Young collaborators during the post-Liberation purges: A separate justice system?

Justice, order and transgression
By Fabien Lostec

This paper looks at a little-known group of individuals who endured purges: minors accused of having collaborated during the Second World War. Using a corpus of 1,300 girls and boys tried in six departments representative of France under the Occupation, the aim is to examine how minors were treated by the purge trials during a period in which the state sought to keep young common law offenders away from the criminal justice system. While the Ordinance of 2 February 1945 established the principle of the primacy of prevention over repression, were the practices of the exceptional legal purge aligned with those of the ordinary justice system? To answer this question, after giving a presentation of the accused, we study the legal repression of young people, the acts of which they were accused, and the gap between the sentences handed down and the sentences they actually served. While this paper is limited to France, it concludes by opening up to a connected and transnational history of the purges of minors in Europe at the end of the Second World War.

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