Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Crisis and Renewal in France

Crisis and Renewal in France

Kenneth Mouré
Martin S. Alexander
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 324
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Crisis and Renewal in France
    Book Description:

    Since 1914, the French state has faced a succession of daunting and at times almost insurmountable crises. The turbulent decades from 1914 to 1969 witnessed near-defeat in 1914, economic and political crisis in 1926, radical political polarization in the 1930s, military conquest in 1940, the deep division of France during the Nazi Occupation, political reconstruction after 1944, de-colonization (with threatening civil war provoked by the Algerian crisis), and dramatic postwar modernization. However, this tumultuous period was not marked just by crises but also by tremendous change. Economic, social and political "modernization" transformed France in the twentieth century, restoring its confidence and its influence as a leader in global economic and political affairs. This combination of crises and renewal has received surprisingly little attention in recent years.

    The present collection show-cases significant new scholarship, reflecting greater access to French archival sources, and focuses on the role of crises in fostering modernization in areas covering politics, economics, women, diplomacy and war.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-164-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-v)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Introduction Crisis and Renewal in France Since the First World War
    (pp. 1-14)
    Kenneth Mouré and Martin S. Alexander

    The story line in Charles de Gaulle’sWar Memoirstraces a pattern recurrent in French political history. The crises of defeat and German occupation inThe Call to Honorlead to a gathering of French resources to combat the forces of occupation in his second volume,Unity. The third volume,Salvation, brings liberation and victory, followed almost inevitably by discord, disunion, and de Gaulle’s departure from politics. On his final page, writing from self-appointed political retreat in Colombey, de Gaulle evoked the fundamental lessons of nature that gained in significance as he grew older. He likened the return of spring,...

  5. Chapter 1 John Cairns and the Historiography of Great Britain and the Fall of France: ‘Il n’y a que le premier pas qui coûte’
    (pp. 15-27)
    P.M.H. Bell

    The story is told that when Saint Denis, the patron saint of France, was martyred by having his head cut off, he set out to walk some two leagues to the place where he wished to be buried, carrying his head in his hands. When onlookers cried out in amazement and admiration, the saint observed with becoming modesty: ‘La distance n’y fait rien; il n’y a que le premier pas qui coûte.’¹ The same is often true in the development of historical understanding. It is the first step which is difficult, and the first step which counts—to take two...

  6. Chapter 2 Poincaré-la-Peur: France and the Ruhr Crisis of 1923
    (pp. 28-45)
    Sally Marks

    On occasion, the eye of the historian has an excessively narrow focus in space and time. This has frequently been true of historians of interwar France who tend to study its external policiesin vacuoor in relation to Germany alone.¹ Beyond geographic isolation comes chronological. All too often, the early 1920s and the late 1930s are treated as if they occurred in different, disconnected centuries, and some historians are prone to assume that the problems culminating in the Third Republic’s collapse arose in 1934 or 1936.

    In fact, there were numerous early signs of later weakness, many of them...

  7. Chapter 3 Women’s Right and the ‘Rights of Man’
    (pp. 46-65)
    William D. Irvine

    One of the most important ways in which Third Republic France didnotmodernize was with respect to the political rights of women. Prior to 1914 France was, by any standards, one of the most advanced political democracies in the world, far more democratic that her major European neighbors: Germany, Italy, Russia or even Great Britain. After 1918 all of that changed. Almost everywhere women were granted the same voting rights as men: Germany, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union but also in such unlikely places as the Irish Republic, Palestine and six provinces of Republican China. Even...

  8. Chapter 4 The Gold Standard Illusion: France and the Gold Standard in an Era of Currency Instability, 1914-1939
    (pp. 66-85)
    Kenneth Mouré

    InThe Gravediggers of France, his wartime indictment of France’s “guilty men,” the journalist André Geraud (Pertinax) criticized a French “financial oligarchy,” which included regents of the Bank of France, private bankers, and officials at the Treasury for having clung obstinately to “the ancient teachings of liberal economics, to the classic doctrine of the gold standard” as if the world had not changed since the nineteenth century.² As other countries abandoned the gold standard in the early 1930s, France steadfastly maintained the gold parity of the Poincaré franc, conceiving defense of the franc as a new battle of the Marne...

  9. Chapter 5 The Cagoule Plot, 1936-1937
    (pp. 86-104)
    Joel Blatt

    In January or February 1937, a woman arrived at the residence of General Benoit de la Laurencie, commander of the First Cavalry Division stationed in Paris, claiming to be soliciting contributions to fight tuberculosis. She spoke openly for Eugène Deloncle, principal leader of the “Cagoule,” warning the general that he and three other generals were targets for Communist assassination. At a subsequent rendezvous, Deloncle bluntly asked, “In the case of an anti-Communist movement, can we count on you?” “Can we count on you if there was a furious storm (coup de chien) against the government?” The general replied, “The Army...

  10. Chapter 6 Retreat or Resistance: Strategic Re-Appraisal and the Crisis of French Power in Eastern Europe, September 1938 to August 1939
    (pp. 105-131)
    Talbot Imlay

    Thousands gathered at Le Bourget airport, just outside of Paris, on the morning of 30 September 1938, to greet Edouard Daladier on his return from the Munich Conference. It is said that the French Premier, catching sight of the massive crowd from the window of his approaching plane, expected to be lynched. When the crowd fêted him instead, a surly Daladier muttered “fools.”¹ His reaction stands in stark contrast to that of Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister. Before leaving Germany Chamberlain had told a confidant that the Munich Accords meant peace for ten years, a prediction he rashly and...

