Simon Kitson's










Welcome to Simon Kitson's Vichy Web. This particular page is concerned with the occupiers and their policies. It is currently divided into the following sections: 


The main German Administrations present in France

Nazi attitude to France  

Did the Germans fully trust Vichy?  

German aims in France  

The Armistice(s)

Zones of occupation

German means of pressure on the French  

Nazi repression in France  




Ian Kershaw on Hitler’s visit to Paris

Robert Gildea on Franco-German relations under the occupation  



L'armistice du 22 juin 1940 

L'armistice du 24 juin 1940

Allocution du Général Oberg, 8 août 1942

Exécutions de Français sans jugement

Thomas Kernan- On the Germans in France



Links to web-sites





The main German Administrations present in France

The German structures in France were even more complicated that the German structures in the other occupied countries. In fact there were four main sources of power within the German administration in France. Each of these structures was in fierce competition with the others and their relative levels of power oscillated during the occupation period.

 Initially the most important power on the Nazi side was the Militärbefehlshaber in Frankreich (MBF) which was the German military administration in France with headquarters in the Hotel Majestic in avenue Kléber in Paris. This was controlled initially by Otto Von Stulpnagel from October 1940. His cousin Karl Von Stulpnagel replaced him in the role from February 1942. The German military were in a position of strength when they arrived in 1940. They had just won a resounding victory in the field and hoped to benefit from the prestige of this to gain a strong foothold in the country.

 The second source of power was the German Embassy whose headquarters were in the rue de Lille in Paris. At the beginning the German Embassy was supposed just to advise the MBF but it gained increasing autonomy thanks to the influence in Berlin of the Foreign Minister Von Ribbentrop who had overall responsibilities for diplomatic missions. Other German administrations in France remained a little suspicious of the Embassy because of the Francophile reputation of its Ambassador, Otto Abetz.

 Another level of administration was that imposed by the German Armistice commission which like the MBF was a military structure. This Commission had its headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany. It was designed to see that the French adhered to the terms of the armistice. To this end it had delegations in those parts of France which were not directly occupied. From these delegations it could organise spying missions into Vichy controlled territory. Being the eyes and the ears of Germany in the Southern zone gave it an important power base. It was also heavily involved in illegal buying up of black market produce on the French economy. However, once the Nazis invaded the Southern zone it became increasingly irrelevant. Even before the total occupation of France the Armistice Commission was largely bypassed on the political level. Franco-German negotiations were usually held between the French and the other German structures.

 The final source of German power was the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA). This was an umbrella organization for the parallel police formations, such as the Sipo-SD (Sicherheitspolizei-Sicherheitsdienst= ‘Security police-security office’)), born directly from the Nazi party. The repressive powers of the MBF were increasingly overtaken by the Sipo and SD (better known as the Gestapo). The increasing dominance of the RSHA formations reflected their increasing dominance over the Army structures throughout the Reich. It was also the sign that the Germans objectives in the occupied countries had shifted away from the largely military aims of 1940 to much more ideological aims. The two key events in this respect were operation Barbarossa of June 1941- the German invasion of the Soviet Union- and the Wannsee conference of January 1942 where the Nazi hierarchy decided to embark on a policy of mass murder against the Jews through the establishment of extermination camps in which they could be systematically gassed to death. Although anti-Semitism and anti-communism were prevalent within the German army, the more radical manifestations of these espoused within the Nazi state were better suited to the radicalism of the formations born of the Nazi party. Hitler was generally distrustful of the Army which he viewed as socially conservative and ideologically too tame.


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Nazi attitude to France

Nazi philosophy was based partly around a division of the world into racial groups and a clear sense of hierarchy between these different racial groups. Hitler placed latin peoples, like the French, Spanish and ironically the Italians, low on his racial hierarchy but still someway above the Slavs, the blacks or the Jews. In fact he had precious little good to say about France. He was an admirer of French architecture and made a visit to Paris in June 1940. He had originally intended to have Paris entirely destroyed after this visit but was persuaded by his architect Albert Speer to seek instead to make sure that he built up Berlin’s architectural grandeur to such an extent that Paris would pale by comparison.

The Nazis desired revenge on France because of long-standing hostilities between the 2 countries. This enmity had seen the Prussians fighting against the Napoleonic armies at the beginning of the 19th century. It had seen the Prussians and the French again at each other’s throats in 1870. It had seen the long-drawn out conflicts on the western Front between 1914 and 1918. German hostility to France was also fuelled by French behaviour at the end of that conflict. Under Premier Georges Clemenceau, France was seen to have been particularly harsh during the Versailles peace settlement of 1919.

