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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
This article retraces the career of an important political figure from the interwar period in France who oscillated between Left and Right and ended up as a lackey to the Vichy regime. After reviewing the principal work pertaining to Bergery, this article emphasizes his ambiguity and complexity. A bourgeois, a left-wing elected official, the director of a newspaper, advocating a political current opposing communism and fascism even as he pursued an active life as a social butterfly, Bergery disrupts classical political categories. To try to get a grip on him, several archives are revisited: his officer's and ambassador's dossiers, the documents of his trial. A search for eyewitnesses is conducted. All the information gathered underlines the paradoxes and contradictions of an individual. Gaston Bergery's case proves to be a fascinating entry point by which to re-read an era and a milieu.
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.
What facilitates the psychic process of grieving a traumatic loss, and what happens when that process is blocked? Forbidden Games is, on one level, an intimate film about childhood trauma. When viewed from a psychoanalytic perspective informed by concepts such as introjection and pathological mourning, however, it emerges as a complex allegory that reflects, through its narrative and filmic elements, on the sociocultural and historical dynamics of France's troubled response to the loss of its identity as a democracy during World War II. The film also reflects on the even more shameful history of the rise of French anti-Semitism under the Vichy regime and France's history of silencing or repressing the drama of its willing collaboration with the Nazis' Final Solution. Private trauma thus screens public, political trauma as Clément's film becomes both a medium for sociocultural commentary and a memorial to loss that could not be buried or mourned.