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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La bourgeoisie et l’inavouable collaboration

by Claude Mazauric

“We Never…!”: The French Bourgeoisie’s Shameful Collaboration With the Nazis

Translated Friday 5 October 2012, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Historian Claude Mazauric reviews L’Histoire contemporaine toujours sous influence by Annie Lacroix-Riz (Contemporary history still under control), Le Temps des cerises and Delga publishers, 2012.

The first edition of the essay was published in 2004; this new completely revised and updated edition has a broader scope and sharper edges. Since the last third of the twentieth century, Annie Lacroix-Riz has been fighting on bravely and indefatigably against repeated and unrelenting attempts to exonerate the French bourgeoisie of its central political and moral responsibility for collaborating with the Nazis following the country’s defeat in 1940.

She has been tirelessly investigating all accessible records and strictly abiding by the rules of historiography, has at last produced research that is nothing less than an ideological bombshell. Because of this, her scientific career has been hampered by an unparalleled and unimaginable series of pitfalls: the media’s obstinate censorship, the malicious distortion of her intentions, implacable manoeuvring and polemics aimed at minimizing or circumscribing the importance of her work or casting aspersions upon it.

And yet her book is a mine of information. Especially (as in the second chapter) the way capitalist sponsors promoting the history of companies - thanks to the complacency of mandarins of high repute - pursue the aim of brainwashing citizens. An example of this is the wiping out of past shameful acts from public memory - especially in the process of “arianizing” companies during the Occupation. Chapter three deals with the memorable Touvier case: as is now known, the head of the French militia in the Rhône Alpes region, who had been an abominable and fanatic torturer, enjoyed the protection of part of the Catholic hierarchy after the Liberation; and when the truth about him came out, a special commission was opportunely set up with René Rémond as chairman [1]. His conclusions had the effect of minimizing the responsibility of the more or less compromised or servile hierarchy - proof of what the author humorously and aptly calls the “triumph of academic clericalism”.

The “Jewish file” established by the French administration was long thought to have been destroyed. Then it was subjected first to the expertise of a committee, then to the more pragmatic approach of “the Mattéoli mission”, but their conclusions were remarkably laconic. Fortunately for the honour of this country, President Chirac, then quite recently President Hollande, disclosed the conclusions that the committees had not had the courage to make public, by acknowledging the country’s and the French administration’s specific responsibility for the genocide and collaboration with the Nazis.

When will a similar public acknowledgement be made on the question of colonialism? Annie Lacroix-Riz’ book ends with the evocation of the attempt by Louis Renault’s heirs to impose official rehabilitation of their ancestor who had died in prison. He had been confined after being convicted of industrial collaboration, and his heirs are trying to get damages for the alleged wrong suffered by the family as a result of the sequestration and nationalization of the Renault factories… The short of it is that the proofs brought by our historian effectively defeated the heirs’ original intentions, as well as the anti-communist uproar in the media and the complacency of a few two-faced historians. With its 327 footnotes and justifications, this book is well worth reading and discussing honestly - that is for the thesis it proposes and establishes, and not for the allegations made against it.

[1A historian known for his works on the history of the French Right.

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