Introduction: Voices from Wartime France, 1939-1945
This collection constitutesthe sum of the French press that actually reached Britain during the GermanOccupation of France from 1940-44. It offers the complete French holdings ofthe British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale, London acquired through avariety of intelligence, clandestine and neutral sources, offering as full aview as possible of life in France during World War II. This is the largest andmost important collection of titles from Occupied France anywhere outsideFrance, and has remained almost unknown to the scholarly community. Offering afull picture of the basis on which many key political decisions were made inBritain about the conduct of the war in France, this collection will shed newlight on a much studied period.
Aspecial thank you is due to Dr Robert Tombs and Dr Isabelle Tombs whosecomprehensive knowledge and generous advice have very substantially contributedto the preparation of the collection for publication.
In 1940 Francesigned an Armistice with Germany and her territory became by and large closedto Britain. To know what was happeningthere became paramount for her former ally.This was the beginning of the extraordinary story of how a uniquecollection of French wartime newspapers made its way to the British Library, acollection that has now been preserved and published on microfilm by PrimarySource Microfilm. Readers throughoutthe world thus have access to a wide spectrum of newspapers of this key period of French history,including Vichy, collaborationist, clandestine and Liberationtitles. Not only do these newspaperscover historical and political subjects, but they also offer wide researchpossibilities on topics as varied as economics, religion, youth, the family andculture.
Tracing theprovenance of the collection has been akin to a detective story, involvingsearches for information in the British Library archives, at the RoyalInstitute of International Affairs (Chatham House), in official histories andin memoirs of contemporaries.Fortunately rubber-stamping or sometimes written inscriptions on newspapers provided vital clues. Themost frequent inscription was FRPS (Foreign Research and Press Service), but therewere also some from the War Office and thePolitical Warfare Executive. Some ofthe newspapers were stamped Stockholm, others Livraria Bertrand, the oldestbookshop in Lisbon, still in existence.The obvious starting point was the FRPS, which was set up by the RoyalInstitute of International Affairs (RIIA) in September 1939, at the request ofthe Foreign Office, with the instruction to issue a Weekly Review of the Foreign Press [RFP].
Until the occupation of France, newspapers could be bought openly. The plot thickens after the Armistice whenthe regular supply of French newspapers stopped. Some official papers may have arrived viathe USA or Canada. Otherwise, the FRPSturned to neutral countries: The British Legation in Stockholm was instructedto buy every newspaper from the occupied countries they could lay their handson and fly them to Britain once a week.French papers were similarly bought in Lisbon via the Press Attach'soffice at the Embassy.At least one was passed on by a subscriber inMartinique.
But these sources could only obtain the legally authorized papers. What about clandestine newspapers? As the contents of the RFP show they were obviously used by the FRPS although they werenot officially acknowledged as sources quoted for each issue. They were occasionally referred to ingeneral terms: among the clandestine papers reaching French headquarters inthis country and distributed in facsimile by their information service . The Free French in London seem to have beenan important source of such publications.At the end of 1941, Paul Simon (real name Paulin Bertrand), who hadtaken part in the production of one of the first clandestine newspapers, Valmy, escapedfrom France to Britain and revealed the reality of the clandestine pressalthough a few issues had already crossed the Channel. Theoriginals were given to Charles de Gaulle, whose Cabinet transmitted them tothe British Prime Minister Anthony Eden.In the autumn of 1941, an agentbrought in his suitcase 35 issues of underground newspapers, more than hadarrived in London until then and the largest consignment until 1943. Major X of the Intelligence Service tookthem to go through them. Intelligenceofficers mocked to some extent this paper war; nevertheless they read thenewspapers with attention. Some paperswere also transported by air as evidenced by a postal bag retrieved from acrashed plane in 1943, which contained 12 half-burnt underground newspapers.
The propaganda links between the Free French in London and the Resistancein France were vastly improved by the setting up in France of an undergroundPress and Information Bureau by Jean Moulin, which collected newspapers to besent to London. From the summer of 1942, each copy of an underground paper thatreached London was reproduced by photoengraving 250 copies and six days afterarrival in London they were dispatched to all the capitals of the free worldand to Moscow. Some papers in the British Librarycollection are indeed stamped photogravure and can be assumed to have comevia this channel. There was aproliferation of clandestine newspapers between 1942 and 1944: 150 titlesarrived in 1943. Since intelligencenetworks also sought copies, they came from many sources.
