Monday, May 28, 2018

World War I military justice

Memorial Day is a good time to bring to readers' attention a 2014 essay on military justice during World War I, by Steven R. Welch of the University of Melbourne. It is part of 1914-1918-Online, International Encyclopedia of the First World War. Excerpt:
This essay offers a comparative survey of the practice of military justice among several of the key belligerent powers. Accused soldiers enjoyed little in the way of legal protection, and punishment was generally swift and often harsh. Decisions about the severity of punishment could vary considerably from case to case depending on the current war situation and the state of morale and discipline in selected units. Thousands of soldiers were executed by firing squad for the crimes of desertion, mutiny and cowardice. The primary purpose of military justice was to maintain soldierly discipline; achieving justice in individual cases was a secondary concern.

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