Front cover image for France on trial : the case of Marshal Pétain

France on trial : the case of Marshal Pétain

Julian Jackson (Author)
"Few things shocked the world more in the terrible month of June 1940 than seeing Marshal Philippe Pétain-a highly decorated hero of the first world war-shaking hands with Hitler. Pausing to look at the cameras, he announced that France would henceforth collaborate with Germany. "This is my policy," he intoned. "My ministers are responsible to me. It is I alone who will be judged by History." Five years later, in July 1945, Pétain was put on trial for his conduct during the war. The prosecution accused him of treason, insisting he was the ringleader of a conservative conspiracy to destroy France's democratic government and collaborate with Nazi Germany. The defense claimed he had sacrificed his honor to save France. Former resisters called for the death penalty, but many identified with this conservative military hero who had promised peace with dignity. The award-winning author of a landmark biography of Charles de Gaulle, Julian Jackson uses Pétain's three-week trial as a lens through which to examine one of history's great moral dilemmas. Was the policy of collaboration "four years to erase from our history," as the prosecution claimed? Or was it, as conservative politicians insist to this day, a sacrifice that placed pragmatism above moral purity? As head of the Vichy regime, Pétain became the lightning-rod for collective guilt and retribution. But he has also been an icon of the nationalist right ever since. In France on Trial, Jackson blends courtroom drama, political intrigue, and brilliant narrative history"-- Provided by publisher
Print Book, English, 2023
First Harvard University Press edition View all formats and editions
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2023