For some colleagues, the summer overlaps with research leave, as is the case for Dr Kay Chadwick, Reader in French Historical Studies. For this period, her focus is on work for a critical edition of Second-World-War radio broadcasts delivered in 1942 and 1943 by two key Vichy propagandists, Paul Creyssel, the regime’s accredited voice, and Philippe Henriot, then without official portfolio. Although Creyssel and Henriot both worked for Vichy, the two were rivals rather than colleagues. By examining them side by side, Dr Chadwick hopes to enhance understanding of the competing power bases at Vichy and of the different degrees of collaboration within the regime.
This new edition will complement the edition Dr Chadwick published in 2011 of Henriot’s broadcasts in 1944, by which time he had replaced Creyssel in the top propaganda job at Vichy. Henriot was assassinated by the Resistance in late June 1944, whereas Creyssel survived the war, to face trial for his wartime activities in June 1948. Found guilty of what was termed ‘national indignity’, Creyssel was condemned to four years in prison and ten years of ‘national degradation’ (which meant the loss of his political, civil and professional rights). Dr Chadwick began her research leave studying the extensive papers from Creyssel’s trial, which are held at the Archives nationales at Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, north of Paris. These provide a fascinating insight into the workings of the French judicial system. Fans of Engrenages (Spiral) and Disparue (The Disappearance) will know that those alleged to have committed major crimes in France, as well as witnesses, are generally interviewed by a juge d’instruction (investigating magistrate), who transfers the case to a trial court if they are satisfied that there is substance to the allegations. The archives show that Creyssel was questioned by a juge d’instruction on no fewer than ten occasions prior to his committal to trial at France’s Haute Cour de Justice, which focused on the cases of former Vichy officials. Dr Chadwick expects that the transcripts of these meetings with the juge d’instruction will reveal much about Creyssel’s efforts to play down and justify his wartime actions during the post-war period known as the épuration légale (legal purge). Spin, after all, was his speciality.