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Orphans of the Republic

Orphans of the Republic

The Nation’s Legislators in Vichy France

Olivier Wieviorka

Translated by George Holoch

ISBN 9780674032613

Publication date: 03/31/2009

On July 10, 1940, by a 570 to 80 margin, the representatives in the French parliament voted full powers to Philippe Pétain, ending the Third Republic and paving the way for the collaborationist Vichy regime. Olivier Wieviorka offers a nuanced portrait of the individuals who determined the fate of France at this critical moment.

Pétain claimed to be saving France from ruin. The day of the vote has been described as a journée des dupes, the legislators so ignorant or fearful that they voted without a thought to the consequences. But Wieviorka shows that most of the deputies made a considered decision to vote for Pétain. He analyzes the factors, such as political culture and regional origins, that motivated the voting on both sides, and traces the men’s fates through the war.

Recreating the tense atmosphere of summer 1940, Wieviorka shows how pressures brought on by defeat could affect even the most hardened republicans. He illuminates the complex moral issues inherent in accommodation and collaboration in a time of crisis.


  • This is a superb book that asks all the right questions. And to each question, it proposes a scrupulous, well-documented answer, never losing sight along the way of the drama of individual lives, of the difficulties and consequences of making choices in circumstances of danger and uncertainty...Unlike so much work on this complex and tormented era, Wieviorka's takes a wide-angle view. It is not just about 1940, Vichy, or the Liberation but about all three. Here is a book, full of research and argument, that takes on les années sombres from a fresh and encompassing perspective. This is history-writing at its best.

    —Philip Nord, French Politics, Culture and Society


  • Olivier Wieviorka is Professor of History at the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan.

Book Details

  • 448 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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