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The concept of time in just war thinking is often construed linearly, as though war has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Scholars have debated about the moral rules that apply to each within the jus ad bellum, jus in bello, and jus post bellum categories. This paper explores an alternative way of viewing war that conceives of time differently. Taking the last letters penned by French civilians just before their execution during the Nazi occupation of France during WWII as a starting point, the paper examines war as a moment of rupture that dislocates linear time. In their essence, these farewell letters are snapshots of war that relay what each individual is dying for and what they hope those who survive to see a future peace ought to live for. The paper charts time through the lens of the individual letter writer, the recipients, and post-war generations to showcase various layers of time, teasing out how concepts of virtue, gender norms, community, and collective memory structure the lived experiences of war and peace. The paper concludes by bringing these insights into conversation with just war considerations about the centrality of justice in making sense of war.

 

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