There were some Senior Nazi officials who were more sympathetic to France. Otto Abetz, the German ambassador to France during much of the period 1940 to 1944, was known as a Francophile although his exact position has been open to some controversy. His Francophilia has been seen in an admiration for French culture and the fact that he had a French wife.  However, historians now generally accept that the true scope of his Francophilia was limited. He certainly hoped for German victory in the war and considered that France should only be given a secondary role in a Europe dominated by Germany.

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Did the Germans fully trust Vichy?

It is often assumed that relations between the Germans and Vichy passed without a hitch. Vichy did after all take much initiative in offering collaboration to the Germans and this collaboration brought important results for the Germans, particularly against communists and Jews.

 However it was obvious from the outset that the Germans were not going to fully trust a French government even one that was collaborating. They were careful to retain means of subjugating the French. Dividing the country into different zones of occupation was meant to assure its weakness. Limiting the army to 100,000 men offered both revenge for a similar clause imposed at Versailles in 1919 and a practical means of keeping French military capabilities to a minimum. Retaining around one and half million Frenchmen as Prisoners of War, when it would have been cheaper and potentially more economically profitable to release them, was the ultimate manifestation of a desire to hold the French in check. That Vichy failed to get the return of all these prisoners was clearly demonstrated that Vichy had not succeeded in eradicating all doubts in German minds about French reliability.

 The backdrop to Franco-German relations was set by four major wars in less than 150 years. The Prussians had sided with the British against Napoleon at the beginning of the 19th century. Subsequently they had rapidly crushed the French forces in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. In the twentieth century the two nations had been major protagonists on opposing sides in both of the world wars. Both viewed the other as a traditional enemy. So behind the diplomatic relations lay a certain tension which was clearly manifested in aggressive German espionage and equally aggressive French counter-espionage. 

Moreover, the Germans’ own experience gave them supplementary grounds for being particularly vigilant. It should not be forgotten that there were similarities between the Versailles treaty of 1919 which they had been forced to accept and the armistice imposed on the French in 1940. Some of the clauses of the post-World War One settlement were faithfully reproduced in the 1940 document. It could not have escaped German attention that it was possible to rise from the ashes of a military defeat. A country could be rebuilt until it became a threat to its neighbours. This is what Germany itself had done in the interwar period. The victors of 1940 were determined that no such facilities should be accorded the French. The intelligence agencies were especially aware of such possibilities. They had rapidly cast off the shackles imposed on them by the Versailles treaty of 1919 and reconstructed themselves clandestinely in the early 1920s.

 That even Vichy was not fully trusted is further underlined by the banning of certain Vichy organisations in the northern zone. These included the Chantiers de la Jeunesse and Légion des Anciens Combattants, which it was feared may camouflage clandestine remobilisations. Following the occupation of the southern zone the occupiers were also quick to dissolve the Armistice army altogether. The Germans also made use of the policy of divide and rule by encouraging extremist ‘collaborationist’ groups in Paris. These groups were used as a threat to Vichy because the French government were made aware that if it didn’t co-operate the Germans would constitute a government from these more extremist elements. The Germans made massive and increasing use of espionage against France, including against the French government.

Although the Germans were aware that overall Vichy was offering them considerable co-operation a series of incidents did keep them on their guard. The sacking and arrest of Pierre Laval by Philippe Pétain on 13 December 1940 was not well received in Berlin. It was wondered whether this represented a change in diplomatic direction. The fact that some Resistance newspapers in the southern zone continued initially to cite Marshall Pétain fed suspicion. Likewise the circulation of Resistance publications in the Vichy zone, in particular documents such as General Cochet’s appeal to continue the fight. The indiscreet anti-Axis comments of Vichy’s representative in North Africa, General Weygand, and his subsequent links with the Americans were criticised by the Germans who immediately arrested him as soon as they arrived in the southern zone. The rapidity with which Admiral Darlan changed sides after operation Torch did much to discredit Vichy. Had not Darlan a few months before not been presenting himself as a partisan of collaboration? The rivalries within the Vichy government meant that individuals such as Fernand de Brinon were feeding the Germans with doubts about the reliability of their rivals within the Vichy government. 


