France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944

By Julian Jackson | Go to book overview

4
The German Problem

On 22 October 1940, Pierre Laval met Adolf Hitler at the railway station of the small town of Montoire-sur-le-Loir near Tours. The Montoire meeting, followed two days later by one between Hitler and Pétain, was one of the symbolic moments of Franco-German collaboration. For that policy of 'intelligence with the enemy', as it was described in 1945, Laval was executed after the war. At Montoire, however, Laval certainly did not see himself as a traitor. He was respecting one of the guiding principles of his life: the pursuit of peace. If Laval had any precedent in mind, it might well have been the meeting fourteen years earlier, on 17 September 1926, between his mentor Aristide Briand and the German Chancellor Gustav Stresemann, at another out-of-the-way location, the village of Thoiry in the Jura. At Thoiry the two men had tried to resolve the outstanding differences between France and Germany. In the end, neither meeting fulfilled the expectations aroused, but symbolically they were important moments in the twentieth-century Franco-German relationship.

Thoiry reminds us that if Franco-German 'collaboration' was above all a response to the Occupation, it drew on a longer tradition of Franco-German reconciliation, a tradition grounded both in pragmatism and idealism. In 1942, the journalist Alfred Fabre-Luce, one of the most intelligent advocates of collaboration, produced an anthology demonstrating its long pedigree in French culture. The book is a rather specious piece of special pleading, but it was the genuine reflection of a lifetime commitment to Franco-German reconciliation.

One does not have to accept Fabre-Luce's annexation of even Pascal to the collaboration cause, to recognize that the road to Montoire runs back from 1940 through Munich (1938), Thoiry (1926), and Locarno (1925), even to Agadir in 1911. In that year, the Premier Joseph Caillaux had defused a dangerous crisis in Franco-German relations by negotiating an agreement giving France a sphere of influence in Morocco in return for French concessions to Germany in the Congo. Caillaux declared: 'I have saved the peace of the world.' His policy was one of rational accommodation with Germany—the beginning of what might be called the pragmatic tradition in twentieth-century French foreign policy. It

1Anthologie de la nouvelle Europe (1942).

-81-

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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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