front cover of After the Fall
After the Fall
War and Occupation in Irène Némirovsky's Suite française
Nathan Bracher
Catholic University of America Press, 2010
In this work, the first critical monograph on Suite française, Nathan Bracher shows how, first amid the chaos and panic of the May-June 1940 debacle, and then within the unsettling new order of the German occupation, Némirovsky's novel casts a particularly revealing light on the behavior and attitudes of the French as well as on the highly problematic interaction of France's social classes
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C'est la Guerre
Louis Calaferte
Northwestern University Press, 1999
In C'est la guerre Louis Calaferte presents the World War II--from the moment its outbreak is announced to the public through the unprecedented disaster that ensues, and through France's liberation in 1945--as it registers itself in the ever more isolated consciousness of a young, nameless boy.
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Continental Films
French Cinema under German Control
Christine Leteux
University of Wisconsin Press, 2022
From 1940 to 1944, the German-owned Continental Films dominated the French film landscape, producing thirty features throughout the Nazi occupation. Charged with producing entertaining and profitable films rather than propaganda, producer Alfred Greven employed some of the greatest French actors and most prestigious directors of the time, including Maurice Tourneur, Henri Decoin, Henri-Georges Clouzot, and Marcel Carné.
Using recently opened archival documents, including reams of testimony from the épuration (purification) hearings conducted shortly after the war, Christine Leteux has produced the most authoritative and complete history of the company and its impact on the French film industry—both during the war and after. She captures the wide range of responses to the firm from those who were eager to work for a company whose ideology matched their own, to others who reluctantly accepted contracts out of necessity, to those who abhorred the company but felt compelled to participate in order to protect family members from Nazi reprisals. She examines not only the formation and management of Continental Films but also the personalities involved, the fraught and often deadly political circumstances of the period, the critical reception of the films, and many of the more notorious and controversial events.
As Bertrand Tavernier explains in his foreword, Leteux overturns many of the preconceptions and clichés that have come to be associated with Continental Films. Published to rave reviews in French and translated by the author into English, this work shatters expectations and will reinvigorate study of a lesser-known but significant period of French film history.
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Denaturalized
How Thousands Lost Their Citizenship and Lives in Vichy France
Claire Zalc
Harvard University Press, 2020

“In Denaturalized, Claire Zalc combines the precision of the scholar with the passion of a storyteller…This is a deftly written book. Zalc combines in an accessible style (smoothly translated by Catherine Porter) the stories of people trapped within a bureaucracy that was as obsessed, perhaps, with clearing files as with hunting Jews. In other words, Zalc reminds us how cruel the banality of indifference could be.”—Wall Street Journal

Winner of the Prix d’histoire de la justice

A leading historian radically revises our understanding of the fate of Jews under the Vichy regime.

Thousands of naturalized French men and women had their citizenship revoked by the Vichy government during the Second World War. Once denaturalized, these men and women, mostly Jews who were later sent to concentration camps, ceased being French on official records and walked off the pages of history. As a result, we have for decades severely underestimated the number of French Jews murdered by Nazis during the Holocaust. In Denaturalized, Claire Zalc unearths this tragic record and rewrites World War II history.

At its core, this is a detective story. How do we trace a citizen made alien by the law? How do we solve a murder when the body has vanished? Faced with the absence of straightforward evidence, Zalc turned to the original naturalization papers in order to uncover how denaturalization later occurred. She discovered that, in many cases, the very officials who granted citizenship to foreigners before 1940 were the ones who retracted it under Vichy rule.

The idea of citizenship has always existed alongside the threat of its revocation, and this is especially true for those who are naturalized citizens of a modern state. At a time when the status of millions of naturalized citizens in the United States and around the world is under greater scrutiny, Denaturalized turns our attention to the precariousness of the naturalized experience—the darkness that can befall those who suddenly find themselves legally cast out.

