The decision of some members of the Ligue des droits de l'homme (League of the Rights of Man) to collaborate with the Vichy regime following the defeat of France at the hands of Germany says much about the history of the League. Although these pro-Nazi collaborators were a distinct minority within the League, they were some of the most high-profile members of the organization. There was an apparent paradox in individuals who belonged to an organization whose mandate was to defend human rights and civil liberties but later supported a regime known for its savage anti-Semitism. The League was at the center of a number of crucial issues before the arrival of the Germans, including the internal regulations of the Rassemblement Populaire, World War I, and French foreign policy. In the end, the League may be seen as the quintessential example of the political culture of the Third Republic. To understand whether there was something uniquely French about the League's history, it would be helpful to compare it briefly to the American Civil Liberties Union, which was founded in 1920 and directly inspired by the League.
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