Verdict on Vichy

power and prejudice in the Vichy France regime

By Curtis, Michael

Publishers Summary:
"On May 10, 1940, Hitler's panzer divisions launched an offensive on their neighbors to the west, sweeping through the Low Countries and the Ardennes. Despite France's impressive army and parity in weaponry, by mid-June the Germans had occupied Paris. Days later, a new French government under Marshal Philippe Petain was formed, with its capital in Vichy. For the next four years France was first partially, and then fully, occupied by the Nazis. During that time, French officials and police cooperated with the policies of Nazi Germany, particularly in their treatment of France's 330,000 Jews, about a quarter of whom perished in Nazi death camps." "For decades, the official French line, by de Gaulle and others, held that Vichy France represented a small group of collaborators, not French society as a whole. What actually did happen during that fateful period, however, has been hard to assess, for many who collaborated later surfaced as prominent postwar figures in politics, business, and finance. The complex truth is now emerging, as the French government has finally accepted France's responsibility for the actions of the Vichy government, and long-suppressed files are being made public. In this book, Michael Curtis sets out to explore why - and how - people, groups, and institutions in France not only carried out the wishes and demands of the German occupiers but often, especially on the "Jewish question," exceeded them with a zeal that is shocking." "Curtis, a political scientist, uses up-to-date information and research to examine the degree to which ministers and officials of the Vichy regime, the legal and administrative system, the church, and individuals in different walks of life participated in discrimination against and persecution of Jews. He also assesses the extent of collaboration and accommodation with Nazi Germany, and the nature of the Vichy regime itself. Curtis draws upon the recent French government-sponsored reports of the complex "aryanization" process and the requisitioning of Jewish goods and property. His analysis, using this new information, addresses a number of subjects - the careers, indictments, and trials of some individuals for crimes against humanity committed during the war; the difficulties of the judicial system in reaching clear, unambiguous decisions on those indictments; and the ambivalent role of Vichy officials, including Francois Mitterrand, who belatedly forged links with or joined the Resistance."--BOOK JACKET.

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ISBN
978-1-55970-689-6
Publisher
New York : Arcade Pub., 2002.


REVIEWS

Library Journal

Reviewed on June 15, 2003

Drancy. Vel d'Hiv. Petain. These are just a few words that evoke one of the darkest times in France's history: the Vichy government of 1940-44. Curtis (political science, Rutgers Univ.) has written a detailed condemnation of Vichy's treatment of its Jewish population. Although at the time leaders claimed to be shielding their population from the German occupation, it is clear from Curtis's study that anti-Semitism wa...Log In or Sign Up to Read More

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