The preface by historian Arlette Farge puts into perspective a little-studied aspect of 1914-18. ► Diary of a gendarme 1914-1916 by Jules Allard, preface by Arlette Farge, Ed. Bayard, 300 p. ; €19.50.

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