On December 19, 1964, Jean Moulin’s ashes were deposited in the Panthéon, where André Malraux (then Ministre des Affaires Culturelles) gave his eulogy. Watch the eulogy and read the text. Both Malraux and Moulin are now in the Panthéon, a testament to the important place that each holds in the cultural history of 20th century France. Given the immense influence that both had, it is not surprising that each is well represented in the University Library, and throughout Cambridge libraries. The purpose of this blog is to highlight areas of strength among libraries in Cambridge, so this post will talk about how the Liberation Collection has expanded the UL’s collections relating to Malraux and Moulin, and more broadly the Resistance. This collection is constantly growing, and when we first wrote about it, as the UL’s exhibition was opening, 320 books had been received by the Library and entered onto the catalogue. That number now stands at 450.
The collection is being donated to the Library on an ongoing basis by Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey, who is actively collecting books that meet the criteria of the collection: that they be published in 1944, 1945 or 1946, primarily in France, and that they describe the war, the German occupation and the subsequent liberation. Malraux and Moulin are key figures in this period, and in the historical narrative that began to take shape immediately after the events.
As this collection shows, the French began to form a national understanding of this difficult historical period almost immediately. Some of the books included in the Liberation Collection’s exhibition were published within days of the Liberation itself – we have previously mentioned a biography of Charles de Gaulle that claims to have been printed on the very day of the surrender of the German garrison in Paris. The eulogy makes reference to the legend that grew around Moulin both during and after the war: Ce n’est pas lui qui a fait les régiments, mais c’est lui qui a fait l’armée. However, Malraux started his speech with a demonstration of his hope that Moulin would be remembered, demonstrating a worry that important aspects of this period might be forgotten:
Voici donc plus de vingt ans que Jean Moulin partit, par un temps de décembre sans doute semblable à celui-ci, pour être parachuté sur la terre de Provence, et devenir le chef d’un peuple de la nuit. Sans cette cérémonie, combien d’enfants de France sauraient son nom? Il ne le retrouva lui-même que pour être tué; et depuis, sont nés seize millions d’enfants…
These two men, Malraux and Moulin, had an huge influence on post-war France’s culture and views of the war – Malraux, as an influential minister of culture in the 1950s and 1960s, and Moulin as an emblem of the resistance. The earliest book in the UL about Moulin is from 1980 (539:1.c.815.533), and is also the earliest biography in the Bibliothèque nationale de France catalogue. A 1983 biography by Moulin’s sister (539:1.c.725.73) includes Malraux’s speech as a preface.
It is instructive to compare holdings across Cambridge of material about Jean Moulin (33 items) and Pierre Brossolette (5 items, all in the UL), another hero of the Résistance, often compared to Moulin. The UL started collecting books relating to Moulin in the 1980s, when biographies of him began to appear. However, the earliest works in the Library about Brossolette date from the late 1990s and entered the Library in the 2000s, with one later acquisition that dates from 1946 and forms part of the Liberation collection (In process.107), and others purchased as a result of investigating gaps in our holdings made evident while cataloguing the Ozouf volume. Our collection is in a continuous process of development.
Books by and about André Malraux are widely held throughout Cambridge libraries. However, thus far we’ve only added one book as part of the Liberation Collection that contains a work by Malraux: Palmes : hommage à la Résistance P.T.T. (In process.252), which includes the text Les otages by André Malraux (an extract from his work Les conquérants). However, there will be more as the collection grows!
On Wednesday this week (27 May), four further resistance figures were interred in the Panthéon: Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Germaine Tillion, Pierre Brossolette and Jean Zay.The ceremony may be watched on the Panthéon’s website, and the exhibition website contains a great deal of further information about the four (including a bibliography that we are perusing to ensure that our collections are complete).
This is an indication of how important the resistance still is, or is seen to be, in contemporary French culture. Among the people who this week were interred in the Pantheon, the UL holds few books either about or by them (1 book by, 1 about Germaine Tillion; 1 about and 3 by Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, and 5 about and 3 by Jean Zay. We’ve got 5 in total about Pierre Brossolette). However, as awareness of their place in history increases, so too does the importance of the Liberation collection and the need to more energetically collect material for our general collections which relates to but does not fall specifically within the remit of the Liberation Collection.