The context of exile

Communities, circumstances and choices

in The forgotten French

This chapter begins with a discussion of why French exiles, who sheltered in Britain during the ‘dark years’ of 1940–44, have largely been forgotten by historians. It then sets out the purpose of the book, which is to lift out of obscurity and to dissect the existence of these ‘forgotten French’. The book serves as a corrective in that it displays the majority of French men and women were not enamoured of the General de Gaulle; in many ways, the lure of Pétain was stronger. It shows that the history of the ‘forgotten French’ is a tale of several communities: communities that struggled to acclimatise to life abroad; communities that kept their distance from one another; communities that were often internally divided; and communities that frequently exasperated, irritated and bemused the British government and public.

The forgotten French

Exiles in the British Isles 1940–44

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