The shameful history of Vichy France

This weekend, together with 36 others, I attended a one-day course on Vichy France delivered by Sebastien Ardouin at London’s City Literary Institute. It was an immensely informative course backed up with a handout of 24 pages.

Vichy France was the so-called Free Zone of the country which operated from 1940 to 1944 under the increasingly dictatorial leadership of Marshal Phillipe Petain, the hero of Verdun in the First World War. Ardouin’s overall assessment of this period was as follows:

“State collaboration was a complete failure. In spite of what Vichy men declared (that they were playing a double game in order to protect the French population), collaboration did not spare France from economic exploitation, political repression, or other forms of sufferings. In relation to its population and resources, France was the occupied country that supplied Germany with the greatest amount of foodstuffs, commodities, and labour.

Racial persecutions developed, not only without any opposition from Vichy, but then went beyond what the Nazis demanded. In spite of concessions made by Vichy to the Nazis, Vichy could not preserve its independence and the French people were not treated better that populations in other occupied countries. Ultimately Vicy became an accomplice of the Reich and dishonoured France with its racial policy.”

More information on Vichy France here.


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