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Traditional Enemies - Britain's War with Vichy France 1940-1942, John D Grainger


Traditional Enemies - Britain's War with Vichy France 1940-1942, John D Grainger

Traditional Enemies - Britain's War with Vichy France 1940-1942, John D Grainger

Between the fall of France in 1940 and the German occupation of Vichy France after Operation Torch Britain and France were involved in a number of direct military clashes. These varied from the single day of naval fighting at Mers el-Kebir to the lengthy campaigns in Syria and Madagascar and the major Anglo-American invasion on North Africa.

I've read accounts of all of these individual conflicts, but never one that brings them all together. This is a very effective idea - normally the individual battles are examined in the context of their time (the early attack on the French fleet), from the point of view of the Free French (Dakar) or as part of a wider history of a particular part of the war (Syria as part of the Middle Eastern and North African battles, Madagascar as a side-show of the war against Japan). While that approach can produce good accounts of the individual battles, it loses any view of the long-term impact on Vichy France. Here we see how the slow loss of control of the French Empire affected the Vichy government, as well as the developing relationship between Britain, America and the Free French.

Grainger has a balanced attitude to this topic, acknowledging the valid motives behind each of the British attacks. In 1940 the French fleet posed a real threat to the British position in the Mediterranean. Allied control of Dakar would have greatly eased their worries in parts of the Atlantic. The invasion of Syria came after the Germans had used it as a staging post on the air route to Iraq. The idea of the Japanese using Madagascar as a base now seems unconvincing, but at the time it was a very real threat. At the same time he has produced some very interesting material on the political situation in France and the French Empire, which helps explain the actions of the Vichy government.

This is an interesting book that fills a gap in the literature of the Second World War, bringing together a series of battles that are normally looked at in isolation or as part of a different topics.

Chapters
1 - The Falling Out
2 - The French Fleet
3 - Mers el-Kebir
4 - The French Empire
5 - Dakar
6 - Harassments and Conversations
7 - Syria: The Quarrel
8 - Syria: The War
9 - Islands and Raids
10 - Madagascar: Diego Suarez
11 - Madagascar: The Long Island
12 - Operation 'Torch'
13 - Scuttle

Author: John D Grainger
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 224
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2013



Traditional Enemies: Britain's War With Vichy France 1940-42 Kindle Edition

Im englischen Militärverlag Pen & Sword erschien dieses interessante Werk zu einer verschämt weggehüstelten Auseinandersetzung in den Jahren 1940 - 1942. Und zwar zwischen den "Alliierten", insbesondere Großbritannien einerseits und Frankreich unter dem sogenannten Vichy-Regime andererseits.

Auf 240 Seiten erfährt man alles Wissenswerte über diesen vergessenen Konflikt, begonnen mit der Operation Catapult, dem brutalen Überfall der Royal Navy auf französische Kriegsschiffe im Hafen von Mers el-Kebir in Algerien. 1297 französische Soldaten kamen dabei ums Leben. Die Kämpfe in Dakar, Madagaskar und insbesondere Syrien werden ausführlich behandelt, ebenso die kriegerischen Auseinandersetzungen auf den Weltmeeren, sowie "Islands and Raids". Besonderes Augenmerk widmet der Autor auch den politischen Vorgängen, recht interessant hier der offene Hass zwischen der Vichy-Regierung unter Petain und den "Freifranzosen" unter De Gaulle.

Das Buch endet mit der Operation "Torch", nach welcher die Freifranzosen endgültig die Oberhand gewannen, während Hitler als Reaktion in das bisher unbesetzte Südfrankreich einmarschieren ließ.

Der Schreibstil ist allerdings manchmal gar zu trocken, das kostet einen Stern. Doch da es sonst kaum Lektüre zu dieser unbekannten Auseinandersetzung gibt und die Kindleausgabe auch preislich interessant ist, gebe ich gerne vier Sterne.


Contents

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.

Terminology Edit

After the National Assembly under the Third Republic voted to give full powers to Philippe Pétain on 10 July 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, [1] 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 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 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. [7]

Jurisdiction Edit

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. [8] 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 recognised 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 17–18 December 1941 although the line remained in place on paper for the remainder of the occupation. [9]

Nevertheless, effectively Alsace-Lorraine was annexed: German law applied to the region, its inhabitants were conscripted into the Wehrmacht [ citation needed ] and pointedly the customs posts separating France from Germany were placed back where they had been between 1871 and 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. [ citation needed ] 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 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.

Legitimacy Edit

Vichy's claim to be the legitimate French government was denied by Free France and by all subsequent French governments [1] after the war. They maintain that Vichy was an illegal government run by traitors, having come to power through an unconstitutional coup d'état. Pétain was constitutionally appointed the Premier by President Lebrun on 16 June 1940, and he was legally within his rights to sign the armistice with Germany yet, his decision to ask the National Assembly to dissolve itself while granting him dictatorial powers has been more controversial. Historians have particularly debated the circumstances of the vote by the National Assembly of the Third Republic, granting full powers to Pétain on 10 July 1940. The main arguments advanced against Vichy's right to incarnate the continuity of the French state were based on the pressure exerted by Pierre Laval, former Premier in the Third Republic, on the deputies in Vichy, and on the absence of 27 deputies and senators who had fled on the ship Massilia, and thus could not take part in the vote. However, during the war the Vichy government was internationally recognized, [10] notably by the United States [11] and several other major Allied powers. [12] [13] [14] Diplomatic relations with Great Britain had been severed since 8 July 1940, after the Attack on Mers-el-Kébir.

The Vichy regime sought an anti-modern counter-revolution. The traditionalist right in France, with strength in the aristocracy and among Catholics, had never accepted the republican traditions of the French Revolution. It demanded a return to traditional lines of culture and religion and embraced authoritarianism, while dismissing democracy. [15] [16] The regime also framed itself as nationalist. [16] The Communist element, strongest in labour unions, turned against Vichy in June 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Vichy was intensely anti-Communist and generally pro-German American historian Stanley G. Payne found that it was "distinctly rightist and authoritarian but never fascist". [17] Political scientist Robert Paxton analysed the entire range of Vichy supporters, from reactionaries to moderate liberal modernizers, and concluded that genuine fascist elements had but minor roles in most sectors. [18] French historian Olivier Wieviorka rejects the idea that Vichy France was fascist, noting that "Pétain refused to create a single party state, avoided getting France involved in a new war, hated modernization, and supported the Church." [19]

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. [20] 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. [20] 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. [20]

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. [21] 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 colours, a time of la décadence ("decadence") when the French people were alleged to have suffered moral degeneration and decline. [22]

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". [23] 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. [23] Despite his highly negative view of the Third Republic, Pétain argued that la France profonde ("deep France", denoting profoundly French aspects of French culture) still existed, and that the French people needed to return to what Pétain insisted was their true identity. [24] Alongside this claim for a moral revolution was Pétain's call for France to turn inwards, to withdraw from the world, which Pétain always portrayed as a hostile and threatening place full of endless dangers for the French. [23]

