The collaborator : the trial & execution of Robert Brasillach


The collaborator : the trial & execution of Robert Brasillach

Alice Kaplan

University of Chicago Press, 2001, c2000

  • : pbk

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"Paperback edition 2001"--T.p. verso

Includes bibliographical references (p. 237-287) and index



On February 6, 1945, a 35-year-old French writer and newspaper editor named Robert Brasillach was executed for treason by a French firing squad. He was the only writer of any distinction to be put to death by the French Liberation government during the violent days of score-settling known as the Purge. In this book, Alice Kaplan, author of the memoir "French Lessons" tells the story of Brasillach's rise and fall: his emergence as the golden boy of literary fascism during the 1930s, his wartime collaboration with the Nazis, his dramatic trial and his afterlife as a martyr for French rightists and Holocaust revisionists. A prolific novelist and critic, Brasillach was a witty, flamboyant product of France's prestigious Ecole Normale Superieure. He was also an anti-Semite, an acerbic opponent of French demnocracy, and the editor in chief of France's infamous fascist weekly "Je Suis Partout". His trial and execution, carefully reconstructed in "The Collaborator", remain one of the most controversial episodes in the history of 20th-century France. In the charged days of January 1945 - with Paris liberated but France still at war - a monumental courtroom drama pitted a fierce government prosecutor against a florid defence lawyer for what each considered justice on both a personal and a national scale. Paris in 1945 is also the venue for Kaplan's ethical examination of the questions raised by Brasillach's trial. Was he in fact guilty of treason? Was he condemned for his denunciations of the resistance or singled out as a suspected homosexual? Was it right that he was executed when others who were directly responsible for the murder of thousands were set free? The verdict on these momentous issues was left to four jurors from the working-class suburbs of Paris, whose stories Kaplan presents here for the first time. In recreating the trial, she also uncovers more material never before published: damaging writings by Brasillach omitted from his "Complete Works", and the file that Charles de Gaulle used to reach his decision not to pardon the writer.

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