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FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: The World at War

The Spirit of Resistance

In Defeated France

Courtesy Reuters

THE masses of the French people simply did not understand what was happening to them when the German military machine rolled across the Loire and, with hardly a pause, down to Bordeaux and the Pyrenees. In those horrifying days of June 1940 there was almost no news either on the radio or in the press. Almost nobody tried to analyze the causes of the disaster. The pain of the moment was too acute, the catastrophe was too brutal, to permit generalizations or long views; immediate personal worries monopolized the thoughts of almost everyone. France fell, and lay in a kind of stupor.

When people did think, it was not old Marshal Pétain alone who imagined that a new world was about to be born, and that it might not be such a bad one after all. The Marshal told the French people -- and each one of them in his

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