Joan of Arc replaced Marianne as the national symbol of France under Vichy as her status as one of France's best-loved heroines gave her widespread appeal while at the same time the image of Joan as devoutly Catholic and patriotic fit well with Vichy's traditionalist message. Vichy literature portrayed Joan as an archetypal virgin and Marianne as an archetypal whore. [25] Under the Vichy regime, the school textbook Miracle de Jeanne by René Jeanneret was required reading, and the anniversary of Joan's death became an occasion for school speeches commemorating her martyrdom. [26] Joan's encounter with angelic voices, according to Catholic tradition, were presented as literal history. [27] The textbook Miracle de Jeanne declared "the Voices did speak!" in contrast with Republican school texts, which had strongly implied Joan was mentally ill. [27] Vichy instructors sometimes struggled to square Joan's military heroism with the classical virtues of womanhood, with one school textbook insisting that girls ought not follow Joan's example literally, saying: "Some of the most notable heroes in our history have been women. But nevertheless, girls should preferably exercise the virtues of patience, persistence and resignation. They are destined to tend to the running of the household . It is in love that our future mothers will find the strength to practise those virtues which best befit their sex and their condition."" [28] Exemplifying Vichy propaganda's synthesis of Joan the warrior and Joan the dutiful woman, Anne-Marie Hussenot, speaking at the school at Uriage, stated: "a woman should remember that, in the case of Joan of Arc, or other illustrious women throughout the exceptional mission that was confided to them, they first of all performed humbly and simply their woman's role". [29]

The key component of Vichy's ideology was Anglophobia. [30] 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. [31] 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. [32] 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. [33] 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. [33]

No other nation was attacked as frequently and violently as Britain was in Vichy propaganda. [34] 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. [35] Joan of Arc who had fought against England was made into the symbol of France in part for that reason. [35] 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. [36] 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. [37] 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. [38] 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". [39] In an interview conducted by Béraud with Admiral Darlan published in Gringoire newspaper in 1941, Darlan was quoted as saying that if the "New Order" failed in Europe it would mean "here in France, the return to power of the Jews and Freemasons subservient to Anglo-Saxon policy". [40]

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. [41] 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. [42]

While this debate continued, the government was forced to relocate several times, to avoid capture by advancing German forces, finally reaching Bordeaux. Communications were poor and thousands of civilian refugees clogged the roads. In these chaotic conditions, advocates of an armistice gained the upper hand. The Cabinet agreed on a proposal to seek armistice terms from Germany, with the understanding that, should Germany set forth dishonourable or excessively harsh terms, France would retain the option to continue to fight. General Charles Huntziger, who headed the French armistice delegation, was told to break off negotiations if the Germans demanded the occupation of all metropolitan France, the French fleet, or any of the French overseas territories. The Germans did not. [43]

Prime Minister Paul Reynaud favoured 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 attention 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. [44]

Conditions of armistice Edit

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

Prisoners Edit

Germany took two million French soldiers as prisoners of war and sent them to camps in Germany. About one-third had been released on various terms by 1944. Of the remainder, the officers and NCOs (corporals and sergeants) were kept in camps but were exempt from forced labour. The privates were first sent to "Stalag" camps for processing and were then put out to work. About half of them worked in German agriculture, where food rations were adequate and controls were lenient. The others worked in factories or mines, where conditions were much harsher. [45]

Armistice Army Edit

The Germans occupied northern France directly. The French had to pay costs for the 300,000-strong German occupation army, amounting to 20 million Reichsmarks per day, paid at the artificial rate of twenty Francs to the Reichsmark. This was 50 times the actual costs of the occupation garrison. The French government also had responsibility for preventing French citizens from escaping into exile.

Article IV of the Armistice allowed for a small French army—the Armistice Army (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. All members had to be volunteers. In addition to the army, the size of the Gendarmerie was fixed at 60,000 men plus an anti-aircraft force of 10,000 men. Despite the influx of trained soldiers from the colonial forces (reduced in size in accordance with the Armistice) there was a shortage of volunteers. As a result, 30,000 men of the class of 1939 were retained to fill the quota. At the beginning of 1942 these conscripts were released, but there were still not enough men. This shortage remained until the dissolution, despite Vichy appeals to the Germans for a regular form of conscription.

The Vichy French Metropolitan Army was deprived of tanks and other armoured vehicles, and was desperately short of motorised transport, a particular problem for cavalry units. Surviving recruiting posters stress the opportunities for athletic activities, including horsemanship, reflecting both the general emphasis placed by the Vichy government on rural virtues and outdoor activities, and the realities of service in a small and technologically backward military force. Traditional features characteristic of the pre-1940 French Army, such as kepis and heavy capotes (buttoned-back greatcoats) were replaced by berets and simplified uniforms.

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 [47] 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. There were about 55,000 in French Morocco, 50,000 in Algeria, and almost 40,000 in the Army of the Levant (Armée du Levant), in Lebanon and Syria. Colonial forces were allowed to keep some armoured vehicles, though these were mostly "vintage" World War I tanks (Renault FT).

German custody Edit

The Armistice required France to turn over any German citizens within the country upon German demand. The French regarded this as a "dishonorable" term since it would require France to hand over persons who had entered France seeking refuge from Germany. Attempts to negotiate the point with Germany proved unsuccessful, and the French decided not to press the issue to the point of refusing the Armistice.

10 July 1940 vote of full powers Edit

On 10 July 1940, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate gathered in joint session 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 an organized crime hub. Toulouse was too remote and had a left-wing reputation. Vichy was centrally located and had many hotels for ministers to use.) [48] 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. [49] [note 1] 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. [51] (These acts [ clarification needed ] would later be annulled in August 1944. [1] )

Most legislators believed that democracy would continue, albeit with a new constitution. Although Laval said on 6 July that "parliamentary democracy has lost the war it must disappear, ceding its place to an authoritarian, hierarchical, national and social regime", the majority trusted in Pétain. Léon Blum, who voted no, wrote three months later that Laval's "obvious objective was to cut all the roots that bound France to its republican and revolutionary past. His 'national revolution' was to be a counter-revolution eliminating all the progress and human rights won in the last one hundred and fifty years". [52] The minority of mostly Radicals and Socialists who opposed Laval became known as the Vichy 80. Deputies and senators who voted to grant full powers to Pétain were condemned on an individual basis after the liberation.

The majority of French historians and all post-war French governments contend that this vote by the National Assembly was illegal. Three main arguments are put forward:

  • 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 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 recognised 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. [53] Countries recognised 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. In total, the parliament was composed of 846 members, 544 Deputies and 302 Senators. One Senator and 26 Deputies were on the Massilia. One Senator did not vote 8 Senators and 12 Deputies voluntarily abstained 57 Senators and 92 Deputies involuntarily abstained. Thus, out of a total of 544 Deputies, only 414 voted and out of a total of 302 Senators, only 235 voted. Of these, 357 Deputies voted in favour of Pétain and 57 against, while 212 Senators voted for Pétain, and 23 against. Thus, Pétain was approved by 65% of all Deputies and 70% of all Senators. Although Pétain could claim legality for himself – particularly in comparison with the essentially self-appointed leadership of Charles de Gaulle – the dubious circumstances of the vote explain why a majority of French historians do not consider Vichy a complete continuity of the French state. [54]

The text voted by the Congress stated:

The National Assembly gives full powers to the government of the Republic, under the authority and the signature of Marshal Pétain, to the effect of promulgating by one or several acts a new constitution of the French state. This constitution must guarantee the rights of labor, of family and of the homeland. It will be ratified by the nation and applied by the assemblies which it has created. [55]

The Constitutional Acts of 11 and 12 July 1940 [56] 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. On 12 July Pétain designated Laval as vice-president and his designated successor, and appointed Fernand de Brinon as representative to the German High Command in Paris. Pétain remained the head of the Vichy regime until 20 August 1944. The French national motto, Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood), was replaced by Travail, Famille, Patrie (Work, Family, Homeland) it was noted at the time that TFP also stood for the criminal punishment of "travaux forcés à perpetuité" ("forced labor in perpetuity"). [57] Reynaud was arrested in September 1940 by the Vichy government and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1941 before the opening of the Riom Trial.