  11. Chapter 7 “Nous allons vers les monastères”: French Pacifism and the Crisis of the Second World War
    (pp. 132-151)
    Norman Ingram

    There is nothing quite like a war to render the pacifist cause suspect and dangerous in the eyes of public opinion. In the case of France this has been complicated by the spectacle of the War-which-was-Lost-and-then-Won, the temptations represented by the moral and political quandaries posed by Vichy, and the subsequent Gaullist absolution. Compounding these historical dilemmas is a posterity which has arguably been unable to exorcise the ghost of Vichy and a postwar peace movement which has been hijacked—at least in the public mind—by the French communist party.¹ All of this has contributed to a collective amnesia...

  12. Chapter 8 Crisis and Change in the Juvenile Justice System, 1934-1945
    (pp. 152-173)
    Sarah Fishman

    On 27 August 1934, at the correctional boy’s school for juvenile offenders on Belle-Ile, an island off the coast of Brittany, wardens badly beat an inmate for the offense of having begun to eat his dinner before the signal bell. A riot broke out and in the general chaos, all the boys managed to escape. However, they were recaptured after the local police offered townspeople and vacationing tourists a 20 franc reward for the return of any fugitive. Publicity about the incident inspired outrage, prompting Jacques Prévert to write “Children’s Hunt,” a poem that popular Paris cabaret singer Marianne Oswald...

  13. Chapter 9 The Liberation of France as a Moment in State-Making
    (pp. 174-198)
    Herrick Chapman

    The Liberation endures in the popular imagination as a moment of national regeneration when the French people surmounted extraordinary obstacles to embark on a path of postwar renewal. Liberation brought deliverance from Hitler, of course, but also the immense challenge of restoring democracy after the country had succumbed to near civil war in the final year of the Occupation. It also brought a crisis of public order as de Gaulle’s Provisional Government sought to reestablish republican justice amid popular zeal to punish collaborators. Even the simplest matters of housing and feeding the population proved formidable. War had made a million...

  14. Chapter 10 Modernizing French Politics in the Fourth Republic: Women in the Mouvement républicain populaire, 1944-1958
    (pp. 199-220)
    Patricia E. Prestwich

    In 1946, Marie-Madeleine Dienesch, a deputy in the Christian DemocraticMouvement républicain populaire(MRP), declared that “the MRP is a family party, the great party of the French family, and it is a feminist party.” Her statement was in response to complaints by women party activists (militantes) that they never heard a woman’s voice in National Assembly and that, less than two years after gaining the right to vote, they were “awfully disillusioned.”¹ Since these women had already reproached their party for not seeking women candidates or discussing women’s issues, Dienesch’s assurances were probably met with less-than-polite skepticism. The women’s...

  15. Chapter 11 Crisis and Modernization in the Fourth French Republic: From Suez to Rome
    (pp. 221-241)
    William I. Hitchcock

    The link between crisis and modernization is perhaps nowhere as strong as in the history of the French Fourth Republic. This much-disparaged regime, established in October 1946 after two years of partisan wrangling over its constitutional attributes, won few adherents during its short existence. It was beset by an almost uninterrupted series of crises, both internal and external, and was finally laid low by the worst of them, the Algerian War. Few mourned its passing. Charles de Gaulle, who worked assiduously to weaken the Republic during the 1940s and 1950s, routinely engaged in polemics against it throughout his tenure as...

  16. Chapter 12 Seeking France’s ‘Lost Soldiers’: Reflections on the French Military Crisis in Algeria
    (pp. 242-266)
    Martin S. Alexander

    ‘Lost soldiers’ was first offered as a conceptual framework, to help us study the mid-20th Century French military, by an American political scientist, George Armstrong Kelly of Princeton, in 1965. Kelly employed the epithet ‘lost’ to depict an army without firm direction and without an internally or externally accepted mission. In this frame of reference Kelly examined ‘the French army and empire in crisis,’ from the 1940s to Algerian independence in July 1962. He saw the process of army politicization as a function of outrage at successive imperial defeats and retreats, turning into a cancerous malady afflicting the custodians of...

  17. Chapter 13 ‘Une Journée Portée Disparue’: The Paris Massacre of 1961 and Memory
    (pp. 267-290)
    Jim House and Neil MacMaster

    On the evening of 17 October 1961 a peaceful demonstration by 30,000 Algerian immigrants, organized by theFront de Libération Nationale(FLN), converged on central Paris. Met by an extremely violent police repression, at least 50 Algerians were to die or ‘disappear’ that night, while a further 11,538 men were savagely beaten and herded into sports stadia.¹ This was probably the largest ‘peacetime’ massacre in Western Europe in the twentieth century.

    Since public knowledge of these ‘lost’ events slowly resurfaced in the 1980s two central questions have been asked: firstly, how was it possible that state murder on this scale...

  18. Contributors
    (pp. 291-293)
  19. Index
    (pp. 294-312)