Abstract: By 1914, exploiting colonies was a well-established practice of even the most ‘liberal’ empires. Treating areas of Europe like colonies was not, except on the more remote peripheries. However, when the Central Powers occupied substantial parts of Europe during World War One, they applied harsh economic regimes while the British and French intensified the use of their empires. This paper will consider the comparisons – and the links - between these two forms of exploitation. It will suggest that both became ‘laboratories of autarky’ for kinds of economic regime (especially with regard to manpower) that were still not possible domestically for the nation-states fighting the war. The argument will be general but focus empirically on French North Africa and German-occupied France and Belgium.
About the Speaker: John Horne is Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Oxford University (2016-17) and Emeritus Fellow and former Professor of Modern European History at Trinity College Dublin, where he founded the Centre for War Studies. He is a Fellow of the Royal Irish Academy and a board member of the Research Centre at the Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne (France). He is the author and editor of a number of books and over ninety chapters and articles, many relating to the history of the Great War. Among his latest publications are (ed.) A Companion to World War One (Oxford, Blackwell-Wiley, 2010); (ed.) Vers la guerre totale: le tournant de 1914-1915 (Paris, Tallandier, 2010); and with Robert Gerwarth (ed.) War in Peace: Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the Great War (Oxford University Press, 2012). He is currently working on a history of the French experiences of the First World War.