France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944

By Julian Jackson | Go to book overview

Epilogue: Remembering
the Occupation

In January 1945, the conservative newspaper Le Figaro launched a campaign for the remains of Charles Péguy to be transferred to the Panthéon. This idea was a response to a Communist campaign for the 'pantheonization' of the recently deceased writer Romain Rolland who had been France's most famous fellow-travelling intellectual and an opponent of appeasement in the 1930s. Another proposal, from the Christian Democrat newspaper L'Aube, was that both Péguy and Rolland should be pantheonized, along with the philosopher Henri Bergson, who had been one of the maîtres à penser of Péguy

What did these three figures symbolize? Péguy represented a link between the patriotism of 1914 and that of 1944; Rolland a link between the anti-fascism of the 1930s and that of the Resistance; Bergson a reminder of the contribution of Jews to French culture. But other messages could also be read into their lives: Péguy's name had been exploited by Vichy; Rolland had been a pacifist during the First World War; Bergson had moved towards Catholicism at the end of his life. In the end, no one was transferred to the Panthéon in 1945, but these debates were only the first skirmishes in what was to be a long battle to claim the inheritance of the Resistance, a battle which was itself only the beginning of a longer war of memory over the Occupation.


Constructing Memory

No one was quicker off the mark to claim the inheritance of the Resistance than the Communists. Dubbing themselves the Party of the 75,000 martyrs, the Communists presented themselves as the true inheritors of the patriotic tradition of the French Revolution. In fact, the total number of French shot by the Germans was nearer 35,000, and not all of these were Communists. But by force of repetition, the figure of 75,000 attained a sort of poetic truth—and it was undeniable that the Communists had suffered higher casualties than any

1 G. Namer, La Commémoration en France de 1945 à nos jours (1987), 25–45.

-601-

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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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