We recently wrote a blog post about a recently catalogued collection of Nazi propaganda. Among these items were some specifically anti-British and anti-American publications which are well worth examining. For instance, the humorous graphic concertina leaflet (leporello) L’Olympiade 1941 (CCC.26:4.620) by Apis (pseudonym for Jean Chaperon, 1887-1969) makes fun of the Allied defeat in Greece, presented in the guise of a failed competition of the British team at the aptly named ‘Olympic games’, under the gaze of Jupiter. In the first two vignettes, a group of Tommies landing in Greece are welcomed with enthusiasm by a young man in traditional Greek costume. But very quickly, the challenge turns sour: the British run away from the German enemy and their best performances consist in their speed at taking flight (running, marathon, jumping, rowing and swimming). The grim outcome is death: “Morts à l’arrivée”.
I recently catalogued two dozen of Nazi booklets and pamphlets circulating in France in the 1940s. They are an addition to existing special collections of National Socialist literature at Cambridge University Library; and a good complement and forerunner to the more recently donated Chadwyck-Healey Liberation collection (which focuses on French language works mainly published between 1944 and 1946). A first Nazi literature collection in the University Library (CCA-CCC.25) contains a selection of books representing National Socialist Germany and is based on a collection of 750 items, including school textbooks and songbooks, which were acquired in August 1947 through His Majesty’s Stationary Office.
Political songs play an important part in popular culture and are powerful means of fostering and transmitting a sense of community and identity. Songs cross cultures and languages, as we discussed in an earlier blogpost on the French and American songs sung at the Liberation. On 14 July, Bastille Day, we want to shed light on another item from the Chadwyck-Healey Liberation collection: the Chants de la liberté (Liberation.b.130), a wonderfully illustrated collection of songs, accompanied by musical notation, which puts into perspective French political and historical struggles. Each song is accompanied by a didactic note, which provides some historical context.
The title of the collection, which echoes the name of the publisher (the socialist Éditions de la liberté, well represented in the Liberation collection), places the Liberation of Paris at the end of August 1944 as the last of a series of revolutions in the history of France (brushing over the fact that the uprising led by the military resistant group FFI, French Forces of the Interior, could only be successful thanks to the arrival of the Allied forces). The editor and harmoniser, Vincent Gambau, specialised in popular, traditional and regional songs. The illustrator, Robert Fuzier, a member of the SFIO (Section française de l’Internationale ouvrière), participated in the Front populaire government in 1936. Engaged in the Résistance and in clandestine publishing, he was arrested in August 1943.
Last year Cambridge University Special Collections acquired, with the help of the Friends of the Library, a notebook of 47 drawings, probably produced by an unidentified soldier towards the end of the 19th century (MS Add. 10300). This acquisition adds to the library’s holdings of primary material relating to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, which ranges from bound volumes of contemporary caricatures (KF.3.9-14, see the earlier blogpost) to directories of caricaturists and their work (such as Berleux’s La caricature politique en France pendant la guerre, le siège de Paris et la Commune, 1870-1871, Lib.5.89.27 and Gallica) and facsimiles of posters produced during the Paris Commune (See Les murailles politiques francaises and Les affiches de la Commune). The interest of the notebook does not lie in the artistic talent of its creator, but rather in the examination of his visual culture, through the identification of the illustrations from contemporary books and prints which inspired his own drawings. The investigation of the sources he used reveals the kind of illustrated material he had access to, which is also key for the dating of the manuscript.
One of the last books acquired through the Liberation collection is Amy Bakaloff’s Sombre est noir (Liberation.b.356), a collection of French poetry written during the Second World War and dedicated to Paul Éluard and Georges Hugnet, a writer and publisher engaged in the Résistance. It includes an engraving signed by Óscar Domínguez and two drawings. It is a rare work, one of 232 copies, some numbered on Annam paper, some on blue vellum, and some on vélin des Marais. Continue reading