Polonais-es et Juif-ve-s polonais-es réfugié-e-s à Lyon (1935-1945) : esquives et stratégies.

Translated title of the contribution: Polish refugees and Polish jewish refugees in Lyon (France) 1939-1945 : sidesteps and strategies

Laurence Prempain Nicot

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


Laurence Prempain dedicates her PhD (History) to the study of the Poles and Polish Jews who came to live in Lyon (France) between 1935 and 1945. In the first part, she presents the geographical framework (Lyon), her methodology (Gender approach, microhistory and silence as a source) and her will to understand their voices and place them to the heart of her work. For that purpose, upon the examination of approximately 600 administrative files amassed by the « bureau des étrangers » (préfecture du Rhône), the letters they wrote have been then systematically collected to shed light on their authors’ struggle to live and survive. The historian starts from the postulate that Poles and Polish Jews in France make up a heterogeneous population, only sharing a common citizenship, nonetheless they remain economic, political and war refugees. Thus, once considered welcomed, all Polish nationals are , at their life, considered as unwanted, « indésirables ». Therefore, the second part investigates the processes used by the Third Republic and then the Vichy Regime to get rid of them: expulsions, driving back, exclusions, internments or deportation. Moreover, the author raises the question of the war ends and demonstrates that purges have a gendered dimension, which can be seen as an attempt of reappropriation of the authority. She also focuses on the foreign deportees repatriation’s organisation. Finally, in a third part, she asserts that far from being subjected, these men and women have acted and developped evolutive strategies. Through the letters they wrote, through what is said and what is silenced, she establishes that those strategies are a matter of what she names sidestep and transgression. The first one adapts itself with the limits while the other is deliberately opposed to it. Sidestep and transgression complete each other. It is also showed that to the arbitrary of the richy regime respond strategies more and more transgressive, such as clandestinity, cross borders and resistance. The moving from a strategy to another one, depends on the person, the context, the habits, the life course and the identity. The historian concludes that in 2016, the refugees crisis that shakes Europe resonates of the same voices, of those who are looking for protecting their lives and to living in dignity..
Translated title of the contributionPolish refugees and Polish jewish refugees in Lyon (France) 1939-1945 : sidesteps and strategies
Original languageFrench
  • Douzou, Laurent, Supervisor, External person
Award date5 Dec 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 5 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • World War II
  • France
  • Lyon
  • gender
  • refugees
  • Polish Jews
  • Poles
  • Strategy
  • Transgression
  • Polish resistance
  • Jewish resistance
  • microhistory
  • Antisemitism
  • prefectoral administration
  • migration

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