Living under German occupation or under Vichy

Discussion in 'France' started by angie999, May 16, 2004.

  1. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by harribobs@Feb 9 2005, 11:34 AM
    De Gaulle wasn't the only one to brush the Vichy regime under the table. Remember that at the time of Operation Torch, the US did not want to have anything to do with the imperious De Gaulle, so they negotiated with Vichy leaders like Admiral Darlan to bring the French North African forces over to the Allied side. A lot of the French forces that fought in the war after that were former Vichy troops and assets, including the battleship Richelieu and Marshal Juin and his French Expeditionary Corps in Italy. Ironically, that was one of the best Allied forces in Italy.
    [post=31348]Quoted post[/post]


    Was it Darlan who was assassinated by the free french guy?

    On a similiar thread, didn't two battalions of the foriegn legion end up fighting each other in the middle east? ( but the vichy side 'come' over to the allies afterwards)
    [post=31350]Quoted post[/post]
    Yes, and yes. However, the book I have on Darlan indicates he was whacked by a French monarchist, believe it or not. Vichy and Free French Foreign Legionnaires did fight it out in Syria. Many of the French other ranks and NCOs in Syria joined up with De Gaulle after Damscus and Beirut fell. However, the officers generally refused, and were shipped back to Vichy. At the surrender ceremony, General Catroux signed for the De Gaullists. An Australian cameraman tripped over the big cable, and knocked out the power. When the lights came back on, Catroux found that someone had stolen his gold-encrusted kepi.
  2. harribobs

    harribobs Member

    Catroux found that someone had stolen his gold-encrusted kepi.

    wonderful :lol: i hope that someone still has it somewhere!
  3. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I do not think there is any evidence that De Gaulle brushed Vichy under the table.Indeed De Gaulle continually stressed that Vichy Government was not the legitimate Government of France.Why would he want to do to ignore the role of Vichy during the war?.Vichy afterall found its principal active supporters among enemies of the Republic and right wing activists who were against the prewar left wing Blum Government.Blum, of the Jewish faith was put on trial by Vichy for the act of declaration of war against Germany.His ministers and most of the military leadership were held in captivity by Vichy and Germany for the duration of the war.Vichy sentenced De Gaulle to death in his absence.

    De Gaulle's new administration had a deep unfavourable judgement on the Petain years and initiated a purge of the collaborators from the landings in Normandy.

    The deportation of Jews from France was carried out by the Vichy Government whose leadership included fanatical anti-Semitics and who saw their role as one of collaboration with the Nazi occupiers.There is still a critical debate regarding the role of the French police in this matter although it is fair to say that some French police were not loyal to Vichy and aided the Resistance.

    The majority of the Vichy leadership were convicted in the French High Court of Justice which opened on 15 March 1945 and had over 100.000 Frenchmen and women before them.Petain was sentenced to death but the Hero of Verdun had his sentence reduced to life imprisonment by CdG and was incarcerated on the Isle de Yeu.

    Pierre Pucheu,Darlan's Interior Minister whose anti- Semitic legistlation paved the way for Jewish deportations was tried and executed in Algeria long before Vichy collapsed on mainland France.De Gaulle by this action ensured that a purge of collaborators would continue at the liberation.

    Industrial collaborators such as Gilbert Renault saw their businesses seized by the French State after the liberation.

    De Gaulle's first priority was to ensure that in the chaos of the liberation that the Communists did not seize power.By October 1945 there was a return to party politics and in January 1946 De Gaulle resigned from the post of President of the Provisional Government and withdrew from politics until his return in 1958.

    (Admiral Darlan who had a deep hatred of the British was assassinated by a young royalist by the name of Fernand Bonner de la Chapelle who appears to have had some SOE direction.I believe he, in turn was executed.)

    One of the big political problems for the Allies was the miscalcuation that FDR made was that he thought that the best leader of the Free French should be General Giraud.Consequently the US sponsored Giraud who had recently escaped from Germany to Algeria, while the British preferred De Gaulle and the US were increasingly hostile to De Gaulle.Giraud was a soldier and never a politician whose sole priority was to unify the Vichyites of the Algeria and De Gaulle's Free French.De Gaulle saw this as a priority to amalgamate both forces but also have a break with North African Vichy ideology and purge its administration.De Gaulle's political will won the day and Giraud stood down.(De Gaulle was later to be firm with the US when he would not allow the US freedom to deploy nuclear weapons from French bases without French authorisation in the 1960s causing US forces to leave French bases.

