This article uses the writings of the famous resister-turned-historian Daniel Cordier as a prism through which to examine how witnesses and historians have approached the history of the French Resistance since 1945. Cordier, having served as Jean Moulin's secretary in the war, later became his biographer. His neopositivist approach prioritized the use of written archives over memories. Since Cordier himself later wrote his own memoirs, the article examines the problems with this autobiographical text. Examining Cordier's reticence about discussing his own homosexuality, it suggests that between the lines of his memoir one can envisage the possibility one day of writing an emotional history of the Resistance.
Cet article prend les écrits du célèbre résistant-historien Daniel Cordier comme un prisme pour analyser comment témoins et historiens ont abordé l'histoire de la Résistance depuis 1945. Ayant servi comme secrétaire à Jean Moulin pendant la guerre, Cordier devient trente ans après son biographe, prônant une démarche résolument néo-positiviste qui privilégie les archives écrites sur les témoignages. Ensuite Cordier lui-même livre son propre témoignage dans son livre Alias Caracalla. Examinant quelques problèmes soulevés par ce texte autobiographique, dont la réticence de Cordier à aborder le sujet de sa propre homosexualité, on perçoit entre les lignes de ses mémoires des pistes pour une future histoire émotionnelle (et sexuelle) de la Résistance.
In November 1940 General de Gaulle, assuming the regalian powers of a head of state, created the Order of the Liberation to reward those fighting at his side.1 This coveted award was given to only 1,038 individuals, who became known as Companions of the Liberation. In November 2020 Daniel Cordier, one of the last two surviving Companions, died at the age of one hundred. Cordier's death made the headlines of every French newspaper, and he was given a state funeral at the Hôtel des Invalides. COVID restrictions meant that only a handful of dignitaries could attend. Among them, in a wheelchair, was the last surviving Companion, Hubert Germain. Despite the restricted numbers, the event, broadcast live on national television, was led in person by the president of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron. In his eulogy Macron described Cordier as “the eternal hero of that great story of self-discovery that was the guiding light of his existence.”2
During the war Cordier had been the secretary to Jean Moulin, de Gaulle's delegate to the Resistance. Moulin, whose remains were transferred to the Pantheon in December 1964 in a grandiose ceremony presided over by the president of France, General de Gaulle, has assumed a legendary status in the national memory as the most famous hero of the Resistance.3 Cordier, despite his role at Moulin's side, remained for many years a figure unknown to the general public, much less famous than many other former resisters. Cordier achieved fame very late in his life. This was a question not only of longevity—the fact that he was one of the last survivors of the Resistance generation—but of his decision in the 1980s to tell Moulin's story in biographical form. As he did this, Cordier himself gradually stepped out of the shadow of the man he had served with such devotion during and after his life. And he leaped to genuine celebrity in 2009 when he published Alias Caracalla, a memoir of his period at Moulin's side.
In 2013 Alias Caracalla became a film and was screened at Paris's Lycée Buffon on May 27 in the presence of Cordier and the president of the Republic, François Hollande. Both place and date were symbolic. A teacher at that lycée had started one of the first Resistance newspapers, Valmy, in 1940; May 27 marked the anniversary of the founding of the Conseil National de la Résistance (CNR), Moulin's crowning achievement a month before his arrest. At the film's viewing Hollande paid warm tribute to Cordier and insisted on the continuing relevance of the Resistance: “There are moments in our history when we must unite around what is essential, on what makes us a nation, on our values.”4 Cordier was in the limelight again in 2017 when he supported Macron and was invited to his investiture as president.5 On this occasion Macron embraced Cordier as if to receive from France's most famous living resister the posthumous benediction of France's most famous dead resister. The moment symbolized France's fascination with Moulin and consecrated Cordier's role as guardian of his memory. On June 18, 2018, the anniversary of de Gaulle's first speech from London, Macron elevated Cordier to the Grand Croix de la Légion d'Honneur; an interview with Cordier on this occasion propelled him to the front page of Le monde.6
This article examines the “Cordier phenomenon.” What makes Cordier such an interesting case is that he occupied successively the roles of historical actor, historian, and witness. Having been a key actor in the Resistance, at Moulin's side, he embarked thirty years after the Liberation on a historical study of Moulin's role in the Resistance. In this massive project, which eventually ran to over four thousand pages, Cordier took up a distinctive and controversial methodological position, privileging the use of archives over witness testimonies in writing Resistance history. Then, having completed his work on Moulin, Cordier wrote his own personal testimony of his Resistance experience. This memoir deserves study as an invaluable document on the tensions existing between the metropolitan Resistance and the London-based Free French. But in the light of Cordier's own strictures against the use of testimony in the writing of Resistance history, his telling of his own story needs to be scrutinized according to the standards Cordier had himself set.
Thus Cordier's trajectory offers an illuminating point of entry into long-standing and often acrimonious debates about the uses of witness testimony in the writing of Resistance history, debates that had also exercised historians of the Great War.7 But there is a final twist in the story: when Cordier finally “came out” as a witness and dropped the mask of positivist historian, there was much that he did not reveal. In particular, he remained silent about his own homosexuality and how it bore on his own engagement in the Resistance. If, however, we read between the lines, his memoir is perhaps more revealing than he had intended and points us toward potential future fields of research into the emotional and sexual history of the Resistance.
History and Testimony: Writing Resistance History
Resisters started to write their history while making it.8 From its inception the Resistance contained an element of bluff: it needed to proclaim its existence when its capacity for action was minimal. Resisters were haunted by a sense of obligation to tell a story that might not leave archives. At the Liberation, de Gaulle's government established a committee to collect documents on the Occupation. In 1951 this became the Comité d'Histoire de la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale (CD2GM), run by Henri Michel, a former resister turned historian.9
The CD2GM established a network of local correspondents to gather testimonies while memories were fresh. The ambition was to interview everyone—“the most humble agents of Resistance, those who distributed tracts, liaison agents, radio operators, maquisards”—to provide material for exploitation by future historians. But, as Michel wrote in 1956, this was also conceived as an attempt to write Resistance history by those who had made it: “Studies must begin before the famous distance of history [recul de l'histoire] because these events were so specific that only contemporaries will be able to convey them correctly, provided they were also actors or well-placed witnesses.”10
This idea that the Resistance was too serious an affair to be left to historians was eloquently expressed in 1948 by Lucien Febvre, president of the CD2GM: “History is made with lives that are still warm.”11 In the preface to a book of Resistance writings, Febvre wrote that this collection was the necessary answer
to those who say, “It is impossible in 1953, only ten years after the events, to write a history of these burning years, 1940–1944; to undertake it is to face certain failure”; to those who say, “where are the secret documents, where are those superhuman critical minds capable of rising to levels high enough to avoid falling into the trap of partisan truths?”; to those who say, “wait forty years; then the actors of the tragedy all dead or dying, the historians will be able, once the ashes are cold, to extract without burning their hands the cooked chestnuts of the official legend.”12
The problem of the relationship between history and testimony had surfaced in 1929 when the Franco-American Jean Norton Cru published his book Témoins, analyzing three hundred books recounting experiences of the Great War. Celebrities like Henri Barbusse were excoriated for implausibilities in their descriptions of the trench experience.13 As a former combatant, Cru arrogated to himself the right to judge these works and the moral duty to transmit the “sacred deposit of truth that each of us carries within themselves.”14 If protagonists did not testify, legend would replace truth: recul might be necessary for the historian but not for the witnesses (témoins). One of his critics, the historian Jules Isaac, invoking Thucydides, contested the sharpness of this distinction between historian and witness:
In your opinion recul is fatal for the witness but necessary for the historian. . . . For my part I worry a bit about the “necessary recul” of the historians. . . . The greater the recul, the more an event is seen “from the outside.” . . . To know an event in its total reality, to grasp its real substance, one needs, as Péguy remarked, to have seen it “from the inside.” . . . I conclude that it might be better not to draw to sharp a distinction between historians and witnesses.15
These issues were replayed in France after 1945 when resisters and historians found themselves locked in a wary rivalry in their quest for authenticity—with the historian-resister Henri Michel acting as gatekeeper. The attitude of many resisters was encapsulated in Jean Cassou's 1953 book La mémoire courte, which argued that since the French people were already forgetting the Resistance, resisters like himself had a duty to testify. At the same time, Cassou argued that each resister's experience was “unique, impermeable to any other reality, incommunicable, almost a dream.”16 Similarly, the Resistance leader Henri Frenay justified his refusal to write his memoirs by insisting that the Resistance was his “secret garden”; he also demanded that others not “profane” it.17 Resisters were having it both ways—vigilant about the need to transmit a message that was incommunicable—and historians were aware of the inquisitorial gaze of the Resistance generation.18
At a conference of historians and witnesses marking the thirtieth anniversary of the Liberation in 1974, the former resister Pascal Copeau lamented that the writing of historians was too lifeless: “You must not be afraid . . . to dip your pens in blood because behind each of the acronyms that you explain with your knowledge learned from books, there are comrades who died.”19 This suspicion was not shared by all resisters. The classical historian Jean-Pierre Vernant, himself a former resister, commented at the same event:
It is not the ambition of historians to make the events of the past live again, to resuscitate them in flesh and blood so that the witnesses feel they are back in the past and once again touched and moved. That is rather the task of a work of art, a novel, a poem, a film. . . . History tries to establish the facts in an exact and precise manner and to render them intelligible in their relationship to each other.20
These questions would exercise historians of the Resistance over the next thirty years.
Enter Daniel Cordier
It was at another tense encounter between historians and resisters that Daniel Cordier presented his findings on the Resistance at the Sorbonne in May 1983.21 Many times later Cordier recounted the journey that took him to this moment.
