The Extreme Right in the French Resistance: Members of the Cagoule and Corvignolles in the Second World War.

Author:Martone, Eric
Position:Book review
 
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Deacon, Valerie. The Extreme Right in the French Resistance: Members of the Cagoule and Corvignolles in the Second World War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2016. x + 230 pages. Hardcover, $45.00.

The French Third Republic, established following defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), launched an era of change for the French political right, which emerged as a loose collection of movements, individuals, and ideas (including protest, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-socialism/communism, anti-parliamentarianism, a stronger central government, and often anti-German sentiments). Several fascist or fascist-like organizations developed, and the rise of leagues, like the Ligue des Patriotes, became common. With the Nazi German invasion of France in World War II, the Third Republic collapsed, and a French collaborationist government under Marshal Philippe Petain, a World War I hero with right-wing leanings, was established in Vichy. Petain initially launched his program of National Revolution, which rejected much of the former Republic's secular and liberal traditions for an authoritarian, paternalist, Catholic society under the slogan "travail, famille, patrie." Meanwhile, the French Resistance Movement was born.

The Extreme Right in the French Resistance: Members of the Cagoule and Corvignolles in the Second World War counters traditional views which posit the Resistance as an apolitical, unified movement, as followers of exiled French leader Charles de Gaulle or as supporters of republicanism. Historian Valerie Deacon uses members of the right-wing Cagoule and Corvignolles, who fought in the Resistance, as case studies to examine the extreme right's participation. In so doing, she depicts the Resistance and French domestic affairs during the German occupation as more complicated. One might assume, based on their far-right views, that members of these organizations would have universally supported Vichy or sided with the Nazis. However, right-wing resisters navigated between varying beliefs in the changing political context. In fact, members of these right-wing movements, which also drew from French revolutionary traditions (including insurrection), had been involved during the interwar years in conspiratorial and anti-parliamentarian activities that provided them with skills to organize an effective underground Resistance. During the pre-war era, members of these groups sought to bring down the Republic; however, those...

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