the vichy regime and i ts national revolution in the pol i...

The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i tical wri tings of Robert Bras illach, Marcel Déat, Jacques Doriot, and Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. Sean Hickey Department of History McGill University, Montreal September, 1991 A thesis submi tted to the Facul ty of Graduate St.udies and f{esearch in partial fulfj lIment of the requirements of the degree ot Master of Arts (c)

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Page 1: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),

The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i tical wri tings of Robert Bras illach, Marcel Déat, Jacques Doriot, and Pierre Drieu La Rochelle.

Sean Hickey

Department of History

McGill University, Montreal

September, 1991

A thesis submi tted to the Facul ty of Graduate St.udies and f{esearch in partial fulfj lIment of the requirements of the

degree ot Master of Arts (c)

Page 2: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),



This thesis examines the campaign wagp~ against Vichy's

National Revolution by Robert Brasillach, Marcel Déat, Jacques

Doriot, and Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. It explores the

particular issues of contention separating Vichy and the Paris

ultras as weIl as shedd':'ng light on the final evolutiou of a

representative segment of the fascist phenomenon in France •


Page 3: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),



Cette thèse est une étude de la rédaction politique de

Robert Brasillach, Marcel Déat, Jacques Doriot, et Pierre

Drieu La Rochelle contre la ~9volution nationale de Vichy.

Elle examine la critique des "collabos" envers la politique du

gouvernement P~tainist et fait rapport, en passant, de l'ere

finale d'un a3pect du phenomène fasciste en France.


Page 4: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),


Introduction One: "Notre Avant-Guerre" Two: At the Crossroads Three: Vichy- Society Recast

Chapter Four: Five:



Vichy- Society purged

Vichy- Legacy of Defeat










Page 5: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),



To date, historians of the French Collaboration have

focussed largely on three over lapPing relat ionshi ps: t.hat

between the Vichy regime and Naz1 Germany, that beLween t.he

latter and the Paris ultras, and the vanous struggles for

power and influence within each camp.: As a resull ot tlllS

triparti te fixation, the relatlonship between Vichy and the

ultras has received short shift. The pre::5ent work seeks ta

remedy this lapse so:newhat by exam1ning the war of \-JOrds waged

by t.he ultras against the Vichy and its National


This thesl.s 15 predicated on the fact that t.he ul tra

cri tique of Vichy extended weIl beyond the agenda of the

Nazis. The latter saw in the arm.lstice a means of precludinq

a continuation of the war from North AfrlCë:.' and a cos L-

effective method of securing their flank in Western Europe in

anticipation of an invasion of the Soviet Union; parùlleters

which periodically expanded ta meet the growing needs ot the

German war economy. Areas critical ta the Naz1s were subJect

ta the full weight of the Occuplers scrutiny and control.

Vichy' s National Revolution, on the other hand, to the pxtent

it did not impinge on a vital interest, was of only secondary

lSee, for example, Bertram Gordon, Collaborationlsm in France during the Second World War (Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, 1980), Pascal Ory, Les Collaborateurs, 1940-194~ (Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1976), and Robert Aron, The Vichy Regime, translated by Humphrey Hare (London, Putnam and Co. Ltd., 1958).

Page 6: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),




importance to the Germans. 2 Con .... ·ersel y, such reform figured

prominently among ultra prior~ties. In the absence of a

coherent NaZl àes 1 gn to manlpulate French domestic poli tics,

apart from the bJgey of an "ultra government" used ta extort

Vichy's cooperatlOn in matters related to the war effort and

the Final Solution, the ultrds enjoyed a wide discretion in

expressinq their own particular vision of how French society

should be restored to health. A dialogue of sorts,

degeneratlng more ,)ften than not into diatriL~, was thus

permi tted to develop between Vichy and the ul tras concerning

the nature of domestic political reform.

In order ta emphasise the lines of the ultra cri tique of

Vichy' s National Revolution more clearly, this study will

focus on members of t~e ultra camp who, in the inter bellum,

str ident l y advocated =' distinct vis ion Qf French regeneration;

men often labelled "f ascist" as a !:' ~sul t. Nor i5 this an

exhaustl ve survey of those in inter bellum France tarred wi th

the brush of fascism. It is limited to the political writings

of fou~ ~ndividuals: Robert Brasillach, Marcel Diat, Jacques

Doriot, and Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. Such a selection i~ in

many respects arbitrary. Limitations of time and space

dictated the exclusion of such notorious figures as AltJhonse

de Chauteaubriand and Marcel Bucard, to name but two, who

might just as ea~ Iy have been iIlcluded in lieu of on~ of the

~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972), p. 142-145.

Page 7: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),



four named prlnclples.

Those chosen are tairly representatlve Dt the scope and

diversity of French fascism. 1 Prasillach dnd Orle..!, whosf'

statures as li terary f iqures dre today as q:-ed t dS ever,

enjoyed reputatl.ons as the preemInent Intellectuals ot the

French fascist movement. D~at and Doriot exemplify the

political dimension of French fascism. The former, dn

introverted Ideologue, was the movement's premier pollLical

theoristi the latter was probably the closest France came ta

producing a leader wlth the charisma of d F~hrer or Duce. A

diverse and heterogeneous group, they accurately retlecL the

multi-faceted diversity which, while a princlplc source of

French fascism' s historical interest, was one of the gredt

source~ of its contemporary politlCdl weakness.

As this study i5 restricted te Braslilach, Deat, DorIot,

and Drieu La Rochelle, 50 aiso i t 15 restr 1. cted ta the ir

political wrltings. Thus, for example, details ot DOrIot's

soldi ering in Russia or Déat' s brief, unhappy 1 tenure as

Vichy's Minister of Labour and Natlonal Solidarlty are

introduced only insofar as they intrude upon thel! editorial

output. The wartime literary output ot Brasillach and Drieu i5

not considered at aIL.

3Some idea of the diversity and extent of the phenomenon in France can ne gleaned from Robert Soucy, "The Nature of Fascism in France", Journal of Corttemporary History, 1 (1), 1966, Zeev Sternhell, "Strands of French", ln Who Were t.he Fascists, ed. by S.U. Larsen, B. Hagtvet, J.P. Myklebust (Bergen, Universitetsforlaget, 1980), or G. Warner, "France", in European Fascism, ed. by S. J. Wool.f (London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970).

Page 8: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),


Finally, in response to those who might still insist that

the ultra camp was devoid of indigenous political ideas, that

lt was no more th~n a French mouthpiece for Nazi propaganda,

it is weIL to remember that with military defeat in the summer

of 1940, Déat, Doriot, and Drieu La Rochelle journeyed not to

the German occupied north but to the domestic seat of French

power at Vichy. Only with the~r exclusion from power and the

rejec.:tion of their plans for French regeneration did they

cross in~o the German camp.

Page 9: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),

, ,


The multifarious legacy of the Great War hovered 11ke d

spectre over French social and political life in the 1920s dno

1930s. It should thus come as no surprIse that mdny 01 the

most notoriou& figures of the Collaboratlon came of dge durlng

the period 1914-1918. Marcel Déat ended the war il much

decorated captain of infantry; Pierre Dneu La Hoche lle

experienced not only the f1uid batt.les of August 19H but <1)50

the cl~ustrophabic terror of Gaillpoll <1nd Verdun. The young

metallurgist Jacques Dorlot left the new Industr:lé.ll suburbs ut

Paris ln 1917 to continue hi s pol i tlcal educa Ll on on the

battlefields of E4rape. Even Robert BraSIllach, tao young lu

experience combat at first hand, belonged to that generatlon

which Robert Wahl describes as havlng grQwn up in Lhe shddow

of the Great War.· His father died in French North At r .lCd 1 n

the early days of the conflict and Braslliach was ralsed ln

that atrnosp~ere of super-patriotism WhlCh only non combalants

seemed able to sustaln.

Despite the seeming normality of the twenties and the

-illusion of a return ta the golden age of la belle epoque,

rnany of the changes which would eventually lead to the crlses

of the thirties were already taking shape. Among the most

important was the break-up of the French soclalist party

lRobert Wohl, The Gener~ ion of 1914 (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1979), pp. 32-36.

Page 10: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),


(SFIO) in 1920 over the lssue of Lenl.n's conditions for

membership ln the new Third Internatiomtl. Though Lenin 's

stress on a revi tal ized and central ized control of the

proletariat's struggle WdS li direct result of the successful

Bolshevik revolution ln Russia, the enthusiasm with which the

new emphas i5 on radj ",:alism and party discl.pline was

welcomed in France was indicative of a new extremism whose

sources were native ta France. Thj s new radicalism was perhaps

best personi f ied by the young Jacques Doriot.

Dor .lot spent the early yea-s of the war working in one

of the many factories '.-lhich sprang up around Paris to supply

France' s armles Wl. th the materlel needed ta f ight a modern

lnduslr ia l war. When he came of age in 1917 he was called ta

the colors and served with distinction. The November

armistice, however, did not see the end of Doriot's military

careeri before hl.s demobilization in May i920 he would witness

Bela Kun' s short-li ved communist regime in Hungary and

Gabrlele ct' Annunzio' s seizure of Fiume. Doriot returned ta

civilian life thoroughly radicalized by what he had seen and

done. 'rhe t irst major mamfestation of this new radicalism was

the role he pIayed in encouraging the Jeunesses socialistes to

break w l th the SFIO and submi t to the discipl ine of Moscow.

From this early foray into communist poli tics, Doriot began a

climb which many ~redicted would carry hirn to the Jeadership

of the French communist party (PCF).

If Doriot returned to civilian life convinced of the need

Page 11: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),


l l

to radl.calise the class strugqle in France, Lln oppos i Le

reaction could be witnessed in Marcel Déat. Deat had qone ta

war in 1914 with socialist sympathies arrived al via cdretul

intellectual analys is. A graduate of the prest. ig fous Eco le

normale supérieure, he found in the trenches ot the Western

Front the sentimental attachment to socl.alism WhlCh held il lwayn

eluded hlS previous academlC approach to the subject.' At

war's end he joined the SFIO and played a major pôrt. ln

repairing the damage caused ta the party's Pcrislan cadres by

the mass defections to the communists.

Pierre Drieu La Rochelle entered the army in 1913 atter

having failed to success fully complete the leav 1 nC]

examinat ions for the Ecole des sciences pOIl t igues. Dr l!~U

himself interpreted this failure as an attempt, due lü hls

unorthodox poli tical ideas and his unsavory family background 1

to bar him from a career in the French diplomatie serv i ce. '

In any event, Drleu never qUlte lost his passIon for polillCS

and his literary career was in frequen~ competItion with hlS

political pretensions. In fact, if Drieu first burst on the

French literary scene as a ~esult of his war poetry, he first

gained notoriety for his political writings. In 0e5~rQ_~~~

Fra:1ce (1922) and Genève ou Moscou (1928), Drieu warned

Europeans in general, and Frenchman in particular, that the

2stan ley Grossman, ilL' Evolution de Marcel Déat" , Revu~ d'histoire de la Deuxiime Guerre mondiale, 25(97), 1975, pp. 4-5.

3Pierre Andreu and Frederic Graver, Drieu La Rochelle (Paris, Hachette, 1979), p. 74.

Page 12: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),


days of European world mastery were over. He further

maintained that Europeans could prolong their global

domination only if they federated to offset the growing

dominance of new econom~c superpowers like the Soviet Union

and the United S:..ates. 4 Al though Drieu eventually lost faith

in the internationalist efforts of the League of Nations, his

conviction of the necessi ty of European federation never

completely left him.

Robert Brasillach came of age in the inter-war perie land

as such experienced none of the horrors of trench warfare. The

war, however, affected his developrnent insofar as it formed

the watershed which separated his world from that which Déat,

Dorlot, and Drieu had known in their youth. Brasillach also

differed significantly from the other three in that he was the

only one whose political gestation took place on the right of

France' s poli tical spectrum. Brasillach came into contact wi th

the Action Française and its ideology while a student at the

lycée Louis-le-GrRnd. 5 Unlike Drieu, who also experienced a

brief youthful flirtation with the Action Française which

ended due to the former's inability ta submit to the latter's

doctrinal rigidity, Brasillach suffered no qualms in

reconciling the off~cial line laid down by Maurras and his own

conscience. As the thirties pl'ogressed and Bras illach found i t

4Ibid., pp. 150-154, pp. 214-216.

~Paul Sérant, Le Romantisme fasciste (Paris, Fasquelle, 1959), pp. 27-28 .

Page 13: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),


increasingly difficu1t to hide his enthusiasm for the Nazi

regime, he continued to act as theaLre critlc for the Action

Française daily. Despite a growing ideologicai rift between

the two, Brasillach and Maurras were able to sustalfl a

collaboration based on mutual admiration and affectlon. b

Jacques Doriot's progress.lon towards [asclsm lS

inextricably linked with the history of the French communlst

party in the inter-war period. Doriot not only 1 Lnked hlS

fortune to the seemingly rising star of international

communism, but the leadership of the Communist Internationdl

saw in Doriot one of its brightest prospects. Havlnq drawn

attention to himHelf by his pivotaI role ln the mass

defections from the Jeunesses socialistes, Doriot became the

first young Frenchman to be sent to Moscow for poli tical

education.? In Moscow he met and was captivated by bath Lenln

and Trotsky, but remained enough of a political apportunlst

to abandon the latter and ultimately side with StaJln ln the

power struggle which followed Lenin's death in 1924. In 1922

Doriot returned to France and assumed the leddershlp of the

Jeunesses communistes, who saw i ts membershlp soar as a resu l t

of Doriot's popularity. However, Doriot's reputatlon remained

confined to communist circles until the Riff campalgn of 1925

6Robert Brasillach, Génération dans l'orage, 1968), p. 299.

Notre avant-guerre (1941), in Une ed. by Maurice Bardèche (Paris, Plon,

7Gilbert Allardyce, "Jacques Doriot et l' espri t fasciste en France", Revue ct' histoire de la Deuxième Guerre mOfldiale, 25 (97) , 1975, p. 35.

Page 14: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),



thrust him into national prominence. From his position of

immunity in the Chamber of Deputies, Doriot led the ferocious

communist campaign against the suppression of the rebels of

the Moroccan Ri f f .8 However, as the prospect of worldwide

revolution became increasingly jmprobable and the machinery of

the Comintern grew increasingly bureaucratised, voices began

to be raised against the unscrupulous ambition and unorthodox

methods of Doriot.

Imagining social democracy to be a greater enemy of the

working class than right wing reaction, in 1927 the Comintern

decreed that aIl Communist parties should adhere to the tactic

of "class against class". As a resul.t, the PCI-' was forbidden

from cooperating wi th other left wing parties and instead

ordered to direct its efforts towards stealing away their

membership. Doriot witnessed fjrsthand the disastrous effects

of a monolithic Comintern policy applied without regard to

local conditions when the Chinese Communists in Shanghai were

] iquidated by their erstwhile ally Chiang Kai-shek. This

gredtly shook Doriot' s faith in the infallibility of the

Comintern and helps explain his single-mindedness in opposing

the decision to apply "class against class" to France. 9

The crises generated by Doriot's subsequent criticism of

Comintern strategy seemed to come to a head fo11owing ~he 1928

8Diet~r Wolf, Doriot. Du communisme à la collaboration, traduit de l'allemand par Georgette Chatenet (Paris, Fayard, 1969), pp. 41-55.

9Ibid., pp. 62-68.

Page 15: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),


French general election. He was called to account for hjs

deviation from the official party 1ine and made ta pub1icly

reeant. These ideological differences were exacerbated by d

personality conflict between Doriot and Maurlce Thorez, the

man designated by Moscow ta lead the PCF. Al though di t ferencüs

were ostensibly reconciled by Doriot's recantatlon, acrimony

remained and Doriot set about reinforcing his positlon within

the party by having himself elected Mayor of Saint-DenIS, lhe

Parisian industrial suburb from which he had emerged, and

turning the city into a personal f iefdom. Thus began a nüw

staga in Doriot' s political career i a stage marked by a

growing detachment from national pol i tics and ~ln increased

interest in purely local concerns.

The final break with Moscow came following the rlots of

February 1934. Enraged by yet another political scandaI, on

the evening of 6 February various veterans' groups and right

wing leagues assembled before the Chamber of Deputles ta give

voiee to their contempt for the politicians of the Third

Republic. Events saon got out of hand and the niqht ended with

15 dead and 1500 injured .10 Despi te much evidence to the

contrary, the events of 6 February were widely viewed as an

attempted right wing coup. Rising ta confrant the imaglned

threat from the right, yet still unwilling ta cooperate with

the other elements of the French Left, the Communlsts staged

lOGordon Wright, France in Modern Times. (Third Edition; New York, W.W. Norton and Company, 1981), p. 381.

Page 16: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),



a protest demonstration on 9 February. In terms of size i t

could not compare wi th the numbers who had demonstrated on the

6 and who would demonstrate under the banners of the SFIO on

the 12.

Although the party line precluded such activity, Doriot

and his followers cooperated with the SFIO in organizing the

general strike and demonstrations of the 12 in Saint-Denis. l1

The massive success of this joint action offered proof of

Doriot' soft repeated contention that the Fren('!h Left was

capable of neutralizing the fascist threat if only the

Cùmmunists dropped their diviEive policy of "class against

class" .

The events of February 1934 served to reemphasize,

following events in Germany the previous year, the danger of

underestimating the fascist threat. It i5 from these events

that the Comintern' s switch to a policy of forging popular

fronts can be dated. Despite the fact that he had been proven

right by events, Doriot's open insubordination could not be

tolerated within a party which prided its~lf on the iron

discipline of its members. Ignoring repeated calls to journey

to Moscow to meet with Thorez and the Comintern leadership,

the latter eventually gave the PCF carte blanche in its

llWolf, pp. 108-112. Under pressure from below, the PCF eventually acq"iesced in the participation of its members in the 12 February demonstrations; in the eyes of the Comintern and the PCF leadership, Doriot' s crime was that he acted not in response to pressure from below but on his own ini tiath'e, wi thout PCF authorization, in coordinating the actions of his followers and those of the SFIO.

Page 17: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),


dealings with Doriot. He was finally expelled trom the party

in June 1934. Still ensconced in Saint-Denis, Dorlot's career

in national politics seemed at an end; expelled by a communist

party which now shamelessly adopted his tactics, he remained

persona non grata to a socialist party dnxious nat ta aliünate

its new communist allies.

A sharper contrast could hardly be drawn than that which

e~is~ed between Doriot, the populist and rabble rouser, anu

Diat, the withdrawn political ~deologue. However, lhe1r

respective political evolutions share similar1t~es Insofdr as

each was expelled from a major left wing party for expressing

the need to cooperate with parties to the r1ght. Llke Dor1ol

and the PCF, Déat' s future wi thin the SFIO seemed one of

unlimi ted horizons, and i t was not uncommon to hear him

referred to within party circ les as the likeliest successor ta

Lion Blum. Indeed, it seemed that Déat was being groomed for

a position of leadership; whenever the vicissItudes ot

electoral politics deprived him of a seat in the Chamber of

Deputies, the party was quick to make aval1able to him

employment within the party apparatus.

