April - June 2017.
Eyes Across the Rhine: the Ligue des droits de l’homme and the German Problem, 1914 – 1945
Biography and Publications
My entire career has been spent dealing with aspects of pacifism and human rights in French history. My book, The Politics of Dissent: Pacifism in France, 1919-1939 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991; re-published 2011), was the first book-length treatment in either French or English of interwar French pacifism and is the standard reference work on the subject. For the past twelve years, my work has largely focused on the Ligue des droits de l’homme (LDH), the quintessentially cross-party French Republican organisation founded during the Dreyfus Affair in 1898, which is central to any understanding of French politics in the era of the two world wars.
My goals during the Visiting Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities are twofold. First and foremost, I plan to finish my book manuscript, ‘Eyes Across the Rhine: the Ligue des droits de l’homme and the War Guilt Question, 1914-1945’. The Ligue’s archives were seized by the Gestapo in June 1940 shortly after the Germans’ arrival in Paris following the fall of France and were subsequently captured by the Red Army at the end of the Second World War; they resurfaced only in late 2001 after being repatriated to France from Moscow. Alone amongst historians of the Ligue I have followed the archival trail to Berlin in order to find out what the Germans did with these papers. While at the IASH, I hope to complete this book, which argues that the LDH was obliterated neither by the experience of the Second World War nor by the Nazi invasion of France in May 1940, but rather by the legacy of the last war: the Great War. It was the debate over the origins of the Great War and German war guilt that ultimately came close to destroying the Ligue des droits de l’homme by the end of the 1930s.
Secondly, I am beginning work on a new book project that examines the ways in which the foreign offices of France and Germany imagined, reacted to, and attempted to manipulate the peace movement and pacifism from the end of the Great War to the outbreak of the Second World War. The French and the Germans envisaged the “peace question” very differently: for the French, the peace movement was above all a domestic “problem” to be dealt with inside France, whereas for the Germans it was seen as a foreign policy opportunity to be manipulated to German ends.
Relevant publications since 2010:
The Politics of Dissent: Pacifism in France, 1919-1939. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991; re-published in 2011), 366 pp.
‘The Crucible of War: The Ligue des droits de l’homme and the Debate on the ‘Conditions for a Lasting Peace’ in 1916’ in French Historical Studies April 2016, pp. 347-371.
‘The Enduring Legacy of 1914: Historical Dissent, the Ligue des droits de l’homme, and the Origins of Pacifisme nouveau style’, in Synergies: Royaume Uni/Irlande no. 4 (2011), pp. 85-94.
‘La Ligue des droits de l’homme et le problème allemand’, Revue d’histoire diplomatique 124, 2 (June 2010), pp. 119-131.
‘A la Recherche d’une guerre gagnée: the Ligue des droits de l’homme and the War Guilt Question (1918-1922)’, French History 24, 2 (June 2010), pp. 218-235.
‘Pacifism, the Fascist Temptation, and the Ligue des droits de l’homme’, in Samuel Kalman and Sean Kennedy, eds., The French Right between the Wars: Political and Intellectual Movements from Conservatism to Fascism (Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books, 2014), pp. 81-94.