Vichy France's Shame and Brutality

The Vichy regime was the French government from July 1940 to August 1944, which succeeded the Third Republic. It was proclaimed by Marshal Philippe Pétain following the military defeat of France and the vote by the National Assembly, on July 10, 1940, of extraordinary powers to Pétain, who held not the title of President of France but rather President of the Council.

 

The “French state” (L'État Français), as it called itself in contrast with the “French Republic”, willfully collaborated with Nazi Germany, to a high degree: raids to capture Jews and other “undesirables” were organized by the French police not only in the northern zone, occupied by the German Wehrmacht, but also in the southern “free zone”, which was occupied only after the Allies' landing in French North Africa in November 1942. Vichy's authority legally extended itself to both zones.

 

While Pétain collaborated with the Germans, Charles de Gaulle claimed to incarnate the legitimacy and the continuity of France. Following the liberation of France after Operation Overlord, de Gaulle proclaimed the Provisional Government of the French Republic (GPRF) in June 1944. After the Liberation of Paris in August, the GPRF installed itself in Paris on August 31. The GPRF was recognized as the legitimate government of France by all the allies on October 23, 1944.

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