A Vichy postcard calling for European nations to unite behind Mother Europe and not go into the American trap, 1942.
Vichy France was the French state headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II. Officially independent, but with half of its territory occupied under harsh terms of the armistice, it adopted a policy of collaboration with NSDAP Germany, which occupied the northern and western portions before occupying the remainder of Metropolitan France in November 1942.
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 then 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 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 Vichy regime sought an anti-modern counter-revolution. The traditionalist right in France, with strength in the aristocracy and among Roman Catholics, had never accepted the republican traditions of the French Revolution but demanded a return to traditional lines of culture and religion. The Vichy regime also framed itself as decisively nationalist. French communists, 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.
The Milice française (French Militia) was a political paramilitary organization created on 30 January 1943 by the Vichy regime (with German aid) to help fight against the French Resistance. The Milice's formal head was Prime Minister Pierre Laval, although its Chief of operations and de facto leader was Secretary General Joseph Darnand. It participated in summary executions and assassinations, helping to round up Jews and résistants in France for deportation. The French Resistance considered the Milice more dangerous than the Gestapo and SS because they were native Frenchmen who understood local dialects fluently, had extensive knowledge of the towns and countryside, and knew local people and informants.
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