THE FRENCH AGAINST THE FRENCH: Collaboration and Resistance by Milton Dank

THE FRENCH AGAINST THE FRENCH: Collaboration and Resistance

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Dank's social history of France under the German occupation gives us ""the strains, the anxiety, the worry over the prisoners of war, the execution of hostages, the hunger, the shortages, the cold"" -- almost as vividly as Marcel Ophul's brilliant film The Sorrow and The Pity, which dealt with the French ordeal during the years of resistance and collaboration in an equally compassionate way. Dank shows that ""collaboration"" meant anything from minimal cooperation with the bosch to exultation at the prospect of France integrated into Germany's New Order. Similarly, the Resistance was never one and indivisible; though de Gaulle received the laurels of liberation, the French underground was stubbornly fragmented -- students, farmers, government deputies, anarchists, a myriad of local, clandestine and sometimes mutually suspicious groups. Insofar as they were eventually united into an effective sabotage network, it was Jean Moulin, the erstwhile prefect of Chartres, dropped into the Vichy zone with a half million francs and a mission, who was to perform this near-impossible task. And it is Moulin (whose initial response to the vanquishing German armies had been to slash his throat) who becomes Dank's true hero. But on the whole his sensitivity to the complexity of human motivations prevents him from seeing these bitter years in terms of heroes and villains. Like Barbara Tuchman, Dank analyzes less than he dramatizes his scene and his protagonists, but this is no small talent -- a splendid, visual documentary.

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1974
Publisher: Lippincott