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Discourse and Defiance under Nazi Occupation
Guernsey, Channel Islands, 1940–1945
Cheryl R. Jorgensen-Earp
Michigan State University Press, 2013

Captured by German forces shortly after Dunkirk, and not relinquished until May of 1945, nearly a year after the Normandy invasion, the British Channel Islands (Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, and Herm) were characterized during their occupation by severe deprivation and powerlessness. The Islanders, with few resources to stage an armed resistance, constructed a rhetorical resistance based upon the manipulation of discourse, construction of new symbols, and defiance of German restrictions on information. Though much of modern history has focused on the possibility that Islanders may have collaborated with the Germans, this eye-opening history turns to secret war diaries kept in Guernsey. A close reading of these private accounts, written at great risk to the diarists, allows those who actually experienced the Occupation to reclaim their voice and reveals new understandings of Island resistance. What emerges is a stirring account of the unquenchable spirit and deft improvisation of otherwise ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Under the most dangerous of conditions, Guernsey civilians used imaginative methods in reacting to their position as a subjugated population, devising a covert resistance of nuance and sustainability. Violence, this book and the people of Guernsey demonstrate, is not at all the only means with which to confront evil.

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Fighters in the Shadows
A New History of the French Resistance
Robert Gildea
Harvard University Press, 2015

The French Resistance has an iconic status in the struggle to liberate Nazi-occupied Europe, but its story is entangled in myths. Gaining a true understanding of the Resistance means recognizing how its image has been carefully curated through a combination of French politics and pride, ever since jubilant crowds celebrated Paris’s liberation in August 1944. Robert Gildea’s penetrating history of resistance in France during World War II sweeps aside “the French Resistance” of a thousand clichés, showing that much more was at stake than freeing a single nation from Nazi tyranny.

As Fighters in the Shadows makes clear, French resistance was part of a Europe-wide struggle against fascism, carried out by an extraordinarily diverse group: not only French men and women but Spanish Republicans, Italian anti-fascists, French and foreign Jews, British and American agents, and even German opponents of Hitler. In France, resistance skirted the edge of civil war between right and left, pitting non-communists who wanted to drive out the Germans and eliminate the Vichy regime while avoiding social revolution at all costs against communist advocates of national insurrection. In French colonial Africa and the Near East, battle was joined between de Gaulle’s Free French and forces loyal to Vichy before they combined to liberate France.

Based on a riveting reading of diaries, memoirs, letters, and interviews of contemporaries, Fighters in the Shadows gives authentic voice to the resisters themselves, revealing the diversity of their struggles for freedom in the darkest hours of occupation and collaboration.

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Folklore Fights the Nazis
Humor in Occupied Norway, 1940–1945
Kathleen Stokker
University of Wisconsin Press, 1997
    Armed with jokes, puns, and cartoons, Norwegians tried to keep their spirits high and foster the Resistance by poking fun at the occupying Germans during World War II. Despite a 1942 ordinance mandating death for the ridicule of Nazi soldiers, Norwegians attacked the occupying Nazis and their Norwegian collaborators by means of anecdotes, quips, insinuating personal ads, children’s stories, Christmas cards, mock postage stamps, and symbolic clothing.
    In relating this dramatic story, Kathleen Stokker draws upon her many interviews with survivors of the Occupation and upon the archives of the Norwegian Resistance Museum and the University of Oslo. Central to the book are four “joke notebooks” kept by women ranging in age from eleven to thirty, who found sufficient meaning in this humor to risk recording and preserving it. Stokker also cites details from wartime diaries of three other women from East, West, and North Norway. Placing the joking in historical, cultural, and psychological context, Stokker demonstrates how this seemingly frivolous humor in fact contributed to the development of a resistance mentality among an initially confused, paralyzed, and dispirited population, stunned by the German invasion of their neutral country.
    For this paperback edition, Stokker has added a new preface offering a comparative view of resistance through humor in neighboring Denmark.
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French and Germans, Germans and French
A Personal Interpretation of France under Two Occupations, 1914–1918/1940–1944
Richard Cobb
Brandeis University Press, 2018
The noted historian Richard Cobb presents an engaging synthesis of research, combined with highly original observations and analyses of the war years in France. The reader is given access to a unique private chronicle of the relations between occupants and occupés, which provides the “I was there” understanding that is a hallmark of Cobb’s well-known ability to humanize history. The author characterizes this work as “an essay in interpretation and imagination, an evocation drawing heavily on literary, or semi-literary, sources and even on autobiography, rather than a straight piece of history. The book is about people, individuals, rather than about institutions and administration.” A recognized classic is now back in print.
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The French Resistance
Olivier Wieviorka
Harvard University Press, 2016

“Whatever happens, the flame of French resistance must not and will not go out.” As Charles de Gaulle ended his radio address to the French nation in June 1940, listeners must have felt a surge of patriotism tinged with uncertainty. Who would keep the flame burning through dark years of occupation? At what cost?

