French Freedom Papers

Vichy France


Vichy France refers to the unoccupied French State after France’s invasion by Germany in 1940. While Vichy France was considered the government of France by name, the French State existed as a puppet government of Germany due to German military occupation of the territory. Additionally, though the Vichy government held de facto sovereignty across the entirety of French territory, true political power could only be exerted within the zone libre (Free Zone) of Vichy France.
As the last president of the Third Republic of France, French President Albert Lebrun appointed Marshal Philippe Pétain as Prime Minister of Vichy France. Pétain ordered that military representatives of the French Government sign an armisistice with Germany, which occurred on 22 June 1940. As the Third Republic of France dissolved, Pétain received full power in Vichy France, thus establishing an authoritarian regime.
Following Pétain’s appointing as Prime Minister, the government of Vichy France moved its political focus towards bolstering the economy and took a much more conservative stance on many political policies—conservative Catholicism grew popular, women were expected to fulfill traditional roles as mothers and homemakers, and Parisian art and culture lost its trendsetting prestige. Furthermore, the French media was heavily censored and manipulated. Anti-Semitic and Anti-Bolshevik propaganda became regular in many mediums of French media.
Vichy France controlled the majority of French colonies overseas. However, following the Allied Invasion of North Africa and Operation Torch in November of 1942, Vichy France gradually lost political power in these territories as Allied supporters replaced political figures supporting the Vichy regime.

As the war continued, resistance towards the French government and the German military increased. After the liberation of France in 1944, the Allies and the recently liberated French Government created the Free French Provisional Government of the French Republic. Many Vichy officials either fled or were tried for war crimes, some even being executed for treason.
The French Republic was established in 1946 and became the new republican French government led by president Vincent Auriol. Charles de Gaulle supervised the transitional government and assisted in the writing of a new French Constitution before serving as president of France in the Fifth Republic of France, beginning in 1959.


Lackerstein, Debbie. National Regeneration in Vichy France: Ideas and Policies. 1930–1944. (2013).
Hostache, René. "Le CFLN, Gouvernement Provisoire De La France En Guerre."
Mackenzie, S.P. (2014). The Second World War in Europe: Second Edition. Routledge. pp. 54–55.
Larkin, Maurice.,France since the Popular Front: Government and People. 1936–1996 (1997). pp 240-1.

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