GLOBALIZATION AND THE MODERN HATE INDUSTRY: VICHY FRANCE AS HISTORICAL NIGHTMARE: “BAD FAITH” BOOKJune 2, 2008 at 7:36 am | Posted in Art, Books, Globalization, History, Literary | Leave a comment
Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of
Family, Fatherland and Vichy France
by Carmen Callil (Author)
From Publishers Weekly
The bottomless corruption, political and personal, of French fascism is explored in this absorbing biography of one of its most loathsome figures—Louis Darquier, commissioner for Jewish affairs under the Vichy regime. A violent anti-Semite and paid Nazi propagandist before WWII, he helped organize the deportation of French Jews, including thousands of children, to Auschwitz during the German occupation. Callil sets Darquier’s public career in an unsparing reconstruction of his sordid private life. A ne’er-do-well who sponged off his family while falsely styling himself an aristocrat, Darquier abandoned his infant daughter, Anne, to an impoverished London nanny. (Anne grew up to become the author’s psychiatrist; her possible suicide in 1970 sparked Callil’s interest in her family.) Callil’s contempt for her subject is evident: his best features, in her portrayal, seem to be the incompetence and laziness that prompted his removal from direct supervision of deportations. Through her superbly written, meticulously researched, densely novelistic portrait of Darquier, Callil (who founded Virago press and was managing director of Chatto & Windus) takes an uncommonly penetrating look at the malignity of fascism and the suffering of its many victims. 32-page photo insert and 19 photos throughout.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the western European nation most vulnerable to the virus of anti-Semitism was France, not Germany. This was the France of the Dreyfus affair, the toxic Left-Right antagonism, and the Jew baiting of Drumont and Maurras. Out of this foul milieu emerged Louis Darquier de Pellepoix. He was a virulent anti-Semite and was appointed commissioner for Jewish affairs when the Vichy French government was established under Nazi auspices. In that position, he actively promoted the deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz. Callil became interested in his life when she learned that her therapist was his abandoned daughter. Callil is both fascinated and repelled by the man. He was a pompous liar, had ridiculous pretensions to aristocracy, and never expressed a hint of remorse for the actions he took during the war. But this is more than his story. Callil also relates the sad fate of his daughter, Anne, whose suicide may have been prompted by the sheer contempt she felt toward her parents. Finally, this sad but beautifully written work provides a frank and disturbing portrait of the rot that slowly ate away at French society both before and during the Occupation.
Collaborators included the families behind the Coty and L’Oreal cosmetics firms, Coco Chanel, and the Taittinger champagne family, as well as many French authors including Celine, Callil points out. Many French actors and authors, including Jean-Paul Sartre, born in 1905, continued to work during the German occupation. This couldn’t have occurred without some form of collaboration.
Franco did provide sanctuary for many French war criminals, including Louis Darquier (1897-1980), a rabid anti-Semite and “Commissioner for Jewish Affairs” for the Vichy collaborationist regime from 1942 to 1944.
Movie fans will remember the regime from “Casablanca” (1942) set in a French Morocco ruled by Vichy before the Allied Invasion of North Africa.
Real movie buffs will recall a marvelous documentary by filmmaker Marcel Ophuls called “Le Chagrin et la pitie” (“The Sorrow and the Pity”) depicting life in the Vichy French town of Clermont-Ferrand, focusing on French participation in the Holocaust. Clermont-Ferrand is the hometown of Blaise Pascal and the founders of the Michelin tire firm and is the headquarters of Michelin.
The 1970, 270-minute film (it’s the best documentary ever made in the view of many critics – and in the opinion of many) was how Callil, born in Australia in 1938 and living in London when she met Dr. Anne Darquier, made the connection between her therapist – Anne Darquier — who was only eight years older than Callil and the Holocaust. In a true tale that sounds stranger than fiction, Carmen Callil, founder in 1972 of the Virago Press and later managing director of Chatto & Windus, an English publisher, learned of Anne Darquier’s connection with Vichy France from watching “The Sorrow and the Pity” in London.
Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family, Fatherland and Vichy France
by Carmen Callil (Author)