67 Facts About Vichy France


At Vichy France, Petain established an authoritarian government that reversed many liberal policies and began tight supervision of the economy.

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French soldiers were kept hostage to ensure that Vichy France would reduce its military forces and pay a heavy tribute in gold, food and supplies to Germany.

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Only four senior Vichy France officials were tried for crimes against humanity although many others had participated in the deportation of Jews for internment in Nazi concentration camps, abuses of prisoners and severe acts against members of the Resistance.

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Vichy France set up a paternalistic authoritarian regime that actively collaborated with Germany, despite Vichy's official neutrality.

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The Vichy France government co-operated with the Germans' Nazi racial policies.

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Territory under the control of the Vichy government was the unoccupied southern portion of Metropolitan France south of the Line of Demarcation, as established by the Armistice of 22 June 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 implemented.

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Nazis had some intention of annexing a large swath of northeastern Vichy France, replacing that region's inhabitants with German settlers, and initially forbade French refugees from returning to the region, but the restrictions were never thoroughly enforced and were basically abandoned following the invasion of the Soviet Union, which had the effect of turning German territorial ambitions almost exclusively to the East.

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Rene Bousquet, the head of French police nominated by Vichy France, exercised his power in Paris through his second-in-command, Jean Leguay, who coordinated raids with the Nazis.

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Vichy France'storians have particularly debated the circumstances of the vote by the National Assembly of the Third Republic granting full powers to Petain on 10 July 1940.

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However, during the war, the Vichy France government was internationally recognised, notably by the United States and several other major Allied powers.

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Vichy France stated that if legitimacy comes from popular support, Petain's massive popularity in France until 1942 made his government legitimate, and if legitimacy comes from diplomatic recognition, over 40 countries, including the United States, Canada, and China, recognised the Vichy government.

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French historian Olivier Wieviorka rejects the idea that Vichy France was fascist, noting that "Petain refused to create a single party state, avoided getting France involved in a new war, hated modernization, and supported the Church".

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Alongside this claim for a moral revolution was Petain's call for Vichy France to turn inwards and to withdraw from the world, which Petain always portrayed as a hostile and threatening place full of endless dangers for the French.

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Beyond that, to justify both the armistice with Germany and the, Vichy France 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.

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Such a harsh critique of French society could generate only 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 to weaken France and then to pressure France into declaring war on Germany in 1939.

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The chief themes of Vichy Anglophobia were British "selfishness" in using and then abandoning France after instigating wars, British "treachery" and British plans to take over French colonies.

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Vichy France declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939 after the German invasion of Poland on 1 September.

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Vichy France wanted to ensure that France did not continue to fight from North Africa and that the French Navy was taken out of the war.

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

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Vichy France was centrally located and had many hotels for ministers to use.

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The Vichy France government fled into exile in Sigmaringen in September 1944.

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US President Franklin D Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull hoped to use American influence to encourage elements in the Vichy government opposed to military collaboration with Germany.

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Washington hoped to encourage Vichy France to resist German war demands, such as for air bases in French-mandated Syria or moving war supplies through French territories in North Africa.

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The US position was essentially that unless explicitly required by the armistice terms, Vichy France should take no action that could adversely affect Allied efforts in the war.

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Under the armistice, Vichy France had been allowed to retain the French Navy, the, under strict conditions.

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Vichy France pledged that the fleet would never fall into German hands but refused to send the fleet beyond Germany's reach by sending it to Britain or to far-away French colonies such as in the West Indies.

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Until 1962, Vichy France possessed four colonies across India, the largest being Pondicherry.

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In Wallis and Futuna, the local administrator and bishop sided with Vichy France 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 Petain.

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French Guiana, on the northern coast of South America, removed its Vichy France-supporting government on 22 March 1943, shortly after eight allied ships had been sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Guiana, and the arrival of American troops by air on 20 March.

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On 2 January 1942, the Vichy France government offered the use of the port and railway, subject to the lifting of the blockade but the British refused and ended the blockade unilaterally in March.

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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 France 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.

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Vichy France ordered Vichy forces there to cease resisting and to co-operate with the Allies, and they did so.

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In North Africa, after the 8 November 1942 putsch by the French Resistance, most Vichy France figures were arrested, including General Alphonse Juin, chief commander in North Africa, and Admiral Francois Darlan.

