By Andrew Knapp (eds.)
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Additional info for The Uncertain Foundation: France at the Liberation 1944–47
Indeed, in practical terms, precise continuity with the pre-war regime was not what the GPRF sought. In the early days of Free France, General de Gaulle used the words ‘France’, in the name of which he claimed to be speaking, or ‘democracy’, so as to foster the political union of the Free French in their fight alongside the Allies, but ‘Republic’ with far greater caution. For an effective riposte to Vichy’s accusation of ‘dissidence’ required a high degree of unity among the Free French, and this was not likely to be achieved by referring to a regime – the Third Republic – which had been guilty of institutional and moral weakness.
Meanwhile, historians showed that support for Pétain especially early in the war, did not exclude, especially after 1942, the rejection of Vichy by many of the French, who gave assistance to those whom it excluded. If France did not emerged unblemished from the dark years, it would be wrong to claim that the French had behaved worse than other peoples under occupation. What traces did the ‘long’ Liberation, as distinct from the Occupation and its close, leave on the face of France? 22 What happened was less than a revolution, but still, in some respects, a founding moment.
11 Jeanneney concluded that national sovereignty could not legally be exercised by a National Assembly which, though still existing, was non-functioning, and which had defaulted on its responsibilities. Consequently it was up to the ‘Nation’ to assume them through a free vote concerning the institutions and the leadership of France. But such a free vote could not be arranged until order had been restored, prisoners of war returned and voting lists established. 12 Jeanneney’s advice was, broadly, followed.