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Home » Books » Nonfiction » Law » Criminal Law

The Trial of Pierre Laval

Defining Treason, Collaboration and Patriotism in World War II France

By J.Kenneth Brody

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Format: Hardcover, 298 pages
Published In: United States, 15 February 2010
In a stunning work combining historical memory, legal ambiguity, and profound issues of justice, J. Kenneth Brody provides a picture of France in World War II that continues to haunt the present. Architect in 1940 of Marshal Petain's Vichy French regime and its prime minister from April 1942 to August 1944, at war's end Pierre Laval was promptly arrested on charges of treason. This book tells the story of his trial. Did he betray France, or did he serve France under terrible circumstances? What was the truth of 'collaboration'? This book considers the pretrial proceedings, or lack thereof, the evidence, and the arguments of the prosecution, as well as Laval's vigorous defense in the early days of the trial. Because of irregularities in the preliminary proceedings, Laval's defense counsel declined from the outset to participate in the trial. For those reasons and because of the prejudicial conduct of the prosecution, on the third day of the trial, Pierre Laval also declined to participate further. What his defense might have been in a normal pre-trial proceeding and in a fair trial are matters of conjecture. What remains clear is that political trials are a unique form of law and moral judgment. Trials and history share a common goal - the truth. Trial, judgment, and appeal are intended to produce finality. History, on the other hand, is never final. After its performance in the trial of Pierre Laval, the government of France continued its policy of concealment, even though the truth could no longer determine the outcome of the trial. Slowly, by persistence, courage, and loyalty, history's claims to truth were established. This book presents the defense that might have been presented and then relates the final judgment, its grisly execution only eleven days after the trial opened, and its aftermath.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction Prologue: The Black Plane 1. Pierre Laval 2. Preliminary Proceedings 3. The Trial, October 4, 1945 4. The Accusation 5. Pierre Laval, Prisoner 6. The Trial, October 4, 1945 7. Pierre Laval, A Life 8. The Trial, October 4, 1945 9. Pierre Laval, Republican 10. The Trial, October 5, 1945 11. The Trial, October 5, 1945 12. The Trial, October 5, 1945 13. Pierre Laval, Collaborator 1 14. The Trial, October 6, 1945 15. Pierre Laval, Collaborator 2 16. The Trial, October 6, 1945 17. The Trial, October 6, 8, 9, 1945 18. Pierre Laval's Decision 19. The Trial, October 9, 1945 20. Pierre Laval's Defense 21. The Judgment, October 9, 1945 22. On the Eve 23. Dernier Cri 24. Aftermath Epilogue: The Mistress in the Shadows Notes Bibliography Index