Pétain was reactionary by nature, his status as a hero of the Third Republic during World War I notwithstanding. Almost as soon as he was granted full powers, Pétain began blaming the Third Republic's democracy and endemic corruption for France's humiliating defeat by Germany. Accordingly, his government soon began taking on authoritarian characteristics. Democratic liberties and guarantees were immediately suspended. [52] The crime of "felony of opinion" (délit d'opinion) was re-established, effectively repealing freedom of thought and expression critics were frequently arrested. Elective bodies were replaced by nominated ones. The "municipalities" and the departmental commissions were thus placed under the authority of the administration and of the prefects (nominated by and dependent on the executive power). In January 1941 the National Council (Conseil National), composed of notables from the countryside and the provinces, was instituted under the same conditions. Despite the clear authoritarian cast of Pétain's government, he did not formally institute a one-party state, he maintained the Tricolor and other symbols of republican France, and unlike many far rightists, he was not an anti-Dreyfusard. Pétain excluded fascists from office in his government, and by and large his cabinet comprised "February 6 men" (i.e. members of the "National Union government" formed after the 6 February 1934 crisis following the Stavisky Affair) or mainstream politicians whose career prospects had been blocked by the triumph of the Front populaire in 1936. [58]

There were five governments during the tenure of the Vichy regime, starting with the continuation of Pétain's position from the Third Republic, which dissolved itself and handed him full powers, leaving Pétain in absolute control of the new, "French State" as Pétain named it. Pierre Laval formed the first government in 1940. The second government was formed by Pierre-Étienne Flandin, and lasted just two months until February 1941. François Darlan was then head of government until April 1942, followed by Pierre Laval again until August 1944. The Vichy government fled into exile in Sigmaringen in September 1944.

Vichy France was recognised by most Axis and neutral powers, including the US 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. President Roosevelt disliked Charles de Gaulle, whom he regarded as an "apprentice dictator". [59] Robert Murphy, Roosevelt's representative in North Africa, started preparing for a landing in North Africa in December 1940 (a year before the US entered the war). The US first tried to support General Maxime Weygand, general delegate of Vichy for Africa until December 1941. This first choice having failed, they turned to Henri Giraud shortly before the landing in North Africa on 8 November 1942. Finally, after François Darlan's turn towards the Free Forces — Darlan had been president of the Council of Vichy from February 1941 to April 1942 — they played him against de Gaulle. [59]

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". [59] 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). [59]

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. [60]

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. Under the armistice, France had been allowed to retain the French Navy, the Marine Nationale, under strict conditions. Vichy pledged that the fleet would never fall into the hands of Germany, but refused to send the fleet beyond Germany's reach by sending it to Britain or to faraway territories of the French empire such as the West Indies. This did not satisfy Winston Churchill, who ordered French ships in British ports to be seized by the Royal Navy. Shortly after the Armistice (22 June 1940), Britain conducted the destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, killing 1,297 French military personnel, and Vichy severed diplomatic relations with Britain. The French squadron at Alexandria, under Admiral René-Emile Godfroy, was effectively interned until 1943 after an agreement was reached with Admiral Andrew Browne Cunningham, commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet. [61] After the Mers el Kebir incident, the United Kingdom recognised Free France as the legitimate government of France.

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. [62]

French Indochina, Japan and Franco-Thai War Edit

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. [63] This seemingly subservient behaviour 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 puppet state controlled by Tokyo.

Colonial struggle with Free France Edit

To counter the Vichy government, General Charles de Gaulle created the Free French Forces (FFL) after his Appeal of 18 June 1940 wireless 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. [ citation needed ]

India and Oceania Edit

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. [ citation needed ] 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. [64]

Following the Appeal of 18 June, debate arose among the population of French Polynesia. A referendum was organised on 2 September 1940 in Tahiti and Moorea, with outlying islands reporting agreement in the following days. The vote was 5564 to 18 in favour of joining the Free French side. [65] 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, organised "Operation Bobcat" sending nine ships with 5000 American soldiers to build a naval refuelling base and airstrip and set up coastal defence guns on Bora Bora. [66] 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. [67] [68]

In the New Hebrides, Henri Sautot promptly declared allegiance to the Free French on 20 July, the first colonial head to do so. [69] The outcome was decided by a combination of patriotism and economic opportunism in the expectation that independence would result. [70] [71] Sautot subsequently sailed to New Caledonia, where he took control on 19 September. [69] 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, [72] 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 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. [73]

Americas Edit

A Vichy France plan to have Western Union build powerful transmitters on Saint Pierre and Miquelon in 1941 to enable private trans Atlantic communications was blocked following pressure by Roosevelt, then on 24 December 1941 Free French forces on three corvettes, supported by a submarine landed and seized control of Saint Pierre and Miquelon on orders from Charles de Gaulle without reference to any of the Allied commanders. [74]

French Guiana on the northern coast of South America, removed its Vichy supporting government on 22 March 1943, [75] shortly after eight allied ships were sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Guiana, [76] and the arrival of American troops by air on 20 March. [75]

Martinique became home to the bulk of the Gold reserve of the Bank of France, with 286 tons of gold transported there on the French cruiser Émile Bertin in June 1940. The Island was blockaded by the British navy until an agreement was reached to immobilise French ships in port. The British used the gold as collateral for Lend-Lease facilities from the US, on the basis it could be "acquired" at any time if needed. [74] In July 1943 Free French sympathisers on the Island took control of the gold and the fleet once Admiral Georges Robert departed after a threat from America to launch a full-scale invasion. [75]

Guadeloupe in the French West Indies also changed allegiance in 1943 after Admiral Georges Robert ordered police to fire on protestors, [77] before he fled back to Europe.

Equatorial and West Africa Edit

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.

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 defence, and not wanting to further escalate the conflict, British and Free French forces withdrew on 25 September, bringing the battle to an end.

One colony in French Equatorial Africa, Gabon, had to be occupied by military force between 27 October and 12 November 1940. [78] 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. The capital Libreville was bombed and captured. The final Vichy troops in Gabon surrendered without any military confrontation with the Allies at Port-Gentil.

French Somaliland Edit

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, the British General Archibald Wavell decided that Legentilhomme would command the military forces in both Somalilands should war with Italy come. [79] In June, an Italian force was assembled to capture the port city of Djibouti, the main military base. [80] 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. [81] 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. [82]

Wavell considered that if British pressure was applied, a rally would appear to have been coerced. Wavell preferred to let the propaganda continue and provided a small amount of supplies under strict control. When the policy had no effect, Wavell suggested negotiations with the Vichy governor Louis Nouailhetas, to use the port and railway. The suggestion was accepted by the British government but because of the concessions granted to the Vichy regime in Syria, proposals were made to invade the colony instead. In June, Nouailhetas was given an ultimatum, the blockade was tightened and the Italian garrison at Assab was defeated by an operation from Aden. For six months, Nouailhetas remained willing to grant concessions over the port and railway but would not tolerate Free French interference. In October, the blockade was reviewed, but the beginning of the war with Japan in December led to all but two blockade ships being withdrawn. On 2 January 1942, the Vichy 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. [83]

Syria and Madagascar Edit

The next flashpoint between Britain and Vichy France came when a revolt in Iraq was put down by British forces in June 1941. The Luftwaffe and Italian Air Force 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) on 14 July 1941.

