Thursday, June 19, 2014

Scum of the Earth


Scum of the Earth by Arthur Koestler is an account of Koestler’s internment in various French prisons and concentration camps prior to the outbreak of World War II.

The scum of the earth in the title refers to those extreme leftist intellectuals, Spanish Republican soldiers, communists and socialists who were incarcerated by the Free French government.  Koestler investigates that odd premise that the French government should arrest staunch anti-fascists as France begins a fight for survival with Nazi Germany.

By the books end, the scum of the earth appears to transform to certain sectors of French society who all too eagerly embraced Petain’s Vichy government and collaborated with the Germans; the latent antisemitism and fascistic tendencies of post-World War One France are revealed as the guiding force behind Koestler’s incarceration.

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