Another link with France was the Political Intelligence Department (PID),responsible to the Foreign Office, and amalgamated with the FRPS to become theForeign Office Research Department in 1943. One of its main activities was to gatherinformation, compiling handbooks with all possible information on daily life:ration coupons, police regulations, etc.Its French section had up to 150 people working daily to file andinterpret the content of French radio programmes and newspapers, but also allsorts of secret information, which came from the Foreign Office or agents inFrance. It also received informationfrom Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents. Political directives were then given to theBBC, whosepresenters referred to the French press directly. For example, Jean Oberlreferred to several clandestine newspapers, all of which are in the BLcollection.
On the basis of all this material the FRPS became an information centrefor more than 20 government departments, among them the War Office, MilitaryIntelligence, Air Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, the Ministry of EconomicWarfare,andthe Political Warfare Executive (PWE). Thus, the PWE gathered precise and vitalinformation, as the propagandist had to know intimately that when he spoke to[the French] or drafted a leaflet for them not a single false note would creepin. Colonel Maurice Buckmaster, who headed oneof the SOE French sections tried to keep abreast of changes in schedules, orchanges in the rationing system [and] used all the means at our disposal toobtain accurate and up-to-date information Did we want to know what thebicycle tax was? The Courrier de l'Ain, or some obscureprovincial newspaper, part of which has been used to wrap up a refugee'ssmuggled bottle of wine, might provide us with a clue. An SOE group had established itself in Ainand Jura, aregion well covered by the BL collection.
To summarize, the major sources of French newspapers were the neutralcountries for the authorized press, and the Free French, British intelligenceand SOE agents in France for the clandestine press. The newspapers were then mainly centralised by the FRPS. After the war, as had been agreed by theForeign Office, the collection, supplemented by many valuable files of uncutnewspapers of the same period from the Foreign Office Research Department, wasreturned to the RIIA. However, ChathamHouse, short of space, decided to give to the British Museum the large collectionof newspapers covering occupied Europe This collection contains uniquematerial The British Museum authorities are making it available at Colindalefor the use of historians. This large, important and probably uniquecollection of foreign newspapers of the period of the Second World War and theyears immediately following it was gratefully acknowledged by the BritishMuseum in 1949.
In making this collection once again available an obvious problem hasbeen physical condition. Somenewspapers were in urgent need of rescue.Several had been marked unfitto look at. The difficulties ofobtaining newsprint were obviously acute for the clandestine press, which hadto resort to all sorts of ingenious expedients. Newsprint could be bought on the blackmarket, but very often it had to be purloined from the authorized press. Some wrapping paper was even used.  The waythe newspapers were dispatched added to the problem. For example, a plasterer transported Bir-Hakeim folded in bundles of 1,000 copies outof the printers in plaster bags. Others were deposited as left luggage inrailway stations. But often they were just dispatched in bags and boxes of allshapes and sizes. The circumstances oftheir coming to London, sometimes crossing several countries, made some damageinevitable. The Press Bureau ofFighting France had already noted the original state of some newspapersreceived: Unfortunately, the poor condition of these documents would have madetheir reading very difficult. For morethan 50 years, many loose newspapers have been folded in bundles and the foldsare where most of the damage has occurred.Pages have sometimes separated at the folds, and the edges of sheets,and sometimes whole sheets, have broken into fragments. Those bound in folio volumes are in goodcondition. Already for reasons ofconservation a few had been filmed by the British Museum in the 1960s-70s. By the very nature of the war, they hadoften been produced on cheap paper. Itis to be hoped that the Library will endeavour to safeguard the originals andprevent further deterioration. Theseoriginals, apart from their intrinsic value are rare artefacts, containinginformation such as quality of paper and often faint annotations which cannotbe captured in reproduction.
