In recent decades historians have done a lot to reveal the social and political diversity of the people who participated in the French Resistance. But little has been said about non-white resisters who were among the 200,000 men and women from the colonies living in the French metropole during the Occupation. This article shows that many of them were entangled in the Resistance as early as the summer of 1940 and that they became involved in the most political and violent forms of defiance. Resistance, however, was not a “natural” decision for many of the colonial workers or prisoners, whose daily struggles could bring them into tension with the Free French as well as Vichy. So, if this study aims to rectify misconceptions of the Resistance as an entirely Eurocentric affair, it also probes the complicated relationship between colonial subjects and the metropole during the war.
*The full text version of this article is in French
Historians generally consider resistance in Europe as a national phenomenon. This vision is certainly accurate, but forgets one important datum: the Allies have played a decisive part in European resistance, by recognizing (or not) governments in exile, by authorizing (or not) the free access to the BBC, and by using their secret services (mainly the Special Operations Executive, SOE, and the Office of Strategic Services, OSS). This article tries to show how this action has shaped resistance in Western Europe, and given to the Anglo-Americans a leading part in clandestine action—even if national powers, in one way or another, have resisted this hegemony.
La résistance en Europe a le plus souvent été considérée comme un combat national, tant par les hommes et les femmes qui y ont participé que par les historiens qui ont, par la suite, tenté de l’analyser. Sans contester ce schéma, il convient sans doute de l’enrichir, en admettant que l’intervention des Britanniques, puis des Américains, a contribué à européaniser la résistance. En la pliant à un modèle organisationnel unique tout d’abord ; en imposant des structures de commandement et une stratégie identiques ensuite ; en légitimant les pouvoirs en exil enfin. Ces interventions ont au total amené à une homogénéisation de l’armée des ombres sur le Vieux Continent, sans que les résistances nationales n’aliènent, pour autant, leur identité propre.
Caribbean Activism and the Invention of a National Memory of Slavery in France
resistance within the context of twenty-first-century republicanism. This particular case illustrates the way new anti-racist groups mobilized the memory of slavery to articulate a new kind of black identity in France. This article therefore complements the
Historiography, Memory, and the Evolution of Le Silence de la mer, 1942-2012
Among the best-selling French literary works of the twentieth century, Vercors' novella has enjoyed an exceptionally rich afterlife thanks to numerous print editions as well as several influential stage and screen adaptations: Jean-Pierre Melville's 1947 feature film, Jean Mercure's 1949 play, Vercors' own 1978 theatrical rendering, and a 2004 television movie written by Anne Giafferi and directed by Pierre Boutron. Taking a comparative approach that weighs the aesthetic and ideological priorities of these authors and directors alongside shifts in historiography and French political culture, this article traces the evolution of Le Silence de la mer as a contested site of national memory and a means of negotiating the ethically-charged concepts of collaboration and resistance.
If the Resistance as a whole is part of French identity, the different types of resistance, among them that of women, do not benefit from the same status. On the contrary, official commemorations of the Resistance are based upon two implicit statements: that the Resistance and the nation are somewhat equivalent— the Resistance being viewed as the uprising of the whole nation—and that to differentiate among the resisters would go against the very principles of the Resistance, its universalism, its refusal to make any distinction in race or origin. The assimilationism that is part of the ideology of the French Republic hinders the recognition of particularisms, whether regional, cultural or gendered.
Remembering and Forgetting World War II Indochina
M. Kathryn Edwards and Eric Jennings
This article analyzes the complex memorial stakes of the events that unfolded in French Indochina during World War II. It first considers the wartime years and analyzes the French frameworks for understanding the Vichy period and the Japanese takeover. It then delves into two memorial trends: the rehabilitation of the French resistance in Indochina and the commemoration of victims of the 9 March 1945 Japanese coup. These trends have produced a double elision: the focus on resistance to the Japanese has displaced previous allegiance to Vichy, and the emphasis on the victimhood of the French settler community has overshadowed responsibility for colonial violence.
Escape, Evasion, and Resistance in France, 1940–1945
The rescue of downed Anglo-American aircrews in France during the Second World War highlights the transnational nature of this kind of resistance. From their training to their evasion, flight crews themselves experienced the Second World War without traditional national borders. Moreover, their successful rescue in Occupied France depended on the ability of civilian helpers to think transnationally and to operate with little regard for the nation-state. This article focuses on evasion training, rescue, and postwar attempts to honor civilians for their assistance to highlight these themes of transnational resistance.
Les Temps modernes is publishing here for the first time a film script written by Sartre during the winter of 1943-1944. We thank Daniel Accursi for generously passing it along and Michel Contat for preparing it for publication. Sartre’s article entitled “A film for the postwar period,” which appeared [unsigned] in L’Ecran français and was incorporated into the Lettres françaises [clandestine], no. 15, April 1944, clearly indicates the purpose of this project: “On screen—and only on screen—is there place for a panic-stricken, a furious or a serene crowd. The novelist can evoke the masses; if the dramatist wants to represent them on stage, he must symbolize them by using half a dozen characters who assume the name and function of the chorus; only films show them. And it is to the masses themselves that they do so: to fifteen million or twenty million spectators. It is in this manner that film can speak about the crowd to the crowd. That is what the great pioneers of film, such as Griffith, Cecil B. de Mille and King Vidor understood so well. This does not mean that films cannot show love stories or conflicts between individuals. Far from it. But they must reinsert them into their social setting. The speed with which the camera can move from place to place also permits it to situate a story in the whole universe. The wellknown rule of theatrical unity in French classical drama does not apply at all to film. One can even introduce several plots simultaneously, have them unfold in different settings and have their very diversity contribute to the creation of a complete social situation. The film’s unity therefore emanates from its profound meaning, from the epoch it restores, and not from the concatenation of the circumstances that make up a minuscule and unique anecdote.
Does it Count as a Rescue When a Jew Saves a Fellow Jew?
This article explores the relief, rescue, and resistance activities of Rabbi Zalman Schneerson and the Association des Israélites pratiquants (AIP) in Vichy France. The rabbi's prior experience in clandestine activities and spiritual resistance in the Soviet Union served as a training ground for the resistance work he eventually undertook in Vichy. Schneerson and his family were able to shelter, feed, and educate more than eighty children during the war, save at least fifty-three children from deportation, and help smuggle at least thirty-five children to Switzerland. That Schneerson and his family survived and rescued Jewish refugees in Vichy France, a regime that willingly deported nearly half of its foreign Jewish population to death camps, demonstrates that he and his wife Sara were not novices in clandestine work. Indeed, their staunch resistance to Vichy antisemitism was largely a legacy of Hasidic resistance to antisemitism under Soviet rule.
From History to Historiography
Two obstacles blocked the incorporation of the rescue of Jews in France into the Resistance movement. The first, which can be traced back to the sources of the social imaginary, had to do with the fear of stirring the old demon of the Jewish problem by referring specifically to the fate awaiting the Jews. The second was inseparable from the meaning attached to the Resistance ever since its inception, which focused on political opposition to Vichy and on the liberation of France and never included rescuing those whose lives were in danger. This double marginalization (from the History of the French people as a whole and from that of the Resistance) survived liberation and gave way to three different historiographies: that of the French Resistance, that of the rescue of the Jews, and that of Jewish resistance. The history of the rescue of the Jews in France should be studied through an integrated perspective that leads to thinking about the Resistance as a whole, organized and unorganized, Jewish and non-Jewish.