    At Casablanca in early August 1943,De Gaulle spoke for the first time on the subject of punishment of Vichyites and collaborators.He stated that national unity could only be achieved if the French Republic knew how to recognise its faithful servants and punish the criminals.This pointed the way to the purge of collaborators and Vichyites at the liberation.
  4. harribobs

    harribobs Member

    Hi Harry

    interesting post!

    my point about De Gaulle 'brushing Vichy under the table' refered to a speech of De Gaulle's where he declared that 'everyone was part of the resistance' (paraphrased I know, i am looking for the original) perhaps an indication of that sentiment was that in the post war trials around 7,000 were sentenced to death but only 767 were eventually executed.

    When you say he purged the collaborators, what do you mean? my understanding was that most went free, indeed if the above statistic is anything to go on..they did

    The deportation of Jews from France was carried out by the Vichy Government
    well, i know i'm playing with semantics but they ordered it, it was the police and/or the milice who actually did it surely? and if some french police aided the resistance, what percentage would that be ? the majority must have been anti-resistance (?)

    I am playing devils advocate here :) I am not, by an stretch of the imagination, an authority on post war france, but I am interested

  5. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Harry's post about Vichy and its noxious behavior is very true and his point is well-taken. Laval, Petain, and the rest of the Vichy leadership were bitterly opposed to the Third Republic and democracy in general, and admired Fascism. The Hoare-Laval Pact of 1936 gave approval to Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia. They were jackals of the Reich in a lot of ways. De Gaulle had to be rid of them in 1944, and dealt with them -- and his Communist rivals -- pretty neatly. Laval got the rope.
  6. Student

    Student Junior Member

    Hard as I am sure it was . There is something sinister in the way that a large percentage of Vichy France actively sought a form of partnership with the Germans,with serious resistance springing up, only after the demand for labour to help with the German war effort .

    Passive collaboration by an occupied nation is excusable,but the active, sometimes zealous levels of collaboration, even amazed the Germans.
    It is also bizarre how members of the two active arms of resistance not only refused to cooperate,but often sabotaged one anothers actions.

    DeGaulle in his attempt to create a post war healing amongst French citizens , sealed files for a hundred years.

    Will we ever know the true extent of French collaboration in WW11?
  7. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I cannot agree that there was something sinister the way that The Two Frances, ie "Les Deux Frances" found themselves on opposite sides.One was for a free France and the other had the mistaken belief that Hitler's Germany would be the dominant power in Europe where there would be little if any Anglo Saxon influence.However the path that the opposition took to become resisters is complex.

    On the right were the followers of Nazism, the Vichy Government whose leader,Petain seduced the majority of France that the way forward was to ally themselves with the new European Order.An order which was based on anti Semitism and anti Communism.Petain, the "Victor of Verdun" was the man that the majority thought they could trust but they failed to understand that Vichy and Germany were far from equal partners.Furthermore as the war continued,Vichy would never be able to resist any demand asked of it by the occupier. Meanwhile France industry prospered and collaboration paid off at least for the businesses that were undertaking work for the Germans and others who had personal or political ambitions.The lower ends of society had a different deal coming,that of Vichy's STO,the conscription for forced labour in Germany.

    Laval shared in the Berlin euphoria as victory upon victory was heralded and was happy to remark "I hope for a German victory because without it, commumism will reign throughout Europe".Laval was a leading collaborator and anxious to contribute to the New Order.Vichy encouraged French manpower to work in Germany on the basis that French POWs would be repatriated, one POW to be returned for each man volunteering for work in Germany.The Germans never honoured the understanding such was their shortage for war manpower and put further demands on French labour.Vichy responded with the STO,the Service de Travail Obligatoire which was nothing more than forced labour in the German war machine in which young men were required to register for work in Germany.This forced labour requirement resulted in the flight of thousands of young men who took to the countryside to join the FTP or the Maquis.STO was to be the best recruiting agency for the resistance movement and resulted in the occupiers losing control of the countryside.

