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In 1942, the Vichy Government of occupied France held a show trial that failed. This talk will examine the reasons for this failure by investigating the ideological origins of the trial in the interwar period. We find that those most responsible for Vichy’s trials had been heavily motivated by the desire for a more technocratic France, and that the failed Cour Suprême at Riom was heavily influenced by the example of the supposedly apolitical US Supreme Court. The circumstances of 1940, however, altered what had originally been an attempt to defend and deepen French democracy by establishing an apolitical body devoted to the defense of fundamental rights into – paradoxically - a partisan attack on partisanship. The individuals who inspired the Riom Trial had wanted to break from what they saw as the Third Republic’s intrusion of politics into the apolitical spheres of justice and administration. Yet the fact that the burning question of 1940 was the military defeat meant that the new court would devote itself not to the defense of uncontested individual rights – or even the rather more contested category of property rights – but to the establishment of a new category of wrongs: “Treason by negligence.” In practice, this category meant trying the leaders of the late Republic for having adopted incorrect (“negligent”) policies. Thus the French interwar pursuit of apoliticism resulted in the most political trial in the nation’s history.
October 2, José Alvarez, Associate Professor of History, UHD
“At 1700 Hours on the 17th: the Spanish-Moroccan Origins of
the Spanish Civil War” 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. in main building, room N-1099.
This paper examines the pivotal role of Spain’s “Army of Africa” in a pronuciamiento that sparked the Spanish Civil War. While the bulk of the planning for the coup was conducted by General Emilio Mola in Pamplona, he agreed that it would not succeed without the cooperation of the best trained and equipped military troops in the Spanish Army at that time: the battle-tested “Army of Africa.” This paper details the major players in the conspiracy, how the conspirators organized and plotted in the major towns of the Moroccan Protectorate, and how they were able to overcome minimal opposition. With the rebels in control of the Protectorate, the invasion of the Peninsula by these elite forces, by air and sea, could proceed in conjunction with successful military uprisings in some of the major cities and regions of Spain.
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Last updated or reviewed on 10/15/14