In France, the history of Vichy Regime is an extremely sensitive subject and the politics of this regime against the Jew is an even more controversial topic. Information has come to a halt after the WWII and very late France has assumed the “betrayal of the Jewish community”. This day in history the Vichy France Regime is formally established, Philippe Petain becoming the Prime Minister and the Chief of State at the same time.
What is Vichy France?
It was the French State during WWII and represented the unoccupied “Free zone” of southern France, but also French North Africa. Philippe Petain had the whole power in the new state, but mainly because he considered that the republican system was the main reason why France was defeated. So he changed the motto from “Freedom, Equality, Fraternity” to “Work, Family, Homeland”.
Despite the fact that the state was autonomous and didn’t depend on German politics, Petain adopted a “German” policy. Thus, the 150,000 Jews who had escaped from the German area found the same kind of discrimination of the “safe country” just like in any other Nazi area. Jews were denied to practice certain professions and their properties were confiscated.
An important role was given to the Catholic Church to facilitate the moral renewal of the society. Like any other totalitarian regime, the emphasis was on the unity of the nation, which involved antipathy towards Jews.
Therefore, the Vichy Regime transported 76,000 Jews to the Third Reich concentration camps, but a significant number was held also in the Vichy Regime concentration camps.
A short Regime
On November 11, 1942 the southern France was occupied by the Germans to secure the south of France from a possible invasion. After the liberation of France in 1944, most of the Vichy regime leaders were tried and some of them were sentenced to death for treason, war crimes or Holocaust complicity. Thousands of “collaborators” were executed without trial by the local forces of the French Resistance.
Philippe Petain was sentenced to death for treason, but the sentence was changed by Charles de Gaulle to life imprisonment.