Having served during the war as an agent of the Bureau Central de Renseignements et d'Action (BCRA), the Gaullist intelligence service, Cordier, only twenty-five in 1945, put his wartime experiences behind him, not wanting to imitate those Great War veterans who, during his adolescence, had endlessly paraded their moral superiority. Cordier avoided the Resistance milieu: “I tried after the traumatizing experience of the war to construct another life.”22 At times Cordier intimates a certain guilt about his decision to cut off relations with his former comrades, but he was not alone. Many young resisters who had led a life of great intensity, accompanied by contempt for the wait-and-see attitude (attentisme) of the French population, felt alienated from their own society. “In 1945,” Cordier wrote in the preface to the memoirs of a Resistance comrade who had decided to rebuild his life abroad, “France was no longer our patrie.”23
After a short period in Africa in 1947, Cordier tried to become a painter. But realizing that he had little talent, he used an inheritance to start buying paintings instead.24 This led to a new career as an art dealer; he opened his first gallery in Paris in 1956. By the time he closed his galleries in 1964, he had become a noted dealer in modern art, amassing an important personal collection. When in 1989 he donated over three hundred paintings to the Centre Pompidou, the occasion was marked by a special exhibition.25
Politics briefly intruded into his life when de Gaulle returned to power in 1958. Cordier was among those who believed that de Gaulle, exploiting an army rebellion in Algeria against the Fourth Republic, was leading France to “fascism.” With other former resisters, Cordier formed the Club Jean Moulin to organize opposition to de Gaulle. Once it was clear that de Gaulle was no dictator, this mutated into a think tank to defend democratic values.26
On two occasions in the 1960s Cordier's memories were solicited by authors writing on Moulin—by the ubiquitous Henri Michel and by Moulin's sister.27 Otherwise he had no interest in this past and claims to have read no books about the war. Then in October 1977 Cordier was invited, with six other former resisters, to a television debate on Moulin. The others included Henri Frenay, founder of the important Resistance organization Combat. In 1973 Frenay, overcoming his reluctance to see his “secret garden” trampled by others, published a memoir expressing his resentment of Moulin for subordinating the Resistance to the authority of de Gaulle.28 In 1977 another book pushed his rancor further by accusing Moulin of crypto-communism.29
The 1977 television debate degenerated into an acrimonious argument about Frenay's claims. All the invited Resistance leaders shared Frenay's reservations about Moulin but not the accusation of crypto-communism.30 Cordier, however, was isolated in his unconditional defense of Moulin. He emerged humiliated that, as a mere Resistance foot soldier barely remembered by these grandees, he had lacked the evidence to refute Frenay. At this moment he vowed to devote himself to discovering the truth about Moulin: “It was unbearable for me to think, on this evening in 1977, that I had been incapable of defending his honor. When I got home, one thought hit me: ‘If I do nothing for him, I am a bastard.’”31
Cordier's construction of this epiphany presents him as an outsider, emerging from obscurity to rectify the historical record. His account, polished over the years, is part of the Cordier myth, but like all self-fashioning narratives, it is too smooth to be taken at face value. Cordier writes that in 1963 Michel had been skeptical about whether it would be worth interviewing him: “In the Comité we interview everyone except liaison agents, radio operators, saboteurs, and secretaries. This is a rule: they were too young at the time and have nothing interesting to say.”32 This cannot be true, since the CD2GM had sought to interview every resister, however humble—and Cordier was far from insignificant. Cordier told Michel that he possessed many documents but reports that Michel seemed uninterested: “My testimony was passed over because I had only been a secretary.”33 This does not ring true, either. Perhaps the prickly Michel had sensed that Cordier wanted to write his book for him; perhaps Cordier was already preparing himself subconsciously to be the person who would control Moulin's memory.
Nor was it true that Cordier had never previously testified on the Resistance—1977 was not his first appearance on television to defend Moulin. He had already appeared alongside other resisters in three television documentaries—the first in 1958—on Moulin and the Resistance.34 And in the 1977 debate Cordier was no innocent lamb thrust into the den of Resistance lions that he claims: he showed already impressive command of the documents. Nonetheless, the 1977 television encounter between Cordier and Frenay was brutal:
Cordier: Your entire book is a tissue of falsehoods, and that has to be said this evening. I wanted to bring along documents; I was told this was not the place. But I could bring documents. . . .
Frenay: Let us examine them together, and I affirm solemnly that if these documents contradict mine, if they show I am wrong, I will recognize this as publicly as I have made my current assertions. Now, if you were not in the know, I am sorry about that, I do not want to upset you, but my dear Cordier, you were just the foot soldier [intendance]. . . .
Cordier: I am sorry. I did see documents. And we are now not talking about témoignages [eyewitness accounts] but documents from the period.35
Once Cordier decided that he would set out to tell the truth—his truth—about Moulin, this former Free French agent turned art dealer embarked on a third career as historian. Starting with documents in his possession since the war, and with the archives (not yet public) of the BCRA, he worked on Moulin for almost ten years, painfully learning the historian's craft.36
Cordier's 1983 lecture was the first chance to present his findings to the public. It was organized under the aegis of the Institut d'Histoire du Temps Présent (IHTP), which had succeeded the CD2GM in 1980. The audience comprised historians and former resisters. Now Cordier was no longer just one witness among others; he was the center of attention at a high-profile event. While researching Moulin, Cordier had built contacts among academic historians, especially Jean-Pierre Azéma, one of France's leading authorities on the Occupation, who was himself intending to write a biography of Moulin. Theirs was a mutually beneficial relationship: Cordier provided Azéma with information about Moulin; Azéma bestowed academic legitimacy on Cordier.
In his lecture Cordier played on the double register of historian and witness. When someone in the audience remarked that, although he had not himself known Moulin, he did not recognize Moulin in Cordier's portrait, Cordier replied tartly (playing the card of témoin, not historian): “I hope I will not shock someone who did not know Jean Moulin that this does not surprise me.”37 Cordier's hybrid status permitted a subtle shift in the balance of power between historians and resisters, as noted by one former resister present: “We are going to be, perhaps not judged, but weighed up by academics.”38
In his lecture Cordier analyzed de Gaulle's decision to create the CNR, which gathered together Resistance leaders and representatives of political parties to show the Allies the breadth of his support. But many Resistance leaders had resented this rehabilitation of former politicians who had let France down in 1940. Cordier meticulously charted Moulin's role in the origins of the CNR. The resisters in the audience were disturbed by his deployment of private documents in his possession. What destabilized them more was his claim that these offered him access to a higher truth than their memories. Cordier enjoyed using documents to catch out resisters. He showed that Christian Pineau, a leader of the Resistance movement Libération-Nord, was wrong to claim that he had had no personal contact with Moulin before the spring of 1943. Pineau simply refused to believe him: “Cordier has put into my mouth things I do not think I said.”39 The published record of the debate hardly conveys its emotional impact: François Bédarida, the head of the IHTP, remembered some years later a “galaxy of resisters transfixed and unable to believe their ears,” some of them literally in tears.40
All now waited on the publication of Cordier's biography of Moulin. His original mission to defend Moulin from Frenay's accusations had swelled into a monster of a book as Cordier plunged into Moulin's prewar life. The work was projected to be six volumes. As a sign of Cordier's status as an outsider within the historical community, the books had been signed up not by one of the big publishing houses that published important history books (Gallimard, Fayard, etc.) but by the firm of Jean-Claude Lattès, known more for publishing literary works. But Cordier, a man of independent means, was ready to take on all the costs of preparing his book. His aim was not to make money but to fulfill a mission. The book had become an obsessive quest, the entire meaning of his life. He assembled a small team of assistants who worked in his villa overlooking the Côte d'Azur surrounded by art. As a sign of his single-minded dedication, he bought a camper van and installed himself in front of the archives in Chartres to cover the period when Moulin had been prefect of the département of the Eure et Loire. Since his first two volumes did not reach the Resistance—the period of Moulin's life that would be likely to interest readers—his extremely patient publishers insisted that he also include a preface offering an overview of the whole project and its arguments. Finally, the two volumes, running to sixteen hundred pages, were published in 1989; the preface alone was three hundred pages long.41
It was just four pages from this preface that attracted the greatest attention. These contained extracts from an early Resistance “manifesto” expressing support for Pétain. Its author, according to Cordier, was none other than Frenay. In his memoirs Frenay had admitted to drafting in July 1940 such a manifesto, but the document published by Cordier outraged resisters for two reasons: he dated it to November, not July—making Frenay's “Petainism” last longer—and he quoted a passage with antisemitic overtones.42
Cordier was roundly attacked by former resisters. The journalist Claude Bourdet, who had worked closely with Frenay, protested this “attempt to make Frenay look like a Vichy supporter.”43 Five former members of Combat visited the Archives Nationales to offer their “expertise” on the incriminating document, possibly helped by President François Mitterrand, who had been close to Frenay during the Occupation.44 They concluded that there was no evidence regarding either the document's date or its authorship.45
But Bourdet began to have doubts. He wrote to another former resister in 1991: “I am not very optimistic, so much so that I begin to wonder if our case is as good as we believed at the outset.”46 Frenay's biographer judges that Cordier was right in both the dating and the attribution of the document—even if Cordier's presentation was provocative.47 It was meant to be. Cordier's research assistant remembered that the writing of the preface had been shrouded in secrecy.48 To win publicity for his book and begin settling scores with Frenay, Cordier's preface had laid a trap into which Frenay's defenders had fallen, failing to pick up on the problematic use that Cordier made of the document. His implication was that the incriminating words explained Frenay's opposition to de Gaulle two years later.49 In fact, Frenay had only written what many resisters believed in 1940. He had abandoned these Pétainist attitudes by 1942, and they were not the cause of his later clashes with Moulin and de Gaulle, as Cordier somewhat insidiously implied.
