Saturday, July 11, 2009

11 July 1940: Vichy Collaborationist Regime Established in France

Following the defeat under the Nazi onslaught, the rump National Assembly of France on 10 July granted World War I hero Philippe Pétain, then-Prime Minister of the Third Republic, extraordinary powers to create a new government. It became a collaborationist one, exercising not only direct control over the southern, unoccupied portion of the nation, but also civil administrative control over the area under German occupation.

The entire Vichy system, growing out of a conservative "national revolution" that had been percolating for decades, was conceived as a negation of republicanism and the tradition of the great Revolution. Although the flag remained the tricolor, France acquired a new coat of arms featuring a Gallic double-headed axe resembling the Italian fasces. The official name of the country was changed from République Française to État Français: French Republic to French State. The old radical motto of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," was transformed into a reactionary one that stressed traditions and collective duties over individual rights: "Work, Family, Fatherland."

Thus ended the turbulent and much-maligned Third Republic (1870-1940).

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