History: Letters of Denunciation during Occupied France

“During the Vichy era, French residents sent between three and five million denunciation letters.[3] Civilians sent denunciations to everyone from local officials and law enforcement bureaus to national agencies and individuals such as the General Commissariat for Jewish Questions or even Marshal Pétain himself. Natives of the Limousin denounced newly arrived refugees, while some refugees denounced Limousins or other refugees; long-time neighbors denounced each other; and non-Jewish French men and women denounced “undesirable” Jews. Motivated by material gain, ideological commitment, self-preservation, or petty differences, residents of the region picked up their pens and regularly informed the government of their neighbors’ and acquaintances’ immorality and misdeeds. Individual willingness to resort to denunciations created an atmosphere in which officials noted that “Few people dare to talk. One has a tendency to see in his neighbor a possible denouncer.”[4] While denunciations could provide information on food or “racial” infractions that were admittedly difficult to police, they also created an atmosphere of fear and suspicion that opposed the ideals of the National Revolution. Rather than building a stronger community through the purge of harmful elements such as black marketeers, hoarders, and cultural outsiders, denunciations encouraged lying, dissimulation, and self-interested actions.”

–excerpted from Denunciations, Community Outsiders, and Material Shortages in Vichy France by Shannon L. Fogg

More at: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/w/wsfh/0642292.0031.017/–denunciations-community-outsiders-and-material-shortages?rgn=main;view=fulltext#:~:text=During%20the%20Vichy%20era%2C%20French,or%20even%20Marshal%20P%C3%A9tain%20himself.

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