The genesis of Déat's falling out with the SFIO can be

traced to the publication in 1930 of Perspectives sociaJistes,

an ideological tract in which he questioned many of the basic

tenets of ~arxist socialism. In light of the failure of the

middle classes to become submerged in the proletariat and thus

create d situation were society became divided between a

Page 18: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),


super-rich minori ty and a vast and exploi ted working class,

Déat advanced the notion of a cOûlition of revolutionary

cl asses. 12 While the proletariat would remain the nucleus of

any su ch revolutionary movement, Déat argued that i ts success

dependl~d on its ability to forge a wide coalition ranging from

white caIlar employees and technicians to peasants, artisans,

and shopkeepers. aIl of whom he believed were feeling the

pinch of life under an economic system increasingly dominated

by high finance and monopoly capitalism. Not only did

Perspe~tives socialistes postulate an end to the proletariat 1 s

singular role in bringing about revolution, it also did away

with thH need for turbulent political upheaval. Déat argued

that in a modern industrial society power lay not wi th control

of the means of production but with control of the organs of

government. Thus, he replaced the violent seizure of power

with a three step process in which an electorally victorious

coali tion would gain control of the state and use the

bureaucratic apparatus at its disposaI to promote the

evolution of a socialist society.13 Finally, Déat argued

against the inflexibility of the Marxist framework and, while

recognizing its value as an analytical tool, repeatedly

emphasised the need for French socialists to rediscover

12Emily Goodman, The Socialism of Marcel Déat, (PhD. thesis, Stanford Uni versi ty, 1973), pp. 137-152.

13rbid., pp. 155-158.

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! 19

France' s native socialist tradi tion.·~

While D~at may have believed he was doing no more thdn

bringing socialist doctrlne into 1ine with contemporary

reali ty, the SFIO ideolog ists v iewed Perspect 1 'les SOÇl.d 1J s t~lI

as something uncomfortably close to heresy. Blum refused ta

even acknowledge the book while Jean Lebas, the soc i a l ist

mayor of Roubaix, used the SFIO press to cr.ltlcise Déat's

ideas.: 5 Had debate remained on a purely ideological plain,

a parting of the ways would not have been Inev 1 table and

Oéat's hypothesis might weIl have provoked the recons.lderatlan

of doctrinal assumptions he always maintained was the

motivating consideration behind the book.: b Déat however

lacked the requisite patience to let sleeping dogs lie and

immediately set about trying to assemble a coalition of

revolutionary classes.

He sought to fashion this coalition not by forming a new

populist party, but by bringing together those already

existing elements of the centre-left. In practical terms this

meant cooperation between the SFIO and the Rad.lcals; the

extra-national allegiance of the communists precluded their

adherence. His desire to forge a viable coalition, coming as

it did before the SFIO dropped its aloofness and decided to

14Zeev Sternhell, Neither Right nor Left, translated by David Maisel (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1986), pp. 150-151, p.180.

15Ibid., pp. 156-158.

16Ibid., p. 158.

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take an active raIe ln the ministerial game of the Third

RepubIic, caused considerable friction between Déat and the

SFIO executive. Intermittent flare-ups were intensified

following the 1932 parliamentary elections, when the SFIO's

electoral success pushed to the fore the question of

participation in a coalition government. The situation came ta

a head in July 1933 at an SFiO Congress at which, stirred on

by the twin threats of economic depression and fascism, Déat

and others who shared his neo-~ocialist views urged the party

to take a more active part in the governance of France. 17

Though the SFIO had never stressed strict adherence ta

orthodoxy in the same way as the PCF, the party leadership

cou ld no longer tolerate Déat' s refusaI to accept party

discipline and stop courting the Radicals. As a resu1t Déat

and three others were expelled from the party in November

1933; jn the wake of these expulsions, twenty-eight socialist

deputies and seven socialist senat ors voluntari ly followed

Déat out of the SFIO told.

Déat and Doriot thus found themsel ves in a poli tical

wilderness, ostracised from the parties to which they had

dedicated themselvesi both men had moved faster than their

respective parties in putting forward effective counters to

the fascist threat, and both had seemingly had their political

17Stanley Grossman, Neo-Socialism: A Study in Political Metamorphosis (PhO. thesis, University of Wisconsin, 1969), pp. 46-52, p. 100. Oéat's speech to the July 1933 Congress is re-printed in B. Montagnon, Adrien Marquet, Marcel Déat, Néo-socialisme? (Paris, Grasset, 1933).

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careers ruined before their ,erstwhile partles had been won

over to their proposals. ThE' era of the Popul.dr Front in

France demonstrated the efficaclty of the sort of cooperatlon

both Déat and Doriot advocated. Branded a renegade by the PCF,

Dor iot became the favored bête nOIre of the commun 1 sts. A

furious effort by the PCF during the 1936 electlon campaJgn

failed to strip him of his seat in the Chamber ot Deputies.

However, in May 1937 Marx Dormoy, the Popular front's Minlster

of the Interior, relieved him of his post as mayor ot SaInt

Denis on grounds of misgovernment.!H The mayoralty ra 0 which

followed was less a matter of municipal politics than cl blLter

confrontation between Doriot and the PCF. Following hlS deteat

at the hands of the PCF candidate, Doriot reslgned hlS seat ln

the Chamber of Deputies and focussed exc-luslvely on his newly

formed Parti populaire français (PPF).

The PPF was founded amid much tanfare in June 1936 on the

heels of the electoral success of the Popular Front. The party

platfarm advocated corporatism as both a means of ellminatlng

class conflict and as the basls of a new decentralized

democratiL: process. 19 However the party, particularly after

the initial tide of PPF fortunes began to ebb in late 1938 and

18Walf, pp. 245-249. The case against Doriot, though motivated by political considerations, was sound insofar as Doriot had a tendency ta blur the line between pdrty and muniCIpal funds.

19The PPF platform is elaborated in Jacques Doriot, Refaire la France (Paris, Grasset, 1938) and Paul Marion, Programme du Parti Populaire Français (Paris, Les Oeuvres Françaises, 1938).

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J, 939, found i ts true raison d'être in hatred of communi sm. ~o

The PPF freely availed itself of the ceremonial trappings of

fasc lsm and Doriot, more than any other poli tician of the

Third Republic, personified the ideal of the fascist leader.

Although it asplred to national proffilnence, even at the height

of its popularity it could realistically claim no more than 50

or 60 thousand members concentrated mainly in the Parisian

metropolis, the south of France (principally Marseille), and

French North Africa."'

Follow~ng their expulsion from the SFIO Déat and the

other neo-socialists lost no time in constituting themselves

into the Parti SocIaliste de France-Union Jean Jaures(PSDF).

Like DorIot and the PPF, they advocatei a rejuvenation of

France t hrough corporatism and neo-colonialism. 22 However,

despi te tt.e fact that in conjunction wi th two other SFIO

spI inter parties the PSDF was able to form the third largest

parI iamentary group in the Chamber of Deputies, 23 the party

enjoyed little grassroots support. In pursuit of an electoral

cHent.eIe 1 Déat advocated the creation of a para-mili tary

organization to establish contact with the masses and

technical cadres to act as a shadow government. Despite such

~OWolf, pp. 234-235.

21 l b id., pp. 2 16 - 224 .

~2The electoral platforms of the PSDF avai1able, but can be gleaned from Goodman, Grossman, pp. 176-216, pp. 292-293, pp. 354-361.

23Grossman, Neo-Socialism, p. 165.

are pp.

not readi1y 224-240 and

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efforts, however, the neo-soclalists failed tü carve out d

signi f icant nlCr<=> for themsel ves and consequent 1 y su f fc~red

severe losse~ at the polIs ln 1936.

Pierre Drieu La Rochelle moved l ike cl restless ghost

acrüss the French political spectrum. Brlef flirlations wlLh

everyone and everything from communism, to the Action

Française, to Gaston Bergery and the Radical party 1eft Drieu

deeply dissatisfied. It was not until the events of Feoruary

1934 that Drieu finally discovered a polltlcal phllosophy

which satisfied him. The mingllng of right and left wlng mon

of action in a common purpose convlnced hlm of th!:!

possibility, the necesslty even, of combinlng the nationalism

of the right. with the soclallsm of the left. ln a new

synthesis. 24 Drieu, unlike D~at and Doriot who ln the Inter­

war period never called themselves fascists and who had

repeatedly urged 1eft wing collaboration to counter the

fascist threat, called this synthesis fascism and unashamedly

declared himself a fascist.

Socialisme fasciste (1934) was Drieu's fasclst manifcsto.

In it he sided with D~at in pointing out the bankruptcy of

classical Marxism and the inability of the La

stage a success fuI revolution. However, whereas Déat had

continued ta inslst on the role of the proletariat as the

nucleus of any revolutionary coalition, Drieu felt the

proletariat to be degenerate and placed his hopes for

24Andreu and Grover, pp. 274-284.

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regeneration ln the petite bourgeoisie.: 5 He believed

democracy to be decadent and saw the twentieth century as an

era of authoritarian regimes established in reaction to the

liberal democratic regimes of the previous century, claiming

to recognize L~e zeitgeist of the age in the efforts of the

new German, Russlan, American, Polish, and Portuguese regimes

to replace class conf lict wi th nationa 1. solidari ty. 26 Drieu

saw no contradiction between his erstwhile internationalism

and his new national authori tarianism. He cri ticised communism

for 19norlng the reality of individual national genii in

favour of a specious international brotherhood of the working

classes. Believing that liberal democracy had demonstrated its

inabllity to forge an effective European federalism (a

reference to the failure of the League of Nations), he

professed to believe that such a federalism could be achieved

by a Europe sharing common fascist values. 27 He consummated

his new convlctions in 1936 when, answering Doriot's calI, he

j oined the PPF. 28

If, as sorne historians have maintained, French Iascism

was more a romantic notion than a clearly defined set of

2~Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Socialisme fasciste (Paris, Gallimard, 1934), pp. 35-37, p. 112.

26Ibid., pp. 106-112.

~7Ibid., pp. 234-238.

~tlHis numerous articles for the PPF weekly L'Emancipation nationale are reprinted in Avec Doriot (Paris, Gallimard, 19)7) and Chror.ique politique. 1934-1942 (Paris, Gallimard, 1943).

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poli and philosophical pos i tions,:<J such a c::mcl us lon

has particular relevance for the fascism of Robert Brasilldch.

Unlike Drieu, no single event can be po~nted to as the ycnesls

of Brasillach' s fascism. One ls inst.ead presented Wl th cl

steady evolution culminating in Bras.lliach' s edl torsh ip ot t.he

fascist weekly Je suis partout, but whose roots must be sought

in his student days in France's elite institutions ot

learnjng. Following his graduation from the lyc~e Louls-le-

Grand, Brasillach attended the Ecole normale superieure. The

student life appealed greatly to Brasillach and even aftcr his

formaI schooling ended and he was forced to earn hlS livlng as

a journalist and Iiterati, he never lost the unlque way of

perceiving the world acquired as a student.

To Brasillach, fascism always remained more cl mystique

than a carefuIIy def ined poli tical philosophy. ,0 This outlook

in large part explains why Brasillach was able to malntaln hlS

close ties wi th the Action Française long il fler he had

rejected that movement's germanophobia. Brasillach's tdscist

mystique was also ciosely connected with youth and the special

raIe he imagined it had to play in rejuvenating French

society; as a resuit his poUtics always remalned deeply

colored by a youthful feeling of rebellion and contempt for

29Sérant, p. 10. Eugen Weber, Varieties of Fascism (Princeton, New Jersey: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1964), pp. 138-142.

30Brasillach, p. 244, William R. Tucker, The Fascist Ego. A Political Biography of Robert Brasillach (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1975), p. 136.

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· 1



the status quo. Never closely affiliated with any political

party, Brasillach found his means of expression in the French

weekly Je suis partout. Staffed by Action Française renegades

and run along collective lines, Brasillach found in i ts

tightly knit group of young collaborators the sense of tribal

identity he had enjoyed as a student.

Je suis partout, although sprung from the Action

Française, owed allegiance to no political party and fiercely

guarded i ts freedom to act as an independent revue de combat.

In i ts pages Brasillach traced his vision of a fascist

international transcending national boundaries and uniting a

nationalist youth who could no longer conta in its contempt for

the established bourgeois order. Like any other religious or

pol i tica l ideology 1 Brasillach' E; fasclst mystique had its own

pantheon of youthful heros; the Spaniard José Antonio, the

Belgian Léon Degrelle, and the Romanian Corneliu Codreanu. To

Brasillach' s mind, aIl had devoted themselves selflessly to

the pursui t of an ideal which sought not only to end the

8nslavement of the human spirit by t3chnology which liberal

capitalism and Marxism bath condoned, but which also :;ought to

reestablish man on a whole new footing.

Brasi llach identified his new ideal man as homo-fascista

and believed him to be as representative of the new era into

which Europe was mo ling as the Christian knight had been

representative of the medieval age of faith. 31 This new

lIBrasillach, p. 205.

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fascist man mirrored the Classical ideal of symmetry between

mind and body. In his many travels abroad, what struck

Brasillach most about the new fascist regimes was the

spir.itual and mental vigour he imagined t.hey had been able ta

inculcate into their respective youths. 32 Fascism dppeal ed in

similar ways to Drieu. Obsessed with what he S..lW dS the

decadence of modern European man, Drieu Daw ln fasclsm' s

emphasis on f'port and fresh air a chance to reestablish the

balance between man' s physical and spiritual natures which he

believed had prevailed in the Middle Ages.])

Drieu considered Jews ta be particularly representati ve

of the degeneration and decadence he abhorred in modern man.

Though his first ~,-fe had been Jewish, evidence of a certain

ambiguity on his part, as war threatened he became

increasingly intolerant. 34. Brasi llach, who shared the

tradi tional anti -semi tism of the Action Française, followed a

similar radicalization. 35 Even Doriot, nurtured in the more

tolerant atmosphere of the French Left, came increasingly to

share in the anti-semitism of the PPF's Marseille and North

32Turner, pp. 104 -112.

33Drieu brought together aIl subject in Notes pour comprendre 1941) .

his pre-war musings on this le siècle (Paris, Gall irndrd,

34Robert Soucy, Fascist Intellect.ual: Drieu La Rochelle (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1979), pp. 179-183.

35Turner, pp. 159-160, pp. 166-168.

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African strongholds. 36

The diplomatie crises of the late 1930's saw Brasillach,

Déat, and Doriot deeply commi tted to appeasement. 37 Even

after German intentions were made clear in the wake of che

invasion of Czecho-s1ovakia in March 1939, they refused to

reassess their pos i tions. Such blind fai th culminated in

Déat' 5 famous editori!.~l "Mourir pour Danzig?", a passionate

plea against French invol vement in a war over the disputed

city. Only Drieu abandoned appeasement, breaking with Doriot

over the latter 1 s pro-Munich stance and continued forbearance

of Germany.

The crushing and unexpected defeat of 1940 quick1y gave

rise to rumours of a French fascist fifth-column acting under

German orders. lB As regards Déat, Doriot, Brasillach, and

Drieu La Rochelle, any such allegations are patently faise.

Despite what their cri tics called them, Déat and Doriot never

c Iaimed to be fasc ists. Though their respective poli tica1

ideas owed something to the fascist ideology and Doriot was

gui1ty of accepting subsidies from Mussolini 1 s Italy, their

primary concern was always with lifting France out of the

stagnation in which they believed she was mired.

J6WoH, pp. 312-314.

J7Turner, pp. 159-168. Déat's views are discussed in the previously cited theses by Goodman and Grossman; those of Doriot in Wolf, pp. 266-294.

JBRobert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972), p. 4.

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CJfi che other hand, Brasi llach and Drieu shamelessl y

avowed their fascism; their trips abroad and journ.llistic

admiration of foreign models were devoid of secrecy. They saw

in fascism a panacea for France's ills and, while recognizing

the international implications of t.heir committment,

never failed to put France first.

P.rasillach, Déat, Drieu La Rochelle, and Doriot were

quickly caught up in the chaos of war and defeat. Brasillach,

called to the colors in september 1939 and attached to the

Third Army in Alsace, passed into captivity w~th tht 51.gning

of the armistice in June 1940. Doriot was aiso called to the

colors; he saw action in the closing days of the campaign and

was decorated for bravery. Ever the political tactician, the

end of hostllities saw him on the road to Vichy.

Though nei ther Déat nor Drieu was mobilized, their

civilian status did not save them from the dislocation of

military collapse. Caught up in the flight from the advancing

Germans, they sought refuge in the French countryside. With

the signing of the armistice, each drew conclus ions s imi lar to

those drawn by Doriot and made his way to the provisional

capital in search of political opportunity.

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With its best units cut off or destroyed in northern

France and Belgium and her formidable eastern defenses

outflanked, the French army regrouped and attempted to stem

the German tide along the Somme and Aisne ri vers. The

breaching of this line by German tanks in early June ended any

hope of successfully pursuing the war on the Continent. The

French government was faced with either continuing the war

from North Afr Ica or peti tioning the Germans for terms of

armistice. Premier Paul Reynaud, with majority support in the

Cabinet, favoured military surrender in metropolitan France

and a continuation of the struggle from North Africa by a

government in exile. He was opposed by his Deputy-Premier,

Philippe Pétain. Though initially in a minority, with the

support of General Maxime Weygand and AdmiraI François Darlan,

Commanders-in-Chief of the Army and Navy respectively, Pétain

was able ta convince a growing number of ministers of the need

ta come ta terms with the Germans. 1 Sensing that support for

his own intransigence was slipping, on 16 June Reynaud

reslgned his post and recommended that the President of the

Republic ask Pétain to form a government. The quickly

cons ti tuted Pétain ministry immediately approached tl,:J Germans

lThe reasons behind Weygand' s and pétain' s desire for an armistice are dealt with in Robert Aron, The Vichy Regime,

! translated by Humphrey Hare (London, Putnam and Co. Ltd., 1958), pp. 23-24 and Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972), pp. 13-16.

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and terms were formally agreed ta on 22 June; three days

later, following the signing of a para~lel agreement with the

Italians, hostilities came ta an end. Petain, however,

believed his government's ma .... date extended beyond simply

negotiating an armistice. In an aodress to the nation on 25

June he declared:

Notre défaite est venue de nos relâches. L'esprit de jouissance détruit ce que l'esprit de sacrifice a édifié.

C'est à un redressement intellectuel et moral que, d'abord, je vous convie.

Français, vous l'accomplirez et vous verrez, je vous le jure, une France neuve surgir de votre ferveur.:

Thus, from the outset, were the issues of armistice and

national regeneration intimately linked.

On 29 June, under German escort, the French government

le ft Bordeaux for the newly designated Unoccupied Zone. Its

ultimate destination was Vichy, a spa city whose numerous

hotels provided ample accommoda.tion for the government and i ts

ministries. Vichy's temporary population was further swellcd

by an influx of senat ors and deputies summoned to the

provisional capital. In the drama about ta unfold, none would

play a greater role than Pierre Laval. Called ta the

government on 23 June as Minister of state and appointed

Deputy-Premier four days later, Laval was to prove

indispensable in convincing the National Assembly ta accept

2Philippe Pitain, La France Nouvelle (Montrouge, Imprimeurs Draeger frères, 1941), p. 20.

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l 32

drastic constitution~l revision.

As senators and deputies slowly began arriving in Vichy

throughout early JuIy, Laval worked tirelessly to conv ince

them of the need ta refashion the Constitution of the Third

Republic along more authori tari an lines. Leaderless and deeply

shaken by the swiftness and totality of the defeat, on 9 July

the assembled deputies and senat ors voted overwheimingly for

"a revis ion of the laws of the Constitution. 113 The assembled

notables however could not agree on specific proposaIs.

