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Vichy France (French : Régime de Vichy) is the common name of the French State (État français) headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II. It represented the unoccupied "Free Zone" (zone libre ) in the southern part of metropolitan France and theoretically, the French colonial empire.

From 1940 to 1942, while the Vichy regime was the nominal government of France as a whole, Germany militarily occupied northern France. Thus, while Paris remained the de jure capital of France, the de facto capital of southern, "unoccupied" France was the town of Vichy, 360 km (220 mi) to the south. Following the Allied landings in French North Africa in November 1942, southern France was also militarily occupied by Germany and Italy. The Vichy government remained in existence, but as a de facto client state of Nazi Germany. The Vichy government was suspended in late 1944 when the Allies liberated all of France.

After being appointed Premier by President Albert Lebrun, Marshal Pétain ordered the French Government's military representatives to sign an armistice with Germany on 22 June 1940. Pétain subsequently established an authoritarian regime when the National Assembly of the French Third Republic granted him full powers on 10 July 1940. At that point, the Third Republic was dissolved. Calling for "National Regeneration", the French Government at Vichy reversed many liberal policies and began tight supervision of the economy, with central planning a key feature. Labour unions came under tight government control. The independence of women was reversed, with an emphasis put on motherhood. Conservative Catholics became prominent. Paris lost its avant-garde status in European art and culture. The media were tightly controlled and stressed virulent anti-Semitism, and, after June 1941, anti-Bolshevism.

The French State maintained nominal sovereignty over the whole of French territory, but had effective full sovereignty only in the unoccupied southern zone libre ("free zone"). It had limited and only civil authority in the northern zones under military occupation. The occupation was to be a provisional state of affairs, pending the conclusion of the war, which at the time appeared imminent. The occupation also presented certain advantages, such as keeping the French Navy and French colonial empire under French control, and avoiding full occupation of the country by Germany, thus maintaining a degree of French independence and neutrality. The French Government at Vichy never joined the Axis alliance.

Germany kept two million French soldiers prisoner, carrying out forced labour. They were hostages to ensure that Vichy would reduce its military forces and pay a heavy tribute in gold, food, and supplies to Germany. French police were ordered to round up Jews and other "undesirables" such as communists and political refugees. Much of the French public initially supported the government, despite its undemocratic nature and its difficult position vis-à-vis the Germans, often seeing it as necessary to maintain a degree of French autonomy and territorial integrity. In November 1942, however, the zone libre was also occupied by Axis forces, leading to the disbandment of the remaining army and the French sinking of its remaining fleet and ending any semblance of independence, with Germany now closely supervising all French officials.

Most of the overseas French colonies were originally under Vichy control, but with the Allied invasion of North Africa it lost one colony after another to Charles de Gaulle's Allied-oriented Free France. Public opinion in some quarters turned against the French government and the occupying German forces over time, when it became clear that Germany was losing the war, and resistance to them increased. Following the Allied invasion of France in June 1944 and the Liberation of France later that year, the Free French Provisional Government of the French Republic (GPRF) was installed by the Allies as France's government, led by de Gaulle. Under a "national unanimity" cabinet uniting the many factions of the French Resistance, the GPRF re-established a provisional French Republic, thus apparently restoring continuity with the Third Republic. Most of the legal French government's leaders at Vichy fled or were subject to show trials by the GPRF, and a number were quickly executed for "treason" in a series of purges (épuration légale ). Thousands of collaborators were summarily executed by local communists and the Resistance in so-called "savage purges" (épuration sauvage).

The last of the French State exiles were captured in the Sigmaringen enclave by de Gaulle's French 1st Armoured Division in April 1945. Pétain, who had voluntarily made his way back to France via Switzerland, was also put on trial for treason by the new Provisional Government, and received a death sentence, but this was commuted to life imprisonment by de Gaulle. Only four senior Vichy officials were tried for crimes against humanity, although many more had participated in the deportation of Jews for extermination in Nazi concentration camps, abuses of prisoners, and severe acts against members of the Resistance.


In 1940, Marshal Pétain was known as a First World War hero, the victor of the battle of Verdun. As the last premier of the Third Republic, being a reactionary by inclination, he blamed the Third Republic's democracy for France's sudden defeat by Germany. He set up a paternalistic, authoritarian regime that actively collaborated with Germany, Vichy's official neutrality notwithstanding. The Vichy government cooperated with the Nazis' racial policies.

After the National Assembly under the Third Republic voted to give full powers to Philippe Pétain on July 10, 1940, the name République française (French Republic) disappeared from all official documents. From that point on, the regime was referred to officially as the État français (French State). Because of its unique situation in the history of France, its contested legitimacy, [[CITE|undefined|]] and the generic nature of its official name, the "French State" is most often represented in English by the synonyms "Vichy France", "Vichy regime", "government of Vichy", or in context, simply "Vichy".

The territory under the control of the Vichy government was the unoccupied, southern portion of France south of the Line of Demarcation, as established by the Armistice of June 22, 1940, and the overseas French territories, such as French North Africa, which was "an integral part of Vichy", and where all antisemitic Vichy's laws were also implemented. This was called the Unbesetztes Gebiet (Unoccupied zone) by the Germans, and known as the Zone libre (Free Zone) in France, or less formally as the "southern zone" (zone du sud) especially after Operation Anton, the invasion of the Zone libre by German forces in November 1942. Other contemporary colloquial terms for the Zone libre were based on abbreviation and wordplay, such as the "zone nono", for the non-occupied Zone.

In theory, the civil jurisdiction of the Vichy government extended over most of metropolitan France, French Algeria, the French protectorate in Morocco, the French protectorate of Tunisia, and the rest of the French colonial empire that accepted the authority of Vichy; only the disputed border territory of Alsace-Lorraine was placed under direct German administration. [[CITE|undefined|]] Alsace-Lorraine was officially still part of France, as the Reich never annexed the region. The Reich government at the time was not interested in attempting to enforce piecemeal annexations in the West (although it later did annex Luxembourg) - it operated under the assumption that Germany's new western border would be determined in peace negotiations that would be attended by all of the Western Allies, thus producing a frontier that would be recognized by all of the major powers. Since Adolf Hitler's overall territorial ambitions were not limited to recovering Alsace-Lorraine, and since Britain was never brought to terms, these peace negotiations never took place.

The Nazis had some intention of annexing a large swath of northeastern France and replacing that region's inhabitants with German settlers, and initially forbade French refugees from returning to this region. These restrictions, which were never thoroughly enforced, were basically abandoned following the invasion of the Soviet Union, which had the effect of turning the Nazis' territorial ambitions almost exclusively to the East. German troops guarding the boundary line of the northeastern Zone interdite were withdrawn on the night of December 17-18, 1941 although the line remained in place on paper for the remainder of the occupation.

Nevertheless, effectively Alsace-Lorraine was annexed: German law applied to the region, its inhabitants were conscripted into the Wehrmacht and pointedly the customs posts separating France from Germany were placed back where they had been between 1871-1918. Similarly, a sliver of French territory in the Alps was under direct Italian administration from June 1940 to September 1943. Throughout the rest of the country, civil servants were under the formal authority of French ministers in Vichy. René Bousquet, the head of French police nominated by Vichy, exercised his power in Paris through his second-in-command, Jean Leguay, who coordinated raids with the Nazis. German laws, however, took precedence over French ones in the occupied territories, and the Germans often rode roughshod over the sensibilities of Vichy administrators.

