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Chapter Twelve

from And the Shark, He Has Teeth

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2018

Benjamin Bloch
Affiliation:
Oberlin College
Marc Silberman
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin
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Summary

There was a blackout through Paris in anticipation of air raids. Lanterns burned with dark purple bulbs—“les violets,” Colette called them—to help people find their way, and many walked around with gasmasks hanging from their shoulders. Motortraffi c, decreased day by day due to fuel rationing, had been replaced by a flod of pedestrians. Life became frenzied under the pall of the blackout. The desire for food and amusement had never been so strong, and the usually thrift y French now filled the theaters, cinemas, and restaurants to overflowing. At the same time, a mental paralysis spread over the country. The two armies lay entrenched, facing each other. In this “Drôle de guerre,” the phony war, as people called it, there was no fighting. Everyone wanted to believe it could stay this way, and knew that it couldn't.

We who had been released were mistrustful. We felt sure we would be re-imprisoned immediately if the war took a sudden nasty turn. As long as I was outside of the camp, I had to find a way to protect myself from a second internment. Was there some way to install myself somewhere in a civil occupation? I had the idea of making myself useful at the Ministry of Propaganda. According to what I could find out, there were plans to produce French propaganda for the Latin American republics.

I contacted the screenplay writer Hans Jacoby and asked him if he had any material that could be reworked into a Spanish language propaganda fi lm. Jacoby had immigrated to Spain in 1933, and had then been forced to move to France as a result of the civil war. He understood immediately why I had turned to him. Of course he had a Spanish-French love story. Fitted with a heroic background, it would be ideal for export to South America.

The Ministry of Propaganda had established its base in the Hotel Continental, Rue de Rivoli. Madame Ninon Tallon, who was connected to all government offices through her uncle Edouard Herriot, long-time president of the Chamber of Deputies, came with me.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2018

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