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Thread: Were Vichy French leaders traitors?

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    Lord Claremorris's Avatar Senator
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    Default Were Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Wasn't sure where to put this thread. I think it might have been better placed in the mudpit, given that it's opinionated and bound to get nasty. Anyway, when France surrendered the Vichy Government was collaborating with Germany. Do you consider this leadership to be treasonous to France? The French at the time didn't think so, and Laval, Petain, etc all claimed they were acting in the best interests of France. I would like peoples' opinions on this, just out of curiosity.

    EDIT: Blast it all. I just realised I typed "where" instead of "were." Don't I feel foolish?
    Last edited by Lord Claremorris; April 26, 2011 at 04:16 PM.
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    Their Law's Avatar Protector Domesticus
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    A tricky one to be sure. I suppose the end result of WWII dictates what they are, the Allies are victorious and thus they are perceived as traitors to France.
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Yes, they were, Germany was France's enemy, those Frenchmen sided with the Germans, of course they were traitors.
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    Claudius Gothicus's Avatar Petit Burgués
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Certainly.

    Germans and Frenchies had been fighting over the dominion of Europe for more or less 150 years. Germany had tremendously humiliated France, then France shed LOTS, and I mean LOTS of blood and tears(The Battle of Verdun comes to my mind) to save itself form another big humiliation(WWI) and actually turned the tables to force Germany into a disproportionate ''revanche''.

    And after all of those blood and tears they finally got their 2 provinces back. So when the Reich strikes back(20 years later as Foch had predicted) the political class surrenders and forces France into their biggest historical humiliation even though the French Army had put a hell of a fight?(take into account that the main reason why France is commonly mocked as cowardly and bland is the swift surrender during WWII)

    I can only see Pétain and Co. as hardliner collaborationists who tried to save their shame by claiming that ''they saved the nation from utter destruction''. This also includes the Nationalist crowd who once France got overrun sided itself with the Nazis against the Maquis... what kind of true nationalist side himself with the guy who humiliated your State twice?
    Last edited by Claudius Gothicus; April 26, 2011 at 02:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Well, weren't they the ones that maintained France's colonial Empire? And weren't they led by a WW I hero?
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    Vicarius Provinciae
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Yes.

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    Lord Claremorris's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Quote Originally Posted by Their Law View Post
    A tricky one to be sure. I suppose the end result of WWII dictates what they are, the Allies are victorious and thus they are perceived as traitors to France.
    I'm inclined to agree. However I read that Hitler said of Laval "The difference between him and de Gaulle is what de Gaulle's trying to achieve by force, he is trying to achieve by cunning."

    Quote Originally Posted by cpreston5 View Post
    Yes, they were, Germany was France's enemy, those Frenchmen sided with the Germans, of course they were traitors.
    France made an armistice with Germany, it was defeated and its Government considered further resistance futile. So after 25 June, 1940, France was no longer a belligerent of Germany's. Vichy never declared war on the Allies, did its best to protect Jews, kept its Fleet out of Axis hands, and resisted the Axis at least as vigourously as the Allies. Darlan's episode in Syria notwithstanding, which should have disqualified Vichy as neutral and Britain should have considered itself justified in violating all their territory.

    The only question is whether France was justified in signing an Armistice with Germany. France and Britain had signed a Treaty saying neither would make a separate peace. When France was defeated the then President, Reynaud, asked Churchill if the British Government would release France from this obligation. Churchill said no, but would not blame them if they surrendered. Reynaud resigned rather than surrender, and the Government that replaced him promptly capitulated. Strictly legally I would say this is treachery, but what is the point of remaining a belligerent if all it will do is prolong the suffering of the nation? And the French people obviously wanted peace, and they, ultimately, are the masters of their own destiny. Who are the British to say they can't surrender if their whole country wishes it? Especially given that German tanks were tearing across the French countryside and England was safe behind the Channel?
    Last edited by Lord Claremorris; April 26, 2011 at 02:31 PM.
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Who are the British to say they can't surrender if their whole country wishes it?
    The rub is that the whole country did not wish it. It split France into the Free-French/Resistance and the Vichy'ists while also committing French forces to armed conflict with the Allies in Syria, Morracco, N. America and Algeria.

    This is in contrast to other Nazi occupied countries that were forced into unconditional surrender.

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    hellheaven1987's Avatar Comes Domesticorum
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Free France was traitor in this case...
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    The Vichy government helped the Nazis deport Jews (a good example is the vel' d'hiv roundup, hunt down the resistance and enforce a Nazi controlled regime on France and the French people.
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    Lord Claremorris's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sphere View Post
    The rub is that the whole country did not wish it. It split France into the Free-French/Resistance and the Vichy'ists while also committing French forces to armed conflict with the Allies in Syria, Morracco, N. America and Algeria.