On 11 November 1942, following the landing of the Allies in North Africa (Operation Torch), the Axis launched Operation Anton, occupying southern France and disbanding the strictly limited "Armistice Army" that Vichy had been allowed by the armistice.

Vichy's claim to be the legitimate French government was denied by Free France and by all subsequent French governments [[CITE|undefined|]] after the war.


The Vichy regime sought an anti-modern counter-revolution.

The Vichy government tried to assert its legitimacy by symbolically connecting itself with the Gallo-Roman period of France's history, and celebrated the Gaulish chieftain Vercingetorix as the "founder" of the nation. It was asserted that just as the defeat of the Gauls in the 52 BC Battle of Alesia had been the moment in French history when a sense of common nationhood was born, the defeat of 1940 would again unify the nation. The Vichy government's "Francisque" insignia featured two symbols from the Gallic period: the baton and the double-headed hatchet (labrys) arranged so as to resemble the fasces, symbol of the Italian Fascists. To advance his message, Marshal Pétain frequently spoke on French radio. In his radio speeches, Pétain always used the personal pronoun je, portrayed himself as a Christ-like figure sacrificing himself for France while also assuming a God-like tone of a semi-omniscient narrator who knew truths about the world that the rest of the French did not. To justify the Vichy ideology of the Révolution nationale ("national revolution"), Pétain needed a radical break with the Republic, and during his radio speeches the entire French Third Republic era was always painted in the blackest of colors, a time of la décadence ("decadence") when the French people were alleged to have suffered moral degeneration and decline. Summarising Pétain's speeches, the British historian Christopher Flood wrote that Pétain blamed la décadence on "political and economic liberalism, with its divisive, individualistic and hedonistic values—locked in sterile rivalry with its antithetical outgrowths, Socialism and Communism...". Pétain argued that rescuing the French people from la décadence required a period of authoritarian government which would restore national unity and the traditionalist morality which Pétain claimed the French had forgotten. Despite his highly negative view of the Third Republic, Pétain argued that la France profonde

The key component of Vichy's ideology was Anglophobia. In part, Vichy's virulent Anglophobia was due to its leaders' personal dislike of the British, as Marshal Pétain, Pierre Laval and Admiral François Darlan were all Anglophobes. As early as February 1936, Pétain had told the Italian Ambassador to France that "England has always been France's most implacable enemy"; he went on to say that France had "two hereditary enemies", namely Germany and Britain, with the latter being easily the more dangerous of the two; and he wanted a Franco-German-Italian alliance that would partition the British Empire, an event that Pétain claimed would solve all of the economic problems caused by the Great Depression. Beyond that, in order to justify both the armistice with Germany and the Révolution nationale, Vichy needed to portray the French declaration of war on Germany as a hideous mistake, and the French society under the Third Republic as degenerate and rotten. The Révolution nationale together with Pétain's policy of la France seule ("France alone") were meant to "regenerate" France from la décadence that was said to have destroyed French society and brought about the defeat of 1940. Such a harsh critique of French society could only generate so much support, and as such Vichy blamed French problems on various "enemies" of France, the chief of which was Britain, the "eternal enemy" that had supposedly conspired via Masonic lodges first to weaken France and then to pressure France into declaring war on Germany in 1939. No other nation was attacked as frequently and violently as Britain was in Vichy propaganda. In Pétain's radio speeches, Britain was always portrayed as the "Other", a nation that was the complete antithesis of everything good in France, the blood-soaked "perfidious Albion" and the relentless "eternal enemy" of France whose ruthlessness knew no bounds. The chief themes of Vichy Anglophobia were British "selfishness" in using and abandoning France after instigating wars, British "treachery" and British plans to take over French colonies. The three examples that were used to illustrate these themes were the Dunkirk evacuation in May 1940, the Royal Navy attack at Mers-el-Kébir on the French Mediterranean fleet that killed over 1,300 French sailors in July 1940, and the failed Anglo-Free French attempt to seize Dakar in September 1940. Typical of Vichy anti-British propaganda was the widely distributed pamphlet published in August 1940 and written by self-proclaimed "professional Anglophobe"Henri Béraud titled Faut-il réduire l'Angleterre en esclavage? ("Should England Be Reduced to Slavery?"); the question in the title was merely rhetorical. Additionally, Vichy mixed Anglophobia with racism and antisemitism to portray the British as a racially degenerate "mixed race" working for Jewish capitalists, in contrast to the "racially pure" peoples on the continent of Europe who were building a "New Order". In an interview conducted by Béraud with Admiral Darlan published in Gringoire

Fall of France and establishment of the Vichy government

France declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, following the German invasion of Poland on 1 September. After the eight-month Phoney War, the Germans launched their offensive in the west on 10 May 1940. Within days, it became clear that French military forces were overwhelmed and that military collapse was imminent. Government and military leaders, deeply shocked by the débâcle, debated how to proceed. Many officials, including Prime Minister Paul Reynaud, wanted to move the government to French territories in North Africa, and continue the war with the French Navy and colonial resources. Others, particularly the Vice-Premier Philippe Pétain and the Commander-in-Chief, General Maxime Weygand, insisted that the responsibility of the government was to remain in France and share the misfortune of its people. The latter view called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. : 121–126

While this debate continued, the government was forced to relocate several times, to avoid capture by advancing German forces, finally reaching Bordeaux.

Prime Minister Paul Reynaud favored continuing the war; however, he was soon outvoted by those who advocated an armistice. Facing an untenable situation, Reynaud resigned and, on his recommendation, President Albert Lebrun appointed the 84-year-old Pétain as his replacement on 16 June 1940. The Armistice with France (Second Compiègne) agreement was signed on 22 June 1940. A separate French agreement was reached with Italy, which had entered the war against France on 10 June, well after the outcome of the battle had been decided.

Adolf Hitler had a number of reasons for agreeing to an armistice. He wanted to ensure that France did not continue to fight from North Africa, and he wanted to ensure that the French Navy was taken out of the war. In addition, leaving a French government in place would relieve Germany of the considerable burden of administering French territory, particularly as Hitler turned his attentions toward Britain – which did not surrender and fought on against Germany. Finally, as Germany lacked a navy sufficient to occupy France's overseas territories, Hitler's only practical recourse to deny the British the use of those territories was to maintain France's status as a de jure independent and neutral nation while also sending a message to Britain that they were alone, with France appearing to switch sides and the United States remaining neutral. However, Nazi espionage against France after its defeat intensified greatly, particularly in southern France. [[CITE|undefined|]]

The armistice divided France into occupied and unoccupied zones: northern and western France, including the entire Atlantic coast, were occupied by Germany, and the remaining two-fifths of the country were under the control of the French government with the capital at Vichy under Pétain.

Germany took two million French soldiers as prisoners of war and sent them to camps in Germany.

The Germans occupied northern France directly.

Article IV of the Armistice allowed for a small French army —the Army of the Armistice (Armée de l'Armistice)—stationed in the unoccupied zone, and for the military provision of the French colonial empire overseas. The function of these forces was to keep internal order and to defend French territories from Allied assault. The French forces were to remain under the overall direction of the German armed forces.

The exact strength of the Vichy French Metropolitan Army was set at 3,768 officers, 15,072 non-commissioned officers, and 75,360 men.

The Vichy French Metropolitan Army was deprived of tanks and other armored vehicles, and was desperately short of motorized transport, a particular problem for cavalry units.

The Vichy authorities did not deploy the Army of the Armistice against resistance groups active in the south of France, reserving this role to the Vichy Milice (militia), a paramilitary force created on 30 January 1943 by the Vichy government to combat the Resistance; [[CITE|undefined|]] so that members of the regular army could defect to the Maquis after the German occupation of southern France and the disbandment of the Army of the Armistice in November 1942. By contrast, the Milice continued to collaborate and its members were subject to reprisals after the Liberation.

