French culture under Nazi rule remained surprisingly vibrant
Robert O. Paxton
Art of the Defeat, France 1940-1944
by Laurence Bertrand Dorleac and Jane Marie Todd
$39.95 List Price
Artistic and intellectual life in France under the German occupation (1940–44) presents a paradox. On the one hand, there were stultifying pressures: censorship, aggressive cultural agendas, and the exclusion of Jews, Freemasons, and leftists. On the other hand, the authorities—both Vichy and Nazi—encouraged the arts, each for their own reasons, and even some Resistance artists felt a duty to keep French cultural expression alive. The result was a surprisingly active artistic and cultural scene, though distorted in ways that are fascinating to explore.
In The Shameful Peace, a zesty book that has seduced many reviewers, Frederic Spotts, a retired diplomat who has published other historical works, including studies of the Wagner shrine at Bayreuth and Hitler’s aesthetic sensibility, presents a diverting (if
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