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Jacques Decour studied at the Lycée Carnot in Paris and the Lycée Pasteur in Neuilly-sur-Seine. He began his studies in law, but, after a few years changed his orientation and studied German literature and obtained his degree in this topic.
In 1932, he was named professor of French in Prussia at a school in Magdeburg. There, he wrote his first book, Philisterburg, which described the risks of nationalism and the "inadmissible myth of race". This book caused scandal in France, and public opinion refused to take account of the menacing signs coming from Germany.
In 1937, he became professor of German in Paris at the lycée Rollin (the school which, after Liberation, would become the lycée Jacques-Decour in his honour). Due to demobilisation, he joined the resistance and created the magazines L'université libre in 1940 and La Pensée libre in 1941 which became the most important publications in occupied France.
In 1941, Decour became responsible for the Comité national des écrivains which published a new magazine the Lettres françaises but never got to see it, due to his arrest by the French police on 17 February 1942. Taken by the Germans, he was killed on 30 May 1942, one week after Georges Politzer and Solomon. In the prison where he was waiting for his execution, he wrote a letter saying goodbye to those he loved. Resigned to his forthcoming death, he expressed the confidence of his youth, and hoped that his sacrifice would not have been in vain.
- Philisterburg (NRF, 1932).
- Le Sage et le Caporal (Gallimard Collection blanche, 1930).
- La révolte, NRF, march 1934, reedited in Comme je vous en donne l'exemple... and in Le Sage et le Caporal followed by Les Pères and seven other unpublished short stories (Farrago, 2002).
- Les Pères, NRF, 1936, reedition Farrago, Tours, 2002 (Le Sage et le Caporal followed by Les Pères and seven other unpublished short stories).
- Comme je vous en donne l'exemple... (Éditions Sociales, 1945, Texts by Jacques Decour published by Aragon).
- Le Triomphe de la sensibilité, by Goethe, translation by Jacques Decour (1942)
- Les Mystères de la maturité, by Hans Carossa, translation by Jacques Decour (1941)
- L'Art gothique, by Wilhelm Worringer, translation by Jacques Decour (1941)
- La Carrière de Doris Hart, by Vicki Baum, 1948.
- Les dessous de la diplomatie, by Hans Rudolf Berndorff, 1932.
- Suivi de L’élaboration de la pensée par le discours, by Heinrich von Kleist.
- Le Roman d’un coup d’État, by Alfred Neumann, 1935.
- Les désordres sexuels, by Richard Schauer, 1934.
- La Sexualité dans l’univers, by Curt Thesing, 1933.
- Le fils d’Hannibal, by Ludwig Ernst Wolff, 1938.
- La vie à en mourir, lettres de fusillés (1941-1944) (in French)
- Jacques Decour, by Jean Paulhan (1943)
- Pages choisies de Jacques Decour, edited by the Comité national des écrivains, preface by Jean Paulhan (20 february 1944) (in French)
- L’Allemagne vue par les écrivains de la résistance française, by Konrad Bieber, introduction by Albert Camus (1954)
- Anthologie des écrivains morts à la guerre (1939-1945), by Association des écrivains combattants (1960)
- La Résistance et ses poètes : France, 1940-1945, by Pierre Seghers (1974)
- Nos jeunes morts sont secrets. Littérature et résistance (2003) (in French)
- Jacques Decour, l'oublié des lettres françaises, by Pierre Favre (Farrago, 2006) ISBN 2-84490-099-2 (in French)
- La guerre des cancres : un lycée au coeur de la Résistance et de la collaboration, by Bertrand Matot (2010)
- La Faune de la collaboration. Articles, 1932-1942 (2012) (in French)
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