Olivier Wieviorka presents a comprehensive history of the French Resistance, synthesizing its social, political, and military aspects to offer fresh insights into its operation. Detailing the Resistance from the inside out, he reveals not one organization but many interlocking groups often at odds over goals, methods, and leadership. He debunks lingering myths, including the idea that the Resistance sprang up in response to the exhortations of de Gaulle’s Free French government-in-exile. The Resistance was homegrown, arising from the soil of French civil society. Resisters had to improvise in the fight against the Nazis and the collaborationist Vichy regime. They had no blueprint to follow, but resisters from all walks of life and across the political spectrum formed networks, organizing activities from printing newspapers to rescuing downed airmen to sabotage. Although the Resistance was never strong enough to fight the Germans openly, it provided the Allies invaluable intelligence, sowed havoc behind enemy lines on D-Day, and played a key role in Paris’s liberation.

Wieviorka shatters the conventional image of a united resistance with no interest in political power. But setting the record straight does not tarnish the legacy of its fighters, who braved Nazism without blinking.

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The Hunt for Nazi Spies
Fighting Espionage in Vichy France
Simon Kitson
University of Chicago Press, 2007
From 1940 to 1942, French secret agents arrested more than two thousand spies working for the Germans and executed several dozen of them—all despite the Vichy government’s declared collaboration with the Third Reich. A previously untold chapter in the history of World War II, this duplicitous activity is the gripping subject of The Hunt for Nazi Spies, a tautly narrated chronicle of the Vichy regime’s attempts to maintain sovereignty while supporting its Nazi occupiers.

Simon Kitson informs this remarkable story with findings from his investigation—the first by any historian—of thousands of Vichy documents seized in turn by the Nazis and the Soviets and returned to France only in the 1990s. His pioneering detective work uncovers a puzzling paradox: a French government that was hunting down left-wing activists and supporters of Charles de Gaulle’s Free French forces was also working to undermine the influence of German spies who were pursuing the same Gaullists and resisters. In light of this apparent contradiction, Kitson does not deny that Vichy France was committed to assisting the Nazi cause, but illuminates the complex agendas that characterized the collaboration and shows how it was possible to be both anti-German and anti-Gaullist.

Combining nuanced conclusions with dramatic accounts of the lives of spies on both sides, The Hunt for Nazi Spies adds an important new dimension to our understanding of the French predicament under German occupation and the shadowy world of World War II espionage.
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Images of Occupation in Dutch Film
Memory, Myth and the Cultural Legacy of War
Wendy Burke
Amsterdam University Press, 2017
The German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II left a lasting mark on Dutch memory and culture. This book is the first to explore depictions of that period in films made a generation later, between 1962 and 1986. As Dutch public opinion towards the war altered over the postwar decades, the historical trajectory of Dutch recovery and reconstruction-political, economic, and, most complicated of all, psychological-came to be revealed, often unconsciously, in the films of the period.
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Last Train to Auschwitz
The French National Railways and the Journey to Accountability
Sarah Federman
University of Wisconsin Press, 2021

In the immediate decades after World War II, the French National Railways (SNCF) was celebrated for its acts of wartime heroism. However, recent debates and litigation have revealed the ways the SNCF worked as an accomplice to the Third Reich and was actively complicit in the deportation of 75,000 Jews and other civilians to death camps. Sarah Federman delves into the interconnected roles—perpetrator, victim, and hero—the company took on during the harrowing years of the Holocaust.

Grounded in history and case law, Last Train to Auschwitz traces the SNCF’s journey toward accountability in France and the United States, culminating in a multimillion-dollar settlement paid by the French government on behalf of the railways.The poignant and informative testimonies of survivors illuminate the long-term effects of the railroad’s impact on individuals, leading the company to make overdue amends. In a time when corporations are increasingly granted the same rights as people, Federman’s detailed account demonstrates the obligations businesses have to atone for aiding and abetting governments in committing atrocities. This volume highlights the necessity of corporate integrity and will be essential reading for those called to engage in the difficult work of responding to past harms.
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Liberated
The Radical Art and Life of Claude Cahun
Kaz Rowe
J. Paul Getty Trust, The, 2023
Courageous Surrealist artist Claude Cahun championed freedom at every turn, from rejecting gender norms and finding queer love to risking death to sabotage the Nazis.

