Labour History Review

Bombing Billancourt: Labour Agency and the Limitations of the Public Opinion Model of Wartime France

Labour History Review (2012), 77, (1), 49–74.

Abstract

This article examines the bombing of the Renault Billancourt factory on 3 March 1942. Despite sporadic RAF bombing of France since defeat in June 1940, this was a significant raid because it initiated the RAF's new intensified bombing campaign against France, which targeted areas that were disproportionately working-class because of the priority of hitting industry and the rail network. The article takes issue with propaganda and public opinion as the dominant conceptual paradigm through which to understand the reception of the raid and, for that matter, attitudes in wartime France more generally. Using clandestine propaganda, prefectoral reports and diaries, this article identifies labour agency and a cognitive process operating in the Parisian suburban workers' districts through modes of communication such as rumour, speculation about the course of the war, recriminations against the authorities and popular scepticism of official propaganda.

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Author details

Perry, Matt