Patrons Résistants? French industrialists during the Second World War

Brunet, Luc-André (2017). Patrons Résistants? French industrialists during the Second World War. French History, 31(4) pp. 512–534.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/fh/crx067

Abstract

Drawing on previously unexploited archival sources from the Comité d’organisation de la sidérurgie (CORSID), the article challenges the patron résistant thesis, which has been widely accepted in the literature on Vichy France. It advances several important counter-arguments. It also questions the motives of industrialists who undermined attempts to send French workers to Germany and shows that these actions were initially taken with the tacit support of the Vichy government and were motivated primarily by business interests. Drawing on postwar production figures, this article also challenges the claim that lower output during the war was owing to conscious under-production by industrialists. Finally, it demonstrates that the handful of industrialists who allowed the Resistance to sabotage their factories were not motivated by resistance but were in fact blackmailed into such acts with threats by the Resistance. Based on original research, this article challenges the established view of the patron résistant by arguing that none of these industrialists’ actions should be considered as resistance.

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