At the end of the chapter it talks about how one of Charles de Gaulles' first orders of business were to unify the French people. He wanted to have a level of uniformity among the people of the French Republic. No said religion, skin color, or origin. The French people would all just be French. They wouldn’t ask for religions or ethnicities on government census forms. This ties into their experience in WWII in the way that the French knew the religious standings of people to turn them over to the Nazi Party. Earlier in the chapter it talks about how when the Nazis gave a list of people they wanted to the president, he changed some names because he didn’t want "good Frenchmen to be killed". He wouldn’t have been able to do this if the government had enacted the uniformity policy years earlier. I feel like the level of uniformity they created had pros and cons. The pro would be that all French people shared a common characteristic, that the government sees them all as French. The con of this though is that the government is unintentionally erasing ethnic heritage in some way.
I completely agree! If the French government were to implement assimilation into the lives of its people, the country would unintentionally lose important heritage and history.
Good point about the risk of losing heritage and/or culture. A recent example of this that I remember from the media was the debate over the Burquini and whether to allow burqa and niqab in France because of their ban on veils and headscarves.
I like how you mentioned that the government is unintentionally erasing their ethnic heritage because it seems like with the policy of assimilation, there is no celebration of diversity but an enforcement of conformity.
According to Google, assimilation literally means “the process of becoming similar to something”. In relation to France and its people, it means that every person will become the same as everyone else. For example, this would mean that everyone would be treated the same despite their race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, etc. Basically, these classifications would disappear, and all people living in France would be treated equally. Therefore, citizens are just seen as French by the government instead of other things they could be labeled as. When it comes to World War two and France, assimilation would have been useful and beneficial for the military and potential soldiers. The soldiers and Frenchman would have been selected randomly for positions instead of opinions based on specific identifications of the person being chosen. Chapter seven of “Six Million Frenchmen Can’t be Wrong” depicts the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating the process of assimilation into the every day lives of the French. Personally, I could see how this would be beneficial, because there would be no bias when it comes to important governmental decisions and regulations, but I could also see why it could harbor negative consequences. Unfortunately, if the government were to introduce assimilation to its people, competition would be lost between people, and France itself would lose a significant amount of personality, history, and culture.
I thought the point in the book about all children who were born in France just being considered French was interesting-- similar to your point about classifications of race, ethnicity, and religion disappearing. If they raised the young generation not to be concerned with those delineations then they would cease to be important in any way.
Very good job of analyzing the positives and negatives of trying to assimilate the French people. With such a rich culture i don't know why they would choose to do this.
I remembering here about how the French uphold their national identity above all else and religion/race should come second. Reading about assimilation showed me where it all came from. Your comment about how the France would lose history/culture seems to be very true.
I thought you had lots of good points on dealing with both sides of the issues that occurred. I also agree that in making everyone simply French would lost the character and history of what makes everyone unique.
In the end of the seventh chapter of “Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong,” the French policy of assimilation is described as part of Charles de Gaulle’s plan to “renew France socially, politically, and economically” after the end of World War II. In order to “restore France’s honor, independence, and rank among great nations,” he worked toward a goal of assimilation of the French people that would become a “unifying ideal of the French Republic.” The main goal of this plan was to remove divisions between French people in the eyes of the government and society at large by removing emphasis on categories such as race, religion, ethnicity, skin color, et cetera. This information did not henceforth appear on official government documents, including the national census. Furthermore, “no record or files on French citizens’ religion and ethnicity” would be kept. If the policy of assimilation had been enacted before the occupation of France, then the Nazis would have had access to far less information about the religions of the French people.
The choices that led to removing this information from the national focus are related to France’s experience in the second World War because of the ways in which information on this topic was used by the Nazis and the French government during the occupation of France. For example, the authors tell the story of the execution of a hundred hostages in which the German military “sent the French a list of one hundred candidates… and the French Minister of the Interior removed forty names and replaced them with the names of communists and labor activists.” He justified this decision by saying “I could not let forty good Frenchmen die.”
Great point of how the unity of the French nation was in action during WWII
The word assimilation roughly means “people processing and acquiring the information and ideas of another group”. In France, Charles de Guelles believed that after the war, French people needed to be blended into one big group of people not based off their race, ethnicity, culture or beliefs. He did this because he wanted the French people to all be as “one”. This is beneficial because it installs a belief of unity amongst the citizens as they are all considered to be French. The only negative is that this could also be a way of erasing some of the rich and diverse French culture that the book covered in the first few chapters. It is uncommon to have a country that is completely unified looking at countries that are so diverse like the US or Canada
It defiantly does install a sense of unity. Having everyone feel equal and "one" is one of the first steps in crating unity.
In chapter 7 of “Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t be Wrong”, authors Nadeau and Barlow assert that the effects of World War II are very present in modern day France. The policy of assimilation is a direct cause and is so pervasive in French society. Since World War II was based on discrimination against ethnicity/religion, the French decided to take an all or none approach to keep this sort of bigotry from ever happening again. The assimilation policy requires the French to look beyond race, religion, etc. If a child is born in France, that child is French and essentially only French. Since the concept of assimilation was a direct result of World War II, it is obvious that the French do not want a repeat of what happened during that time. However, the policy seems to be a blanket approach to the reality of discrimination. It might unintentionally remove any sort of ethnic heritage. Instead of celebrating the diversity, the policy seems to unintentionally turn a blind eye to any sort of distinction. While I get the where the policy is coming from, I do not believe this is the best approach to dealing with diversity.
I saw similar points as you did. I completely agree that making everyone simply "French" takes away peoples uniqueness in what makes them human and different.
Nadeau and Barlow in Chapter 7, speak about the long term effects that still plague the country of France from World War II. The Webster’s Dictionary definition of affirmation is the process of taking in and fully understanding information or ideas. As a student who showed an avid interest in World War II, it is obviously clear that there was discriminatory action taken against citizens based on their religious views, race, and even sexual orientation. The assimilation policy is the French government's way of making sure none of the atrocities occur again. There would be no need to disclose any of the aforementioned information on a census or anything like that. They would all just be simply French, this however, takes away the opportunity for differences in heritage and makes everyone the same. Though this could be a positive, the differences in humans is what makes everyone unique, so taking this away takes away their identity.
Charles de Gaulle had a plan at the end of World War II that would become a “unifying ideal of the French Republic.” His goal was to “renew France socially, politically, and economically,” removing social constraints and the concept of race, religion, ethnicity, skin color, etc. During World War II, the Nazi’s were responsible for inflicting harm upon those who were different. People’s personal information appeared on their documents, which, once the Nazis got ahold of someone’s personal information, and knew that they were Jewish, a gypsy, homosexual, etc., they could potentially kill or cause extreme trauma. With Charles de Gaulle’s plan, this personal information was removed from documents, allowing the French people to become more unified by removing the social constraints that have previously defined them. This can be both a good and a bad thing. Yes, it forcibly removes any prejudice people may face, but it also erases individual heritage, which for some people can be a defining factor.
Yes i agree. For some people heritage truly is the defining factor!
The word assimilation means, “the process of taking in and fully understanding information or ideas”. After the war, a man named Charles De Gaulle wanted to restore Frances honor, independence and for it to rank among the great nations. He said he had to renew France socially, politically and economically. He and a new generation of leaders began the process of assimilation. This was a way to make all French people equal, everyone with a French citizenship was considered French and that was it. They didn’t go by religion, skin color or ethnic origins anymore, if you had French citizenship you were French. New born babies despite their origins were also considered French if they were born in France. One key thing assimilation didn’t eliminate was racism, this still strongly goes on in modern day France.