Gare du Nord: Military volunteers salute their relatives at the time of departure. In the course of the summer of 1914, nearly 20,000 men volunteered to fight beside conscripted soldiers. Coming from all over the country, and even sometimes from overseas, these men symbolize until today the patriotic enthusiasm which characterised the entry into war. The reality was, however, more nuanced.
In September, 1914, General Selliers de Moranville inspected the volunteer corps. According to his estimations, only half the men, at most two thirds engaged in a surge of patriotism. The others simply joined “to find some means of livelihood,” when they did not turn out to be “undesirables”, of “immoral values”, “outcasts”. For those men, the military pay would allow to survive the storm lying ahead.