Instead, in strict compliance with the letter of the

Constitution, the following motion was tabled:

The National Assembly conf ers aIl powers on the Government of the Republic, under the signature and authority of Marshal pétain, President of the Council, to promulgate by one or more acts, the new Constitution of the French State.

This Constitution will guarantee the rights of Labour, Family and Country. It will be ratified by the nation and applied by the Assemblies it will have created. 4

Before the proposaI could be put to a vote, it was modified in

committee to forbid the Head of State from declaring war

wi thout the consent of the Nationdi AssembIy, which would

continue to exist until the new Iegisiative bodies cou Id be

consti tuted. In exchange for these concessions, Laval obtained

for Pétain "without restriction ... the full exercise of

JAron, p. 101.

4Ibid., p. 111.

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executive and legislative powers." 5 On 10 July, in a vote of

fi ve hundred and sixty-nine to eighty with seventeen

abstentions, the sarne Assembly elected under the banner of the

Popular Front voted the Thire' Republi c out of existence and

gave almost. absolute consti tutional, legisla t.l ve, and

executive power to Philippe Pétain.

As expected from men who in the inter-war period had been

vocal cri tics of the Third Republic, i ts dissolution and the

constitution of a new regime generated cons.lderable

enthusiasm. Brasillach and Déat praised the Marshal 's advocacy

of a program of national regeneration, while Jacques Doriot

declared himself "un homme du maréchal. lib He further

characterised the Marl.'lhal as " ... le pilote qui prend le

gouvernail en pleine tempéte, [et qui] a su donner une

direction au navire désemparé. ,,7 Brasillach, commemoratlng the

first anniversary of the armistice, exhorted his fellow


Il est le Chef. Soyez les hommes du Chef.

La partie, il y a un an, a failli mourir. Sans l'homme qui lui a fait le don de sa personne, elle ne serait plus.

Plus que jamais, la France et lui ne font qu'un. 8

5Ibid., p. 114.

6"Premier mai", Je suis partout, May 2 1941, "Revolution nationale", L' Oeuvre, 13 October 1940, Doriot, Je suis un homme du maréchal (Paris, Bernard Grasset, 1941).

'Doriot, Je suis un homme du maréchal, p. 5.

a"Il y a un an ••• Le Chef", Je suis partout, 23 June 1941.

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1 34

Drieu praisea the Marshal for his hard nosed realism in

recognizing the need, while others naively placed their faith

in the Royal Air Force, of signing an armistice. 9 Déat, in

his first editorial from German occupied Paris, maintained, as

he would throughout the war, that "[ l] a personne du maréchal

Pétain est au-dessus et en dehors de tout débat ... " 10

Déat had made '~.L. way to Vichy and, as a deputy, had

participated in the suicide of the Third Republic. rronically,

the height of Déat' s poli tical acti vi ty at Vichy was reached

only after his role as an elected representative had been

ecl ipsed by the change of regimes. Together wi th the ex­

Radical Gaston Bergery, Déat formed the Comité de constitution

du parti national unique in the hope of collecting together

the disparate elements gathered at Vichy into a totalitarian

party capable of providing effective support for pétain' s

National Revolution. 1l Adopting his ideas from the mass

tot.ulitarian parties of the victors, Déat maintained that such

a party must, in lieu of parliamentary democracy, ferm the

necessary intermediary between the state and i ts ci t.izens. His

efforts, however, were stillborni Pétain instead gathered

together, as a means of contact between his government and the

9Drieu La Rochelle, Chroniques poli tiques. 1934-1942, p. 265.

lO"Librement" , L'Oeuvre, 21-24 September 1940. See also "Il faut les chasser", L'Oeuvre, 2 December 1940.

llDéat's efforts are examined in J.P. Cointet, "Marcel Déat et le Parti Unique (été 1940)", Revue d' histoire de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, 23(91),1973.

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1 35

French people, veterans of the Great ~var and the recent l y

ended conflict into t.he Légion Française des Combattants.

Déat, who believed that the failure to consti tute a parti

unique would greatly undermine the likelihood of significant

reform, attributed the sabotage of his plans to a conspiracy

of reactionary elements acting behind the scenes at Vichy.!:

In pointing the f inger at an occul t conspiracy, Oéa t

chose ta ignore those more or less openly Oppos€~d ta the

constitution of such a party.lJ Not only Pétain and Ldval,

but such fellow ultras as Jacques Doriot staod in his path.

Having journeyed ta Vichy and surrounded himself with several

hundred PPF loyalists, Doriot loudly proclaimed his presence.

His influence however remained marginal and he had ta content

himsel f wi th settli:ag old scores.: 4 Ever at tuned to the

danger to his own power and prestige posed by tao close a

collaboration with others, Doriot held himself aloof from aIl

attempts at establishing a parti unique. Unwilling hawever to

appear the major stumbl ing black to uni ty, Doriot cleverly hid

his own lack of enthusiasm for Déat' s scheme behind the

12"La révolution nationale est dans l'opposition It, 1.' Oeuvre, 14 December 1940, and "Nécessité du parti", L'Oeuvre, 19 December 1940.

13Cointet, pp. 10-16.

14Most notably, Doriot threatened revenge against Man< Dormoy, the Popular Front Minister of the Interior who had deposed him as Mayor of Saint-Denis in 1937. Due ta insufficient evidencf~, i t has proven impossible to determine the extent of Doriot' s role (i f any) in the murder of Dormoy in July 1941. See Dieter Wolf, Doriot. Du communisme à la collaboration, traduit de l'allemand par Georgette Chatenet (Paris, Fayard, 1969), p. 246n.

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Marshal 's mistrust of Déat. i5 However, belief that a parti

unique could only be founded with the official sanction of the

Marshal was not necessarily a self-serving proposition. Robert

Brasillach, who did not share Doriot's appetite for political

sectarianism, nevertheless agreed with Doriot that only with

pétain' s blessing could such a party be formed. 16

Dr ieu La Rochelle did not make an appearance at Vichy

until 19 July. He took no part in Déat's efforts to found a

parti unique and by 23 July was already on his way back to

Paris on a diplomatie mission for Paul Baudoin, Vichy' s

Ministe"(" for Foreign Affairs. 17 Nevertheless, he too

maintai ned throughout the period of the Occupation the

necessity of an aIl encompassing mas~ party. His own efforts

a t founding such a party around Doriot, Bergery, and the

industr ialists and technocrats associated with the Worms

banking group also foundered on the rock of official

resistance. Publicly he refused to portion blame for the

failure of his scheme; in private however Drieu pointed the

f Inger squarel y at Laval. 18

Dr ieu' s return to Paris was soon followed by that of Déat

15Jacques Doriot, Je suis un homme du maréchal, p. 108, pp. 119-120.

1611Parti unique ou partis unis? ", Je suis partout, 9 October 1942.

17Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Fragment de mémoires (Paris, Gallimard, 1982), pp. 36-37.

lBlbid., p. 47, and Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Chroniaues politiques. 1934-1942 (Paris, Gallimard, 1943), p. 287.

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and Doriot. Disgusted with the rejection of his plans for

establishing a parti unique, in the fall of 1940 Deal souqht

the seemingly more hospitable climate of the German occupled

capital. 19 Doriot arrived at similar conclusions. Fearlnq

that the marginalization he had suffered under the Third

Republic would be perpetuated under the new regime, ln October

1940 he set off for Paris determined ta exploit whatever

opport.uni ties presented themselves. Of the four, only

Brasillach did not make the journey in 1940. Held by the

Germans as a POW, his return ta Par i5 was delayed untll

friends managed ta secure his release in the spring of 1941.

19The extent of Déat' s disgust can bE fathomed by his pledge, made as he le ft Vichy, never to return. He obstinately kept his word, refusing ta journey ta Vichy even after he was admi tted inta pétain's government as Minister of Labour and National Solidarity in March 1944; Bertram Gordon, Collaborationism in France during the Second World War (Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, 1980), pp. 297-299.

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pétain' s government lost li ttle time in rnaking effective

use of the sweeping powers i t had been granted. By 12 July the

Presidency of the Republic had been abolished and Pétain

constituted Head of State, the Senate and Chamber adjourned

until further notice, and the legislative and executive powers

granted Pétain on the 10, as weIl as those accruing to him in

his new capacity as Head of State, formalized by

consti tut Lona l decree. 1 From this position of supreme

authority, the new government began drafting the 1egislation

wi th which ta transform French society; legislation which drew

its principle inspiration from the doctrine of Charles Maurras

and the Action Française. 2

However 1 the new government' s most pressing eoncern was

returning France to sorne semb1ance of normalcy. The up 10 :fi:lr

million refugees scattered throughout France, their return

home made more difficult by a nearly hermetieally sealed

demarcation line and various forbidden zones, placed severe

strains on a bureaucratie infrastructure already hobbled by

lRobert Aron, The Vichy Regime, translated by Humphrey Hare (London, Putnam and Co. Ltd., 1958), pp. 161-162.

ZFor the influence of Maurras and the Action Française at Vichy see Aron, pp. 145-158,> Henri Michel, Vichy. Année 40 (Paris, Robert Laffont, 1966), p. 121, and Eugen Weber, Action Française (Stanford, California, Stanford University Press, 1962), pp. 442-447.

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the 10ss of many ski llee1 civil. servants to German POW camps.

Even more distressing "'-'as the near t.otal shutdown of the

economy. Despite the vast amount of reconstruction würk lü be

done, the restarting of France's economic machine was hampered

by a lack of investment capi tal, a lack of raw mater ials, a

ravaged infrastructure, and the isolation caused by the

demarcation Une and the British blockade. 1

While recognizing the hardship caused by Ule Bri tish

blockade and the dislocation of war, Doriot maintained that

the principle blame for the failure to restart the economy lay

wi th René Belin, the Minister of Production. 4 While competent

management of the economy necessi tated firm leadership, Dor lot

saw in Belin's various p~âns for economic revival little more

than dilettantism. He also cri ticised Belin for not doi ng

enough to redirect France' s productive capaci ty towards those

basic staples in short supply, as weil as for his failu~e lü

take the lead in reopening foreign and domestic markets.

Doriot also maintained that the governrnent' s various

public works projects were insuf ficient to signi f icant l y

reduce unemployrnent. This si tuati on was made worse by Vichy' s

failure to clamp down on moonlighting, a practlce which he

claimed kept employment at an artificially hiqh level."

3Michel, pp. 88-95.

4Jacques Doriot, Je suis un homme du maréchal (Paris, Bernard Grasset, 1941), pp. 29-30, p. 45, pp. 66-68.

5 l b id., p. 24, pp. 34 - 3 6 .

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i 40

However, both he and Déat insisted that only private

initiative could put the Fren~h economy back on its feet, a

process which the government co~ld foster by moving away from

tight fiscal policies and allowing easie~ access to

reconstruction credits. 6

The Vichy government was aiso faced with fighting off the

economic predation of the Nazis. Even before the stalling of

the German bli tzkrieg in Russia necessi tated a swi tch to a

total wa~ economy, with its attendant labour draft in France,

a more subtle form of exploitation had already been

established. Founded on French occupation payments of 20

million Reichmarks a day and an exchange rate which overvalued

the mark by 50%, it left French industry at the Mercy of

Germany's massive new spending power. 7 As a means of

protecting native industry, a law promulgated on 16 August

1940 prov l.ded for the setting up of Comité d' Organisation.

Grouped according to branch of industry and staffed by

appointees from the Ministry of Production, the committees

controlled such vital aspects of manufacturing as aIl! cation

of raw materials, working conditions, and price schedules. B

With the socialist René Belin at the helm of the Ministry of

(!l'De l'inflation au crédit", L'Oeuvre, 9 October 1940, Doriot, Je suis un homme du maréchal, pp. 51-53.

7Alan S. Milward, The New arder and the French Economy (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1970), chapter 3.

~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy Frauce (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972 ), pp. 216 - 218 .

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Production, there remained a reasonable chance that the Comité

d'Organisation would not become tools of big husiness. Under

his successors however, industrialists like Pierre Pucheu and

François Lehideux, the Cami té d'Organisation increas ingl y

began to resemble the industrial associations suppredsed in

November 1940.

Either unable or unwilling to take notice of German

predation, Déat saw in the Comité d'Organisation no more than

a reconstitution of the pre--war trusts. Ridiculing Vichy' s

c1aim that it had broken the trusts, he maintained that having

been ousted from their old strongholds, the trusts had

reappeared under the guise of the Comité ct' organisatIon

stronger and more solidly entrenched than ever. 9

Whatever dis agreements would later arise over the course

the National Revolution should take, the suppressIon of the

Third Republic was greeted l-Jith unanimous approval from

Bradillach, Drieu La Rochelle, and Doriot. Brasillach praised

the suppression of the parliamentary form of government, while

Doriot maintained that only wi th i ts elimination could the

task of reforming French values and insti tut ions begin. 10

Drieu shared similar opinions and eventually identiiied

Vichy' s chief weakness in the tact that the regime had

9"Comment Vichy brise les trusts", L'Oeuvre, 5 January 1941.

lO"Vive la France", Je suis partout, 21 March 1941, "Avec Pétain", Emancipation nationale, 21 September 1940.

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remained " ... éminemment parlementaire, .. sans Parlement." n

Only Déat, unwilling ta confuse parliamentarianism and

republicanisrn, refused to join the chorus proclaiming the

death of the Republic. His reserve however was rooted not in

a sentimental attachment to the Third Republic, but in a

practical desire to rnaintain sorne form of popular

representation. While joining Brasillach, Drieu, and Doriot in

welcoming the suppression of the parliamentary form in favour

of a regime with a strong executive,12 he nevertheless

maintained a careful watch against any government subterfuge

to deprive the French people of their voice in the nations


Though charged wi th drafting a new constitution, the

Vichy governrnent proved unable to draft anything more

substantial than piecemeal consti tutional articles. Commi ttees

of d consultative National Council, constituted in January

1941, did however deliberate over several specifie

constitutional questions. What little he knew of these

deliberations displeased Déat. He described the proposed

constitution as a "monster", devoid of any traee of popular

represe nation, which aimed at rule by local notables and

llPierre Drieu La Rochelle, Le Français dl Europe (Paris, Editions Balzac, 1944), p. 317.

12"Enf in le choix est fait", LI Oeuvre, 21 April 1942.

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goveLnment appointees. t3 His attachment to the representative

nature of the Third Republic, if not its parliamentary form,

emerged in his warning that Pétain could not legally do aWdy

with the representative institutions of the Republ ic except by

public ratification of a new constitution. 1J lUs defense of

the republican form further revealed his kinship with the old

regirre. Whereas Brasillach maintained that by 1940

repub~icanism had died everywhere but France and praised the

Marshal for finally proscribing it, Déat called Pétain to

account, maintaining that he had been charged not with

liquidating the Republic but with purging and fortifying

i t. 15

Nor did Déat limit his defence of the old regime to

republicanism. In November 1940 was pro.oulgated a law

repl~cing elected mayors and municipal councils in lowns ot

more than 2 000 inhabitants with official appointments. This

manoeuvre, thinly veiled as a return to a regime of rule by

local notables, was in reality a purge of the Third Republic's

cadres. 16 Though recognizing the need for a purge of doubtfuJ

13"Le peuple dira non", L'Oeuvre, 26 September 1941. Déat had earlier referred to the proposed Constitution as a "carcan moyenâgeux"; "Qui nommera le chef", L'Oeuvre, 22 November 1940.

14"Simple rappel à la légalité", L'Oeuvre, 16 January 1942.

lS"Et pourquoi pas la République?", L'Oeuvre, 24 October 1940, "La République de Vichy", L'Oeuvre, 23 October 1941, "Monarchie ou République?", L'Oeuvre, la August 1942, "La République est crevée, qu'on le veuille ou non", Je suis partout, 16 June 1941.

16Paxton, Vichy France, pp. 196-200.

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elements, Déat cri tic ised the government for going too far and

for threatening its own stability by alienating many of the

most experienced administrators in Fr"nce. 17 Déat voiced

similar objections to plans which mooted the abolition of the

departments and their replacement by France's ancient

provinces. While agreeing in principle, he nevertheless argued

in fdvour of the departments as, in the short term, they had

the distinct advantage of aiready being constituted. He once

again suspected however that behind the plan to reestablish

the provinces laya deslre to quietly do away with popular

representa tian. 18

In place of parliamentary institutions, Brasi Llach, Déat,

Doriot, and Drieu La Rochelle saw a parti unique as the

necessary intermediary between the governors and the governed.

Bras illach stressed i ts role as a means of maintaining

executi ve continuity while Drieu emphasised i ts ability to

alloy the heterogeneous elements of the French right and

left. 19 Even Doriot, unenthusiastic about any party which

might drain members from his PPF, saw the establishment of a

nationwide network of syrnpathizers as the necessary minimum

wi thout which the National Revolution would be overcome by i ts

17"Ne touchez pas aux maires", L'Oeuvre, 19 October 1940.

l\1"Réformes urgentes", L'Oeuvre, 16 April 1942, département", L'Oeuvre, 25-26 April 1942.

"Province et

19"La Republique est crevée, qu'on le veuille ou non", Je suis 2,artout, 16 June 1941, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Chroniques politiques. 1934-1942 (Paris, Gallimard, 1943), pp. 287-288.

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enemies. 20 Claiming that in 1940 aIl initiatives that smacked

of populism had been smothered in favour of a lim~ted

revolution from above, in August 1941 Déat s~gnaJ led the

failure of this paternalistic revolution and called for French

society to be reformed by a revolul10n from the grassroots.: 1

His sine qua non for the success of such an initiative was the

creation of a mass totalitarian party. He believed that such

a party would constitute the soul of the body politic, the

essential bond between state and nation, guaranteeing

poli tical continui ty and providing a means ta anchor executi ve

authori ty at the base. 22 The aeed for effective popular

representation remained a priority for D~at, leading him to

declare that the party system, not universal suffrage, had

been the fatal weakness of the Third Republic. 2J

P~tain's government ignored these calls to buttress its

position by creating a par~i unique, instead gathering

veterans of the Gredt War and the 1939-40 campaign into the

Légion Françaises des Combattants. Intended as a liaison

between the Marshal's government and the French people, the

Légion quickly came under attack from the ultras. Drieu La

Rochelle labelled it a pale imitation of German and Italian

2°0oriot, Je suis un homme du maréchal, pp. 83-85.

21"Mise en place du moteur", L'Oeuvre, 30 August 1941.

22"Le Parti fera la révolution", L'Oeuvre, 22 December 1940, "La République de Vichy", L'Oeuvre, 23 October 1941, "Quatre prOblèmes", L'Oeuvre, 20 July 1942.

231'Suffrage universel", L'Oeuvre, 25 October 1940.

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totalitarian parties, while Brasillach accused it of being a

reconsti tution of Colonel François de La Rocque' s pre-war

Parti social français (PSF) .24 Déat, whose hostility stemmed

in part from his objection to the Légion's absorbtlon of the

old inter-war veterdns associations, saw it as a magnet for

reactionary and conservative elements, accusing it of being

divisive and of "pitting Frenchmen against each other ... 25

Addres:Jing the nation on 15 September 1940, Pétain

labelled liberal capi talism a foreign transplant which ran

counter to the French national genius. 26 Trans formed over

time by private interest groups into a tool of economic

domination and na:r:-row self-interest, Pétain proposed replacing

the liberal economic regime with "un régime organisée et

contrôlee." However, organization and control would not be

achieved by massive governmental interve~~ion but by

encouraging industry to organize itself inte self-governing

corporations. With provisions for the effective representation

of labour, management, and technical cadres, the role of

government would be limi ted to impartial mediation wi thin

24Drieu La Rochelle, Chroniques politiques. 1934-1942, p. 287, "Parti unique ou partis unis?", Je suis partout, 9 October 1942.

