This is the first work in English or French to deal comprehensively with the attitudes and activities of Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, in France during the Vichy regime and under the German yoke. The author shows how Christians reacted to Marshal Pétain and the Laval government, as well as to the Allies, the Germans, the Resistance and the Vatican. The trauma of the treatment of the Jews, which eventually acted upon the Church as a catalyst, is assessed in detail since it represented a turning-point in Christian attitudes. This rigorous examination of one of history's darkest periods provides a wealth of new material on matters hotly debated at the Liberation including:
- the Vichy regime's slide into near-fascism;
- the persecution of the Jews;
- the attempted regimentation of youth and trade unions;
- resistance to, or collaboration with, the enemy; and
- the paramountcy of conscience for Christians.
'This magnificent book, the first in either French or English to provide an overall assessment of the attitudes and activities of Christians during the occupation, presents a more measured picture...it will be difficult to better the thorough and dispassionate scholarship presented here.' THES, August 9th, 1996 'Indispensable for every student of the period ... an outstanding work of history.' Theodore Zeldin 'A first-rate and much-needed updating of the religious history of the Vichy years in France.' Robert O. Paxton 'This book fills a huge hole in existing historical studies of the Vichy period ... All university courses on France during this period will wish to recommend it, and the clarity of style makes it such that it will recommend itself to informed readers outside academic institutions.' H. R. Kedward '... a remarkable book. Halls demonstrates the great complexities and diversities of the Church's actions and policies in Vichy France; nowhere more so than when he tackles the thorny problem of Christians and Jews ... It provides a detailed and lively investigation of the actions of the broad Christian community in wartime France, while discussing a series of clear and important themes...a rich source, which will amply reward the diligent student.' Modern and Contemporary France 'A well-written, highly critical monograph on an important still-sensitive subject.' Choice 'The moral dilemmas faced by the French people during the years 1940-44 are well illustrated in W.D. Halls's meticulous study of the problems which faced church leaders and their followers.' New Zealand Journal of French Studies 'With his new book, W.D. Halls has made another significant contribution to the history of Vichy. [...] It should be welcomed by specialists and general readers alike[...] Halls has organized his study into a very approachable amalgam of chronology and theme, which allows him to give extensive treatment to important issues as he moves the narrative forward from the Fall of France to the epuration. [...] And there are major new contributions in various areas, including Christians and the Jewish question, and the Church and economic and social affairs. Historians will be gratified by the impressive range of archival sources on which the author has drawn.' Journal of European Studies "No other work so fully deals with the Christian, particularly Catholic dimension of Vichy history. Surely no study incorporates so well the present state of French an d English language scholarship on the subject. The select bibliography is excellent. [...] ...this book is likely to be considered Hals' finest achievement and the benchmark study of religious leadership during Vichy. Finally, this is a beautifully written work which is compulsory reading for students of Vichy, of religion in France, and of the Holocaust." H-France Review of Books "Hall's study is a remarkably rich and rewarding book to read. It is to be recommended." Journal of Modern History