Paul Sager Social Science
Heroes or Traitors: The Twisted History of a French Newspaper in the German Occupation and After
La Petite Gironde, based in Bordeaux, France, was one of that country’s top regional newspapers from the 1860s to World War II. When the Germans occupied the country in 1940, all of France’s media fell under their control. Newspapers were the most visible expression of French collaboration with Nazi power. La Petite Gironde was no exception. At the moment of Liberation, in 1944, De Gaulle’s new regime was supposed to have rid the country of these symbols of infamy and replaced them with newspapers emerging from the Resistance. La Petite Gironde escaped its untimely end by changing its name and maneuvering through a succession of legal and political obstacles that ought to have stopped it. Today, as Sud Ouest, this daily paper continues as the most important media power in southwestern France, and proudly recalls its origins in the resistance. Yet its claims to resistance have been largely proven unfounded in the related 1999 conviction in Bordeaux of Maurice Papon for crimes against humanity. Based on a large number of documents collected from both public and private archives in Bordeaux in the summer of 2001, I will write two theses in Fall 2000 and Spring 2001 that unravel this vexed subject.