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French State, Vichy government (1940-1944)

Etat français, gouvernement de Vichy

Last modified: 2003-06-21 by ivan sache
Keywords: etat francais | vichy | petain | francisque | stars: 7 (yellow) | parti populaire francais | gardes francaises | milice francaise |
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French flagby António Martins

See also:

Etat français vs. France libre

État français is also called État de Vichy, from the thermal city in the center of France where the MPs met, because it was far enough from the front and had a lot of facilities, and where Pétain's regime was established. De jure, État Français was the successor of the IIIrd Republic since the MPs massively voted full powers to Philippe Pétain after the chaotic defeat in June 1940 (except 80 of them). The 'state' was under total German control but tried to maintain the fiction of an independent state, with a French administration, especially for police and justice.

France libre (Free France), created by General de Gaulle in London after his radio call from the 18 June 1940 (Appel du 18 juin), was de jure an illegal and terrorist 'state', and was presented in such terms by the official propaganda of Etat français. De Gaulle was aware of this and therefore added a red Lorraine cross in the white band of the France libre flag, to distinguish it from État français.

At the end of war, there was a need of national reconciliation and international recognition of France among the winners, to avoid both Communist pressure and an Austrian-like occupation situation. To achieve these goals, de Gaulle proposed the idea of the illegitimacy of the Vichy regime. The historical truth was officially recognized only last year by President Chirac, who stated the responsability of French government, whatever its official name was, in the war facts of this period.

Ivan Sache, 26 June 1998

Although Metropolitan France was under the German boot, pretending to be independent, parts of the Empire such as French Equatorial Africa, New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon rallied Free France, thus giving it a territorial reality from which de Gaulle could claim the active participation of France to the Allied war effort.

Pierre Gay, 6 May 1999

Vichy France did continue to use the Tricolore. But interestingly enough they did not like any more the well known French motto 'liberté, egalité, fraternité' (also a sort of national symbol). They changed it to 'travail, famille, patrie' (work, family, fatherland).

Roy Stilling & Harald Müller, 9 April 1996

Philippe Pétain's standard

[Petain's standard]by Ivan Sache

The Chief of State's standard of Marshal Philippe Pétain was a Tricolore which included seven golden stars below a double-headed axe with the blades coloured concentricly (from centre outward) blue, white and red. The axe is a francisque, fallaciously supposed to be the arm of the Franks, the 'founders' of a allegedly 'ethnically pure' French nation. The flag is depicted in Smith [smi75c] and in Flaggenbuch [neu92], which shows both the IIIrd Republic (in main section) and État Francais (in 'Corrections' section) flags. The only change is in the Presidential standard. All other flags, including the national Tricolore and Navy rank ensigns, remained unchanged.

Ivan Sache & Pierre Gay, 6 May 1999

A 1940 marine scout book illustration has blue stars for that flag, plus a black outline of the francisque.

François-Jean Blanc, 14 January 1999

Correction #14 (dated april 1942) of Album des Pavillons [sho23] 1923 presents golden stars, and the decree of 19 March 1942 says:
la marque du chef de l'Etat...sept étoiles brodées en or
(the personal flag of the head of State [has] seven stars embroidered in gold.)
In 1940, the Standard was possibly not defined when the scout book was printed, or it had changed since.

Armand Noël du Payrat , 14 January 1999

Milice Française

The flag of the Milice Française, a 5000-strong police force acting under the Vichy government, was a square Tricolour with a large white circle in the middle, wider than the central stripe, fimbriated black, with a big, black "gamma" letter on it, also exceeding the limits of the circle; above the circle was the inscription "MILICE" and below it "FRANCAISE", both in gold lettering; gold fringe.

Source: Liliane and Fred Funcken, Arms and Uniforms of World War Two, Ward Lock Ltd.

Santiago Dotor, 14 January 1999

Collaborationist parties

Parti Populaire Français

[Parti Populaire Francais]by Jan Oskar Engene

The Parti Populaire Français was founded in 1934. According to David Littleton's Foreign Legions of the Third Reich,Vol. 1: Norway, Denmark, France (San Jose, California, 1979), the PPF had two emblems. First a red octagon bordered in blue with the party initials (interlaced) in white on the red field. This was used on the party flag, which consisted of a white saltire, upper and lower fields in red, hoist and fly parts in blue, and with the octagon shaped emblem in the intersection of the arms of the saltire.

Jan Oskar Engene, 20 November 1996

Gardes Françaises

Gardes Francaisesby Jan Oskar Engene

This emblem was replaced by an emblem consisting of a stylized francisque (sometimes surrounded by a cog wheel). It was used on the flag of the Gardes Françaises (the paramilitary wing of the PPF), identical to the party flag except for the emblem in the centre. Both flags had gold fringes.

Jan Oskar Engene, 20 November 1996