Reviews

-The most thought--provoking book is J Kenneth Brody's study of Pierre Laval. . . Still, Brody is surely right that -if Pierre Laval, in participating in the formation of the Vichy government and later in serving in it, were guilty of a capital crime, then his co-defendants in France would have been legion- and would have included the bulk of the political and administrative classes of the Third Republic that collapsed in 1940.- --Tony Barber, former Financial Times Brussels bureau chief -J. Kenneth Brody provides a picture of France in World War II that continues to haunt the present. The architect of Marshal Petain's Vichy French regime and its prime minister from April 1942 to August 1944. Pierre Laval was promptly arrested on charges of treason at the war's end. This book tells the story of his trial.- -Yale Law Report -As defense counsel of Pierre Laval and witness to the last moments of his life, I have read the manuscript of The Trial of Pierre Laval with keen interest. It makes an important contribution to the history of Europe of the twentieth century, relating the efforts of Pierre Laval to avoid the War of 1939-1945 and to limit the consequences to France of a severe Occupation. It also relates the conditions under which the death penalty was pronounced against him without his being able to present a normal defense. Mr. Brody presents with insight and great objectivity the case which Pierre Laval could have made to his judges; the final verdict rests with posterity.- -Maitre Yves Frederic JaffrE, Member of the Paris Bar and Defense Counsel to Pierre Laval -Brody does an excellent job of recounting the events of the trial, citing the particular actions for which Laval was being -condemned,- providing the historical framework within which the actions occurred, and the actual decisions made by Laval in each circumstance. The ironies, the judicial biases, the exit of the defense lawyers, the emotions, the Laval responses, and the vocal comments of members of the jury made this a highly charged judicial proceeding, very well presented by Brody.- -The Readers Exchange -This succinct recall of the infamous trial of Laval can be numbered among a growing body of literature recounting the multifarious machinations for good and evil surrounding World War II. The author has woven into a seamless web critical excerpts from the trial proceedings and Laval's prison conversations with his attorney. ... It is not simply a crucial piece of history but a compelling analysis of the awful power of the amoral state.- -Richard Abel -This book was written to present the defenses that Laval declined to present as a protest of the unfairness of the trial proceedings. The book is brilliantly written, with details that bring the trial and people involved to life. The scholarship is amazing, but does not weight down the flow of the story.- -Herb Park -[The Trial of Pierre Laval] is a gripping daily story of the highs and lows of Laval's testimony and the fearful odds he faced in trying to convince an already determined trial court and jury that he should be acquitted. The author skillfully presents the defense that Laval might have made in an impartial proceeding.- -Norman J. Wiener "The most thought--provoking book is J Kenneth Brody's study of Pierre Laval. . . Still, Brody is surely right that "if Pierre Laval, in participating in the formation of the Vichy government and later in serving in it, were guilty of a capital crime, then his co-defendants in France would have been legion" and would have included the bulk of the political and administrative classes of the Third Republic that collapsed in 1940." --Tony Barber, former Financial Times Brussels bureau chief "J. Kenneth Brody provides a picture of France in World War II that continues to haunt the present. The architect of Marshal Petain's Vichy French regime and its prime minister from April 1942 to August 1944. Pierre Laval was promptly arrested on charges of treason at the war's end. This book tells the story of his trial." -Yale Law Report "As defense counsel of Pierre Laval and witness to the last moments of his life, I have read the manuscript of The Trial of Pierre Laval with keen interest. It makes an important contribution to the history of Europe of the twentieth century, relating the efforts of Pierre Laval to avoid the War of 1939-1945 and to limit the consequences to France of a severe Occupation. It also relates the conditions under which the death penalty was pronounced against him without his being able to present a normal defense. Mr. Brody presents with insight and great objectivity the case which Pierre Laval could have made to his judges; the final verdict rests with posterity." -Maitre Yves Frederic JaffrE, Member of the Paris Bar and Defense Counsel to Pierre Laval "Brody does an excellent job of recounting the events of the trial, citing the particular actions for which Laval was being "condemned," providing the historical framework within which the actions occurred, and the actual decisions made by Laval in each circumstance. The ironies, the judicial biases, the exit of the defense lawyers, the emotions, the Laval responses, and the vocal comments of members of the jury made this a highly charged judicial proceeding, very well presented by Brody." -The Readers Exchange "This succinct recall of the infamous trial of Laval can be numbered among a growing body of literature recounting the multifarious machinations for good and evil surrounding World War II. The author has woven into a seamless web critical excerpts from the trial proceedings and Laval's prison conversations with his attorney. ... It is not simply a crucial piece of history but a compelling analysis of the awful power of the amoral state." -Richard Abel "This book was written to present the defenses that Laval declined to present as a protest of the unfairness of the trial proceedings. The book is brilliantly written, with details that bring the trial and people involved to life. The scholarship is amazing, but does not weight down the flow of the story." -Herb Park "[The Trial of Pierre Laval] is a gripping daily story of the highs and lows of Laval's testimony and the fearful odds he faced in trying to convince an already determined trial court and jury that he should be acquitted. The author skillfully presents the defense that Laval might have made in an impartial proceeding." -Norman J. Wiener

EAN: 9781412811521
ISBN: 141281152X
Publisher: Transaction Publishers
Dimensions: 23.52 x 16.21 x 2.26 centimetres (0.55 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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