The Algeria Hotel in Vichy was the sight of the Gestapo Headquarters in World War II: an emblem of the French cohabitation with the worst excesses of Nazism. This book aims to lift the veil of amnesia now shrouding France's collective memory of such collusion - in Bordeaux, Vichy and Tulle.
The Algeria Hotel in Vichy was the site of the Gestapo Headquarters in World War 2: an emblem of the French cohabitation with the worst excess of Nazism. But it's hard in modern France to find anyone who acknowledges being anything but a member of the Resistance - a national amnesia is in place, only now beginning to be questioned. When the veil is lifted, deep passions are stirred. Adam Nossiter grew up in a France desperate to believe in its innocence; in THE ALGERIA HOTEL he visits three towns where the past hangs heavy and finds a layer of unease and disturbance. In Bordeaux, he follows the trial of Maurice Papon, functionary and war criminal, seeking 'those who might have reason for not remembering'; there are many, self-serving, dismissive, forgetful. In Vichy, capital of occupied France, every building and corner is full of association in spite of all attempts to block it. And in Tulle, still haunted by the events of June 8, 1944, when German soldiers hanged 99 men and sent another 101 to concentration camps in retaliation for a Resistance action', the past hangs over the town like a pall that cannot be lifted. Through the prisms of place and people, present and past, Nossiter's book is searching study of the ghosts of modern France - from collaboration to collusion to compromise - and a resonant story about how we remember and why we forget.