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Difficult Memories: Vichy and Algeria


Seminar questions:

  • How and why have memories of Vichy and Algeria evloved in contemporary France?

  • How useful is the concept of the "Vichy Syndrome"? Can it be applied to memories of Algeria?

  • What role have films played in the transmission and contestation of memories of Vichy and Algeria?

  • How successfully have groups, such as the harkis, managed to commemorate their histories?

  • Has France come to terms with its difficult recent past?

  • What do debates and controversies over memories of Vichy and Algeria tell us about contemporary French society?


Core texts:

  • H. Rousso, The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944 (1991 [1987]), 1-11, and 297-303 [digitized book extract]

  • R. Golsan, ‘The Legacy of World War II in France: Mapping the Discourses of Memory,’ in R. N. Lebow et al (eds), The Politics of Memory on Postwar Europe (2006) [digitized book extract]

  • C Eldridge, “We’ve never had a voice”: Memory Construction and the Children of the Harkis (1962-1991), French History (2009)

  • W Cohen. 'The Algerian War and French Memory,' Contemporary European History 9:3 (2000), 489-500


Further Reading:


Primary sources

  • ‘In Auschwitz they only Gassed Lice,’ translation of interview with Darquier de Pellepoix which appeared in L’Express, 28 October-4 November 1978, in C. Callil, Bad Faith (2006), 445-62

  • Vel d’Hiv Petition and Jacques Chirac’s 16 July 1995 Vel d’Hiv speech in E. Conan and H. Rousso, Vichy, an Ever-Present Past (1998), 18, 39-42

  • Selected Documents in R Golsan, The Papon Affair: Memory and Justice on Trial (2000)


Films on Vichy and the Occupation:

  • L Malle, Lacombe, Lucien (1974) [film and transcript in library]

  • L. Malle, Au revoir les enfants (1989) [film in library]]

  • M. Ophuls, The Sorrow and the Pity: Chronicle of a French City under the German Occupation (1975) [film and transcript in library]

  • J Audiard, A self-made hero [film in library]

  • C Berri Lucie Aubrac [film in library - see also the book - L Aubrac, Outwitting the Gestapo [1993])

  • J-P Melville, Army in the Shadows [film in library]


A Film on the Algerian War:

  • Gillo Pontecorvo, Battle of Algiers [film in library]


Work on memories of Vichy, the occupation, collaboration, resistance, and the holocaust

  • For a critique of the Vichy Syndrome analysis see: B. Gordon, ‘The “Vichy Syndrome” Problem in History’ French Historical Studies 19/2 (Autumn 1995), 495-518

  • M. Atack, Literature and the French Resistance: Cultural Politics and Narrative Forms, 1940-1950 (1989)

  • E. Conan and H. Rousso, Vichy, an Ever-Present Past (1998),

  • S. Farmer, ‘Oradour-sur-Glane: Memory in a Preserved Landscape,’ French Historical Studies, 19/1 (Spring 1995): 27-47

  • S. Farmer, Martyred Village: Commemorating the 1944 Massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane (1999)

  • H. Footitt, ‘Women and the (Cold) War: The Creation of the Myth of “La France Resistante”’, French Cultural Studies 8 (1997), 41-51

  • R. J. Golsan, Vichy’s Afterlife: History and Counterhistory in Postwar France (2000)

  • J. Hellman, ‘Wounding Memories: Mitterrand, Moulin, Touvier, and the Divine Half-Lie of Resistance’ French Historical Studies 19/2 (Autumn 1995), 461-486,

  • P. Lagrou, The Legacy of Nazi Occupation: Patriotic Memory and National Recovery in Western Europe 1945-1965 (2000),

  • A. Morris, Collaboration and Resistance Reviewed: Writers and the mode rétro in Post-Gaullist France (1992)

  • D. Reid, ‘Germaine Tillon and the Resistance to the Vichy Syndrome,’ History and Memory, 15/2 (Fall/Winter 2003): 36-63

  • D. Reid, ‘French Singularity, the Resistance, and the Vichy Syndrome: Lucie Aubrac to the Rescue, European History Quarterly 36/2 (April 2006)

  • C Pearson, Scarred Landsacpes: War and Nature in Vichy France (2008), chap 6

  • G. Siedel, The Holocaust Denial: Antisemitism, Racism, and the New Right (1986), chapter 5 ‘The French Scene and the Faurisson Affair’

  • P. Vidal-Naquet, Assassins of Memory: Essays on the Denial of the Holocaust (1992), 65-73

  • N. Bracher, ‘La Memoire vive et convulsive: The Papon Trail and France's Passion for History’ The French Review 73/2 (1999) 314-324

  • S. Farmer, ‘Postwar Justice in France:Bordeaux 1953’ in I. Deák, et al, The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and its Aftermath (2000), 194-211

  • D. Reid, ‘Resistance and its Discontents: Affairs, Archives, Avowals and the Aubracs, Journal of Modern History 77 (March 2005): 97-137

  • P. Ory, ‘Why Be So Cruel? Some Modest Proposals to Cure the Vichy Syndrome’ in S. Fishman et al (eds.), France at War: Vichy and the historians (2000), 275-84

