The Liberation & The Fourth Republic

  • © Chris Willis

The Liberation & The Fourth Republic

1944-1958

The months after the Liberation in 1946, saw an explosion of joy in the capital and all over France. General de Gaulle was hailed as a hero.

Excesses of "purging" were felt in acts of violence. Women accused of consorting with the Germans had their heads shaved. "Existentialism" was defined by the writer Jean-Paul Sartre, giving man "total responsibility for his own existence". The fashionable frequented the "caves" of Saint-Germain-des-Près, to the sound of American rhythms. The modern novel, cinema and sport filled the people's leisure time, an excellent counter to the years of restrictions. A massive drive to rebuild spread across the whole of France.

The Vietnam war, then the Korean war preoccupied minds. Nationalisation of private companies occurred throughout France. Communist regimes became established in the countries of Eastern Europe. This was the "Cold War " between the American and Communist powers. In France, the socialists were in power. V. Auriol, P.Ramadier, R. Schuman, G. Bidault, Pleven, H. Queuille, E. Faure and A. Pinay were the names on everyone's lips. President R. Coty succeeded V. Auriol in 1953.

1954 saw the battle of Dien-Bien-Phu, P. Mendès-France came to power, and Ben Bella founded the National Liberation Front (FLN) in Algeria. This was the Algerian war and the Suez canal affair. In December 1958, General de Gaulle was appointed president of the Fifth Republic.