Exclusions: Practicing Prejudice in French Law and Medicine, 1920-1945

Julie Fette
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In the 1930s, the French Third Republic banned naturalized citizens from careers in law and medicine for up to ten years after they had obtained French nationality. In 1940, the Vichy regime permanently expelled all lawyers and doctors born of foreign fathers and imposed a 2 percent quota on Jews in both professions. On the basis of extensive archival research, Julie Fette shows in Exclusions that doctors and lawyers themselves, despite their claims to embody republican virtues, persuaded the French state to enact this exclusionary legislation. At the crossroads of knowledge and power, lawyers and doctors had long been dominant forces in French society: they ran hospitals and courts, doubled as university professors, held posts in parliament and government, and administered justice and public health for the nation. Their social and political influence was crucial in spreading xenophobic attitudes and rendering them more socially acceptable in France.

    Fette traces the origins of this professional protectionism to the late nineteenth century, when the democratization of higher education sparked efforts by doctors and lawyers to close ranks against women and the lower classes in addition to foreigners. The legislatively imposed delays on the right to practice law and medicine remained in force until the 1970s, and only in 1997 did French lawyers and doctors formally recognize their complicity in the anti-Semitic policies of the Vichy regime. Fette's book is a powerful contribution to the argument that French public opinion favored exclusionary measures in the last years of the Third Republic and during the Holocaust.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6399-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-5)

    In France between the two World Wars, lawyers and doctors complained that their professions were overcrowded, especially, they claimed, with foreigners and naturalized citizens. Activists rallied their fellow professionals to form a social movement and lobbied for state intervention to exclude undesirable competitors from the professions. These lobbying efforts were successful. New legislation in the 1930s banned naturalized French citizens from careers in law and medicine for up to ten years after they had attained French nationality. This was extraordinary: interest groups persuaded legislators to create a second-class level of citizenship in France. French lawyers and doctors continued their protectionist...

  5. Chapter 1 The Nineteenth-Century Origins of Exclusion in the Professions
    (pp. 6-29)

    The nineteenth century was a period of major change for both doctors and lawyers. The medical and legal fields were disputed turf on which several types of practitioners battled for clientele. To gain a monopoly, doctors tried to diminish the influence of other healers. Lawyers were not as intent on eliminating other legal practitioners but instead concentrated their battles for professional dominance in a few strategic areas of legal practice that they deemed most prestigious, while leaving the rest to others. Despite the differences between medicine and law, the same processes of professionalization were at work throughout the century: developing...

  6. Chapter 2 Defense of the Corps: The Medical Mobilization against Foreigners and Naturalized Citizens
    (pp. 30-68)

    The decade of the 1920s was one of enormous postwar recuperation, demographic growth, and modernization. Rebuilding and repopulating the country were top priorities, and France attracted thousands of immigrants with opportunities for work. In 1927 the French government passed a major nationality law that liberalized nationality and naturalization requirements. To create a fast track to citizenship, the law reduced the residency requirement for naturalization candidates from ten years to three. For those who had earned a diploma from a French institution of higher learning, the residency requirement was shortened to one year. The legislation was grounded in the belief that...

  7. Chapter 3 The Art of Medicine: Access and Status
    (pp. 69-89)

    Although the movement to exclude foreigners during the interwar years was the most important manifestation of medical protectionism, doctors pursued other strategies for professional survival that call into question the notion that the anti-foreigner movement arose simply from xenophobia. Merging protectionism with professionalization, doctors strove to reduce the number of medical graduates by raising qualification standards. Three main proposals were advanced: a return to the classical baccalaureate, quotas on medical students, and more rigorous exams. This strategy was aimed at reducing the number of French citizens, not foreigners, entering the profession. Because educational trajectories were strongly determined by social origins,...

  8. Chapter 4 The Barrier of the Law Bar
    (pp. 90-107)

    During the interwar years, the decree of 20 June 1920 defined the rules of access to the legal profession. Lawyers themselves had lobbied for such legislation to back up their internal rules with the force of law, but the bars still deemed themselves “masters of their registry” (maîtres de leurs tableaux), in charge of granting access to the profession. The 1920 decree enumerated the requirements for entry into all law bars: a French licence en droit, French nationality, and three years of practical training (stage) in the office of either a lawyer, an avoué, or a notary, or with a...

  9. Chapter 5 Citizens into Lawyers: Extra Assimilation Required
    (pp. 108-132)

    Unlike doctors in the years between the wars, lawyers already possessed an airtight barrier against foreigners in their field through the formidable tool of the law bar. French nationality was required for bar membership. But beginning in the 1920s, recently naturalized French citizens became the new target of lawyers’ exclusionary sentiment. French lawyers demanded that new citizens be banned from practicing law for a fixed period following their naturalization. They argued that “freshly naturalized” foreigners suffered from a lack of assimilation into French culture and should not have immediate access to the sensitive function of lawyering. Much of the exclusionary...

  10. Chapter 6 Lawyers during the Vichy Regime: Exclusion in the Law
    (pp. 133-161)

    After the Nazi invasion of Poland, France declared war on the Third Reich in September 1939, but months of what became known as the “phony war” followed. In May 1940 Nazi Germany invaded Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and France. Over 4 million women, men, and children fled their homes in France and pushed southward in a great exodus. Paris and half the territory of France were occupied in less than a month, leaving French society and the political leadership in panic and disarray. The government collapsed, a new government was formed and relocated to the town of Vichy, and full...

  11. Chapter 7 L’Ordre des Médecins: Corporatist Debut and Anti-Semitic Climax
    (pp. 162-202)

    The medical profession as a whole responded to Pétain’s accession to power with enthusiasm, for many reasons. Pétain chose a doctor, Bernard Ménétrel, as his personal secretary and chief of propaganda.¹ With his privileged access to the head of state, Dr. Ménétrel received hundreds of letters from doctors who hoped his place at Vichy would enhance the medical profession’s prestige and meet their personal needs.² The regime would soon legislate the creation of a corporatist Medical Order, and a plan to reform and raise standards in medical studies was initiated. In addition, as the sociologist Francine Muel-Dreyfus has illustrated, the...

  12. Conclusion: Postwar Continuities and the Rupture of Public Apology
    (pp. 203-216)

    This book has analyzed a social movement from genesis to crystallization. The mobilization against foreigners and naturalized citizens in the professions was initiated and led “from below.” The legislation restricting access to law and medicine was instigated by lawyers, doctors, and students. They pressured parliament and government to satisfy their demands, and their mobilization prospered in the near absence of correctives by state actors. While many doctors and lawyers held political mandates themselves, corporatist orders and professional associations regularly engaged in double-edged tactics by making demands of state actors and simultaneously trying to seize authority for themselves. The rabidly xenophobic...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 217-280)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 281-304)
  15. Index
    (pp. 305-314)