Hitler's Gift to France: The Return of the Remains of Napoleon II

Hitler's Gift to France: The Return of the Remains of Napoleon II

by Georges Poisson
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

In the dead of the winter of 1940, Hitler decided to return from its burial place in Vienna the ashes of Napoleon II, known as the “Aiglon,” the only son of the emperor Napoleon. The gesture was intended to win the support of the French people, but only managed to precipitate a political crisis at Vichy, where Marshal Pétain ordered the pro-German

…  See more details below

Overview

In the dead of the winter of 1940, Hitler decided to return from its burial place in Vienna the ashes of Napoleon II, known as the “Aiglon,” the only son of the emperor Napoleon. The gesture was intended to win the support of the French people, but only managed to precipitate a political crisis at Vichy, where Marshal Pétain ordered the pro-German Deputy Prime Minister Pierre Laval arrested. Based on new research and previously unknown documents, the author, historian Georges Poisson, at last sheds light on an incident most historians—including Robert O. Paxton—have been at a loss to explain.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Eminent French historian Poisson tells a strange and complex story that has heretofore been little more than a historical footnote: the return of Napoléon II's remains from Austria to France in December 1940. Napoléon II (1811-32) was Napoléon's son by his second wife, Empress Marie Louise. With the cooperation of Vichy Deputy Prime Minister Pierre Laval, Hitler envisioned an elaborate ceremony, complete with typical Nazi pageantry, on the date coinciding with the return of Napoléon Bonaparte's remains 100 years earlier. According to Poisson, this event brought tensions to a head within France's Vichy government and precipitated a coup by Pétain's supporters against such "ultra collaborationists" as Laval and Fernand de Brinon, while strengthening support for Pétain's position. Poisson argues that Hitler's motives were twofold: first, psychological revenge on the French people, and second, a permanent link of his name to his hero, Napoléon. Poisson also states that this "gift" was not an attempt to induce the French to embrace a collaborationist policy; rather, Germany wanted and preferred an unequal French vassal state. As this affair has not been so thoroughly detailed in other works, this well-argued and well-documented book is necessary for all World War II collections. Recommended primarily for academic libraries.
—Maria C. Bagshaw

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781929631674
Publisher:
Enigma Books
Publication date:
11/01/2007
Pages:
250
Product dimensions:
8.84(w) x 10.92(h) x 0.47(d)

Meet the Author

Georges Poisson is the author of Retour des cendres de Napoleon in 2004, and has been awarded the Academie Francaise prize and is a Commandeur of the Legion of Honor.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >