Presentation on theme: "The Legacy of the Occupation"— Presentation transcript:
1 The Legacy of the Occupation Patrick Modiano’s Dora Bruder
2 Representing the unrepresentable ‘To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric’ Theodor AdornoIntroHow do we go about representing the unprecedented and unimaginable horrors of the Holocaust? As we are commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, many television programmes, newspaper articles, church services, public testimonies, specially composed music have all attempted to speak about the mass murder of the Jews and other minority groups by the Nazis during the Second World War. But all such attempts are, to some extent, problematic. The philosopher Theodor Adorno’s famous comment that ‘to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric’ suggests that after such an event one can’t produce anything that was ‘harmonized’, or made ‘aesthetically pleasing’ by turning something into a work of art. To do so is to betray the truth of the utter irrationality, disharmony, inhuman nature of the Nazi death-camps. But, as Marguerite Duras and Alain Resnais suggest in Hiroshima mon amour, historically ‘truthful’ accounts of catastrophes are equally problematic – packaging the horror into a well-organised museum, turning it into a moving film, even transforming it into news-footage filmed when the actual events are taking place, are in a sense just as deficient. All of them are turning the event into some kind of narrative, all have a certain agenda – often a political agenda – that obfuscates, that distorts certain aspects of the tragedy.Marguerite Duras/Alain Resnais and Patrick Modiano both, to some degree, have similar takes on the representation of the unrepresentable. Both insist on the paradox of the need to remember what has happened (especially as there has been a certain refusal or reluctance to remember and admit the truth of what happened in both cases of Hiroshima, the shaving of women’s hair, & the deportation of Jews during the Occupation, and thus to accept responsibility for it), and the psychological need to be able to forget in order to move forward into the future. Both use non-traditional, non-linear and non-chronological techniques in order to produce works of art that have a deeply unsettling effect on the reader/spectator, that refuse to allow them the comfort of neat conclusions, straightforward moral messages or simple answers. And both make the collective horror of the Holocaust/Hiroshima meaningful through our identification with the individual, with the personal. By focusing on one name in the nameless thousands of Jews who were put to death by the Nazis, Patrick Modiano’s Dora Bruder illustrates how we can begin to have some comprehension of and connection to the horrors of the past. At the same time, Modiano suggests, writing and reading a narrative like Dora Bruder can help us to come to terms with our own difficulties in dealing with the legacies of the past in the present. We can see this in Modiano’s text when he associates what happened to Dora with both the reluctance of the French to take full responsibility for the French authorities’ role in what happened to Jews in Paris in WWII, and when he makes connections to his difficult relationship with his own Jewish father, who, unlike Dora, survived the second world war.
3 Structure of today’s lecture Vichy France and the JewsReading Dora Bruder as social historyPatrick ModianoDora Bruder: Histoire/histoireMemory and OblivionPlaces and TracesMaking connections
4 The Jewish population in France History of the Jewish population in FranceEmancipation and Anti-SemitismThe Dreyfus AffairC20th ImmigrationRussian pogromsWorld War I/Russian Revolution1930s rise of HitlerThe presence of Jews in France dates back to Roman rule, on eve of Revolution approx. 30,000 Jews. The history of the Jews in France has been one that has swung between enlightened attitudes that encouraged emancipation and virulent anti-Semitism. The Emancipation Act in 1791, for example, one of first countries to grant civil rights to Jews and led to a marked increase in migration to France. C19th saw rapid rise in number of Jews. But the Dreyfus affair, in which a Jewish army officer was unjustly accused of treason, divided the French nation and made manifest the underlying anti-Semitism of many sectors of late C19th French society.By the end of the C19th, there were approximately 90,000 Jews, 50,000 of whom lived in Paris – this represented a significant increase in the numbers of Jews, as Jews fled counterrevolutionary assertion of authority rule in mid-C19th. By 1914, after the assassination of Alexander II and aftermath of pogroms in Russia there was mass migration of Jews out of all areas of the Russian empire. The third C20th influx came after WWI, when more Eastern European Jews came into France from 1921 onward as a result of social upheavals resulting from both the War & the collapse of the Austrian Hungary Empire, and the Russian Revolution. At the time, France welcomed migrants as the country needed manpower after the loss of life in WWI. By 1935 there were 260,000 Jews in France. Between 1935 and 1939 these numbers were supplemented by German and Austrian refugees from Hitler’s regime. At the outbreak of WWII, there were about 300,000 Jews in France of whom 200,000 were living in Paris. A large proportion of these Jews were recent immigrants, or ‘foreign’ Jews.