25CIaude Varennes (Georges Albertini), Le destin de Marcel Déat (Paris, Janmaray, 1948), p. 150, "La réaction continue", L'Oeuvre, 15 March 1941, "Vérité sur la Seine, Erreur sur l'Allier", L'Oeuvre, 27 June 1941 .

.:!f:Jpétain' s views on economics are taken from speeches reprinted in Philippe Pétain, La Nouvelle France (Montrouge, lroprimeurs Draeger frères, 1941), pp. 51-59, and Un an de Révolution nationale. Juin 1940-juillet 1941 (place of publication and publisher unknown, c.1941), pp. 6-8.

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l 47

corporations and coordination of economic activity at the apex

of a national corporate structure through a National Corporate

Chamber. As a necessary prelude to such a corporate

restructuring of the economy, the private interests which

Pétain claimed had held the Third Republic hostage were done

away with on 9 November 1940 by a law dissolving France's

trade unions and manufacturers' associations.

The ultra community reacted with caution to the Marshal' s

declarations. While praising pétain' s removal of the franc

from the gold standard and his recogni tion of work, not

speculation, as the true basls of wealth, Déat nevertheless

harbored reserva~ions about the success of the government's

plan of action in the face of concerted opposition from the

trusts and high finance. 27 Drieu expressed similar

reservations, urqing the government to dispel any doubts of

its committment to socialism by acting quickly in establishing

"une organisation syndicale corporative". 28 Doriot, while

praising the government for 1eading the French economy along

the road of integration into a pan-European arder,

nevertheless noted that its actions seemed to be marked by a

certain amount of hesi tation and uncertainty. 29 Brasi llach,

27"Les vraies richesses", L'Oeuvre, libérales", L'Oeuvre, 31 July 1940, L'Oeuvre, 13 October 1940.

13 July 1940, "Illusions "Révolution nationale",

2BOrieu La Rochelle, Chroniques politiques. 1934-42, pp. 281-282.

29Jacques Doriot, Réalités (Paris, Les Editions de France, 1942), p. 64.

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upon his release from a German POW camp, stressed that more

than clerical slogans and the paternalism of retired military

men was necessary to win over the workers to the National

Revolution. 30

The promised centerpiece of Vichy's socio-economic

policy, the Charte du Travail, was awaited with keen interest

within the ultra community and formed a basic litmus test for

judging the social orientation of the new regime. Doriot

and Drieu La Rochelle, while praising the government's early

measures, lamented the failure to give official sanction to

corporative unions by thr. promulgation of sorne form of labour

charter. JI Déat also saw the need to allow corporative

structures to develop, but remained inclined to believe that

such organizations should develop spontaneously and

independently, convinced that too much government int4:!rference

would lead to a suffocation of genuine ini tiati ve. 32

The charter which emerged in October 1941 was a

compromise between the interests not only of labour and

business, but also between Vichy's syndicalists, like Belin,

on the one hand, and, on the other, those in favour of a

corporative structure with did away with trade unionism

JO"Nous, nous continuons", Je suis partout, 2 June 1941.

J1Doriot, Réalités, pp. 29-37, Drieu La Rochelle, Chroniques politiques. 1934-1942, pp. 281-282.

{ n"Mais où sont les leviers?", L'Oeuvre, 17 October 1940, "Toujours les mêmes", L'Oeuvre, 9 November 1940.


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It met wi th Déat' s immediate disapproval. While in favour

of the Charte's provisions for an equitable minlmum wage and

legislated health standards in the work pldce, he felt it did

not go far enough and smacked of government paternal ism.

Thaugh Belin had managed ta retain a role for trade unionism

in the Charte, il. differed considerably from the labour

mavement's traditional role insofar as their ability ta act

effectively was limlted by the uann~ng of strikes above the

local level. The strength of the trade unions was further

sapped by a tripartite voting system, which divided power

between labour, the owners, and the managers and engineers, in

the decision making process of the corporations. Déat

maintained that workers would be unwilling ta give up their

traditional bargaining toois in exchange for vague government

assurances. 34 His eventual change of heart occurred as a

result of meetings in the spring of 1942 between himself,

Minister of Labour Hubert Lagardelle, Minister of Industrlal

Production Jean Bichelonne, and RNP labour specialists. l', The

3Jpaxton, pp. 216-218, Aron, pp. 293-294.

34"La Charte du Travaj l-Survol du paysage social", L'Oeuvre, 310ctober 1941, "Le tout-à-l'Etat", L'Oeuvre, 8 November 1941.

3S"Destin du syndicalisme", L'Oeuvre, 24-25 May 1942, Marcel Déat, Mémoires politiques (Paris, Denoël, 1989), pp. 817-819, Claude Varennes (Georges Albertini), Le destin de Marcel Déat (Paris, Janmaray, 1948), pp. 173-174. In February 1941, in the wake of Laval's removal from office, Déat and former cagoulard Eugène

-, Deloncle founded the Rassemblement national populaire (RNP). The latter and his followers were eventually expelled and Déat assumed sole leadership of the party.


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Vichy ministers managed to convince Déat that the very

ambiguity of the Charte permitted it to be steered away from

the state paternalism he feared and towards a vibrant

structure in which trade unionism would play a motive rele.

The confidence Déat was subsequently to place in Lagardelle

was echoed by Brasillach, who saw in him an individual capable

of walking the line between the demands of the trusts and of

those labour leaders still animated by the divisive rancour of

the Popular Front. 36

Déat's subsequent faith in the Charte du Travail was to

hinge almost completely on vague assurances given by Vichy

ministers. On several occasions he lauded Bichelonne and

Lagardelle for leading the fight within the government against

the paternal istic and statist vision of the Charte entertained

by 50 many at Vichy.J7 Déat however cou Id not escape the fact

that his fai th in the Charte rested not so much on the

document itself, as on the good faith and political skill of

the ministers charged with implementing it.

Wi th France on the verge of liberation by the Allies,

Déat declared that the Vichy regime had not been able to rally

the working class to itself because it had failed to establish

an equitable socialism. 38 His eventual despair was matched by

Jt)"Devant l'avenir" 1 Je suis partout, 25 April 1942.

J7"Carosseries sans moteur" , L'Oeuvre, "Bagarres autour de la Charte", L'Oeuvre, "Renouveau syndical", L'Oeuvre, 4 April 1944.

25 August 13 October

38"L' at tentisme ouvrier", L'Oeuvre, 28 June 1944.

1943, 1943,

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that of Drieu La Rochelle. Having always maintalned that in

the wake of the collapse of marxism Vichy must actively take

up the cause of the working classes, his lonq S lmmer ing

dissatisfaction came to a head in 1943 following the overthrow

of Mussolini. He declared that the corporatism espoused by

Vichy, of which he had once been an enthusiast le adherent, was

itself nat socialism but only an intermediary form on the road

to socialism. 39

To the traditionalists and social conservatives at Vichy,

the peasantry were seen as "the principal economlC and social

base of France. ,,40 Whereas urban centers were seen as hotbeds

of unrest and revolution, the peasants' rootedness in the soil

made them a central pillar of any conservative recasting of

society. There is even evidence to suggest that Pétain tacitly

approved of the largely agricultural raIe planned for France

in the German New Order. 41 The attention lavished on the

French peasantry by Vichy should thus come as no surprise. The

Ministry of Agriculture was given ta Pierre Caziot, an

agricultural expert actively involved in the cause of rural

France in the inter-war periode As Minister of Agriculture he

encouraged a recolonization of the French countryside,

39Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Chroniques politigues, p. 317, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Le Français d'Eur9~, pp. 338-339, pp. 375-376.

4°Quoted in Paxton, p. 206; for discussion of Vichy' s agricultural policy see Paxton, pp. 206-209, Aron, pp. 179-180, and Michel, pp. 135-137.

41Mi1ward, p. 65.

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modified laws and eased credit restrictions to improve the

productivity of holdings, and encouraging better education in

agronomy. However, the mainstay of Vichy rural policy was the

Charte Paysanne prorllUlgated on 2 December 1940. Unlike their

counterparts in industry, the various pre-war peasant and

agricultural associations were not broken up but were allowed

to retain their autonomy within the new agricultural

corporation. Delegates to local, regional, and national

counclls were elected by the membership of the corporation,

with the latter two submitted to the Minister for: final

approval. Finally, the agricultural corporation was given

legal powers to "promote and administer the common interests

of peasant families in the moral, social and economic

spheres. "

In contrast to the peasant preoccupation of Vichy, t~d

segment of the ultra communi ty under consideration s 3ems to

have been largely disinterested in such matters. Doriot dealt

with agricultural concerns only in passing, while Brasillach

and Drieu only mentioned them obliquely, usual'y in relation

to other matters. 42 Déat, hostile to Caziot, attacked the

agricultural corporation for being a tool of large absentee

landowners and bankers. 43 His principal concern w i th

47Doriot, Réalités, p. 27.

4J"Une agriculture sans paysans", L'oeu~re, 31 May 1941, "Corporation paysanne et groupes spécialises", L'Oeuvre, 17 December 194.2; according to Georges Albertini, Déat had towards Caziot "un mepris aussi total qU'injustifié" but was more favorably disposed towards his sucees sor Max Bonnafous. Varennes (Georges

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agriculture, however, centered on the ability of the

countryside to supply the urban centers wi th food. Both

Brasillach and Déat launched savage attacks dga lnst Jean

Achard, Minister of State for Food, for his tal.lures to

maintain adequate food stocks in Paris. 44 According to Déat,

the chronic problem of victualing was due not ta a lack ot

production or German requisition, but by the system of

rernuneration and distribution. He accused the huge government

bureaucracy charged with victualing the cities of corruption

and inefficiency.45 Déat maintained that the solution tü th8

problem of insufficient foodstuffs was not draconian

legislation or terror tactics, but the establishment of an

equitable price for farm produce and a willingness ta let the

Corporation Paysanne by-pass the congested state bureaucracy

and bring i ts own produce to market. 4& Only when such

conditions were met would the French peasantry turn away (rom

the illegal profits of the black market and direct its crops

towards the undernourished cities.

The moral and intellectual regeneration which Pétain

prescribed as the antidote to the decay which had led to

Albertini), pp. 148-149.

44"Les rentiers de la disette", L'Oeuvre, 6 January 1941, "Raison d'avance", Je suis partout, 17 January 1942.

4S"Honorer les tickets", L'Oeuvre, 29 May 1941, "A quand l'action sur les prix?", L'Oeuvre, 9 September 1942.

46"Le blé qui se cache", L'O~uvre, 8 April 1942, "Soudure et marché noir", L'Oeuvre, 12 May 1943.

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1 54

defeat on the battlefield was nowhere more evident than in

Vichy' s treatrnent of youth. 47 In particular 1 education and

organized youth culture were staked out as the terrain on

which a new sort of youth, radically different from his Third

Republic predecessor, would be formed.

Blarned in large part for the defeat of 1940, the French

educatJonal establishment underwent considerable structural

change under Vichy. 48 Wi th regards ta the ultra communi ty,

more important than the structural change were the ideological

changes wrought. In an article on educational reform signed by

Pétain and appearing in the Revue des deux mondes, the Third

Republ ic' s scholastic curriculum was cri ticised for being too

narrowly individualistic and lacking in discipline. 4~ Pétain

also criticised the Republic's laie educational establishment

for its moral relativism and its failure to imbue its charges

with a sense of moral responsibility. In future, Pétain

stressed, French education:

... ne prétendra plus à la neutralité. La vie n'est pas neutre; elle consiste à prendre parti hardiment. Il n'y a pas de neutralité entre le bien et le mal, entre la santé et la maladie, entre l'ordre et le désordre, entre la France et l' Anti -France. 50

However, whi le they mi4ht admire Vichy' s ideological

41pétain, La France nouvelle, pp. 15-20.

4llPaxton, pp. 153-165, and Michel, pp. 125-129.

-'9pétain, La France nouvelle, pp. 39-48.

~OIbid. 1 p. 41.

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committment, the ultras found its tane unpalatable. Reliqious

education was reintroduced into the public school system and,

more ominous still, the public purse was opened to fund

private [ie. Catholic] educational establishments. D~at

addressed this clerical challenge to France' s educatlon system

and warned that, given France's anti-clerical tradition, dny

attempt to use the machinery of state ta impose any single

religious view would inevitably cause a backlash against the

regime. 51 Déat also resisted movements by the t.rad i tionai ls t

right at Vichy to ban women from hlgher education. ',,' Hi s

claim that such a move would make of France the laughing stock

of the new Europe, dS weIl as his opposition ta attempts ta

1egislate women back into the kitchen, set him apart not onl y

from the reactionaries at Vichy but also from much of the

ultra camp.

Between June 1940 and April 1942 Vichy went through fi ve

ministers of education. Each had been found, for one reason or

another, undesirable. Such had aiso been the )udgement of

Déat, who remained dissatisfied until Abel Bonnard assumed the

post in April 1942. Déat disliked Bonnard's predecessors

because of their clericalism and lack of revolutionary

fervour, but aIse because of their purges of the teaching

51llLes droits de la conscience et ceux de l'Etat", L'Oeuvre, 12 Nevember 1941, "Anticléricalisme", J,'Oeuvre, 18 August 1942.

5211Les femmes à l'école", L'Oeuvre, 8 October 1940, "La femme démariée", L'Oeuvre, 18 October 1940, "Climat social", L'Oeuvre, 27 April 1941.

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... 56

cadres. As wi th France' s mayors, Déat was opposed to purges of

the fa i th fuI servants of the old regime based solely on

ideology; he argued that France needed their eXl=-'ertise and

that they shouid be given a chance to prove their loyalty to

the new regime. 53 Brasillach, who took an avid interest in

aIl matters concerning French youth, came to somewhat

different conclusions. He repeatedly criticised Jérôme

Carcopino, Vichy's fifth minister of education, for being too

lenient with recalcitrant teachers and for turning France's

lycées into safe hou ses for Jews and other enemies of the

National Revolution. 54 Despite their differences with regards

the need ta purge France' s educational cadres, Déat and

Brasillach did agree in their praise of Abel Bonnard. Vichy's

sixth minister of education, Bonnard held the post from April

1942 until the flight of the government in August 1944. A

professlonal man of letters who had previously only dabbled in

the worid of politlcs, Bonnard won approval from Brasillach

and Déat less for his competence than for his ideological

committment to the New Order. Cornrnenting in the spring of 1942

on the new Laval ministry, Bras illach professed to believe

that Bonnard "ne reculera devant rien pour rendre à la

ilVarennes(Georges Albertini), pp. 148-149, "Les instituteurs à .'a barre de Riom", L'Oeuvre, 6 April 1942, "Réformes urgentes", L'O.auvre, 16 April 1942.

J4"Et maintenant. faisons la politique définie par le Maréchal", .,. Je suis partout, 18 August 1941, liA bas les faisans!", Je suis

partout, 11 October 1941, "Raison d'avance", Je suis partout, 17 January 1942.

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jeunesse le sens de la grandeur et du réalIsme. ".,~ Déat

extended similar praise te Bonnard, calling him "un haut

esprit, ouvert a toutes les nobles idées. Il'!' Personal

affinity aside, Déat was enthused by Bonnard's tireless

propaganda effort on behalf of the> National P.evolution and

France' s place in the new European order.,7 By 1944 howev er ,

Déat had lost hope in even Bonnard's abillty to etfect

purposeful change; despite Bonnard's tireless efforts, d

teaching corps rite with Gaullists and anglophiles, shaken by

the purges of Vichy's early period and under constant attack

by clerical and reactionary elements, had proven incapdble of

coming to terms with the challenges posed by the birth ot a

new society. 58

The Vichy r~gime also attempted to ferm youth ta i ts

image through the establishment of a system of camps. Created

by a law of 30 July 1940 in an effort to ease the problem of

youth unemploymellt and dislocation, these youth camps were at

first aimed exclusively at that class of young men first

called to the colours in 1940. 59 This emergency measure was

'iS"Oevant l'avenir" 1 Je suis partout, 25 Aprll 1942.

56"Oémolition de l'enseignement", L'Oeuvre, 5 May 1942.

57"OU côté des instituteurs", L'Oeuvre, 6-7 June 1942, "Des directives à l'exécution", L'Oeuvre, 9 June 1942.

se"L'enseignement secondaire", L'Oeuvre, de l'Ecole" , L' Oeuvre, 4 September universitaires", L'Oeuvre, 22 March 1944.

8 June 1942, "Autour 1942, "Somnolences

59Aron, p. 177; see aIse Paxton, pp. 160-165, and Michel, pp. 127-129.

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j , 58

eventually broadened into the Chantiers de la Jeunesse, a sort

of nation~l service organization in which aIl males of the

southern zone spent eight months of their twenty-first year

doing phys ical labour and undergoing moral instruction. Doriot

qU1ckly carne out in favour of Vichy 1 s efforts to alleviate

youth unemployment by means of officially organized work

camps, but wondered if the government was capable of making

such camps uni versally accessible. 60

Doriot 1 S concern for the accessibili ty of government

sponsored youth camps was echoed in the larger debate

surrounding the regimentation of young people prior to their

induction into the Chantiers de la Jeunesse. At first it had

been widely expected that the new government would set up a

single national youth organization. However, resistance from

the Cathol ic Church, which feared the 10ss of members from i ts

own yûuth groups, and the Germans, who feared the militarist

and nat10nalist nature of Vichy's youth organizations, sealed

the fate of any unitary youth group. In its stead the

government sponsored an official but: voluntary youth group,

the Compagnons de France, which was forced to compete for

members w1th sorne fifteen or twenty private youth

organi zations .61

As Bonnard's ideological committment to the New Order had

bO"Remettre la France au travail", L'Emancipation nationale, 19 October 1940.

b1paxton, p. 161.

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formed the co~on ground on which Brasillach and Déat could

agree on questions of educdtion, 50 tao the fai l ure ta

organize a single youth group formed the bas1.s of their

criticism of Vichy's handling of youth matters. Deat drew a

connection between the failure ta constitute a un1.tary youth

group and the failure ta forge a parti unique. Criticising the

government for noc creating a jeunesse unique, he maintalned

that thi~ failure had permi tted the corruption of you th by

gaull ists, communists, and the Action Française. '-. Bras llldCh

echoed Déat in criticising the lack of unit y among French

youth. However, while maintaining that a l ack of uni ty a Il owed

the enemies of the National Revolution to wrest control of

youth from the state, he was less adamant that Deat ln

stressing the ne~d for institutional unity. He Insisted that

while institutional or organizational unit y was preferable, it

was not essential 50 long as ideological unlty was assured. b'

In the absence of such an official ideology, Brasillach wdrned

that christian-socialist were free to preach

attentisme and defend, in the name of a taIse human dignlty,

"la maçonnerie anglo-saxonne et le marXIsme juctéo-

stalinien".64 Even Drieu, who normally l imi ted his

62"Qu'a-t-on fait de notre jeunesse?", L'Oeuvre, 19 December 1941, "Rumeurs autour des Jeunes", L'Oeuvre, 30 March 1942.

