France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944

By Julian Jackson | Go to book overview

5
The Daladier Moment:
Prelude to Vichy or
Republican Revival?

A month after Munich, Julien Benda wrote in the NRF: 'Will the

French bourgeoisie push its submission to the Reich so far as to adopt a fascist regime, notably the suppression of freedom of expression, the destruction of the representative system, racism?' A few weeks later Emmanuel Berl replied in his paper, Pavés de Paris: 'If M. Benda thinks that latent fascism seems likely, it is because a Popular Front government has in some way prepared the way for fascism in reducing to nothing those liberties to which the petite bourgeoisie and middle classes have been, and remain, so attached.'

This dialogue between Benda and Berl over Munich shows how deeply Munich had divided the French intelligentsia. In this case the division was especially poignant because both protagonists, although from different generations, shared similar backgrounds as members of the French Jewish bourgeoisie. Both were brilliant polemicists connected to the Gallimard publishing house. Benda (b. 1867) is most famous for his book Treason of the Clerks (1927) often taken to be an assault on intellectuals for becoming involved in politics. In fact Benda did not criticize intellectuals who defended 'universal' values—for example, Zola during the Dreyfus Affair—but only those—for example, Barrès, Kipling, Maurras—who became spokesmen of a 'particular' cause like nationalism.

During the war Benda had in fact written numerous patriotic articles, but his book was no mea culpa. On the contrary, he criticized the writer Romain Rolland for his wartime pacifism and his stand 'above the fray'. For Benda, Rolland was as wrong to criticize France in the name of pacifism as Maurras to defend her in the name of nationalism. The only correct position was to have defended France in the war because she incarnated rationalism and universal values. For Benda, the First World War had been a replay of the Dreyfus Affair with France in the victimized role of Dreyfus.

1 M. Cornick, Intellectuals in History: The Nouvelle Revue française under Jean Paulhan 1925–1940
(Amsterdam, 1995), 187–8, 191–2.

-97-

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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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