When World War II broke out, the French community in the United States found itself without a newspaper. The venerable Courrier des Etats-Unis, founded in 1828, had stopped printing in 1938 after failing to weather the Great Depression. In 1943, journalists Emile Buré and Henri Torrès joined forces and founded the weekly newspaper France-Amérique. Their objective was to raise the American public’s awareness about the French cause and support the resistance movement spearheaded by Charles de Gaulle from London.
The French residents of the Big Apple were divided. There were clashes between Marshall Petain’s sympathizers who had remained true to the Vichy regime after the 1940 defeat, Gaullist militants who stood for a free France, and isolationists who condemned America’s involvement in the war. Jean-Paul Sartre, who was sent to the United States in 1945 (and who wrote a touching portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt for France-Amérique) referred to this butting of heads as “the battle of New York.”
France-Amérique answered the call. The newspaper was produced in the offices of the Free France Delegation at 626 Fifth Avenue. The first edition was printed with a message of encouragement from General de Gaulle. “I wish France-Amérique the best of luck,” he wrote in his telegram. “I am certain that your newspaper will make our American friends see what France can and wants to be […]. In doing so, it will help to reinforce the friendship between our two countries, which is crucial for victory and the reconstruction of the world.”
You can discover the next chapter in our history – as a war newspaper, the American edition of French daily Le Figaro, right up to today’s monthly, bilingual magazine with covers illustrated by renowned artists – in the latest episode of the FrancoFiles podcast, “France-Amérique Magazine: From French Resistance to Cultural Diplomacy,” produced by the French embassy in Washington D.C. As part of the episode, Guénola Pellen, the publication director, is interviewed by Andrea Fort, a communications officer at the embassy and the podcast’s host.
“When I became editor in chief in 2012, I really wanted to expand the France-Amérique readership to include American Francophiles,” she says. “This dream to make the magazine bilingual came true in 2015 […]. Our readers all share a passion for France and French culture. Some of them are drawn to the image of an eternal France, the traditional ideal depicted by Robert Doisneau, while other are looking for innovation, business, fashion, current events, or the French language. I make sure there is something interesting for everyone to read!”