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German aims in France

The historian Yves Durand has described in the following way Germany’s policy towards France: “Hitler required a government in power strong enough to guarantee the passivity of populations subjected to domination and German demands, yet weak enough never effectively to oppose Germany or one day unite the people against Germany in a true defence of national interests, nor even to compete with Germany or speak with it on an equal basis, as might happen, the Germans thought, if a government were to be truly ‘renovated’ by a national fascism”.  (Y. Durand, ‘Collaboration French style: A European Perspective’, in Sarah Fishman et al (eds) France at War, Oxford, Berg, 2000, p 73).  

Although there were differences between different administrations and different personalities, the essential German aims towards France can be summarised to the following objectives, which were sometimes difficult to reconcile. France was to be: (1) Seduced, (2) Humiliated, (3) Neutralised, (4) Exploited.

 France should be seduced

It was important for the Germans to occupy France with the minimum amount of manpower. To this end they generally hoped to be able to rely on the French as far as possible. They therefore sought to give the French the impression that through collaboration they would eventually be granted a privileged place in Hitler’s Europe and that in collaborating they would be able to maintain their independence. The Germans generally sought to exploit Vichy’s desire for sovereignty which included a willingness to use French administrations to do the Germans dirty work for them. Initially the Germans did make some efforts to appear relatively moderate.  

What people remember most about the summer of 1940 is the 'correct' attitude of the Germans. This was a deliberate strategy to keep the peace. 'Correctness' was also encouraged by the fact that German soldiers were given a period of leave directly after the defeat of France and since they had loads of money they spend their time shopping and paying excessive prices for goods. Indeed throughout the occupation, although there were many arbitrary acts and acts of indiscipline, many German soldiers did behave themselves quite well on an individual basis. They recognised that being in France was a relatively cushy number compared to being sent to fight on the eastern front and their officers issued threatening reminders to this effect in order to keep them relatively well-behaved. It is important to distinguish here between their off-duty and on-duty behaviour because however 'correct' they were they were still part of a brutal system. 

The armistice terms were also more moderate than the French were expecting. At first glance the Franco-German armistice is relatively benevolent. The military terms were typical of any armistice arrangements and indeed reflected similar provisions in the post World War One treaty. The Army was demobilised and limited in number and the armed forces were disarmed. There were no territorial demands and therefore no reference to the contentious issue of Alsace-Lorraine.

Hitler's objectives in signing the armistice were to remove France from the war; to prevent the French government from leaving mainland France and to prevent the French fleet falling into the hands of the British. With these objectives in mind the Armistice must appear relatively mild firstly to ensure that the French don't refuse the armistice and secondly to encourage the British to seek a similar settlement.

In fact there were two armistices in 1940. The Franco-German one was signed on 22 June and three days later an armistice was signed with the Italians. The Italians for their part had hoped for territorial concessions from France but Hitler dissuaded them from including any territorial clauses.  

Early attempts at seduction were also seen through the organising of cultural events designed to show the quality of German culture. 

 France should be humiliated

Even at the moment when the Germans are trying to appear relatively moderate, they found it difficult to resist the temptation to humiliate the French. The Germany military procession in Paris followed the same route taken by the French victors in 1918. This saw the German army marching under the Arc de Triomphe and down the Champs Elysées. Huge German swastika flags were flown on the rue de Rivoli in Paris.

 The defeated French were made to sign the armistice in the same railway carriage as the used by the defeated Germans in 1918. This was the famous carriage in the Compiègne railway siding. Having got the French negotiators to sign the armistice here the Germans promptly ordered the destruction of the site (it was later rebuilt by the French after the war).

Some of the clauses of the Armistice were the same as those imposed on Germany in 1918. In particular its army was limited to 100 000 men in the same way that the German army had been after world war one.  

Less attempts were made to humiliate France after the end of 1940, the focus shifting instead to neutralising and exploiting her.

 France should be neutralised

Restricting French military power and dividing France into numerous zones of occupation were ways of weakening France to ensure that she could not rise from the ashes. The Germans were particularly conscious of the possibilities of doing that because they themselves had clandestinely risen from the ashes of defeat after World War One and they were determined that no such facilities should be accorded to the French.

 France should be exploited

The Germans were keen to exploit France’s geographical position and to use it as a launch-pad for its on-going military operations against the British.

 From the outset the Germans also engaged in a programme of pillaging France. For example they massively pillaged French works of art.

