The general picture drawn by Michael Marrus and Robert Paxton nearly forty years ago of the Vichy government’s state antisemitism has stood the test of time and has been reinforced. If an element of revisionism is called for, it is with respect to the role played by some figures within the Catholic hierarchy, especially Pierre- Marie Gerlier, the cardinal archbishop of Lyon. A still more detailed knowledge of Jewish rescue has been built up, which confirms the special position of Le Chambon and the Plateau Vivarais. And yet recent work also shows more clearly that what happened there was integrally part of a much wider story of rescue. The debate between Jacques Semelin, on the one hand, and Marrus and Paxton, on the other, over whether the fate of the Jews in France in 1940–1944 was shaped more by indifference than by consciously held antisemitism raises questions relating to both the history of Christianity and twentieth-century modernity.
New and Renewed Perspectives
This article examines the 1994–1995 controversy surrounding President François Mitterrand’s past involvement with Vichy France through the concept of “the gray zone.” Differing from Primo Levi’s gray zone, it refers here to the language that emerged in France to account for the previously neglected complicity of bystanders and beneficiaries and the indirect facilitation of the injustices of the Vichy regime. The affair serves as a site for exploring the nuances and inflections of this concept of the gray zone—both in the way it was used to indict those accused of complicity with Vichy, and as a means for those, like Mitterrand, who defended themselves by using the language of grayness. Paying attention to these invocations of the gray zone at this historical conjuncture allows us to understand the logic and stakes of both the criticisms of Mitterrand and his responses to them, particularly in terms of contemporaneous understandings of republicanism and human rights.
Gaston Bergery and the Politics of Late Third Republic France and the Early Vichy State
Diane N. Labrosse
In July 1940, Gaston Bergery composed the founding document of the Vichy State, the Bergery Declaration, which called for a "renaissance" of France, domestically and in terms of its relations with the New European Order. It also offered one of the first clinical autopsies of the French Third Republic. Bergery's status vis-à-vis the end of the Third Republic is important in two interrelated respects. First, his political career is indicative of the taxonomical problems of French politics between the two World Wars and during the early Vichy regime. Second, his seminal role in the creation of the Pétainist state speaks to the French political upheaval of the late 1930s, when party lines and ideological adhesions were broken and re-formed in an unpredictable manner. His principal historical importance is based upon his status as one of the most notable representatives of the cohort of left wing pacifist and anti-communist politicians who rallied to Vichy.
Some Comparisons on his Vichy Years with My Family Story
Stanley Hoffmann’s years in France before, during, and after Vichy marked him both intellectually and psychologically. Many of his great works draw on his reflections on how he saw French people responding to this situation. By coincidence, my family was living in France from 1933 to 1940 as refugees from Nazi Berlin, where they had gone in 1923 as Menshevik refugees from the Bolsheviks. This essay explores Hoffmann’s story as a way of framing my own family history, and it reflects on the way those experiences influence our lives and ideas. Hoffmann went on to great prominence writing on international relations and the politics of France. Under his influence, I went on to help erode the academic boundary between domestic affairs and international relations.
The Politics of Marcel Pagnol's La Fille du puisatier
From late 1940 through mid-1942 Marcel Pagnol accommodated to varying degrees the demands of the Vichy regime and the German occupiers in order to ensure the survival of his film production business. In so doing, he placed himself in the ambiguous grey zone of thought and action that stretched between the poles of proactive collaboration and proactive resistance. Pagnol's wartime activities, especially the history of his film La Fille du puisatier (The Well-Digger's Daughter, 1940), offer insight into how material interest, ideology, and necessity shaped French industrialists' reactions to the Occupation. Pagnol's itinerary also reveals the compromise and conflict that often lay below the surface of Franco-German politics, while highlighting the importance that both regimes attached to cinema as a tool of economics, cultural policy, and propaganda.
Robert Badinter, Un Antisémitisme ordinaire: Vichy et les avocats juifs (1940-1944) (Paris: Fayard, 1997).
Richard H. Weisberg, Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France (New York: NYU Press, 1996).
