Between Justice and Politics: The Ligue Des Droits de L'homme, 1898-1945

By William D. Irvine | Go to book overview

Epilogue

What does the distressing stance of some members of the League during the Vichy regime say about the history of the League itself ? One answer might be: nothing. These individuals, however shocking their behavior, were a distinct minority within the League and, strictly speaking, a minority within the prewar minority. An organization as large of the League would inevitably attract a few rogues, and their presence, however regrettable, says nothing important about the League itself. Yet, although the League certainly did attract rogue elements, these men were not the kind of leaguer who might have been casually associated with the organization for its electoral utility—as might have been true, say, for Marcel Déat or Pierre Laval. They had been members of its Central Committee, presidents of important departmental federations, frequently wrote in the Cahiers, and were outspoken at League congresses. Emery might have represented a minority within the prewar League, but it was not such a small minority as that, witness the fact that he carried fully 40 percent of the delegates at its 1935 congress. They were in fact some of the most highprofile members of the association.

It is also possible to suggest that however central these men may have been to the life of the League they nonetheless were individuals who never internalized its principles, were in it for the “wrong” reasons, and simply did not belong in the same company as a Victor Basch. At one level this is incontestably true. But the issue is more complex than that. The man with the single most appalling record under Vichy and into the postwar years, Challaye, was also in many ways an incontestably excellent leaguer. His stance on the Painlevé affair and the Moscow trials was far more principled than that of his fellow Central Committee members. His arguments against French colonization today read as far closer to League principles than those of his principal antagonist Maurice Viollette. It was Challaye who in 1924 wanted to keep League sections from involving themselves in the elections; ten years later it was he who insisted that

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Between Justice and Politics: The Ligue Des Droits de L'homme, 1898-1945
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Between Justice and Politics - The Ligue Des Droits de L'homme, 1898–1945 iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • One - Origins, Organization, and Structure 5
  • Two - Ici on Ne Fait Pas de la Politique 20
  • Three - Politics, Yes, but Not Electoral Politics 53
  • Four - Liberty with All Its Risks 81
  • Five - The League from below 111
  • Six - War and Peace- 1914–1934 132
  • Seven - From the Popular Front to the Fall of France 160
  • Eight - Vichy 194
  • Epilogue 213
  • Notes 225
  • Bibliography 255
  • Index 257
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