Thisis an exceptional collection, as it forms a whole, collected for specificpurposes in Britain, but which at the same time offers an exceptional varietyof themes. There are other repositories of French wartime newspapers, mostimportantly in Paris: the Bibliothque Nationale de France (BN), theBibliothque de Documentation Internationale Contemporaine (BDIC) and theInstitut dHistoire du Temps Prsent (IHTP).However, comparisons between their various catalogues are quitecomplicated and time consuming. Themost comprehensive catalogue in a single volume only concerns clandestinenewspapers in the BN and the BDIC and dates back to 1954. Part of the catalogue of the extensiveholdings of the IHTP is accessible via the Internet, but not all of it. If some selected newspapers are onmicrofilm, much material remains only on paper. Therefore this microfilm version of theBritish Library collection provides a unique and accessible resource forreaders throughout the world.
The BL collection comprisesmore than 500 titles. Some among them a very good selection of regional orlocal papers offer long publication runs.One of the interesting aspects is the wide array of opinions in Francethat are represented. Some are veryfamous, others are obscure but for that reason may present particularinterest. There are political andgeneral newspapers, but also childrens newspapers and trade journals. The general and political papers cover thespectrum from extreme collaborationism to Communist resistance but therepresentation of many other shades of opinion allows a more subtle reading ofthis complex period. This microfilm collection is organised alphabetically byplace of publication; within each location titles are presented alphabetically,and within each title, chronologically by issue.
Some of the Vichy newspapers within this collection cover severalyears. Le Nouvelliste (1941-44), the largest pre-war Lyon Catholic paperwas loyal toVichy. Candide (1939-44), firstpro-Vichy and then adopting a much more wait-and-see policy, concentratedmostly on literature. Gringoire(1939-44), the notorious right-wing survivor of the 1930s was more pro-Vichyand anti-British Dunkirk and Mers-el-Kebir being recurrent themes thancollaborationist; closer to the Liberation, it preached national reconciliation.Le Petit Journal (1940-44), the mouthpiece of Colonel de La Rocque's PartiSocial Franais was a keen supporter of the National Revolution and anenthusiastic advocate of a Franco-German peace and balance. L'Effort (1940-44) subsidised by Vichy was animatedby pro-Munich Socialists, who broke with Lon Blum; it purported to advocate apro-Vichy brand of socialism and promoted Franco-German collaboration. Penser europen, c'est penser socialiste, c'est penserfranais.
Places of publication indicate the newspapers hasty moves during andafter the fall of France: Lyon became the main press centre followed byClermont-Ferrand and Marseille. A few papers were published in Vichy itself, forexample: Bulletin de France: Organefranais des comits de propagande sociale du Marchal; L'Espoir Franais:Organe de propagande franaise, and LeLgionnaire: Organe officiel de lalgion franaise des combattants et des volontaires de la rvolution nationale. These titles are expressiveenough not to dwell on their content.Moreover, the regional and local press is well represented, even fromvery small towns, for example Le Courrierde Cret et des Pyrnes Orientales.
Pre-war left-wing newspapers disappeared from the authorized press,and conformism with varying degrees of subservience reigned. However, those who supported the regime wereparticularly heterogeneous, ranging from fascists to socialists. They reported German victories and thedeclarations of German leaders. Butmany continued to print British communiqus alongside the German, and until theautumn of 1940, the former often before the latter. At the time of Dakar in September 1940 however, most of the pressattacked both the British and General de Gaulle. America throughout the war was given a prominent place, and whenthe British were vilified for their blockade, which was held responsible forall food shortages, the Americans were seen as potential suppliers. Again Ptain was more prominent in somenewspapers than others, his many visits in the provinces generally wellreported, as well as attacks against the Third Republic and the socialistex-prime minister Lon Blum in particular, especially during his trial in Riomin February 1942. The total occupationof France in November 1942 reinforced control over the press and some papersceased publication altogether.Thereafter those which continued concentrated on collaborationist newsand German announcements, and progressively they became indistinguishable fromthe press in the occupied zone, if not even more anti-British.
Many regional and local newspapers concentrated on everyday life andpractical information, which undoubtedly ensured readership: food supplies,prices, sport, entertainment and farming news.They obviously varied in their support for Vichy. To take one example, that of Marseille: Marseille-Matindisplayed a lukewarm attitude towards the regime, whereas Petit Marseillais was a staunchsupporter of Ptain; Le Mot d'Ordre wouldbe rivenby contradictions, as it wasled by two former socialists who showed some degree of opposition to Vichyespecially concerning Jews but who condemned the Allied bombing.