The additional participation of Free French forces in the Syrian operation was controversial within Allied circles. It raised the prospect of Frenchmen shooting at Frenchmen, raising fears of a civil war. Additionally, it was believed that the Free French were widely reviled within Vichy military circles, and that Vichy forces in Syria were less likely to resist the British if they were not accompanied by elements of the Free French. Nevertheless, de Gaulle convinced Churchill to allow his forces to participate, although de Gaulle was forced to agree to a joint British and Free French proclamation promising that Syria and Lebanon would become fully independent at the end of the war.

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. [ citation needed ]

French North Africa Edit

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 co-operation with the Allies. The Allies recognised 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 co-operate 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. [84] [85]

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. 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 recognise 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. Even though Darlan was now in the Allied camp, he maintained the repressive Vichy system in North Africa, including concentration camps in southern Algeria and racist laws. Detainees were also forced to work on the Trans-Saharan Railway. Jewish goods were "aryanized" (i.e. stolen), and a special Jewish Affairs service was created, directed by Pierre Gazagne. Numerous Jewish children were prohibited from going to school, something which not even Vichy had implemented in metropolitan France. [86] Admiral Darlan was assassinated on 24 December 1942 in Algiers by the young monarchist Bonnier de La Chapelle. Although de La Chapelle had been a member of the resistance group led by Henri d'Astier de La Vigerie, it is believed he was acting as an individual.

After Admiral Darlan's assassination, Henri Giraud became his de facto successor in French Africa with Allied support. This occurred through a series of consultations between Giraud and de Gaulle. De Gaulle wanted to pursue a political position in France and agreed to have Giraud as commander-in-chief, as the more qualified military person of the two. Later, the Americans sent Jean Monnet to counsel Giraud and to press him to repeal the Vichy laws. After difficult negotiations, Giraud agreed to suppress the racist laws, and to liberate Vichy prisoners from the South Algerian concentration camps. The Cremieux decree, which granted French citizenship to Jews in Algeria and which had been repealed by Vichy, was immediately restored by General de Gaulle.

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 recognised 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 for the European population was restored in French Algeria, and the Communists and Jews liberated from the concentration camps. [86]

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). [86] 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". [86]

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 radicalisation of the regime. Pétainistes, on the other hand, were direct supporters of Marshal Pétain rather than of Germany (although they accepted Pétain's state collaboration). State collaboration was sealed by the Montoire (Loir-et-Cher) interview in Hitler's train on 24 October 1940, during which Pétain and Hitler shook hands and agreed on co-operation between the two states. Organized by Pierre Laval, a strong proponent of collaboration, the interview and the handshake were photographed and exploited by Nazi propaganda to gain the support of the civilian population. On 30 October 1940, Pétain made state collaboration official, declaring on the radio: "I enter today on the path of collaboration." [note 2] On 22 June 1942, Laval declared that he was "hoping for the victory of Germany". The sincere desire to collaborate did not stop the Vichy government from organising the arrest and even sometimes the execution of German spies entering the Vichy zone. [87]

The composition and policies of the Vichy cabinet were mixed. Many Vichy officials, such as Pétain, 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 (1936–1938) led by Léon Blum. Charles Maurras, a monarchist writer and founder of the Action Française movement, judged that Pétain's accession to power was, in that respect, a "divine surprise", and many people of his persuasion believed it preferable to have an authoritarian government similar to that of Francisco Franco's Spain, even if under Germany's yoke, than to have a republican government. Others, like Joseph Darnand, were strong anti-Semites and overt Nazi sympathizers. A number of these joined the units of the Légion des Volontaires Français contre le Bolchévisme (Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism) fighting on the Eastern Front, later becoming the SS Charlemagne Division. [88]

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 reorganise 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 a modern social democracy. 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 reorganisation 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.

Racial policies and collaboration Edit

Germany interfered little in internal French affairs for the first two years after the armistice, as long as public order was maintained. [89] As soon as it was established, Pétain's government voluntarily took measures against "undesirables": Jews, métèques (immigrants from Mediterranean countries), Freemasons, Communists, Romani, homosexuals, [90] and left-wing activists. Inspired by Charles Maurras's conception of the "Anti-France" (which he defined as the "four confederate states of Protestants, Jews, Freemasons, and foreigners"), Vichy persecuted these supposed enemies.

In July 1940, Vichy set up a special commission charged with reviewing naturalisations granted since the 1927 reform of the nationality law. [91] Between June 1940 and August 1944, 15,000 persons, mostly Jews, were denaturalised. [92] This bureaucratic decision was instrumental in their subsequent internment in the green ticket roundup. [ citation needed ]

The Internment camps in 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 (who refer to the extermination of the Romani as Porrajmos). A Vichy law of 4 October 1940 authorised internments of foreign Jews on the sole basis of a prefectoral order, [93] 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 mixed-race cabinet minister, the Martinique-born lawyer Henry Lémery. [94]

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, as well as 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." [95]

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. [96] The Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans, in the Doubs, was used to intern Romani. [97] 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. [98] 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. [99] In contrast, French colonial soldiers were interned by the Germans in French territory instead of being deported. [99]

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 took a number of racially motivated measures. In August 1940, laws against antisemitism in the media (the Marchandeau Act) were repealed, while decree n°1775 of 5 September 1943 denaturalised a number of French citizens, in particular Jews from Eastern Europe. [99] Foreigners were rounded-up in "Foreign Workers' Groups" (groupements de travailleurs étrangers) and as with the colonial troops, used by the Germans as manpower. [99] The October law on the status of Jews excluded them from the civil administration and numerous other professions.

Vichy also enacted racial laws in its territories in North Africa. "The history of the Holocaust in France's three North African colonies (Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia) is intrinsically tied to France's fate during this period." [100] [101] [102] [103] [104]

With regard to economic contribution to the German economy, it is estimated that France provided 42% of the total foreign aid. [105]

Eugenics policies Edit

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), [ citation needed ] advocated for the creation of the French Foundation for the Study of Human Problems (Fondation Française pour l'Étude des Problèmes Humains), 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 was appointed as "regent". [106] The Foundation also had for some time as general secretary François Perroux. [ citation needed ]

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 (STDs) and "life hygiene". [ citation needed ] 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. [ citation needed ] 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. [107]

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). The foundation, which after the war became the INED demographics institute, employed 300 researchers from the summer of 1942 to the end of the autumn [ when? ] of 1944. [108] "The foundation was chartered as a public institution under the joint supervision of the ministries of finance and public health. It was given financial autonomy and a budget of forty million francs, roughly one franc per inhabitant: a true luxury considering the burdens imposed by the German Occupation on the nation's resources. By way of comparison, the whole Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) was given a budget of fifty million francs." [106]

Alexis Carrel had previously published in 1935 the best-selling book L'Homme, cet inconnu ("Man, This Unknown"). Since the early 1930s, Carrel had advocated the use of gas chambers to rid humanity of its "inferior stock" [ citation needed ] , endorsing the scientific racism discourse. [ citation needed ] One of the founders of these pseudoscientifical theories had been Arthur de Gobineau in his 1853–1855 essay titled "An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races". [107] In the 1936 preface to the German edition of his book, Alexis Carrel had added a praise to the eugenics policies of the Third Reich, writing the following:

