Did Vichy France have any popular support?

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CJK1990
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Did Vichy France have any popular support?

Postby CJK1990 » 26 May 2010 00:21

Did the Vichy French government have popular support at any point they were in power?

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VALLOIS OLIVIER
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Re: Did Vichy France have any popular support?

Postby VALLOIS OLIVIER » 26 May 2010 08:13

Some historians says..

1941.. 40 million Pétainistes
1944.. 40 million Gaullistes

Sounds like Pétain was at first considered as a National Hero, who accepted to save the Country in a grim hour.
$Yes, at the beginning, there was a real support. remember that, when Pétain came to paris couple of month before its liberation, he was met by a huge crowd.

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Re: Did Vichy France have any popular support?

Postby Carl Schwamberger » 26 May 2010 13:42

Paxtion 'Vichy France' & Jackson 'The Dark Years' describe it as poplar as long as the interests of the individual matched the government policy. The middle & upper classes saw the chaos of the 1940 defeat as nearly the worst thing possible, with its contiuation as the worst thing. Both groups sought a return to prewar conditions & had zero supor for continuing the war in the summer of 1940. This was reflected in the Chamber of deputies where only about 80 members of over 500 actively supported Renauds effort to move the government to Algeria. In the summer & autum Petain & Laval set forth a policy of completely ending the war with Germany & negotiating a peace treaty before the end of 1941. That had popular support, amoung the leftist parties as well. Everyone wanted a end to the war & the Armistice/occupation.

As 1940 ran out the left wing parties, working classes, and academics found themselves at odds with Petains conservative views. The suppresion of the left wing political parties, end of representative government, and inclusion of extreme rightwing & Facist leaders disturbed a large portion of the population. From 22 June the left lost all support for the Vichy government & German policies.

The middle classes & businessmen took longer. The retention of French PoW in German work camps made amny poeople unhappy. As long as the PoW was a 'Socialist' or maybe a Jew that was fine, but the conservatives found it was difficult to get their friends out of Germany as well. The German demands for French skilled laborers to work in Germany, the continued looting of French industry, and the bad German fnancial policy towards the ccupied nation had made in difficut for the average French businessman to do anything. This was aggravated by a few favored French profiting immensely from working with the Germans. Over 1941-42 mainly the threat of war & social disorder returning to France kept the middle class in support of the Government.

The aftermath of the Allied Torch operation showed the French middle class clearly the failure of the Vichy governments policies. The failure to get a peace treaty from Germany after two years, loss of the remaining French army without a noticeable fight, the occupation of all France, economic collapse, put the middle & upper classes in a worse position than before. It was also clear from very early in 1943 the Allies had the upper hand & might actually win. As 1943 progressed only the most conservative Frenchmen remained interested in the Vichy government, The mass of the politically active searched for alternatives. By the end of 1943 the remaining supporters of Petain & Laval were affiliated with the far right wing organizations. Even the police were more supportive of the Resistance than of the government, still drawing pay they increasingly aided the Resistance & interfered with German activity.

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Loïc
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Re: Did Vichy France have any popular support?

Postby Loïc » 26 May 2010 21:45

VALLOIS OLIVIER wrote:Some historians says..

1941.. 40 million Pétainistes
1944.. 40 million Gaullistes


"historians" ? intellectualisme bistrotier yes 8O , this kind of judgment from Paxton (famous but very misunderstood sub-title/chapter too in Amouroux collection who was a journalist and had kept a taste for the sensationnalist headline) seems completely ludicrous today for the Historians

remember that, when Pétain came to paris couple of month before its liberation, he was met by a huge crowd

and in 1941 the same Pétain himself did the famous speech of the "bad wind"
about the people of Paris abandonned since 1940 by the French authorities and what they thought, an anecdote to explain
in august 1944 after the Liberation of Paris the Aide-de-Camp of de Gaulle saw for the first time after 5 years of war the concierge/caretaker he had
- I have applauded de Gaulle today said the caretaker,
and I had applauded Pétain too 4 months ago
-really ? said the Aide-de-Camp surprised
-yes I know that it was a connerie but after 4 years of boche occupation I needed to see and applaud a French in uniform of Marshall in Paris !

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Re: Did Vichy France have any popular support?

Postby Carl Schwamberger » 28 May 2010 22:34

Loic... can you write on this subject?

merci

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VALLOIS OLIVIER
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Re: Did Vichy France have any popular support?

Postby VALLOIS OLIVIER » 03 Jun 2010 13:54

Loïc, I thought Henri Amouroux was an Historian, and not a Café owner. My mistake, sorry..

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Re: Did Vichy France have any popular support?

Postby Sid Guttridge » 02 Jul 2010 18:03

Vallois Oliver's "1941.. 40 million Pétainistes - 1944.. 40 million Gaullistes" also seems to hold true in the colonies.

In late 1940 the British navy intercepted a French merchantman carrying over a thousand reservist sailors being repatriated from the Martinique to Vichy France. Only a dozen could be persuaded to join the Free French.

Three years later, when Admiral Robert handed over Martinique to the Free French, only about 300 out of several thousand French servicemen on the island volunteered to be repatriated to Vichy France with him.

Remek

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Re: Did Vichy France have any popular support?

Postby ljadw » 02 Jul 2010 18:32

I think C.Schwamberg has said it (and very good,as usual):in the beginning:a lot of support,and then very quicky decreasing(for a lot of reasons).

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Bronsky
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Re: Did Vichy France have any popular support?

Postby Bronsky » 06 Aug 2010 20:09

Support for Vichy France was eroding in late 1940 already, it wasn't just a case of leftists vs the more conservative-minded Frenchmen.

Pétain remained popular almost throughout even though his henchmen (especially Laval) weren't, a similar phenomenon to that experienced WRT Hitler and Stalin.

