The Rabbit in the Hat: Nationalism and Resistance to Foreign Occupation
36 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2013
Date Written: August 20, 2013
How does nationalism shape political action? Most IR literature posits a causal link between nationalism and resistance to military occupation. We question this nexus through a detailed study of a crucial case: the German occupation of France during World War II. In highly nationalistic France, resistance to the German occupation developed late, grew slowly, and was never a threat to German aims. French patriots voluntarily led Vichy France into collaboration with Germany despite opportunities to continue fighting in 1940 or defect from German orbit later. Collaboration with Germany was widely supported by French elites and passively accommodated by the mass of nationalistic Frenchmen. Nationalism can therefore explain neither why collaboration was the dominant French response, nor why a relatively small number of Frenchmen resisted. The Vichy regime and the French Resistance were equally nationalistic. Instead, we argue that French behavior is best explained by two other factors: the international balance of power and domestic political competition. Expecting a German victory in the war, French right-wing nationalists chose collaboration with the Nazis as a means to suppress and persecute the French Left. The French case requires a reexamination of the role of nationalism in the IR literature.by author.
Keywords: Nationalism, International Relations, Military Occupation, World War II, Vichy
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