Cordier's two volumes on Moulin developed the methodology sketched out in his 1983 lecture. The key idea was the primacy of the document over testimony, of the written archive from the period over the memory of the period. This became Cordier's creed: “As for testimonies, they were disappointing even if for certain points they reminded me of events that I had forgotten. Everywhere I found wrong facts, erroneous interpretations and chaotic chronology. The confrontation between these narratives and the documents was revealing of the mirages of memory.”50 Later Cordier explained how he had embarked on his work:
I began by organizing all the archives in my possession chronologically by spreading them out on the floor of my library. This material presentation incarnates for me the “truth.” The very fact of their chronological organization would ensure in itself the coherence of the argumentation. It was enough to find the missing pieces and then “stitch” them in to construct a giant patchwork and contemplate the past that had been resuscitated.51
Cordier did not entirely ignore memories. He allowed that they were “irreplaceable to evoke the emotional quality of an event or the poetic aura of an era.”52 In another analogy, he accepted that they “play the modest role of ornamentation in architecture,” but only ornamentation: “If one takes the stained-glass windows out of a cathedral, removes the sculptures, or gets rid of the frescoes, the structure of the building remains intact.”53 Cordier occasionally admitted limits to his extreme neopositivism:
The truth . . . appeared to me like a deep geological stratum keeping imprisoned its fossils, the traces of distant periods. Just as their discovery allows experts to bring back forgotten life, so also the truth of the Resistance lay for me in the successive deposits called archives, whose fossils were the documents. It took me some time to understand that documents are like old bones: it is necessary give them back their function and their life—that is, to render them intelligible.54
To render the past “intelligible,” Cordier recognized that having lived through the period, he was in a position of privilege: “The documents of this period of the Resistance having passed through my hands, I knew how they had been drawn up, used and circulated, and the context.” But he recognized that this also contained pitfalls: “I could not totally free myself of the protagonist's point of view or of the passions that animated him. Whatever I might do to forget them, they are present in my being and give, in spite of everything, a subjective coloring to my work.”55 But despite these qualifications to his “naive positivism,” it was Cordier's fetishization of the documents that underpinned his work.56
The controversy over the Frenay “manifesto” had overshadowed Cordier's arguments against Moulin's alleged crypto-communism.57 His work demonstrated incontrovertibly that Moulin persistently undercut communist influence over the Resistance. But in 1993, as Cordier was about to publish his third volume, those allegations against Moulin resurfaced in a more extreme form. Using recently opened Soviet archives, the investigative journalist Thierry Wolton published a book, Le grand recrutement, revealing the existence of a Soviet spy network in 1930s France, run by the Belgian-born agent Henri Robinson. Wolton uncovered Robinson's contacts with the entourage of Pierre Cot, Popular Front air minister, for whom Moulin had worked in 1936 as an aide, secretly organizing arms shipments to republican Spain. Wolton suggested that Moulin had remained in contact with Robinson after 1940. Without explicitly accusing Moulin of having been a Soviet agent, his argument insinuated this by a mixture of speculation and guilt by association.58 Wolton's book attracted massive media coverage, and he was invited to appear in a high-profile television debate.59 Despite his tendentious arguments, Wolton was boosted by the support of the two distinguished (former communist turned anticommunist) historians, Annie Kriegel and François Furet, and also the more cautious support of Stéphane Courtois, another anticommunist expert on communist history.60 All this provoked a furious pamphlet of rebuttal by the eminent historian and public intellectual Pierre Vidal-Naquet.61 The ingredients were in place for a new “Affaire Moulin.”
Cordier was invited to the television debate on Wolton's book. But with only one day's notice and faced with a presenter indulgent to Wolton's sensationalist “revelations,” he was uncharacteristically muted. He recovered himself with an article in L'express comparing Wolton's arguments to those of Holocaust deniers (or “negationists,” as they are labeled in France).62 Wolton sued for defamation but lost his case.63 The bandying of words like Stalinist and negationist—Courtois condemning Vidal-Naquet's “nasty pamphlet” as “communist negationism,” denying the crimes of communism—shows that this controversy was more about the legacy of communism in France than about Moulin.64
The kernel of truth in Wolton's insinuations was that, through Cot, Moulin had become close to several communists and fellow travelers, entirely logically given the party's position on Spain. Moulin reactivated some of these contacts after the defeat, and some of those who worked closely with him in the war became Communist Party members or fellow travelers. But since from 1941 the Soviet Union was fighting alongside the Allies, this was unsurprising. As the historian Henry Rousso wrote, by alleging that those who “chose Moscow to fight Berlin had committed a tragic error,” Wolton seemed to imply that they should instead have “chosen Berlin to fight Moscow.”65 Cordier had probably underplayed the role of Moulin's contacts. For example, the name of the communist sympathizer (and Soviet agent) André Labarthe, whom Moulin knew well, appears only five times in Cordier's first two volumes. But this was a sign less of dishonesty than of the difficulty of negotiating the complex web of Moulin's contacts and working out who mattered most.
Cordier's third volume, published in 1993, shortly after Wolton's book, opened with a detailed refutation of it. This volume alone ran to thirteen hundred pages—and still it took the reader only up to January 1942, when Moulin's work for de Gaulle had barely started.66 Cordier's project had swelled to unmanageable proportions because of his preference for presenting voluminous documentation in raw form. It was also drowning under the weight of responses to the polemics he had generated. As one of his researchers commented: “We were eternally writing the same book without an end. . . . Each new polemic plunged us back into our never-ending labors.”67 Since Lattès was nervous of supporting another three volumes on the same scale as originally projected, Cordier changed publisher, reduced his ambitions, and published in 1999 one volume, La république des catacombes, running to 950 pages.68 This volume included the period already covered in his previous three publications and also took the story up to the Liberation after Moulin's death.69
Having now produced thirty-eight hundred pages on Moulin, Cordier had completed his mission. There will forever be a “before” and “after” Cordier in writing about Moulin. He settles definitively many issues of detail that had relied on approximation and vague memories.70 But far from having the last word, Cordier had merely opened the floodgates to more books on Moulin. Some of these offer syntheses of his own work.71 Others cover areas that Cordier had barely touched on, like Moulin's personal life or his artistic interests.72 The sensationalist titles of some books convey the spell that Moulin exerts as if his name were guaranteed to sell a book: Jean Moulin, l'ultime mystère or Jean Moulin: L'homme derrière l'héros or L'Affaire Jean Moulin: Trahison ou complot?73 There are also examples of classic conspiracy theory: one author argues that Moulin, former crypto-communist, was betrayed by the communists after transferring his allegiance to de Gaulle; another, that Moulin was planning to ditch de Gaulle for the Americans, or to take over the Resistance himself; and another, most recently, that the British intelligence services might have been responsible for betraying him.74 Conspiracy theory is impervious to plausibility; its practitioners always know the documents as well as their contradictors. In this mindset, the fact that Moulin did not see Labarthe in London in 1941 showed that he was hiding his communist sympathies—but if he had seen Labarthe, that fact would have been evidence of communist sympathies. Moulin cannot win!
The fascination exerted by Moulin has been compared to that surrounding the Kennedy assassination: the mystery surrounding a death and the tragedy of a life cut short. In Moulin's case, there is also his relationship to the two dominant forces of postwar France: Gaullism and communism. Leaving aside the more fanciful interpretations, this recent work has enriched our understanding of this complicated man. Despite the exhaustive erudition of Cordier's work, his portrait remains a partial one, driven by his original mission to prove a case and his concentration on the period when he was closest to Moulin. He remains caught in his triple role of advocate, protagonist, and historian.
The Aubrac Affair
The tension between these roles reached a paroxysm during the so-called Aubrac affair, which exploded in 1997.75 Raymond and Lucie Aubrac had been leading members of the movement Libération-Sud, founded by Henri Frenay's rival, Emmanuel d'Astier de la Vigerie. Raymond had been arrested with Moulin on June 21, 1943. These events resurfaced in 1983 when Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo chief who had arrested Moulin, was extradited from Bolivia to face trial in France. The occasion was seized on by René Hardy, the resister tried and acquitted for betraying Moulin. Aware that many people remained convinced of his guilt, in 1984 Hardy published a memoir putting the blame on Raymond Aubrac.76 The book was brandished by Barbie's lawyer, Jacques Vergès, who hinted that he would reveal dirty secrets about the Resistance. These allegations never materialized, and Barbie was sentenced to life imprisonment. But in the meantime Lucie Aubrac had been stimulated to publish her own memoirs of the Resistance.
Her book was constructed in the form of a reconstituted journal covering fifteen months of her Resistance experience—her daring attempts to save Raymond but also her life as a wife and mother.77 The book's success propelled Lucie into becoming an indefatigable advocate of the values of the Resistance. Meanwhile Raymond published his own memoirs of the Resistance in 1996.78 In the following year Lucie's story was turned into a film. The Aubracs had become stars.
Simultaneously with the release of the film, the historian-journalist Gérard Chauvy published a book about the Aubracs' role in the Resistance. Chauvy proceeded by insinuation and selective use of documents. He presented himself as a crusader trying “substitute history for legend.”79 This had also been Wolton's posture, and since Aubrac had been associated with the Communist Party, there was again an anticommunist subtext.80 In his appendix Chauvy published a so-called testament written by Barbie containing accusations against Aubrac. Since Barbie had never previously implicated the Aubracs, this document had clearly been concocted by Vergès in preparation for the Barbie trial. Nonetheless, by deploying other less-suspect documents, Chauvy pinpointed factual discrepancies in the versions that the Aubracs had given of their Resistance activities.
Twenty former resisters published a letter in Le monde warning that “the shadow of Vichy hovers insidiously over France.”81 Cordier was not among the signatories, but in an interview to the newspaper Libération, he rejected Chauvy's allegations while accepting that the documents he had unearthed were interesting. Cordier proposed a debate between the Aubracs and a group of historians.82 The Aubracs accepted, and this resulted in a roundtable organized by Libération on May 17, 1997, between eight historians and the Aubracs. The historians were François Bédarida, the IHTP's former director; Henry Rousso, its current director; Jean-Pierre Azéma; Dominique Veillon, a researcher at the IHTP; Laurent Douzou, a historian of Libération-Sud; two professors at the Collège de France: the classicist Jean-Pierre Vernant and Maurice Agulhon, a historian of nineteenth-century France; and, finally, Daniel Cordier.
