In This Review

The Expectation of Justice: France 1944-46
The Expectation of Justice: France 1944-46
By Megan Koreman
Duke University Press, 1999, 340 pp
Purchase

A splendid contribution to the literature on post-Liberation France. Using the story of three provincial towns, Koreman illuminates life and politics after the murderous divisions of the occupation, dissecting the ways communities defined legal and moral respectability and apportioned honor among the living and the dead. She also vividly documents the disillusionment that settled on the French, who were upset by the series of purge trials followed by seemingly incomprehensible pardons. It was a time of cruel restrictions and considerable anguish over the fate of war prisoners and deportees; the fiasco of the government's food policy and the bitter conflicts over the war's commemoration only made things worse. The government, Koreman suggests, was too distant from local concerns, failing "to understand that É the trappings of republican legitimacy took a secondary place to the implementation of justice for the people in small towns." In this way, the Fourth Republic began its short life divided between bitter collaborationists who found the purges too harsh and resistance fighters who found justice too piecemeal and slow.