Collaboration and Collaborationism in Vichy France

Topics: Vichy France, Nazi Germany, Charles de Gaulle Pages: 3 (748 words) Published: April 3, 2008
Define the distinction between ‘collaboration’ and ‘collaborationism’ and discuss the ways in which the relationship between them developed over the course of the Occupation

Historians have been astute in ascertaining that an understanding of the differences between ‘collaboration’ and ‘collaborationism’ is intrinsic to an understanding of the Vichy Regime as a whole. Shields asserts that it on this ‘essential distinction that any nuanced’ reading of Vichy France is based. However, despite their essential difference, it is possible to argue that the policy of collaboration begun in 1940 became progressively more akin to collaborationism by June 1944. This essay will seek to define both collaboration and collaborationism and outline their fundamental differences and growing similarities.

Collaboration, itself was an official Vichy government policy, first mentioned in Article Three of the Armistice and later solidified on the 24th October 1940 at the meeting between Hitler and Maréchal Pétain at Montoire. Apologists of Vichy and of Pétain have declared that the policy of collaboration was imposed upon Vichy by Germany. However, Robert Paxton has exposed this theory as quite incorrect, stating categorically that ‘collaboration was not a German demand to which some French men acceded’. Perhaps it is best to say that while not directly imposed, collaboration with the occupying force was expected.

When Pétain declared in his radio broadcast of the 30th October 1940 that he had entered into the ‘voie de la collaboration’, the policy itself had the backing of French public opinion. France was occupied and collaboration with the victor seemed to provide the sole means by which France could retain self governance or ‘souverainété’, something which Pétain felt essential to French morale and so avoid polonisation. There was therefore a strong element of pragmatism in Pétain’s proposal for the two countries to work in tandem. He...
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