In 1940 France experienced the worst military defeat in its history. On this module you will explore the causes and consequences of a defeat that caused the collapse of French democratic rule and direct military occupation by the Germans until 1944. You will learn about how the French experienced and came to understand the defeat, and the bruising compromises with the German occupiers that followed. We focus especially on the functioning and ideological underpinning of the authoritarian Vichy regime (1940-1944), which enjoyed semi-autonomous status over the period; the collaboration with the Nazis of both political elites and ordinary men and women; and the complicity of the Vichy regime in the deportation of 80 000 Jews to Auschwitz. You will encounter the military, diplomatic, political, social and cultural dimensions of this complex subject. Through an engagement with primary sources in translation, we consider how the defeat was understood by contemporaries, how the Vichy regime sought to retain its sovereignty in the face of crushing German Occupation, and the daily life of civilians.
Aims and Objectives
Knowledge and Understanding
Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
- The range of popular responses to the fall of France, including both collaboration and resistance to the German occupiers and the Vichy regime;
- The reasons why an authoritarian regime was so quickly established after the military defeat of 1940, and how it managed to present itself as legitimate;
- The role of the Vichy regime in the Holocaust;
- The political, military and social history of France in the early to mid-twentieth century with a particular emphasis on sources of division and conflict;
- Various genres of primary source material and how historians might read this material as evidence.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Participate constructively in group discussion, presenting your case by drawing on your reading, knowledge and understanding.
- Engage with seminal and recent historiographical texts on that subject;
- Analyse critically a variety of textual, visual and material sources and comment upon their relevance to the historical study of France under Occupation, 1940-1944;
- Structure a coherent written argument based on an engagement with primary and secondary literature;
Transferable and Generic Skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Develop your time management skills in planning and completing tasks set.
- Work independently and as part of a team to identify and solve problems;
- Communicate effectively in group discussions, including in the role of presenter;
- Identify (through the use of electronic bibliographical searches) and read primary and secondary materials in a range of formats including microfilm and online where appropriate;
In many ways the module is designed to question why these years of wartime Occupation have come to be called les années noires (the dark years) in France. Doing so helps to explain why the experiences of resistance and collaboration have proven so difficult to reconcile in national memory. In this first part of the module we consider the question of what made the Vichy regime possible. By looking at the nature of social and political conflict in 1920s and 1930s France, we will see how the calamitous military defeat of June 1940 was perhaps over-determined, and also identify how and why pre-existing anti-republican currents were able to rise to such prominence after the collapse of the Third Republic in the same month. We explore how successfully the Vichy regime was able to install its so-called ‘National Revolution’, designed to remake the family, work and nation by penetrating daily life; and we consider the nature of relations between German occupiers and French occupied, thus testing Philippe Burrin's ideas about ‘accommodation’ with the enemy.
Topics are likely to include:
The emergence of radical politics (fascism and communism) in the 1920s and 1930s The fall of France in 1940 as a military and historiographical problem
The ‘National Revolution’ of the Vichy regime: religion, family, youth The cult of Marshall Pétain
French Nazis and the ultra-collaborationists in Paris Daily life and popular opinion
Propaganda, Anglophobia and allied bombing Vichy, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
Teaching activities include:
- primarily, two double sessions per week in seminar format and led by student presentations;
- close analysis of a variety of primary source materials in different genres (in English translation);
- Small-group and plenary discussion that draws on reading and understanding of the historical frameworks of understanding of the subject matter.
Learning activities include:
- In depth analysis of primary sources;
- Preparatory reading and individual study;
- Individual participation in seminars, group work and short presentations on seminar themes.
|Preparation for scheduled sessions||100|
|Completion of assessment task||126|
|Total study time||300|
Resources & Reading list
Atkin, N. (2001). The French at war, 1939-1944. Longman.
Pollard, M (1998). Reign of virtue: mobilizing gender in Vichy France. Chicago UP.
Poznanski, R (2001). Jews in France during World War II. Brandeis UP.
Jackson, J (2003). The Fall of France: the Nazi invasion of 1940. OUP.
Paxton, R.O (2001). Vichy France: old guard and new order, 1940-1944. Columbia.
Burrin, P (1996). Living with defeat: France under the German Occupation, 1940-1944. Arnold.
Gildea, R (2002). Marianne in chains. Macmillan.
Jackson, J. (2001). France: the dark years, 1940-1944. OUP.
Millington, C (2012). From Victory to Vichy: Veterans in Interwar France.
Lee, Daniel (2014). Petain’s Jewish children: French Jewish youth and the Vichy regime, 1940-1942. OUP.
The links between assessment methods and learning outcome are as follows:
The twice weekly seminars will provide you with a forum to discuss the primary sources and relate them to the historical context and the historiography. They will also allow for the development of interpersonal skills; through the use of class presentations you will be able to develop your knowledge and understanding of particular subject areas and to enhance your oral communication skills. The long assessed essay will be written on an independently negotiated topic, and will represent deep and systematic research whose arguments will be driven by an engagement with primary source material. It will also test your engagement with the themes of the module encountered thus far. The gobbets exam asks you to present cogent and succinct analysis of a selection of primary source material already encountered in seminars; it tests how well you handle and make sense of historical evidence. This source-based focus of the longer essay and exam will prepare you for the Dissertation in the second semester. In addition, there will be a mid-term opportunity to submit for feedback two source commentaries in preparation for the gobbets examination.
- Individual consultation on essay ideas and plan before submission
- Formative source commentaries exercise with written and oral comments from tutor on its strengths and weaknesses
- Essay/exam cover sheet
- Individual consultation on request
This is how we’ll give you feedback as you are learning. It is not a formal test or exam.Commentary exercise
This is how we’ll formally assess what you have learned in this module.
This is how we’ll assess you if you don’t meet the criteria to pass this module.
Repeat type: Internal & External