The fearless, peerless French lawyer who chronicled the Nazi Occupation


Maurice Garçon was a celebrated lawyer, essayist, novelist, gifted amateur artist and historian who was ultimately elected to the illustrious Académie Française. But Garçon also kept a diary during World War II, including France's Occupation by the Nazis. This recently-published journal reveals an apolitical, solitary, contradictory man who loathed Hitler and the collaborationist Vichy regime in France, but who also disdained Charles de Gaulle and who remained fiercely independent in his views throughout the duration of the conflict. Here Mediapart's Antoine Perraud examines the revealing insights of this eccentric but perceptive character into how French society coped with one of the bleakest episodes in the country's history.

Reading articles is for subscribers only. Subscribe now.

Throughout the long years of World War II, his private diaries show that the celebrated French barrister Maurice Garçon was able to maintain a remarkably clear-sighted - and inflexible – view of the world despite the Nazi Occupation and the collective spinelessness that it induced. How did this well-known lawyer manage to achieve this? Those same diaries suggest it was not for the best of reasons: for Garçon suffered from a form of disillusioned individualism.