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Jean refers to the newspaper, a daily called La France au Travail, which began publication after the invasion. Its slogan was “national communism” and, given milder censorship in the occupied France than elsewhere under the Nazis, was patriotically French. In an article for the Fourth International published in June 1941, Terence Phelan says that “While ‘admitting’ that the Germans, having beaten the French in fair fight, had a right to occupy the strategic north until the campaign against England was completed, it ‘pressed’ for the retirement of the invader at ‘the earliest possible moment.’

“With obvious access to police archives, it ran a devastatingly documented series of attacks on the late Reynaud government, proving to the hilt its suppression of civil liberties, its graft, frameups, anti-labour policy, etc. It attacked capitalism savagely, and called for a French renaissance under nationalist slogans. It even discreetly criticized Germany. (The only place the German cloven hoof showed through was in the paper’s unremitting attacks against the Vichy government.)

“It is difficult to conceive a more accurately aimed, psychologically skillful kind of propaganda than La France au Travail.” Phelan says. “And how did the Paris workers react to this super-French press? To their eternal credit be it reported: they called it ‘the German press’ and used it to wrap potatoes in – when they could find potatoes.”


A cartoon by Gaston Pavis from the 3rd September edition of La France au Travail. One political prisoner asks another "And you, what is your crime? To which he replies "I was caught!"  It shows" political prisoners "who were arrested in Paris Military Prison on the orders of Mandel and find themselves, from June 21, 40, temporarily interned at Gurs camp.
A cartoon by Gaston Pavis from the 3rd September edition of La France au Travail. One political prisoner asks another “And you, what is your crime? To which he replies “I was caught!” The full details are here

While it was unable to secure books from France during the war, British Library Newspapers at Colindale holds some issues of French war-time newspapers on microfilm, including the Défense de la France, from 15 August 1941 to 21 August 1944, at shelfmark: M.misc.282. This was continued as D.F., with the subtitle France-soir from 8 November 1944 – 16 April 1945, when France-soir became the main title. Le Figaro runs from 1854 to 30 December 1942, and from 23 August 1944 to date. Le jour – l’Écho de Paris, from May 1940 to March 1942 includes Marseilles, Clermont-Ferrand and Vichy editions. Action; organe social de la France combattante, October 1943 to July 1944, is continued by Action; hebdomadaire de l’indépendance française, 9 September 1944 to 9 May 1952. From the period immediately after the Liberation the Library has, among other titles Gavroche, from 9 November 1944 to 8 November 1945. There are a few local newspapers from the south of France. Examples include Le Petit Var, published in Toulon, with some issues from the years 1940, 1941 and 1942 to 1944, and from Toulouse, La Dépêche, published from 31 December 1940 to 3 July 1944 and La Garonne, from 29 June 1940 to 10 July 1944. Full details here

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