Since the Aubracs, as témoins, had had many interactions with historians at IHTP seminars, they assumed that the roundtable would be similar. But the discussions took an unexpected turn, and they found themselves facing a kind of tribunal. Vernant and Agulhon, invited by the Aubracs as friends rather than as specialists on the Occupation, remained on the sidelines, as did Veillon. Douzou tried to help the Aubracs occasionally but otherwise intervened little.83
Once everyone had agreed that the Barbie “testament” was worthless, the discussion moved on to inconsistencies in the various Aubrac narratives, for example, whether, after Raymond's arrest alongside Moulin in June 1943, his identity had been discovered, and if so, why he had not been transferred to Paris for further interrogation. Pressed on this point, Raymond sarcastically lamented that Barbie was not present at the roundtable, “because he would have been better able to reply than I can.”84
This line of questioning increasingly infuriated Lucie:
I am not a researcher at the IHTP. I am a woman who has written a book because there were attacks on the Resistance beginning with Vergès. . . . I did not write a history book with a capital H but a book where I recounted a pregnancy and a life. . . . I was not going to begin to work in archives like you who are young. I am not capable of it, and it is not in my temperament. . . . We decided to write a little story [récit] that would be as true as possible.85
Lucie's explosion only encouraged Rousso to push the point further:
I totally understand your reaction. But, as a historian, since I began working on the period, I have constantly heard resisters, and especially you, endlessly repeat: “Listen to our testimonies. . . . When we are no longer there, you will no longer be able to write this history in the same way.” For historians, your testimonies have a crucial impact; they are living material as much as they are a source. That is why we must take them seriously even if we analyze them from our critical standpoint.86
Rousso was supported by Bédarida and Azéma, but no one was more implacable than Cordier:
You have written a stimulating adventure story that you imprudently presented as your memoirs. This slippage seems shocking to me. . . . It is good that resisters like you have made the effort to carry on the memory of the Resistance, or it would be completely forgotten today. But glory has a risk. Raymond and you took the risk of speaking—with talent—in their name. Whether you wanted it or not, you are living legends. When you testify or when, in schools, you speak of your experience, you have an absolute duty to tell the truth regarding these forgotten figures of history. This is a different duty from the one that you have toward historians, because it is purely moral. When you multiply approximations, when you are unable to give clear answers, when you contradict yourselves, you serve neither history nor the cause that you claim to defend.87
The most painful moment came when Cordier suggested that, after Lucie's visits to Gestapo headquarters under a false identity to prepare her husband's escape, she may have been tailed by the Germans, making her the unwitting cause of the arrest of Raymond's Jewish parents. Replying to this shocking idea, Raymond shot back, “Not even Vergès went that far.” Cordier replied, “Your comment is disgraceful.” The debate had turned toxic.
In his summing up Cordier returned to the wider issue:
DC: We are not a tribunal, and I am not casting any judgment on your attitude, but it is important that you and Lucie understand how much your various versions raise suspicions. Reading the documents published by Chauvy, one is amazed by these contradictions, and one wonders if you are hiding something. If I point this out, it is because I am pestered daily by journalists or former resisters who ask me to explain these variations. What can I reply? I know that you are not hiding any betrayal, but I do ask myself what else you are trying to hide. For it seems to me that behind this there is something you do not want to admit. This makes me sad, and that is why I repeat my question: “What are you trying to hide?” . . . Regarding the variations, the arrangements, the contradictions of your testimonies after the arrests at Caluire [the district of Lyon where Moulin and Aubrac had been arrested], allow me to express my profound disappointment as one of your defenders. I hope that one day documents will bring the explanation of facts hidden beneath the variations of your memory. . . . For lack of answers to the precise questions that many resisters have asked, we are in no better position to answer today than yesterday. Yet I was hoping that you would give me the necessary ammunition to carry on the fight for the truth, which is in your favor. I observe that you have offered nothing. To defend you, I ultimately prefer to rely on documents that prove your innocence rather than on your arguments. You are certainly not guilty, but your defense disappoints me and does you no good. . . . I can only think of Zola's comment, after hearing Dreyfus at his trial: “It is enough to put you off the innocent.”
LA: I am not here to defend myself. You understand nothing. I am trying to explain my attitude and my person, but I am not defending myself, Daniel. Above all do not think that.
DC: But Lucie, you are being attacked. Raymond, if you will not defend yourself, it is the duty of historians to do it.88
The roundtable was published on July 9, 1997.89 The protagonists also published articles justifying their positions. When Rousso wrote that Lucie, by allowing herself to become a star, had opened herself up to scrutiny, Lucie replied, “But who made me a star? The IHTP?”90 Azéma insisted that “historians must not and cannot be the servant of this or that specific memory in their work to establish the truth.”91
Although Chauvy was later condemned for defamation by a Paris court, it was the roundtable that remained in the public's memory. The scars have not healed. Historians on one side of the debate cannot forgive those on the other; friendships were ruptured. Two participants later reflected on the event in books. On the one side, Rousso wrote that “the Aubracs committed the mistake of thinking that it would be easy to intimidate and instrumentalize historians.”92 On the other, Vernant, shocked at the “violence” of the debates, detected “a very powerful current of hostility, mistrust, and jealousy.”93
The only point on which everyone agreed was that Cordier had been central. Only his dual identity as historian-resister permitted him to raise the possible link between Lucie's activities and the arrest of Raymond's parents. No one else would have dared. He wrote correctly that his work had freed historians from “the crushing authority that weighed down on them in the testimonies of the resisters.”94 In his reflection on the roundtable, Cordier wrote that “it was atrocious” and claimed that afterward he had felt “a malaise such as I have never experienced before. . . . I am overwhelmed by a sense of discouragement (that I hope will pass) in the face of such wasted efforts to uncover the truth.” But he was unrepentant:
Several years ago, before I began to defend the memory of Moulin, learning about historical method, I might perhaps have signed petitions proclaiming your innocence. Today it is because I believe you are innocent that I think that this kind of action is pointless. . . . When it comes to history . . . only historians are authorized to seek the truth and speak it. Their training, their education, their status confer on them an incomparable scientific (and also a moral) authority to establish the historical truth.95
Cordier the Memorialist
In 2009, twelve years after writing these words that conferred a sacred duty on historians as depositaries of truth, Cordier, the neopositivist historian who rarely intruded himself into the history he was writing, published a nine-hundred-page memoir covering his life from France's defeat in June 1940 to Moulin's death in June 1943.96 Received with universal praise, the book made Cordier a celebrity.97 The historian mutated into memorialist: having acquired legitimacy through his historical work, he capitalized on this to produce his own testimony.98
In a short “prelude” Cordier sketched his troubled childhood. His parents had divorced when he was four, and his mother remarried. After acrimonious court cases, his father obtained custody and sent the eight-year-old boy to a boarding school run by Dominicans. A rebellious adolescent, Cordier was expelled from this and other schools. Having lost his religious faith, and living with “nostalgia for lost love,” he took refuge in literature. His other adolescent passion was politics. Under the influence of his stepfather, he became a passionate supporter of Charles Maurras's reactionary movement, Action Française. His life changed forever on June 17, 1940, after hearing Pétain's speech announcing that France would seek an armistice.
On June 20 Cordier and seventeen other boys boarded a Belgian ship to England. In these pages Cordier paints the picture of a sensitive, impressionable, uncompromising, rebellious, and passionate adolescent, corresponding remarkably to the portrait that emerges from a memoir written in the 1950s by another boy on the ship: “Under the seeming exaggeration of his language, one perceived a core of sincerity and seriousness. . . . If he had decided to argue that the moon was square, it was hard to argue against him. . . . He was always speechifying with the exaggerated gesture of the southerner and with a great nose like that of some prophet.”99
Once in England, Cordier joined de Gaulle's minuscule army. Alias Caracalla brilliantly conveys the fervor of the exiguous band of Free French recruits—their burning desire to fight, their sense of comradeship, their bouts of homesickness, their reverence for de Gaulle. Desperate for action, Cordier signed up for de Gaulle's secret services. He was trained to be a secret agent: to carry out sabotage, operate radio transmitters, and code and decode messages. On July 25, 1942, he was parachuted near Lyon, center of resistance in the Unoccupied Zone, to become the radio operator of Georges Bidault, head of the Resistance Bureau d'Information et de Presse, which briefed London on the French press and passed on to the Resistance propaganda that London wanted to circulate in France.
Cordier was also instructed to take some documents to Moulin (whom he knew only by his alias, “Rex”), who had been in Lyon since January. Their meeting on July 30 was the second turning point in Cordier's life. Moulin, operating almost alone, desperate for support, immediately “kidnapped” Cordier to make him his assistant.100 For the next eleven months Cordier lived in daily proximity to Moulin, decoding messages from London and coding the replies, organizing meetings with Resistance leaders, finding Moulin places to hide, but also preparing his breakfast and sorting his mail. (Reading many years later a handwritten report that Moulin had asked him to code, Cordier found a shopping list of items Moulin had asked him to procure: “aspirin, sausage, bread, cigarettes.”) In March 1943 Cordier moved to Paris to organize Moulin's secretariat in the capital, but he continued to see Moulin regularly, either on Moulin's trips to Paris or back in Lyon.
Cordier often attended Moulin's meetings with Resistance leaders, and at the end of the day he usually dined with him in the company of Bidault as a silent witness of their conversations about the Resistance. When dining alone with Moulin, he was the sounding board of Moulin's monologues and reflections. After being in France for three weeks, Cordier wrote: “Since my arrival I have been his subordinate. This evening, I have become his collaborator [interlocuteur], perhaps even his confidant if that word is not too pretentious to describe my modest role.”101 Whether or not Moulin viewed Cordier this way, it is true that few people saw more of him. Alias Caracalla offers a movingly human portrait of Moulin—of his intelligence, charm, humor, natural authority, and artistic and literary refinement.