Beyond the Syndrome Syndrome?
Henry Rousso’s The Vichy Syndrome (1987) has changed the way many people think and write about France since 1940. Yet it is likely that the term “syndrome” (from the Greek sundromos or “running together”) in his title remains a provocation because it invokes a pattern of behavior linked to disease and abnormality By extension, it conveyed an implied accusation—perhaps even an indictment—concerning an inability on the part of France as nation and society to confront the nature of the 1940-1944 period. Among historians, debate on the data or evidence that the concept of syndrome might legitimize or even privilege with regard to the writing of history added to questions about what had prompted Rousso to level this critique against colleagues in the discipline.
In societies coming to terms with historical injustices, public apology has recently emerged as a potent trend. This is particularly true of France, where the state served as a catalyst for a wave of public apologies for acts of intolerance committed during the Second World War. Following Jacques Chirac's 1995 official apology for Vichy's anti-Semitic policies, various groups in civil society publicly atoned for their particular Vichy roles in discrimination against Jews: the medical profession, the law bar, the Catholic Church, and the police. How does public apology, as distinct from court trials, historical commissions, and reparations, affect contemporary France's reconciliation with its past? This article also analyzes how apologizing for Vichy has created demand for an official French apology for the Algerian War. By 2006, the politics of memory in French society decidedly shifted attention from Vichy to post-colonialism: in both cases, the apology turn imposes new dynamics of remembering and forgetting.
Familialism and the National Revolution in 1940s Morocco
Margaret Cook Anderson
This article explores the influence of Vichy’s National Revolution in the empire by looking at the establishment of the Office de la Famille Française (FFO) in Morocco in 1941. The purpose of the FFO was to develop reforms aimed at assisting French families and increasing the French settler birthrate. The Residency, in consultation with settler familialist organizations, created this administrative body in the hopes that it would encourage French population growth, something they considered to be essential to the preservation of French interests in the protectorate. The FFO dispensed a variety of financial benefits to French families including birth incentives and marriage loans. All French citizens were obligated to join the FFO, thereby making the colony’s French children a collective responsibility.. Those who lacked sufficient numbers of qualifying French children were required to pay the familial compensation tax to help fund the FFO and in this way support other French families.
The Vichy Economy
Alya Aglan, Michel Margairaz, and Philippe Verheyde, eds., La Caisse de dépôts et consignations, la Seconde Guerre mondiale et le XXe siècle (Paris: Albin Michel, 2003).
Olivier Dard, Jean-Claude Daumas, and François Marcot, eds., L’Occupation, l’État français et les entreprises (Paris: Association pour le développement de l’histoire économique, 2000).
Jean-Marc Dreyfus, Pillages sur ordonnances: Aryanisation et restitution des banques en France 1940-1953 (Paris: Fayard, 2003).
Hervé Joly, ed., Faire l’histoire des entreprises sous l’Occupation: Les acteurs économiques et leurs archives (Paris: Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques, 2004).
Hervé Joly, ed., Les Comités d’organisation et l’économie dirigée du régime de Vichy: Actes du colloque international, 3-4 avril 2003 (Caen: Centre de recherche d’histoire quantitative, 2004).
Hervé Joly, ed., Les Archives des entreprises sous l’Occupation: Conservation, accessibilité et apport (Paris: IFRESI [Institut fédératif de recherche sur les économies et les sociétés industrielles], 2005).
Steven L. Kaplan and Philippe Minard, eds., La France, malade du corporatisme? XVIIIe-XXe siècles (Paris: Belin, 2004).
Annie Lacroix-Riz, Industriels et banquiers sous l’Occupation: La collaboration économique avec le Reich et Vichy (Paris: Armand Colin, 1999).
Michel Margairaz, ed., Banques, Banque de France et Seconde Guerre mondiale (Paris: Albin Michel, 2002).
Paul Sanders, Histoire du marché noir 1940-1946 (Paris: Perrin, 2001).
Philippe Verheyde, Les Mauvais Comptes de Vichy: L’aryanisation des entreprises juives (Paris: Perrin, 1999).