The Hunt for Nazi Spies: Fighting Espionage in Vichy France by Simon KitsonThe Hunt for Nazi Spies: Fighting Espionage in Vichy France by Simon Kitson

The Hunt for Nazi Spies: Fighting Espionage in Vichy France

bySimon Kitson

Hardcover | December 30, 2007

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From 1940 to 1942, French secret agents arrested more than two thousand spies working for the Germans and executed several dozen of them—all despite the Vichy government’s declared collaboration with the Third Reich. A previously untold chapter in the history of World War II, this duplicitous activity is the gripping subject of The Hunt for Nazi Spies, a tautly narrated chronicle of the Vichy regime’s attempts to maintain sovereignty while supporting its Nazi occupiers.

Simon Kitson informs this remarkable story with findings from his investigation—the first by any historian—of thousands of Vichy documents seized in turn by the Nazis and the Soviets and returned to France only in the 1990s. His pioneering detective work uncovers a puzzling paradox: a French government that was hunting down left-wing activists and supporters of Charles de Gaulle’s Free French forces was also working to undermine the influence of German spies who were pursuing the same Gaullists and resisters. In light of this apparent contradiction, Kitson does not deny that Vichy France was committed to assisting the Nazi cause, but illuminates the complex agendas that characterized the collaboration and shows how it was possible to be both anti-German and anti-Gaullist.

Combining nuanced conclusions with dramatic accounts of the lives of spies on both sides, The Hunt for Nazi Spies adds an important new dimension to our understanding of the French predicament under German occupation and the shadowy world of World War II espionage.

About The Author

Simon Kitson is a senior lecturer in French studies at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of Experiencing Occupation in Western Europe, 1940–45. Catherine Tihanyi is a translator and research associate in the department of anthropology at Western Washington University.

Details & Specs

Title:The Hunt for Nazi Spies: Fighting Espionage in Vichy FranceFormat:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:December 30, 2007Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226438937

ISBN - 13:9780226438931

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

      Preface to the English Language Edition
      Glossary and Abbreviations
      Chronology of World War II France


1    Organizing German Espionage

2    Becoming a Spy

3    The Structure of French Counterespionage

4    Secret Service Ambiguities

5    Everyday Counterespionage

6    The Fate of the Spies

7    Understanding Vichy's Policy



Editorial Reviews

"[The] conclusions greatly enhance our historical knowledge of Franco-German relations and the nature of the Vichy regime . That they are presented alongside superior archival research and engaging prose only increases the value of this highly recommended work."