French Cinema

L’ image et le mot…

Book Review – “Vichy et la chasse aux espions nazis, 1940–1942: complexités de la politique de collaboration”

Source: Institute of Historical Research  “Vichy résistancialiste? New perspectives on an old myth

In August 1985 the French weekly L’Evénement du jeudi published a dossier of articles by professional historians titled ‘Pétain, héros ou traître?’ to mark the fortieth anniversary of the Marshal’s trial for high treason as Vichy head of state. Readers reacted passionately to the forum, flooding the magazine with letters either denouncing or defending the man and the regime. In the latter category, one text stuck out. Written by a José Casenave, a veteran of the 1940 campaign who subsequently joined the Resistance and specialised in shepherding escaped POWs and downed Allied aviators across the Spanish border, it naively heralded Pétain as ‘le premier résistant de France qui n’a pas cédé aux Nazis un mètre carré de terrain’ and inaccurately dismissed de Gaulle, who had seen combat as a tank commander in 1940, as ‘un colonel habillé en général qui n’a jamais vu de près un casque allemand, n’a jamais participé à un combat, et a seulement bradé les départements français de notre empire colonial’. (1) This apparent incongruity between action and ideology struck Henry Rousso, who at the time was writing his classic Le Syndrome de Vichy de 1944 à nos jours. Toward the end of the book Rousso cited the letter as evidence of ‘strange’ ideological categories such as ‘pétaino-gaullistes’ and ‘résistants-pétainistes-antigaullistes’, concluding blandly that ‘les divisions de l’Occupation ne furent pas aussi nettement délimitées que le temps évolué a fini par le laisser croire’. (2)”

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January 16, 2008 Posted by | Histoire | , | Leave a comment