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Resistance or Collaboration?

‘Analyse the extent of ‘intellectual resistance’ to and ‘intellectual collaboration’ with the Nazi regime during the Second World War, using precise examples and with references to at least two nations involved in the conflict (one of which must be France).

  • Assessment: Essay
  • Mark: B
  • Year: 2006
  • Wordcount: 3296

The economic and political instability as well as the rise of radical ideologies in contrast to the destruction of the democracy had a lasting effect on the intellectuals and artists of Europe. After Hitler came to power, many intellectuals attempted to “sort out what it meant to be an artist” and a European in a decadent world. In this sense numerous intellectuals experienced disillusion, alienation and despair but some did also feel a sense of hope, saw increased opportunities and looked forward to a political security within this National Socialistic renewal. As a result some intellectuals decided to compromise and adjust to the dictated framework, whereas others resisted or emigrated.

Nevertheless, according to Burrin, resistance and collaboration of intellectuals and artists “took many forms and went to varying length”. These different degrees of commitment were reflected in the actions and works of European intellectuals. As a consequence within literature, theatre, film and press but also music and art the various states of mind, either resisting or complying, could be found. This paper attempts to demonstrate the differing degrees of individual resistance or collaboration respectively, of specific French, German and Austrian authors. In analysing their literary works and behaviour during the war, this essay will provide evidence that the line between collaboration and resistance cannot be simply drawn but depends highly on its cultural context.

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