The road to collaboration : the life and times of Jean Luchaire / by Geraldine Lillian Alden.
This thesis traces the life and career of Jean Luchaire, known for his role during the period of Nazi occupation of France as the "Fuhrer of the French press." The profligate and cynical Luchaire has often been held to be the archetype of a collaborationist driven more by self interest than ideological conviction. Yet by focusing exclusively on flaws in his character, such a portrait offers only limited help in understanding how he came to embrace Hitler's "new European order." Although he was not old enough to take part in the fighting, the experience of the First World War left an indelible impression. By the early 1920s Luchaire had become convinced that Europe's recovery depended on the willingness of France and Germany to overcome centuries of mistrust. He looked to the spirit of the new generation to provide the impetus for reform and in 1927 founded an influential political review, Notre Temps, to serve as a rallying point for those who shared his vision. Fortified by encounters with Aristide Briand and Otto Abetz, the future Nazi diplomat, Luchaire never wavered from the belief that a "United States of Europe" was the most effective means of containing German ambition and preserving a fragile peace. A self-proclaimed "man of the left," Luchaire remained frustrated by the inability of France's "stalemate society" to regenerate itself. He argued that the failure to adopt nonviolent measures for reform would lead either to right-wing reaction or a Marxist revolution. Refusing to endorse calls for an anti-fascist crusade and faithful to his own brand of "realist" philosophy, Luchaire preferred to see the Continent united under German domination rather than divided and at the mercy of its rivals in North America and Asia. In 1940 he sealed a Faustian bargain with France's new masters both to advance his personal fortune and because in his own mind it seemed the logical culmination of the ideals which had fired his youth. By becoming editor of the most influential intellectual collaborationist newspaper and head of the Press Corporation, he sealed his fate. In 1944 he was executed for treason.
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