Vichy French colonial forces were reduced in accordance with the terms of the Armistice; still, in the Mediterranean area alone, Vichy had nearly 150,000 men under arms.

The Armistice required France to turn over any German citizens within the country upon German demand.

On 10 July 1940, the Parliament and the government gathered in the quiet spa town of Vichy, their provisional capital in central France. (Lyon, France's second-largest city, would have been a more logical choice but mayor Édouard Herriot was too associated with the Third Republic. Marseilles had a reputation as the dangerous "Chicago" of France. Toulouse was too remote and had a left-wing reputation. Vichy was centrally located and had many hotels for ministers to use.) : 142 Pierre Laval and Raphaël Alibert began their campaign to convince the assembled Senators and Deputies to vote full powers to Pétain. They used every means available, promising ministerial posts to some, while threatening and intimidating others. They were aided by the absence of popular, charismatic figures who might have opposed them, such as Georges Mandel and Édouard Daladier, then aboard the ship Massilia on their way to North Africa and exile. On 10 July the National Assembly, comprising both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, voted by 569 votes to 80, with 20 voluntary abstentions, to grant full and extraordinary powers to Marshal Pétain. By the same vote, they also granted him the power to write a new constitution. [[CITE|undefined|]] By Act No. 2 on the following day, Pétain defined his own powers, and abrogated any Third Republic laws that were in conflict with them. [[CITE|undefined|]] (These would later be annulled in August 1944. [[CITE|undefined|]])

Most legislators believed that democracy would continue, albeit with a new constitution.

The majority of French historians and all post-war French governments contend that this vote by the National Assembly was illegal.

  • Abrogation of legal procedure
  • The impossibility for parliament to delegate its constitutional powers without controlling its use a posteriori
  • The 1884 constitutional amendment making it unconstitutional to put into question the "republican form" of the government

Julian T. Jackson wrote, however, that "There seems little doubt, therefore, that at the beginning Vichy was both legal and legitimate." He stated that if legitimacy comes from popular support, Pétain's massive popularity in France until 1942 made his government legitimate; if legitimacy comes from diplomatic recognition, over 40 countries including the United States, Canada, and China recognized the Vichy government. According to Jackson, de Gaulle's Free French acknowledged the weakness of its case against Vichy's legality by citing multiple dates (16 June, 23 June, and 10 July) for the start of Vichy's illegitimate rule, implying that at least for some period of time, Vichy was not yet illegitimate. : 134 Countries recognized the Vichy government despite de Gaulle's attempts in London to dissuade them; only the German occupation of all of France in November 1942 ended diplomatic recognition. Partisans of Vichy point out that the grant of governmental powers was voted by the two chambers of the Third Republic (the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies), in conformity with the law.

The argument concerning the abrogation of legal procedure is based on the absence and non-voluntary abstention of 176 representatives of the people – the 27 on board the Massilia, and an additional 92 deputies and 57 senators, some of whom were in Vichy, but not present for the vote.

The text voted by the Congress stated:

The Constitutional Acts of 11 and 12 July 1940 [[CITE|undefined|]] granted to Pétain all powers (legislative, judicial, administrative, executive – and diplomatic) and the title of "head of the French state" (chef de l'État français), as well as the right to nominate his successor.

Pétain was reactionary by nature, his status as a hero of the Third Republic during World War I notwithstanding.

Foreign relations

Vichy France was recognized by most Axis and neutral powers, including the USA and the USSR. During the war, Vichy France conducted military actions against armed incursions from Axis and Allied belligerents, an example of armed neutrality. The most important such action was the scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon on 27 November 1942, preventing its capture by the Axis. The United States granted Vichy full diplomatic recognition, sending Admiral William D. Leahy to France as American ambassador. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull hoped to use American influence to encourage those elements in the Vichy government opposed to military collaboration with Germany. The Americans also hoped to encourage Vichy to resist German war demands, such as for air bases in French-mandated Syria or to move war supplies through French territories in North Africa. The essential American position was that France should take no action not explicitly required by the Armistice terms that could adversely affect Allied efforts in the war.

The US position towards Vichy France and de Gaulle was especially hesitant and inconsistent.

US General Mark W. Clark of the combined Allied command made Admiral Darlan sign on 22 November 1942 a treaty putting "North Africa at the disposition of the Americans" and making France "a vassal country". [[CITE|undefined|]] Washington then imagined, between 1941 and 1942, a protectorate status for France, which would be submitted after the Liberation to an Allied Military Government of Occupied Territories (AMGOT) like Germany. After the assassination of Darlan on 24 December 1942, Washington turned again towards Henri Giraud, to whom had rallied Maurice Couve de Murville, who had financial responsibilities in Vichy, and Lemaigre-Dubreuil, a former member of La Cagoule and entrepreneur, as well as Alfred Pose, general director of the Banque nationale pour le commerce et l'industrie (National Bank for Trade and Industry). [[CITE|undefined|]]

The Soviet Union maintained full diplomatic relations with the Vichy government until 30 June 1941. These were broken after Vichy expressed support for Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Due to British requests and the sensitivities of its French Canadian population, Canada maintained full diplomatic relations with the Vichy regime until the beginning of November 1942 and Case Anton – the complete occupation of Vichy France by the Nazis. [[CITE|undefined|]]

Britain feared that the French naval fleet could end up in German hands and be used against its own naval forces, which were so vital to maintaining North Atlantic shipping and communications.

Switzerland and other neutral states maintained diplomatic relations with the Vichy regime until the liberation of France in 1944 when Philippe Pétain resigned and was deported to Germany for the creation of a forced government-in-exile. [[CITE|undefined|]]

In June 1940 the Fall of France made the French hold on Indochina tenuous. The isolated colonial administration was cut off from outside help and outside supplies. After negotiations with Japan, the French allowed the Japanese to set up military bases in Indochina. This seemingly subservient behavior convinced Major-General Plaek Pibulsonggram, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, that Vichy France would not seriously resist a campaign by the Thai military to recover parts of Cambodia and Laos that had been taken from Thailand by France in the early 20th century. In October 1940, the military forces of Thailand attacked across the border with Indochina and launched the Franco-Thai War. Although the French won an important naval victory over the Thais, Japan forced the French to accept Japanese mediation of a peace treaty that returned the disputed territory to Thai control. The French were left in place to administer the rump colony of Indochina until 9 March 1945, when the Japanese staged a coup d'état in French Indochina and took control, establishing their own colony, the Empire of Vietnam, as a double puppet state.

To counter the Vichy government, General Charles de Gaulle created the Free French Forces (FFL) after his Appeal of 18 June 1940 speech. Initially, Winston Churchill was ambivalent about de Gaulle, and Churchill severed diplomatic ties with Vichy only when it became clear that the Vichy government would not join the Allies.

Until 1962, France possessed four small, non-contiguous but politically united colonies across India, the largest being Pondicherry in Southeast India. Immediately after the fall of France, the Governor General of French India, Louis Alexis Étienne Bonvin, declared that the French colonies in India would continue to fight with the British allies. Free French forces from that area (and others) participated in the Western Desert campaign, although news of the death of French-Indian soldiers caused some disturbances in Pondicherry. The French possessions in Oceania joined the Free French side in 1940, or in one case in 1942. They then served as bases for the Allied effort in the Pacific and contributed troops to the Free French Forces.

