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Benoist-Mechin (Jacques) papers
2007C70  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biographical Chronology
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Related Material

  • Title: Jacques Benoist-Méchin papers
    Date (inclusive): 1909-1994
    Collection Number: 2007C70
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
    Language of Material: French
    Physical Description: 26 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize box (10.8 Linear Feet)
    Abstract: Acquired in 2007, the Jacques Benoist-Méchin Papers represent a significant addition to the existing holdings in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives relating to the collaborationist Vichy government in France during World War II. Although the papers are only part of the extant Benoit-Méchin materials in various depositories and private collections, the collection in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives contains important documents from all major phases of Benoist-Méchin's multifaceted career as a literary figure, politician, and historian.
    Creator: Benoist-Méchin, 1901-1983
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives

    Access

    The collection is open for research; materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.

    Use

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 2007

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Jacques Benoist-Méchin Papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives

    Biographical Chronology

    1901 Born, Paris, France
    1921 Served as interpreter, French occupation forces in the Ruhr, Germany
    1925-1927 Director, Paris bureau, International News Service
    1929-1930 Editor, l'Europe Nouvelle
    1936 Joined pro-fascist party of Jacques Doriot, the Parti Populaire Français
      Author, Histoire de l'armée allemande (5 volumes)
    1939 Author, Eclaircissements sur Mein Kampf d'Adolphe Hitler, le livre qui a changé la face du monde
    1939 Mobilized into French army. Taken prisoner by German forces and interned in Voves, France
    1940 Released from P.O.W. camp, and enters service of Vichy government of Philippe Pétain
    1940-1942 Serves in various ministerial posts, under Darlan and Laval, in Vichy government
    1944 Arrested as a collaborator after the Liberation of France and incarcerated
    1947 Sentenced to death by French court. Death penalty is commuted to one of prison with hard labor
    1947-1953 In prison, including in Fresnes, France. Released in an act of clemency by the government of Vincent Auriol
    1954 Author, Mustapha Kemal
    1956 Author, Soixante jours qui ébranlèrent l'occident: 10 mai--10 juillet 1940
    1957-1976 Traveled widely as a journalist and author in the Middle East and North Africa, making the acquaintance of various Arab rulers. Served as an occasional private envoy of the French government in the same region
    1959 Author, Un printemps arabe
    1983 Died

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Acquired in 2007, the Jacques Benoist-Méchin Papers represent a significant addition to the existing holdings in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives relating to the collaborationist Vichy government in France during World War II. Although the papers are only part of the extant Benoit-Méchin materials in various depositories and private collectio ns, the collection in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives contains important documents from all major phases of Benoist-Méchin's diverse careers as cultural figure, politician, and historian.
    The papers will be of particular interest to historians of the Vichy period. The Speeches and Writings series shows Benoist-Méchin's evolution from cultivated litterateur to an ardently Germanophile historian and politician, one who enthusiastically embraced Nazi Germany's vision of a New Europe. Benoit-Méchin's writings also reveal his reinvention after World War II as an analyst and historian of Middle East and North African affairs.
    The Vichy government file series includes a compilation of materials (called by Benoist-Méchin "notes politiques") that relate directly to his service, including a period as minister, in the Vichy regime. These document his work for Admiral François Darlan, his collaboration with the German ambassador to France, Otto Abetz, as well memoranda and reports, including an important letter sent to Philippe Pétain by Adolf Hitler to mark the first anniversary of France's surrender to Germany in 1940.
    The Trial and imprisonment file series provides an intimate look at the judicial proceedings against Vichy collaborators and their subsequent experiences in prison. In this series, there is correspondence among Benoit-Méchin and his fellow prisoners, including Robert Brasilach in the period leading up to his execution. There are also art works in this file that depict prison life and the viewpoint of Vichy collaborators concerning the violence surrounding the liberation of France.
    The extensive Correspondence series records Benoist-Méchin's enduring connections to collaborationist and ex-Nazi milieus in France, Germany, and elsewhere. Among these friends and acquaintances of Benoist-Méchin figure Fritz von Papen, Wolf Rüdiger Hess, Oswald and Diana Mosley, René de Chambrun, and Saint-Paulien (the pseudonym of Maurice-Ivan Sicard). There is also correspondence between Benoist-Méchin and French officials in the 1960s and 1970s, including Jacques Chirac and Georges Pompidou. Among other matters, these reveal Benoist-Méchin's behind-the-scenes role as an envoy of the French government to various Arab rulers in this period. The series also includes correspondence with some of these rulers, including Muamar Khadaffi (Muammar al-Gaddafi), who commissioned Benoist-Méchin to arrange the French publication of the Libyan leader's so-called Green Book. More materials on Benoist-Méchin's many travels and high-placed connections in the Arab world can be found in the Middle East and North Africa file series of the papers.
    The extensive Photograph series contains hundreds of prints, many personally selected and arranged by Benoist-Méchin, that illustrate his career and what he considered to be its highlights, including his collaboration with the Nazis. There are some additional materials revealing of Benoist-Méchin's assessment of his wartime role in the Biographical file series.

    Arrangement

    The collection is organized into 10 series: Biographical file, correspondence, speeches and writings, Vichy government file, Trial and imprisonment file, Middle East and North Africa file, subject file, writings by others, photographs, and oversize materials.

    Related Material

    Gaston Bergery Papers, Hoover Institution Library & Archives
    René de Chambrun Papers, Hoover Institution Library & Archives
    Marcel Déat Papers, Hoover Institution Library & Archives
    Georges Scapini Papers, Hoover Institution Library & Archives

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    World War, 1939-1945 -- Prisoners and prisons
    World War, 1939-1945 -- France
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Collaborationists
    Prisoners of war
    Middle East -- Politics and government
    National socialism
    France -- History -- German occupation, 1940-1945
    France -- Politics and government -- 20th century
    Middle East -- History
    Germany -- History, Military
    France -- Politics and government -- 1940-1945
    France -- Foreign relations -- Germany
    Germany -- Foreign relations -- France