The memoir is also a bildungsroman—a narrative of Cordier's political self-education, his journey from the extreme right, brought up to hate the Republic and Jews. Gradually his own experiences, and his encounters among the Free French with people from backgrounds so different from his own, led this headstrong young man, barely out of adolescence, to reject his previous values. One moment of epiphany occurs when, in March 1943, he sees for the first time an old Jewish man wearing a yellow star. This scene of abjection is a sudden illumination of the horror to which antisemitism could lead.102
Cordier's daily contact with the fiercely republican Moulin played an important role in this political evolution. But Moulin also influenced Cordier through their conversations about art. Moulin was an amateur artist and a passionate collector of art. One of his covers during the Occupation was running an art gallery in Nice. Cordier's career as an art dealer after the Liberation was another way to be loyal to his mentor. One poignant moment in the memoir occurs on the day Moulin has presided over the first meeting of the CNR. He presents Cordier with a history of modern art, takes him to a gallery, and promises that after the Liberation they will visit the Jeu de Paume museum together.103
Few books convey more vividly than Alias Caracalla the life of a Free French agent: the constant tension, fear, loneliness, and isolation. Telling details illuminate the daily problems of Resistance in a period of scarcity. For example, Cordier had to spend so much time traveling around Lyon that Moulin authorized him to buy a bicycle out of his funds; a few days later the bike was stolen; Moulin allowed Cordier to replace it; a few months later that bike too was stolen. “Well, from now on you will have to walk,” Moulin told him. The book reveals the ambiguities of occupied France. A Parisian family, the Morets, who had fled to Lyon, offered Cordier support because they wanted to help the Resistance—but that did not stop them from also being Pétainists. Madame Moret even shared with Cordier her initial worry that he might be a Jew.104
All this makes Cordier's book a major historical document, but it is hard to pigeonhole. In his famous book Cru had distinguished five genres: diaries/journals, memoirs, reflections, letters, and novels (transposed memoirs).105 Cordier's opening situates himself classically in the memoir genre: “I was born on August 10, 1920, in Bordeaux to a family of small businessmen and traders: the Gauthiers, on my mother's side, and the Bouyjous, on my father's.”106 But subsequently Cordier opts for the form of reconstituted journal. The section covering his time in Britain between June 1940 and July 1942 draws on the diary he kept at the time. But once he was in France, it was too dangerous to continue. So Cordier's “journal” becomes a fictitious construction similar to that of Lucie Aubrac. Pressed by critics like Cordier, Aubrac conceded that her book should be treated as a récit. But to an interviewer who referred to Alias Caracalla as a “fictional book” (livre romanesque), Cordier responded sharply, “No, a book that tells the truth” (livre de vérité).107 But if this livre de vérité is scrutinized as carefully as Cordier scrutinized Lucie Aubrac's, problems arise. Take, for example, Cordier's account of communicating to Moulin the news of the arrest of General Delestraint on June 9, 1943. Delestraint had been appointed to command the new Secret Army of the Resistance. The purpose of the meeting on June 21, when Moulin was arrested, was to designate a successor.
According to Alias Caracalla, Cordier, hearing of Delestraint's arrest while in Paris, traveled to Lyon on Sunday, June 13, to tell Moulin in person. But because Moulin was away that day, Cordier did not see him until the evening of Monday, June 14.108 But there are two other contradictory accounts. In a recent interview, Delestraint's aide François-Yves Guillin recalled that he heard about the arrest himself in Lyon on the morning of June 12 and immediately informed Moulin. But Tony De Graaf, who had replaced Cordier as Moulin's secretary in Lyon, told the BCRA in his postwar debriefing that, having heard the news from Guillin, he was the person who told Moulin on June 12.109
So two people claim that they had broken the news to Moulin before Cordier. Cordier's obsession with historical accuracy might incline one to accept his version—except that his account contains one internal inconsistency. In 1980, after starting his historical research, Cordier wrote to De Graaf to correct him on details regarding his own reconstitution of events.110 One correction related precisely to these days in June. Cordier informed De Graaf that he had come to Lyon on June 12. Not only does this contradict Cordier's claim in Alias Caracalla that he left Paris on June 13, but in that same book he adds a footnote reproducing part of the letter he had written to De Graaf with the date of . . . June 12. The fictional “journal” of Alias Caracalla has no entry of any kind for June 12. Events are further muddied by a report in the British archives suggesting that Cordier had been arrested by the Germans at some point before June 14—although there is a corrective note to the effect that this rumor was an “error.” Since Cordier was never interrogated about any arrest on his debriefing in London, one must assume that such an arrest never occurred. But the exact events between June 12 and June 14 remain obscure.111
Apart from such matters of detail, the reader cannot but wonder how anyone could reconstitute every moment of conversations from seventy years earlier. For example, Cordier offers a minutely detailed account of a meeting on December 11, 1942, between Moulin and some leading socialist resisters.112 More disturbing are conversations in which protagonists refer to facts they could not have known at the time. Two weeks after his arrival, Cordier witnesses a conversation between Moulin and Bidault:
I approve of your idea of a trip by Charvet [Frenay's pseudonym] and Bernard [d'Astier de la Vigerie's pseudonym] to London. The existence of the Resistance movements depends on their allegiance to the General [de Gaulle] and their acceptance of Gaullist discipline. We are a long way from that!
M: . . . Are you sure about Charvet [Frenay]? He was for a long time an admirer of the Marshal and supporter of the National Revolution.
Bidault: You are right. His opinions are, to say the least, fluctuating, not to say contradictory. He is both authoritarian and muddled. . . . He is probably the earliest leader and a remarkable organizer. But you know his founding manifesto, a sort of program asserting his authority over all the Resistance and Germans. Apart from the communists, no one has proclaimed themselves more clearly as a rival to de Gaulle.113
This seems a plausible condensation of what both men felt about Frenay, but the mention of the “manifesto”—presumably the document that Cordier discovered in the archives—is pure anachronism, since it is unlikely that anyone knew much about it at the time and even less likely that they knew that Frenay had written it. The controversial document that launched Cordier's biography of Moulin in 1989 finds itself reinserted into his memories of the period.
Cordier also offers vivid transcriptions of Moulin's conversation. He reports Moulin's rage on August 17, 1942, in a long monologue attacking Frenay and d'Astier and ending with the words “I have had enough of this comedy. I no longer want to argue with them. I will send them to London, and the General can sort it out.”114 Of this remark Cordier says that “every word of it remains engraved in my memory”—and he mentions two other such cases.115 Otherwise he admits that many conversations are “more or less embroidered by imagination and forgetfulness.”116
Despite such caveats, Cordier clearly wants his account to be taken more seriously than that of other memorialists. He offers three reasons. First, since Cordier had never written memoirs before, his recollections of the past retained a freshness and purity lost to those who had “been endlessly reciting” their own.”117 Second, Cordier refers to his exceptional memory, and to underline this point he prints as an epigraph to Alias Caracalla an extract from the memoirs of the resister Yves Farge, who commented of Cordier that “he wrote nothing down; he knew everything.”118
Finally, Cordier suggests that documents he had consulted during his historical researches had sparked a kind of involuntary memory in which the past came alive to him, the archive operating like the madeleine for the Proustian narrator:
Rereading notes, telegrams, documents, reports on the Resistance, each phrase conjured up for me, like an echo, the presence of the principal actors: their look, their tone of voice, the expression of their faces. These resurrected ghosts were linked to certain settings, to places, to gardens, to apartments in Lyons and Paris. . . . It was only when working on these documents . . . that I understood how much this Resistance past was buried in my blood.119
Ten years before the publication of Alias Caracalla, Cordier remembered that in revisiting certain moments, he found “time . . . suddenly abolished, I am transported into the places I used to be, immersed in their light, hearing their voices, and seeing their faces with such intensity that their words are also resuscitated.” But he noted equally that despite these moments of semi-“hallucination,” these “precise images that had haunted me were only fragments of a mutilated whole. As in a dream, despite the intensity and realism of the images, the heads had no bodies, the doors were attached to no houses.”120 The process of reconstituting the “bodies” and the “houses” is presumably the work of the documents and imagination. Thus Cordier reinserts himself into missing parts of the history that he has uncovered through the documents, writing the screenplay of his own story: the actor behind the historian reveals himself fully for the first time. Of course, Cordier had never denied that his metamorphosis into historian had been motivated by passion to defend Moulin. After that metamorphosis, the passion had been (just about) hidden behind the historical mask; in Alias Caracalla it is raw and unmediated.
The book offers two kinds of passion: one general and another personal. The former relates to the resentments of the Free French agents toward the Resistance. Resistance leaders are criticized for opposing de Gaulle, but ordinary foot soldiers of the Resistance are judged no less unfavorably, because they are incapable of providing Cordier and his fellow agents with the assistance necessary to fulfill their mission. A few days after his arrival, Cordier is told by another BCRA agent, Paul Schmidt, that “if the BCRA sends us here to organize the Resistance, that is because the Resistance does not exist.” When Cordier responds that his contacts in the Resistance movements promised to help him, the response is scathing: “I hope you don't believe them. They have enough difficulties finding their own premises and personnel to give you anything at all. . . . They resist in their leisure time. For some of them it is a kind of snobbery. . . . I try to organize this mess [ce foutoir] without them because, what is more, they are dangerous! . . . My advice is, do what you can without them.”121
Alias Caracalla is peppered with such opinions, which Cordier comes to share.122 Another Free French colleague tells him, “Those who say that the resisters possess an army are clowns.”123 There was another side to the story. Anne-Marie Bauer, a resister who had worked with both Schmidt and Cordier, testified after the war that to many rank-and-file resisters these Free French agents seemed “imbued with a sense of their own superiority” and underestimated the difficulties experienced by the Resistance “amateurs”: “For an agent who knew nothing about how the movements had started off, the difficulty of finding each hiding place, each letter box [for leaving messages safely], each team of helpers, the failures seemed more evident than the successes.”124 There is no more telling detail than Cordier's comment that, while resisters and Free French would tutoie each other, there was no tutoiement between resisters and Free French.125 Cordier's memoir is among the most excoriating attacks on the Resistance ever written—which makes it ironic that Hollande should have used it to celebrate the unity of the Resistance!