Following the Appeal of 18 June, debate arose among the population of French Polynesia. A referendum was organized on 2 September 1940 in Tahiti and Moorea, with outlying islands reporting agreement in the following days. The vote was 5564 to 18 in favor of joining the Free French side. [[CITE|undefined|]] Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, American forces identified French Polynesia as an ideal refuelling point between Hawaii and Australia and, with de Gaulle's agreement, organized "Operation Bobcat" sending nine ships with 5000 American soldiers to build a naval refuelling base and airstrip and set up coastal defense guns on Bora Bora. This first experience was valuable in later Seabee (phonetic pronunciation of the naval acronym, CB, or Construction Battalion) efforts in the Pacific, and the Bora Bora base supplied the Allied ships and planes that fought the battle of the Coral Sea. Troops from French Polynesia and New Caledonia formed a Bataillon du Pacifique in 1940; became part of the 1st Free French Division in 1942, distinguishing themselves during the Battle of Bir Hakeim and subsequently combining with another unit to form the Bataillon d'infanterie de marine et du Pacifique; fought in the Italian Campaign, distinguishing themselves at the Garigliano during the Battle of Monte Cassino and on to Tuscany; and participated in the Provence landings and onwards to the liberation of France. [89] [[CITE|undefined|]]

In New Caledonia, Henri Sautot promptly declared allegiance to the Free French, effective 19 September 1940. Due to its location on the edge of the Coral Sea and on the flank of Australia, New Caledonia became strategically critical in the effort to combat the Japanese advance in the Pacific in 1941–1942 and to protect the sea lanes between North America and Australia. Nouméa served as a headquarters of the United States Navy and Army in the South Pacific, [[CITE|undefined|]] and as a repair base for Allied vessels. New Caledonia contributed personnel both to the Bataillon du Pacifique and to the Free French Naval Forces that saw action in the Pacific and Indian Ocean.

In the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), then a French-British condominium, Resident Commissioner Henri Sautot quickly led the French community to join the Free French side. The outcome was decided by a combination of patriotism and economic opportunism in the expectation that independence would result. [[CITE|undefined|]] [[CITE|undefined|]]

In Wallis and Futuna the local administrator and bishop sided with Vichy, but faced opposition from some of the population and clergy; their attempts at naming a local king in 1941 (to buffer the territory from their opponents) backfired as the newly elected king refused to declare allegiance to Pétain. The situation stagnated for a long while, due to the remoteness of the islands and because no overseas ship visited the islands for 17 months after January 1941. An aviso sent from Nouméa took over Wallis on behalf of the Free French on 27 May 1942, and Futuna on 29 May 1942. This allowed American forces to build an airbase and seaplane base on Wallis (Navy 207) that served the Allied Pacific operations. [[CITE|undefined|]]

The Free French seized control of Saint Pierre and Miquelon on 25 December 1941. Guadeloupe and Martinique in the French West Indies, as well as French Guiana on the northern coast of South America, did not join the Free French until 1943–1944.

In Central Africa, three of the four colonies in French Equatorial Africa went over to the Free French almost immediately: French Chad on 26 August 1940, French Congo on 29 August 1940, and Ubangi-Shari on 30 August 1940. They were joined by the French mandate of Cameroun on 27 August 1940. One colony in French Equatorial Africa, Gabon, had to be occupied by military force between 27 October and 12 November 1940. [[CITE|undefined|]]

On 23 September 1940, the Royal Navy and Free French forces under Charles de Gaulle launched Operation Menace, an attempt to seize the strategic, Vichy-held port of Dakar in French West Africa (modern Senegal). After attempts to encourage them to join the Allies were rebuffed by the defenders, a sharp fight erupted between Vichy and Allied forces. HMS Resolution was heavily damaged by torpedoes, and Free French troops landing at a beach south of the port were driven off by heavy fire. Even worse from a strategic point of view, bombers of the Vichy French Air Force based in North Africa began bombing the British base at Gibraltar in response to the attack on Dakar. Shaken by the resolute Vichy defense, and not wanting to further escalate the conflict, British and Free French forces withdrew on 25 September, bringing the battle to an end.

On 8 November 1940, Free French forces under the command of de Gaulle and Pierre Koenig, along with the assistance of the Royal Navy, invaded Vichy-held Gabon. Gabon, which was the only territory of French Equatorial Africa that was unwilling to join the Free French Forces, fell into allied hands on 12 November 1940, after the capital Libreville was bombed and captured. The final Vichy troops in Gabon surrendered without any military confrontation with the allies at Port-Gentil. The capture of Gabon by the Allies was crucial to ensure that the entire French Equatorial Africa was out of Axis reach.

The governor of French Somaliland (now Djibouti), Brigadier-General Paul Legentilhomme had a garrison of seven battalions of Senegalese and Somali infantry, three batteries of field guns, four batteries of anti-aircraft guns, a company of light tanks, four companies of militia and irregulars, two platoons of the camel corps and an assortment of aircraft. After visiting from 8–13 January 1940, Wavell decided that Legentilhomme would command the military forces in both Somalilands should war with Italy come. In June, an Italian force was assembled to capture the port city of Djibouti, the main military base. After the fall of France in June, the neutralisation of Vichy French colonies allowed the Italians to concentrate on the more lightly defended British Somaliland. On 23 July, Legentilhomme was ousted by the pro-Vichy naval officer Pierre Nouailhetas and left on 5 August for Aden, to join the Free French. In March 1941, the British enforcement of a strict contraband regime to prevent supplies being passed on to the Italians, lost its point after the conquest of the AOI. The British changed policy, with encouragement from the Free French, to "rally French Somaliland to the Allied cause without bloodshed". The Free French were to arrange a voluntary ralliement by propaganda (Operation Marie) and the British were to blockade the colony.

Wavell considered that if British pressure was applied, a rally would appear to have been coerced.

The next flashpoint between Britain and Vichy France came when a revolt in Iraq was put down by British forces in June 1941. German Air Force (Luftwaffe ) and Italian Air Force (Regia Aeronautica ) aircraft, staging through the French possession of Syria, intervened in the fighting in small numbers. That highlighted Syria as a threat to British interests in the Middle East. Consequently, on 8 June, British and Commonwealth forces invaded Syria and Lebanon. This was known as the Syria-Lebanon campaign or Operation Exporter. The Syrian capital, Damascus, was captured on 17 June and the five-week campaign ended with the fall of Beirut and the Convention of Acre (Armistice of Saint Jean d'Acre

The additional participation of Free French forces in the Syrian operation was controversial within Allied circles.

From 5 May to 6 November 1942 British and Commonwealth forces conducted Operation Ironclad, known as the Battle of Madagascar : the seizure of the large, Vichy French-controlled island of Madagascar, which the British feared Japanese forces might use as a base to disrupt trade and communications in the Indian Ocean. The initial landing at Diégo-Suarez was relatively quick, though it took British forces a further six months to gain control of the entire island.