The German government has taken energetic measures against the propagation of the defective, the mentally diseased, and the criminal. The ideal solution would be the suppression of each of these individuals as soon as he has proven himself to be dangerous. [109]

Carrel also wrote this in his book:

The conditioning of petty criminals with the whip, or some more scientific procedure, followed by a short stay in hospital, would probably suffice to ensure order. Those who have murdered, robbed while armed with automatic pistol or machine gun, kidnapped children, despoiled the poor of their savings, misled the public in important matters, should be humanely and economically disposed of in small euthanasic institutions supplied with proper gasses. A similar treatment could be advantageously applied to the insane, guilty of criminal acts. [110]

Alexis Carrel had also taken an active part to a symposium in Pontigny organised by Jean Coutrot, the "Entretiens de Pontigny". [ citation needed ] 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. [107]

Antisemitic laws Edit

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 centralised 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]". [111] 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 promulgated the Law on the status of Jews, which created a special underclass of French Jewish citizens. [112] The law excluded Jews from the administration, the armed forces, entertainment, arts, media, and certain professions, such as teaching, law, and medicine. The next day, a law regarding foreign Jews was signed authorizing their detention. [113] 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. They also enforced requirements that Jews not appear in public places and ride only on the last car of the Parisian metro.

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. All Jews and others "undesirables" passed through Drancy before heading to Auschwitz and other camps.

July 1942 Vel' d'Hiv Roundup Edit

In July 1942, under German orders, the French police organised the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup (Rafle du Vel' d'Hiv) under orders by René Bousquet and his second in Paris, Jean Leguay, with co-operation 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 Vélodrome d'Hiver (Winter Velodrome) in unhygienic conditions. They were led to Drancy internment camp (run by Nazi Alois Brunner and French constabulary police) and 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 whom 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. [114]

August 1942 and January 1943 raids Edit

The French police, headed by Bousquet, arrested 7,000 Jews in the southern zone in August 1942. 2,500 of them transited through the Camp des Milles near Aix-en-Provence before joining Drancy. Then, on 22, 23, and 24 January 1943, assisted by Bousquet's police force, the Germans organised a raid in Marseilles. During the Battle of Marseilles, the French police checked the identity documents of 40,000 people, and the operation sent 2,000 Marseillese people in the death trains, leading to the extermination camps. The operation also encompassed the expulsion of an entire neighbourhood (30,000 persons) in the Old Port before its destruction. For this occasion, SS-Gruppenführer Karl Oberg, in charge of the German Police in France, made the trip from Paris and transmitted to Bousquet orders directly received from Heinrich Himmler. It is another notable case of the French police's willful collaboration with the Nazis. [115]

Jewish death toll Edit

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). [116] 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 naturalised French during the 1930s. Of the total, approximately 25,000 French Jews and 50,000 foreign Jews were deported. [117] 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). [118] Paxton's numbers imply that 14,000 Jews died in French concentration camps, but 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). [119]

Proportionally, either number makes for a lower death toll than in some other countries (in the Netherlands, 75% of the Jewish population was murdered). [118] This fact has been used as arguments by supporters of Vichy according to Paxton, the figure would have been greatly lower if the "French state" had not willfully collaborated with Germany, which lacked staff for police activities. During the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup of July 1942, Laval ordered the deportation of children, against explicit German orders. Paxton pointed out that if the total number of victims had not been higher, it was due to the shortage in wagons, the resistance of the civilian population, and deportation in other countries (notably in Italy). [118]

Government responsibility Edit

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 that had been carried out by a State 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. [120] [121]

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 "450 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". [122] [123] [124]

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." [125] [126]

Macron made a subtle reference to Chirac's remark when he added, "I say it again here. It was indeed France that organized the roundup, the deportation, and thus, for almost all, death." [127] [128]

Portions of the French military fell into Vichy control:

The Vichy French military forces later become known as the Armistice Army

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

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


Traditional Enemies: Britain's War With Vichy France 1940-42 by John D Grainger



Author:John D Grainger
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781783830794
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Published: 2013-08-20T16:00:00+00:00

In the year since the Franco-German armistice the undeclared war between the former allies Britain and France had ranged over Africa, the Middle East, and the Pacific. It had necessarily been largely a naval war, though considerable military forces had been engaged in Syria. In the process the French overseas empire had begun to break up. The Pacific territories were under Free French rule in most cases, but it was Australian naval power which ensured that. In the Caribbean the United States Navy played the same role, though there it was to safeguard Vichy rule, not destroy it. The African territories were split between the two claimants. Syria and Lebanon had been handed to Free France after the British conquest, but it was clearly British policies which would prevail despite General de Gaulle’s protests.

So far, however, the metropolitan territory had been largely unaffected by the quarrel with Britain. Certain Channel ports, from Dunkirk to Brest, had been subject to sporadic British attacks in their campaign of defence against a possible German invasion. Since the autumn of 1940, however, it was clear that such an invasion was highly unlikely, and after 22 June 1941 it was beyond Germany’s capacity, so long as the German army was engaged in war with Russia. These ports, however, were still menaces to Britain, above all the great ports fronting the Atlantic, which had become major German naval bases. For it was, as ever, at sea that Britain was waging the greater war.

A month before the war in Syria began, while the argument about what to do about that country was still going on between London and Cairo, and between Vichy and Beirut, and while Rashid Ali in Iraq was feeling the pressure of a British force consolidating its landing at Basra, the German navy sent out its greatest ship, the battleship Bismarck, to raid the convoys crossing the Atlantic from the United States to Britain. For ten days the ship was searched for and hunted by every British warship which could be spared. The battle-cruiser Hood was sunk, but in the end, damaged and half crippled, Bismarck was caught and battered and destroyed by the assembled aircraft carriers and battleships of the Home Fleet and Admiral Somerville’s Force H. Sinking Hood was its only success, for it never found a single merchant ship. Nor did its companion, the cruiser Prinz Eugen, do any better, though it was at sea a good deal longer.1 The convoys had been well protected.

When its course was plotted, it became clear that the ship was heading for the port of Brest, or perhaps St Nazaire. Had it reached one of those French ports it could have been repaired, and, along with its original partner, Prinz Eugen and the two battle-cruisers already at Brest, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, it would have been a very potent threat to, once again, the Atlantic convoys – or even possibly a cover for a renewed attempt at invasion of the British Isles. It


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Im englischen Militärverlag Pen & Sword erschien dieses interessante Werk zu einer verschämt weggehüstelten Auseinandersetzung in den Jahren 1940 - 1942. Und zwar zwischen den "Alliierten", insbesondere Großbritannien einerseits und Frankreich unter dem sogenannten Vichy-Regime andererseits.

Auf 240 Seiten erfährt man alles Wissenswerte über diesen vergessenen Konflikt, begonnen mit der Operation Catapult, dem brutalen Überfall der Royal Navy auf französische Kriegsschiffe im Hafen von Mers el-Kebir in Algerien. 1297 französische Soldaten kamen dabei ums Leben. Die Kämpfe in Dakar, Madagaskar und insbesondere Syrien werden ausführlich behandelt, ebenso die kriegerischen Auseinandersetzungen auf den Weltmeeren, sowie "Islands and Raids". Besonderes Augenmerk widmet der Autor auch den politischen Vorgängen, recht interessant hier der offene Hass zwischen der Vichy-Regierung unter Petain und den "Freifranzosen" unter De Gaulle.