 The Germans also engaged in a deliberate policy of exploiting the French economy in order to feed their own economy. The Germans imposed heavy occupation costs on the French. They made them pay 400 million francs a day between 1940 and 10 May 1941. This was subsequently reduced to 300 million from 10 May 1941 through to 11 November 1942. Thereafter it rose again to 500 million- an increase justified by the fact that the Germans were henceforth occupying the whole of the country. In other words the French were required to pay the Germans to occupy their country.

 The Germans also imposed their own rate of currency exchange on France. The Reichsmark was now worth 20 francs rather than 12. This allowed them to buy up French produce at will using French money to do so.

 After 1942 German demands were increasingly expressed in terms of recruiting human resources to work for them. In 1940 the Germans had been content to make do with volunteer workers. However, from 1942, as the strains of the war began to be felt, they became ever more demanding in this respect. They looked to the possibility of some sort of forced labour scheme. When they put forward this idea to Vichy premier Pierre Laval he countered with a scheme known as the ‘Releve’ (‘relief’) scheme in June 1942. By the terms of this scheme, which the subject of considerable propaganda, for every 3 skilled French workers who volunteered to go and work in Germany one prisoner of war would be returned to France.  

Offering the departure of volunteer workers for Germany against the return of prisoners of war, the scheme had initially offered a small glimmer of hope to the families of these prisoners, who were led to expect the imminent return of their loved ones. Very quickly, however, hope gave way to widespread scepticism. The scheme proved to be a failure because many French people refused to believe the Germans would keep their part of the bargain or felt the terms of the exchange were unfair for France. There were few volunteers- the Germans had wanted 250,000 they found only 35,000. Propaganda posters proclaimed to workers ‘you have the key to the [Prisoner of War] camps’; they were defaced with a simple five letter graffiti: ‘merde’ (*1).

Given the failure of voluntary schemes it was decided to introduce a new law which became known as the ‘relève-obligatoire’. From 4 September 1942 certain specialist workers were obliged to leave for German, still in return for the release of prisoners-of-war. There was massive opposition to this scheme and it recruited too few workers to satisfy the Germans. In February 1943 the Germans forced Vichy to introduce the STO and made labour service obligatory for most young Frenchmen born between 1920-1922.  Overall, from the summer of 1942 through to 1944 about 650, 000 workers were sent off to Germany for forced labour.

(*1) Archives Départementales des Bouches-du-Rhône M6 11072, Le Commissaire Principal, Renseignements Généraux, à M le Commissaire Divisionnaire, Renseignements Généraux, 30/3/43.


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The Armistice(s)

In fact there were two armistices in 1940. The Franco-German one was signed on 22 June and three days later an armistice was signed with the Italians.

 Hitler's objectives in signing the armistice were to remove France from the war; to prevent the French government from leaving mainland France and to prevent the French fleet falling into the hands of the British. With these objectives in mind the Armistice must appear relatively mild firstly to ensure that the French don't refuse the armistice and secondly to encourage the British to seek a similar settlement.

 The Italians for their part had hoped for territorial concessions from France but Hitler dissuaded them from including any territorial clauses.  

At first glance the Franco-German armistice is relatively benevolent. The military terms were typical of any armistice arrangements and indeed reflected similar provisions in the post World War One treaty. The Army was demobilised and limited in number and the armed forces were disarmed. There were no territorial demands and therefore no reference to the contentious issue of Alsace-Lorraine.

 There were however 5 worrying clauses which allowed the Germans considerable means of pressure. By the terms of Article 19 the Germans could reclaim any of their nationals from the French. This clearly undermined the traditional rights of asylum offered in France. Under Article 20, Prisoners of War were to remain in Germany until the conclusion of a peace treaty. Article 18 assured that the costs of occupation would be met by the French. The Germans were given the right to occupy 2/3 of mainland France and to introduce a demarcation line. They were to have the rights of a sovereign power in the occupied zone.   

The defeated French were made to sign the armistice in the same railway carriage as the defeat Germans in 1918. This was the famous carriage in the Compiègne railway siding. Having got the French negotiators to sign the armistice here the Germans promptly ordered the destruction of the site. It was reconstructed by the French after the Second World War as a symbol of French victory over Germany in the First World War.



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Zones of occupation

 The administrative situation of France was extremely complex during the dark years. In order to weaken the country the Germans and Italians divided it into several zones of occupation, divided by customs’ barriers known as demarcation lines.  

