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Author: Martin Thomas

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.

Martin Thomas

power. Indo-China was bound to be considered a special case by the Vichy regime and the Free French movement. A valuable colonial federation in peacetime, it was none the less considered virtually indefensible before the fall of France. The development of a coexistence policy between Jean Decoux’s administration and the Japanese military was never equivalent to Vichy

in The French empire at war 1940–45
Abstract only
Martin Thomas

it within the wider international politics of the Second World War. Neither the Vichy nor the Free French imperial authorities were masters of their own destiny. A truism perhaps – under Marshal Philippe Pétain, the Vichy regime established in July 1940 governed only part of a defeated country under the gaze of the fascist powers. Charles de Gaulle’s Free French movement, fashioned in London in

in The French empire at war 1940–45
Abstract only
Martin Thomas

the May protocols in 1941 only hastened the Allied descent upon French North Africa in November 1942. Vichy was, of course, not alone in its effort to offset metropolitan weakness against continued colonial power. It is well to remember that the Free French movement had scarcely been in existence for three months before it could lay claim to authority over much of French Equatorial Africa. Much of the

in The French empire at war 1940–45
Martin Thomas

preliminary calls to arms on 18 and 19 June. 18 Though seen as the first authoritative announcement of a Free French movement, the Appel provoked a limited response. Many French people were not in a position to hear the broadcast. Among those who did, it is not surprising that hopes faded when no further statement was forthcoming as France finally surrendered. 19 As de Gaulle admitted in his

in The French empire at war 1940–45
Transnational resistance in Europe, 1936–48
Editors: Robert Gildea and Ismee Tames

This work demonstrates that resistance to occupation by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy during the Second World War has to be seen through a transnational, not a national, lens. It explores how people often resisted outside their country of origin because they were migrants, refugees or exiles who were already on the move. It traces their trajectories and encounters with other resisters and explores their experiences, including changes of beliefs, practices and identities. The book is a powerful, subtle and thought-provoking alternative to works on the Second World War that focus on single countries or on grand strategy. It is a ‘bottom up’ story of extraordinary individuals and groups who resisted oppression from Spain to the Soviet Union and the Balkans. It challenges the standard chronology of the war, beginning with the formation of the International Brigades in Spain and following through to the onset of the Cold War and the foundation of the state of Israel. This is a collective project by a team of international historians led by Robert Gildea, author of Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance (Faber & Faber, 2015). These have explored archives across Europe, the USA, Russia and Israel in order to unearth scores of fascinating individual stories which are woven together into themed chapters and a powerful new interpretation. The book is aimed at undergraduates and graduates working on twentieth-century Europe and the Second World War or interested in the possibilities of transnational history.

Martin Thomas

entrusted to him in early June by Paul Reynaud from the French government’s emergency funds. 4 The Free French movement was still embryonic, most of its early supporters were little known in France, Britain or overseas, and de Gaulle was clearly the linchpin of the entire venture. Taking advantage of the Allied Forces Act, the British agreed on 22 August

in The French empire at war 1940–45
St Pierre and Miquelon and the Madagascar invasion, 1942
Martin Thomas

place. 38 It was frankly ridiculous to imagine that the German high command would delay operational planning in North Africa until the Free French offered fresh justification for renewed pressure upon Vichy. In spite of lasting acrimony over the St Pierre and Miquelon affair, between February and April 1942 the US government made important concessions to the Free French movement

in The French empire at war 1940–45
Open Access (free)
Nicholas Atkin

least supporters of de Gaulle and resolutely opposed to Vichy has remained more or less intact. It is a myth that has remained untouched by the huge literature that has carefully scrutinised the general’s every move throughout the war years, from Bordeaux to London, from London to Algiers, and from there, via London again, to Normandy and Paris. Admittedly, something of the intellectual opposition to de Gaulle, fronted by Labarthe and Aron, has been noted, as have the quarrels within the Free French movement itself. Nonetheless, it is still the general and his

in The forgotten French
The Syrian campaign and Free French administration in the Levant, 1941–45
Martin Thomas

lacked enthusiasm for Vichy’s more aggressive self-defence against Britain and Free France. 5 Furthermore, it became obvious following General Fougère’s more spirited purge in autumn 1940 that the Free French movement in the Levant was neither centrally directed nor well funded. 6 Once Puaux was replaced by General Henri Fernand Dentz in December 1940, Anglo-Vichy relations in the

in The French empire at war 1940–45