Between October 1941 and August 1944, French cities, towns, and villages lost most of their public bronze statuary. The number of works destroyed is estimated to range between 1,527 and 1,750 decorative and commemorative statues and monuments in the public domain. This introductory chapter discusses the public's strong opposition to the French government's campaign to dismantle and smelt down bronze statuary. In the French provinces in particular, there was an outpouring of vehement and energetic protest. Private citizens and their public representatives condemned this initiative vociferously, unequivocally, and often with important political consequences. In wartime France, whether under Nazi occupation or Vichy supervision, protest of any kind was a perilous endeavor. Nevertheless, French communities took strident measures to protect their public statuary, to protest its removal, and to condemn its destruction. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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