Between 1940 and 1945 the French empire divided against itself. This book presents the events in the French empire in the 1940s, and traces the period of wartime French imperial division, setting it within the wider international politics of the Second World War. It discusses the collapse of France's metropolitan forces during the second week of June 1940, which became a calamity for the French empire. The final breakdown of the Anglo-French alliance during the latter half of 1940 was played out on the African continent, in heavily defended French imperial territory of vital strategic importance to Allied communications. The Vichy empire lost ground to that of the Charles de Gaulle's Free French, something which has often been attributed to the attraction of the Gaullist mystique and the spirit of resistance in the colonies. Indo-China was bound to be considered a special case by the Vichy regime and the Free French movement. Between late 1940 and 1945, the French administration in Indo-China was forced by circumstances to plough a distinctive furrow in order to survive intact. The book discusses the St Pierre and Miquelon affair, and the invasion of Madagascar, and deals with the issue of nationalism in North Africa, before and after the Operation Torch. The contradiction between the French commitment to constitutional reform and the few colonial subjects actually affected by it was echoed in the wartime treatment of France's colonial forces.
Last chance for a French African ‘empire-state’ or blueprint for decolonisation?
-reaching reforms could be effective; but
that they were carried along by the internal logic of their own discourse, and
further propelled by the momentum of a new government, a dynamic minister
and the increasingly unstoppable force of African political agency.
Constructing the French African ‘empire-state’
When Gaston Defferre presented the Loi-Cadre to the National Assembly for
its first reading, in the debate on 21 March 1956, it was perhaps to be expected
that he would quote the key passage from CharlesDeGaulle’s speech at the
opening of the Brazzaville conference twelve
up new problems were marginalised, although some had distinctive and well-thought-out positions. Their pro-European rivals were not always paragons of democracy or constructive in their dealings with colleagues: they could be short-sighted, their judgement totally shaped by the new ideology meant to stabilise Europe so that memories of the grim warfare among nations were gradually erased from popular consciousness.
From revanchism to reconciliation
It is worth recalling that CharlesdeGaulle, the official liberator of France in 1944, began his political
’s wife, becoming symbols of the
‘keep Algeria French’ movement. But other Algerian women
organised counter-demonstrations to protest against the French presence.
‘Revolution is in the air’, wrote Feraoun; ‘people
have barricaded their homes; protesters are moving along the large
thoroughfares of the city; stores are closed.’ 62
CharlesdeGaulle was voted into office as Prime Minister
Eurosclerosis (1959– 84) and the second phase of integration (1985– 2003)
Peter J. Verovšek
, including an economic recession and the global oil crisis, this institutional sojourn was reinforced by a pushback against community-based solutions by leaders who had not experienced Europe’s age of total war as proof of the obsolescence of the Westphalian state. Foremost among these champions of traditional, state-based approaches was French President CharlesdeGaulle, who maintained a view of international politics as a Hobbesian world where states confronted each other in ‘the posture of Gladiators.’ 6 Although he had lived through the same events as Monnet
Moore, ‘Les Engagés de 1940. Des hommes qui, en 1940, se sont engagés à
vingt ans dans les FFL, se souviennent’, in Espoir, no. 71, juin 1990, 14–26.
On the history of the Free French Forces, see ENSTA, Les Armées françaises
pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale, 1939–1945 (Paris, Institut CharlesdeGaulle, 1986), E. Chaline and P. Santarelli, Historique des Forces Navales
Françaises Libres (Vincennes, Service Historique de la Marine, 1989), and
C. Christienne and P. Lissarague, Histoire de l’aviation militaire. L’Armée de
l’air, 1928–1981 (Paris, Charles Lavanzelle
During August 1940 Winston Churchill's government confirmed its support for Free France. Following an agreement reached with the Prime Minister on August, Charles de Gaulle was officially permitted to recruit armed forces under Free French jurisdiction. By late 1940 the banks of Free French Africa relied upon the assurance of regular sterling transactions within individual colonies to assure their liquidity. Writing in mid-November 1940, the British Colonial Secretary, Lord Lloyd, concluded that the recent spate of Free French successes in Africa was at an end. The British blockade of Vichy Africa did not yield immediate results. With Operation Menace (the codename for the Dakar assault), de Gaulle became openly complicit in British attempts to destroy what remained of Vichy's overseas armed forces. In the event, the British and Free French contacts with Weygand were soon undermined by increased Vichy collaborationism.
St Pierre and Miquelon and the Madagascar invasion, 1942
The exclusion of the Free French left the way open for Britain's Middle East command to arrange a settlement in French Somaliland. In 1942 Djibouti was a minor unresolved problem for Charles de Gaulle. The major colonial prizes of French North and West Africa, both still firmly under Vichy control, were far more critical. Long after the dissolution of the first French empire in North America, St Pierre and Miquelon's fishing community remained faithful to France. The proposed occupation of Vichyite Madagascar also contributed to this inter-Allied friction, and actually took up more French National Committee time than discussion of French North Africa. Japan's relentless southward advance during the spring of 1942 transformed Madagascar's role within British strategic planning for the defence of the Indian Ocean. In the early months of 1942 the British government rejected further Free French proposals for a joint invasion of the island.
The Federal Republic of German (FRG) had played a consequential role, in tandem with the Netherlands, in convincing its European Economic Community (EEC) partners to allow the Irish application to proceed that criticism was impossible. In the absence of a breakthrough on the EEC the Irish continued to pursue the German market as the one offering the most opportunities in Western Europe. Bonn understood Dublin viewed progress in trade relations and investment as support for Ireland's EEC aspirations and a sign of German confidence in the Irish reorientation. Irish-German relations were unaffected by Charles de Gaulle's veto of the British application on 14 January 1963, notwithstanding Irish frustration at French unilateralism. In January 1965, the minister for industry and commerce, Jack Lynch, and the minister for agriculture, Charles Haughey, embarked on a trade mission to the FRG and underlined Ireland's devotion to eventual EEC membership.
The Communist Party had commandeered the cultural high ground of revolutionary Marxism and had imposed its own brand, Marxism-Leninism, as the orthodox version. At the Liberation, the French Communist Party was one of the big three political parties along with the Christian democratic Mouvement Républicain Populaire (MRP) and the Socialist Section Française de l'Internationale Ouvrière (SFIO). It It came to be seen as a patriotic, reformist and 'modern' national party, while its rivals, notably the Socialists, were afflicted with a 'cultural cringe' when faced by the Parti Communiste Français's penetration of working-class milieux. It was the intrusion of the big Communist Party into the French Party system that frustrated the bipolar development in the Fourth Republic. Charles de Gaulle's politics gave the Communist Party the real opportunity to promote the coalition of the left, which it had demanded after 1956.