Operation Torch was the American and British invasion of French North Africa, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, started on 8 November 1942, with landings in Morocco and Algeria. The long-term goal was to clear German and Italian forces from North Africa, enhance naval control of the Mediterranean, and prepare for an invasion of Italy in 1943. The Vichy forces initially resisted, killing 479 Allied forces and wounding 720. Vichy Admiral Darlan initiated cooperation with the Allies. The Allies recognized Darlan's self-nomination as High Commissioner of France (head of civil government) for North and West Africa. He ordered Vichy forces there to cease resisting and cooperate with the Allies, and they did so. By the time the Tunisia Campaign was fought, the French forces in North Africa had gone over to the Allied side, joining the Free French Forces. [[CITE|undefined|]]

In North Africa, after the 8 November 1942 putsch by the French resistance, most Vichy figures were arrested, including General Alphonse Juin, chief commander in North Africa, and Admiral François Darlan. However, Darlan was released, and U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower finally accepted his self-nomination as High Commissioner of North Africa and French West Africa (Afrique occidentale française, AOF), a move that enraged de Gaulle, who refused to recognize Darlan's status. After Darlan signed an armistice with the Allies and took power in North Africa, Germany violated the 1940 armistice with France and invaded Vichy France on 10 November 1942 (operation code-named Case Anton), triggering the scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon.

Henri Giraud arrived in Algiers on 10 November 1942, and agreed to subordinate himself to Admiral Darlan as the French Africa army commander.

After Admiral Darlan's assassination, Henri Giraud became his de facto successor in French Africa with Allied support.

Giraud took part in the Casablanca conference, with Roosevelt, Churchill, and de Gaulle, in January 1943. The Allies discussed their general strategy for the war, and recognized joint leadership of North Africa by Giraud and de Gaulle. Henri Giraud and Charles de Gaulle then became co-presidents of the Comité français de la Libération Nationale , which unified the Free French Forces and territories controlled by them and had been founded at the end of 1943. Democratic rule was restored in French Algeria, and the Communists and Jews liberated from the concentration camps. [[CITE|undefined|]]

At the end of April 1945 Pierre Gazagne, secretary of the general government headed by Yves Chataigneau, took advantage of his absence to exile anti-imperialist leader Messali Hadj and arrest the leaders of his party, the Algerian People's Party (PPA). [[CITE|undefined|]] On the day of the Liberation of France, the GPRF would harshly repress a rebellion in Algeria during the Sétif massacre of 8 May 1945, which has been qualified by some historians as the "real beginning of the Algerian War". [[CITE|undefined|]]

Collaboration with Germany

Historians distinguish between state collaboration followed by the Vichy regime, and "collaborationists", who were private French citizens eager to collaborate with Germany and who pushed towards a radicalization of the regime.

The composition and policies of the Vichy cabinet were mixed.

On the other hand, technocrats such as Jean Bichelonne and engineers from the Groupe X-Crise used their position to push various state, administrative, and economic reforms. These reforms have been cited as evidence of a continuity of the French administration before and after the war. Many of these civil servants and the reforms they advocated were retained after the war. Just as the necessities of a war economy during the First World War had pushed forward state measures to reorganize the economy of France against the prevailing classical liberal theories – structures retained after the 1919 Treaty of Versailles – reforms adopted during World War II were kept and extended. Along with the 15 March 1944 Charter of the Conseil National de la Résistance (CNR), which gathered all Resistance movements under one unified political body, these reforms were a primary instrument in the establishment of post-war dirigisme , a kind of semi-planned economy which led to France becoming the modern social democracy it is now. An example of such continuities is the creation of the French Foundation for the Study of Human Problems by Alexis Carrel, a renowned physician who also supported eugenics. This institution was renamed as the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED) after the war, and exists to this day. Another example is the creation of the national statistics institute, renamed INSEE after the Liberation. The reorganization and unification of the French police by René Bousquet, who created the groupes mobiles de réserve (GMR, Reserve Mobile Groups), is another example of Vichy policy reform and restructuring maintained by subsequent governments. A national paramilitary police force, the GMR was occasionally used in actions against the French Resistance, but its main purpose was to enforce Vichy authority through intimidation and repression of the civilian population. After Liberation, some of its units were merged with the Free French Army to form the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (CRS, Republican Security Companies), France's main anti-riot force.

Germany interfered little in internal French affairs for the first two years after the armistice, as long as public order was maintained.

In July 1940, Vichy set up a special commission charged with reviewing naturalizations granted since the 1927 reform of the nationality law. Between June 1940 and August 1944, 15,000 persons, mostly Jews, were denaturalized. This bureaucratic decision was instrumental in their subsequent internment.

The internment camps already opened by the Third Republic were immediately put to new use, ultimately becoming transit camps for the implementation of the Holocaust and the extermination of all undesirables, including the Romani people (who refer to the extermination of the Romani as Porrajmos). A Vichy law of 4 October 1940 authorized internments of foreign Jews on the sole basis of a prefectoral order, and the first raids took place in May 1941. Vichy imposed no restrictions on black people in the Unoccupied Zone; the regime even had a mulatto cabinet minister, the Martinique-born lawyer Henry Lémery. [[CITE|undefined|]]

The Third Republic had first opened concentration camps during World War I for the internment of enemy aliens, and later used them for other purposes. Camp Gurs, for example, had been set up in southwestern France after the fall of Catalonia, in the first months of 1939, during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), to receive the Republican refugees, including Brigadists from all nations, fleeing the Francoists. After Édouard Daladier's government (April 1938 – March 1940) took the decision to outlaw the French Communist Party (PCF) following the signing of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact (the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) in August 1939, these camps were also used to intern French communists. Drancy internment camp was founded in 1939 for this use; it later became the central transit camp through which all deportees passed on their way to concentration and extermination camps in the Third Reich and Eastern Europe. When the Phoney War started with France's declaration of war against Germany on 3 September 1939, these camps were used to intern enemy aliens. These included German Jews and anti-fascists, but any German citizen (or other Axis national) could also be interned in Camp Gurs and others. As the Wehrmacht advanced into Northern France, common prisoners evacuated from prisons were also interned in these camps. Camp Gurs received its first contingent of political prisoners in June 1940. It included left-wing activists (communists, anarchists, trade-unionists, anti-militarists) and pacifists, but also French fascists who supported Italy and Germany. Finally, after Pétain's proclamation of the "French State" and the beginning of the implementation of the "Révolution nationale " (National Revolution), the French administration opened up many concentration camps, to the point that, as historian Maurice Rajsfus writes: "The quick opening of new camps created employment, and the Gendarmerie never ceased to hire during this period." [[CITE|undefined|]]

Besides the political prisoners already detained there, Gurs was then used to intern foreign Jews, stateless persons, Romani, homosexuals, and prostitutes. Vichy opened its first internment camp in the northern zone on 5 October 1940, in Aincourt, in the Seine-et-Oise department, which it quickly filled with PCF members. [[CITE|undefined|]] The Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans, in the Doubs, was used to intern Romani. [[CITE|undefined|]] The Camp des Milles, near Aix-en-Provence, was the largest internment camp in the Southeast of France; twenty-five hundred Jews were deported from there following the August 1942 raids. [[CITE|undefined|]] Exiled Republican, antifascist Spaniards who had sought refuge in France after the Nationalist victory in the Spanish Civil War were then deported, and 5,000 of them died in Mauthausen concentration camp. [[CITE|undefined|]] In contrast, French colonial soldiers were interned by the Germans in French territory instead of being deported. [[CITE|undefined|]]

Besides the concentration camps opened by Vichy, the Germans also opened some Ilags (Internierungslager) for the detention of enemy aliens on French territory; in Alsace, which was under the direct administration of the Reich, they opened the Natzweiler camp, the only concentration camp created by the Nazis on French territory. Natzweiler included a gas chamber, which was used to exterminate at least 86 detainees (mostly Jewish) with the aim of obtaining a collection of undamaged skeletons for the use of Nazi professor August Hirt.

The Vichy government enacted a number of racial laws.

Vichy also enacted racial laws in its territories in North Africa.