Das Buch endet mit der Operation "Torch", nach welcher die Freifranzosen endgültig die Oberhand gewannen, während Hitler als Reaktion in das bisher unbesetzte Südfrankreich einmarschieren ließ.

Der Schreibstil ist allerdings manchmal gar zu trocken, das kostet einen Stern. Doch da es sonst kaum Lektüre zu dieser unbekannten Auseinandersetzung gibt und die Kindleausgabe auch preislich interessant ist, gebe ich gerne vier Sterne.


Review

Smith describes unfamiliar battles with notable fluency and skill -- Max Hastings, SUNDAY TIMES

Riveting -- Robert Fisk, INDEPENDENT

his descriptions of these obscure battlefield encounters are thrilling and his narrative is spruce and peppery. -- Christopher Silvester, DAILY TELEGRAPH

a narrative of war that has much of Patrick O'Brian about it. -- Carmen Callil, GUARDIAN

excellent account of a woefully understudied 'war within a war'. Astonishingly, this is the first book -- Andrew Roberts, LITERARY REVIEW

Smith's considerable achievement is to unmask the reality and make us understand this painful period far better than ever before., CATHOLIC HERALD

"a classic on the conflict with Hitlers Vichy allies. a superb book on an astonishing array of long-buried incidents.", OXFORD TIMES

"Colin Smith's light yet detailed touch superbly outlines a wasteful and depressing story. A quality read with many political and military twists and turns.", SOLDIER MAGAZINE

In this exemplary work, Smith displays a real knack for conveying time, place and pungent action., WARSHIP INTERNATIONAL FLEET REVIEW


Mediterranean theatre of World War II [ edit | edit source ]

Anti-aircraft guns at action stations during an alert on board a Free French Destroyer, part of the Free French Navy. circa 1940–1941

Naval battle of the Mediterranean (1940–1945) [ edit | edit source ]

Both the Vichy French Navy and Free French Navy fought the Battle of the Mediterranean sea.

Naval battle of Mers El Kébir (July 3, 1940) [ edit | edit source ]

The British began to doubt Admiral Darlan's promise to Churchill to not allow the French fleet at Toulon to fall into German hands by the wording of the armistice conditions. In the end, the British attacked French naval forces in Africa and Europe killing 1000 French soldiers at Mers El Kebir alone. This action led to feelings of animosity and mistrust between the Vichy French and their former British allies. During the course of the war, Vichy France forces lost 2,653 soldiers ⎴] and Free France lost 20,000. ⎵]

In German and Italian hands, the French fleet would have been a grave threat to Britain and the British Government was unable to take this risk. In order to neutralise the threat, Winston Churchill ordered that the French ships should rejoin the Allies, agree to be put out of use in a British, French or neutral port or, as a last resort, be destroyed by British attack (Operation Catapult). The Royal Navy attempted to persuade the French Navy to agree to these terms, but when that failed they attacked the French Navy at Mers El Kébir and Dakar (see ⎶] ), on July 3, 1940. This caused bitterness and division in France, particularly in the Navy, and discouraged many French soldiers from joining the Free French forces in Britain and elsewhere. Also, the attempt to persuade Vichy French forces in Dakar to join De Gaulle failed. (See West African campaign and Operation Menace).

Sabotage operation in Greece (June 12–13, 1942) [ edit | edit source ]

In June 1942, British SAS C.O. David Stirling gave British captains George Jellicoe and Free French Georges Bergé a mission in the Greek island of Crete ⎷] ⎸] called Operation Heraklion. Bergé chose three Free French commandos Jacques Mouhot, Pierre Léostic and Jack Sibard, while Lieutenant Kostis Petrakis a local from Crete's special service joined them as civilian.

They managed to destroy 22 Junkers Ju 88 German bombers at the Candia-Heraklion airfield. However their retreat was betrayed and 17-year old Pierre Léostic refused to surrender and was killed while the other three Free French were caught and transferred in Germany the British and Cretian commandos escaped and were evacuated to Egypt.

Jacques Mouhot failed to escape three times, he eventually succeeded the fourth time. He subsequently crossed Germany, Belgium, France and Spain to arrive in London on August 22, 1943. ⎸]

Scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon (November 27, 1942) [ edit | edit source ]

The Vichy French navy did sabotage on its docked fleet at Toulon in southern France. This act's purpose was to prevent the German Kriegsmarine to seize the Vichy French ships and to be able to use its firepower against the Allies and Free French.

Allied invasion of Sicily (July 9 – August 17, 1943) [ edit | edit source ]

French II/33 Groupe "Savoie" P-38 Lightning were involved in Operation Husky. It was on board a F-5B-1-LO variant that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Le Petit Prince) was shot down in 1944.

Operation Husky involved infantry, air force and armored cavalry forces from the Army of Africa including 4th Moroccan Tabor (66th, 67th & 68th Goums landed on July 13 at Licata) from U.S. 7th Army, No. II/5 "LaFayette" French Squadron with Curtiss P-40s and No. II/7 "Nice" French Squadron with Spitfires (both from No. 242 Group RAF), II/33 Groupe "Savoie" with P-38 Lightning from the Northwest African Photographic Reconnaissance Wing and 131st RCC with Renault R35 tanks.

Liberation of Corsica (September–October 1943) [ edit | edit source ]

In September–October 1943, an ad hoc force (ca. 6,000 troops) of the French Ist Corps liberated Corsica, defended by the German 90th Panzergrenadier Division and the Sturmbrigade Reichsführer-SS (ca. 30,000 troops) (45,000 Italians were also present, but at least part of that force joined the Allies). Thereby Corsica became the first French metropolitan department liberated in World War II the first liberated département was Algiers in November 1942.


Treaty between Vichy France and Germany

would it be possible to have a treaty between Vichy France and Germany and what terms might be included?

(between fall of France and approx. May 1941)

(have wondered if Belgium could be a victim of any agreement? with a swap of French-speaking Wallonia for Alsace and a puppet state of Flanders in some type of confederation with (occupied) Netherlands.)

Pattersonautobody

Carl Schwamberger

About every French citizen from Petain down expected this. It was part of the decision for a armistice in June 1940 & at the core of Petains policies through the remaining summer & autum. He and a number of other politicians were nonplussed when the German government did not start negotiations. When it became clear there would be no treaty in the forseable future & the occupation would continue it was the first general wave of disillusionment for the French population & the start of significant participation in resistance.

If treaty negotiations start & the Germans loosen the armistice/occupation conditions slightly then we may not see any important resistance in 1941. Or, later if the treaty is signed.

If as part of this Germany discourages Japan from occupying French Indochina then the effects are huge. No Indochina occupation leads directly to no Brit/US trade embargoes of Japan. Japan has no reason to attack the US or European empires, and Japans war with China schlleps on another year.

I'll leave aside territorial considerations. The military side would be to allow France to defend its territory against Germanys enemies but not from Germany. So. the French military overseas in the colonies could be as strong as the French wanted. Within Metropolitan France the army would be a relatively static force, mostly for defending the coast against British threats. No defense of the eastern frontier would be permitted, & aGerman occupation force would still occupy key points in eastern & central France for several years. Once Germanys position was consolidated the treaty would probablly allow a greater freedom in French defense, & the remaining occupation force withdrawn.

Reparations would likely be large and extend for decades.

