French Narratives of War and Occupation
This book is the winner of the Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in French Studies 2011.
Chapter 4 Shame and Collaboration: The Laws of Forgetting
Shame and the Law During the summer of 1944, a new legal concept entered the French stat- ute: national degradation or indignité nationale. National indignity was pronounced on all those who had directly or indirectly voluntarily aided Germany or her allies, or harmed the unity, liberty or equality of the French nation in some way.1 The judgment and penalty of national degradation was handed out by the chambres civiques, a court created purely for the judgment of this new of fense. This concept is of central importance to the discourse of shame as the penalty removed the rights of citizenship for what were deemed to be dishonourable and unpatriotic acts against the nation.2 While it was automatically added to any sentence already given out by the Cours de Justice or the Haute Cour, the chambres civiques alone sentenced 48,484 people to national degradation.3 1 Anne Simonin confirms that 61.6 per cent of those sentenced to indignité nationale were members of either le Rassemblement Nationale Populaire (RNP) de Marcel Déat, le Parti Populaire français (PPF) de Jacques Doriot, le Parti Franciste de Marcel Bucard or the Groupe Collaboration. Anne Simonin, Le déshonneur dans la République: une histoire de l’indignité (Paris: Grasset, 2008), 528. 2 ‘A sentence of national degradation meant the loss of civic rights such as the fran- chise; prohibition from employment in inf luential positions in areas such as the civil service, banking, or journalism; exclusion from of fice in professional organizations; loss of...
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