The personal passion underlying Cordier's narrative is his own resentment of the condescension many Resistance leaders had displayed to this mere boy. Every mention of Pineau is accompanied by references to his “contemptuous condescension”: “I have never encountered anyone so full of himself.”126 Of Claude Bourdet, Cordier wrote: “His coldness was congenital; I always felt there was an unbridgeable gulf between us.”127 Of d'Astier, he wrote: “Tall, aristocratic looking . . . with an attitude of nonchalant grace. . . . I have the feeling that I do not exist in his eyes.”128 Worst of all was Frenay. When Moulin informs Frenay that the “faithful Alain [Cordier's pseudonym]” would be representing him during his absence in London for a few weeks, Frenay mutters, “The Resistance had fallen into the hands of a drummer boy [enfant de troupe].”129 On another occasion, when Cordier fails to provide funds for which Frenay was clamoring in Moulin's absence, Frenay shouts at Cordier: “I know that you have the money; I order you to hand it over to the Resistance.” A few days later, when Cordier finds the money, Frenay does not let up: “‘I have told you that your conduct was scandalous: what is your rank?’ I replied: sublieutenant. He made no comment: it was clear that he was preparing a file against me.”130Alias Caracalla is Cordier's revenge, his settling of scores with the resisters. Although Aubrac does not appear in Cordier's narrative, the book offers a plausible motivation for his stance at the roundtable: a pleasure in displacing from their pedestal two resisters who had long overshadowed Gaullist foot soldiers like himself. Cordier's revenge is made possible by the simple biological fact that he was the last man standing, but he also capitalizes on the legitimacy he had acquired as a historian. Readers who trust Cordier the historian are invited to trust Cordier the memorialist. Whether or not a self-conscious strategy, Cordier's decision to begin with history and move to memoir proves an astute maneuver. But one could reverse the proposition: rather than seeing the authenticity of the memoirs reinforced by the legitimacy of the historian, by a kind of boomerang effect we see the memoirs unmask the historian.
Homosexuality and Resistance: A Hidden History
Just as Cordier the memorialist drops one mask, one senses that another remains intact: there is another story that Cordier could tell but chooses not to. There is a mystery that Cordier never elucidates: why, after one meeting, did Moulin, contravening orders from London, appoint this near boy as his secretary? Cordier himself, when asked the question in a television interview, answered with a quip: “I cannot answer. . . . Because it was him, because it was me”—the famous phrase used by Michel de Montaigne about his possibly homoerotic friendship with Etienne de La Boétie.131 Cordier later said that this was the “silliest answer I have ever given.”132 Instead, he proposed a more banal explanation: Moulin's burden of work was becoming unsustainable, and Cordier arrived at the right moment. But did Cordier also regret that his quip had suggested too much?
In the thousands of pages devoted to Moulin, Cordier hardly touches on his personal life. Recently historians have explored Moulin's friendships with a number of women, of whom the most important was Antoinette Sachs, whom he had known since 1936. Sachs, a divorcée living in a relationship with the playwright Paul Géraldy, was a painter who moved in bohemian Parisian circles. Based in Marseille during the Occupation, Sachs discreetly supported Moulin's Resistance activities. After the war, with Moulin's sister Laure, she worked indefatigably to discover who had betrayed him and to promote his memory. Since Moulin kept his existence in separate compartments, Cordier knew nothing of her during the Occupation. He makes one appearance in her own unpublished notes of the period:
I still remember Jean Moulin, Cours Besunce, jokingly pointing out to me his new secretary. He was sitting there at the terrace of a café, upright, young, his hair cut short. He was waiting. He was waiting like all those with whom Moulin had an appointment. Moulin said to me: “He is a former Croix de Feu member!” When I expressed surprise at this, he laughed and said that he had put a lot of hope in Cordier. I know that he really appreciated him. Often in three different cafés, not far from each other, there might be three different people waiting to see Moulin! That really amused him. Three people with different appointments with him but not knowing each other.133
It is curious that Cordier's biography of Moulin never mentions Sachs.134 Did he view her as a rival in his quest to tell Moulin's story? Whatever the reason, Cordier, to the extent that he discusses Moulin's personal life, has always insisted that Moulin was a womanizer—despite his reference to Moulin's “strange marriage” in 1926, which lasted only two years.135 The marriage also puzzled Moulin's sister—“I do not know how my brother . . . could have married such a plump girl”—and she concluded that he had decided never to be tied down by marriage again.136 The investigative historian Pierre Péan, who has written the most about Sachs, whom he characterizes as having an “androgynous physique,” labels her relationship with Moulin a “romantic friendship” (amitié amoureuse).137 More recently, some writers have wanted to claim Moulin as gay.138 That Moulin was homosexual, or bisexual, seems plausible, but given his genius for secrecy, we will never know. However, behind this anecdotal question lies a story about homosexuality and resistance that Cordier might be able to tell us.
In the Paris art world of the 1950s it was no secret that Cordier was gay; he even appears in a novel about the homosexual beau monde.139 After Alias Caracalla he published a memoir of his schoolboy homosexual crushes.140 But otherwise this prolix man was reluctant to discuss such matters in public, although he ended his recent memoir with the claim that at one time “sex was the center of interest of my life.”141 Of his closeness to Moulin, he is adamant that there was nothing sexual about it. Moulin was too old to be attractive to him; rather, he was a father figure. He writes of the moment he heard of Moulin's arrest: “Things had to go on. Perhaps for the Resistance, but for me it was over. My head was exploding. . . . Stunned, I thought of everything and no longer understood anything, except that I was an orphan.”142
About his own affective life in the Resistance, we are offered a teasing clue in the title Alias Caracalla. Cordier had many aliases in the Resistance—Alain, Michel, Talleyrand—but Caracalla was not one of them. It was the pseudonym of a character in Roger Vailland's Resistance novel Drôle de jeu. Vailland, who worked for Cordier in Paris in 1943, adopts a self-consciously Stendhalian tone—the trigger for the book had been rereading Stendhal's Lucien Leuwen after finding a copy in Cordier's room—and depicts the Resistance as a game where seduction, friendship, patriotism, and sex are intertwined.143 But the only character exempt from this round of heterosexual desire is “Caracalla.” One character, asking if Caracalla has slept with a girl, is told that no one knows, because every morning he is away on his daily round of duties. The narrator tells us: “Rodrigue loves Chloé who loves Caracalla who loves . . . who only loves his country.”144
In Alias Caracalla Cordier muddies the waters, since after a short “prelude” devoted to his adolescent “impure passions” he introduces a romantic infatuation with a girl, “Domino,” met only weeks before his precipitate departure for London. She dominates his thoughts until he discovers that she has gotten married. Although Cordier is ostensibly dreaming about Domino, there is a current of undeclared homosexual desire through the entire book—we are told that Domino herself resembles a boy—as Cordier describes the masculine universe of the Free French in London.145 Of one of his comrades, he describes his “corrupting charm” and “mysterious attraction which was symbolized by a cheeky dimple.”146 Of another: “He is attractive, and his deep voice adds to the charm of a person who is happy. Girls fall for him without resisting. Once he has made his choice, the others fall back on whoever he is with. This is how one weekend I was conquered by a young English girl with the appearance of an Italian virgin and who made me forget Domino for two days.”147 Desire is lived vicariously through the sexual escapades of the others: “With incredible flair they continued in London their old habits: bars, girls . . . amorous explorations and sexual prowess.” But there is also a certain jealousy of their confidence: “They are already men. I can see it from the way they talk about girls: ‘All they want is to get laid.’”148 None is more confident than Cordier's friend Maurice de Cheveigné, whose “youthful charm” allowed him to “play on his attractions with young English girls, who fell head over heels for him.” Against all the rules forbidding agents abroad to have any contact with one another, Cordier and Maurice stumble upon each other in Lyon a few weeks after his arrival, and to conquer their loneliness they meet on several occasions. He is regaled one day with Cheveigné’s story of how, when the Germans arrived one day to raid his flat, he received them naked on his bed while masturbating, and in their embarrassment they abandoned their search and fled.149
One feels that between the lines of Cordier's narrative lies another suggestive and untold story about Resistance. So far we have no emotional history of the Resistance, let alone any history of homosexuality and resistance. There has been some research on homosexuality and combat in the Second World War.150 Historians of male homosexuality in post-1940 America have noted how the experience of mass mobilization, the disruption of the normal patterns of daily life, the male sociability of the army experience, and its deprivations opened up a new space of experimentation and new (if necessarily clandestine) possibilities for transgressive sexual encounters.151 There has also been research on homosexuals in the British army during the Second World War.152 But such hidden histories are doubly hard to uncover in the history of the Resistance, which is itself a hidden history. We are faced with a “taboo within a taboo,” as one writer put it.153 We know that in Yugoslavia a Croat partisan fighter was court-martialed and executed in March 1944 by his own comrades when his homosexuality came to light.154 In the Netherlands the artist Willen Andreous, who participated in the Resistance along with other gay men and the lesbian musician Frieda Bellinfante, famously asked a friend on the eve of his execution in July 1943 “to tell the people that homosexuals are not cowards.”155
In France uncovering such secret histories has been hindered by the long-standing idea that there were affinities between collaboration and homosexuality, as exemplified in Sartre's famous 1945 article on collaboration as a kind of sexual passivity, which he developed in his novel La mort dans l'âme. The theme was a subtext to the trial of the collaborator Robert Brasillach.156 This strand of writing has hidden other stories that might be told—not about homosexuality and collaboration but about homosexuality and resistance.157 Is it not possible that leading double lives came more easily to homosexuals; that they were more likely than others to be alienated by the moralism of the Vichy regime; that without family attachments they were freer of commitments; or that the homosociability and sexual deprivations of the maquis experience might have offered new forms of sexual temptation? Might these speculations apply, for example, to the case of Pascal Copeau, a leader of Libération-Sud? Since he was always tight-lipped about his turbulent homosexual life, Copeau left no clue about how it related to his resistance experiences and choices. Certainly, like many gay men in this period, he was a man of masks. On one occasion in November 1941 he turned up to visit his father, the theater director Jacques Copeau, accompanied by young men who might have been objects of affection or Resistance comrades—or both. Jacques, who knew of his son's sexual activities and probably suspected his Resistance ones, wrote in his diary: “I am always very disconcerted when I touch on Pascal's secret relationships. I have the feeling of committing some major indiscretion, broaching a world that is forbidden to me.”158 Which world is he talking about here: the Resistance one, the homosexual one, or both? Interestingly, Copeau is the only resister about whom Cordier writes with sympathy, noting that—uniquely—he tutoied him. But he never tells us—though he must have known—that Copeau was homosexual. The only open homosexual who appears in Alias Caracalla is Denis Rake, that British officer in the Special Operations Executive who revealed his sexuality in Marcel Ophuls's 1969 film The Sorrow and the Pity. Cordier met Rake while training in Britain and describes his outrageously camp behavior—but his description is oblique, as if he were an observer who was in no way implicated—which “allowed him to go into ecstasies publicly around those young Poles and Norwegians in our school, some of whom were the incarnation of youthful beauty.”159 And does Cordier's resentment against Frenay perhaps conceal his sense that Frenay's hostility to him contained unexpressed prejudices about the true nature of this fey young man in the masculinist universe of the Resistance?
