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Occupation of France

Discussion in 'History of France during World War II' started by Jim, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim Active Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    via War44
    While Britain was bombed, France was in the process of being torn apart. On 10 July 1940, the Senators and Deputies voted by an overwhelming majority of 569 to 80 to give 84-year-old Marshal Henri Philippe Petain full executive powers. Their vote signalled the decisive defeat of the Third Republic. Parliamentary democracy was no more: it was replaced by one of the most authoritarian regimes of twentieth-century Europe. A new government was formed under Petain, who immediately asked the Germans for an armistice while calling on the French to lay down their arms. To make their victory even sweeter, the Germans insisted that the armistice be signed in the same railway carriage in which the Germans had acknowledged defeat on 11 November 1918. A bitter period of French history was inaugurated. On 24 October 1940, the term ‘collaboration’ was given its modern definition when Petain met Adolf Hitler and agreed to cooperate. Photographs of the two men shaking hands were widely published.

    Philippe Petain


    The implications of the French surrender rapidly became clear. France was immediately divided into two zones. The Germans occupied Paris and the surrounding area, while French collaborationists governed the second zone from Vichy, a spa town in central France. How could this have happened? A main reason was that in the early days of the invasion the cult of the Marshal was strong. Pétain was trusted; he seemed to embody common sense and reasonableness in the face of the tragedy. At his side was the more flamboyant, arch-appeaser Pierre Laval. Together, they set about reconstructing a French nation that could coexist with Germany. Both saw collaboration as a necessity, not an option. It took two years before this basic political arrangement was to be reformed again. On 11 November 1942, the Germans (frightened by the Allied landings in North Africa) occupied all of France.

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