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The German threat and French morale

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My mother's death and the collapse of the regime
François Jacob Scientist
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She was- She had Hodgkin's disease that was- It started the previous summer. And during all of autumn and winter she was ill. And she died on the 2nd of June, just before the collapse of the regime. Which means that in my mind, my mother's death and the collapse of the regime coincided completely. It was a unique event. And my departure for England. All of that was- It's one big thing in my mind. A break between childhood and the future. Do you think you would have left so easily if precisely it hadn't been for your mother's death? It's very difficult to answer that question.I think so. Because I thought it was insane not to take up arms in June 1940. I found the defeat and accepting the defeat and the German occupation unbelievable. It seemed monstrous to me.
Elle était- Elle a eu un Hodgkin qu'on a- qui a débuté l'été précédent. Et pendant tout l'automne et l'hiver, elle a été malade. Et elle est morte le 2 juin, juste avant la débâcle. Et ce qui fait que pour moi, la mort de ma mère et la débâcle étaient complètement confondues. C'était un événement unique. Et le départ en Angleterre. Tout ça, ça a été- C'est dans ma mémoire un seul truc. Une coupure entre l'enfance et après. Est-ce que vous pensez que vous seriez parti aussi facilement s'il n'y avait pas eu justement la mort de votre mère ? C'est une question à laquelle il est très difficile de répondre. Je pense, parce que, je trouvais insensé de ne pas se battre en juin 40. Je trouvais ça incroyable, la défaite, et d'avaler la défaite et l'occupation allemande. Ça, ça me paraissait monstrueux.

François Jacob (1920-2013) was a French biochemist whose work has led to advances in the understanding of the ways in which genes are controlled. In 1965 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, together with Jacque Monod and André Lwoff, for his contribution to the field of biochemistry. His later work included studies on gene control and on embryogenesis. Besides the Nobel Prize, he also received the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science for 1996 and was elected a member of the French Academy in 1996.

Listeners: Michel Morange

Michel Morange is a professor of Biology and Director of the Centre Cavaillès of History and Philosophy of Science at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. After having obtained a Bachelor in biochemistry and two PhDs, one in Biochemistry, the other in History and Philosophy of Science, he went on to join the research unit of Molecular Genetics headed by François Jacob, in the Department of Molecular Biology at the Pasteur Institute, Paris. Together with Olivier Bensaude, he discovered that Heat Shock Proteins are specifically expressed on the onset of the mouse zygotic genome activation. Since then he has been working on the properties of Heat Shock Proteins, their role in aggregation and on the regulation of expression of these proteins during mouse embryogenesis. He is the author of 'A History of Molecular Biology' and 'The Misunderstood Gene'.

Michel Morange est généticien et professeur à L'Université Paris VI ainsi qu'à l'Ecole Normale Supérieure où il dirige le Centre Cavaillès d'Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences. Après l'obtention d'une license en Biochimie ainsi que de deux Doctorats, l'un en Biochimie, l'autre en Histoire et Philosophie des Sciences, il rejoint le laboratoire de Génétique Moléculaire dirigé par le Professeur François Jacob à l'Institut Pasteur. Ses principaux travaux de recherche se sont portés sur l'Histoire de la Biologie au XXème siècle, la naissance et le développement de la Biologie Moléculaire, ses transformations récentes et ses interactions avec les autres disciplines biologiques. Auteur de "La Part des Gènes" ainsi que de "Histoire de la Biologie Moléculaire", il est spécialiste de la structure, de la fonction et de l'ingénerie des protéines.

Duration: 1 minute

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008