Newspapers of the occupied zone were mostly published in Paris, withabout 40 daily and weekly papers in the capital. Obviously having acquiesced in Germancensorship, by having chosen either to go back to Paris or be funded there,these papers were especially collaborationist.They only published German communiqus.They had identical headlines and scapegoats: Jews, Freemasons,parliamentary democracy and Communism.They all opposed the capitalist order and violently attacked theAnglo-Saxon coalition, England especially.The hereditary enemy, perfidious Albion, the octopus fed on the worldscarcasses, said LIllustration, wasloosing its tentacles one after another.
The collection holds long runs of Parisian newspapers. L'Illustration(1939-44)and Paris-Soir(1940-44), addressed to ageneral readership, supported Germany. Paris-Soir, after a short interruption, was directlyauthorized to reappear by Lieutenant Weber, who had been former correspondentof the main German press agency in Paris. Jean Luchaire's LesNouveaux Temps (1940-44) was oneof the most notorious supporters of the German ambassador Otto Abetz's line. Theweekly La Gerbe (1940-44) wasinspired by Alphonse de Chateaubriant and his admiration for Germany. The anti-Semitic and pro-Fascist Je suis partout (1940-44) wasresurrected at the beginning of the war with Robert Brasillach and then P.A.Cousteau as chief editors. Marcel Dat's L'Oeuvre (1939-45), originally socialist, went very far incollaborating with Germany, while still continuing to target a working-classreadership. The weekly L'Atelier (1940-44) promotedFranco-German collaboration for national revival and presented itself asrooted in the pioneer socialist Jean Jaurs' ideas, in opposition to MarxistSocialism.
The Paris press continued to collaborate with the Germans even when theLiberation began. This stance wasmarked by flagrant contradictions. Onthe one hand these newspapers insisted on the weakness of the Allies usingthe Maquis to protect themselves against a frontal attack and on the otherhand they denounced the menace of Bolshevism and of Allied capitalistimperialism. Dat declared in L'Oeuvre that the French communistleader Maurice Thorez had not gone to Algiers because he was reserved for themore important mission of eventually replacing de Gaulle.Concerning the battle of Normandy, the papers emphasized the destruction andcasualties inflicted by the so-called invaders,but at the same time they focused on German counter-attacks and Allied losses. The Sigmaringen paper La France, of which the collection provides a good run,demonstrates that the most ultra-collaborationists were ready to fight withwords to the bitter end. This was the mouthpiece of the remnants ofthe Vichy Government and Paris collaborators gathered together in the French GovernmentalDelegation. With such headlines as De Gaulle in complete chaos, it forecastthat the COMMUNISTS WILL prevail over the bemedalled Kerensky who imagineshimself to be the head of the provisional government of France. Terror and exactions filled pages, OdetteThierry regularly reporting purges and revenge, in particular against women:With swastikas on their bellies... they were hung from urinals... and calledwhores. The programmes of Radio Ici La France were printed with news and music, from Wagnerto operettas, and the regular feature the milice speaks to the French.Another regular item was devoted to young French Waffen SS. A feature on French intellectuals living inGermany devoted three pages to Marcel Dat's speech.
Clandestine papers are very well represented inthis collection,with about one-third of the titles. In 1941 resistance meant above allpropaganda, especially in the south, and newspapers were its main vehicle. As noted by Roderick Kedward, writtenarchives on the resistance are scarce and therefore It is from the Press thatwe get most of the clues about motivation.However it did not present homogeneous views, especially early in the war. Although some newspapers like Libration-Sud or Franc-Tireur from their outset condemned Ptain, not all ofthem did. Nevertheless, most shared common historical references mainlycemented by Republicanism, even if their targets were varied, includinganti-capitalism, censorship, injustice, anti-clericalism, anti-Semitism, thepolice, food shortages, or the black market.Thanks to Moulins mission, most papers rallied behind de Gaulle as asymbol for the sake of solidarity. Butit did not make them a subservient organ of France Libre. The papers also varied in their presentationaccording to their printing process.Some had been prepared on simple typewriters, and for that reason theyare particularly moving because of their primitive simplicity. They covered a wide range of topics, bothinternational and national, and one grasps the consecutive waves of repressionand struggle including arrests, torture, escapes, demonstrations (May Day and14 July were highly symbolic), pylons blown up, factories set on fire, trainsderailed and the killing of collabos.