The zones under direct German tutelage

The Germans violated the armistice almost immediately by placing certain areas under direct German tutelage.

 In clear contradiction of the terms of the Armistice the Germans annexed Alsace and part of Lorraine in August 1940. These areas, which had been the subject of a long-running border dispute between French and Germans, were now considered a part of the Reich. Henceforth the area was governed by a German Gauleiter and Vichy had no say in how the area was run. Access to Alsace-Lorraine was extremely restricted. 

 The Germans showed considerable brutality in Alsace and Lorraine. In the autumn of 1940 they expelled 150,000 people considered as 'undesirable' (ie Jews and those most hostile to the German annexation). They also insisted on enforced Germanisation. Thus street names were changed and family names were germanised. German was the only language allowed. From August 1942, 130 000 Alsatians were forced to enrol in the German army, the Wehrmacht (these forced recruits were known as the ‘Malgré Nous’).  

A ‘zone réservée’ was established in north-east France. This was worrying for the future because it looked like this area was being prepared for a future annexation. Access to this area was severely restricted to the French and a German organization called Ostland was given the task of encouraging German settlers to this area.    

For strategic reasons, the Nord and the Pas-de-Calais were directly attached to the German military administration in Brussels and was thus known as the ‘zone rattachée’. These areas were considered strategically important because of their proximity to Great Britain- it should not be forgotten that the war with Britain was continuing during this time. The French thus lost access to the industries of the Nord and Pas de Calais. Here the Germans showed considerable firmness particularly in May and June 1941 when a miners' strike erupted.

 A ‘zone interdite’ was created above the Somme. It was made difficult for non-German elements to enter this zone.

 A further zone was created in April 1941. This was the ‘zone interdite côtière’ within the ‘zone rattachée’.  This covered an area of 18 kilometres from the coast.  

Vichy laws did not generally apply in the zones under direct German tutelage and for people in those areas the Vichy government seemed like an irrelevance.

 The Occupied Zone

The occupied zone covered the north and west of the country and included big cities like Paris, Nantes and Bordeaux.

 The German military administration exercised direct control over this zone. Vichy laws applied here but only if they were not in contradiction to German ones. Vichy struggled to maintain an influence in this area but it was clearly a junior partner to the Germans and its administration was often reduced to doing the German dirty work for them.

 The 53 départements of this zone were rich in resources. The occupied zones were the most heavily industrialised but also had important agricultural resources, particularly in Normandy. They also contained most of France’s population.

 The Unoccupied Zone

Most of the south-east of France was unoccupied until November 1942. In this zone there were few resources. Around 14 million French people lived in this zone which included major cities such as Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Toulon, Montpellier and Nice. Its main products were olive oil and wine. The population in some of the Southern cities such as Nice or Marseilles came close to starvation during the dark years. Being short on natural resources made the southern part of France dependent on resources imported from the northern zone.

 Having a free zone had been an essential goal of the French in the armistice discussions because it allowed the government to project an image of itself as independent from the Germans.

 This zone was governed independently by the Vichy regime, so called because it installed itself in the spa town of Vichy. Until November 1942 Vichy held sovereign powers in this area and guarded them jealously. German policies did not apply here but the Germans and Italians did keep a watchful eye on what was going on in the southern zone. The only German or Italian soldiers present in this zone during this time were those attached to their armistice commission delegations which had offices in most of the major cities in southern France and the empire. The Axis powers, Germany and Italy, did however send spies into this zone to check that the Vichy government was not actively plotting to take up arms against them again.

 Wishing to highlight its independence Vichy referred to this southern area as the ‘Zone Libre'. Resisters, however, often called it the ‘Zone dite Libre' or the ‘Zone non-directement Occupée’. This was to underline that although there was no significant German physical presence here the political philosophy of the Vichy regime was sufficiently close to that of the Nazis to give the impression that this area was under German control. Such criticisms seemed to gain credibility when in the summer of 1942 Vichy agreed to arrest and transport Jews from the unoccupied zone to be handed over to the Germans as part of the Nazi programme of deportation to the death camps of Eastern Europe. This seemed to many Frenchmen and women to highlight the level of subservience of Vichy to the Germans.

