On May Day 1891, nine people were killed in the French industrial town of Fourmies in département ‘Nord’ when troops opened fire against a crowd of striking workers and young people celebrating May Day. Another five later died of their wounds. The shooting triggered a heated public debate on the use of troops for the policing of strikes and demonstrations. The debate continued in the National Assembly and the Senate with greater or lesser intensity throughout the 1890s until after the First World War. In the French debate on the domestic role of the army, the arguments and concerns were very similar to those raised in Germany about the practical and political disadvantages of using young conscript soldiers to maintain public order.