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France, 1944-1945: The Contradictions of Liberation

April 12, 2016 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

The classic image of 1944 France is joy in liberation: American GIs being kissed by French women. It evokes a perennial comedic scene of the expulsion of evil clearing the way for happy reconciliation. A dominant narrative or myth of Resistance was constructed from the moment of de Gaulle’s June 18, 1940 London appeal to continue the fight, and reached a climax when he declared on August 24, 1944 in Paris that France had liberated itself. The intent was to respond to the trauma of defeat in 1940, four years of German occupation and division between Vichy and the Free French, with a story that conferred honor, unity, and legitimacy.

But things were not so simple. In reality, the Liberation exposed powerful contradictions in France and its Empire: between the external resistance around de Gaulle and the internal resistance; between the national myth of Resistance and the role of foreigners in the Resistance; over the recognition of those who returned from the concentration camps, whether resisters or victims of the Holocaust; over the political legacy of the Resistance and the nature of democracy in post-war France; over the role of women; and between restoring the greatness of the French Empire and recognizing the claims of colonial peoples.

Robert Gildea, Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford, will be presenting.

Please contact Michelle Dimino at cgesevents@georgetown.edu with any questions.



April 12, 2016
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm


BMW Center for German and European Studies (CGES)


Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Intercultural Center
37th St NW
Washington, DC 20007 United States
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