  • N Wood, Vectors of Memory (1999)


Film and the Vichy Syndrome

  • M. Atack, May 68 in French Fiction and Film: Rethinking Society, Rethinking Representation (1999). Chapter on Marcel Ophuls’ ‘The Sorrow and the Pity’

  • R. J. Golsan, Vichy’s Afterlife: History and Counterhistory in Postwar France (2000), Chapter 3

  • N. Greene, Landscapes of Loss: The National Past in Postwar French Cinema (1999)

  • S. Hoffman, Decline or Renewal?: France Since the 1930s (1974), 45-60

  • P. Jankowski, “In Defense of Fiction: Resistance, Collaboration and Lacombe Lucien,” in Journal of Modern History 63/3 (September 1991), 457-482, available as an ejournal

  • R. Kedward, “The Anti-Carnival of Collaboration: Louis Malle’s Lacombe Lucien” in S. Hayward, and G. Vincendeau, French Film: Texts and Contexts (2000) [N.B. this chapter is only in the 2nd edition (2000)]

  • S. Langlois, ‘Images that Matter: The French resistance in Film, 1944-1946,’ French History, 11/4 (December 1997), 461-490

  • L. Mazdon, ‘Screening the Past, Representing Resistance in Un Héros très discret,’ in L. Mazdon (ed.), France on Film: Reflections on Popular French Cinema (2001)

  • S. Reynolds, ‘The Sorrow and the Pity Revisited,’ French Cultural Studies 1 2/2 (1990) 149-59

  • H. Rousso, The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944 (1987, 1991), 226-40

  • N. Wood, Vectors of Memory: Legacies of Trauma in Postwar Europe (1999), chapter 8 ‘Memory by Analogy:Hiroshima, mon amour

  • A. Colombat, The Holocaust in French Film (1997)

  • A. Insdorf, Indelible Shadows Film and the Holocaust (1989), chapter 7


Algeria (general)

  • P Dine, Images of the Algerian war: French fiction and film, 1954-1992 (1994)

  • P M. E. Lorcin, ed., Algeria and France, 1800–2000: Identity,Memory, Nostalgia (2006)

  • A G. Hargreaves, Memory, Empire, and Postcolonialism: Legacies of French Colonialism (2005)

  • P Dine, ‘France, Algeria and Sport: From Colonisation to Globalisation,’ Modern and Contemporary France 10:4 (2002), 495-50

  • N Macmaster, ‘The Torture Controversy (1998-2002): Towards a “new history” of the Algerian War?,’ Modern and Contemporary France 10:4 (2002), 449-59
  • Hafid Gafaïti et al (eds),Transnational spaces and identities in the francophone world (2009)

  • P M E Lorcin and D Brewer (eds), France and its spaces of war (2009)

  • A Prost, Republican Identities (2002), chap 3

  • M Evans, The Memory of Resistance: French Opposition to the Algerian War (1997)

  • W B Cohen, ‘The Algerian War and the Revision of France’s Overseas Mission,’ French Colonial History 4 (2003), 227-39

  • J House and N MacMaster, Paris 1961 (2006)

  • Vincent Crapanzano, The Harkis: The Wound that never heals (2011)

  • J Cole, ‘Remembering the Battle of Paris 17 October 1961 in French and Algerian Memory,’ French Politics, Culture, and Society 21:3 (2003)

  • J Macloed (ed), Defeat and Memory (2008), chapters on Vietnam and Algeria

  • R Derderian, 'Algeria as a lieu de memoire: Ethnic Minority Memory and National Identity in Contemporary France,' Radical History Review 83 (2002)

  • J Cole, 'Massacres and their Historians: Recent Histories of State Violence in France and Algeria in the 20th Century,' French Politics, Culture, & Society, 28:1 (2010), 106-126.

  • M Rothberg, D Sanyal and M Silverman (eds) Noeuds de mémoire: multidirectional memory in postwar French and francophone culture (2010)

  • K Ross, Fast Cars, Clean Bodies (1995)

  • J Cole, 'Answering Torture's Apologists: Recent Work on Torture, Democracy and French History' French Politics 6:4 (2008), 375-87


Les Harkis

  • S Choi, ‘The muslim veteran in postcolonial France: The Politics of the Integration of Harkis after 1962,’ French Politics, Culture and Society 29:1 (2011)

  • Vincent Crapanzano, The Harkis: The Wound that never heals (2011)

  • G enjelvin, 'The Harki Identity: A Product of Marginalisation and Resistance to Symbolic Violence,' National Identities 8:2 (2006)



Battle of Algiers

  • J Mellon, Filmguide to Battle of Algiers (1973)

  • D Prochaska, ‘That was then, This is Now, The Battle of Algiers and After,’ Radical History Review 85 (2003), 133-49

  • D Reid, ‘Re-viewing the Battle of Algiers with Germaine Tillion,’ History Workshop Journal 60 (2005)


Compare Algeria with memories of war in Indochina:

  • N Cooper, ‘Dien Bien Phu: Fifty Years On,’ Modern and Contemporary France, 12:4 (2004)