 Vichy liked to claim that by signing an armistice with Germany it had ensured that at least part of the country would remain unoccupied. In reality the non-occupation of the south suited the Germans well. They did not want to waste troops occupying this unproductive area unless they had to. In November 1942 it was felt necessary to do so and German troops poured across the demarcation line that month. The reason for this change in situation was that the Americans had invaded French North Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) and the possibility of an Allied invasion of southern France thus loomed large. The fact that the Vichy administration in North Africa had, after a period of initial fighting, had agreed to a ceasefire with the Americans did not reassure the Germans about what Vichy would do in the event of an Allied invasion. Even after the invasion of the southern zone Vichy tried to maintain the fiction of its sovereignty by insisting that German troops in the area should be referred to as ‘troupes d’opération’ rather than as ‘troupes d’occupation’ because the former appellation suggested something more limited and temporary than the latter.  

Zone of Italian occupation

 Between November 1942-September 1943 Corsica and the eastern section of southern France, including the city of Nice, were occupied by Italian soldiers. Surprisingly this zone became something of a haven for Jews since the Italian authorise refused to allow the French police to arrest foreign Jews in that part of France. This changed when the Italians changed sides in the war and in September 1943 the Germans invaded this zone and began an energetic operation against the Jews.



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German means of pressure on the French

The Germans had many means of pressure that they could apply to the French and in keeping with their contradictory aims of seducing and neutralising the French they made use of both the carrot and the stick.

Signature of peace treaty

Vichy hoped that a permanent peace settlement could be reached with the Germans. This may involve the loss of some territory and perhaps reparations but it was hoped that it would allow for the departure of German troops from France. In 1940 Vichy had signed an armistice with the Germans but it hoped a more permanent settlement in the shape of a peace treaty could be negotiated. The Germans hinted that the signature of a peace treaty was dependent on German victory in the war against Britain. This encouraged an already existent anti-British feeling in Vichy circles.  


Prisoners Of War

1.5 million Frenchmen were taken as Prisoners of War in the battles of 1940. The Vichy government was desperate to have them returned and made some concessions to this effect. There were occasions on which the Germans returned a limited number of them but more than one million remained as Prisoners of War right through to the end of the war in 1945.  


Demarcation Line

Between July 1940 and March 1943 France was officially divided up by a demarcation line. This line caused an important split between the Southern unoccupied zone and the Northern occupied zone. It severely restricted communications between these two main zones. An 'ausweis' (pass) was needed to cross the line. This allowed the Germans effective control over the passage of persons between one zone and the other. Even ministers of the Vichy government initially had trouble obtaining this 'ausweis' and of Vichy ministers only Pierre Laval and Francois Darlan had permanent passes. The public initially could only communicate with the Northern Zone on pre-written postcards where they simply had to tick a box indicating their state of well-being: 'in good health', 'wounded', 'not dead'. The Germans could use their control over this line as a means of blackmail: the French could be granted a loosening of the demarcation line in return for good behaviour or alternatively could be punished with its tightening or complete closure. In addition, since most of France's industrial strength was in the North, the South became dependant on the German controlled zone for supplies and raw materials. Those companies situated in the south often had to negotiate with the Germans in order to assure raw materials for their factories.


Economic Pressures

The Germans imposed heavy occupation costs on the French: 400 million francs a day between 1940 and 10 May 1941; 300 million from 10 May 1941 through to 11 November 1942 and 500 million per day thereafter. Given that it is the occupiers who controlled the levels of these occupation costs it gave them a bargaining tool in negotiations with the Vichy government. 

Military Pressures

The imbalance between French and German military strength was heightened because the signing of the armistice effectively limited the French army to 100,000 men and because a large number of soldiers were held in German captivity. Given how quickly the French had been beaten it was difficult on the French side to imagine an immediate reprisal of hostilities. The Germans gave themselves the right to renounce the armistice at any moment- so the military threat was there. Given that Vichy prided itself on maintaining an unoccupied zone in France the Germans could threaten Vichy with the invasion of the unoccupied zone if Vichy was seen as not co-operating. It was feared that the Germans would do just that in early 1941 when diplomatic tensions arose between France and Germany. Eventually it was in November 1942 that the Germans did indeed occupy the previously unoccupied Vichy zone.  


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Nazi repression in France

During the Summer of 1940 there were some German atrocities. 98 British prisoners were massacred in Lestrehem; 98 civilians were massacred on 22 May at Aubigny-en-Artois and 124/128 killed at Oignies and Courrières on 28 May. Senegalese soldiers are thrown under the tracks of tanks near Lyons.