At the turn of the twentieth century in Nantes, France, Lucy Schwob met Suzanne Malherbe, and lightning struck. The two became partners both artistically and romantically and transformed themselves into the creative personas Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore. Together, the couple embarked on a radical journey of Surrealist collaboration that would take them from conservative provincial France to the vibrancy of 1920s Paris to the oppression of Nazi-occupied Jersey during World War II, where they used art to undermine the Nazi regime.

Cahun and Moore challenged gender roles and championed freedom at a time when strict societal norms meant that the truth of their relationship had to remain secret. Featuring ten photographs by Cahun and Moore, this graphic biography by cartoonist Kaz Rowe brings Cahun’s inspiring story to life.

Ages thirteen to eighteen
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Not the Germans Alone
A Son's Search for the Truth of Vichy
Isaac Levendel
Northwestern University Press, 2000
Winner of the Prix Franco-Européen

On the eve of D-Day, Isaac Levendel's mother left her hiding place on a farm in southern France and never returned. After 40 years of silence and torment, he returned to France in 1990 determined to find out what had happened. This is the story of how, with perseverance, luck, and official help, he gained access to secret wartime documents laying bare the details of French collaboration-and the truth about his mother's fate.
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Paris at War
1939–1944
David Drake
Harvard University Press, 2015

Paris at War chronicles the lives of ordinary Parisians during World War II, from September 1939 when France went to war with Nazi Germany to liberation in August 1944. Readers will relive the fearful exodus from the city as the German army neared the capital, the relief and disgust felt when the armistice was signed, and the hardships and deprivations under Occupation. David Drake contrasts the plight of working-class Parisians with the comparative comfort of the rich, exposes the activities of collaborationists, and traces the growth of the Resistance from producing leaflets to gunning down German soldiers. He details the intrigues and brutality of the occupying forces, and life in the notorious transit camp at nearby Drancy, along with three other less well known Jewish work camps within the city.

The book gains its vitality from the diaries and reminiscences of people who endured these tumultuous years. Drake’s cast of characters comes from all walks of life and represents a diversity of political views and social attitudes. We hear from a retired schoolteacher, a celebrated economist, a Catholic teenager who wears a yellow star in solidarity with Parisian Jews, as well as Resistance fighters, collaborators, and many other witnesses.

Drake enriches his account with details from police records, newspapers, radio broadcasts, and newsreels. From his chronology emerge the broad rhythms and shifting moods of the city. Above all, he explores the contingent lives of the people of Paris, who, unlike us, co­uld not know how the story would end.

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Persecution and Rescue
The Politics of the “Final Solution” in France, 1940-1944
Wolfgang Seibel
University of Michigan Press, 2016
In 1942, two years after invading France, the Germans implemented their policy of exterminating the Jews. In contrast to Jews in many parts of German-occupied Europe, however, the majority of Jews in France survived, thanks to opposition to the Nazi extermination policy from Church dignitaries and the moral indignation of the average Frenchmen. Seeking to maintain popular support, the Vichy Regime bargained with the Germans over the substance and extent of its collaboration, which the Germans needed in order to hold France.

Translated from the German and drawing on German and French sources, Wolfgang Seibel traces the twisted process of political decision-making that shaped the fate of the Jews in German-occupied France during World War II. By analyzing the German-French negotiations, he reveals the underlying logic as well as the actual course of the bargaining process as both the Vichy Regime and the Germans sought a stable relationship. Yet that relationship was continually reshaped by the progress of the war, Germany’s deteriorating prospects, France’s economic and geopolitical position, and the Vichy government’s quest for domestic political support. The Jews’ suffering intensified when the Germans had the upper hand; but when the French felt empowered, the Vichy Regime stopped collaborating in the completion of the “final solution.” Persecution and Rescue: The Politics of the “Final Solution” in France, 1940–1944 demonstrates the ways in which political circumstances can mitigate—or foster—mass crime.


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Propaganda and Persecution
Renée Poznanski
University of Wisconsin Press, 2024
Renée Poznanski’s magisterial history of the French Resistance during World War II offers a comprehensive exploration of the most significant issue in that period’s social imaginary: the “Jewish question.” With extraordinary nuance, she analyzes the discourse around Jews and Judaism that pervaded the Resistance’s propaganda and debates, while closely examining the fate of Jews under Vichy and after. 

