The Politics of Apoliticism
Political Trials in Vichy France, 1940-1942
Aims and Scope
The Riom trial was a disaster for the Vichy government. Uniquely among show trials, it failed to result in a conviction. This book will argue that the failure cannot be blamed on the way German demands shaped the trial, because Riom was fundamentally about domestic French politics.
The Vichy government of France (1940-1944) tried to bolster its legitimacy, despite German occupation of two thirds of the national territory, by putting on trial the leaders of the previous regime, the Third Republic. James Herbst’s study of Vichy’s political trials, the first in English based on full access to the archives, is illuminating about that regime’s intentions and values.
Robert O. Paxton, professor emeritus, Columbia University