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The forgotten French

Exiles in the British Isles 1940–44

Nicholas Atkin

It is widely assumed that the French in the British Isles during the Second World War were fully fledged supporters of General de Gaulle, and that, across the channel at least, the French were a ‘nation of resisters’. This study reveals that most exiles were on British soil by chance rather than by design, and that many were not sure whether to stay. Overlooked by historians, who have concentrated on the ‘Free French’ of de Gaulle, these were the ‘Forgotten French’: refugees swept off the beaches of Dunkirk; servicemen held in camps after the Franco-German armistice; Vichy consular officials left to cater for their compatriots; and a sizeable colonist community based mainly in London. Drawing on little-known archival sources, this study examines the hopes and fears of those communities who were bitterly divided among themselves, some being attracted to Pétain as much as to de Gaulle.

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Corpses of atonement

The discovery, commemoration and reinterment of eleven Alsatian victims of Nazi terror, 1947– 52

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Devlin M. Scofield

uncertainty over the fate of targeted loved ones. A number of such cases found their tragic closure in April 1947 when, after an extended investigation that spanned the Franco-​German border, the bodies of eleven Alsatians were discovered outside the small community of Rammersweier, Baden. The victims had been murdered in the waning months of the Second World War by members of the Offenburg Gestapo.3 The corpses were exhumed and publicly reburied in the days following the discovery. A memorial at the execution site where the bodies were found and another roadside monument

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Geoffrey K. Roberts and Patricia Hogwood

-wing Popular Front and through his increasing attraction to fascism. Convinced that Bolshevism posed the main threat to European civilisation, Laval tried actively to promote Franco-German relations. He joined Marshal Pétain’s right-wing Vichy government, first as Deputy Prime Minister (1940), then as Prime Minister (1942–44). After the armistice with Germany on 22 June 1940, Laval masterminded the suspension of the 1875 constitution

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Geoffrey K. Roberts and Patricia Hogwood

between large and small member states; and a rocky period in the Franco-German relationship. As a result, the Treaty is an unwieldy document which experts fear will not serve its stated aims well. [See also: acquis communitaire; democratic deficit; Maastricht Treaty; Treaty of Nice] animal rights In Western European countries, campaigners for animal rights have formed organisations to

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The context of exile

Communities, circumstances and choices

Nicholas Atkin

from one another, and retained separate identities. The distinct nature of these communities was reinforced by the manner in which they were catered for. Within a few weeks of the Franco-German Armistice, there existed a wide range of different organisations, British and French, dealing with specific groups. This often resulted in the replication of effort and endless quarrels over responsibility, necessitating the creation of Lord Bessborough’s French Welfare, a sub-committee of the Foreign Office, whose remit was, in large measure, to keep the peace among competing

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Geoffrey K. Roberts and Patricia Hogwood

National Assembly approves censure motion, forcing resignation of government (the sole instance of this device being utilised under the Fifth Republic constitution). 28 October 1962 Referendum approves direct election of president (62 per cent vote in favour). 22 January 1963 Franco-German Treaty signed. 1 July 1966 de Gaulle withdraws French troops from NATO

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Chained corpses

Warfare, politics and religion after the Habsburg Empire in the Julian March, 1930s– 1970s

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Gaetano Dato

Castiglioni,12 as a stage for some of the myths of the Fascist political religion. Fussell showed how 70 70   Human remains in society Figure 3.1  Northern Adriatic region, 1939. Italy accessed the Balkan region after the First World War, occupying vast Slovenian areas during the Second World War, before losing most of its territories in the post-​war settlement. Istria is the peninsula at the south east of Trieste, west of Fiume (Rijeka in Croatian) (from Cecotti, 2011, reproduced by permission of Franco Cecotti) the world wars revived the interest in myths in more

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The surveillance of exile

The Vichy consulates

Nicholas Atkin

families in France, and the passing on of military and political intelligence – remains a moot point. The diplomatic community in London: adieu On 26 June 1940, a day after the terms of the Franco-German Armistice had been broadcast, a po-faced Charles Corbin, French ambassador to Britain and a veteran advocate of Anglo-French friendship, made his way to the Foreign Office. There he was received by the Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, to whom he made known both his resignation, a ‘sad decision’, and the urgent need for ‘new representation in London’.9 The embassy, he

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Nicholas Atkin

Franco-German Armistice was signed) and Mers-el-Kébir, hardly the most illustrious episodes in French military history. In Norway, on 8–9 April 1940, a joint Franco-British naval force battled with a German expeditionary mission in an attempt to disrupt the flow of Swedish iron ore that passed through the port of Narvik on its way to Hitler’s factories. Although this episode prompted the Norwegians to abandon their 2499 Chap3 7/4/03 94 2:43 pm Page 94 The forgotten French neutrality in favour of the Allies, the operation was a disaster for the French and British

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Janet Wolff

columnar forms, clad in black from chin to ankle. They spat wordlessly and threw stones at us … Beyond the bridge the spitting and the stone throwing ceased. Trucks were waiting for us. We drove down a long road, and then we saw the endless extent of the camp – the bare, bleak earth and the barracks. The camp had been established in 1939 to accommodate Republican refugees from Spain after Franco’s victory. In May 1940 the French government also interned so-called ‘undesirables’ there – ordinary prisoners and citizens of enemy countries. After the armistice between