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Not simply a tragedy

by
May 2006, no. 281

Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family and Fatherland by Carmen Callil

Jonathan Cape, $32.95 pb, 614 pp

Not simply a tragedy

by
May 2006, no. 281

In 1978 the French weekly L’Express published an interview that sent a shockwave through the French collective conscience. The subject was Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, the wartime Vichy government’s Commissioner for Jewish Affairs. Having escaped at the end of the war to the safe haven of Franco’s Spain, he was now an octogenarian, enjoying some prestige as the official translator of the Caudillo’s speeches. Darquier had been condemned to death in absentia by the Liberation courts, but never extradited. He was not the only Nazi collaborator to have escaped punishment, but what most profoundly perturbed the readers of L’Express was that his virulent anti-Semitism was still completely intact, as was his refusal to believe that the Shoah was anything other than a Jewish fabrication. In the late 1970s France was at the beginning of the long process of self-examination and self-remembering whereby it would seek to come to terms with one of its history’s darkest periods. For Charles de Gaulle, whose presence had dominated so much of the two decades after World War II, the Vichy government was an illegality, and its leaders traitors. After de Gaulle’s death in 1970 began the slow and painful process of acknowledgment that the experience and behaviour of the French during the Occupation was more complex than the Gaullian vision, and much more shameful.

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family and Fatherland' by Carmen Callil

Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family and Fatherland

by Carmen Callil

Jonathan Cape, $32.95 pb, 614 pp

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