What Happened to French Culture under the Nazis

  • Book: And the Show Went On
  • Location: Paris
  • Author: Alan Riding

Review Author: Dvora



This is a very interesting and exhaustive account of all the cultural activity (writing/poetry, painting/sculpture, music, theater, cinema, cabaret) that went on in France after the Germans invaded and took over. Some was done by collaboration with the Nazis, some was done with the Nazis simply watching, and some was done clandestinely. Riding explains what happened to the Jews who were integral at the time of the invasion to all the art forms, and he talks all about who did what, how, when, and what the repercussions were, either repercussions by the Germans, or later by the non-Vichy French and the Allies.

I have to admit that at times I was bored and my eyes glazed over. But I kept on because there was a lot there I didn’t know but wanted to. If any one thing stuck with me it was the story of Varian Fry, a true American hero who disappeared into oblivion. He went to France to spend a month and ended up staying over a year, risking his own life and saving almost two thousand others, including Hannah Arendt, Andre Breton, Marc Chagall, Wanda Landowska among others who were and were not famous. His own memoir has been published and there is a biography of him that I bought when I read about him here and will soon read. Apparently he is the only American inscribed in the Yad Vashem memorial of the righteous in Jerusalem.

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