5 Vichy France and the Jews Vichy and Nazi legislation1940 ‘Statut des juifs’1941 Revised ‘Statut des juifs’Registration and wearing of yellow starRound-ups and movement restrictionsJuly 1942 rafle: Les Tourelles and Drancy campStatisticsWhen France was defeated in 1940 and Petain took over as the leader of the Vichy regime, they shared with their German occupiers similar attitudes to the Jewish population. The highly reactionary Vichy regime did not need much encouragement to help the Nazis carry out their anti-Jewish policies. However, there were some differences in their attitudes that had an important effect on the lives of Jews in France during the Occupation. Whereas for the Nazis all Jews needed to be eradicated, whatever their class or nationality, Vichy France made a distinction between ‘French Jews’ and ‘Foreign Jews’. Although French Jews were also subject to legislation that impoverished them, they were less likely to be deported to concentration camps. The anti-Jewish legislation reflects that distinction, and whereas 10% of ‘French Jews’ were killed, about 40% of Foreign French Jews were killed during WWII.Statut des juifs (3 October 1940). Under this law, jews were assigned on basis of race inferior position in French civil law and society. Jews were excluded from top positions in civil service, from officer corps, from professions that could influence public opinion – teaching, the press, radio, film and theatre, and a quota system was devised to limit the numbers of Jews in the liberal professions. There were limited exceptions. If Jews had served in WWI, they could hold menial public service positions, and a few Jews who were considered to have served France in ‘exceptional’ ways kept some of their rights.The Statut was revised on 2 June Professional categories not included in first statut were included in the second, so there was a further purge of Jews from Liberal professions – lawyers, doctors, dentists, university students (limited to 3%), architects, midwives, pharmacists, actors.The second statut also included some exemptions – the first statut had excluded veterans and ‘exceptional’ literary, scientistic, artistic services to France; the new statute permitted Jews whose family had resided in France for over five generations and whose families had served the nation notably and well. The immediate families of the war dead given same status as veterans.In addition to the exclusion of Jews from professions. There was a general policy of the ‘aryanization’ of Jewish businesses from 1941 onwards. This meant in practice that Jewish property and businesses were taken away from them. Many Jews fled to the Vichy zone in the South (France had been divided into two zones, and there was more freedom from Nazi occupiers in the ‘Free Zone’, although there was also some rounding-up of Jews there.In 1940 and 1941 there was the compulsory registration of Jews, in alphabetical order. 287, 962 Jews registered, including 149,764 in Paris. This was to check the ‘origins’ of Jews, as well as their economic status. On 29 May th Jewish ordinance, made Jews over the age of 6 wear a Yellow Star of David, which was made compulsory in June Some Jews left for the Vichy Zone in order to not have to wear their star.In May 1941 first measures taken that directly affected Jews living in Paris. On 14 May 1941, 3, 710 immigrants were interned in camps outside Paris. From then on, Jews were continually arrested. In August 1941, the 11th arrondissement was completely surrounded and 4, 232 men were taken from their homes. Some ‘French Jews’ were also arrested. December 1941, 750 prominent Jews arrested. By the end of 1941, 8,000 interned in 4 camps, including Tourelles and Drancy, mentioned in Dora Bruder.Movements of Jews also began to be restricted. On 10 December 1941, Paris Prefect of Police, Admiral Francois-Marie-Alphonse Bard, announced that any change of address of Jews had to be reported to local police stations and that no Jew was permitted to leave the Seine department without police permission. By 12 Feb 1941 even tighter controls had been implemented, and Jews were forbidden to be out of their homes between 8am and 6pm.From July 1942 onwards, there was a greater application of German policies designed to ensure that no Jew would remain in France. During July, 12, 884 men, women and children were arrested and deported from France to Auschwitz. By then there were only 80,000 Jews left in Paris.The last population control by the Prefecture of Police was in January 1944 – 6, 472 Jews still living in Paris. Allowed to remain free because they were considered useful to the German economy. But end of Jan and early Feb arrested, only French Jews supposed to be left – very few survived until the Liberation. French Jews, although harrassed and dispossessed, were much more likely to survive. The French Jews’ status, moreover, tragically threatened other Jews. ‘Foreign’ jews were more exposed, not as well integrated, less equipped to deal with their situation. Of the 76,000 Jews who were deported to the extermination camps, 16,000 were of French descent, 60,000 were either naturalized or immigrants.
