The spellbinding and revealing chronicle of Nazi-occupied Paris
On June 14, 1940, German tanks entered a silent and nearly deserted Paris. Eight days later, France accepted a humiliating defeat and foreign occupation. Subsequently, an eerie sense of normalcy settled over the City of Light. Many Parisians keenly adapted themselves to the situation-even allied themselves with their Nazi overlords. At the same time, amidst this darkening gloom of German ruthlessness, shortages, and curfews, a resistance arose. Parisians of all stripes-Jews, immigrants, adolescents, communists, rightists, cultural icons such as Colette, de Beauvoir, Camus and Sartre, as well as police officers, teachers, students, and store owners-rallied around a little known French military officer, Charles de Gaulle.
WHEN PARIS WENT DARK evokes with stunning precision the detail of daily life in a city under occupation, and the brave people who fought against the darkness. Relying on a range of resourcesmemoirs, diaries, letters, archives, interviews, personal histories, flyers and posters, fiction, photographs, film and historical studiesRosbottom has forged a groundbreaking book that will forever influence how we understand those dark years in the City of Light.
|Publisher:||Little, Brown and Company|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)|
About the Author
Ronald C. Rosbottom is the Winifred L. Arms Professor in the Arts and Humanities and Professor of French and European Studies at Amherst College. Previously, he was the Dean of the Faculty at Amherst, Chair of the Romance Languages Department at The Ohio State University, and taught at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Table of Contents
Chronology of the Occupation of Paris xi
Major Personalities xix
Faux Paris 3
Sequestering Medusa 5
Paris Was Different 11
Chapter 1 A Nation Disintegrates Preludes 19
Three Traumas 25
Chapter 2 Waiting for Hitler 47
"They" Arrive, and Are Surprised 47
One Who Stayed, One Who Left 53
"They" Settle In 60
Hitler's Own Tour 72
The Führer's Urbanophobia 91
Chapter 3 Minuet (1940-1941) 97
How Do You Occupy a City? 97
For Some, Paris Was a Bubble 100
Dancing the Minuet 106
Correct, but Still Nazis 117
"To Bed, to Bed!" 119
An Execution in Paris 125
Chapter 4 City Without a Face-The Occupier's Lament 130
Paris Had Already Welcomed the Nazis-Before the Occupation 130
The Occupiers Are Surprised, Too 133
A Dreamer in Exile 143
Sexually Occupied 145
A "Better" German 151
Recollected Solitude 154
Chapter 5 Narrowed Lives 160
Narrowing and Boredom 160
The Apartment 168
A Crowded Metro 182
The Informer 186
The Queue 190
Chapter 6 The Dilemmas of Resistance 196
Quoi faire? 196
Resistant Paris 203
Bébés Terroristes 213
The Red Poster 223
A Female Resistance 233
Who Got the Credit? 237
Chapter 7 The Most Narrowed Lives-The Hunt for Jews 240
Being Jewish in Paris 240
Three Girls on the Move 252
A Gold Star 260
The Big Roundup 272
Chapter 8 How Much Longer? (1942-1944) 287
"You Can Come Over Now!" 287
The Plague 297
Observers from the Palace 302
Signs of Defeat 305
Chapter 9 Liberation-A Whodunit 310
Is Paris Worth a Detour? 310
The Beast of Sevastopol Arrives 317
"Tous aux barricades!" 325
Why Do Americans Smile So Much? 337
Chapter 10 Angry Aftermath-Back on Paris Time 349
Rediscovering Purity 349
"Kill All the Bastards!" 358
The Return of Lost Souls 363
Chapter 11 Is Paris Still Occupied? 367
De Gaulle Creates a Script 367
Stumbling Through Memory 372
Should We Blame Paris? 378
"The Landscape of Our Confusions" 381
Appendix: De Gaulle's Speech on the Liberation of Paris 385
Selected Bibliography 405
About the Author 448
What People are Saying About This
"A riveting account of one of the most resonant hostage-takings in history: the 1,500 days when a swastika flew from the Eiffel Tower. Ronald Rosbottom illuminates every corner of a darkened, heartsick city, exploring the oddities, capturing the grisly humor, and weighing the prices of resistance, accommodation, collaboration. The result is an intimate, sweeping narrative, astute in its insight and chilling in its rich detail."
