The Millions

A Mysterious Respect for Lies: On Éric Vuillard’s ‘Order of the Day’

The sun is a cold star. It’s heart, spines of ice. Its light, unforgiving. In February, the trees are dead, the river petrified, as if the springs had stopped spewing water and the sea could swallow no more.

These ominous lines open Éric Vuillard’s The Order of the Day, which won France’s 2017 Prix Goncourt. Poetically translated by Mark Polizzotti, the book shines a light on the industrial titans and politicians behind Hitler’s might. With chilling precision and moral authority, Vuillard draws a straight line between the marching orders Hitler gave to Germany’s moguls, and the Anschluss.

opens in 1933 at a secret meeting in the Reichstag. Twenty-four scions of German industry attend, their names familiar from our washers, coffee makers, and elevators—, , , to name a few. They are pillars of German

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