6 Reading Dora Bruder as social history Origins of parentsRegistration of JewsDifferent ‘categories’ of JewsExclusion of veteransWearing of the yellow starPolice round-ups (‘rafles’)It is possible to read Dora Bruder as social history, discovering through the example of what happened to Dora and her family the experiences of Jews in early C20th France and during the Occupation.Firstly, Dora’s parents origins relate to what I have told you about immigration. Her father came from Vienna, one of the thousands of refugees fleeing from Galicia, Bukovina and the Ukraine after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire after their defeat in the First World War. He enlisted in the French Foreign Legion for 5 years and was wounded before coming to live in Paris.Her mother was Hungarian, and had come to France with her family in 1923, again part of the massive wave of Jewish immigrants who came from Eastern Europe. Her family were no doubt poor – we are told in Dora Bruder that they ended up in the Jewish Refuge, and that three of her mother’s sisters died of typhoid fever.We can also trace the persecution of the Jews under the Vichy regime in the narrative of Modiano’s text. Her father registers himself and his wife on 4 October 1940 at the police station in Clignancourt, the area of Paris where they lived. As an Austrian, and thus as part of the German Reich after the Anschluss of 1938, he might have been rounded up much sooner, but in all probability his status as a former soldier in the French Foreign Legion, and one who had been wounded, saved him. Had he been a WWI soldier, remember, he probably would have escaped deportation.The text also makes reference to the compulsory wearing of a yellow star in 1942, and Modiano speculates whether Dora, who by this stage had run away from her convent school and again from her mother’s home, and had been arrested and taken to the Clignancourt police station.Finally, the text discusses the police round-ups that led to the deportation of French Jews. Ernest Bruder was arrested on 19 March 1942 and interned at the camp in Drancy. We learn that Dora was taken on 19 June 1942 to a camp at Tourelles and then to Drancy, before being deported with her father on September to Auschwitz where they were killed. Her mother, Cecile Bruder, was arrested in 16 July 1942, which was the month in which most Jews were rounded up in Paris, and was also interned at Drancy, but was released from Drancy on 25 July, because in 1942, the Jews were arrested, interned and deported according to their nationality. Dora and her father were deported to Auschwitz on September , and her mother was eventually deported to Auschwitz on 11 February 1943.
7 Patrick Modiano Born 1945 Father of Jewish Italian origin First novel: La Place de l’étoile (1968)Rue des boutiques obscures (1978) Prix GoncourtPatrick Modiano likes to say that his memory precedes his birth. Born in 1945, he is a product of the German occupation of France during World War II, which has left an indelible mark on his imagination. His own father, of Jewish-Italian origin, was a victim of Nazi oppression. Thus, many of Modiano’s novels are set in Occupied Paris, starting with his debut novel, La place de l’étoile (1968). His Paris is dark and menacing, with the characters drifting about, failing to find whoever or whatever it is they searching for. The occupation is often represented via the muddy waters of the black market, walking the thin line between Collaboration and Resistance, just as his father had done (he was involved we are told in Dora Bruder, in the black market – an activity that was seen as ‘collaboration’ by the Resistance and as ‘anti-French’ by the Vichy authorities. In Boulevards de ceinture (Ring Roads, 1972) the narrator is in pursuit of his father, who might have been either a black market trafficker or a Jewish fugitive. Modiano now stands as one of France’s most celebrated writers. His books are automatic best sellers. Many were awarded prizes, including the prestigious Prix Goncourt in 1978 for Rue des boutiques obscures (Missing Person).His oeuvre is a series of investigations. His detractors claim he always writes the same book, with characters always trying, unsuccessfully, to trace someone, or tracking a memory, or in search of a proof or a confirmation of their own history. Dora Bruder, then, is part of a whole set of works dealing with the Occupation, with both collective and individual memories of it and how these intersect.
8 Dora Bruder: Histoire/histoire Fact, Fiction and TruthDora Bruder is the story of a quest. A quest to shine a light into the darkness of oblivion that surrounds the name ‘Dora Bruder’, casually glimpsed in an old newspaper. It is a quest – importantly – that is doomed to some degree of failure. There will always remain some dark areas of Dora’s life, some dead-ends – a fact, as I will discuss later, is crucial to Modiano’s aims. But via his quest, Modiano gradually turns one individual’s life into a narrative (by finding different pieces of the jigsaw of what happened to her). This, in turn, bring about the inclusion, in the collective consciousness, of experiences of social exclusion.So one of the narrator’s aims is to discover ‘traces’ of Dora Bruder’s life. He does this firstly by turning to historical archives, to documents. The work is not presented, in effect, as a novel, but as a historical enquiry. But he also refers throughout the text to novels and to novelists. What Modiano suggests, it seems, is that there is not a simple division of Histoire (history) and histoire (story), that fact and fiction are not mutually exclusive, and that perhaps it is only a combination of both, of both ‘documentary’ and ‘poetic’ or ‘literary’ techniques that can lead us to some ‘truth’ about what happened during the Occupation of France in the Second World War. Again, we can draw a comparison with Hiroshima Mon Amour here.
9 Documents Newspaper advert Birth register School register Registration of JewsPolice registerLetters to and from campsDeportation list to AuschwitzIn his attempts to track Dora Bruder and in the numerous documentary traces of her that he discovers, Modiano lays bare, in a highlighted and deeply personalized way, the horrendously careful and efficient bureaucratic path the teenager got caught up in as soon as she stepped outside the socially approved grid: even as a Jew, she had a good chance of remaining safe within the walls of the convent school to which her parents had sent her; in running away, however, she enters a kind of hell, where the times and circumstances converge to transform the simple reality of youthful rebellion into mechanical destruction of her life. Her age and her Jewishness both play against her, but so, ironically, does her Frenchness, because it is the French bureaucratic system that interns Dora at Les Tourelles, then at Drancy, before sending her off to Auschwitz.These documents, then, become witnesses – like Modiano’s narrator himself – of what happened, material traces of the past that become invested for us with emotional intensity as we are made to see, through the stark bureaucratic facts, the reality of lived experience that lies behind them. Here for example is the actual advert that appeared in the French newspaper that Modiano read. (It was rediscovered by a critic who suspected that Modiano might have been bluffing, that Dora didn’t really exist) The documents then reconstitute the past realities that have otherwise been forgotten. We as readers read the documents in a way never originally intended – the letters pleading for the return of relatives interned in the camps, were evidently ignored by their original addressees, but have survived to bear witness to what happened.
10 Fictional “sources” Victor Hugo, Les Misérables Patrick Modiano, Voyage de nocesFilm: Premier RendezvousFredo Lampe, Am Rande der NichtFelix Hartlaub, ‘Notes et impressions’Roger Gilbert-LecomteMaurice SachsJean Genet, Miracle de la RoseYet, throughout the work, Modiano also mentions literature – novels and novelists.What happens in Modiano’s searches, whether for details of Dora Bruder or of his own story, often lead him to dead ends, this does not stop him. When this happens his mind diverges, often tangentially, leading him to other writers, other victims, such as the German writers Friedo Lampe and Felix Hartlaub (pp ), who also suffered during the war, or Roger Gilbert-Lecomte (p. 98), a heroin-addict poet who died of tetanus. The discussion of the various writers and their works produced during the Occupation provides us with more evidence – but a different kind of evidence. I shall return to this and to their significance I talk about ‘making connections’ at the end of the lecture.These divergences into fiction, then, suggest that literature can provide us with another form of truth about the past that can be placed side by side with the limitations of historical documentation and investigation. Modiano uses a passage of Victor Hugo’s famous novel ‘Les Miserables’, set in Paris during the 1848 Revolution, as an illustration of this. Modiano’s narrator tells us that he has been rereading volumes of Les Mis while writing DB. He describes an escape of two characters also being tracked down by the police, Cosette and Jean Valjean. They follow real Parisian streets and then suddenly, when they seem about to be captured by the policeman, they escape into a part of Paris that didn’t really exist, that had been invented for the purpose by Victor Hugo. And by coincidence when they are hiding behind a wall, before they escape into fictional Paris, they are at the same address as Dora’s convent school. (read quotation) This example functions as a kind of metaphor for what Modiano’s narrative can achieve. By filling in the gaps fictionally, by inventing and suggesting what happened to Dora in the periods not covered by official documents, Modiano suggests that you can still reach the truth, you can still end up, at the end of the journey and in a tangential, incomplete and roundabout way, as Hugo’s characters did, at the ‘real’ convent school.
