Contact:	Suzanne Trimel					For immediate release
		(212) 854-5573					September 22, 1997

(Editors: A complete schedule of the conference is available)

Top Historians Gather at Columbia Sept. 26-27 For Conference on Vichy France

New research on Vichy France will be presented by leading international historians of the period during a conference in New York Sept. 26-27 to honor historian Robert Paxton, a professor at Columbia University whose book "Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order" 25 years ago challenged the myth of French resistance under Nazi occupation. The two-day conference at Maison Fran┘aise on the Columbia University campus at Broadway and 116th Street in Manhattan will bring together scholars and writers from France, America and elsewhere, whose research has been spurred by "l'┌re paxtonienne." "When we think of Vichy it is pre- and post-Paxton," says historian Sarah Fishman, author of a book on the wives of French prisoners of war, "We Will Wait" (1992). "Before Paxton's book there was a myth that helped the French feel better about themselves and served its political purposes. Paxton essentially exploded that myth." Ioannis Sinanoglou, executive director of the Council for European Studies at Columbia, joins a group of former students of Professor Paxton's who organized the conference. The Sterling Currier Fund, an endowment of Reid Hall, Columbia's French studies program in Paris, is supporting the conference. "Professor Paxton held up a mirror and, though many in France did not like what they saw, scholars both there and in the United States have rigorously pursued the inquiry that he began," said Dr. Sinanoglou. Many leading scholars of the period will participate in the conference. The opening program from 9:30 A.M. to noon Friday will feature Jean-Pierre Az┌ma speaking on "The Paxton Revolution 30 Years Later" and Professor Stanley Hoffmann of Harvard University on "Vichy Studies in France Before and After Paxton." The conference will feature lectures on the social, cultural and political experiences of France during the Vichy years, including "Vichy and the Jews" by Michael Marrus of the University of Toronto; "Youth in Vichy France" by Professor Fishman of the University of Houston and "Some Modest Proposals to Cure the Vichy Syndrome" by Pascal Ory of the Universit┌ de Versailles. Though controversial when first published, "Vichy France" opened the French toward a more nuanced and accurate picture of the German occupation years in France from 1940 to 1944. Today, the book is regarded as a canonical work on both sides of the Atlantic and Professor Paxton is an esteemed figure in France. The French government has bestowed upon him two honorary distinctions: the National Order of Merit, with the rank of officer, and the Order of Arts and Letters, with the rank of commander. The French Consul General in New York, Patrick Gautrat, and the Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, Pierre Buhler, will present the insignia at the close of the conference at 6 P.M. Saturday, September 27. Professor Paxton, author of two other books on the Vichy period, retired from the Columbia faculty as Mellon Professor of the Social Sciences in June after a 40-year academic career, although he is teaching a course in the History Department this fall. By examining German and American diplomatic records and some French materials published at the time, Professor Paxton discredited the accepted notion developed after World War II that the Vichy government has sought to protect a nation of "40 million resisters" from the worst cruelties of the German occupiers. Instead, he showed that the Vichy regime had sought real collaboration with Germany -- consistently offering more than the Germans asked, particularly in the area of anti-Semitic policies -- to carve out a role for France under Hitler in a future New European Order. Further, Professor Paxton found that among the French population the Vichy government remained popular until it became clear that Germany would likely lose the war. His findings were attacked when the French edition of the book was published in 1973 but "Vichy France" has spurred French historians to reexamine the image of a brave-victim France during the war. The book is now considered the benchmark for historical research on France during the occupation years. French scholarship on the Vichy period has been re-oriented as younger scholars, particularly those associated with the Institut d'Histoire du Temps Pr┌sent in Paris, have come to grips with issues largely evaded by their elders. Professor Paxton, who was educated at Washington and Lee University, Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes scholar, and at Harvard, where he earned the Ph.D., has written four other books: Parades and Politics at Vichy (1966); Europe in the 20th Century (1975); Vichy France and the Jews, with Michael R. Marrus, (1981) and Le Temps de Chemises Vertes: r┌volte paysanne et fascisme rural, 1929-1939. 9.22.97 19,178