This masterful book is the first comprehensive reappraisal of the Vichy France regime for over 20 years. France was occupied by Nazi Germany between 1940 and 1944, and the exact nature of France's role in the Vichy years is only now beginning to come to light. One of the main reasons that the Vichy history is difficult to tell is that some of France's most prominent politicians, including President Mitterand, have been implicated in the regime. This has meant that public access to key documents has been denied and it is only now that an objective analysis is possible. The fate of France as an occupied country could easily have been shared by Britain, and it is this background element, which enhances our fascination with Vichy France. How would we have acted under similar circumstances? The divisions and repercussions of the Vichy years still resonate in France today, and whether you view the regime as a fascist dictatorship, an authoritarian offshoot of the Third Reich or an embodiment of heightened French nationalism, Curtis's rounded, incisive book will be seen as the standard work on its subject for many years.
Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade imprint, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in history--books about World War II, the Third Reich, Hitler and his henchmen, the JFK assassination, conspiracies, the American Civil War, the American Revolution, gladiators, Vikings, ancient Rome, medieval times, the old West, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.
Was the wartime Vichy regime a helpless victim or an enthusiastic collaborator in Nazi crimes? That question has been the cause of much controversy in France, and according to this comprehensive indictment,"the verdict on Vichy must be guilty." Rutgers political science professor Curtis argues that Vichy's anti-Semitic policies were"a deliberate, autonomous French government policy rather than...a response to German pressure." Vichy passed laws to strip Jews of their civil rights, seize their assets and exclude them from most professions. Worse, the French police apparatus organized and carried out the rounding up of Jews for deportation to the death camps, a task that the small German police contingent in France would have been hard-pressed to accomplish. With more freedom of action than most of occupied Europe, Curtis argues, Vichy was far more complicit in the Final Solution, especially in comparison with occupied Denmark and even the Axis governments in Bulgaria and Fascist Italy, which took concerted action--or at the very least, were less inclined to enforce discriminatory laws--to protect Jews under their jurisdiction. Curtis sets Vichy policy in the context of pre-war right wing and anti-Semitic political tendencies, and explores the post-war consensus that sought to downplay Vichy collaboration in favor of a mythology of heroic national Resistance to the Germans. He goes beyond the Vichy officials themselves to explore the acquiescence or silence of French society--the legal establishment, Church leaders, even left intellectuals like Sartre and de Beauvoir--in the face of anti-Semitic persecution. Drawing on the latest research, Curtis provides a comprehensive, nuanced but morally uncompromising look at France's darkest hour. 8 pages of b&w photos.