February 6th, 2009 Headsman
On this date in 1945, and notwithstanding a partial outcry in French literary circles, fascist intellectual and Vichy collaborator Robert Brasillach was shot for treason in Montrouge.
Novelist, journalist and llitterateur Robert Brasillach (English Wikipedia entry | French) was the “James Dean of French fascism,” fashionable apostle of the interwar far-right movement Action Française.
A proper James Dean dies young, which fate was supplied courtesy of Brasillach’s editorship of the anti-semitic rag Je Suis Partout (“I Am Everywhere”) and enthusiastic support of the Vichy government.
Inasmuch as his collaboration had been in the form of ideas propagated, Brasillach’s case engaged the French polity in the challenging question of whether “intellectual crime” — and even “intellectual treason” — could exist categorically.
But then, ideas are sometimes life and death matters themselves, and nowhere is that more true than in France.
Many anti-fascist intellectuals appealed to de Gaulle for Brasillach’s life — many, but not all. Death penalty opponent Albert Camus signed the petition for clemency; Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir refused.
Between fellow-feeling among the literary set, ideological enmity, and the searing experience of the occupation only just lifted lay a test for the conscience of many a French thinker — aphorized by the very words de Gaulle would use in turning aside the appeal.
“Talent is a responsibility.”
On this day..
- 1967: Sunny Ang, a murderer without a body - 2017
- 1557: Martin Bucer and Paulus Phagius, already in their coffins - 2016
- 1528: Ambrosius Spittelmayr - 2015
- Themed Set: Anabaptists - 2015
- 1481: Diego Suson, by his daughter's hand - 2014
- 1997: Michael Carl George - 2013
- 1839: Amos Perley and Joshua Doane, for the Upper Canada Rebellion - 2012
- 1821: Owen Coffin, main course - 2011
- 1885: George Gibson and Wayne Powers - 2010
- 1615: Patrick Stewart, 2nd Earl of Orkney - 2008
Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Artists,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous,France,History,Infamous,Intellectuals,Notable Jurisprudence,Occupation and Colonialism,Shot,Treason,Wartime Executions