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June 16: Marc Bloch and the French Resistance

Lawrence Bush
June 16, 2010

Marc_Bloch_d_cor__CGFrench historian Marc Bloch was captured, tortured and murdered by the Gestapo on this date in 1944 for his participation in the Resistance. When the Nazis invaded France, Bloch left his professorship at the Sorbonne to become a captain in the French Army at age 52 (he had already been awarded the Legion d’honneur for his service in World War I). He wrote a memoir of those early days of the war, Strange Defeat, published posthumously in 1946. Bloch was an influential professor of economic and cultural history who co-founded (with Lucien Febvre) an intellectual tendency called the Annales School of history, which emphasized geography, culture, and sociology rather than politics, diplomacy and warfare. In 1942, Bloch helped to form a group of anti-Nazi fighters, mostly communists, called the Francs-Tireurs (Free Shooters, i.e., irregulars), in southern France. The University of Social Sciences in Strasbourg was renamed Marc Bloch University on January 1, 2009.
“I was born in France, I have drunk the waters of her culture. I have made her past my own. I breathe freely only in her climate, and I have done my best, with others, to defend her interests.” —Marc Bloch

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.