With regard to economic contribution to the German economy it is estimated that France provided 42% of the total foreign aid.

In 1941, Nobel Prize winner Alexis Carrel, an early proponent of eugenics and euthanasia, and a member of Jacques Doriot's French Popular Party (PPF), advocated for the creation of the Fondation Française pour l'Étude des Problèmes Humains (French Foundation for the Study of Human Problems), using connections to the Pétain cabinet. Charged with the "study, in all of its aspects, of measures aimed at safeguarding, improving and developing the French population in all of its activities", the Foundation was created by decree of the collaborationist Vichy regime in 1941, and Carrel appointed as 'regent'. [[CITE|undefined|]] The Foundation also had for some time as general secretary François Perroux.

The Foundation was behind the 16 December 1942 Act mandating the "prenuptial certificate", which required all couples seeking marriage to submit to a biological examination, to ensure the "good health" of the spouses, in particular with regard to sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and "life hygiene". Carrel's institute also conceived the "scholar booklet" ("livret scolaire"), which could be used to record students' grades in French secondary schools, and thus classify and select them according to scholastic performance. Besides these eugenic activities aimed at classifying the population and improving its health, the Foundation also supported an 11 October 1946 law instituting occupational medicine, enacted by the Provisional Government of the French Republic (GPRF) after the Liberation.

The Foundation initiated studies on demographics (Robert Gessain, Paul Vincent, Jean Bourgeois), nutrition (Jean Sutter), and housing (Jean Merlet), as well as the first polls (Jean Stoetzel).

Alexis Carrel had previously published in 1935 the best-selling book L'Homme, cet inconnu ("Man, This Unknown").

Carrel also wrote in his book that:

Alexis Carrel had also taken an active part to a symposium in Pontigny organized by Jean Coutrot, the "Entretiens de Pontigny". Scholars such as Lucien Bonnafé, Patrick Tort and Max Lafont have accused Carrel of responsibility for the execution of thousands of mentally ill or impaired patients under Vichy.

A Nazi ordinance dated 21 September 1940, forced Jews of the "occupied zone" to declare themselves as such at a police station or sub-prefectures (sous-préfectures). Under the responsibility of André Tulard, head of the Service on Foreign Persons and Jewish Questions at the Prefecture of Police of Paris, a filing system registering Jewish people was created. Tulard had previously created such a filing system under the Third Republic, registering members of the Communist Party (PCF). In the department of the Seine, encompassing Paris and its immediate suburbs, nearly 150,000 persons, unaware of the upcoming danger and assisted by the police, presented themselves at police stations in accordance with the military order. The registered information was then centralized by the French police, who constructed, under the direction of inspector Tulard, a central filing system. According to the Dannecker report, "this filing system is subdivided into files alphabetically classed, Jewish with French nationality and foreign Jewish having files of different colours, and the files were also classed, according to profession, nationality and street [of residency]". [[CITE|undefined|]] These files were then handed over to Theodor Dannecker, head of the Gestapo in France, under the orders of Adolf Eichmann, head of the RSHA IV-D. They were used by the Gestapo on various raids, among them the August 1941 raid in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, which resulted in 3,200 foreign and 1,000 French Jews being interned in various camps, including Drancy.

On 3 October 1940, the Vichy government voluntarily promulgated the first Statute on Jews, which created a special underclass of French Jewish citizens, and enforced, for the first time in France, racial segregation. [[CITE|undefined|]] The October 1940 Statute excluded Jews from the administration, the armed forces, entertainment, arts, media, and certain professions, such as teaching, law, and medicine. A Commissariat-General for Jewish Affairs (CGQJ, Commissariat Général aux Questions Juives) was created on 29 March 1941. It was directed by Xavier Vallat until May 1942, and then by Darquier de Pellepoix until February 1944. Mirroring the Reich Association of Jews, the Union Générale des Israélites de France was founded.

The police oversaw the confiscation of telephones and radios from Jewish homes and enforced a curfew on Jews starting in February 1942.

Along with many French police officials, André Tulard was present on the day of the inauguration of Drancy internment camp in 1941, which was used largely by French police as the central transit camp for detainees captured in France.

In July 1942, under German orders, the French police organized the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup (Rafle du Vel' d'Hiv) under orders by René Bousquet and his second in Paris, Jean Leguay with cooperation from authorities of the SNCF, the state railway company. The police arrested 13,152 Jews, including 4,051 children—which the Gestapo had not asked for—and 5,082 women on 16 and 17 July, and imprisoned them in the Winter Velodrome in unhygienic conditions. They were led to Drancy internment camp (run by Nazi Alois Brunner and French constabulary police), then crammed into box cars and shipped by rail to Auschwitz. Most of the victims died en route due to lack of food or water. The remaining survivors were sent to the gas chambers. This action alone represented more than a quarter of the 42,000 French Jews sent to concentration camps in 1942, of which only 811 would return after the end of the war. Although the Nazi VT (Verfügungstruppe) had directed the action, French police authorities vigorously participated. "There was no effective police resistance until the end of Spring of 1944", wrote historians Jean-Luc Einaudi and Maurice Rajsfus.

The French police, headed by Bousquet, arrested 7,000 Jews in the southern zone in August 1942.

In 1940 approximately 350,000 Jews lived in metropolitan France, less than half of them with French citizenship (the others being foreign, mostly exiles from Germany during the 1930s). [[CITE|undefined|]] About 200,000 of them, and the large majority of foreign Jews, resided in Paris and its outskirts. Among the 150,000 French Jews, about 30,000, generally native from Central Europe, had been naturalized French during the 1930s. Of the total, approximately 25,000 French Jews and 50,000 foreign Jews were deported. According to historian Robert Paxton, 76,000 Jews were deported and died in concentration and extermination camps. Including the Jews who died in concentration camps in France, this would have made for a total figure of 90,000 Jewish deaths (a quarter of the total Jewish population before the war, by his estimate). [[CITE|undefined|]] Paxton's numbers imply that 14,000 Jews died in French concentration camps. However, the systematic census of Jewish deportees from France (citizens or not) drawn under Serge Klarsfeld concluded that 3,000 had died in French concentration camps and 1,000 more had been shot. Of the approximately 76,000 deported, 2,566 survived. The total thus reported is slightly below 77,500 dead (somewhat less than a quarter of the Jewish population in France in 1940).

Proportionally, either number makes for a lower death toll than in some other countries (in the Netherlands, 75% of the Jewish population was murdered).

For decades, the French government argued that the French Republic had been dismantled when Philippe Pétain instituted a new French State during the war and that the Republic had been re-established when the war was over. It was not for the Republic, therefore, to apologise for events that happened while it had not existed and which had been carried out by a State which it did not recognise. For example, former President François Mitterrand had maintained that the Vichy Government, not France's Republic, was responsible. This position was more recently reiterated by Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front Party, during the 2017 election campaign. [[CITE|undefined|]] [[CITE|undefined|]]

The first official admission that the French State had been complicit in the deportation of 76,000 Jews during WW II was made in 1995 by then President Jacques Chirac, at the site of the Vélodrome d'Hiver where 13,000 Jews had been rounded up for deportation to death camps in July 1942. "France, on that day [16 July 1942], committed the irreparable. Breaking its word, it handed those who were under its protection over to their executioners," he said. Those responsible for the roundup were "4500 policemen and gendarmes, French, under the authority of their leaders [who] obeyed the demands of the Nazis..... the criminal folly of the occupiers was seconded by the French, by the French state". [[CITE|undefined|]] [[CITE|undefined|]] [77]

On 16 July 2017, also at a ceremony at the Vel' d'Hiv site, President Emmanuel Macron denounced the country's role in the Holocaust in France and the historical revisionism that denied France's responsibility for the 1942 roundup and subsequent deportation of 13,000 Jews. "It was indeed France that organised this", Macron insisted, French police collaborating with the Nazis. "Not a single German" was directly involved," he added. Macron was even more specific than Chirac had been in stating that the Government during the War was certainly that of France. "It is convenient to see the Vichy regime as born of nothingness, returned to nothingness. Yes, it’s convenient, but it is false. We cannot build pride upon a lie." [[CITE|undefined|]] [[CITE|undefined|]]

Macron made a subtle reference to Chirac's remark when he added, "I say it again here.