Carl Schwamberger

Thaddeus

NoMommsen

The germans gained more in shorter time "just" by exploiting France like they did in OTL, than making it traders point.
With whom should France trade ? . outside the german sphere of influence ?
Italy ?? Mussolini wouldn't have accepted such a competition in the mediterrainian.
Britain ?? Britain would have done to french colonies and every french asset to get hand on what it did to the french fleet in Algeria and Egyt : grab or sink !
USA ?? With what money ? BTW FDR was already pushing to somehow start war with germany, every thing short of shooting, esp. economically supporting Britain.

And about french Indochina . Japan would have gone for it anyway as part of its "sphere of influence".
Due to Anticomintern pact Hitler would have allowed japan at least the right to move its troops through there to attack Singapore and Burma. And if japanese troops were already in Indochina I doubt that Japan would have withdrawn .


Hmmm, only thing that might have convinced Hitler to give France - at least temporary - more of a say would have been a - for him - believable will to activly fight against Britain at the channel as well as in africa.

Thaddeus

started constructing u-boat bunkers in Jan. '41, guess they could fall back to Trondheim and Ostend? (and/or Channel Islands?)

what would status of French fleet be? per OTL?

ObssesedNuker

Scotty

About every French citizen from Petain down expected this. It was part of the decision for a armistice in June 1940 & at the core of Petains policies through the remaining summer & autum. He and a number of other politicians were nonplussed when the German government did not start negotiations. When it became clear there would be no treaty in the forseable future & the occupation would continue it was the first general wave of disillusionment for the French population & the start of significant participation in resistance.

If treaty negotiations start & the Germans loosen the armistice/occupation conditions slightly then we may not see any important resistance in 1941. Or, later if the treaty is signed.

If as part of this Germany discourages Japan from occupying French Indochina then the effects are huge. No Indochina occupation leads directly to no Brit/US trade embargoes of Japan. Japan has no reason to attack the US or European empires, and Japans war with China schlleps on another year.

I'll leave aside territorial considerations. The military side would be to allow France to defend its territory against Germanys enemies but not from Germany. So. the French military overseas in the colonies could be as strong as the French wanted. Within Metropolitan France the army would be a relatively static force, mostly for defending the coast against British threats. No defense of the eastern frontier would be permitted, & aGerman occupation force would still occupy key points in eastern & central France for several years. Once Germanys position was consolidated the treaty would probablly allow a greater freedom in French defense, & the remaining occupation force withdrawn.

Reparations would likely be large and extend for decades.

I can see a problem with the 'allow France to defend its territories'

Are'nt you running the risk that if you beef up the defenses of the territories you'll be giving De Gaulle a bigger army should they decide to side with the Free French


1940 - Japanese Navy declares war on Vichy France and Nazi Germany and occupies French Indochina and Polynesia

Oh man that's not a nitpick, that massively changes my thought process!

I was thinking Japan just needed a slightly better PR team but 2% vs 25% is absolutely huge.

Marathag

Thaddeus

it seems the POD for this would be the continued German trading with KMT China, as well as the M-R Pact signed while Japan was fighting the USSR? (all this after the Anti-Comintern Pact had been signed)

after the fall of France, maybe they could try and paint the whole of Europe, USSR, and China as part of CommuNazi empire? try and step into the role of the Soviets historically?

still think seizing Indochina and possibly Sakhalin would be about the limits, the French island outposts would push up against Australia and US too much?

the risk/reward would be to get the USSR into fighting the Allied side, but Germany to a certain extent has already sold them out and they could not, in 1940 - June 1941, know they planned to turn on the Soviets too?

WaterproofPotatoes

I think taking over FIC would be asking too much- but, and quite the longshot here, you might get the Allies to at least look the other way with Manchukuo, Mengjiang and Korea. Maybe if FIC was administered by Vichy sympathizers, Japanese "stewardship" could be the workaround but even that looks unpalatable.

I'm assuming the Japanese government would be slightly saner, and Manchukuo would be run better than OTL's narco-kleptocracy, otherwise such an insane government would never have that much foresight.

FWIW, Imperial Japan also had very good relations with Poland, and the two nations shared intel on the Soviets. Japan actually opppsed the Nazi invasion of Poland, albeit very quietly.

It would be the UK that benefits by far the most in this scenario. Having the IJN on their side all but removes the problems east of Suez, and the Fleet can now focus on Home, Atlantic and Mediterranean waters. Having the up to 18.1" guns of 4 more battlecruisers and 8 more battleships, not to mention the carriers, is a huge boost too. and the Americans will not like that at all.

Japan got the oil embargo after the occupation of Indochina .

Japan has literally backstab the Germans and they have declared war on the axis occupying French Indochina will probably cause some people to gripe but the British need allies and the Japanese would be a powerful Ally in this scenario. Japan could easily send a Expedition force of over 300,000 into the North African front as well as a decent amount of ships combining the invasions of the Philippines Indonesia and Burma together you get this number. Japan will also be able to maintain its war against China. the British will step in if the US embargo Japan so FDR won't even try it because there's no point.

Polynesia the British were already there before the Japanese get there the Japanese are not getting any items of consequence

it will take a while for the Japan to prepare this large Expedition forced to help take back North Africa but I can see it happening by the time the Soviets and Germans are punching the crap out of each other.

Japanese war goals for joining the allies independence of Indochina but here's the caveat every state would be a puppet of Japan a free hand in China
Sakhalin Island and Kuril Islands once the Soviets get invaded as payment possibly also calling for the independence of Indonesia as well .

BlackDragon98

BlackDragon98

pray tell why would the US be worried about the Japanese empire when they're on the British side fighting Nazi Germany by the time the US actually gets the Lend Lease Bill done Japan will have been at war with Nazi Germany for almost a year supporting the British Empire do you think Churchill would like the fact the US embargoed his ally in Asia the British might start supplying the Japanese with oil if the Americans don't dutch-indonesian might start doing it as well.

by the end of 1941 the Japanese and British might have pushed all of the axis forces out of North Africa. I mentioned in my comment above that Japan could easily send 300,000 men over to fight in North Africa and the British could field a large are forced to because they are no longer worry about Asia.

Skarosianlifeform

Ploy or not, Churchill might welcome it. Even if Japan don't help much in the war, at the very least it removes the threat on Asian colonies, which is a big boon in itself.

If Japan is seen actually helping Britain (by taking over patrol duties in the Indian and Pacific Ocean, and building ships), Roosevelt will likely be unable or unwilling to put an embargo over Japan, because doing so would indirectly hamper London and help Hitler. And the biggest priority even for Interventionists was Europe.

And even if the US put some embargo or asset freezing on Japan, then Japan will still get Dutch oil, removing the need for PH.

Pelranius

pray tell why would the US be worried about the Japanese empire when they're on the British side fighting Nazi Germany by the time the US actually gets the Lend Lease Bill done Japan will have been at war with Nazi Germany for almost a year supporting the British Empire do you think Churchill would like the fact the US embargoed his ally in Asia the British might start supplying the Japanese with oil if the Americans don't dutch-indonesian might start doing it as well.

by the end of 1941 the Japanese and British might have pushed all of the axis forces out of North Africa. I mentioned in my comment above that Japan could easily send 300,000 men over to fight in North Africa and the British could field a large are forced to because they are no longer worry about Asia.

HJ Tulp

Ploy or not, Churchill might welcome it. Even if Japan don't help much in the war, at the very least it removes the threat on Asian colonies, which is a big boon in itself.