63"La hantise de l'Uni té", Je suis partout, 30 September 1941, "Un programme minimum pour la jeunesse", Je suis partout, 19 February 1943.

6'''Nous ne voulons ni Homais ni Tartuffe", Je suis partout, 30 August 1941.

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observations on youth matters to noting Vichy's failure to

make use of enough young blood in filling ministerial

portfo l ios, accused bath the Catholic and Protestant churches

of sabotaging the National Revolution by actively resisting

the establishment of a unitary and revolutionary youth

movement for fear of lasing their own adherents. 65

The failure of the Vichy regime to bring French youtil

under i ts guidance and tutelage resul ted, or so Brasillach and

Déat claimed, in an absence 0 f revolutionary conunittment.

Bras i.llach saw evidence of this in the growing number of young

people becoming involved in black market activities, and urged

that the state wrest such degenerate youth from their parents

and place them in reeducation camps. 66 Identi fying the

pr inciple problem of French youth as one of 1ack of

inv01vement in the troubled birth of the new Europe, Déat

pra i sed the government' s plan to conscript young people to do

labour service in Germany. Despite such occasional enthusiasm

however, by 1944 Déat pronounced the same verdict of failure

on the government' s handling of organized youth culture as he

had earlier pronounced on its hand1ing of education. 57

h'>p ierre Drieu La Rochelle, Fragment de mémoire (Paris, Gallimard, 1982), p. 85, Drieu La Rochelle, Chroniques politiques. 1934-1942, pp. 282-283, p. 323.

bh .. Jeunesse dorée, jeunesse noire ... ", Je suis partout, 21 August 1942.

(""Une grande idée", L'Oeuvre, 1 June 1942, "Les jeunes d'abord", L'Oeuvre, 2-3 June 1943, "La Jeunesses devant la vie", L'Oeuvre, 24 March 1944.

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l 61


Vichy' s attempt at recasting French society along more

traditional lines had its reverse image in a campaign to purge

the nation of various elements deemed undesirable. In as much

as substantial portions of Vichy 1 s constructive ldeology were

drawn from Charles Maurras and his Action Frdnçaise, 50 too

was much of its xenophobia. In large part, Maurras attributed

the decline of French power ta the pervasi ve and noxious

influence of métèques, a term with bestial connotations used

to descr ibe those groups deemed anti thet ical to France' s

national harmony: Protestants, Freemasons, and Jews . 1 By 1940

the f irst 1eg of Maurras' dark tr iad had out. l i ved i ts

political usefulness. France 1 s small and weIl integrated

Protestant communi ty had long ceased to serve as a lightning

rad for discontent, and many of l ts members would come to

occupy important pos i tions at Vichy. Freemasonry, on the other

hand, remained a bête noire of the social conservatives. Its

historical struggle against the Church and other stalwarts of

a conservative moral order, combined with its firm foothold in

French peti t bourgeois republicanism, led ta the growth a f d

conservative demonology which saw the spectre of Masonry

behind French decline.

Much like France's Protestants, the French Jewish

lRobert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972), pp. 171-172.

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community was relatively smali and remarkably well

assimilated. However, its position had begun to be threatened

during the 19305 by an influx of Eastern European Jews seeking

refuge from persecution. Growing hostility directed at these

distinctly different and not easily assimilated foreigners led

the government of the day to issue in April 1939 an executive

order, the so-called Marchandeau decree, outlawing press

attacks against "any group of persons who belong by origin to

a partlcular race or religion when it is intended to arouse

hatred among citizens or residents ... 2 The difficulties posed

by this influx of Jewish refugees were further exacerbated,

following the military collapse of France, by the grind1ng to

a halt of the French economy and the German policy of dumping

its own Jews into the Unoccupied Zone.

Vichy's campaign against Freemasonry began on 13 August

1940 with the promulgation of a law abolishing aIl secret

societies. 1 The text of the law required aIl civil servants

and public employees to swear oaths testifying that they had

never belonged to such a secret society or had in good faith

severed all links with such organizations. 4 Failure to comply,

~Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews (New York, Basic BOOks, Inc., 1981), p. 3; Marrus and Paxton have written the defini tive account of Vichy' s indigenous Jewish poUcy and i ts eventual eclipse by the Iarger and more sin1ster policy pursued by the Nazi regime.

lpaxton, pp. 172-173, Henri Michel, Vichy. Année 40. (Paris, Robert Laffant, 1966), pp. 140-141.

~Un an de révolution nationale. Juin 1940-juillet 1941 (place of publication and publisher unknown, c.1941), p. 36.

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or a fraudulent declaration, was deemed sufficienl cause for

dismissal. Though the law did not target Freemasonry per se,

the deluge of anti-Masonic propaganda which foU owed Ils

promulgation le ft little doubt of its intended target. The

regime' s obsession wi th Freemasonry was further underscored by

the practice of publishing in the Journal Officiel lhe names

of scores of Lodge members, drawn from confiscated 1ists, who

had failed to make public disavowa!s.

Brasillach praised the steps taken by Vichy lo suppress

Masonry.5 Doriot went further i praising the dissol u tion ot the

Lodges by the law of 13 August and subsequent steps taken by

the government to determine the extent of MasonlC membership

in France, he warned that such steps were insufficlent and

that unless harsher measures were taken the NatIonal

Revol ution would be stillborn. fi Déat, on grounds that no

government could tolerate the infringement of national

sovereignty posed by an internationally connected secret

organization, joined with Brasillach and Doriot in praising

the suppression of the Lodges. 7 While in favour of suppressing

of the Masonic infrastructure. Déat however revolted agalnst

Vichy' 5 persecution of indi v idual members. He argued that

those who had in good faith broken with the movement should

S"Vive la France", Je suis partout, 21 March 1941.

6Jacques Doriot, Réalités (Paris, Les Editions de France, 1942 ), pp. 69- 7 0 •

7"Considérations sur la Maçonnerie", L'Oeuvre, 7 October 1941, "Maçonnerie à rebours", L'Oeuvre, 8 October 1941.

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not be persecuted, but instead should be allowed to

demonstrate their loyalty to the new regime. He warned that

anti - Masonic wi tch hunts were being used by enemies of the

National Revolution to spread rancour and dissent, and would

deflect energy from the crucial task of socialist revolution.

Behind Déat' s commendable concern for the rights (If

individuals, however, laya vestige of self-interest. As part

of its plan to vilify France's Masonic Lodges, the Vichy

regime published monthly under the title Les Documents

Maçonniques selected documents from the horde seized after the

armistice. Bernard Fa , director of the Bibliothèque nationale

and editor of the confiscated documents, saw in them a means

of discrediting Déat, who while never a Masan had in the

inter-war period used the Masonic network to preach his neo­

socialisL gospel. Always vulnerable to attack due to his at

times close relationship with the discredited Third Republic,

Oéat's heated defence of those persecuted for their Masonic

connections was at least in part motivated by a desire to

deflect the blows of his political opponents.

In the same way that its campaign against the Lodges had

begun wi th a fairly general decree against "secret societies",

so too its anti-Jewish campaign began fairly slowly with the

establishment on 22 June 1940 of a commission to review aIl

grants of French citizenship made after August 1927. Though

not an overtly anti-semitic measure, the reality of Jewish

fI ight f rom persecution in Eastern Europe during the inter-war

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period resulted in Jews being over represented in the number

eventually deemed undesirable.

Vichy's first measure aimed specifically at Jews was the

Jewish Statute of 3 October 1940. Designed to lessen Jewish

influence over the French body poli tl.C, i t excluded Jews from

the upper ranks of the civil service, the officer corps and

NCC cadres of the armed forces, the judl.Clary, and from

posi tians which had a hand in shaping publIC otJinion (eg.

teaching, the press, radio, fl.lm, and theatre). The statuLe

was followed on 4 October by a law permi tting prefects to

intern foreign Jews and, on 7 October, by the repedl of the

1870 Crimieux decree granting French citizenship to Algerian

Jews. This first wave of legislation met with a mIxed reaction

from the ul tra cornmunity. Drieu La Rochelle and Déél t reserved

comment, while Brasillach briefly pralsed the Statute. Il

Doriot, on the other hand, let fly a barrage of ant.l-semitic

invecti ve. 9 He praised the repeal ot the CrémIeux decree and

the promulgation of a Jewish Statute, urging the establishment

of a numerus clausus to further regulate Jewlsh partIclpation

in the liberal professions. Doriot made it clear however that

a"Vive la France", Je suis partout, 21 March 1941. Drieu refrained from commenting on Vichy's Jewish policy. Nevertheless, the period of the Collaboration was marked by a sharp radicalization of his anti -semi tism; P j erre du Ba 15, Dr leu La Rochelle (Lausanne, Cahiers d'Histoire ContemporaIne, 1978), pp. 283-284, p. 295.

90oriot, Réalités, pp. 67-68, "Il faut régler la question juive", L'Emancipation nationale, 7 September 1940, "Ne laissons pas saboter deux grands actes politiques contre les Juifs", L'Emancipation nationale, 26 October 1940.

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he cons idered them li ttle more than f irst steps in a program

of purges, expropriations, and eventual expulsion from Europe.

The second wave of anti-Jewish legislation, in the summer

of 1941, was the result of indirect German pressure. Fearing

that the French government was losing control of Jewish

matters in the Occupied Zone, in March 1941 the Darlan

administration established a Commissariat-General for Jewish

Affairs (CGJA). Under Xavier Vallat, a right wing deputy and

much decorated World War One veteran, the CGJA was charged

wi th reassert ing French control of Jewish matters over the

who] e of France. In expectation that corresponding German

decrees would be withdrawn as French ones were promulgated,

the range of forbidden occupations was expanded. As weIl, over

the course of the summer and fall, quotas were imposed on an

ever greater number of professions.

The· establishment of the CGJA provided a convenient

lightning rad at which aU the venom pent up in the ultra camp

aver Vichy' 5 handling of the Jewish question could be

discharged. Three months after the appointment of Vallat as

Commissioner-General, Brasillach made known his displeasure

wi th the former' s performance .10 In particular, he emphasised

the qovernment' s lack of vigour and the seemingly endless

proliferation of exceptions and special cases. Vallat' s

eventual falling out the Germans and his replacement by

lO"Nous, nous continuons", Je suis partout, 2 June 1941, "Ma lheur aux tièdes!", Je suis partout, 30 May 1942.

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the more amenable Louis Darquier de Pellepoix was welcomed by

Brasillach, who praised Pellepoix for his efforts ln educatinq

Frenchmen to the true nature of the Jewish question. The PPF

press followed a similar line. Campaigning in Russia, Doriot

had left the political direction of his movement in the hands

of such trusted lieutenants as Henri Lebas and Maurice-Ivan

Sicard. The former, equating the progress of anti -Jew ish

measures with the extent of Vichy 1 s commi t tmenL to

revolutionary change, cri ticised Vallat for not proceed ing

wi th enough energy. 11 While Darquie:- de Pell epolx was seen to

have demonstrated the requisite vigO~T, ~e had unfoctunately

been hamstrung in his efforts by the uncooperati veness of

various organs of the French state.

Insisting in his post-war memoirs that he was not. an

anti-sernite, Déat adrnits to having found himself at odds with

anti-assimilationist Jews, as weIl as the french Jew ish

cornrnunity generally for the role he believed i t to have played

in fomenting war with Germany. 12 Déat 1 s fear of Jewish

resistance to assimilation formed the basis of his criticism

of Vallat's work at the CGJA. He feared that the creation of

the Union Générale des Israéli tes de France (UGIF l, an

umbrella organization established under CGJA auspices to bring

nilLe baromètre", Le Cri du peuple, l March 1944. Lebas and Sicard served as editors-in-chief of Le Cri du peuple and L'Emancipation nationale respectively.

12Marcel Déat, Mémoires politiques (Paris, Denael, 1989), p. 609, pp. 618-619.

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together aIl Jewish philanthropie and social organizations,

would not only create astate within a state but would provide

sufficient organization to turn the traditional bogey of the

péril juif into reality.13 Déat insisted that this danger was

further exacerbated by the clerical bent of Vallat and many

other officiaIs at Vichy. He stressed that the government's

obsession with rooting out anti-clericalism, exemplified in

i ts concerted campaign against Freemasonry 1 was di verting

attention f~om the growing conspiracy between the Jews and

their Gaullist, anglophile, and liberal democra~ic allies.

In much the same way as fear of German economic predation

had prompted the creation of the Comité d'Organization, sa tao

did it push Vichy into the unsavory business of the

Aryanization of Jewish property. From the onset of their

occupa t ion 1 the Germans had appointed caretakers to administer

enterprises belonging to Jews who had fled the German

onslaught. By the fall of 1940 such administrations had been

extended to aIl Jewish enterprises. A third German ordinance

of April 1941 gave administrators the right ta sell Jewish

properties, with the proceeds going to the state. Unable ta

stop the Germans from disposing of French property in a manner

which favoured those in possession of overvalued Reichmarks,

Vallat promulgated a law , on the assumption that the Germans

would in turn withdraw their own ordinances, which extended

the spoliation of Jewish property ta the whole of France and

llllJuifs et francs-maçons", L'Oeuvre, 12 December 1941.

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1 IJ,


placed responsibility for its execution in the hands of the

French government.

In dealing wi th the Aryanization of Jewish properly, bot.h

Diat and Brasillach drew parallels between it and the

wholesale expropriation and sale of Church lands during the

Revolution of 1789. 14 Writing after his departure from .l~

suis partout, in the atmosphere of despalr whlcn dcscended

upon him following Mussolini' s fall from power in the sumnl(~r

of 1943, Brasillach lamentea the fact that Vichy had not been

more forceful in using confiscated Jewish property ta cement

support for the regime. Déat made similar arguments,

maintaining that the government's lack ot enthusldsm in

permitting the resale of Jewish property held ln trusleeship

stemmed from a desire to minimize the confusion attendant on

its repatriation in the wake of the Allied LnvaSlon

anticipated by those elements at Vichy hostile to the NatIonal


Any discussion of the attitude of the ul tra press towdrds

Vichy's handling of the Jewish question would remain

incomplete did it. not deal briefly with what wenl unreported.

Specifically, the silence surrounding the mass deportations of

French and foreign Jews, carried out under German initialive

but with the full complicity of the French state, WhlCh began

14"La curieuse histoire des biens juifs", L'Oeuvre, 30 Septernber 1943, Robert Brasillach, Oeuvres completes de Robert Brasillach, tome XII, edition annotée par Maurice Bardèche (Paris, Au Club de L'Honnête Homme, 1964), p. 610.

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in the summer of 1942. Given the necessary public nature of

any such operation, as weIl as the active participation of

uniformed PPF militiamen, no claim of ignorance can be

countenanced. One is instead led to view this silence as

ev idence bath of the degree of control the Germans were

capable of exerting over the ultra press when they felt such

control was warranted, and of the depth of awareness within

the Nazi hierarchy that large-scale deportations of Jews ta

the East would repulse French public opinion.: s

Vichy' s efforts at purging French society were by no

means limited to battles waged against those considered by the

Maurrasians to be responsible for the sapping of French moral

strength. Specifically, the agony and shame of military defeat

cried out for the punishment of those responsible for having

steered the nation to disaster. 50 strong and seemingly

unlversal was the calI for retribution, that on 10 July 1940

a specIal Supreme Court of Justice was established. 16

Brasillach, Déat, and Doriot welcomed the establishment of the

l"The raIe of the PPF in the round-up of Jews is briefly discussed ln Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton, p. 251, p. 321. The power of German censorship over the ultra press, and the degree to which such censorship was internalized, is discussed in El izabeth Dunan, "La Propaganda-Abtei1ung de France: Tâches et organisatlon", Revue d'histoire de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, 4 ( 1951 ), and Claude Lévy, "La presse de collaboration en France occupee: conditions d'existence", Revue d'histoire de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, 20(80), 1970.

IbThe details of the Riom trials are discussed in Robert Aron, The V ichy Regime, trans lated by Humphrey Hare (London, Putnam, 1~58), pp. 297-300, Henri Michel, pp. 145-47, and Un_ an de Revolutio~ nationale. Juin 1940-juillet 1941, pp. 32-34.

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7 l

new court at Riom. Doriot screamed for the "chatiment des

responsables .• 117 Brasillach, elaborat 1ng further, maintained

that the proceedings at Riom would serve dS a Iltmus test ot

the revolutionary enthusiasm of the VIchy government . .tl Deat 1

for his part, imagined the RIom trIals to be the sine qua non

of France's break with her liberal democratic pasl and her

integration as a bocialist polit Y Into the new Europedn

order. :9

The question of the new Court' S jurlsdlctlon was one

which aroused cons iderable controversy. 'T'he Germans w i shed the

Riom trials ta firmly establish France' s gu Il t ln sldrt 1 ng the

war. The French, for obvious reasons, were more lncllned ta

seek out thase responsible for leavlng France mllitary

unprepared for waging war. The situation was rendered even

more ambiguaus by the Vichy elite's desire to use the trlals

as a means of discrediting their former Popular Front

opponents. A compromise was eventually arrlved at whereby the

Riom court was authorised to indict:

The Minlsters, under-Secretaries of Stdte and thelr immediate colleagues, who had betrayed the dut les ot their position in acts which had contributed ta a state of peace becoming d state of war, and in dcts which had later aggravated the consequences of the si tuation thus created. ,0

P"Avec Pétain", L'Emancipation nationale, 21 September 1940.

lS"Vi ve la France", Je suis partout, 21 Harch 1941.

19"Avortement judiciaire", L'Oeuvre, Il October 1941, "L'Autre erreur de Riom", L'Oeuvre, 5 March 1942.

2°Aron, p. 298.

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Under these provisions, which introduced into French

jurisprudence the novelty of retroactive prosecution, were

indicted before the Supreme Court of Justice such prominent

figures of the Third Republic as Léon Blum, Pierre Cot,

Edouard Da ladier, General Maurice Garnel in, Georges Mandel, and

Paul Reynaud.

Given the inability of the politicians at Vichy to

ascertain which of two poli tical1y irreconcilable aims they

wished the Suprerne Court of Justice to pursue, establishing

gUl1t for starting the war or laying blame for 10sing it, in

its deliberations the Riom court, reasserting the traditiona1

independence from political Interference of the French

judiciary, chose to ref lect French popular opinion' s desire to

see the latter course pursued. 21 Both Brasillach and Déat

reacted wi th outrage at the direction which the Court was

perrnitting the trials to proceed.;::2 Déat pointed out, with

characteristic logic, the dichotomy between the growing

emphasis of the proceedings on matters of a mi1itary nature

and the fact that only one of the defûndants was a

professlonal soldier. 23 Brasi 11ach joined Déat in 1amenting

the fact that the defendants were being permitted to use the

trials as public plattorrns, that such disgraced Third Republic

:lIbid., p. 300.

"~"Les équivoques de Riom", L'Oeuvre, 4 October 1940, "La comédie de Riom", L'Oeuvre, 17-18 January 1942, "Procès du régime? Oui, mais duquel?", Je suis partout, 21 February 1942.

:J"Des militaires aux pacifistes", L'Oeuvre, 14 october 1940.

