Author (Your Name)

Kathryn W. Bondy, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Global Studies Program


Raffael M. Scheck


Following World War II, European countries that had been devastated by the war slowly began the task of rebuilding. This reconstruction did not only involve the restoration of buildings and governments, but also of national psyches, as most European nations had recently experienced a traumatic period in their history. France was no exception. Since the liberation of Paris in August of 1944, France had been attempting to regain a sense of normality that it had not had under the World War II government of Vichy. As a result of signing an armistice with Germany on June 22, 1940, France was divided into a northern, or occupied, zone and a southern, or free, zone. This armistice, however, was not signed by the leaders of the French Republic, but by World War I hero Marshall Henri Philippe Petain,the new leader ofFrance. Petain, now one of the most controversial figures in French history, believed he was doing a service for France by ending its role in the war early, but in reality, the Vichy years has become one of the most contentious period's in French history. The new French government, commonly known as Vichy because it was headquartered in the spa town of Vichy, subsequently embarked on a period of collaboration with the Germans until France was liberated in 1944. Say the word Vichy in France today and most people cringe. For the French, Vichy represents a dark period in their history that many remain unwilling to revisit. Since Petain signed the armistice of 1940, the Vichy government has generated widespread controversy among the French. The fact that France, a country founded on the principle of the rights of man, colluded with the people responsible for engendering the Final Solution, has plagued the French like a virus for over fifty years. While there were pockets of French resistance within France and even some outside of France during the Occupation, for the most part, the majority of French citizens quietly accepted Vichy's laws and policies, which were tremendously influenced by the German Occupiers. As a result, Vichy has been a subject of national debate in France for over fifty years because of the guilt that many French citizens, especially those who lived through the Occupation, feel over collaborating with the Germans.


Memory, Social aspects, Social psychology Moulin Jean 1899-1943, Pétain, Philippe 1856-1951, Public opinion, France Vélodrome d'hiver (Paris, France) Vichy (France), Politics and government, Moral and ethical aspects, France History German occupation, 1940-1945

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