11 Fact and FictionAnd here is what disturbs me: at the end of their flight across a district whose topography and street-names have been invented by Victor Hugo, Cosette and Jean Valjean just manage to escape a police patrol by slipping behind a wall. […] This garden where the pair hide is that of a convent, which Victor Hugosituates precisely at no. 62 Rue de Petit-Picpus, the same address as that of the Convent of the Holy Heart of Mary where Dora was a boarder. (46-7;51-2)
12 Memory and Oblivion Memory and Forgetting Collaboration and Guilt Dora Bruder recognizes and illustrates the inherently flawed nature of historical synthesis, and thus acknowledges the limits of history as a way of writing the past. This does not imply forgetting Dora Bruder (or Roger Gilbert-Lecomte, or Albert Modiano): it means, rather, assuming responsibility, after the event, for what happened to them. Like Duras/Resnais, some ‘forgetting’ is always necessary in order to move forward. But remembering, and particularly remembering what happened to the Jews during the Occupation, is extremely important in Modiano’s work. This is because since WWII, France had suffered from a kind of collective ‘amnesia’, accepting all too readily the Gaullist myth that everybody had resisted, that what happened to the Jews was down to Nazi policy not to the direct and indirect intervention of thousands of French men and women. Modiano’s text makes us see the inadequacy of this ‘amnesia’, of casting traces of Jewish victims like Dora into ‘oblivion’ as a response to the legacy of the Occupation. The same impulsion is behind Chirac's 1996 official presidential acknowledgement of France's shame at the Vélodrome d'hiver memorial, and the French bishops' confession, in 1997, at Drancy, of the inadequacy of wartime Catholic responses to the deportation of Jews. It means that the society which, after so much difficulty in swallowing its pride, finally brought itself to judge a Touvier and Maurice Papon, must realize that what has been on trial for crimes against humanity is an integral part of the nation's history, and not something that can be set aside as a parenthesis or footnote or as the responsibility of an anomalous minority.
13 Traces and Places Ghosts on Parisian streets Changes between past and present“Zone militaire. Défense de filmer et de photographier”The other ‘archive’ that has traces of the past is Paris itself, its topography. As he walks up and down the streets of Paris, he makes us listen to the voices of those who have been there, makes us see the ghosts of its past inhabitants. And he condemns attempts to mask the truths of the past, to cover up the traces of the sometimes shameful history of the Occupation. So when he sees that some parts of Paris are no longer recognised, when the forces of change have obliterated traces of the past, this is a useful way of getting across to his readers the dangers of a refusal to remember and face up to the crimes of the past. This is why Modiano’s narrator mentions the sign saying ‘Military Zone. Filming or Photography prohibited’, where the camps were that Jews living in Paris were sent to. It becomes a symbol of the refusal to look back into the past and to accept responsibility for what happened, to hide the facts of the Occupation in obscurity in order to avoid having to confront the guilt of some of the culprits, still in all probability living in Paris today.