Support for Vichy eroded faster among those who were on the receiving end of its policies - Jews, freemasons, former socialists or communists, or people suspected of belonging to some of the former groups - as well as among those who were witnessing collaboration firsthand. So Vichy remained more popular for longer in the non-occupied part of France.

I think Amouroux is quite worthwhile, though you have to actually read the books rather than just skim the index and quote the niftier titles. There are also very good books in English about the occupation, like Jackson's "The Dark Years" - he also wrote a good one about liberated France, as well as e.g. "Marianne in chains". Paxton did the historical community a great service by writing about collaboration 40 years ago, but I think his work has now been superceded by the more recent books.

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Panzerkampfwagen
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Alternative approach after the Battle of France?

Postby Panzerkampfwagen » 16 Nov 2011 16:46

Historically, after defeating France, the Germans divided France into two and took control over Northern France ( more proximate to Great Britain) while granting independence to the southern Vichy controlled government. Petain had agreed on an armistice that would protect the sovereignty and independence of the Vichy controlled regions. Although, Vichy was pro-German, it theroetically was neutral.

Guderian in his memoirs says that one of the options that Germany had was to grant full sovereignty to the French and bring them on the side of the axis powers and declare war against their former ally, Britain. By doing this, the remnants of French resources could be mobilized and brought to bear against the Allies. Surely, Hitler must have thought about this option.

What then were the reasons he did not impose this condition on Petain's regime?

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Re: Did Vichy France have any popular support?

Postby ljadw » 16 Nov 2011 16:53

Because
1)Petain or an other one would leave for NA and continue the war with the British
2)No French soldier would fight with the Germans
3)There were in metropolitan France no remnants of French resources
Btw :could you give the page on Panzerleader where Guderian is saying this ?

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Panzerkampfwagen
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Re: Did Vichy France have any popular support?

Postby Panzerkampfwagen » 16 Nov 2011 19:56

"No French soldier would fight with the Germans"

Propaganda can easily manipulate ordinary folk. It just needs a convincing excuse by their statesmen, and it suits a defeated country all the more easily. (e.g. all the countries in the east that eventually turned against Germany). I saw a propaganda video of Vichy France in which it says that their real enemies are not the Germans, but their own compatriots who betrayed them and escaped with the British.

Panzer Leader Pg 136 - "In view of the totality of our victory there were several courses open to us. We could have insisted on complete French disarmament, on the occupation by our forces of the entire country, on the handing over to us of the French fleet and colonies. We could, alternatively have chosen an entirely different approach. We could have offered the French, the integrity of their country and colonies and their national independence in exchange for their assistance in securing a rapid peace with the British."

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mescal
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Re: Did Vichy France have any popular support?

Postby mescal » 16 Nov 2011 22:38

ksugeeth wrote:Propaganda can easily manipulate ordinary folk.


But anti-german propaganda in France dated back to 1870. French people had been fed a steady diet of anti-German propaganda for 70 years. It's difficult (though probably not impossible) to upturn it in a few weeks or months.

ksugeeth wrote:Historically, after defeating France, the Germans divided France into two and took control over Northern France ( more proximate to Great Britain) while granting independence to the southern Vichy controlled government.


"Independence" is to be strongly qualified. Vichy France was actually utterly dependent on Germany. And this was known by all sides.

ksugeeth wrote:What then were the reasons he did not impose this condition on Petain's regime?

* Can't remember a proper source from memory, but basically Hitler was completely opposed to the reconstitution of anything resembling a French Army.
* An armistice which enabled the French to turn Axis (far from guaranteed in any case, cf. the propaganda point above), would necessarily hinder the plunder of French economy, which was deemed necessary by that time by the Germans.
* There was a high risk of seeing both the Fleet and the empire turn Free French in one way (De Gaulle) or another.
* At the time of the armistice, it was far from clear that UK would keep fighting, thus the gathering of French assests against UK was probably not prominent within the German delegation and Hitler's mind.

In a word, it was probably the path of least resistance.
Olivier

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Re: Alternative approach after the Battle of France?

Postby Carl Schwamberger » 17 Nov 2011 00:03

[quote="ksugeeth"
Guderian in his memoirs says that one of the options that Germany had was to grant full sovereignty to the French and bring them on the side of the axis powers and declare war against their former ally, Britain. By doing this, the remnants of French resources could be mobilized and brought to bear against the Allies. Surely, Hitler must have thought about this option.

What then were the reasons he did not impose this condition on Petain's regime?[/quote]

The short answer is Hitler thought Britain would soon request a armistice and a general peace treaty could be negotiated that winter. Hitler did not think he needed a armed France then, or on into the winter as he sought to wring a armisitice out of Britain.

Guderian seems to have been a bit naieve here. Aside from the 70+ years of antipathy against the Germans there was the more imeadiate factor of that the French population was full sick of the war by June. Had there been much passion for continuing all the hardships then they would have carried on, against the Germans. Reynaud and a minority of others did attempt to move the government to Africa and reject a armistice. They were unable to find any significant support in the legislature and Renaud's government disolved. Petain & Co were able to form a government as they promised France would withdraw from the war and focus on economic recovery.

Had Petain or some other group agreed to switch to the Axis side actively at war the result would have similar to the Italian switch in 1943, with the government, army, and population fragmenting into opposing factions. The anti Axis revolt would have likely soon seperated the colonies as the Brits could have supported the pro Allied groups more easily than the Axis intervened in the latter half of 1940.

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Re: Did Vichy France have any popular support?

Postby steverodgers801 » 17 Nov 2011 04:45

One reason is that Italy wanted French territory and to treat France as an equal would have made Mussolini furious, since it would have meant that Italy would not receive additional territory after victory.


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