The clandestinepress, in the formative years of resistance, 1940-42, fulfilled several crucialroles. Not only did it set out toprovide news and opinions about the war and the occupation that the authorizedpress could not or would not print, it also provided the means by whichembryonic resistance groups could establish structures, and is therefore oftenreferred to as a nursery of resistance.The different journaux and feuilles which appeared at the start of mostmovements in both zones demonstrated the plurality and grass-roots nature ofresistance, giving each movement a specific identity which survived the variousprocesses of unification in 1942-43.Commitment to the hazardous mechanics of procuring printing materials,producing the newspaper and distributing it for large numbers of resisterstheir first experience of clandestine and illegal action was as formative asthe content of the papers themselves.Their appearance contested the apathy and submission of attentisme,and even acted as an effective form of bluff, suggesting a breadth and depth ofdissidence that constantly troubled Vichy's renseignements gnraux. In such ways the early clandestine press wasas structural to the creation of resistance as civil and politicaldisobedience, alongsidemilitary aims of intelligence, escape, sabotage and, eventually, armed combat.
In 1942, the clandestine press found a newimpetus by opposing the STO (compulsory labour service in Germany), and askingthe workers to disobey. Le Rfractaire was addressed todefaulters from labour conscription in Germany, encouraged to join Resistancegroups: Better be imprisoned for six months for patriotic reasons than to betransported and exposed to allied bombing, in the Nazi Hell, from where onedoes not come back. Indeed there was a massive refusal to jointhe STO and a strengthening of the Resistance.This, as Richard Vinen has noted, had an impact on perceptions and themajority of Frenchmen soon became convinced that the Germans could not win. In 1943, efforts concentrated on theMaquis, many having joined it as the result of the STO; 1944 would concentrateon concerting with the Allies for the Liberation. Newspapers covered a largespectrum of political trends, from pro-Gaullist, to Christian, socialist andcommunist. Famous titles wereassociated with movements of the same name. Franc-Tireurwas started in Lyon in 1941 by a small group which had first issued tracts.Libration-Sud and Libration-Nord were two distinctpublications: the former, set up in the unoccupied zone by Emmanuel dAstier,was a broad left-wing voice; the latter was started by trade unionists. Maquiswas the mouthpiece of the Forces Franaises de l'Intrieur (FFI). The Communists played a key role. The many offspring of France d'Abord, the publishing section of the communist resistanceorganisation Francs-Tireurs et Partisans,included, for example, the satirical paper Le Gaullois: Organe de Rsistance Souriante,and many local newssheets. Front National was the organof the widely based, communist-directedmovement of the same name (which published LesLettres Franaises, of high intellectual quality). It catered for specific professions, with Le Palais Libre, L'cole Laque, L'UniversitLibre and Le Mdecin Franais, a crucial publication that gave advice to doctorson what they could do to resist, for example by helping with medicalcertificates. That a number of doctorshelped the Resistance is evidenced by the many resisters and SOE agents whowere given medical treatment. ProvincialResistance newspapers are also represented in the collection, forexample Libration Chronique Alpine, Le Mur d'Auvergne, Le Patriote de l'Oise and La Provence Libre.
There are also agreat number of Liberation newspapers published at the time of the Liberationor just after. Regional press committees, set up by the newGaullist authorities, controlled their publication, only allowing formerclandestine newspapers or titles that had ceased publication before January1943. The press carried extensive reports ofpurges of collaborators and printed lists of undesirables. DeGaulle wanted to re-establish legality quickly and control purges. Arrests were well under way in the autumn of1944, but a number of Resistance and Liberation papers criticised their slowand limited nature, which meant that a number of well-known collaborators werenot arrested.