Poznanski argues that Jews in France suffered a double persecution: one led by the Vichy government, the other imposed by the Nazis. Marginalization and exclusion soon led to internment and deportation to terrifying places. Meanwhile, a propaganda war developed between the Resistance and the official voice of Vichy. Poznanski draws on a breathtaking array of sources, especially clandestine publications and French-language BBC transmissions, to show how the Resistance both fought and accommodated the deeply entrenched antisemitism within French society. Her close readings of propaganda texts against public opinions probe ambiguities and silences in Resistance writing about the persecution of the Jews and, in parallel, the numerous and detailed denunciations that could be read in the Jewish clandestine press. This extensive synthesis extends to the post-Liberation period, during which the ongoing persecution of Jews in Europe and North Africa would be portrayed as secondary to the suffering of the nation.

The winner of the 2009 Henri Hertz Prize by the Chancellerie des Universités de Paris, Sorbonne, Propaganda and Persecution makes major contributions to the study of the Resistance and of antisemitism. Lenn J. Schramm’s English translation brings Poznanski’s dynamic prose to life.
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Quicksand
Emmanuel Bove
Northwestern University Press, 1991
After the fall of France, colorless Joseph Bridet determines to go to Vichy and ingratiate himself with the regime there as a first step towards escaping to England, only to discover that he agrees with the suspicious and pitiless world of the Petainists. 
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Reign of Virtue
Mobilizing Gender in Vichy France
Miranda Pollard
University of Chicago Press, 1998
In Reign of Virtue, Miranda Pollard explores the effects of military defeat and Nazi occupation on French articulations of gender in wartime France.

Drawing on governmental archives, historical texts, and propaganda, Pollard explores what most historians have ignored: the many ways in which Vichy's politicians used gendered images of work, family, and sexuality to restore and maintain political and social order. She argues that Vichy wanted to return France to an illustrious and largely mythical past of harmony, where citizens all knew their places and fulfilled their responsibilities, where order prevailed. The National Revolution, according to Pollard, replaced the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity with work, family, and fatherland, making the acceptance of traditional masculine and feminine roles a key priority. Pollard shows how Vichy's policies promoted the family as the most important social unit of a new France and elevated married mothers to a new social status even as their educational, employment, and reproductive rights were strictly curtailed.
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A Rescuer's Story
Pastor Pierre-Charles Toureille in Vichy France
Tela Zasloff
University of Wisconsin Press, 2014
In telling Pierre-Charles Toureille’s story, Tela Zasloff also describes the wide-ranging network of Protestant pastors and lay people in southern French villages who participated in an aggressive rescue effort. She delves into their motivations, including their Huguenot heritage as members of a religious minority.
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Through the Day, through the Night
A Flemish Belgian Boyhood and World War II
Jan Vansina
University of Wisconsin Press, 2014
One of twelve children in a close-knit, affluent Catholic Belgian family, Jan Vansina began life in a seemingly sheltered environment. But that cocoon was soon pierced by the escalating tensions and violence that gripped Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. In this book Vansina recalls his boyhood and youth in Antwerp, Bruges, and the Flemish countryside as the country was rocked by waves of economic depression, fascism, competing nationalisms, and the occupation of first Axis and then Allied forces.
            Within the vast literature on World War II, a much smaller body of work treats the everyday experiences of civilians, particularly in smaller countries drawn into the conflict. Recalling the war in Belgium from a child’s-eye perspective, Vansina describes pangs of hunger so great as to make him crave the bitter taste of cod-liver oil. He vividly remembers the shock of seeing severely wounded men on the grounds of a field hospital, the dangers of crossing fields and swimming in ponds strafed by planes, and his family’s interactions with occupying and escaping soldiers from both sides. After the war he recalls emerging numb from the cinema where he first saw the footage of the Nazi death camps, and he describes a new phase of unrest marked by looting, vigilante justice, and the country’s efforts at reunification.
            Vansina, a historian and anthropologist best known for his insights into oral tradition and social memory, draws on his own memories and those of his siblings to reconstruct daily life in Belgium during a tumultuous era.