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1 73

figures as Blum and Daladier were being allowed to lurn

themselves into martyrs, and that other such notoriOUS figures

of the old regime as Reynaud and Mandel were belng allowed La

escape judiclal scrutlny.;4 Stresslng that Lhese men had t.o

be made examples of, both Brasillach and Deat chdstised Lhe

governrnent for not asserting i ts authorl ty by summar il Y

executing those before the Court.

Br~sillach and D~at were not the only ones displcased

wlth the course of the Riom proceedlngs. The VIchy governmenL

came under increasing pressure from the German authorlt.18s t.o

quickly bring the trials to an end. In reactlon ta ChIS

pressure, the hearlngs of the Supreme Court of JustIce were

terminated on 15 April 1942. Brasillach praised the move,

urging however that new proceedings ~e started immediately ta

address the pressing question of guilt in the conspiracy Lo

embroil France in war. Déat expressed similar satisfaction and

assured his readers that the matter would be taken up agaln dt

a later date, at which t.lme the emphasls would be squarely

placed on the complicity of the Third Republic's rullng ellte

in the outbreak of war. 25

The collaborationist press' hunt for scapegoats and

24 "Avortement judiciaire", L'Oeuvre, 11 October 1941, "La comédie de Riom", L'Oeuvre, 17-18 January 1942, "La boîte de Pandore", L'Oeuvre, 24 February 1942, "L'Impasse de Riom", L'Oeuvre, 25 March 1942, "Et les coupables?", Je suis partout, 6 September 1941.

25"Le vrai procès aura lieu", L'Oeuvre, 17 April 1942, "Est-ce le règne de la raison?", Je suis partout, 18 April 1942.

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saboteurs, however, extended weIl beyond the regime' s official

demonology. In the opinion of many ultras ~.he bureaucratie

machlnery of the regime itself was infested wlth fifth

column.1sts more dangerous than Jews, Freemasons, or the

discredlted pollticians of the Third Republic. From its onset,

Déat, Doriot, and Drieu La Rochelle expressed doubt in the

French bureaucracy' s ability to successfully apply the decrees

insti tuting the National R&volution. 26 This early doubt in

the bureaucracy's ability to act with any degree of

effect.1veness was soon supplanted by the conviction that it

was act.l vel y engaged in subverting the Marshal' s decrees. ~~

In the face of such a treasonous challenge to legitimately

consti tuted author i ty, Doriot sounded a note which was to

becorne a hallmark of the PPF press. 28 He urged the government

to purge the civil service so that French bureaucrats, the

majorlty of whom were loyal to Vichy, could carry out

unhindered the government' s orders. In a similar vein,

Brasillach warned that while it was always necessary to

~bllRévolution nationale", L'Oeuvre, 13 October 1940, "Conditions intérieurs", L'Oeuvre, 2 November 1940, Doriot, Realités, pp. 65-67, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Chroniques politique_s. 1934-1942 (Paris, Gallimard, 1943), p. 290.

~ 'II Il faut cesser de jouer avec le destin de la France", Je sui§~rtout, 20 December 1941, "Les démolisseurs t.ravaillent", L'Oeuvre, 10 November 1940, "Leur Sainte-Alliance", L'Oeuvre, 1 December 1940, Jacques Doriot, Je suis un homme du maréchal (Paris, Bernard Grasset, 1941), p. 110.

:1l"Vite et tous", L'Emancipation nationale, 28 December 1940; similar sentlment .. were expressed at a much later date by Henri Renaut, "Epurath n! Epuration! Epuration!", Le Cri du peuple 1 24 July 1944.

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welcome with open arms those willing te serve the new

government in good faith, the only way to deal with the hard

core of committed opponents of the Natl.onal Revolution who

remained at their posts within the bureaucracy was lo

ruthlessly root them out and dl.spatch them with il bullet lo

the head. 29

Agreeing with Brasillach and Doriot in principle, Deat

nonetheless surpassed them in elaborating the extent of the

conspiracy within the breast of Vichy. the civil

service as the most readily identl.fiable element ln the

conspiracy, he nevertheless warned against large scale und

arbitrary purges likely to turn the mass of ullcommi tted

bureaucrats agal.nst the regime. 30 As Déat saw the sltuat.l.On,

bureaucratie obstructionism was but a symptom of a much more

sinister machination.

At the heart of the plot was the clerical and royalist

Action Française, working in tandem with Its Masonic and

Jewish allies. Acknowledging that only a small percentage of

those in pos.tions of authority at Vichy actually belanged la

the Action Française, Déat attributed thelr extensIve

influence to the pervasiveness of the Maurrasian ideology,

their ability to place reliable men in key government

positions, and their predominance within pétain's inner

29"Le problème de la locomotive", Je suis partout, 13 June 1942, "Un homme a parlé", Je suis partout, 23 October 1942.

30"Les démolisseurs travaillent", L'Oeuvre, 10 November 1940.

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circle. ': From such vantage points and wi th the collaboration

of such powerful allies as the American ambassador at Vichy,

"the Freemason and anglophile AdmiraI Leahy", the Action

Française sought ta discredit collaboration and reestablish a

Latin block in preparation of a renewal of the struggle

against Germany. J2

Déat believed the threat posed by the Action Française to

have been amply demonstrated by the events of 13 December

1940. In what he would later describe as "le jour le plus noir

qu'elle (ie. France) ait cunnu depuis juin 1940", the first

Laval administration was forced to resign and Laval himself

briefly placed under arrest. 33 Seeing it as much more than a

palace revolution, Déat insisted it was a carefully

orchestrated manoeuvre whose primary purpose had been to

Jl"Climat maurrassien", L'Oeuvre, 13 December 1940, "Formules creuses te ventres vides", L'Oeuvre, 24 January 1941, "Dans l'illégalite", L'Oeuvre, 4 February 1941, "Les nouveaux Tartuffes", L'Oeuvre, 15 February 1941, "Ces Messieurs de l'AF", L'Oeuvre, 19 March 1941, "Infiltrations et travaux d'approche", L'Oeuvre, 20 March 1941, "Les travaux et les jours de Vichy", L'Oeuvre, 14-15 July 1941; for opinions Deat did not express in print see Claude Varennes (Georges Albertini), Le destin de Mp,rcel Déat (Paris, Janmaray, 1948), p. 15.

1~"Manifestat.ions déplacées", L'Oeuvre, 14-15 April 1941, "L'attentisme pourissant", L'Oeuvre, 30 July 1941, "Espérances capitalistes", L'Oeuvre, 18 December 1941. Déat's repugnance with regards Leahy was shared by Brasillach; "La politique de la France doit être une politique de présence", Je suis partout, 6 December 1941, "Bilan de l'année", Je suis partout, 27 December 1941-

J3"Du chantage à la trahison", L'Oeuvre, 12 January 1941, "Anniversaire d'un jour noir", L'Oeuvre, 13 December 1941, "Treize décembre", L'Oeuvre, 14 December 1942. Déat himself was briefly detained on the night in question, but was quickly released once the Germans got wind of his arrest.

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j 77

derail Laval's efforts at forging closer Franco-German


Following the demise of the Laval cabinet, Admlrai

François Darlan eventually assumed the reigns of government.

While impossible to sketch an exact track of D~at's

fluctuating confidence in Darlan, it is nonetheless P_sy to

set out the principle causes behind Déat's declining

confidence. 34 Not only did Déat accuse Darlan of compllclty

in the events of 13 December 1940 and of subsequently havlng

favoured the promotion of naval officers lo positIons ot power

within his government, but of aiso having been one of the

principle architects in the rise of the so-called Syndrchy,

the last element in the cabal Déat believed to be holding sway

at Vichy.J5

Acting under the aegis of the clerical and militarlst

reactionaries of the Action Française, Déat insisted that the

34While Déat's editorials treated Darlan in a pOSItive manner up to the moment of his machinations in North Africa ln the fall of 1942, his memoirs and the wri tings of his assoclate Georges Albertini seem to indicate a mistrust which antedated these events; Marcel Déat, Mémoires politiques, p. 600, Claude Varennes(Georges Albertini), Le destin de Marcel Déat (ParIS, Janmaray, 1948), pp. 139-140.

35The myth of the Synarchy i5 effectively debunked in Richard F. Kuisel, "The Legend of the Vichy Synarchy", French Historlcal Studies, 6 ( 3), 1970. Al though his edi tor ials betray a li teral belief in the existence of an organized conspiracy of monopolists and big business, a position supported by the testimony of Claude Varennes(Georges Albertini), p. 140, Déat's post-war contention that he used the myth of the Synarchy simply as a means of draW1l1g attention to the growing power and influence of cartels and other government sponsored concentrations of heavy industry, necessltated by the growing demands of war production, must also be g1 ven serious consideration; Déat, Mémoires politiques, pp. 622-623.

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pre-war trusts were secretly being reconstituted. 36 Far from

tinding conditions of wartime hardship an impediment, French

industriaiists relished the rationalization of productive

capaci ty neceSSI tated by wartime shortages. He maintained that

the Synarchists' aim was a structured national economy

dominated and regulated by the great captains of French

industry, and that their committment to the emerging European

order rested entirely on the contingent of continued German

military success. Therefore, any shift in the tide of war

would be met not by increased solidarity against the common

foe, but by a desire to reintegrate into the Anglo-Saxon,

liberal-capitalist, world order.

Having hitched his wagon to the fortunes of Pierre Laval,

Déat was inclined ta pretend that the former's return to power

would bring to an end the multifarious conspiracy within the

bosom of the Vichy.3 7 Laval however proved no more effective

than PIerre-EtIenne Flandin or AdmiraI Darlan in bringing the

var ious conspiratorial elements to heel, and demands for

effective action remained a hallmark of the entire ultra press

until the exodus of August 1944. 38

Ib"Vichy et le nouvel Etat" 1 L'Oeuvre, 30 "Noyautages d' "Action Française'''', L'Oeuvre, 6 "Cortège de la monarchie", L'Oeuvre, 18 November défend l'intérêt national?", L'Oeuvre, 6 December comprend rien", L'Oeuvre, 16 March 1942.

October 1941, November 1941, 1941, "Qui donc 1941, "Vichy ne

j'''Les dormeurs se réveillent", L'Oeuvre, 26 April 1941.

ltl"Nous avons le droit de parler", Je suis partout, 2 May 1942, '''l'riage des hommes", L'Oeuvre, 12-13 December 1942, (Henri Renaut) "L'Administration favorise les ennemis de la patrie", Le Cri du

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The armistice signed in June 1940 between France and

Germany offered mutual advantage. It spared the Germans

dealing with a continued resistance based on North Atrica and

the encumbrance of having to place the whole of France under

military administration. l It offered the French more than

deliverance trom the horrors of societal collapsei it aiso

allowed them to retain their fleet and colonlal empire, two

bargaining chips to be husbanded for use ln eventual peace

negotiations with Germany.2 Having thus deait with the

pressing problem of German vlctory in the Battie of France,

the new ruling elite at Vichy turned its attention La damestic

matters with calm assurance that whatever form the coming

Anglo-German engagement would take, France had been

successfully insulated trom further conflict. J

Such illusions were shattered on 3 July 1940 when a Royal

Navy squadron opened fire on elements of the French

Mediterranean Fleet anchored at Mers-el-Kebir killing nearly

1 300 French sailors. This incident, along wlth the internment

peuple, 28 July 1944.

lRobert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972), pp. 6-8.

2Robert Aron, The Vichy Regime, translated by Humphrey Hare (London, Putnam and Co. Ltd., 1958), pp. 65-67, Henri Michel, Vichy. Année 40 (Paris, Robert Laffont, 1966), pp. 77-78.

3 Aron, p. 135.

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and forced disabling of numerous other French warships, was

prompted by Br1tish fears that the conditions of armistice

d1d not provide sufficient guarantees that the French Fleet

would remaln permanently out of German hands. 4 Further proof

of the tenuous nature of French neutrality was provided in

September 1940 by tl,e Anglo-Gaullist attempt ta wrest the West

African port of Dakar from its pro-Vichy garrison. Though

unsuccessful, the raid was more indicative than the Mers-el-

Kebir action of the fate to befall the French Empire. Barred

from large scale operations on the Continent by the crushing

sup&rior1ty of the Wehrmacht, the British and their allies

would make use of their naval supremacy to neutralize the

everseas territor1es of the Axis and their satellites.

Lacking clear-cut evidence of a willingness on Vichy's

part te actively cooperate with the Germans in military

matters, the ultras turned to the diplomatie front. In

particular, they focused their attention on a series of high

level summl ts as proof c: Vichy' s committment to the New

Order. The first of these, between Pétain, Laval, and Hitler,

teek place at Montoire in October 1940. Though nothing of

substance was agreed on, the true significance of the Montoire

meetings was the public tGne they set. 5 In their aftermath,

Peta ln addressed the French people and declared himself ta

4peter Calvocoressi and Guy Wint, Total War (New York, Penguin Books, 1985), pp. 128-131.

~Paxton, pp. 74-75, Aron, pp. 213-221.

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1 81

have "entered on the path of collaborat.ion. lib

Déat praised both Pétain and Laval for their decision to

meet Hit.ler and attributed to both men a keen sense ai

France's vital interests. Doriot lauded pétain, though not

Laval, for his clear thinking and his abiJity to transcend a

narrow revanchist mindset. His content.ion that Pétain had

placed France on the road to national recovery was echoed by

Brasillach, who saw in collaboration the only means of

avoiding the errors which had aiready caused France sa much

pain and suffering.'

Laval' s removal from office in December 1940 was followeG

by the brief premiership of Pierre-Etienne Flandin. However,

the German's refusaI ta deal with Flandin necessiLated his

eventual replacement by AdmiraI François Darlan. Darlan was

able to place Franco-German collaboration back on track by

finally prevailing upon the Germans to grant him an inLerView.

On Il and 12 May 1941, Darlan conferred with Hltler and German

Foreign Minister Joachim Ribbentrop at Berchtesgaden, the

Führer's Bavarian retreal. These meetings resulted jn the

signing of the Protocols of Paris on 28 May. The Protocals

proposed, in exchange for limited German concessions,

substantial moves by the Vichy government towards military

6Philippe pétain, Actes et Ecrits, Edition établie et présentée par Jacques Isorni (Paris, Flammarion, 1974), pp. 549-550.

7"Vers l'Europe", L'Oeuvre, 30 October 1940, Jacques Doriot, Je suis un homme du maréchal (Paris, Bernard Grasset, 1941), p. ID, "Vive la France", Je suis partout, 21 March 1941.

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cooperation w i th Germany. Though stopping short of actual

cobelligerency, the Protocols envisaged the use by the Germans

of various French colonial ports and installations. 8

Brasillach, commenting on the Berchtesgaden meetings before

the signlng of the Protocols, expressed his ignorance of whal

thelr impdct would be but nonetheless praised the government

for once agaLn entering upon the path of collaboration. 9 Déat

drew mixed conclusions from the meetings. Welcoming any

dttûmpt to restart the collabordtion derailed by the events of

13 December 1940, Déat insisted that the Berchtesgaden

meetings wouJd ultimately prove more frultful than those held

the pre v ious year at Montoire because they deal t wi th specifie

issues and not just general statements of intent. However,

despi te his belief in the sincerity of the Darlan

adminis trat....on' s des ire to place relations wi th the Germans on

a more normal footing, Déat suspected that the new willingness

to appease the Germans was at least in part moti vated by

Vichy' s deslre to preclude the Nazis br inging pressure to bear

in favour of radical social revolution in France.:o

The first practical result of the Protocols of Paris was

the granting of landing rights in Syria to German aireraft

involved in supporting the anti-British revoIt of Rashid Ali

Hpaxton, pp. 116-131.

g"La Moisson de 41", Je suis partout, 19 May 1941.

fi 10"Suites du onze mai", L'Oeuvre, 17 May 1941, "Redevenir Européens", L'Oeuvre, 18 May 1941.

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in Iraq and the transfer of French milltary stockplles ta lhe

rebels. Fearful that any initial German mll itary prcsünce ln

Syria or Iraq would grow to constitute a milJor thrcat La

Britain's oil supply and its lines of communlcdtlan lh!"ough

the Suez Canal, on 8 June 1941 a combl ned Commonwed l th and

Free French force crossed into Syria and Lebanon. Thü l OCd l

French commander, General Henri Dentz, resisted the invùdlnq

force for flve weeks. Thougp .10t outnumbered, ViC'hy's ndusdl

ta accept Germany' s offer 0 f a lr support necess 1 Lel lf:d tHl (~(1l-1 Y

capi tulation of French forces before the super l or cll r ,Hld

naval power of the Anglo-French invaders.

Both Bras i llach and Déat praised the va liant rcs 1 s t(lnce

of the French troops und2I" Dentz' s command.·,' Dor lot of fered

similar praise, but stressed that with the 1055 of Synil Vichy

would have ta take a more act ive role ln the war l f l t w i shed

to regain i ts lost possesslons. Reconsldering the Syrian

question from the perspecti ve of Dentz' s surrender, Deat

bl amed i ts 1055 on those elements at Vichy opposed ta c laser:-

collaboration wi th Germany. Publ icly hinting that he bel ieved

the lost colony would soon be returned to the fold, in his

post-war memoirs Déat expressed 1"1is belief that, wi th its loss

llBritish fears about the growing German presence ln Syria and Iraq are expressed in Winston S. Churchill, The Grand Alliance, Vol. III of The Second World War, 5 vols., (New York, Bantam Books, 1979), Book two, chapter 18. The military aspects of the Syrian carnpaign are djscussed in Aron t pp. 324-32~, and Calvocoressi &

Wint, pp. 162-164.

12"Le chemin de Damas", Je suis partout, 14 July 1941, "La France se retrouve", L'Oeuvre, 9-10 June 1941,

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ta the Brl tish, Syria had passed forever out of French

hands. Though he majntained a public silence over events in

Syria, DrIeu La Rochelle's prlvate assessment of the situation

was by far the most trenchant. Judging the Syrian campalgn ta

be nothlng more than a mlnor skirmish in the larger battle for

control of North Africa and the Middle East, Drieu concluded

that France's near eastern possessions would have most

effectlve~y been protected not by mllitary action in Syria,

but by the lncreased pressure on British posItions ln Egypt

Whlch would have resu l ted l f the Afrlka Korps had been allowed

ta draw supplies through the French controlled Tun~sian port

a f rH zerta . :4

The ultras' expressed or implied bellef that the loss of

Syrla would awaken Vichy ta English designs on French colonial

possessions was not borne out by events. To the contrary, the

loss Jf Syrla marked the beginning of an ebb of empire which

was not ta end untll France's cherished North African colonies

were stripped away by Allied force of arms in the autumn of


'rhe 1055 of France' s only North American possessions,

Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, ta a Gaullist raiding force in

December 1941 prompted Déat to declare that in its eagerness

'Jacques Doriot, Réalités (Paris, Les Editions de France, 1942), p. 86, "Les travaux et les jours de Vichy", L'Oeuvre, 14-15 July 1941, Marcel Déat, Mémoires politiques (Paris, Denoël, 1989), p. 606.

~p ierre Drieu Editions Gallimard,

La Roche Il e , .::.F-=r:..:a::.;g:3.:m=e.:.:n..::t~-=d::.:e=----,m=é:.::m:..::o~i::.::r:..;e:::. 1982 ), pp . 1 0 1- 1 0 2 .


