France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944

By Julian Jackson | Go to book overview

24
A New France?

It was the sea. A huge crowd was jammed together on either side of
the street. Perhaps two million people. The roofs too were black with many more.
Small groups were clustered at every window, with flags all around. … As far as
the eye could see, there was nothing but this living tide of humanity, in the sun-
shine, beneath the tricolour … I went on, touched and yet tranquil, amid the
inexpressible exultation of the crowd, under the storm of voices echoing my name
… This moment was one of those miracles of the national consciousness, one of
those gestures which sometimes through the centuries illuminate the history of
France. In this community, with only a single thought, a single enthusiasm, a
single cry, all differences vanished, all individuals disappeared.1

This was how de Gaulle described his triumphal procession down the ChampsÉlysées on 16 August 1944. Watching the newsreels of this even a few days later, the young Stanley Hoffmann, free at last from the threat of arrest and deportation, did not dissent. He felt that the 'euphoria of a national general will was palpable—fleetingly'.2

De Gaulle's moment of apotheosis, however, was not the 'Liberation of France'. It occurred halfway through a process which had begun in Corsica in September 1943 and was finally complete only in April 1945 when the last German pockets in Saint-Nazaire and Lorient were liberated. Each locality had its own moment of liberation. Some, like Tulle or Guéret, had more than one. The Liberation, therefore, was an intense experience of national communion at a moment when French national territory had never been more fragmented.3 The Liberation was a rite of passage between the old regime and the new, an unreal moment suspended between past and future. But it was also a moment dense with historical symbolism: in Paris the barricades were a conscious reenactment of 1848 and 1871. Léon Werth, in Paris on 24 August, wrote: 'I didn't believe in history. And now everything is resonant with history. My chest is swelling with history.'4 Each liberation was a compression into one day of all the

1 De Gaulle, Mémoires, 573.

2 'To be or not to be French', 16.

3 See Kedward's reflections in Kedward and Wood (eds.), Liberation of France, 1–9.

4Déposition, 723.

-570-

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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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