Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist
Living with the Enemy

Living with the Enemy
German Occupation, Collaboration and Justice in the Western Pyrenees, 1940–1948


  • Date Published: July 2017
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316630877

£ 23.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • In post-liberation France, the French courts judged the cases of more than one hundred thousand people accused of aiding and abetting the enemy during the Second World War. In this fascinating book, Sandra Ott uncovers the hidden history of collaboration in the Pyrenean borderlands of the Basques and the Béarnais in southwestern France through nine stories of human folly, uncertainty, ambiguity, ambivalence, desire, vengeance, duplicity, greed, self-interest, opportunism and betrayal. Covering both the occupation and liberation periods, she reveals how the book's characters became involved with the occupiers for a variety of reasons, ranging from a desire to settle scores and to gain access to power, money and material rewards, to love, friendship, fear and desperation. These wartime lives and subsequent postwar reckonings provide us with a new lens through which to understand human behavior under the difficult conditions of occupation, and the subsequent search for retribution and justice.

    • Reconstructs the richness of wartime social life in nine narratives about ordinary but colorful individuals
    • Takes a unique ethnographic approach to the trial dossiers of suspected collaborators, appealing to anthropologists and historians alike
    • Detailed archival research reveals the role of German prisoners of war as insiders in a post-liberation court of justice, a phenomenon that has not been reported by other historians of the period
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Sandra Ott, one of the leading experts on the history of the French Basques, offers an important and wonderfully readable study of the region during the Vichy Years. In Living with the Enemy, her ethnographic approach succeeds beautifully in describing and analyzing the relations between German occupiers and Basques in a place that in some significant ways stands apart from other regions in France. She brings to life the dramatic and complicated 'hidden' story of the German occupation and Vichy collaboration in the Basque country. Ott's compelling narrative and thoughtful conclusions nuance what we know about French collaboration with the Nazis during the Vichy years.' John Merriman, Charles Seymour Professor of History, Yale University

    'A subtle and enthralling exploration of the myriad ways in which Germans and French were drawn together in complex webs of greed and vengeance, generosity and betrayal under the occupation. A magnificent contribution to the historiography.' Robert Gildea, University of Oxford

    'This engaging and important book sees the big questions of France in the Second World War (questions of occupation and collaboration) refracted through the lives of individuals in one particular, and particularly interesting, region. It will be of special interest to those who study twentieth-century France or the Second World War, but it deserves a wider readership as well because it lives up to Marc Bloch's injunction that the historian should be like the ogre in the fairy tale who finds his prey 'by the smell of human flesh'.' Richard Vinen, King's College London

    'Living with the Enemy provides a rich and nuanced view of daily life in the French Basque country and raises interesting questions about postwar justice. Ott does not shy away from the complexity of wartime interactions and explores the complicated, multifaceted, and ambiguous motivations that lay beneath Franco-German relationships. Drawing on historical and ethnographic methods, Sandra Ott has mined the trial dossiers for what they can tell us about the past, but she is also careful to acknowledge their limits. Her own voice as an anthropologist, one who has maintained relationships with Basque locals stretching back to 1976, adds another layer to her analysis and demonstrates the enduring memories of World War II. The end result is a regional study that contributes 'greatly to our understanding of the choices people made and the factors that motivated them', as well as to our ideas about collaboration and cohabitation during the war.' Shannon L. Fogg, German Studies Review

    'Her [Ott's] anthropologically rich work is a valuable contribution to our knowledge of collaboration, resistance, and justice during the occupation and postwar and will be a useful reference for historians interested in the unique history of the Basque country. … an engaging work that adds to Sandra Ott's already extensive writing on the unique features of the southwest of France and further burnishes her reputation as a leading expert on Basque history and the Second World War.' Keith Rathbone, H-France

    'Sandra Ott has written an important, original, and thoughtful book about Vichy France … Not only does her research add to the historiography of cohabitation and accommodation, but the importance of food, gifts, and hospitality that runs throughout these stories offers new ways of thinking about the occupation of France.' Ludivine Broch, The Journal of Modern History

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316630877
    • length: 382 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.63kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Context:
    1. Pyrenean borderlands: setting and cultures
    2. World wars, civil war, and German occupation
    3. Violence and the process of liberation
    4. The purge, the judiciary, and the court of justice
    Part II. The Narratives and the Trials:
    5. A black market bicycle vendor
    6. A teenaged informer and the tragedy of Portet
    7. A pro-German Basque farmer
    8. The changing face of the enemy
    9. A town hall secretary and a Vichy police commissioner
    10. Friendship with a Nazi officer
    11. A Basque double agent and a Nazi officer
    12. A teenaged volunteer in the Waffen-SS
    13. Sex, vengeance, and duplicity: the strange case of Dr Vérité
    Part III. Conclusions.

  • Author

    Sandra Ott, University of Nevada, Reno
    Sandra Ott is an Oxford-educated anthropologist, and she has done research in the Basque Country for forty years. Speaking Basque, French and Spanish, she acquired minor fame among artisan cheese-makers for the chapter on 'The cheese analogy of conception' in her first book The Circle of Mountains: A Basque Shepherding Community (1981). Other works include the ethnographic film The Basques of Santazi with Granada Television for 'Disappearing Worlds', and War, Judgment and Memory in the Basque Borderlands, 1914–1945 (2008).

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.