by Valerie Deacon
Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2016. Pp. x, 230.
Table, notes, biblio., index. $45.00. ISBN: 0807163627
The Right Wing of the French Resistance
In contrast to most accounts of the French Resistance, which stress the role of the left, Prof. Deacon (NYU), a specialist in the French experience in World War II, takes a look at the role of the far right in the Resistance, a very neglected subject. She concentrates on two notable prewar right-wing organizations, La Cagoule, also known as the Comité secret d'action révolutionnaire, and its military wing, the Corvignolles.
La Cagoule, generally regarded as pro-fascist and vehemently anti-communist, had conducted a series of violent attacks on leftists and workers’ organizations during the mid- and late-1930s, and the Corvignolles, which recruited among military sympathetic officers. While noting that many members of both groups supported the Vichy Regime, Deacon also identifies many others who did not, and played roles in the Resistance, such as Gen. Henri Giraud, whom the Allies preferred over de Gaulle as a leader of Free France, or Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, who ran an anti-German spy network. Some of these men and women worked with the Gaullist movement – itself rather center-right – and some independently. Deacon also points out that some rightists identified with and working for Vichy were actually covert resistants, such as Georges Loustaunau-Lacau, men and women who were “more concerned with the external threat that Germany represented than by the internal threat of communism.” This was in marked contrast to the Communists, most of whom only began playing a role in the Resistance after Hitler had invaded Russia.
Although the subject of Rightist participation in the Resistance has received some attention in France, Deacon’s work is the first to take up the subject in English, and is a very useful addition to the literature of underground movements in the war.
Note: The Extreme Right in the French Resistance is also available as a pdf, ISBN 978-0-8071-6363-4, and an e-Book, ISBN 978-0-8071-6364-1.