Portions of the French military fell into Vichy control:

General Charles Noguès served as commander-in-chief of Vichy French Forces.

Vichy French Navy were under the command of Admiral Jean-François Darlan with naval garrison in Toulon.

Vichy French Air Force was led by General Jean Romatet with involvement in actions in North Africa.


Stanley Hoffmann in 1974, and after him, other historians such as Robert Paxton and Jean-Pierre Azéma have used the term collaborationnistes to refer to fascists and Nazi sympathisers who, for ideological reasons, wished a reinforced collaboration with Hitler's Germany. Examples of these are Parti Populaire Français (PPF) leader Jacques Doriot, writer Robert Brasillach or Marcel Déat. A principal motivation and ideological foundation among collaborationnistes was anticommunism. Collaborationnisme (collaborationism) should be distinguished from collaboration. Collaboration refers to those of the French who for whatever reason collaborated with the Germans whereas collaborationism refers to those, primarily from the fascist right, who embraced the goal of a German victory as their own.

Organizations such as La Cagoule opposed the Third Republic, particularly when the left-wing Popular Front was in power.

Collaborationists may have influenced the Vichy government's policies, but ultra-collaborationists never comprised the majority of the government before 1944.

In order to enforce the régime's will, some paramilitary organizations were created.

Social and economic history

Vichy authorities were strongly opposed to "modern" social trends and tried through "national regeneration" to restore behavior more in line with traditional Catholicism.

Vichy rhetoric exalted the skilled laborer and small businessman.

In 1940 the government took direct control of all production, which was synchronized with the demands of the Germans.

Nazi Germany kept French POWs as forced labourers throughout the war.

Civilians suffered shortages of all varieties of consumer goods.

Some people—including German soldiers—benefited from the black market, where food was sold without tickets at very high prices. Farmers especially diverted meat to the black market, which meant that much less for the open market. Counterfeit food tickets were also in circulation. Direct buying from farmers in the countryside and barter against cigarettes became common. These activities were strictly forbidden, however, and thus carried the risk of confiscation and fines. Food shortages were most acute in the large cities. In the more remote country villages, clandestine slaughtering, vegetable gardens and the availability of milk products permitted better survival. The official ration provided starvation level diets of one thousand thirteen or fewer calories a day, supplemented by home gardens and, especially, black market purchases.

The 2 million French soldiers held as POWs and forced laborers in Germany throughout the war were not at risk of death in combat but the anxieties of separation for their 800,000 wives were high.

Meanwhile, the Vichy regime promoted a highly traditional model of female roles.

On the other side women of the Resistance, many of whom were associated with combat groups linked to the French Communist Party (PCF), broke the gender barrier by fighting side by side with men.

German invasion, November 1942

Hitler ordered Case Anton to occupy Corsica and then the rest of the unoccupied southern zone in immediate reaction to the landing of the Allies in North Africa (Operation Torch) on 8 November 1942. Following the conclusion of the operation on 12 November, Vichy's remaining military forces were disbanded. Vichy continued to exercise its remaining jurisdiction over almost all of metropolitan France, with the residual power devolved into the hands of Laval, until the gradual collapse of the regime following the Allied invasion in June 1944. On 7 September 1944, following the Allied invasion of France, the remainders of the Vichy government cabinet fled to Germany and established a puppet government in exile in the so-called Sigmaringen enclave. That rump government finally fell when the city was taken by the Allied French army in April 1945.

Part of the residual legitimacy of the Vichy regime resulted from the continued ambivalence of U.S. and other leaders.

Following the invasion of France via Normandy and Provence (Operation Overlord and Operation Dragoon) and the departure of the Vichy leaders, the U.S., Britain and the Soviet Union finally recognized the Provisional Government of the French Republic (GPRF) headed by de Gaulle as the legitimate government of France on 23 October 1944. Before that, the first return of democracy to Metropolitan France since 1940 had occurred with the declaration of the Free Republic of Vercors on 3 July 1944, at the behest of the Free French government —but that act of resistance was quashed by an overwhelming German attack by the end of July.

Decline of the regime

In 1943 the Service d'ordre légionnaire (SOL) collaborationist militia, headed by Joseph Darnand, became independent and was transformed into the "Milice française " (French Militia). Officially directed by Pierre Laval himself, the SOL was led by Darnand, who held an SS rank and pledged an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler. Under Darnand and his sub-commanders, such as Paul Touvier and Jacques de Bernonville, the Milice was responsible for helping the German forces and police in the repression of the French Resistance and Maquis

Following the Liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944, Pétain and his ministers were taken to Germany by the German forces. There, Fernand de Brinon established a pseudo-government in exile at Sigmaringen. Pétain refused to participate and the Sigmaringen operation had little or no authority. The offices used the official title French Delegation (French: Délégation française) or the French Government Commission for the Protection of National Interests (French: Commission gouvernementale française pour la défense des intérêts nationaux). Sigmaringen had its own radio station (Radio-patrie, Ici la France) and official press (La France, Le Petit Parisien ), and hosted the embassies of the Axis powers : Germany, Italy and Japan. The population of the enclave was about 6,000, including known collaborationist journalists, the writers (Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Lucien Rebatet), the actor (Robert Le Vigan), and their families, as well as 500 soldiers, 700 French SS, prisoners of war and French civilian forced laborers. : 567–568

The Free French, concerned that the Allies might decide to put France under administration of the Allied Military Government for Occupied Territories, strove to establish quickly the Provisional Government of the French Republic. The first action of that government was to re-establish republican legality throughout metropolitan France.

The provisional government considered the Vichy government to have been unconstitutional and all its actions therefore without legitimate authority.

Collaborationist paramilitary and political organizations, such as the Milice and the Service d'ordre légionnaire , were also dissolved. [[CITE|undefined|]]

The provisional government also took steps to replace local governments, including governments that had been suppressed by the Vichy regime, through new elections or by extending the terms of those who had been elected not later than 1939.

After the liberation, France was swept for a short period with a wave of executions of Collaborationists.

Four different periods are distinguished by historians:

  • the first phase of popular convictions (épuration sauvage – wild purge): executions without judgments and shaving of women's heads.
  • the second phase (épuration légale or legal purge), which began with Charles de Gaulle's 26 and 27 June 1944 purge ordonnances (de Gaulle's first ordonnance instituting purge Commissions was enacted on 18 August 1943): judgments of Collaborationists by the Commissions d'épuration, who condemned approximately 120,000 persons (e.g. Charles Maurras, leader of the royalist Action Française , was thus condemned to a life sentence on 25 January 1945), including 1,500 death sentences (Joseph Darnand, head of the Milice, and Pierre Laval, head of the French state, were executed after trial on 4 October 1945, Robert Brasillach, executed on 6 February 1945, etc.)—many of those who survived this phase were later given amnesty.
  • the third phase, more lenient towards Collaborationists (the trial of Philippe Pétain or of writer Louis-Ferdinand Céline).
  • finally came the period for amnesty and graces (e.g.,. Jean-Pierre Esteva, Xavier Vallat, creator of the General Commission for Jewish Affairs, René Bousquet, head of French police, etc.)