Other gay men in the Resistance do not enter Cordier's story: Roger Stéphane was a twenty-year-old journalist who had contemplated trying to get to London but later said that as a Jew he did not want to be seen as escaping. This background would certainly have predisposed him to favor the Resistance, but the factor that he says clinched his decision was meeting Jean Sussel, who was working for the Combat movement. Having fallen in love with Sussel, Stéphane overcame the young man's sexual inhibitions, and it was Sussel, in return, who overcame Stéphane's final reservations about committing himself to the Resistance.160 Apart from such cases, we can only speculate about the extent to which their sexuality influenced the motivations of other homosexuals in the Resistance—Jean-Louis Bory, briefly a member in 1944 of the maquis, or André Gide's close friend Pierre Herbart—or in the Free French: Roger Wybot, who worked for the Gaullist intelligence services, or the artist Maurice van Moppès, who worked for the French service of the BBC.
Beyond this we do not know much, and Cordier does not tell us. Cordier was of a generation that lived its homosexuality secretly, and the highly masculinist post-Liberation narrative of Resistance had little place for homosexuality.161 This might seem contradicted by some testimonies we have about the atmosphere of Liberation Paris. One American soldier on leave remembered afterward with nostalgia the sense of liberation he felt at visiting the famous nightclub Le Boeuf sur le Toit: “You walked in and you suddenly realised the size of homosexuality—the total global reach of it! . . . It was like a U.N. of gays. . . . For me, it was sort of like a V-E Day for gays—before the real V-E Day.”162 This was also the memory of the young writer Jean-Jacques Rinieri, looking back on the Liberation a few years later: “The years 1945 and 1946 were a golden age of homosexuality in Paris: a moment of decompression that follows periods of upheaval, the presence of allied troops, many of whom had discovered their real sexual taste in enforced and isolated daily contact with their comrades.”163 But this recollection contrasts with that of Rinieri's own lover, Stéphane, who had eluded arrest during the Occupation only to find himself briefly arrested after the Liberation for soliciting in a public lavatory.
So if there were spaces for the expression of homosexual sociability in post-Liberation Paris, there was little opportunity for its public articulation in the masculinist atmosphere of that moment. It is significant that the postwar Liberation government of de Gaulle chose not to abrogate the Vichy law of 1942, which for the first time since the French Revolution had introduced into the French penal code discrimination between homosexual and heterosexual relations.164 Stéphane found the atmosphere of London in the late 1940s more tolerant than Paris, even though in Paris homosexuality was technically legal while in London it was not.165 As for Pascal Copeau, his attempt to embark on a political career after the war was sabotaged by a communist smear campaign about his homosexuality. Perhaps Cordier, then, remains, in telling his story, too much a prisoner of the assumptions and prejudices of that moment of liberation.166 Like Moulin, he was a man of multiple masks who lived many lives, but his memoir provides tantalizing glimpses into a secret emotional world of resistance, and offers a suggestive field of research for future historians.
Versions of this article have been given as papers at the Institute of Historical Research (London), Ben-Gurion University (Beersheba, Israel), and the 2018 Society for French Historical Studies conference (Pittsburgh). The author thanks those who offered comments on these occasions. He also thanks Pascal Convert for sharing his unpublished manuscript on Daniel Cordier; Pierre-Antoine Ullmo for information on the publishing history of Cordier's book; Laurent Douzou, Colin Jones, Matthew Hilton, Marc-Olivier Baruch, and Kevin Passmore for brief comments on an earlier draft; and the three anonymous readers for French Historical Studies.
Piketty and Trouplin, Les compagnons de l'aube; Trouplin, Dictionnaire des compagnons de la Libération; Notin, Histoire des Compagnons de la Libération.
Macron, “Discours du président de la République.”
Michel Fratissier reminds us that Moulin was not as forgotten before 1964 as subsequently alleged (Jean Moulin ou la fabrique d'un héros).
En marche, “Rencontre entre Daniel Cordier et Emmanuel Macron.”
Royer, “Le président Macron, le résistant et le trublion.”
On the Great War, see Mariot, “Avec qui on écrit l'histoire”; and Mariot, “Faut-il être motivé pour tuer?”
Douzou, La Résistance française, is the best study of the historiography.
Steinlight, “Liberation of Paper.”
Douzou, La Résistance française, 68.
Febvre, “Une tragédie, trois compte rendus,” 52.
Febvre, “Avant-propos,” vii.
Cru, Témoins, 555–66.
Rousseau, Le procès des témoins, 86.
Quoted in Rousseau, Le procès des témoins, 68.
Cassou, La mémoire courte, 39.
Passy, Missions secrètes en France, 407–14 (Frenay to Colonel Passy, July 1950).
Laborie, “Historiens sous haute surveillance.”
Actes du Colloque international tenu à Paris, 952. See also Ravenel, “Réflexions sur la relation entre historiens et acteurs.”
Vernant, La traversée des frontières, 31.
The fullest version is Cordier, De l'histoire à l'histoire, 20–23.
Cordier, La République des catacombes, 787.
Cheveigné, Radio libre, 14.
This is mentioned in Cordier, La République des catacombes, 787. A departure to Africa is also mentioned in a novel in which Cordier appears in fictionalized form: Lange, Les poissons chats, 19.
Donations Daniel Cordier.
Andrieu, Pour l'amour de la République.
The books that resulted were Michel, Jean Moulin, l'unificateur; and Moulin, Jean Moulin. Cordier also testified for Piquet-Wicks, Quatre dans l'ombre.
Frenay, La nuit finira.
Frenay, L’énigme Jean Moulin.
Bourdet, “Questions dans la nuit,” describes this as a “stupefying assertion.”
Cordier, De l'histoire à l'histoire, 34.
Cordier, De l'histoire à l'histoire, 21–23.
Cordier, De l'histoire à l'histoire, 123.
Institut National d'Audovisuel (hereafter INA), “Sur le traces de Jean Moulin,” June 18, 1958, where he is called “Alain Cordier,” Alain being one of his Resistance pseudonyms; INA, “Le CNR,” May 8, 1964 (1ere chaine), where he is one of four witnesses (with Meunier, Hostache, and Debu-Bridel); INA, A new report around the transfer of Moulin to Pantheon, Dec. 23, 1964, where he was one of two witnesses; INA, “Lyon capital de la resistance” (Reseau 3), July 31, 1974, where he is one of many, is described as “Daniel Cordier dit ‘Alain’ représentant le Conseil national de la Resistance (il était le sécretaire de Jean Moulin),” and appears with Frenay, among others.
INA, “Les dossiers de l’écran” (Antenne 2), Oct. 11, 1977.
On Cordier learning his craft, see the remarks of the historian Bénédicte Vergez-Chaignon, who started her career as a research assistant to Cordier, “La ‘Révolution’ Cordier”; and Vergez-Chaignon, Jean Moulin, l'affranchi, 12–15.
Institut d'Histoire du Temps Présent (hereafter IHTP), Jean Moulin et le Conseil national de la Résistance, 51.
IHTP, Jean Moulin, 41.
IHTP, Jean Moulin, 38, 54.
Note of Bédarida, Dec. 7, 1993, in Archives Nationales (hereafter AN) 673AP/34; Henry Rousso, email of July 2, 2019.
Cordier, Jean Moulin, L'inconnu du Panthéon, vols. 1–2. I am grateful to Pierre-Antoine Ullmo, who worked for Lattès from 1987 to 1990, for providing me with these details on the gestation of the book.
Cordier had already mentioned the document in a television documentary on Moulin in December 1983 (INA, “Un homme de liberté Jean Moulin,” Jan. 13, 1983 [TF1]), leading Frenay to sue INA. All this is described by Frenay's lawyer Charles Benfredj in L'affaire Jean Moulin.
Bourdet, “Cordier va trop fort . . . ”
Cordier offers some evidence for Mitterrand's intervention (De l'histoire à l'histoire, 60–62). In 1989 Mitterrand promoted Frenay to the rank of grand-officier de la Légion d'Honneur.
This report is printed in full in Benfredj, L'affaire Jean Moulin, 135–42.
Belot, Henri Frenay, 183.
Belot, Henri Frenay, 163–86.
Vergez-Chaignon, Jean Moulin, l'affranchi, 12–15.
Cordier makes this most explicit in Jean Moulin, L'inconnu du Panthéon, 3:949.
Cordier, Jean Moulin, L'inconnu du Panthéon, 1:294.
Cordier, De l'histoire à l'histoire, 37.
Cordier, Jean Moulin, L'inconnu du Panthéon, 1:299.
Cordier, De l'histoire à l'histoire, 86.
Cordier, Jean Moulin, L'inconnu du Panthéon, 1:291.
Cordier, “Histoire et ‘mémoires,’” 309. Using another analogy, Cordier also compared the impossibility of the witness-turned-historian's conveying the full sense of the past to the challenge of reconstituting an improvised jazz performance (Jean Moulin, L'inconnu du Panthéon, 1:303).
Cordier, Jean Moulin, L'inconnu du Panthéon, 1:302.
The origins of this theory are explained by Azéma, “L’‘énigme’ Jean Moulin.”
Wolton, Le grand recrutement.
INA, “Espions au dessus de tout soupçon,” La marche du siècle, Feb. 3, 1993 (France 3).
Kriegel, contribution; Furet, “Le secret des taupes”; Courtois, “Jean Moulin et les communistes.”
Vidal-Naquet, Le trait empoisonné. See also the demolition of Wolton in Conan and Rousso, Vichy, un passé qui ne passe pas, 220–34; and Conan and Lindenberg, “Pourquoi y a-t-il une affaire Jean Moulin?”
Cordier, “Histoire et calomnie.”
See the file on the case in AN 673AP/34.
Courtois, “Archives du communisme.”
Conan and Rousso, Vichy, un passé qui ne passe pas, 229.
Cordier, Jean Moulin, L'inconnu du Panthéon, vol. 3.
Vergez-Chaignon, Jean Moulin, l'affranchi, 15.
