France 1929-1939
Intellectual Life
France 1944-1949
Intellectual Life
France 1939-1945
the Economy

France 1940-1944 : Intellectual Life

Many of those who had fled the Nazis and chosen exile in France, such as German writer HEINRICH MANN, when the Germans occupied France, moved on to the United States.

While most intellectuals in France had be highly critical of the Third Republic, they rejected the German occupation of Northern France and the Vichy administration of southern France much more. Many, such as historian MARC BLOCH (killed by the Gestapo in 1944) and writers ANDRE MALRAUX and JEAN-PAUL SARTRE, joined the RESISTANCE. Writers ANDRE GIDE and ALBERT CAMUS spent the war years in North Africa. Philosopher SIMONE WEIL fled occupied France in 1942. SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR continued to teach in occupied Paris and began to write.
Painter PABLO PICASSO stayed in occupied Paris.

The Vichy administration propagated new virtues - travail, justice, familie (work, justice, family, replacing the slogan of the French Revolution - liberty, egality, brotherhood), which were expressed in her symbolism - Goddess Ceres, oars of corn, the FASCES symbolizing justice. Free France adopted the CROSS OF LORRAINE, again drawing upon the spirit of Jean d'Arc.
The antagonism between the resistance and the collaborators (most of the latter acting without spirit) polarized French society.

The German administration attempted to introduce German cultural policy to France. The exhibition "DEGENERATE ART" (in German : Entartete Kunst) was shown in Paris.

Vichy France officially had to implement the German race policy - Jews were to be expelled from public office, had to wear the YELLOW STAR etc. Yet French officials were, in most cases, rather unenthusiastic in the enforcement of these laws, as well as in the persecution of political refugees. Many Jews as well as political refugees tried to flee across Spain to Lisbon, and from there across the Atlantic. German-Jewish philosopher WALTER BENJAMIN took this route; cornered, he committed suicide.

Biography of Josephine Baker, from the Josephine Baker Estate
Biography of Pablo Picasso, from showgate
Biography of Edith Piaf, by Kelly Wittmann
Biography of Jean Cocteau, from Books and Writers
Biography of Andre Malraux, from Books and Writers
Biography of Jean-Paul Sartre, from Books and Writers
Biography of Georges Simenon, from Books and Writers
Biography of Simone Weil, from Books and Writers
REFERENCE Roger Price, A Concise History of France, Cambridge Concise Histories, 1993, pp.218-231
Article : France, in : Americana Annual 1940 pp.318-321, 1943 pp.303-305, 1944 pp.289-294 [G]
Article : France, in : New International Year Book Events of 1940 pp.276-288, 1941 pp.215-222, 1942 pp.257-265, 1943 pp.217-225, 1944 pp.230-237, 1945 pp.216-222 [G]
Article : France, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1940 pp.248-256, 1941 pp.203-207, 1942 pp.178-183, 1943 pp.181-186, 1944 pp.124-127 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on March 30th 2007

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