Eric Maroney, author of Religious Syncretism, The Other Zions, & published fiction
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.