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Reinventing French Aid
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Book description

Laure Humbert explores how humanitarian aid in occupied Germany was influenced by French politics of national recovery and Cold War rivalries. She examines the everyday encounters between French officials, members of new international organizations, relief workers, defeated Germans and Displaced Persons, who remained in the territory of the French zone prior to their repatriation or emigration. By rendering relief workers and Displaced Persons visible, she sheds lights on their role in shaping relief practices and addresses the neglected issue of the gendering of rehabilitation. In doing so, Humbert highlights different cultures of rehabilitation, in part rooted in pre-war ideas about 'overcoming' poverty and war-induced injuries and, crucially, she unearths the active and bottom-up nature of the restoration of France's prestige. Not only were relief workers concerned about the image of France circulating in DP camps, but they also drew DP artists into the orbit of French cultural diplomacy in Germany.


‘Reinventing French Aid is an ambitious, multi-layered and multi-scale history that is international and transnational, but also distinctly French. It offers important new insights into politics and policy in the French occupation zone while telling a rich story about the experiences and interactions between displace persons and relief workers. Humbert brings the many threads of this complex yet compelling history together with great skill to create a clear narrative that contributes in significant ways to an impressive number of fields and debates.'

Claire Eldridge - University of Leeds

‘Filling a gap in our understanding of the displaced persons' experience, Humbert's book convincingly explores how policy in the French occupation zone was shaped by postwar French domestic politics, French global ambitions, as well as the experiences of the interwar and Vichy periods, and how it impacted the displaced.

Lynne Taylor - University of Waterloo

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