The War Generation and Generation Wars: French Veterans and the Association des Écrivains Combattants, 1919–1945

Martin Hurcombe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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This article examines the ways in which veteran writers, notably through the activities and publications of the Association des Ecrivians Combattants [Association of Combatant Writers], were essential to the conscious elaboration of a generational identity amongst French veterans in the interwar years. In particular, it explores how the AEC constructed the war generation in France, examining how its successes, limitations, and legacy beyond the First World War illustrate the ambiguities surrounding the notion of generation. It shows how the AEC mobilized the memory of the war through a range of commemorative textual practices centring on the figure of the dead combatant author in order to assert the rights, interest, and moral authority of French veterans in a society that the latter now sought to 'correct' through the example of their generation's sacrifice. It will also explore the political choices this led AEC members to take, focusing in particular on the ambiguous relationship veterans entertained with the French Republic. Finally, it places veterans' struggle within a pattern of generational politics and conflict that characterizes twentieth-century France
and which would see the veteran of World War One supplanted by another generation of veterans: those who had resisted Nazi occupation and collaboration during World War Two.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-138
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of War and Culture Studies
Issue number2
Early online date13 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019


  • French Veterans
  • World War One
  • generation
  • memory
  • collaboration
  • Vichy France
  • Resistance
  • Association des Ecrivains Combattants

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