France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944

By Julian Jackson | Go to book overview

Preface

This book is inspired by the conviction that the time is ripe for a new history of France during the German Occupation. The last general history of this subject, by the French historian Jean-Pierre Azéma, appeared in 1973, but in the twenty-seven years since then a huge amount of research has taken place. My ambition in writing this study is to offer a new interpretative synthesis which takes account of the massive quantity of new work. What this means, therefore, is that this book could not have been written without the pioneering archival work of innumerable other historians. I hope that I have made my debts to them clear in the footnotes, but I would like to take the opportunity in this preface to mention by name some of those historians whose work has been of particular inspiration and stimulation to me: Philippe Burrin, Luc Capdevila, Daniel Cordier, Jean-Louis Crémieux-Brilhac, Laurent Douzou, Jean-Marie Guillon, Stanley Hoffmann, Roderick Kedward, Pierre Laborie, François Marcot, Robert Paxton, Denis Peschanski, Henry Rousso, Gisèle Sapiro, John Sweets, Olivier Wieviorka.

It can be seen that the majority of names on this list are French, and this fact perhaps needs underlining given the seemingly ineradicable belief outside France (and indeed sometimes in France as well) that the French are still unwilling to 'face up' to their past. While writing this book I lost count of the number of people who wanted to tell me about France's voluntary amnesia about the Occupation and her predeliction for believing in heroic legends about the Resistance. The problem with such comments is not only the unwarranted condescension which underlies them—the assumption is that 'we', the British, would have faced up to things much better in similar circumstances—but also the fact that they are so patently false. It is true that the first important studies of the Vichy regime came from outside France, but French historians caught up long ago. Far from being years which French historians avoid, the Vichy period is probably at present the most intensively researched in French history even if it is difficult to say how far, and in what ways, the findings of the scholarly community have penetrated to the wider public. If anything, however, popular views of the Occupation in France have become excessively fixated on collaboration and antisemitism while the most recent scholarly research has tended to focus again on the Resistance after some years of neglect. One of my aims in this book is also to bring the Resistance back into the picture while not in any way underplaying the bleaker aspects of the period.

I am most grateful to Tony Morris, formerly of OUP, for having encouraged me to write this book and supporting it so enthusiastically. When I told him

-vii-

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France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Maps and Figure xvi
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Introduction: Historians and the Occupation 1
  • Part I - Anticipations 21
  • 1: The Shadow of War: Cultural Anxieties and Modern Nightmares 27
  • 2: Rethinking the Republic: 1890-1934 43
  • 3: Class War/Civil War 65
  • 4: The German Problem 81
  • 5: The Daladier Moment: Prelude to Vichy or Republican Revival? 97
  • 6: The Debacle 112
  • Part II - The Regime: National Revolution and Collaboration 137
  • 7: The National Revolution 142
  • 8: Collaboration 166
  • 9: Collaborationism 190
  • 10: Laval in Power: 1942–1943 213
  • Part III - Vichy, the Germans, and the French People 237
  • 11: Propaganda, Policing, and Administration 246
  • 12: Public Opinion, Vichy, and the Germans 272
  • 13: Intellectuals, Artists, and Entertainers 300
  • 14: Reconstructing Mankind 327
  • 15: Vichy and the Jews 354
  • Part IV - The Resistance 383
  • 16: The Free French 1940-1942 389
  • 17: The Resistance 1940-1942 402
  • 18: De Gaulle and the Resistance 1942 427
  • 19: Power Struggles 1943 447
  • 20: Resistance in Society 475
  • 21: Remaking France 506
  • Part V - Liberation and After 525
  • 22: Towards Liberation: January to June 1944 529
  • 23: Liberations 544
  • 24: A New France? 570
  • Epilogue: Remembering the Occupation 601
  • Appendix: The Camps of Vichy France 633
  • Bibliographical Essay 637
  • Index 647
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