"Ronald Rosbottom has recreated the Parisian world during the dark days of the German occupation like no previous writer I know. His secret is two-fold: first, exhaustive research that allows him to recover what we might call the importance of the ordinary; and second, a shrewd grasp of how memory works, often in strange ways."
"When Paris Went Dark recounts, through countless compelling stories, how Nazi occupation drained the light from Paris and how many of its residents resisted in ways large and small. This is a rich work of history, a brilliant recounting of how hope can still flourish in the rituals of daily life."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I like history books that focus on a single area; the all in one volume misses most of what really affected people. This view of the Occupation is great: the author interviewed a lot of people and did a lot of research. Whatever I thought I knew about the occupation, it's not so much I was wrong, but that I didn't know enough. It was a big part of World War II. At first Hitler admired Paris, but when the Germans were leaving, he wanted it bombed into oblivion. It's surprising to find out how many people were affected by the occupation and how many did what they had to to survive.
Ronald Rosbottom captures what life was like for Parisians who endured German occupation during World War II. The book gives attention to everyday Parisian citizens; to Jews facing prejudice, injustice and cruelty; and to the German occupiers who faced growing scorn and hostility from the local population. It illuminates how Hitler pictured Paris and why he protected it as an open city through much of the war. The author raises profound questions and offers different perspectives on these. He draws on a rich variety of sources to bring Paris alive during the war years. To gain a deeper empathy for Parisian inhabitants during World War II, this is a book worth reading.
No, I was more disappointed in this book than impressed. First this work is highly psychological and philosophical. The reader needs to buy into the whole notion that what happened in Paris during the war should best be seen in those terms. Is a woman who has sexual affairs with German officers really a human being probably not guilty of much, at least in her own mind? That we should judge her or anyone based on non war conditions? Etc. Is everything in war "relative" or too hard to judge? Secondly, I thought the author had an out of date, simplistic view of the behavior of the French Army in 1940. It has been more than a decade now that competent military thinking has expelled the myths of 50 years ago that French soldiers threw down their arms and disgraced the nation. They lost the Battle of France decisively and quickly. They were horribly led at the top by General Gamelin and had some outdated concepts of war, but today it is widely understood today that any army facing the Blitzkrieg in 1940 would have lost, even the much admired American army. Finally, and most importantly, Professor Rosbottom perpetuates the long standing rant that France, almost uniquely, failed her Jewish citizens. The lowest numbers I have ever read or heard are that over 50% of all Jews in France survived the war. Though this represents a horrific crime is it really true as suggested in this book and many others that this represents a real failure on France to save them? How? Which major Jewish countries in Europe occupied by the Nazis' did better? None did even half as well. Is it true as the author suggests that Jews in France would have done better had French police refused to round them up? Where did that strategy work? Indeed, as the author specifically refutes, it is statistically very accurate to point out that French born Jews had a very high chance to survive the Holocaust in France. I just found the whole book to be too heavy on inaccurate left wing finger wagging while being too inaccurate on modern scholarship on the war.
I've read many books about WWII, but none that I've been as engrossed in as this from the beginning. "When Paris Went Dark..." describes the city during the German Occupation, 1940-44. The research must have taken Prof. Rosbottom years to accomplish through numerous resources -- memoirs, diaries, letters, interviews, historical material and photographs, etc. of those who lived in Paris as inhabitants or occupiers during that period. You leave the book with a sense of having lived there yourself.
Filled with great insight into the Nazi occupation of Paris.