By the book? Commanders Surrendering in World War I

Dennis Showalter

in How Fighting Ends

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693627
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741258 | DOI:
By the book? Commanders Surrendering in World War I

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The greatest risk a soldier can take in combat is surrendering. It involves a primal act of trust towards ‘others’ who directly seek your death. During World War I, however, surrenders were frequently negotiated not personally, but in command contexts. This essay asserts the key underlying issue in such surrenders was trust. Under Great War conditions trust existed on three levels: the unit, the system, and the state. If even one of those functioned, surrenders could be negotiated — or rejected. If one broke down, whether confidence in immediate commanders, confidence in the army's culture of competence, or confidence that the state was fulfilling the social contract implied by universal conscription, the tendency was towards entropy: mutiny or revolution.

Keywords: morale; administration; leadership; home front; trust; siege

Chapter.  11771 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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