    From the days of the Armistice,there were those from a varied background who were prepared to resist but were uncoordinated and lacked the resources to resist.Coordination, amalgamation and the provision of resources to these groups only came about when De Gaulle and Jean Moulin were able to forge unity across these groups and be recognised by the British as the basis for De Gaulle's "Free French" to play a part in the liberation of France.

    Until June 1941,the French communists were happy to stay on the sidelines,afterall in their eyes Russia was an ally of Germany,the Hitler- Stalin Pact of August 1939 was their assurance that they should not take a part in resisting the occupier.The war, they claimed was the result of British imperialism.The dramatic event of 22 June 1941 changed their attitude to one of active resistance.The communist resistance groups tended to be a law un to themselves and through their FTP (Francs- Tireurs et Parisans) were largely uncoordinated.There is no doubt that they were very brave men who ultimately were heavy involved in the Resistance and who saw themselves as patriots but were seldom coherent groups.

    (De Gaulle sensed that the Communists could pose a problem on the liberation of France and seize power,this being one of the reasons why he was deliberate in ensuring that his FFI took the surrender of the Germans in Paris in August 1944.)

    Vichy's existence floundered on 11 November 1942 when German occupied the whole of France,its being virtually collapsed,it had tried to avoid direct German rule but had clearly failed.Moreover, German defeats in North Africa and the defeat at Stalingrad indicated the tide was turning against Germany while the Japanese were finally shown that they were not invincible in the Pacific.From then on, Vichy lost its credibilty but surprisingly there was still an abundance of collaboration right up to the end by the Vichyites and suchlike.

    I think the point regarding sealed files is true.De Gaulle after prosecuting the leading Vichyites at the liberation saw his duty to France as one of reconcillation as much as possible.For instance there were a large number of Alsasians involved in Das Reich unit which carried out the atrocity at Oradour.These had been press ganged into the SS and were not pursued on the matter for the post war Oradour war crime trial.

    While French files may be closed for a hundred years,the British Government chose the same route when it closed adverse files until 2020, ie 75 years.These were files from debriefing British combatants,post war who had been betrayed by collaborators within France while on war service.

    Finally,Collaboration. We British have never been tested.Perhaps we are fortunate.
  8. seamonkey

    seamonkey Junior Member

    Last month I stayed just east of paris with 3 old aunties of my late french husband, they told me how the Germans came and put them out of their farmhouse. Dad was fighting in the war mum was home with 8 children one of them a baby. They went to live in the nearby forest digging a deep trench and living in the trench for 2 months. The officer in charge told the mum that after the war he would be back and required the house for his family to have holidays in. I slept in the room that the officer had claimed for himself. These aunties allowed me to video them telling the story, soon as I have edited it I will subtitle it and put it on the internet for anyone who wants to to watch.
  9. Marina

    Marina Senior Member

    The French docu 'The Sorrow And The Pity' is a marvellous exploration of life in occupied France. There are interviews with many people who were there and what a cast of characters it is. Their stories are astonishing, their range of political views and attitides to the Regime is as varied as the number of people interviewed. It's strong stuff and absolutely chilling, but a must see if anyone is interested in this era.
    Ramiles likes this.
  10. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    The officer in charge told the mum that after the war he would be back and required the house for his family to have holidays in.

    I'd have told him to bugger off. "There ain't no war on now matey. Now hoppit."

    P.s yeah let us know when that vid is up and running. ;)
  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Absolute first class documentary on the German occupation around Clermond Ferrand.It was made about 1966 and it also interviewed former Wehrmacht occupiers who appeared to be doing rather well in the post war Western Germany and were still at an age where the interviewer could tease out some interesting points out of them which I remember only convinced me that they thought themselves as being in the right.

    The peasant farmers told the harrowing story of the occupation and the constant fear of being denounced.There is also the interview with the taxi driver who as "Colonel" tried to take on the German forces in a fixed battle on the Margeride which resulted in the loss of many civilians from the savage retaliation of the German occupiers.

    The National Resistance Memorial on Mont Mouchet is set in the battle area and records this uprising.There was a large number of German casualties from this engagement such that many properties in nearby St Flour were requisitioned to deal with them.

