France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944

By Julian Jackson | Go to book overview

14
Reconstructing Mankind

'The sexes have again to be clearly defined. Each individual must be either male or female, and never manifest the sexual tendencies, mental characteristics, and ambitions of the opposite sex.' Thus wrote Alexis Carrel in his international best-seller Man the Unknown (1935).1 Carrel was a Nobel prizewinning scientist, but in this book he assumed the role of sage and prophet. Arguing that science had disrupted the natural relationship between man and his environment, Carrel proposed to remedy this by a synthesis of sciences and social sciences. Such grandiose syncretic intellectual constructions were in the spirit of the technocratic reforming groups of the 1930s and Carrel had some contact with that other aspiring sage, Jean Coutrot.

In November 1941, Carrel was appointed to head the Foundation for the Study of Human Problems (Fondation pour l'étude des problèmes humains).2 The Fondation was set up to 'study the most appropriate measures to safeguard, improve and develop the French population'. Its staff consisted mostly of medical specialists, like Carrel himself, but there were also engineers and economists. Research groups were organized on public health, urbanism, nutrition, immigration, criminality, and childhood development. Carrel wrote that the Fondation aimed at the 'systematic construction of civilized man in the totality of his corporal, social, and racial activities'. It was necessary to 'reconstruct mankind according to natural laws.3 The Fondation Carrel's importance in the overall history of Vichy should not be exaggerated, but its objective of 'reconstructing mankind' was central to Vichy's project of national renewal.


Moral Hygiene/Social Hygiene

The 'reconstruction of mankind' began with women and the young. In the language of Vichy, the 'young' meant boys and young men; 'women' meant mothers. Boys were to be brought up to become the virile elite of the new France;

1 pp. 314–15.

2 See A. Drouard, Une inconnue des sciences sociales: La Fondation Alexis Carrel, 1941–1945 (1992).

3 A. Carrel, 'La Science de l'homme', in H. Massis (ed.), La France de l'esprit1940–1943: Enquête sur
les nouveaux destins de l'intelligence française (1943), 106–12.

-327-

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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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