Cordier, La République des catacombes. There had been a change of personnel at Lattès, and Cordier's new publisher was the prestigious house of Gallimard, showing that he was no longer a marginal figure in the world of history writing. The deal with Gallimard was that Cordier, in addition to being allowed to publish yet another volume on Moulin, would also publish his memoirs—which he finally did in 2002. On these publishing issues, see Cordier, De l'histoire à l'histoire, 63; and Dosse, Pierre Nora, 432–34. In the words of Pierre-Antoine Ullmo, who had by this time left Lattès, Cordier was now an “author like any other and no longer the author-historian-entrepreneur-judge-attorney-sponsor of a unique editorial adventure he had designed by himself” (email to author, Mar. 6, 2021).
Although retaining the mask of historian, Cordier revealed himself more than previously—for example, in a slightly unseemly passage as part of his vendetta against Pineau—when he poured scorn on Pineau's claim in his memoirs that while in the prison of Montluc in Lyon Pineau had been ordered to shave a dying prisoner who had suffered terrible torture. To his horror, he recognized him as Moulin. Cordier writes that “like many comrades, I didn't place much credence” in the story (La République des catacombes, 471). But there seems to be no reason for this skepticism: see Aglan, “Christian Pineau et Jean Moulin,” 151.
On some points of detail, he has quietly changed his position. In 1993 he dated the first meeting between Moulin and Frenay to the “spring and not the summer of 1941” (Jean Moulin, L'inconnu du Panthéon, 3:113); in 1999 he said that it was ‘in the summer’” (La République des catacombes, 75). This once seemed to matter because one of Frenay's original pieces of “evidence” for Moulin's communism was that he had sought out a meeting with him only after June 1941—after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the communist entry into resistance. By 1999 this no longer seemed to matter much!
Clinton, Jean Moulin; Azéma, Jean Moulin.
Péan, Vies et morts de Jean Moulin; Péan, L'amie inconnue de Jean Moulin; Péan, La diabolique de Caluire; Levisse-Touzé and Veillon, Jean Moulin; Cariou, Jean Moulin en Bretagne; Berriot, Autour de Jean Moulin.
Péan and Ducastel, Jean Moulin; Rabino, Jean Moulin; Gelin, L'affaire Jean Moulin.
Marnham, Death of Jean Moulin; Baynac, Les secrets de l'affaire Jean Moulin; Baynac, Présumé Jean Moulin; Marnham, War in the Shadows.
Reid, “Resistance and Its Discontents”; Suleiman, “History, Heroism, and Narrative Desire”; Guillon, “L'affaire Aubrac.”
Hardy, Derniers mots.
Aubrac, Nous partirons dans l'ivresse.
Aubrac, Où la mémoire s'attarde.
Chauvy, Aubrac. See the critique by Delpla, Aubrac, les faits et la calomnie.
This affair came in the wake of another mini-controversy surrounding the book by the former communist Karel Bartosek, Les aveux des archives, on the relations between the French and Czech Communist Parties. It criticized a canonical text of the French Left, Artur London's L'aveu, and also made some criticism of Raymond Aubrac. In November 1996 nineteen historians published a letter of support for Bartosek in Le monde. See also Lazar and Lindenberg, “Ce qu'avouent les archives du communisme.”
Evénement du jeudi, “Un appel des résistants.”
Cordier, “En tant que camarade des Aubracs.”
Douzou, Lucie Aubrac, 276–95.
Vallaeys and Gaudemar, “Les Aubrac et les historiens.”
Vallaeys and Gaudemar, “Les Aubrac et les historiens.” In a book that came out at the same time, Lucie had also talked of her “tendency to invent her life story, to embellish it” (Aubrac, Cette exigeante liberté, 206).
Vallaeys and Gaudemar, “Les Aubrac et les historiens.”
Vallaeys and Gaudemar, “Les Aubrac et les historiens.”
Vallaeys and Gaudemar, “Les Aubrac et les historiens.”
AN 673AP/38 has the various versions that were circulated to the protagonists.
Rousso, “De l'usage du ‘mythe nécessaire’”; Aubrac, “Ce que cette table ronde m'a appris.”
Azéma, “Affaire Aubrac.” See also Prost, “Les historiens et les Aubracs”; and Andrieu and de Bellesize, “Les Aubracs, jouets d'une histoire.”
Rousso, Hantise du passé, 129–30.
Vernant, La traversée des frontières, 59.
Cordier, De l'histoire à l'histoire, 56.
Cordier, “Je vous écris d'un pays lointain.”
Cordier, Alias Caracalla.
Wieder, “‘Alias Caracalla,’ de Daniel Cordier”; Roussel, “Cordier, de Maurras à Moulin.” For a more considered review, see Douzou, “La Résistance, l'héroïsme et la grisaille.”
On this shift, see Jeannelle, “Patience du mémorialiste.”
Berntsen and Soulat, Un Viking chez les Bédouins, 13–14.
Kidnapped is the word used by Cordier's friend Maurice de Cheveigné, Radio libre, 76–77.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 477.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 906.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 1039–48.
See also Madame Moret's testimony to Henri Michel in 1963: AN 72AJ233, dossier 1, pièce 55.
Cru, Du témoignage, 87–98. On these issues, see Lejeuene, Signes de vie.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 13.
A voix nue, “Nous sommes une famille d'aventuriers.”
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 1086.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 1076–86. De Graaf's testimony is in Berriot, Jean Moulin, 650–61; and Guillin's testimony, “Souvenirs du Docteur F.Y. Guillin,” in Berriot, Jean Moulin, 451–48.
AN 72AJ/233, dossier 2, pièce 22.
Jacques Baynac, an effective historical detective even if his interpretations are absurd and far-fetched, notes these inconsistencies and the mention of Cordier's presumed arrest in Présumé Jean Moulin, 773–78. It has also been treated in detail in the unpublished manuscript of Pascal Convert, and when Convert pointed out these inconsistencies to Cordier, his response was: “Everyone lies about the past when they're telling their life story. . . . I've spent more than thirty years of my life as a historian checking and cross-checking what people have written and what really happened” (Convert, “L’écharpe bleue,” 279–89).
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 687–95.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 468.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 475.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 868, 1097.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 804.
Cordier, De l'histoire à l'histoire, 117.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla.
Cordier, Jean Moulin, L'inconnu du Panthéon, 1:302. See also Cordier, De l'histoire à l'histoire, 119.
Cordier, “Histoire et ‘mémoires,’” 308.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 453. See another similar comment from Schmidt a few weeks later at 514.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 467, 514, 822, 916, 919. These comments are similar to Schmidt's when the CD2GM interviewed him after the war: AN 72AJ/38, dossier 2, pièce 11, témoignage de Schmidt, Nov. 3–5, 1977.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 822.
AN 72AJ/60, dossier 1, pièce 4, témoignage de Bauer, Oct. 20, 1958, offered to complement Bauer's original one, given on Jan. 15, 1947. See also Bauer, Les oubliés et les ignorés.
One other telling anecdote told to me by the historian Anne Simonin: at an event organized at the Institut Français in London in 2010 for the seventieth anniversary of de Gaulle's London speech, the ailing resister Raymond Aubrac firmly refused the offer of having a rest on the final afternoon because he was determined, in his words, not to leave the “last word” to another of those present, Jean-Louis Crémieux-Brilhac, a former member of the Free French based in London during the war.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 686, 722.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 778.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 839.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 786.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 840, 854.
INA, “Apostrophes” (Antenne 2), Nov. 3, 1989.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 415.
Extract from Sachs's notebooks in Berriot, Autour de Jean Moulin, 230. Cordier was in fact not a former Croix de Feu but a former Camelot du Roi.
Sachs's diaries after the war have one or two unflattering mentions of Cordier and also a strange letter from Laure Moulin in 1947 referring to “insinuations regarding Benjamin [another of Cordier's pseudonyms]” and saying that he seemed to her, “in spite of his air of innocence, like a character from Shakespeare, with a bit of Lady Macbeth and of Iago” (quoted in Baynac, Présumé Jean Moulin, 777). Is this because of the rumors that Cordier had been arrested?
Cordier, Jean Moulin, L'inconnu du Panthéon, 1:511.
Moulin, Jean Moulin, 101.
Péan and Ducastel, Jean Moulin, 16, 20.
Besset, Jean Moulin évangile. Péan and Laurent Ducastel discuss the matter and report the inconclusive comments of André Baudry, founder of the “homophile” movement Arcadie (Jean Moulin, 440–44). To me, Baudry was more affirmative but not certain; at Arcadie, Cordier was known irreverently as the “Widow Moulin.”
Lange, Les poissons chats.
Cordier, Les feux de St Elme.
Cordier, Les feux de St Elme, 192.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 1108.
Courrière, Roger Vailland, 305–6.
Vailland, Drôle de jeu, 93, 98.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 24; Jeannelle, “‘Vies mémorables' et expression de l'intime.”
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 150–51.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 274.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 145.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 580.
See Schlagdenhauffen, Le Gac, and Virgili, Homosexuel.le.s en Europe.
D'Emilio, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities, 22–39; Jackson, One of the Boys.
Vickers, Queen and Country.
Gilles Perrault, Dictionnaire amoureux de la Résistance, quoted in Schlagdenhauffen, Le Gac, and Virgili, Homosexuel.le.s en Europe, 26.
Dota, “Parcours contraires.”
Aldrich and Wotherspoon, Who's Who, 34–35.
Kaplan, L'intelligence avec l'ennemi.
Jackson, “Homosexuality, Collaboration, and Resistance in Occupied France.”
Quoted in Leenhardt, Pascal Copeau, 92.
Cordier, Alias Caracalla, 340.
Philipponnat and Lienhardt, Roger Stéphane.
Kelly, Cultural and Intellectual Rebuilding of France; Capdevila, “Le mythe du guerrier.”
Kaiser, Gay Metropolis, 36–37.
Rinieri, “Amour et homosexualité,” 85.
Jackson, Living in Arcadia, 36–42.
Stéphane, Fin d'une jeunesse, 164.
When on one occasion President Hollande praised Cordier both for his courage in his career as a resister and as a gay activist, Cordier was shocked at a comparison that had no meaning for him. I owe this information to Paulin Ismard.