Other historians have distinguished the purges against intellectuals (Brasillach, Céline, etc.), industrialists, fighters (LVF, etc.) and civil servants (Papon, etc.).

Philippe Pétain was charged with treason in July 1945.

The French members of the Waffen-SS Charlemagne Division who survived the war were regarded as traitors. Some of the more prominent officers were executed, while the rank-and-file were given prison terms; some of them were given the option of doing time in Indochina (1946–54) with the Foreign Legion instead of prison.

Among artists, singer Tino Rossi was detained in Fresnes prison, where, according to Combat newspaper, prison guards asked him for autographs. Pierre Benoit and Arletty were also detained.

Executions without trials and other forms of "popular justice" were harshly criticized immediately after the war, with circles close to Pétainists advancing the figures of 100,000, and denouncing the "Red Terror", "anarchy", or "blind vengeance". The writer and Jewish internee Robert Aron estimated the popular executions to a number of 40,000 in 1960. This surprised de Gaulle, who estimated the number to be around 10,000, which is also the figure accepted today by mainstream historians. Approximately 9,000 of these 10,000 refer to summary executions in the whole of the country, which occurred during battle.

Some imply that France did too little to deal with collaborators at this stage, by selectively pointing out that in absolute value (numbers), there were fewer legal executions in France than in its smaller neighbor Belgium, and fewer internments than in Norway or the Netherlands.

The proportion of collaborators was also higher in Norway, and collaboration occurred on a larger scale in the Netherlands (as in Flanders) based partly on linguistic and cultural commonality with Germany.

Some accused war criminals were judged, some for a second time, from the 1980s onwards: Paul Touvier, Klaus Barbie, Maurice Papon, René Bousquet (the head of the French police during the war) and his deputy Jean Leguay. Bousquet and Leguay were both convicted for their responsibilities in the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup of July 1942. Among others, Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld spent part of their post-war effort trying to bring them before the courts. A fair number of collaborationists then joined the OAS terrorist movement during the Algerian War (1954–62). Jacques de Bernonville escaped to Quebec, then Brazil. Jacques Ploncard d'Assac became counsellor to the dictator António de Oliveira Salazar in Portugal. [106]

In 1993, former Vichy official René Bousquet was assassinated while he awaited prosecution in Paris following a 1991 inculpation for crimes against humanity; he had been prosecuted but partially acquitted and immediately amnestied in 1949. [[CITE|undefined|]] In 1994 former Vichy official Paul Touvier (1915–1996) was convicted of crimes against humanity. Maurice Papon was likewise convicted in 1998, released three years later due to ill health, and died in 2007. [[CITE|undefined|,27676,en.pdf]]

Historiographical debates and "Vichy Syndrome"

Until Jacques Chirac's presidency, the official point of view of the French government was that the Vichy regime was an illegal government distinct from the French Republic, established by traitors under foreign influence. [666666] Indeed, Vichy France eschewed the formal name of France ("French Republic") and styled itself the "French State", replacing the Republican motto of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity) inherited from the 1789 French Revolution, with the motto Travail, Famille, Patrie

While the criminal behaviour of Vichy France was consistently acknowledged, this point of view denied any responsibility of the state of France, alleging that acts committed between 1940 and 1944 were unconstitutional acts devoid of legitimacy.

The first President to accept responsibility for the arrest and deportation of Jews from France was Jacques Chirac, in a 16 July 1995 speech.

President Macron's statement on 16 July 2017 was even more specific, stating clearly that the Vichy regime was certainly the French State during WW II, and played a role in the Holocaust.

As historian Henry Rousso has put it in The Vichy Syndrome (1987), Vichy and the state collaboration of France remains a "past that doesn't pass away".

Historiographical debates are still, today, passionate, opposing conflictual views on the nature and legitimacy of Vichy's collaborationism with Germany in the implementation of the Holocaust.

While it is certain that the Vichy government and a large number of its high administration collaborated in the implementation of the Holocaust, the exact level of such cooperation is still debated.

The regional newspaper Nice Matin revealed on 28 February 2007, that in more than 1,000 condominium properties on the Côte d'Azur, rules dating to Vichy were still "in force", or at least existed on paper. One of these rules, for example, stated that:

The president of the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France-Côte d'Azur, a Jewish association group, issued a strong condemnation labeling it "the utmost horror" when one of the inhabitants of such a condominium qualified this as an "anachronism" with "no consequences". [[CITE|undefined|]] Jewish inhabitants were able and willing to live in the buildings, and to explain this the Nice Matin reporter surmised that some tenants may have not read the condominium contracts in detail, while others deemed the rules obsolete. [[CITE|undefined|]] A reason for the latter is that any racially discriminatory condominium or other local rule that may have existed "on paper", Vichy-era or otherwise, was invalidated by the constitutions of the French Fourth Republic (1946) and French Fifth Republic (1958) and was inapplicable under French antidiscrimination law. Thus, even if the tenants or coowners had signed or otherwise agreed to these rules after 1946, any such agreement would be null and void (caduque) under French law, as were the rules. Rewriting or eliminating the obsolete rules would have had to be done at the occupants' expense, including notary fees of 900 to 7000 EUR per building. [[CITE|undefined|]]

Today, the few remaining Vichy supporters continue to maintain the official argument advanced by Pétain and Laval: the state collaboration was supposed to protect the French civilian population from the hardships of the Occupation.

Munholland reports a widespread consensus among historians regarding the authoritarian character of the Vichy regime and its:

Although this claim is rejected by the rest of the French population and by the state itself, another myth remains more widespread than this one.

However, this argument has been rejected by several historians who are specialists of the subject, among them US historian Robert Paxton, who is widely recognized, and historian of the French police Maurice Rajsfus. Both were called on as experts during the Papon trial in the 1990s.

Robert Paxton thus declared, before the court, on 31 October 1997, that "Vichy took initiatives...

Internationally, France "believed the war to be finished".

"Antisemitism was a constant theme", recalled Robert Paxton.

The historic change came in 1941–1942, with the pending German defeat on the Eastern Front. The war then became "total", and in August 1941, Hitler decided on the "global extermination of all European Jews". This new policy was officially formulated during the January 1942 Wannsee Conference, and implemented in all European occupied countries by spring 1942. France, praising itself for having remained an independent state (as opposed to other occupied countries) "decided to cooperate. This is the second Vichy." [[CITE|undefined|]] The first train of deportees left Drancy on 27 March 1942, for Poland – the first in a long series.

"The Nazis needed the French administration...

Pointing to the French police's registering of Jews, as well as Laval's decision, taken completely autonomously in August 1942, to deport children along with their parents, Paxton added:

Despite Paxton's assertion about Vichy knowledge "from the start", deportations from France did not start until summer 1942, several months after mass deportation from other countries started.

Paxton then referred to the case of Italy, where deportation of Jewish people had started only after the German occupation.

More recent work by the historian Susan Zuccotti finds that, in general, the Vichy government facilitated the deportation of foreign Jews rather than French ones, until at least 1943:

Whatever the Vichy government's intent initially or subsequently, the numerical outcome was that less than 15% of French Jews, vs. nearly twice that proportion of non-citizen Jews residing in France, died.

Notable figures

Non-Vichy collaborationists

See also


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