The Order of the Day (“L'Ordre du jour"), by Éric Vuillard
In The Order of the Day (Prix Goncourt 2017), Éric Vuillard recounts Hitler’s rise to power in a compact 160-page account. He begins his story on 20th February 1933, on the eve of the Anschluss, during the secret meeting that brought together 24 major German manufacturers, Hermann Göring and Adolf Hitler.
A novelist of history
A scriptwriter, filmmaker and novelist, Eric Vuillard likes to draw inspiration from history's backstage moments. In 2009, he explored the fall of the Inca Empire in Conquistadors, then colonial conquest in 2012 with Congo, the First World War in 2013 with The Battle of the West (“La bataille d'Occident"), then the French Revolution in 2016 with July 14th (“14 juillet").
One year later, in 2017, the novelist won the Prix Goncourt prize for The Order of the Day, a brief account of the Anschluss.
Narrating the Anschluss
In this short narrative of around one hundred pages, Eric Vuillard looks at the early stages of the Second World War, and in particular the background to the annexation of Austria: the Anschluss. To this end, he carefully examines the anecdotes and events that contributed to the rise of Nazism in Germany.
The Order of the Day opens with a meeting on 20th February 1933 between twenty-four German manufacturers (including Krupp, Opel, Bayer, Siemens and others), Hermann Göring and Adolf Hitler. The new German Chancellor urges the company leaders to give financial support to the Nazi Party’s parliamentary campaign.
It was while reading Winston Churchill’s memoirs, and specifically the story of an engine failure that occurred in 1938 on an Austrian road as the German army headed towards Vienna, that Éric Vuillard had the idea for his book. Thanks to the Nuremberg trial archives he then discovered the secret meetings, negotiations and reports exchanged by the major German bosses and the Nazi Party at the time. Hence his choice of a photo of Gustav Krupp, one of the twenty-four “barons” of German industry, to grace the cover of the book.
Prix Goncourt 2017
Published in advance of the September 2017 autumn literary season in the collection “A Place to Go”, The Order of the Day won the Prix Goncourt. A real hit with readers, more than 176,600 copies of the book were sold in the first year. It has since been translated into several dozen languages, including Esperanto at Z4 Éditions.
L’Ordre du jour was translated into Georgian in 2019 with the support of the Institut français. Through its translation support programmes, the Institut français participates in the global dissemination of French-language literature.