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Lecture 8

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History 1810E
Margaret Mc Glynn

History 1810E Wednesday January 29 Lecture 8 The Realities of Modern War Outline: I. The Mobilization of Consent II. Protecting the Family III. Nursing Sisters IV. Total War? Modern War? • In reality, the war was anything but modern • Gas, tanks, airplanes, and submarines didn’t have a significant impact – no machine could take the place of a person o Today we are looking for machines to replace people o We use technology to avoid endangering the lives of human beings • At this time, technology was expensive and human labour was cheap o This war couldn’t be won by machines – it could only be won by individuals who had to fight and die 1. The Mobilization of Consent • They needed the country to be behind the war effort and support it however they could (mobilizing consent) • At the same time, they had to restrict individuals who posed a threat to the war effort (restricting dissent) • The War Measures Act (August 1914) o The Act gave the Federal government the power to do virtually anything it wanted for the security, defense, peace, order, and welfare of Canada o These powers were to be used in the event of an actual war or belief that there was a war (very broad) o It prevented censorship, arbitrary arrest, detention, deportation, exclusion o Those who were deemed to be a threat to the war effort could be arrested o The government had control of all transportation, any economic activity o The government could seize anything it wanted if it decided it was a threat to the nation o It gave the government a lot of control • There was very little concern over the War Measures Act (somewhat surprising) o It was seen as a justifiable intervention into individual rights (in extraordinary times, the government has to have extraordinary powers) • One of the first things the government did was order the Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, and Turks to report to the Office of the Registrar for Alien Enemies in Toronto to be monitored and report in on a regular basis o If they declined to register or didn’t want to travel to Toronto every two weeks, they would be imprisoned o 8500 individuals were eventually arrested and placed in work camps  The majority were from Western Canada o Although today this may seem like blatant racism, it was a ‘reasonable response to an unreasonable situation’  Other countries also interned enemy aliens  The men who were being interned (young males of military age) represented a threat to the country at war o It was common at this time for young men to go back home to serve in the army (and many Germans from Canada and other countries did this)  Canada could prevent Germans from leaving Canadian ports, but they couldn’t prevent the Germans from going to the U.S. and leaving from there  As a response, the government decided to intern the – not everyone who was interned was a danger of going back to their home country to fight, but • Bishop Nykyta Budka (the Bishop of the Canadian Catholic Church) o Right before the war, Budka issued a pastoral letter to Austria-Hungarian men in Canada, encouraging them return home to fight for their country. Almost immediately he realized this was a mistake and withdrew the letter, but the damage had been done. o He had given the authorities the reason for internment. • Conditions in the work camps: o They were fairly bad, but not any worse than mining or work camps before the war o The death rate amongst the people in the camps was lower than in the general population (because they had medical provisions, proper diet, etc…) o There were times when work camps held protests, and they were actually released because the government couldn’t force them to work 2. Protecting the Family • It was an issue to protect the families of the men who were fighting overseas • In the First World War era, the families tended to be larger, and with the breadwinner gone, there could be stress on the family • Soldiers were paid, but it wasn’t very much ($1.10/day) • The government didn’t want to be responsible for tens of thousands of women and children (they didn’t want a social welfare state), but the military realized that men were more likely to enlist if they knew their families would be taken care of • The government created assigned pay o When you join the army, the government had you deduct a portion (1/2 – 2/3) to your dependants (it is sent directly from the pay office to them) o A soldier couldn’t opt out of assigned pay o This kept a lot of families from destitution, but it still didn’t make up for missing wages (and a lot of familie
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