Home front

Home front

:for|other uses|homefront

Home front is the informal term commonly used to describe the civilian populace of the nation at war as an active support system of its military. In the political jargon of militarists or nationalists, it implies the imperative of effective militarisation of a society, and a claimed necessity for social servitude to the needs of a military command, during a time of war. The view that a society in wartime must function as a component of its executive branch is sometimes called a "teeth and tail" view.

In a modern industrial nation, the fighting "teeth" of combat soldiers, depends to a considerable degree on the "tail" of civilian support services — extending all the way to the factories that build the material.

Civilian populations were traditionally uninvolved in combat; however, the expanded destructive capabilities of modern warfare posed an increased direct threat to civilian populations. With the rapid increase of military technology, the term "military effort" has changed to include the "home front" as a reflection of both a civilian "sector" capacity to produce arms, as well as the structural or policy changes which deal with its vulnerability to direct attack.

This continuity of "military effort" from fighting soldier to manufacturing facility has profound effects for the concept of "total war." By this logic, if factories and workers producing war materiel are part of the war effort, they become legitimate targets for attack, rather than protected noncombatants. Hence in practice, both sides in a conflict often commit atrocities against civilians, with the understanding that these are legitimate and lawful targets in war.This military view of civilian targets has profound effects on the equity of applied legal principles on which the prosecution of crimes against humanity are based.


The importance of civilian manufacturing and support services in a nation's capacity to fight a war first became apparent during the twenty-five years of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars when the United Kingdom was able to finance, and to a lesser extent arm and supply the various coalitions which opposed France. Although Britain had a much smaller population than France, its global maritime trade and its early industrialisation meant that its economy was much larger than that of France, which allowed Britain to offset the French manpower advantage.

During the American Civil War, the capacity of Northern factories proved as decisive in winning the war as the skills of the generals of either side. During World War I the British Shell Crisis of 1915 and the appointment of Lloyd George as Minister of Munitions was a recognition that the whole economy would have to be geared for war if the Allies were to prevail on the Western Front.

World War II


"Main article#if:{2|}|s {l1|Home front during World War II}#if:{2| }
, and {l5|{5
"#if:{6| }| (too many parameters in )
A major factor in Allied victory in World War II was the ability of Allied nations to successfully and efficiently mobilize their civilian industries and domestic populations, especially the women, in order to turn out weapons and goods necessary for waging war. By contrast, mobilization of economic resources in Nazi Germany was so inefficient that some early historians of the Reich's economy concluded (probably incorrectly) that the Nazi leadership must have had an intentional policy of favoring civilian over military production until late in the war. The British, by contrast, had already accomplished mobilization for total war by 1940, thereby increasing the output of weapons — especially heavy bombers — vastly. During the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Soviet soldiers and civilians moved their industries out of reach of the advancing Germans (sometimes disassembling and reassembling entire factories) and began turning out vast numbers of the superior T-34 tank, the Il-2 attack aircraft, and other weapons.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • home front — n [singular] the people who stay and work in their own country while others go abroad to fight in a war on the home front ▪ The film is set on the home front in 1943 …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • home front — also homefront, by 1917, from HOME (Cf. home) + FRONT (Cf. front) in the military sense. A term from World War I …   Etymology dictionary

  • home front — home′ front n. mil the civilian sector of a nation at war when its armed forces are in combat abroad • Etymology: 1915–20 home′ front , adj …   From formal English to slang

  • home front — home front, adj. the civilian sector of a nation at war when its armed forces are in combat abroad. [1915 20] * * * …   Universalium

  • home front — noun the civilian population (and their activities) of a country at war • Hypernyms: ↑population * * * noun : a sphere of civilian activity directly or indirectly supporting the armed forces of a nation at war by production and supply of war… …   Useful english dictionary

  • home front — noun Date: 1919 the sphere of civilian activity in war …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • home front — noun The civilian sphere as opposed to the military; or specifically the civilian sphere which supports a military effort …   Wiktionary

  • home front — area away from where a war is being fought, protected area …   English contemporary dictionary

  • home front — noun (singular) the people who stay and work in their own country while others go abroad to fight in a war …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • Home Front (TV series) — Home Front is a lifestyle television series airing on TVNZ s channel Television One in New Zealand. It combines home makeover ideas, home maintenance and DIY tips, and guided tours around the homes of well known New Zealanders. The series has… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.