Keywords: Belle Époque; Great War; Soldiers' Experience; Traumatic War Neurosis; Fascism.
The Great War represents a watershed between two eras of Western civilization, the incubator of the great European totalitarian States of the last century. The fleeting and fluctuating crowds theorized by Gustave Le Bon, guided directly by the "meneur de foules", would serve as a model for the Twentieth Century totalitarian leaders. They would now, however, find that the masses were willing to obey permanently within armies and other structures organized and governed in wartime. The conflict caused the sudden acceleration of a plan that had already been set in motion: to exorcise the inconsistency of the individual psyche in order to reduce the fragility of social structures and ensure the continuation of the power of the élite in the Age of the Masses.