Sunday, November 28, 2010

The French during the IIWW

An interesting NYT review of a new book on "AND THE SHOW WENT ON. Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris" by Alan Riding, documenting how French artists had no problem with accomodating the Nazis during the occupation.

As the author says "writers and artists simply carried on as if nothing had happened. German musicians visited Paris, French musicians toured Germany, and French artists too, Derain and Vlaminck among others. Picasso’s record was fairly contemptible throughout, though he got away with it afterward".

And "back in Paris, theaters and nightclubs did a roaring trade, eager to amuse the large contingent of German soldiers. The list of writers and artists who did their bit for cultural fraternization is a roster of French culture and popular entertainment at the time, from Jean Cocteau and Jean Giraudoux to Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier and Django Reinhardt. The ardor with which some actively collaborated is almost less chilling than the sheer cynicism and amorality of many more. "
Just compare this with the fate of Central Europeans, primarily Polish artists and intellegentsia, who were shot on principle (See me previous blog entry of the book "Bloodlands"). As Czeslaw Milosz wrote in "The Captive Mind" - "What does Western Europe know about suffering?"

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