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A forgotten war? History and memories of french veterans during the first Indochina War


Author: Coudray, Éric
Under the direction of : Pierre Journoud
Paul Valéry University Montpellier 3
Langue française Texte français

Keywords: History, Indochina, French women, Memories, Fighters, Forgotten war, Indochina war.


Read the thesis.


The study of French combatant memories of the Indochina War does not constitute a new military or geopolitical history of this complex and terrible conflict that lasted nine years, from 1945 to 1954. It brings us back to a memory "from below" of the CEFEO soldiers who lived through it. Individual and collective memories sometimes haunt their lives and those of their families, creating an equally painful after-memory. This thesis places at the center of the history of this conflict the testimonies of veterans, known or not, which give another reality than that of the written sources, archives, articles, various works already published. Its ambition is to valorize the oral and written memories of the Indochina combatants, to explain the relationships of complementarity and dissonance between history and memories, the latter nuancing the former, between memory and oblivion ; themes dear to Paul Ricoeur, among others. The memories of the French veterans of Indochina start from their commitment as young soldiers and their journey to Indochina until today. Most of them have lived through a cruel war in a country that has marked them greatly. Since their return, the bitterness of defeat has undermined some of them and pushed others to move on. Many of them feel that this distant war has been forgotten. This conflict is rather unknown, marginal in the collective memory. It has been "covered" by wars that have had a greater impact on the nation. The vectors of memory have not sufficiently relayed its own. This exiled memory of the Indochina War exists, however. Going in search of it is a fascinating exercise.