The Vichy Regime

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The Founding of the Vichy Regime
The Suicide of the Third Republic and Petain's Initiial Popularity
Suicide of the Third Republic
1) French Parliament voted to give full powers to Marshall Philippe Pétain.
2) Parliamentary vote was overwhelming (569 to 80).
3) A purely French demand - not prompted by any demand on the part of the Germans.
Petain Very Popular
1) Pétain's background:
• Victor of Battle of Verdun in WWI.
• Protector - Known for looking out for the common soldier.
• Grandfatherly figure.
2) The French situation:
• Country needed emergency government.
• Presumption that Germany had won the war.
Founding Errors of the Vichy Regime
Treated German Occupation as an opportunity
Misjudgment of Nazi Intentions
Expectations of Vichy in 1940
1) Protect French people from Nazi predations.
2) Concede as little as possible.
3) Resist wherever possible.
4) Switch sides if the war turns against Germany.
Treating the German Occupation of France as an Opportunity
1) Did not simply make the best of a bad situation.
2) Rather, pursued an agenda of domestic reform (the "national revolution").
3) Tried to use Nazi power to build a new order in France.
An Ultra Agenda
1) Roll back French Revolution:
• "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" replaced by "Work, Family, Fatherland."
• Bust of Marianne replaced by bust of Pétain in government offices.
2) Rural, pre‐modern ideal: "The land never lies."
3) Restore Church and conservative social values:
• Prayer and penance.
• Law against adultery.
• Abortion punishable by death.
A Treasonous Reprise of 1792
1) In 1792, King Louis XVI and émigrés nobles supported a foreign invasion of France in order to restore the monarchy.
2) Vichy leaders also behaved treasonously, embracing France's conquest by the Nazis.
3) Threw themselves into the arms of a foreign enemy in order to pursue domestic agenda.
Misreading of German Intentions Toward France
1) Presumption that Germans would be happy to support an authoritarian regime.
2) Vichy would be a loyal ally and would reap benefits from Germany.
3) France would occupy a privileged position within the new Nazi European order.
Nazis Wanted to Neutralize France, Not Rebuild It
1) Nazis were fighting on multiple fronts (notably Russian), so wanted to limit troops stationed in France. 2) Nazis not looking for active collaboration from France. 3) Did not trust or respect French fighters.
4) Just wanted French front to remain quiet.
Nazi Needs Were at Odds with Vichy's Goal of Renewal
1) Nazis demanded payments of food and industrial output.
2) Also wanted French citizens to work in German factories.
3) 1/3 French output and hundreds of thousands of men sent to Germany.
Moving in the Wrong Direction
1. From Fence-Sitting to Resistance
2. The Experience of Francois Mitterand
3. The Growing Case for Resistance
From Fence-Sitting to Resistance
1) Many in France drawn to collaboration initially.
• Assumed that World War II was over and Germany had won.
• Sought to make the best of a bad situation.
• Some even sympathized with Nazi ideals.
2) However, as the war turned against Germany, many fence-sitters rethought their positions.
• Stopped cooperating or even joined resistance.
• Expected Vichy to do the same.
The Experience of Francois Mitterand
1) Collaborationist past
• Mitterrand started out sympathetic to anti-Semitics and far-right ideas.
• Was ambitious, moving up within Vichy establishment. 2) Move toward the Resistance
• Over time, grew disgusted by Vichy and German actions.
• Became an important leader in French Resistance.
3) Political career
• After WWII, headed a center-left Resistance party.
• Eventually served as President of France, 1981-1995.
• Revealed his story at the end of his term in office and near the end of his life.
The War Turns Against Germany
1) June 1941 - Hitler attacks Soviet Union.
2) December 1941 - US enters the war following Pearl Harbor.
3) November 1942 - US troops land in North Africa, 30 miles from French coast.
4) Battle of Stalingrad (1942-43) a major defeat for Germans.
German Exactions Increase
1) Demand bigger economic payments.
2) Demand workers for German factories.
