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The French call them 'the Dark Years'... This definitive new history of Occupied France explores the myths and realities of four of the most divisive years in French history. Taking in ordinary people's experiences of defeat, collaboration, resistance, and liberation, it uncovers the conflicting memories of occupation which ensure that even today France continues to debate the legacy of the Vichy years.
Winner of the French-American Foundation Translation Prize for Nonfiction Jean Guéhenno's Diary of the Dark Years, 1940-1945 is the most oft-quoted piece of testimony on life in occupied France. A sharply observed record of day-to-day life under Nazi rule in Paris and a bitter commentary on literary life in those years, it has also been called "a remarkable essay on courage and cowardice" (Caroline Moorehead, Wall Street Journal). Here, David Ball provides not only the first English-translation of this important historical document, but also the first ever annotated, corrected edition. Guéhenno was a well-known political and cultural critic, left-wing but not communist, and uncompromisingly anti-fascist. Unlike most French writers during the Occupation, he refused to pen a word for a publishing industry under Nazi control. He expressed his intellectual, moral, and emotional resistance in this diary: his shame at the Vichy government's collaboration with Nazi Germany, his contempt for its falsely patriotic reactionary ideology, his outrage at its anti-Semitism and its vilification of the Republic it had abolished, his horror at its increasingly savage repression and his disgust with his fellow intellectuals who kept on blithely writing about art and culture as if the Occupation did not exist - not to mention those who praised their new masters in prose and poetry. Also a teacher of French literature, he constantly observed the young people he taught, sometimes saddened by their conformism but always passionately trying to inspire them with the values of the French cultural tradition he loved. Guéhenno's diary often includes his own reflections on the great texts he is teaching, instilling them with special meaning in the context of the Occupation. Complete with meticulous notes and a biographical index, Ball's edition of Guéhenno's epic diary offers readers a deeper understanding not only of the diarist's cultural allusions, but also of the dramatic, historic events through which he lived.
In Renegotiating French Identity, Jane Fulcher addresses the question of cultural resistance to the German occupation and Vichy regime during the Second World War. Nazi Germany famously stressed music as a marker of national identity and cultural achievement, but so too did Vichy. From the opera to the symphony, music did not only serve the interests of Vichy and German propaganda: it also helped to reveal the motives behind them, and to awaken resistance among those growing disillusioned by the regime. Using unexplored Resistance documents, from both the clandestine press and the French National Archives, Fulcher looks at the responses of specific artists and their means of resistance, addressing in turn Pierre Schaeffer, Arthur Honegger, Francis Poulenc, and Olivier Messiaen, among others. This book investigates the role that music played in fostering a profound awareness of the cultural and political differences between conflicting French ideological positions, as criticism of Vichy and its policies mounted.
For four years, German soldiers not only stood guard over and fought in France, but also lived their lives. While the everyday experiences of the occupied French population are well-documented, we know much less about the occupiers. The lives of ordinary German soldiers offer new insights into the occupation of France and the history of Nazism.
Basing his extensive research into hitherto unexploited archival documentation on both sides of the Rhine, Allan Mitchell has uncovered the inner workings of the German military regime from the Wehrmacht’s triumphal entry into Paris in June 1940 to its ignominious withdrawal in August 1944. Although mindful of the French experience and the fundamental issue of collaboration, the author concentrates on the complex problems of occupying a foreign territory after a surprisingly swift conquest. By exploring in detail such topics as the regulation of public comportment, economic policy, forced labor, culture and propaganda, police activity, persecution and deportation of Jews, assassinations, executions, and torture, this study supersedes earlier attempts to investigate the German domination and exploitation of wartime France. In doing so, these findings provide an invaluable complement to the work of scholars who have viewed those dark years exclusively or mainly from the French perspective.
European modernism underwent a massive change from 1930 to 1960, as war altered the cultural landscape. This account of artists and writers in France and England explores how modernism survived under authoritarianism, whether Fascism, National Socialism, or Stalinism, and how these artists endured by balancing complicity and resistance.
In this fascinating volume, renowned historian Howard M. Sachar relates the tragedy of twentieth-century Europe through an innovative, riveting account of the continent's political assassinations between 1918 and 1939 and beyond. By tracing the violent deaths of key public figures during an exceptionally fraught time period—the aftermath of World War I—Sachar lays bare a much larger history: the gradual moral and political demise of European civilization and its descent into World War II. In his famously arresting prose, Sachar traces the assassinations of Rosa Luxemburg, Kurt Eisner, Matthias Erzberger, and Walther Rathenau in Germany—a lethal chain reaction that contributed to the Weimar Republic's eventual collapse and Hitler's rise to power. Sachar's exploration of political fragility in Italy, Austria, the successor states of Eastern Europe, and France completes a mordant yet intriguing exposure of the Old World's lethal vulnerability. The final chapter, which chronicles the deaths of Stefan and Lotte Zweig, serves as a thought-provoking metaphor for the assassination of the Old World itself.

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