Most regions are well represented for the Liberation period, even if onlyby a few issues. Thus in the case of Annonay there is a single issue of the Gazette du Comit de Libration Nationalefor 10 June 1944 celebrating its short-lived liberation by the Maquis. Another crucial publication, L'chec aux Ondes,invited the French populationto listen to the BBC for orders from the Resistance leaders. Regional papers indicate the progression ofAllied troops. The first issue of thefirst daily of liberated France, LaPresse Cherbourgeoise, dated 1 July 1944, is filmedhere. Certain regions are especiallywell represented in the collection: the southwest from Bordeaux to Toulouse viaPau and Bayonne;the Alps a very important Resistance stronghold and the southeast. WhenParis was liberated the whole newspaper industry witnessed an upheaval. During the Paris insurrection in August, theFFI took over the offices of the collaborationist press. Certain papers that had closed down in 1940reappeared: L'Intransigeant, L'Aube, L'poque, L'Ordre. Clandestine papers that had appeared in thesouthern zone carried on in Paris, usually subtitled Nouvelle Srie, andthose which had been based in Paris also continued.
As well as newspapers aimed at a broad national or local readership, thecollection also contains newspapers written for a particular section of thepopulation, e.g. Catholics, women or youth.The Catholic Church as a whole had welcomed the Vichy regime, thoughmany individual Catholics had been involved in Resistance and a few of theclergy had belatedly criticised collaboration and anti-Jewish persecutions. LaCroix showed some opposition resulting in its being banned on severaloccasions, andits regional editions (La Croix deSavoie, du Cantal, d'Auvergne, de Corrze, etc.) presented somenuances. Positions, founded in 1942, succeeded Les Temps Nouveaux, which had been banned for its anti-Germanstance. Somewhat unexpected newspaperssuch as La Grotte de Lourdes listedvarious pilgrimages, a thriving wartime occupation. There were also Christian Resistance newspaperssuch as L'clair in Clermont-Ferrandor Le Rveil, in the southeast. The Liberation witnessed a strong Christianpresence with, for example, Le Courrierfranais du tmoignage chrtien, from 1943 alongside Les Cahiers du tmoignage chrtien, which, of all Resistance papers had beenthe strongest critic of anti-Semitism.
General information and so-called family papers flourished under Vichyfrom Toute La Vie directlycontrolled by the Germans to HeuresClaires: l'Hebdomadaire de la Familleor Ric et Rac: Le Grand Hebdomadaire Pour Tous. Cartoons often focused on rationing, undoubtedly a reflection of awidespread obsession. The womens presswas varied, again from general and Vichy newspapers to Resistance ones. Marie-Claireand Confidences continuedto be published legally, under Vichy. The Resistance targeted womenquite late in the war with titles such as La Femme (Front de Libration Nationale)and Femmes Franaises (published bythe Communist France dAbord), whichlisted collaborators, including the notorious film star Arletty. FemmesPatriotes put up a strong fight: We have no right to remain impassive orto bow our head... Stop men from going to Germany. Revenge was called down upon those who hang around with Germantroops or work for the Gestapo, for example Melle Rene Jacob of 76 Cours de laRpublique in Villeurbanne.
Marshal Ptains propaganda towards youth in practice boys and youngmen is well documentedand reflected in several titles of this collection. In spite of some attempts there was no wholesale regimentationof youth, and this resulted in a variety of newspapers. Compagnons catered for theyouth movement founded as a voluntary organisation to work for the communitywith the slogan: unis pour servir.Agriculture (the Vichy theme of return to the land), sport and music(including American jazz) featured well in JeunesseFrance: Journal des chefs de la Jeunesse, published by the leadershipschool at Uriage. This does not appearso much pro-German as pro-Vichy (an article entitled Ceux des chars venerateda heroic tank crew fighting the Germans in 1940). L'cho destudiants wasaweekly for intellectual youth and teachers.A passage from an article by O. Jasseron sets the tone: Thank God, wehave a leader whom we can trust. Theleader acts. We just have to obey.Curs Vaillants, mes Vaillantes aimed ateducating and evangelising Christian children and teenagers: Je suis sr quevous avez tous grav dans votre cur les paroles du grand Marchal qui estdsormais notre chef: L'esprit de jouissance l'a emport sur l'esprit desacrifice on a revendiqu plus que l'on a servi. In theoccupied zone, Jeunesse, the weekly of the 1940 generation, run by members of Jacques Doriot'sfascist party, advocated a renewal of France.Young people were also catered for by Resistance and Liberation papers. Essor,publishedby the Organisation Civile et Militaire de la Jeunesse, started underground andcontinued at the Liberation. There werealso the pro-communist Jeune Combattantand Le Jeune Patriote. Le Rveil des Jeunes: Organe de la JeunesseSocialiste Juive, published by young Bundists supported a strong Frenchindependent policy in relation to the Big Three.