    However the account of the Battle of Mont Mouchet should be read external to this documentary.Some might say it was the wrong way to conduct partisian engagements although it is fair to say that the Germans could act only in one way and that was the way they reacted after the engagements on the Margaride.
  12. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Last month I stayed just east of paris with 3 old aunties of my late french husband, they told me how the Germans came and put them out of their farmhouse. Dad was fighting in the war mum was home with 8 children one of them a baby. They went to live in the nearby forest digging a deep trench and living in the trench for 2 months. The officer in charge told the mum that after the war he would be back and required the house for his family to have holidays in. I slept in the room that the officer had claimed for himself. These aunties allowed me to video them telling the story, soon as I have edited it I will subtitle it and put it on the internet for anyone who wants to to watch.

    I think this is an example of the arrogance that abounded some individuals when they thought they were on top.These stories are too common at a time when the Germans thought they were staying in the territory they had overrun and consequently left permanent cemeteries for their dead.After the war their dead was relocated in concentrated cemeteries or as those from the Channel Islands and the Western French Departments in the ossuary at Huisnes sur Mer in Eastern Brittany.

    It has to be said that these individuals had the truth to be faced after February 1943 when the rational minded military realised the war was lost.Some were the real believers who were optimistic until the end and thought of final victory as late as the new year of 1945.

    It would be interesting to know if the individual survived the war.
  13. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    The Sorrow and the Pity - Wikipedia

    The Sorrow and the Pity Trailer

    Looks very interesting...
  14. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Your premise is incorrect. Everyone lived under the Vichy regime even those in the occupied areas as the Petain/Laval government ran essential activities such as the police, taxes, public health etc etc. throughout France. This continued even after the German army occupied all of the country. The Germans ruled through the French government - they simply didn't have the manpower for direct rule. Sometimes Laval did not cooperate. A good example was when the Germans decided to deport French Jews to the extermination camps. Laval had been quite happy to deport foreign Jews living in France but prevaricated when it came to French ones. The French police held the records off where they all lived and he refused to give the Germans access - in any case there were not enough German security forces to carry out a round up and this would have to be done by the French police and Laval did not make them available. As a result 80% of French Jews survived the war albeit still suffering privations under the Laval administration.

    Special postal arrangements were made to allow German occupation forces to send French 'goodies' 'requisitioned' back to their families at home. This included things like hams, cheeses etc but these were not classed as loot.

    I have a nicely produced guide to Paris in German, it was liberated by one of my aunts in 1944 and was originally intended for German soldiers on leave
    canuck likes this.
  15. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Anyone seen an update on this (from Post 27 in 2005):
  16. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    It will be interesting what is thrown up from closed files when in the public domain.

    There should be some declaration this weekend on the relevant files which have been made public.

    As I see it, these files will be up to 31 December 1945 and as such should cover the end of Allied hostilities against the Third Reich and the Japanese.

    Update ...files released so far on 30 December 2020 relate to the Major government of the 1990s
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2021
  17. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    I read that the South East of France, when under Italian control refused to deport any Jews to Germany. when they capitulated, the deportations began in that area.

    Not far from where we live is a chateau that was the local German Headquarters during the War. It was bought by an Englishman in the 90's I believe and renovated. In the cellars there was still a lot of German equipment. The lake was drained and in it was found the large German Eagle with 'Das Deutches Reich' underneath. It was mounted above the front door. Apparently it had been thrown there by the locals after the War. The owner had it mounted on a pole set in cement, leaning towards the ground as a sign of disrespect. I understand that many locals were not happy about it.

    There were resistance groups in surrounding villages, in which plaques with the name of the group can often be found. One group, about 15km from us was denounced and the Germans ambushed them there, executing them all. Interestingly, even now the cottage which is being restored, is that remote, that it isn't easy to find.

    A friend's Uncle owned two flour mills in the area. One day, he was travelling between the mills on a bus when the local resistance group stopped the bus, took him off and executed him. The reason? He was selling flour to the Germans. As if he had a choice.

    It is interesting that there were some 200,000 children born in France of German fathers during the occupation and many marriages. I think that for many people, life went on as normal.
  18. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    A good film that caused some consternation here when it was released is 'La Rafle' (The Roundup). It relates the story of the roundup of the Jews in Paris. It was given to me by a French friend. she told me that many people thought it was untrue how the French collaborated with the Germans in the roundup.

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