If Japan is seen actually helping Britain (by taking over patrol duties in the Indian and Pacific Ocean, and building ships), Roosevelt will likely be unable or unwilling to put an embargo over Japan, because doing so would indirectly hamper London and help Hitler. And the biggest priority even for Interventionists was Europe.

And even if the US put some embargo or asset freezing on Japan, then Japan will still get Dutch oil, removing the need for PH.

Churchill's first, second and third priority was getting the US in the war. If the US thinks it's a ploy and acts on that assumption then Britain will be marching in lockstep.

EDIT: besides that, I severely doubt that Japan could 'easily' get 300,000 men in North Africa. They are not going to abandon China.

Thaddeus

it seems the POD for this would be the continued German trading with KMT China, as well as the M-R Pact signed while Japan was fighting the USSR? (all this after the Anti-Comintern Pact had been signed)

after the fall of France, maybe they could try and paint the whole of Europe, USSR, and China as part of CommuNazi empire? try and step into the role of the Soviets historically?

still think seizing Indochina and possibly Sakhalin would be about the limits, the French island outposts would push up against Australia and US too much?

the risk/reward would be to get the USSR into fighting the Allied side, but Germany to a certain extent has already sold them out and they could not, in 1940 - June 1941, know they planned to turn on the Soviets too?

I think taking over FIC would be asking too much- but, and quite the longshot here, you might get the Allies to at least look the other way with Manchukuo, Mengjiang and Korea. Maybe if FIC was administered by Vichy sympathizers, Japanese "stewardship" could be the workaround but even that looks unpalatable.

FWIW, Imperial Japan also had very good relations with Poland, and the two nations shared intel on the Soviets. Japan actually opppsed the Nazi invasion of Poland, albeit very quietly.

It would be the UK that benefits by far the most in this scenario. Having the IJN on their side all but removes the problems east of Suez, and the Fleet can now focus on Home, Atlantic and Mediterranean waters. Having the up to 18.1" guns of 4 more battlecruisers and 8 more battleships, not to mention the carriers, is a huge boost too. and the Americans will not like that at all.

Japan has literally backstab the Germans and they have declared war on the axis occupying French Indochina will probably cause some people to gripe but the British need allies and the Japanese would be a powerful Ally in this scenario.

it will take a while for the Japan to prepare this large Expedition forced to help take back North Africa but I can see it happening by the time the Soviets and Germans are punching the crap out of each other.

Japanese war goals for joining the allies independence of Indochina but here's the caveat every state would be a puppet of Japan a free hand in China
Sakhalin Island and Kuril Islands once the Soviets get invaded as payment possibly also calling for the independence of Indonesia as well .

my comparison was to OTL's USSR, the UK would accept the help in 1940-41 and deal with downsides later?

if Germany could get the Soviets into shooting war with UK and Japan or only Japan, they likely do not invade? (but we are assuming degrees of sanity for Nazis AND Japan not exhibited historically?)

think (just IMO) the Med would be lost to the UK here IF the Vichy regime opened some of their bases to Germans, as that could be taken advantage of faster than any Japanese assistance could help the UK?

Japanese invasion of French Indochina 26 September 1940 Japan declares war on Axis powers

Italian invasion of Egypt 9–16 September 1940 Rommel is not on-the-scene until February 1941 and it probably doesn't even happen in this timeline
with Japan on the side of the British the British will move more of their Naval assets into the Mediterranean along with some support from the Japanese Navy making it nearly impossible for Germany to transfer divisions over to North Africa not to mention Supply them. you're also freeing up about 1.14 million British soldiers from New Zealand and Australia. the German High command will probably right off North Africa until the Soviet Union is dealt with. you might see the Germans basically give the order to the Italians to get the f*** out of there.

let's say your scenario plays out General Rommel would know that the British can just use their Navy to land Japanese soldiers in Tripoli and Benghazi. cutting his supply line off and Escape Routes so he is stuck where he is defending those cities your desert fox is pretty useless if he doesn't have a den to go back to if he tries any offensive.

in total I think the Japanese could possibly send 700,000 850,000 soldiers the vast majority would be Infantry over to Europe. accompanied by a decent portion of their Navy you got to admit it would be pretty awesome to see the Yamamoto open up on the Atlantic Wall.
but in 1940 I think the Japanese could only send about 300,000 soldiers arriving sometime between January and March 1941 in North Africa or possibly they are diverted to the East African campaign that type of force would probably wrap up the campaign there by the end of July of 1941

Admiral Fischer

Japanese invasion of French Indochina 26 September 1940 Japan declares war on Axis powers

Italian invasion of Egypt 9–16 September 1940 Rommel is not on-the-scene until February 1941 and it probably doesn't even happen in this timeline
with Japan on the side of the British the British will move more of their Naval assets into the Mediterranean along with some support from the Japanese Navy making it nearly impossible for Germany to transfer divisions over to North Africa not to mention Supply them. you're also freeing up about 1.14 million British soldiers from New Zealand and Australia. the German High command will probably right off North Africa until the Soviet Union is dealt with. you might see the Germans basically give the order to the Italians to get the f*** out of there.

let's say your scenario plays out General Rommel would know that the British can just use their Navy to land Japanese soldiers in Tripoli and Benghazi. cutting his supply line off and Escape Routes so he is stuck where he is defending those cities your desert fox is pretty useless if he doesn't have a den to go back to if he tries any offensive.

in total I think the Japanese could possibly send 700,000 850,000 soldiers the vast majority would be Infantry over to Europe. accompanied by a decent portion of their Navy you got to admit it would be pretty awesome to see the Yamamoto open up on the Atlantic Wall.
but in 1940 I think the Japanese could only send about 300,000 soldiers arriving sometime between January and March 1941 in North Africa or possibly they are diverted to the East African campaign that type of force would probably wrap up the campaign there by the end of July of 1941


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Im englischen Militärverlag Pen & Sword erschien dieses interessante Werk zu einer verschämt weggehüstelten Auseinandersetzung in den Jahren 1940 - 1942. Und zwar zwischen den "Alliierten", insbesondere Großbritannien einerseits und Frankreich unter dem sogenannten Vichy-Regime andererseits.

Auf 240 Seiten erfährt man alles Wissenswerte über diesen vergessenen Konflikt, begonnen mit der Operation Catapult, dem brutalen Überfall der Royal Navy auf französische Kriegsschiffe im Hafen von Mers el-Kebir in Algerien. 1297 französische Soldaten kamen dabei ums Leben. Die Kämpfe in Dakar, Madagaskar und insbesondere Syrien werden ausführlich behandelt, ebenso die kriegerischen Auseinandersetzungen auf den Weltmeeren, sowie "Islands and Raids". Besonderes Augenmerk widmet der Autor auch den politischen Vorgängen, recht interessant hier der offene Hass zwischen der Vichy-Regierung unter Petain und den "Freifranzosen" unter De Gaulle.

Das Buch endet mit der Operation "Torch", nach welcher die Freifranzosen endgültig die Oberhand gewannen, während Hitler als Reaktion in das bisher unbesetzte Südfrankreich einmarschieren ließ.

Der Schreibstil ist allerdings manchmal gar zu trocken, das kostet einen Stern. Doch da es sonst kaum Lektüre zu dieser unbekannten Auseinandersetzung gibt und die Kindleausgabe auch preislich interessant ist, gebe ich gerne vier Sterne.


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