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not to antagonize the Anglo-Amerlcans Vichy was rlsking the

10S5 of more than just ItS colonIes. The su rrende r t 0 t1w

British of the small garrlson defendlng ~1addgascar ln Nov(~ml)(>r

1942 caused further consternatIon ln the ultra cdmp.

Brasillach decried the rv1aurraSlan dXlom "la Francp <H~ul(~"

which seemed to guide Vichy' s defense of 1 ts Emp 1 re. D(:~dl

noted the government' s penchant for faillng to bdck 1 ts

grandiose declarations Wl th suf f ic lent mil i Lary comm 1 ttmenl.

He urged 1 t not on1 y to lncrease efforts al de t ence 1 bu t Co

al 50 take passes l:;; ion 0 f Br l tish colonies f or use as ba rgd 1 n l nq

chips.-6 Ultra frustration over Vichy's inabillly t.O defcnd

i ts interests agalnst Anglo-Gaull1 SL aggress ion ln the Wes te rn

HemIsphere was exacerbated by the po1icy of symblotlc

cohabitation pursued by the French ln the Far East. Faced wlth

unassailable Japanese military superiority, in August 1941 .ln

agreement was slgned wüh Tokyo WhlCh recognlzed Japan' s

predominant lnterest ln the Far East and granted her the use

of certain mi l i tary faci l i ties in exchange for J apanese

recognition of the territorial integrity of French Indo

China. 17 Praising such a realpoli tik assessment of French

interests, Brasillach expressed hope that the agreement was an

indication of the shape of things ta come. Déat reserved

lS"Comment on ne défend pas l'Empire", L'Oeuvre, 4 March 1942. Déat's allusion is ta a 10ss of French honour.

16"Il faut choisir", Je suis partout, 9 May 1942, "L'Empire sera-t-il enfin défendu?", L'Oeuvre, 8 May 1942.

17Aron, pp. 205-206.

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comment long enough ta lament Vichy's fallure to fulfill

Brdsillach's expectatl.ons. Havlng clearly and unequivocally

dllgned llself wlth Japan ln the Far East, he questioned the

f ëlctors moll vatlng trie goverTiments fallu re to display such

dec un veness Hl lhe Medl terranean .. >l

The thlrd gn:~at formaI summl.t between the leaders of

France and Germany took place at Saint-Florentl.n on l December

1941. DesplLe the fact that the interview between pétaln and

Field Marshal Hermann Gorlng proved lndeClSl.Ve, Braslliach and

Dea L dcknow ledged l t w i th their usua l enthus l asm. :s By

December 1941, however, events in Europe had moved weIl beyond

the uneasy stalemate which marked the period following the

fal1 of France. With the German invasion of RUSSla in June

1941, collaboration in Hitler's yreat anti-Bolshevik crusade,

not diplomatie summl.t meetings, became the yardstick by which

French commlttment to the new European order was measured.

Desplte Petaln's vocal support of the German lnvasion of, the government made no move to raise such support

above the ]evel of rhetoric. 20 The ultras, however, saw in

the campaign against Soviet communism the issue with which ta

unite Europe behind the German New Order. Consequently, the

l~"Nous n'avons de respect que pour notre pays", Je suis Q..artout, 4 August 1941, "Alignement nécessaire", L'Oeuvre, 1 August 1941, "De Saïgon à Vichy", L'Oeuvre, 27 December 1941.

19"La pol i tique de la France doit être une poli tique de présence", Je suis partout, 6 December 1941, "Attendons la suite", L'Oeuvre, 4 Decembnr 1941.

~OMarc Ferro, Pétain (Paris, Fayard, 1987), pp. 330-332.

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various ul tra movements and personal i t les sel dSlde lhe ir-

sundry differences and, in July 1941, founded lhe LegIon des

Volontalres Françals contre le Bolch~vlsme (LVF), 'l'hc' LVI-'

was a private militla, recrulted by tri\.. 't1lrcls, bul lrdlrwd

and led by the Germans. The volunteE'rs tought ln German

uniforms, incorporated into the Wehrmacht's 638lh Infdnlry

Regiment. They first saw actlon in the German'<; cluLumn

offensive against MosCOWi they performed poorly, sutfl~n~d

heavy casualties, and eventually had to be pullc~d j rom lh,'

line. After a period of regrouplng, they returned lü dcLIVC

service and è;~tingulshed themselves as an anti-pdrtlsdrl unit.

Arnong the first recrults was Jacques Doriot. He ~. uld

serve ln the Wehrmacht untli his death ln 1944, Interspersing

combat service wlth propaganda and recruiting acllvlly back in

France. Wi th his enrollment in the LVF Dor lot' s roI e riS cl

professional politician came to an end and the tdsk of

formulatlng the PPF's daily polltlcai agenda p~ssed la such

trusted lieutenants as Henrl Lebas and Maurice-Ivan Sicard.' J

Given his hatred of communism and committment ta the German

cause, it cornes as little surprise that Dorlot urged Vichy lo

21The LVF i5 discussed in Owen Anthony Davey, "The Orlglns of the Légion des Volontaires Français contre le Bolchévisme," Journal of Contemporary History, 6(4), 1971, Bertram Gordon, Collaborationism in France during the Second World War (Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, 1980), chapter 9, and Albert Merglen, "Soldats français sous uniforms allemands," Revue d'histoire de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, 27(108}, 1977.

22They served as edi tors - in-chief of Le Cri du peuple and L'Emancipation nationale respectively .

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take an active role in the war against Soviet Russia. 23

Bras ill ach and Déat were less direct. Al though Brasillach

pralsed Petain and Laval for their vocal support of Germany's

battle agalnst Bolshevlsm, the bulk of his comments centered

on Vichy' s relatlonship with the LVF.'4 Praising the

Marshal 's moral support, he lamented the fact that the absence

of any substantial amount of materiel support had turned the

soldiers of the LVF lnto the "forgotten sons of the

collaboratIon.'" Deat, while recognlzing pétain's support of

the LVF, r ?vertheless pointed out that the financing and

equlpplng of the unit should not be the sole responsibillty of

the Germans and urged the Marshal' s government to stop

hamperlng recrulting efforts in the Unoccupled Zone. 26

Anxious for any sign of Vichy's continued support of the

collaborationist effort on the steppes of Russia, Brasillach

and Deat made do with what little they could muster. The

Idt ter trumpeted the placing of the LVF under off icial

tutelage and its transformation into the Légion Tricolore in

July 1942. Brasillach, visiting the unit during the summer of

:JDorlot, Réalites, p. 86.

~4"Le 22 juin 1941 la civilization prenait les armes contre la barbar ie", Je suis partout 1 20 June 1942.

·'!>"Sur le front de l'Est avec la Légion française", Je suis partout, 30 July 1943, "La LVF a deux ans", Je suis partout, 27 August 1943, "Légion tricolore et Légion du Travail", L'Oeuvre, 24 ... T,me 1942.

~b"L'attentisme contre la Légion", L'Oeuvre, 16 August 1941, "Qui trop attend manque le train", L'Oeuvre, 9-10 November 1941, "Ni traître, ni espions", L'Oeuvre, 5 February 1942.

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1943 as a member of an official government delegation, SdW in

this visit confirmation of the fact that these men were

f inally recei v ing the off le ial a t tent.lon they deserved.·"

The piecemeal 1055 of France's far-flung colonial

possessions, though a cause of genuine eoncern, was .1 n rea 1 i ty

more a quesU on of honour than economics. From the délyS of

France's great empire bullder Ju]es Ferry, French colonlalism

often seemed to be dr i ven more by psycho log i ca land emot 1 ond 1

than economic cons l.derat ions.' il Al though 0 f cons 1 dCt-ilb l e

strategie importance ta the Axis as a means of ClOSllHJ tho

Wes tern Medi terranean to Allled shi pplng, ta the Frpnch

themselves North Africa's importance remalned predomindnLly

symbolic. North Africa represenLed, depend i lH] on orH" • s

politics, either a base from wh.leh France cou Id be

reconquered, or her main sphere of influence in the New Orde!:'.

With seeming prescience of eoming events, as early as October

1942 Brasillach began to predict that the faLc ot Franec's

Empire would soon be decidp.d. Stressing that an effective

defence of North Afriea necessitated the cooperation of the

Germans, he confidently concluded that Pierre Laval was the

27"Légion tricolore et Légion du Travai 1", L'Oeuvre, 24 June 1942, "Sur le front de l'Est avec la Légion française", Je su is partout, 30 July 1943.

2BGordon Wright, France in Modern Times (3d ed.; New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 1981), pp. 250-251.

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man best sui ted to carrying out thl.s defence. 29 On the eve of

the Anglo-American landings, Déat expressed similar confidence

ln Laval' s abi li ty ta defend French sovereignty in North

Africa. lo

In the event, the resistance of Vichy troops proved

short -li ved. Though ou tnurnbering the invasion force which

landed in Morocco and Algeria on 8 November 1942, through

secret pol i tleal machinations the Amer ieans were able to

convince AdmiraI Darlan to sign an armistice two days

later. Il In Algeria visi ting a sick son, Darlan signed in his

capac i ty as Commander- in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Déat

angrily rejected Vichy's excuse that North Africa had been

lost due ta a lack of troops and materiel; an inevitable

result of the armistice conditions imposed by Germany in June

1940. JO: He instead b1amed the conspiracy he had for 50 long

accused of hobbling France's domestic transformation. French

military lntelligence, subverted by the Action Française and

acting ln tandem with the British Intelligence Service and the

American Embassy, was held responsible not only for the 1055

~9"On ne badine pas avec le destin", Je suis partout 1 2 October 1942, "Vers les solutions de hardiesse?", Je suis partout, 16 October 1942.

JO" 1 1 Y a des crises nécessaires", L'Oeuvre, 4 November 1942.

31Mili tary aspects of the invasion are discussed in Calvocoressi and Wint, pp. 365-70; the serpentine political intr igues surrounding the French capitulation are dealt wi th in Aron, pp. 392-425.

J'''Heures tragiques", L'Oeuvre, 11 November 1942.

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of North Africa but also for the scuttllng of the French

Fleet. 33

To the ultras, however, the true villain of the piece was

Adm.i.ral Darlan. Referring to him as "le plus abominable

traî tre de notre histoire", Deal saw Darlan 1 s acli vil i ('5 in

No ..... th Africa as the natural cot'ollary of his trcasonous

participat~ion jn the events of 13 December 1940. '1 Drieu W,lS

of the opinion that Darlan had deliberately gone ta Alg(~rJd in

the hope of offering his services to the Arner-icdl1s. P,

Brasillach bitterly pointed to t.he sham of the NùLlUfla\

Revolution given that 50 many of its most revered figun~s,

soldiers and admin istra tors such as Darlan 1 Giraud 1 Noqups 1

and Châtel, had defected to the enemy and abùndoned North

Africa to the Anglo-Americans and their Gaullist dllies. l"

The rapid collapse of French resistance ln North Afrlca

met with a swift German reaction. On 11 November 1942 G(~I-méln

troops crossed the Demarcation Line, disarmed and dl sbr1nd(~d

France' s Armistice Army, dnd occupied the remaini ng lwo- [i t lhs

33"Af f irmation de l'uni té" , k.:_Oeuvre, 19 November 1942,"Couleurs de la trahison", L'Oeuvre, 10 December 1942.

34"Brelan de traîtres", L'Oeuvre, 17 November 1942, "Trej ze décembre", L'Oeuvre, 14 December 1942, "Trah i son et. assas ina t" , L'Oeuvre, 28 December 1942.

35Drieu La Rochelle, Fragment de mémoire, p. 103.

36"Mon pays me fait mal .•• ", Je suis parlout, 20 November ] 942. Yves Châtel was governor-general of Algeria; General Henri Giraud escaped from a German POW camp, made his way to Switzerland, and enjoyed a brief period as the American's favour~~ alternative to de Gaulle; General Auguste Noguès was governor-general of Morocco.

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of France. In accordance with standing orders, on 27 November

the French Fleet scuttled itself before the Germans could take

possession of it. Moving quickly to salvage the military

situation, the Germans demanded and received lanaing rlghts in

Tunisia and began a maSSive relnforcement of the area

sufficient to sustain reslstance until May 1943. Brasillach,

Déat, Doriot, and Drieu La Rochelle maintained a silence with

respect lo these events. The occupation of the remainder of

France by German and Italian troops, like the previous

summer's massive deportations of Jews, remained a non-issue.

Déat, however, unleashed a concerted attack against the

military establishment responsible for the 10S5 of Morocco,

Algerid, and the Fleet. He demanded an immediate purge of the

drmed forces. J7 Commenting on the volunleer unit being raised

by Vichy to fight alongside the Germans in Tunisia, the

bombastically titled Phalange Africaine, Déat urged Vichy not

to remake old mistakes by allowlng it to be composed of

elements hostile to the National Revolution but ta recruit

only ideologically sound individuals.

In terms of Germany's life and death struggle in the

East, the 10ss of North Africa was only a minor setback.

Failure to defeat Soviet Russia in a single campaign had

necessi tated the speedy transformation of the Nazi war economy

PilLes gestes qu'on attend", L'Oeuvre, 14-15 November 1942, "Une armée et un parti", L'Oeuvre, 21-22 November 1942, "Etat de guerre", L' OelJvre, 25 November 1942, "La poli tique et l'armée", L'Oeuvre, 21 December 1942 .

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to cope with the demands of total war. tl As a vassal staLe of

the Reich, France was cons iderabl y a f feeted by Germùny' s

assumption of a total war pas ture. Spec l t l ca Il y , Franc(~

represented the largest s~ngle pool of tralned IndusLrlal

manpower in Europe. With the dim of tapplng this resouree, ln

June 1942 Fritz Saukel, Naz~ Germany's labour czar, arnved ln

Paris to set ln motion the proeurement over the comlng year of

over 700 000 Frenchmen for work in German factories. Eaqor Lü

shore up his domestic pos~ tlon, Ldval cushioned Lhe Cermùn

demands by introducing a scheme known as the Releve, whereby

the Germans agreed to release one POW tor every three würkers

who volunteered ta go ta Germany. D~al, seeing ln the Releve

Franee's chance of taking up her falr share of the burden of

defence against Boishevism, commended Laval for his efforts in

guaranteeing the smooth and efficient transfer of workers Lü

Germany. )9

Hav ing spent the best part of a year as a POW beh i nd

German barbed wire, Brasillach exhibited a speclal concern for

the fate of those still held. As a result, his analysis of the

Relève differed in perspective from D~at' s. Whereas the latter

J8The transformation undergone by the German war economy is discussed in Alan S. Milward, The German Eeonomy at War (London, The Athlone Press, 1965); the particularly French aspects of this process are deal t wi th in Milward, "French Labour and the German Economy", Economie History Review, 23(2), 1970, rÜlward, "German Economie Policy Towards France, 1942-44", in Studies in International History: Essays Presented ta W. Norton Medlicott (London, Longmans, 1967).

39"Pour aider a la relève", L'Oeuvre, 11-12 July 1942, "Problèmes de la relève", L'Oeuvre, 3 Novernber 1942.

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was quick to stress the important role played by French

workers in keeping German factor ies running at full capaci ty,

Brasillach emphaslsed the return home of prisoners from

capLivity. Recognizinq Laval as the principal architect of the

Relève, he vlewed the repatriation of the POWs as the only

1 ight in an otherwise dark time. 40 Even before the Relève,

however, the questlon of t.he almost one and a hal f million

prlsoners in German Stalags and Oflags welghed on the ultras.

BraSIllach concurred wlth PétaIn in the latter's beliet that

thelr speedy return was jeopardized by acts of violence

against the Germans. D~at, always eager to push Vichy along

the path of collaboration, drew a connection between the

government's willingness to collaborate and the number of

pr isoners released. 41

The failure of the Relève' s voluntary enlistment to

sat.isfy Saukel' s appetite for labour led to the adoption by

Vichy of increasingly draconian measures. In order to fulfill

German quotas, in February 1943 the Service du Travail

Obligatoire (STO) was instituted. The STO drafted Frenchmen of

military age for service in factories manufacturing materiel

for the German war machine. D~at believed the STO to be doubly

beneficial. Not only wou Id France assume an increased share of

40" SolstIce d' hi ver", Je suis partout, 24 December 1942, "Les deux ~1éments de la révolution", Je suis partout, 22 January 1943.

H"Le retour de suis partout, 27 L'Oeuvre, 9 M.arch January 1943.

nos captifs, ce serrait une résurrection", Je September 1941, "L'appel des prisonniers", 1942, "Précaires espérances", L'Oeuvre, 26

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the burden in the war against Soviet Russia, but those youths

inducted would acquire the moral and clvic indoctrination the

mandarins at Vichy had proved unwilling to provlde.:·

Post-Liberation testimonials aside, the vast ma]Orlty of

Frenchmen were so shaken by the events of 1940 thal they

resignedly followed the example set by Péta.ln, accepted

defeat, and trled to adjust to the new conditions of 1 i fe. De

Gaulle' s 18 June address to the French nation went unnotlccd;

even among those aware of the man and his sel f - i mposed

mission, his support was marginal. 4J Organized resistdncc

developed slow1Yi spurred initially by French c:ommunists

seeking to hamstring Germany's war against Russia, the rdnks

of the Resistance swe11ed with the prospect of Allied vlctory

as increasing numbers of French youths took ta the maquis to

avoid doing labour service in Germany . .)4

With the murder in August 1941 of a German naval cadet on

a Parisian subway platform, there began a cycle of terrorism

and counter-terrorism which V-TaS to increase to heights of such

ferocity that the societa1 col1apse seemingJy avoided by the

armistice of 1940 would, by 1944, once again loom

42"Mobilisations totales", L'Oeuvre, 10 February 1943, "Relève et service du travail", L'Oeuvre 1 24 February 1943, "Les jeunes d'abord", L'Oeuvre, 2-3 June 1943.

43Just how marginal can be st::'en in Paxton, pp. 41-45.

44The most exhaustive account of the Resistance ta Henri Noguêres en C'ollaborati on avec M. Degl iame-Fouché Vigier, Histoire de la Rés istance en France de 1940 a tomes, (Paris, Robert Laffont, 1967-1981).

date is & J.-L. 1945, 5

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threateningIy. In the wake of these first murders 1 Brasillach

urged Vichy's Minister of Interior P.ierre Pucheu to 1I1ake good

his promise to bring the guil ty te j usUce. He "'larned the

government against shying away from bloody acts of

retribution, lest justice be taken into privdte hands as had

happened in the Dormoy af fair. 45 The figt"-t agalnst the

Resistance was overwhelmingly the task of the various mili tary

and police organizations which the Germans had set up in

France. However, as Resistance acti vi ty increased throughaut

1943 and 1944, the German authorities sought increasingly ta

invoive the French themselves in their battie to stamp OUL

dissidence. The eventual ma.1nstay of Vichy' 5 anti -par-tisa,'

activities was the infamous Milice. However, its tull and

active deployrnent in the field woulci not corne bef(Jre January

1944, the terminus of a Ion~ and torturous p'v01ution. 4fJ

The Milice grew out ot the Service d'Ordre Légionnai re

(SOL), an activist wing of the Légion de3 Anciens Combattants

formed in the Alpes-Maritimes by Joseph Darnand. A rnuch

4SIILes crimes sont signés", Je suis partou:', 13 September 1941. Minister of Inter ior under the Popular Front, Marx Dormoy was rnurdered on 26 July 1941, while under house arrest, by a bomb blast for which no persan or organizat.1on claimed responsibi li ty; see also chapter two, footnote 9. Brasillach rnakes no mention of the German policy of shooting hostages as acts of reprisal; by 25 October over 100 hostages had already be~n shot. Paxton, pp. 223-224.

