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‘French women do not wish to talk about peace’: Julie Siegfried and the Response of the Conseil National des Femmes Françaises to the First World War

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Abstract

In April 1915, the National Council of French Women (CNFF) published a manifesto explaining why they would not be sending French delegates to the International Congress of Women that had gathered at the Hague to discuss peace proposals to end the war. The manifesto, signed by Julie Siegfried and Avril de Sainte-Croix, president and general secretary of the CNFF, argues that a pacifist stance was not possible given France’s involvement in what they consider to be a purely defensive war against a ‘barbarous’ German aggressor:

Those of you who know France, know that much was achieved in our country for the pacifist cause, and that the French nation would only have accepted a defensive war. We dreamt of peace and understanding, if not in the world, then at least in Europe. We did not want to believe those who pointed to the growing threat on the other side of the border. How were we forced to face up to reality? The reasons are well known, and this will be proven for posterity by certain diplomatic documents. As current events have proved to us that unilateral pacifism is futile, if not dangerous, we will only continue to promote pacifism when, in the future, peace will have provided us with an effective guarantee against one nation’s spirit of domination1 (quoted in WILPF 1915: 313)

Keywords

  • Feminist Ideal
  • French Woman
  • Catholic Woman
  • Female Couple
  • Nationalist Discourse

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© 2007 Alison S. Fell

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Fell, A.S. (2007). ‘French women do not wish to talk about peace’: Julie Siegfried and the Response of the Conseil National des Femmes Françaises to the First World War. In: Fell, A.S., Sharp, I. (eds) The Women’s Movement in Wartime. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230210790_4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230210790_4

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-28576-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-0-230-21079-0

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