France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944

By Julian Jackson | Go to book overview

13
Intellectuals, Artists,
and Entertainers

'When M. Montherlant went to receptions at the German Institute, he consented to Auschwitz', wrote the Communist writer Claude Morgan in 1945. Although this remark was an extreme assertion of the responsibility of intellectuals, the prestige attaching to intellectuals in France did invest their actions with huge significance. The trials of intellectuals at the Liberation attracted as much publicity as those of Pétain and Laval: they were punished more for who they were than what they had done.

The surest way to avoid compromising oneself was to go abroad. This was a real possibility for artists and intellectuals, many of whom had foreign contacts. American institutions like the Rockefeller Foundation provided grants and organized visas. From New York, the biologist Louis Rapkine organized the departure of French scientists who wished to leave. The most important initiative of this kind was the Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC), a privately funded American organization set up immediately after France's defeat, and run from Marseilles by a young Harvard classicist called Varian Fry.

Despite limited funds, and harassment by the French authorities, the ERC helped some 1,500 people to escape, including Hannah Arendt, André Masson, André Breton, Max Ernst, and Heinrich Mann. Some sailed from Marseilles after visas, legal or forged, had been obtained for them; others were smuggled across the Spanish border. Some had to be persuaded to leave. Marc Chagall was slow to accept that his French citizenship would not protect him from anti-Semitism. He left in March 1941, having been reassured by Fry that there were cows in the United States. Fry was eventually expelled from France in August 1941, but his assistant, David Benédite, continued the rescue work for a few more months. The ERC's last 'client' was Marcel Duchamp who sailed from Marseilles in May 1942.2

1 Verdès-Leroux, Refus et violences, 399.

2 V. Fry, Surrender on Demand(New York, 1945); I. Guenther, 'Emergency Rescue Committee', in B.
Gordon (ed.), Historical Dictionary of World War Two France: The Occupation, Vichy and the Resistance,
1938–1946 (Westport, Conn., 1998), 119–20; D. Benédite, La Filière marseillaise (1984).

-300-

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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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