Occupation: The Ordeal of France 1940-1944
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France was slow and somewhat ineffectual in organizing resistance movement. In Occupation Ian Ousby challenges the myth that France was liberated " by the whole of France." The author explores the Nazi occupation of France with superb detail and eyewitness accounts that range from famous figures like Simone de Beauvoir, Charles de Gaulle, Andre Gide, Jean-Paul Sartre and Gertrude Stein to ordinary citizens, forgotten heroes and traitors.
responsibility in stimulating the panic. Belief in a fifth column also suited the mood of people increasingly inclined not just to fear their uniformed enemy but to look sideways at each other as well. Spy mania flourished. It had begun with the outbreak of war when, for example, Neville Lytton had been treated as a suspicious character for sketching a view of a château which included a railway line in the background. By June 1940 any stranger to the neighbourhood might be a German soldier in
Verdun its strategic importance. At first glance they make a pleasant change in an otherwise dull stretch of countryside. The forests have been replanted and, after an absence of fifty years or more, the birds have returned. Yet, despite being grassed over again, the ground is still pockmarked with saucer-shaped dips which were shell craters and criss-crossed with ditches which were trenches. Remnants of artillery positions stand in the midst of the woods; scattered monuments mark where soldiers
Third Republic politics to the circumstances of the Occupation: he wanted ‘to destroy the whole set-up’. The arts of bullying and cajoling that he had always commanded were lent additional weight by the authority of Pétain and the newly agreed armistice, and by the tragedy of Mers-el-Kébir and the threat of German displeasure. Meeting at Vichy on 9 July, their numbers depleted by the defiant spirits who had been rash enough to set sail for Casablanca on the Massilia, first the deputies and then
protested in private and in vain against this violation of both the armistice and international law, but now the Vosges once more marked France’s eastern border, as they had in 1914. People who had fled Alsace and Lorraine during fexode could return only if they had been resident since before 1918. All Jews, some of whose families had been rooted there since the Middle Ages, were barred from returning home – though, ironically, in the later phases of its campaign of persecution the Reich would
shunning the occupiers posed psychological difficulties, even moral dilemmas, only hinted at in Vercors’ fable. Guéhenno wresded with them in a long note addressed ‘to the German I pass in the street’, which took up the same mundane example as Sartre chose. It begins with a ringing statement: I don’t hate you, I don’t hate you any more. I know that you’ll never be my master. I pretend that I don’t see you. I act as if you don’t exist. I’ve promised never to speak to you. I can speak your