Agriculture was central to Vichy, which extolled the joys of farming,with France relegated to a mainly agricultural role in the new Europe. Thus La TerreFranaise advocated agriculture as the predominant French enterprise.Resistance movements too gave a large place to agriculture,with the communist Le Paysan Patriote and La Terre, which continued into theLiberation. They had urged farmers towithhold their crops from German requisitioning, and provide shelter to rfractaires (STO defaulters). LaRsistance Paysannessuccessor, La Libration Paysanne, expressedgratitude to de Gaulle and pledged to alleviate the catastrophic foodshortages; at the same time the Liberation papers favoured state interventionand planning. Apart from agriculturalnewspapers, the collection holds miscellaneous trade journals from leather (Le Cuir) to engineering and business (Le Creuset), and food distribution (Cours des Halles).
Historians have extensively discussed the entertainment boom during theOccupation and thematerial is here to support further research:the entertainment, art and literary weekly Comoedia soon attracted the cream of literary Paris. Contributors included Jean Cocteau, Colette,Paul Valry, Paul Claudel, and Jean-Louis Barrault. The European page was under the control of the GermanInstitute. The Germans keenness on Parisian pleasuresappears in the Pariser Zeitung,published for German forces in France, with advertisements for theatres,nightclubs and singers such as Edith Piaf.The cinema resistance committee published Jacques Chabannes' Opra, covering all the arts, especially cinema; twoof its three issues are held in this collection. The Liberation had aims of giving a new direction to culturallife; for example Paris-Cinma: L'Organe du Cinma Franais Libreaspired to revive French cinema, and printed a list of open cinemas whoseprogrammes showed a profusion of Allied films and dramatic newsreels.
While this collection is mainly composed of newspaperswritten in French and published in France and her colonies,there are a few exceptions. Radio International and Happy Listening gave radio schedules forthe British Expeditionary Force in France in 1939. Newspapers were also published by French exiles. LeJournal du Camp,was succeeded by the daily France, published in London throughoutthe war by three socialists Pierre Comert, Georges Gombault and Louis Lvy, whoadopted a critical position towards de Gaulle.Franois Quirici's La Marseillaise(1942-45) was first published in London, then in Algiers and finally in Pariswhere it was renamed La Bataille. LeBulletin des Forces Ariennes Franaises en Grande-Bretagne wasspecifically addressed to the French airforce. La France was a kind ofmagazine-textbook, written in French for English schoolchildren; it devoted aregular column to the Free French by Matras and published a notable article,Le Gnral de Gaulle adresse un message la jeunesse britannique. In New York were issued France Forever, France-Amrique, FranceSpeaks and Free France. There are also a few foreign-languagepapers published in France. The Germanspublished the Pariser Zeitung and inthe annexed departments the KolmarerKurier, the Mlhauser Anzeiger, the Mlhauser Tagblatt and the Nazi Partys Strassburgerneureste Nachrichten. Exiles inFrance had their papers: Glos Polski, the Voice of Poland, Niepodleglosc (Independence), a Polishpaper founded under German occupation and Slowo(Notre Parole); Italia Libera,founded underground by the Italian Committee of National Liberation and La Nuova Italia, the Paris edition ofthe Italians in Paris; El Poble Catala,the paper for the Catalans in France.
The history of the BL collections provenance and contemporary use,together with the richness of its content and its accessibility providenumerous possibilities for researchers on French history concentrating onpolitical, diplomatic, social, cultural or economic themes. Vast regional areas of investigation arealso thus opened. Wartime Frenchnewspapers, a rare commodity during the war, now become readily availablethroughout the world, thanks to the first microfilm publication on a comparablescale of such precious material.
Finally, the collection isunique in that it constitutes the sum of the French press that actually reachedBritain: it is the record of what was known by the British about the hearts andminds of the French people at the most dramatic period of their shared history.
DrRobert Tombs and Dr Isabelle Tombs