Best Special Interest Books, selected by the American Association of School Librarians

Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Reviewers
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Vichy and the Eternal Feminine
A Contribution to a Political Sociology of Gender
Francine Muel-Dreyfus
Duke University Press, 2001
In this nuanced history of occupied France, Francine Muel-Dreyfus presents a powerful examination of the political and social construction of gender under the Vichy regime. Arguing that the regime used symbolic violence to reshape a liberal culture once based on individual rights into one of deference to hierarchical authority, Muel-Dreyfus shows how Vichy invoked theories of “natural” gender inequality and “eternal” opposition between the masculine and the feminine to justify women’s legal and social subordination, and how these ideologies were incorporated into the French woman’s sense of self.
Drawing on an extensive body of legislative, religious, educational, medical, and literary texts, Muel-Dreyfus examines how the Vichy regime brutally resurrected the gender politics that had been rejected during France’s social struggles in the 1930s. Strikingly, she reveals how this resurrection in turn fed into racial politics: childless women, for instance, and those who had abortions were construed—like Jews—as threats to France’s racial “purity.” With its atendant patterns of social inclusion and exclusion that were deeply rooted in the political and cultural history of the Third Republic, Muel-Dreyfus claims, a pervasive range of gendered metaphors helped to structure the very laws and policies of the Vichy regime.
The French language edition of this book was published in 1996 to wide acclaim. Contributing to theories about the role of gender in political philosophy, to the cultural anthropology of symbolic representation, and to our understanding of the history of fascism, Vichy and the Eternal Feminine will appeal to French, European, and twentieth-century historians; students and scholars of gender and racial studies; political scientists; and anthropologists.


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The Vichy Syndrome
History and Memory in France since 1944
Henry Rousso
Harvard University Press, 1991
From the Liberation purges to the Barbie trial, France has struggled with the memory of the Vichy experience: a memory of defeat, occupation, and repression. In this provocative study, Henry Rousso examines how this proud nation—a nation where reality and myth commingle to confound understanding—has dealt with les années noires. Specifically, he studies what the French have chosen to remember—and to conceal.
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When France Fell
The Vichy Crisis and the Fate of the Anglo-American Alliance
Michael S. Neiberg
Harvard University Press, 2021

Winner of the Society for Military History’s Distinguished Book Award

Shocked by the fall of France in 1940, panicked US leaders rushed to back the Vichy government—a fateful decision that nearly destroyed the Anglo–American alliance.

According to US Secretary of War Henry Stimson, the “most shocking single event” of World War II was not the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but rather the fall of France in spring 1940. Michael Neiberg offers a dramatic history of the American response—a policy marked by panic and moral ineptitude, which placed the United States in league with fascism and nearly ruined the alliance with Britain.

The successful Nazi invasion of France destabilized American planners’ strategic assumptions. At home, the result was huge increases in defense spending, the advent of peacetime military conscription, and domestic spying to weed out potential fifth columnists. Abroad, the United States decided to work with Vichy France despite its pro-Nazi tendencies. The US–Vichy partnership, intended to buy time and temper the flames of war in Europe, severely strained Anglo–American relations. American leaders naively believed that they could woo men like Philippe Pétain, preventing France from becoming a formal German ally. The British, however, understood that Vichy was subservient to Nazi Germany and instead supported resistance figures such as Charles de Gaulle. After the war, the choice to back Vichy tainted US–French relations for decades.

Our collective memory of World War II as a period of American strength overlooks the desperation and faulty decision making that drove US policy from 1940 to 1943. Tracing the key diplomatic and strategic moves of these formative years, When France Fell gives us a more nuanced and complete understanding of the war and of the global position the United States would occupy afterward.

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When Roosevelt Planned to Govern France
Charles L. Robertson
University of Massachusetts Press, 2011
This book tells the story of a plan put forth by President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II for an Allied military occupation of France in the aftermath of liberation, and of General Charles de Gaulle's efforts as self-appointed leader of the Free French Movement to thwart FDR's intentions. Charles L. Robertson frames the narrative as a mystery in which he plays the role of detective. He begins at a dinner party thirty years ago, where he first learned of the alleged plan from an elderly former aide to de Gaulle. Yet it wasn't until 2004, when he heard the same story repeated during the 60th commemoration of D-Day, that he set out to investigate whether it was true.

Many French are aware of this episode and believe, on the basis of later Gaullist officials' writings, that until the last moment a military occupation of their country was imminent. This view, across the years, has helped darken relations between France and the United States. Yet few if any Americans have ever heard of this plan, and in the event, no Allied military government of France was ever established.

How and why it never came to be, and why the French still believe it almost did, is the subject of this book. Robertson recounts how the president of the most powerful nation in the world was outmaneuvered in both his earlier plans for an occupation of France and his subsequent attempts to keep General de Gaulle from "seizing" power—in a France that ultimately, despite Roosevelt's intentions and expectations, regained its place among the victorious powers under de Gaulle's leadership.
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