After the liberation, everyone turned out to have been a resister. False accusations, hypocrisy, opportunism, and downright revenge became the norm. At best, most artists and intellectuals were fence-sitters during the occupation. Sartre, a hero of the Resistance afterwards, wrote books and produced plays all of which were passed by the German censors but were discovered to have been anti-German after the war. Go figure, as Hemingway never said.
French artists visited Germany to underline cultural cooperation, among them Maurice de Vlaminck, Kees van Dongen, André Derain, Maurice Chevalier, Viviane Romance, Suzy Delair, and the beautiful and sexy Danielle Darrieux, the latter while married to Porfirio Rubirosa. The American socialite Florence Gould held a literary salon in occupied Paris, with the great Ernst Jünger in attendance and in German uniform. Sacha Guitry and Jean Cocteau were busy working throughout and briefly jailed afterwards. Tens of thousands were brought to trial, thousands were executed, the most prominent being Robert Brasillach, a writer whom de Gaulle refused to save. La Rochelle committed suicide and Céline survived after a brief prison term in Denmark. Céline was a man of the left until he visited the Soviet Union. He then denounced Jews and communists as warmongers—he was a doctor who treated the poor and the underprivileged throughout his life—and embraced the far right.
And the show went on, during and after. The posturing of French intellectuals, who made fun of Hemingway but embraced terrorist action, was at best irresponsible, at worst criminal. Simone de Beauvoir’s extremism did not cause her any problems; to the contrary, she was fêted by everyone, starting with glossy American fashion magazines. No Robert Brasillach she. De Gaulle’s Cross of Lorraine was the heaviest his allies were to bear, as it was for his countrymen. He is considered a very great man. He was nothing of the sort. He was a contrarian who bluffed as leader of a once-great power that had lost its luster 130 years previously at Waterloo.
After finishing my books I headed for France and a lunch to celebrate Napoleon’s birthday.
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