    This is in contrast to other Nazi occupied countries that were forced into unconditional surrender.
    The majority of the people of metropolitan France did wish it. The evidence is that hardly anybody joined de Gaulle, even from the French rescued by the British from Dunkerque. Hitler's reasons for making a conditional peace with France were obvious. By removing France from the war, it took France's sizable Navy, Merchant fleet, and vast Empire out of the balance. He could have no doubt done the same to France as to Holland, Belgium etc, but those countries couldn't contribute much to the Allied cause once their metropoles (and even with them) were occupied. France's merchant fleet, it's Navy, and it's Empire were an altogether different matter, being able to contribute significantly to an Allied victory. The Mediterranean would have been an Allied lake, and the French Forces in Algeria and Tunisia could crush the Italians in Libya from the West while the British came from the East. The Vichyites attacked nobody, but defended themselves from the British when their territory was violated. Dakar, Madagascar, Syria, and ultimately Torch were all attempts by the Allies to gain the defection of the Vichy colonies to de Gaulle. In every case the British violated Vichy neutrality and were consequently resisted. That further proves that the French wished for peace with Germany because not one (excluding Torch, but that's another story) of these operations was successful and none of the French colonial forces wanted anything to do with de Gaulle or continuing the war with Germany.
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  12. #12

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    Hey guys, after allies recaptured Paris, the vichy goverments flee to German and those French protested the 'invasion' of allies on Berlin's road.

    You guys tell me, is it treason or not?I say a big YES.

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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    did its best to protect Jews
    How do figure that?

    and resisted the Axis at least as vigourously as the Allies. Darlan's episode in Syria notwithstanding, which should have disqualified Vichy as neutral and Britain should have considered itself justified in violating all their territory.
    Or positively falling all over itself to hand Madagascar over to Japan - the only thing that Kept Vichy from joining the Axis was the fact Hitler despised France and did not want it has an ally.
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    kept its Fleet out of Axis hands
    Didn't the British sink it?

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    Nyxos's Avatar when in doubt, doubt.
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cooraan View Post
    Didn't the British sink it?
    the French admirals did, or something like that, but it wasn't Vichy
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    Lord Claremorris's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cooraan View Post
    Didn't the British sink it?
    Part of it. Vichy pledged it would never fall into German hands, and in fact that was a protocol of the Armistice. When the Germans tried to violate the Armistice the Vichy French Admiral Laborde ordered it scuttled.

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    How do figure that?
    Will answer this when I find it in my sources. Laval evaded Hitler's demands for Jews, and only deported Jews who were seeking asylum in France. He absolutely refused to hand over Jews who held French citizenship. Will post source when I find it.

    EDIT: "Whatever the Vichy government's intent initially or subsequently, the numerical outcome was that less than 15% of French Jews, vs. nearly twice that proportion of non-citizen Jews residing in France, died. More Jews lived in France at the end of the Vichy regime than had approximately ten years earlier." François Delpech, Historiens et Géographes

    That was a much better record than say, the Netherlands, where up to 75% of the Jews were deported and killed. Whether the Germans would have taken control of unoccupied France for failing to cooperate or not is open to debate, though they certainly had the ability to if they wished.



    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    Or positively falling all over itself to hand Madagascar over to Japan - the only thing that Kept Vichy from joining the Axis was the fact Hitler despised France and did not want it has an ally.
    "Chancellor Hitler wanted to know whether, "in view of the latest Anglo-Saxon aggression,' the French Government was now disposed to fight the Allies on Germany's side? What there would not be, could not be, was any question of France becoming a co-belligerent, the fourth member of the Axis. The French people were simply not ready for it and Laval knew he was unpopular enough already. His reply to von Nidda had been evasive." Colin Smith "Fighting Vichy: England's Last War Against France," p. 396

    In other words, it's the opposite of what you said. Germany requested that Vichy join it and Vichy refused.
    Last edited by Lord Claremorris; April 26, 2011 at 03:31 PM.
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    Their Law's Avatar Protector Domesticus
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Claremorris View Post
    Part of it. Vichy pledged it would never fall into German hands, and in fact that was a protocol of the Armistice. When the Germans tried to violate the Armistice the Vichy French Admiral Laborde ordered it scuttled.
    A rather nasty incident all around where there wasn't really a 'right' choice unfortunately.
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Technically Pétain was the legal president, so no, the Vichy France government was not traitorous. Just a bunch of cowards.
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    Lord Claremorris's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nyxos View Post
    The Vichy government helped the Nazis deport Jews (a good example is the vel' d'hiv roundup, hunt down the resistance and enforce a Nazi controlled regime on France and the French people.
    "The Vélodrome d'Hiver was an indoor velodrome (cycle track) at the corner of the boulevard de Grenelle and the rue Nélaton in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, not far from the Eiffel Tower."

    Last time I checked that was in Occupied France and the Gestapo would have done it anyway. That hardly excuses the complicitity of the French Police, but such things were not ordered in unoccupied France.
    "Ghlaoigh tú anuas ar an Toirneach, agus anois bain an Chuaifeach."

  20. #20

    Default Re: Where Vichy French leaders traitors?

    The Vichy French leaders were reactionists, they saw a chance for personal power, at the expense of the rest of France and her allies, and took it. There's nothing good really to say of them.

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