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The University of Southampton

HIST3038 France under the Nazis, 1940-1944 (Part 2)

Module Overview

The second half of the special subject invites you to consider not only how the French resisted Occupation and achieved Liberation from German military forces in 1944, but how they have subsequently memorialised the war and Occupation experience as a whole. The module begins with an exploration of popular resistance to German Occupation and Vichy rule. A culture of dissent emerged, especially after 1942, encompassing guerrilla warfare, underground publishing and demonstrations for food. We study the military, political and social dimensions of the Liberation of 1944, from D-Day onwards, and the competing visions for liberated France outlined by different political factions, especially Gaullists and communists; as well as the trials of collaborators that followed Liberation (1945-51). Finally, we explore post-war representations and interrogations of the experience of Occupation, from documentary films and fiction to trials for crimes against humanity, public apologies and compensation claims made by deportees, in order to gain a sense of how public memory of the ‘dark years' has been articulated and contested since 1944.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Popular resistance to German Occupation and Vichy rule after 1940;
  • What made the period of Liberation so contested, and the controversial nature of the trials for treason (1944-1951);
  • The articulation of a contested memorial culture after 1944 and the grievances that lay behind its development;
  • 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:

  • Analyse critically a variety of textual, visual and material sources and comment upon their relevance to the historical study of France under Occupation and Liberation, and beyond;
  • Engage with seminal and recent historiographical texts on that subject;
  • Structure a coherent written argument based on an engagement with primary and secondary literature;
  • Participate constructively in group discussion, presenting your case by drawing on your reading, knowledge and understanding.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • 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;
  • Communicate effectively in group discussions, including in the role of presenter;
  • Work independently and as part of a team to identify and solve problems;
  • Develop your time management skills in planning and completing tasks set.


Topics are likely to include: The emergence of popular resistance The politics of resistance and Charles de Gaulle The liberation of 1944: struggle, violence and atrocity The treason trials, 1944-1951 Commemorating resistance and liberation: contested narratives The myth of the ‘Vichy shield’ The changing reputation of Charles de Gaulle: 1958 and 1968 Revising the myth of resistance The emergence of Jewish memory: trials for crimes against humanity

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 sessions100
Completion of assessment task100
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Farmer, S (1999). Martyred village: commemorating the 1944 massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane. 

Golsan, R (2000). Vichy’s afterlife: history and counter-history in post-war France. 

Koreman, M (1999). The Expectation of Justice: France 1944-1946. 

Evans, M (1997). The Memory of Resistance: French opposition to the Algerian war (1954-1962),. 

Kedward, H.R (1999). ‘Resiting French Resistance’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. 

Roberts, Mary L (2013). What soldiers do: sex and the American GI in World War II France. 

Rousso, H (1991). The Vichy syndrome: history and memory in France since 1944. 

Wolf, J (2004). Harnessing the Holocaust: the politics of memory in France. 

Virgili, F (2002). Shorn women: gender and punishment in liberation France. 

Paxton, R.O. (2001). Vichy France: old guard and new order, 1940-1944. 


Assessment Strategy

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 essay will be written on a topic negotiated with the tutor, and will test your engagement with the themes of the module pursued further through independent reading, as well as your skills of effective argumentation. It will be the product of systematic research whose arguments are driven by an engagement with primary source material. The final examination asks you to present cogent, analytical and well-argued responses to three questions from a choice of nine. It tests your knowledge and understanding of the content encountered on HIST3036 and well as HIST3038, including an appreciation of the shifting scholarly, political and popular frameworks of understanding the experience of France under the Nazis, 1940-1944. Feedback Method • Individual consultation on essay ideas and plan before submission • Essay/exam cover sheet • Individual consultations on request


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Examination  (3 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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