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Additional info for A World at Total War: Global Conflict and the Politics of Destruction, 1937-1945 (Publications of the German Historical Institute)
Second, what was meant by total war itself changed its emphasis as the Second World War unfolded. Before 1939, total war referred as much to the enemy within as the enemy without. Total war was not deﬁned; instead, it was a given to necessitate and justify a revolution in domestic government. Ludendorff’s Der totale Krieg (1935) was not concerned with tactics or strategy. 3 In France, the concept of couverture was designed to secure France’s national resources and industrial infrastructure, and so create time for their conversion to war production.
When political leaders harped on the idea of “total war” in wartime speeches, they used the phrase in this 2 John Lukacs, The Last European War (London, 1977). 3 Erich Ludendorff, The Nation at War (London, 1936; published in Germany in 1935). , The Shadows of Total War: Europe, East Asia, and the United States, 1919–1939 (Cambridge and Washington, DC, 2003), 151–78. The Conduct of War, 1939–1945 35 prewar sense. Their words were addressed to their own populations and were a summons to a greater effort.
Nevertheless, before 1939 both the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force contained within their ranks enthusiasts for the sort of total war that implied the erosion of the principles of noncombatant immunity and of proportionality. 12 The primary reason why neither conception was put into immediate practice was – once again – rational calculation. In 1940, both the Germans and the British did begin bombing civilian targets, although neither air force was ready in terms of equipment to do so. In 1939, pragmatism was shaped both by these economic considerations and by sensitivity to international law.