14 Making connections… Structure of Dora Bruder ‘Coincidences’ Identification of Modiano/narrator with Dora’s storyModiano’s running away/arrestPosition of readerStructure. The advert trying to trace Dora is in a newspaper column called ‘Between yesterday and today’ D’hier a aujourd’hui. This chance title sums up Modiano’s technique in Dora Bruder, in which past and present are deliberately confused. The text is not in chronological order, we’re given bits of information, certain documents, at different points in the text. And the text is also traversed by his own personal memories, of his father, of his childhood. For Modiano, ‘yesterday and today’ are not neatly separated. He keeps stressing in the text the connections between the early 1940s, the early 1960s and the late 1990s when he is writing the text:“D'hier à aujourd'hui. Avec le recul des années, les perspectives se brouillent pour moi, les hivers se mêlent l'un à l'autre. Celui de 1965 et celui de 1942." (p.8/p.10) This is because the past is always there in the present – that we can’t escape the legacy of the past because it helps to make us who we are.At the end of the narrative, in the last few sentences, the time of grammatical past (September 19, 1942, the day after the deportation of Dora Bruder and her father, Ernest Bruder, from Drancy to Auschwitz) makes a leap right into the present to come to a standstill there. On this September 19 the Germans imposed a curfew – "La ville était déserte, comme pour marquer l'absence de Dora." (p.149/p.144) Depuis,the text goes on, le Paris où j'ai tenté de retrouver sa trace est demeuré aussi désert et silencieux que ce jour-là. Je marche à travers les rues vides. Pour moi elles le restent, même le soir, à l'heure des embouteillages, quand les gens se pressent vers les bouches de métro. Je ne peux pas m'empêcher de penser à elle et de sentir un écho de sa présence dans certains quartiers." (p.149/p.144) The "between yesterday and today"/"d'hier à aujourd'hui" that marks the disruption of the chronological course of time which is developed in great detail in the narrative, intensifies here around a key date, which seems to make time stand still. However, this date does not indicate the event itself (the deportation and the persecution preceding it), but rather what the event leaves as a sign, the 'absence‘, the ‘trace’ a date left behind. So whereas some events leave material traces behind, Modiano also attempts us to see ‘absences’, somewhat paradoxically.So there is a movement set up in the text forwards and backwards, between past and present, but equally between movement and standstill. When he produces a document, another piece in the jigsaw puzzle, we can move forward, we can begin to tell a story. But then we come up against a hole, a void, an absence which cannot be narrated, which remains unnarratable. And we have to a stand still. This ‘unnarratability’ – the two days for example, between Dora’s arrest and her internment, is contextually important – for the data and documents that surround Dora are what betrayed her, what allowed her to be captured. Escaping the net of Nazi and Vichy administration could have been a means to survive. But it’s also important in terms of what Modiano is trying to suggest about writing about these traumatic events of the past. That there need to be breaks, holes, loose ends in a narrative about the holocaust, that unsettle us, make us stop and think, bear witness to the incompleteness and inadequacy of any representation of this kind of historical event.Another key element of Modiano’s technique is his insistence on coincidences, on unlikely connections. The title of his book ‘La place de l’etoile’, which had been previously used by someone who died during the Occuaption, for example. The discovery by chance of last letter written by Robert Tartakovsky, who was deported with Dora Bruder. The fact that his flat was lived in by another Jewish writer who was killed in the war, Maurice Sachs. These connections are important. They prevent us from dis-associating ourselves – particularly his French readers – from what happened. They make us realise it wasn’t very long ago, that these people, these names mentioned in impersonal documents are people who we could have known, might have become friends with. That’s why he mentions all the writers – people he would have had things in common with – who were deported. These are people like him – not different from him.In fact, Modiano continually makes connections between his own life and that of Dora Bruder. Like Dora, he ran away, he was arrested, he had difficulties getting on with his family as an adolescent. His father only just escaped internment and probably deportation. In fact, had he been born 20 years younger, he suggests, that as the son of a Jewish Parisian he could have been Dora. He could have been like her, reduced to no more than a few lines in an old newspaper.So Modiano shows us the intimate connections between him and the Jewish girl he writes about. And the reader, too, is not allowed to distance him/herself from what we’re reading. We’re encouraged to make connections, to consider the links between past and present. Like the Paris metro map that Modiano’s narrator refers to, it doesn’t take us many changes to get onto the same line as the characters are travelling along…
15 D’hier à aujourd’huiD'hier à aujourd'hui. Avec le recul des années, les perspectives se brouillent pour moi, les hivers se mêlent l'un à l'autre. Celui de 1965 et celui de (8; 10)La ville était déserte [le 19 septembre], comme pour marquer l’absence de Dora. Depuis, le Paris où j’ai tenté de retrouver sa trace est demeuré aussi désert et silencieux que ce jour-là. (137;144)