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The latter wanted to pursue a political position in Vichy France and agreed to have Giraud as commander-in-chief, who was more qualified militarily.

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Vichy France is often described as a German puppet state, although it has been argued it had an agenda of its own.

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Vichy France'storians 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 radicalisation of the regime.

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Many Vichy officials, such as Petain, were reactionaries who felt that France's unfortunate fate was a result of its republican character and the actions of its left-wing governments of the 1930s, in particular of the Popular Front led by Leon Blum.

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In July 1940, Vichy France set up a special commission charged with reviewing naturalisations granted since the 1927 reform of the nationality law.

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Internment camps in Vichy France inaugurated 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.

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Vichy France imposed no restrictions on black people in the Unoccupied Zone; the regime even had a mixed-race cabinet minister, the Martinique-born lawyer Henry Lemery.

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Vichy France 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.

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

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On 3 October 1940, the Vichy France government promulgated the Law on the status of Jews, which created a special underclass of French Jewish citizens.

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Paxton's numbers imply that 14, 000 Jews died in French concentration camps, but the systematic census of Jewish deportees from Vichy France drawn under Serge Klarsfeld concluded that 3, 000 had died in French concentration camps and 1, 000 more had been shot.

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Philip Manow argued that, "Vichy France represents the authoritarian, antidemocratic solution that the French political right, in coalition with the national Church hierarchy, had sought repeatedly during the interwar period and almost put in place in 1934".

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Hans Petter Graver wrote that Vichy France "is notorious for its enactment of anti-Semitic laws and decrees, and these were all loyally enforced by the judiciary".

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Vichy France made the first comprehensive long-range plans for the French economy, but the government had never attempted a comprehensive overview.

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

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The falling birth rate appeared to be a grave problem to Vichy France, which introduced family allowances and opposed birth control and abortion.

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

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President Roosevelt continued to cultivate Vichy France, and promoted General Henri Giraud as a preferable alternative to, despite the poor performance of Vichy France forces in North Africa—Admiral Francois Darlan had landed in Algiers the day before Operation Torch.

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Inasmuch as blanket rescission of all acts taken by Vichy France, including measures that might have been taken by a legitimate republican government, was deemed impractical, the order provided that acts not expressly noted as nullified in the order were to continue to receive "provisional application".

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Many acts were explicitly repealed, including all acts that Vichy France had called "constitutional acts", all acts that discriminated against Jews, all acts related to so-called "secret societies", and all acts that established special tribunals.

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Vichy France was convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad, but Charles commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.

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Some imply that Vichy France did too little to deal with collaborators at this stage by selectively pointing out that in absolute value, there were fewer legal executions in Vichy France than in its smaller neighbour Belgium, and fewer internments than in Norway or the Netherlands, but the situation in Belgium was not comparable as it mixed collaboration with elements of a war of secession.

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Vichy France had been prosecuted but partially acquitted and immediately amnestied in 1949.

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Until Jacques Chirac's presidency, the official point of view of the French government was that the Vichy France regime was an illegal government distinct from the French Republic, established by traitors under foreign influence.

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Indeed, Vichy France eschewed the formal name of France and styled itself the "French State", replacing the Republican motto of Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite (liberty, equality, fraternity) inherited from the 1789 French Revolution, with the motto Travail, Famille, Patrie (work, family, homeland).

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

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Two additional popular beliefs went along with this, that of the "sword and shield", as well as the idea that to whatever extent there were harsh measures implemented by Vichy France, it was because it was under the boot of the Germans and not by choice.

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Resistance member Gilbert Renault, alias Colonel Remy, who founded the first resistance network in occupied Vichy France had great respect for Petain, and felt that Vichy France could fight on two fronts, either with Petain internally, or with from abroad, and he was not alone among resistance members who supported and sincerely admired Petain.

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

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Vichy France then decided on its own within the homeland, to implement the "National Revolution".

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Thus, by July 1940, Vichy eagerly negotiated with the German authorities in an attempt to gain a place for France in the Third Reich's "New Order", but "Hitler never forgot the 1918 defeat.

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Vichy France, praising itself for having remained an independent state, as opposed to other occupied countries, "decided to cooperate.

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Contrary to preconceived ideas, Vichy France did not sacrifice foreign Jews in the hope of protecting French Jews.

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Deportations from Vichy France did not start until summer 1942, several months after mass deportation from other countries had started.

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