46Jacques Delperrie de Bayac, Histoire de la Milice (Parls Fayard, 1969) provides a full account of the evolution and activities of the Milice. A more concise account in provlded by Bertram Gordon, Collaborationisrn in France durinq the Second World War (Ithaca, New York, Corneli University Press, 1980), chapter five.

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decorated veteran of the Great War, former cagoulard, and

devoted follower of pétain, Darnand had originally created the

SOL as a œeans of bringing together the most mili tant

supporters of the National Revolution. In January 1942 Pétain

called Darnand to Vichy and charged him wi th the task of

forging an SOL network throughout the entire Unoccupied Zone.

As stalwarts of the National Revolution, Darnand and the SOL

were warmly supported by Brasillach. He lauded this "born

fighter" whose efforts at the helm of the SOL had raised it

weI] above i ts moribund parent organization. 47

The next stage i.n the slow transformation of the SOL came

in January 1943 with its official designation as the Milice

Française. Wi th Darnand as i ts secretary-general, the new

organization was still far removed from the anti -partisan

fighting fOrl .. C' it would eventually become. To start, its

raison d'être hact yet to be established. Still nominally under

Laval' s control, he wished to see the Milice develop into an

eli te bodyguard unit for himself and other top Vichy officiaIs

targeted bv Resistance hit sq .ads. Darnand, however, had more

ambi tious plans for the Milice. Sharing his am]- i tion, Déat saw

in the new organ ization a bulwark against the anarchy and

danger of civil war posed by the Re&istance. Doubtful that

civilian police could successfully combat armed guerilla

bands, an opinion shared by Bras illach, Déat believed the

41r'Parti unique ou partis unis?", Je suis partout, 9 October 1942, "Un homme a parlé", Je suis partout, 23 October 1942.

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Milice possessed the requisite ideological motivation ta

successfully challenge the maquisards. ·Hl He also f'xpressed

hope that the new Milice might provide the southern base, in

conjunction with the united ultra militias ot the ncrth, ot a

new revolutionary parti unique. 49

The Milice reached the height of its influence following

Darnand' s entry, the result of German pressure, into the Vichy

government as Secretary-General for the Maintenance of nrder

in late December 1943. For its raIe as German

auxiliary in the war against a Resistance swelled by thousands

of deserters from the STO, the Mil ice pos süssed near l y JO 500

volunteers. Of these, almost 17 500 composed the Franc-Guard;

barracked regulars and reservists, armed and tralned by the

SS, who made up the Mllice's force de frappe. ',0 With

restrictions against their operation ln the Northern Zone

lifted by the Germans on 1 January 1944, they were free ta

roam the whole of France in pl.l!'suit of thel.r quarry. To arrned

might was added legal sanction. A law of 20 January 1944 gave

4S"Le danger intérieur", L'Oeuvre, 3 March 1943, "Présentation des Milices", L'Oeuvre, 10--11 April 1943, "Procès du régime? Oui, mais duquel?", Je suis partout, 21 February 1942.

49"Impôts et conseils", L'Oeuvre, 13 January 1943, "Des Milices au Parti", L'Oeuvre, 4 February 1943. The unit y to which Déat refers is the ephemeral Front révolutionnaire natl.onal (FRN) wiLh its subordinate, and even more nebulous, Milices révolutionnaires nationales. Founded in September 1942, this effort at establishing political unit y within the ultra community foundered, as 50 many ethers, on the obstinacy and independent nature of one or another ef the ultra leaders.

50Gordon, pp. 355-356.

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Darnand the au thori ty to convene special courts mé:rtial to try

on the spot those caught by the Milice in acts of

assassination or other violent crimes against the state. 51

Death by f iring sq'Jad was the invariable penalty for

individuals unfortunate enough to be found to have been in

"f lagrant violation" of laws against murder and assassination.

D~at agreed whole heartedly with the new courts, and publicly

affirmed that Darnand had the determination and drive to break

the back of the Resistance. Similar support for Darnand's

appolntment as Secretary-General for the Maintenance of Order

came from the PPF camp.o2

Déat's support for the special courts of the Milice was

symptomatic of the hysterid which gripped those who maintained

solidarity hFith the Germans in the dying days of the

Occupation. In the wake of the Allied landings in Normandy on

6 June 1944, Déat personally declared war on the invaders. His

ini tial support for Pétaln' s renewed declaration of neutrali ty

and his exhortation to Frenchmen to resist the temptation of

taking up arms against the Germans, was quickly followed by

scorn for the Vichy government's inability to de fend its own

~lIbid., pp. 293-294.

~2"Empécher la guerre civile", L'Oeuvre, 7 January 1944, "A quelques excités", L'Oeuvre, 31 January 1944, (Henri Lebre) "Labourer la mer", Le Cri du peuple, 15-16 January 1944. In his memoirs Déat was more equivocal about Darnand. Oddly, given Darnand's deep and highly compromising involvement with the Nazis, Déat referred ta his as "très peu collaborationniste et même nettement dnti-allemand." Déat, p. 738.

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terri tory against invasion. 53 8uch cr i ticism echoed ear lier

complaints of reliance on German anti-aircraft batteries to

defend French civilians aga~nst the rising crescendo ot air

raids which preceded the A Llied landings. '4

To compensate for France's lack of air defenses, Deal

advised Vichy to make use of interned British nationals as

shields or hostages. He proposed, as did Brasillach, that

these hostages be shot in retaliation for French casuallies

suffered as a result of Allied action. '>', Oéat's indifferenC(~

towards innocent bystanders was not liwited to forclgn

nationals. While he condemned the execution by the Millce 01

individual hostages as acts of reprisaI agalnst Re3istdnce

violence, even in the seclusion of his Italian exile Déat was

prepared to mitigate, if not excuse, the massacre of French

men, women, and children by soldiers of the Waften-S8 division

Das Reich at Oradour-sur-Glane. 5b

53"Je ne suis pas neutre", L'Oeuvrp., 0 June 1944, "Pour éviter la guerre civile", L'Oeuvre, 13-14 July 1944.

54"La France désarmée", L'Oeuvre, 30 May 1944.

55"Le deui l, la colère, et la honte", L' Oauvre, 7 March 1942. "Représailles nécessaire", L'Oeuvre, 11 8eptember 1942, "Il faut choisir", Je suis partout, 9 May 1942

56Déat, p. 765, p. 846. In relation ta this infamous massacre of 642 men, women, and children (the men shot, the women and children herded into the village church and burned alive), Deal comment:.s: "C'était parfaitement lamentable, et les Allemands n'en étaient pas fiers. On pouvait cependant s'attendre que des chefs harcelés et affolés, dont les hommes étaient tués par surprises au détour d'un chemin, se laissassent emporter à des Violences inhumaines." The massacre and the events surroundlng i tare chronicled in Max Hastings, Das Reich (London, Michael Joseph, 1981).

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The cracking of the German defenSl ve line ln Nûrmandy in

early August 1944, and the subsequent fanning out of Allied

armour behind the German front, restored fI uldi ty to the

battle in the West. As the Allied spearh~ads pushed deeper and

German mllitary authucities prepared for dn ostensible no

holds barred defence of Paris, the Nazi infrastructure of

occupation was quickl y dismantled. Crowds of col1ak:.orators,

among them D~at and Doriot, sought refuge with the retreating

Germdns. By the tlme Paris broke into open revol t on 19 August

in anticipation of the arrivaI of Allied troops, the ultra

press had already been sllent two days.

Among those who declined the German offer of sanctuary

were Brasillach and Drieu La Rochelle. The latter remained in

Par is, calmly contemplating his fate. On 12 August he

attempted ta take his own life. Rushed to hospital and

rev i ved, a second at tempt was also foi led by the hospi tal

staff. Released, on 15 March 1945 he learned of the arder for

his arrest. Determined not to fall into the hands of his

enemies, he took poison, turned on the gas, and slipped into

a coma from which he never emerged.

Brasillach' s fate was worse still. He witnessed the

liberation of Paris trom a secret hideout. The arrest of his

mother in September 1944 prompted his surrender to the

authori ties. He was eventually sent to the Fresnes prison,

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which held many of the> major figures of the PariSldn

Collaboration. Brasillach' striaI lasted less than a day, al

the end of whlch he was sentenced to death. Desplte d plea ot

clemency on his behalf by severai vf France' s leadinq

intellectuals, the sentence was duly carrted out on 6 February

1945. 1

The terminus of the ultras' retn'at was the Hohenzù Il ern

castle of Sigmaringe:n in southweGtern Germany. Here they were

joined by Pétain, Laval and other members of the Vichy

government. Only Doriot stood aloof, he dnd hlS followers

quartered by the Germans at Meinau, an i s land ln Lakp

Constance. The lack of unit y which had marked the period of

the Occupation continued in German exile. Taklng advantage ot

Pétain and Laval' s refusaI to collaborate any further, by

October 1944 the ul tras assembled at Si gmar i ngen had

constituted themselves into the Commisslon gouvernementale

française pour la défense des intérets natlonaux. Senslng Lhat

hif: star was in the ascendancy, Doriot refused to join the

Commission and in January 1945 founded his own Comi te de la

libération française.;:: His favoured position vis-d-vls the

1The transcript of his trial, as weIl as the text of the peti tion made to de Gaulle, is rep~ inted ln Robert Bras lliach, Ecrit à Fresnes, ed. by Maurice Bardeche (ParIS, Plon, 1967). 'l'he trial transcript, along with commentary by Brasillach' s lawyer Jacques Isorni, is also reprinted in Jacques Isorni, Le proces de Robert Brasi~lach (Paris, Flanunarion, 1946).

2Bertram Gordon, Collaborationism in France dur 1ng the Second World War (Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, 1980), pp. 315-320.

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Germans Led to the growth of his prestige Wl thin the

expatn ate ultra çommuni ty 0 The uni ty whieh had always eluded

the ultras, as it had the tascists of the inter bellum, seemed

finùlly within grasp when Déat at last recognized Doriot's

supremacy and proposed an accord 0 Hùwe,'er, the meeting of the

erstwhile implacable toes, set for 22 February 1945, never

took place. En route ta the proposed meeting place, Doriot's

car was strafed by a fighter-bombero) He succumbed to his

Injur ies and was buried, wi th honours, in the German::, 1li tary

cemetery at Mengeno

Under the blows of Doriot' s death and the imminence of

Allled military victory, ttle ultra community in exile lost any

sense of coherence and became incrc:t3singly suffused by a sauve

qui peut attitude. In April 1945, é'îmid the chaos of the death

throes of the Third Reich, Déat and his wife crossed the Alps

i nto Northern Italy 0 He eventually sought sanetuary at the

monastery of San Vico, converted to Catholicism and lived the

lite of an ascetic, incognito, until his death in 1955.

* * * To the last, the ultras faithfully eehoed Nazi concerns

whenever dny of the latter's prima=-y interests were at stake.

'Conspiracy theorists point to several pieces of evidence in support of their contention that Doriot was killed by the 5D (the intelligence service of the 5S) 0 While the possibility cannot be ruled out (the fog of war provides a fertile breeding ground for al! manner of conspiraey theories), a preponderance of evidence and common sense suggests that the plane which killed Doriot was an Allied aireraft. See ibid., pp. 321-]22, and Dieter Wolf, Doriot. Du communisme a la collaboration, traduit de l'allemand par Georgette Chatenet (Paris, Fayard, 1969), p. 415n.

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- ----- ----- ---------


This allegiance underlay the~r vltriol ln condemnlng Vlchy's

refusal to embark upon even l lm1 ted Franco German

cobelligerency, the reg1me's foot dragg1ng in Its t~ttorts lü

keep German factories supplied with skllled French labour, and

even Vichy' s inability to stem the steddy erOSlon of Frclnce' s

overseas Empire. In short, the ul tr 35 condemned ad nauseam any

evidence of Vichy's unwillingness to part.lClpate more tully in

the ever expand~ng German war effort.

Such slavish devotlon was similarly manltesl in lhe

ultras' adoptlon of Naz i anti - seml t ~sm. The inter bell um clnt.. 1

semitism of Brasillach, Do' ~ot, and Drieu, even dl ILs helghl

during the war scares of the late 1930s, had always hc~en more

of an af fectation than an ideologlca 1 lmperall \le. The

Occupation saw the adoption of v.lrulent anti-semltlsm by aIl

three. Even Deat, with the deepest roots in the traditional

egali tarianism of the French Left, condemned the VIchy

government for a lack of enthuslasm ln Its persecution ot

French Jewry.

\'lhereas the expanding global conflict and the'

Final Solution brought the interests 0: the occupler and the

occupied into conf llct, with the ul tras habi tuall y coming down

on the side of the former, Vichy's program of lnternal reform

was of only secondary importance to the Germans. The prIncIpal

objective of their French policy had always been the securi ty

of their flank in Western Europe; what the new French

government did within its sphere of infll.;ence was, to the

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exlent that it did not transgress the terms of the armistice

agreement, viewed largely as a domestic French affaire Vichy

was therefore free to pursue ltS National RevolutIon, as were

the ultras to criticise what they perceived to be its many


Convlnced that the hour of French rebirth was at hand,

Déat, DorIot, and DrIeu La Rochelle gravitated to Vichy.

Withln monttls aIl three had 1eft for Paris; held as a POW,

BraSlllach's ideaiistic faith in Vichy's Nb~iona1 Revolution

was simllarly short-llved. 4 Such a precipitous 10ss of

confidence was a result of the hcrror with which tney viewed

the new regIme's conservative agenda. Such horror was readily

reclprocated; those at the helm of the National Revolution

showed Ilttle interest in the ultras or their ideas. The venom

WhlCh perm~ates 50 much of the present work is a result of the

wlde Ideologlcal gulf which separated the two camps.

The basis of the ultra critique of the National

Revol ut Ion was a conviction that Vichy' s el i tes, desL}i te

professIons to the contrary, lacked the requisi te ideo10gical

committment to restructure French society al~nq tota1itarian

1 ines. One has only to examine the related matters of

educatIon and the regimentation of youth. All agreed on the

need of reforming France's educational cadres. Tc the ultras'

horrar, the conservatives set about this task by persecuting

_ 4Robert BrasIllach, Journal d'un homme occupé (1965), generation dans l'orage, ed. by Maurice Bardèche (Paris, 1968), p. 299.

in Une PICln,

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educa tors not shar i ng the.l r ideology, and by rev 1 v 11H01 «'rance' s

old system of secta!:"~an education. Simllarly, whlle tht~ ultras

insisted that the youth of France needed a cornmon Ideoloqy to

properly orient them in the new Europe, Vlchy's deterence to

the Catholic Church resul ted in a fraqmented Vou th mov(~ment

which, in the former's opinion, gave clerical and rCdctlondry

elements a fl'ee hand to corrupt. Likew ~ se, the rees t.ab Ils hment

of labour on a more equitable footIng supposed ta result. trom

the Charte du Travall falled to develap not, accordlnq t.a Lhl'

ul tras, dS a resul t of pressures exerted by the needs () f the

German war effort, but as d result of the ,.:alculdted

obstruction of a bureaucracy Infected Wl th the tWln bdClll i of

Maurrasian nationalism and clerIcal reaction.

Accusations of a lack of ideological camml t tment were

also levelled at Vichy ln relat.~on ta the need for a parti

unique. To the ultras, the totalltar~an mass party was the

essential organ by which contact would be malntalned between

the pays réel and the pays légal. Wi thou t. the or gan 1 zed

grassroots support prav ided by such a party, measures

instituted from above would wither and dIe; a t.otailtarian

party thus became the sine qua non of a suc:essful revolut.lon.

The ultras criticised the substitute fashioned by Vichy, the

Légion Française des Combattants, not only for lts lack of

vigour, but also because it was perceived as a tool of


Conversely, despite having s~rung from the Légion, the

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Milice enjoyed the ultras' support. Such approval is

indicative of th~ positive light in which the radica1ization

which marked the terminal years of the regime was received.

Despl te such growlng radical ization however, distrust of Vichy

n,m.a l ned endemic i in general, the ultra' s support extended to

indivlduals, not institutions." Sueh Individuals were usually

distlngulshed not as a result of any conerete aehievement, but

as a resul t of their percelved ideologieal orthodoxy. For

examp lei despi te his glaring failure to eurb Resistance

activiLy, J03eph Darnand waB repeatedly judged of sufficient

ideolog ledl sour..dness to maintain his posi tion as Secretary-

Gent:!ra 1 for the Maintenance of Order. Similarly, despi te an

obv lous lack of success in the education portfolio, Abel

Bonnard was, time and again, deemed better suited to the job

of reforming the French educational establishment than any of

his equally unsuccessful predecessors.

In short, to the extent that the Vichy el i tes' more

consp.rvative vision of the National Revolution predominated,

it met W.lth the vitriolic condelnnation of the Paris ultras.

Such condemnation slackened only as more radical elements made

inroads at Vichy.

Th.lS vi triolic condemnation reflected the radicalization

undergone by the whole ultra camp as a result of exposure to

nazlsm. Howe' .. er, the latter were Indifferent proselityzers and

<'The ma j or exception ta this rule was the Milice. However, whlle it enjoyed the support of the ultras, by and large their kudos were d.lreeced at its leader Joseph Darnand.

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had no coherent policy of winning Frenchmen over ta national­

socialism. Such conversions were invariably voluntary, based

either on a desire to curry fnvour with the Occupation

authori ties or on a genuine bel let that the naz lsm represented

the wave of ti'e future. regards Braslilach, Déat, Doriot, and Drieu La

Rochelle, radicalization was largely the result of the awe

with which they viewed an ideology that had, ln thejr m .. nds,

taken Germany from the depths of economic depressian to

mastery over Europe in under a decade. rrhls process of

radicalization, which in etfect transfarmed them into French

national-socialists, bath alienated them from whatever

socialist experiments Vichy undertook and ta a large degree

s~vered the thread of continuity linking them with a naLive

French poli tical tradition, of which they had been an Integra 1

part during the inter belluJ11, ~tretching back at leasL cl5 Idr

as the Faisceau 'Jf Georges Valois.

Page 109: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),



l. Primary Sourc9s

A. Newspapers

Le Cri du peuple (de Paris)

L'Emancipation nationale

Je suis partout


B. Books

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___________________ . Une Génération dans l'orage. Paris: Plon, 1968.

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__________________ . Mémoires politiques. Paris: Denoël, 1989,

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_______ . Je suis un homme du maréchal. Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1941.

________________ . Réalités. Paris: Les Editions de France, 1942.

Drieu La Rochelle, Pierre. Socialisme fasciste, Paris: Gallimard, 1934.

____________________________ , Avec Dorio~, Paris: Gallimard,

Page 110: The Vichy regime and i ts National Revolution in the pol i · ~Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1972),



____________________________ ' Ne plus attendre. Paris: Grasset, 1941.

___________________________ . Notes pour comprendre le siècle. Paris: Gallimard, 1941.

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______________________ . Le Français d'Europe. Paris: Editions Balzac, 1944.

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Isorni, Jacques. Le procès de Robert Brasillach. PdrlS: Flammarion, 1946.

Marion, Paul. Programme du Parti Populaire F'rançais. Paris: Les Oeuvres Françaises, 1938.

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