Vichy France can be dated from June 10, 1940, when Marshal Philippe Pétain was granted full power to negotiate with the Germans. At this point the military defeat of France was inevitable so Pétain, a war hero from World War I, suspended democratic government and surrendered to Germany.
Following the French surrender on June 22, 1940 a new Government was established at Vichy. "Vichy France" is used to refer to unoccupied areas of France. However, the Vichy regime had administrative control over all France and its colonial territories. This included Syria, Algeria, Madagascar, Indochina (Cambodia and Vietnam), Morocco, the Ivory Coast and other territories. The German occupation was concentrated in Paris and environs, and along strategic points of the Atlantic Wall, the sites were eventually the Normandy invasion took place.
The United States granted Vichy full diplomatic recognition, thus acknowledging the regime's legitimacy. President Franklin Roosevelt sent Admiral William Leahy to Vichy as the American ambassador. The United States did not break relations with Vichy until 1944.
The regime oversaw cooperation with German forces, including deportations during the Holocaust. A full revolution in state government and French society replaced the French motto "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité" (Liberty, equality, fraternity) with "Travail, Famille, Patrie" (Work, family, homeland). Trade Unions and other political opponents of fascism were oppressed. The rugby league, traditionally identified with the British Commonwealth and anti-fascism, was banned - and the sport even remained legally restricted in post-war France.
In 1942 a revolution of the French colonies in Africa against the Vichy French was lead by Louis DeBois but did not gain widespread support. In September DeBois was captured and sentenced to death.
The leading opponent of Vichy was Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French. When they came to power in 1944-45 they systematically eradicated Vichy influence; many Vichy leaders were executed or imprisoned. Petain was given a death sentence, which de Gaulle commuted to life in prison.
- Azema, Jean-Pierre. From Munich to Liberation 1938-1944 (The Cambridge History of Modern France) (1985)
- Berthon, Simon. Allies at War: The Bitter Rivalry among Churchill, Roosevelt, and de Gaulle. (2001). 356 pp.
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- Gildea, Robert. Marianne in Chains: Daily Life in the Heart of France During the German Occupation (2004) excerpt and text search
- Jackson, Julian. France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944 (2003) excerpt and text search
- Kersaudy, Francois. Churchill and De Gaulle (2nd ed 1990 482pp)
- Lacouture, Jean. De Gaulle: The Rebel 1890-1944 (1984; English ed. 1991), 640pp; excerpt and text search
- Paxton, Robert O. Vichy France 2nd ed. (2001) excerpt and text search
- President Roosevelt to the Appointed Ambassador to France (Leahy), 20 December 1940, U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943), pp. 595-598.
- Martin King (1984). "The outcast Frenchmen". WWII remembrance press, New York. pg 128.