3) Occupy all of France following US landing in North Africa.
4) Begin implementing sinister agenda, notably extermination of Jews.
Intensified Collaboration
1) Military Collaboration
2) Provision of Labor
3) Domestic Repression
4) Aid with the "Final Solution."
Military Collaboration
1) Legion of French Volunteers against Bolshevism (LVF) to fight alongside Nazis on Eastern Front.
2) Declaration by Pierre Laval (#2 man in Vichy Regimes): "I wish for German victory because otherwise Bolshevism will install itself everywhere."
Supplying Labor to the Reich (600,000 Laborers)
1) At first, process was voluntary.
• Better living conditions.
• Release of French POWs
2) STO (September 1942 )
• Service du Travail Obligatoire (Compulsory Labor Service).
• All men supposed to report at age 20.
• STO very unpopular, and many young men joined the Resistance to avoid it.
Domestic Repression
1) Collective Reprisals
• When German soldiers killed by resisters, Nazis retaliated by killing 50 French prisoners.
• Vichy often provided the prisoners, usually Communists.
2) Milice Française
• Vichy paramilitary.
• Hunted down, arrested, tortured, and killed French resisters.
Ideological Collaboration: Persecution of Jews
1) Already in 1940, Vichy took discriminatory measures - Jews excluded from civil service, army, education, media, liberal professions.
2) July 1941 - Jewish factories "Aryanized."
3) Fall 1941 - Expo on "The Jew in France."
4) 1942 - French police round up Jews and put them on trains to death camps (Vélodrome d'Hiver).
The Hope of Renewal
1) Charles De Gaulle
2) Other Resistance Movement
3) Spirit of the Resistance
Charles De Gaulle
1) Refused to accept France's defeat in May-‐ June 1940 as final.
2) WWII is a world war, not just a Franco-‐German War.
3) France has lost the battle, but not the war.
4) Must continue to fight Germany wherever possible.
Organizing the Resistance
1) De Gaulle fled to London, declared Vichy illegitimate, and set up rival government.
2) Starting 18 June 1940, began broadcasting from London to France.
3) Organized resistance within France.
4) Created army from those outside France (mostly in colonies).
The Communist
1) When Soviet Union allied to Nazi Germany in August 1939 (Molotov-‐Ribbentrop Pact), Communists opposed the war.
2) Position changed when Nazis invaded USSR in June 1941.
3) Communists well organized, formed core of the resistance.
4) Also suffered the most casualties.
Ironies of Guy Moquet
Irony vis-‐à-‐vis PCF
• A symbol of the Communist Resistance against the Nazis and Vichy.
• Yet Môquet was arrested for opposing the war against Germany, which was the PCF's position until Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.
Irony vis-‐à-‐vis Sarkozy
• A symbol of self-sacrifice, who gave his life for France, according to Sarkozy.
• Yet Môquet was animated by Communism and was selected for execution by French authorities because he was a Communist.
The Socialist
1) Less well organized than Communists.
2) But were in the democratic camp from day one.
3) Not subordinated to the Soviet Union.
4) Popular Front Prime Minister, Léon Blum embarrassed Vichy regime at Riom Trial.
Progressive Catholics
• French Catholic establishment closely allied with Vichy. • Many priests and practicing Catholics opposed Vichy.
• Progressive Catholic party founded at end of war (MRP).
Shared Views Among Gaullist, Communists, Socialists, and Catholics
• French Catholic establishment closely allied with Vichy. • Many priests and practicing Catholics opposed Vichy.
• Progressive Catholic party founded at end of war (MRP).
State-Led Economic Modernization
1) French employers risk-‐ averse, unwilling to invest.
2) Had failed to modernize French industry.
3) Had betrayed France by collaborating with Nazis during the War.
4) State should, therefore, take the lead in modernizing the economy.
Healing, Reconciliation
1) Put an end to traditional conflicts.
2) Create a welfare state to integrate the working class.
3) Transcend religious divisions, merging Socialist party and Christian Democrats into one center-left party.
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