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The Shameful Peace

The Shameful Peace: How French Artists & Intellectuals Survived the Nazi Occupation

FREDERIC SPOTTS
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1nq54b
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  • Book Info
    The Shameful Peace
    Book Description:

    The German occupation of France from 1940 to 1945 presented wrenching challenges for the nation's artists and intellectuals. Some were able to flee the country; those who remained-including Gide and Céline, Picasso and Matisse, Cortot and Messiaen, and Cocteau and Gabin-responded in various ways. This fascinating book is the first to provide a full account of how France's artistic leaders coped under the crushing German presence. Some became heroes, others villains; most were simply survivors.

    Filled with anecdotes about the artists, composers, writers, filmmakers, and actors who lived through the years of occupation, the book illuminates the disconcerting experience of life and work within a cultural prison. Frederic Spotts uncovers Hitler's plan to pacify the French through an active cultural life, and examines the unexpected vibrancy of opera, ballet, painting, theater, and film in both the Occupied and Vichy Zones. In view of the longer-term goal to supplant French with German culture, Spotts offers moving insight into the predicament of French artists as they fought to preserve their country's cultural and national identity.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14237-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vii])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [viii]-[ix])
  3. CHAPTER 1 THE JUDGEMENT OF PARIS
    (pp. 1-5)

    In Agatha Christie’s 1933 mystery,Lord Edgware Dies, the murderer inadvertently unmasks herself at a smart luncheon party by commenting on another guest’s reference to the Judgement of Paris. ‘Paris? Why, Paris doesn’t cut any ice nowadays,’ she exclaimed. ‘It’s London and New York that count.’ It was a painful moment. Around the table frowns were frowned and gasps were gasped. The hostess began to talk violently about Russian opera; the Duke of Merton’s lips were tightly drawn.

    In thinking of Paris as a place rather than a mythical person – confusing the Parisian avant-garde with the Greek epic – the culprit...

  4. CHAPTER 2 GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT
    (pp. 6-30)

    ‘I felt the German advance like a personal threat’, Simone de Beauvoir wrote in her diary on 9 June 1940, two days after German forces breached the last French defences before Paris. ‘I had only one thought, not to be caught like a rat in occupied Paris.’ A friend suggested suicide as a way out, but she rejected it on the grounds that one did not do that sort of thing. But on hearing ‘for certain’ that the Germans would be in Paris in two days, she said she suffered a kind of nervous breakdown. ‘It was for me the...

  5. CHAPTER 3 OH, WHAT A LOVELY WAR!
    (pp. 31-51)

    At dinner in July 1942 at the most famous of Parisian restaurants, the Tour d’Argent, a German officer recalled that Henri IV had dined there several centuries earlier on pâté of heron. The officer was feeling a bit like a king himself. ‘In times like these,’ he commented in his diary, ‘to eat, to eat well and copiously gives you a sense of power.’ The officer had arrived in Paris in April of the previous year and written in his diary at the end of his first day,

    In the evening with a military friend to the Rôtisserie de la...

  6. CHAPTER 4 ‘I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU’
    (pp. 52-72)

    The name of Cole Porter’s famous song of 1934 would be a good title for a book about German occupation policy. As Pierre Lazareff, self-exiled editor of Paris-Soir , explained on arriving in New York in 1940, ‘So long as the Germans occupy France, our collaboration with them will be like the relationship of a pair of boots to a pair of buttocks.’ Phrased less poetically, the Invader set down the rules and the Invaded obeyed them or got a hefty kick. In the cultural sphere, the kicks were withal judiciously administered. Cicero’s famous maxim,inter arma silent musae– in...

  7. CHAPTER 5 BONJOUR TRISTESSE
    (pp. 73-90)

    Radiant sunshine, a luminous azure sky, white sailboats bobbing in a sparkling Mediterranean Sea. The scene in French Railway travel posters and magazine ads for pastis beckoned to countless thousands as they fled the Wehrmacht. One of the fugitives was Roland Dorgelès. He arrived in Marseille in mid-July and found the city so welcoming that his pen, he said, ‘felt as though it was caressing the very name when it wrote it’. The noted author was merely one of what he described as ‘a motley crowd of rich people, poor people, people without a trade, people without a country, soldiers,...

  8. CHAPTER 6 SONGS WITHOUT WORDS
    (pp. 91-144)

    ‘Blut und Schande’ – blood and shame – Thomas Mann insisted, stained everything published in Nazi Germany. Getting into print, whatever the content, amounted to complicity – complicity in creating ‘window dressing for absolute monstrousness’. There were those in Occupied France who were equally categorical. Jean Bruller, better known by his pseudonym Vercors, posed the choice starkly: ‘When the Nazis occupied France after the defeat of 1940, French writers had two alternatives: collaboration or silence.’ For certain others the issue went further still: ‘Today in France legal literature means treasonous literature.’ That was the motto of the underground publicationLettres françaisesand the...

  9. CHAPTER 7 ARTFUL DODGERS
    (pp. 145-191)

    What should you do? You are the world’s best-known painter. You are rich and well connected. You have invitations to live in the United States, Mexico and Brazil. Any number of other countries would welcome you with open arms. The city where you have made your home for nearly forty years has been occupied by the army of a barbaric power that, as you well know, hates your work and would like to destroy it. You yourself are a committed anti-fascist. Should you go into exile abroad or stay in the Unoccupied Zone, where no one will bother you? Or...

  10. CHAPTER 8 ENIGMA VARIATIONS
    (pp. 192-220)

    On a Saturday afternoon in mid-January 1947 one of the most famous pianists of the century walked onto the stage of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and began playing Chopin’sSonate funèbre. Suddenly from the second balcony someone shouted, ‘Do you dedicate that to your friend Hitler?’ Sympathetic cheers and hostile jeers brought the recital to an end. The scandal was by no means the first in the musical history of Paris. Wagner’sTannhäuserin 1861 and Stravinsky’sSacre du Printempsin 1913 come easily to mind. But in this case the ruckus was over a person, not a work. The...

  11. CHAPTER 9 FAIBLESSE OBLIGE
    (pp. 221-253)

    At the very moment German troops were entering Paris on 14 June, Count Thierry de Martel de Jonville injected himself with a fatal dose of strychnine. Dr Martel was France’s leading neurosurgeon. During the Great War he had been badly wounded and his seventeen-year-old son killed. The fall of Paris was now more than he could bear. Throughout France the news of his suicide was greeted with horror. But not by Jean Cocteau. ‘I find these days exciting. Too bad Martel was so lacking in curiosity’, he wrote to a friend. Appalling, to say the least, but then the remark...

  12. CHAPTER 10 HUMAN, ALL TOO HUMAN
    (pp. 254-264)

    A history of the Occupation is the story of how forty million French along with a million or so Germans lived together as prisoners in a nightmare world created by one man – an evil genius headquartered in Berlin. Like the characters in Sartre’sHuis clos, they were allpersonaein a drama from which there was no escape. The artists and intellectuals among them behaved as all human beings always behave in dark times. In ways honourable and dishonourable, they sought to survive. Survival meant different things, of course. For some, it was a matter of staying alive in the...

  13. SOURCES
    (pp. 265-271)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 272-283)
  15. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. 284-284)
  16. PHOTOGRAPH ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. 285-286)