 However, what people remember most about the Summer of 1940 is the 'correct' attitude of the Germans. This was a deliberate strategy to keep the peace. 'Correctness' was also encouraged by the fact that German soldiers were given a period of leave directly after the defeat of France and since they had loads of money they spend their time shopping and paying excessive prices for goods.  

Nevertheless between the end of the military campaign and the Summer of 1941 a further 60 people were executed by the Nazis.

From August 1941 the occupiers embarked on a policy of mass executions in reprisal for Resistance attacks on German soldiers. Up to 50 hostages were to be shot for each German person. Overall in the period September 1941 to May 1942 the Germans executed 471 civilian hostages in reprisal for Resistance attacks against German military personnel. This policy of hostages was progressively abandoned from the Summer of 1942 because it is counter-productive.  (Julian Jackson, France, the dark years, Oxford, OUP, 2001, p 182).

 The final stage of Nazi terror is entered into during the Spring and Summer of 1944. There were mass executions like that carried out on 10 June at Oradour-sur-Glâne in Haute-Vienne.

 It is obvious that not all sections of the population were subject to the same repression in particular Jews and Resisters.


 In 1940 there are about 330,000 Jews living in France. The Germans set out to isolate them and began on 27 September 1940 by defining Jews as those having 2 grandparents practising the Jewish religion. They organised a census of all Jews living in the Northern zone. Jews were forced to have the word 'Jew' ('Juif') stamped on their I.D. cards and from June 1942 to wear a gold star.

In the occupied zone Jews were forbidden from owning radios, telephones or bicycles, from going out between 8 pm (20.00) and 6 am (06.00) and from visiting certain public places. They were obliged to do their shopping between 3 pm (15.00) and 4 pm (16.00) and had to travel in the last carriage of the metro.

Mass arrests of Jews took place in Northern Zone in May, August and December 1941 and, with the help of the French police, became more generalised from the Summer of 1942.

At the Wannsee conference of 20 January 1942 it had been decided by the Nazis to embark on a process of exterminating Jews. From March onwards Jews were deported eastwards to the death camps. Overall around 76000 Jews were deported from France towards the Nazi death camps. Less than 2000 of these survived.


The Germans were particularly harsh against the Resistance both Gaullists and Communists. Torture and mistreatment of Resistance prisoners was commonplace. Overall 30,000 individuals were shot for acts of Resistance. A further 60,000 were deported for political acts, about half of whom survived till 1945.


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On June 10, 1944, four days after the Allied landings in Normandy, 120 soldiers of the Waffen-SS tank division ‘das Reich’ entered the market village of Oradour-sur-Glane near Limoges in Central France. They rounded up the population in the market-place. The men were herded into a barn, shot and set on fire. The women and children were crowded into the church where they were showered with bullets and also burnt. The SS then pillaged shops and houses and set light to numerous other buildings. Overall, 642 people (including 205 children) were massacred. Only 8 of those present escaped.

Compared to the Eastern Front there had been few massacres of civilians in France prior to this event. Groups of (mainly communist) hostages had been shot in late 1941, most notably in Châteaubriant. In 1944 shootings of civilians as reprisals for Resistance attacks became more frequent. Public hangings took place in Nîmes (Gard) in March and the mass shooting of 60 civilians was recorded in Ascq, near Lille, in April. The day before the Oradour massacre another unit of the ‘Das Reich’ division had committed atrocities in Tulle (Corrèze) hanging 99 men. In these cases the objective had been to terrorize local populations believed to be helping the Resistance. Oradour differed from these examples: the town had no record of Resistance activity, the nearest ‘Maquis’ unit being over 12 km away. The ‘Das Reich’ division, which during service on the Eastern Front had become accustomed to using brutality, probably chose to vent its cruelty on Oradour precisely because, unprotected by the ‘Maquis’, it offered an easy target.

Oradour immediately adopted huge symbolic importance. To preserve it in its ruined state it was accorded ‘martyred village’ status. The site would be used to remind future generations of Nazi barbarity. Equally important from a French perspective were the possibilities this symbol offered for cementing the unity of a divided nation. Since most of the French population had not been actively engaged politically during the war, this village’s random victimisation could be used to symbolise the innocent suffering of all French people at the hands of the occupier.

Unfortunately, Oradour ultimately became an instrument of division when 21 of the SS who participated in the massacre were brought before the courts. Their trial, which began in Bordeaux on 12 January 1953, was highly controversial because 14 of the defendants were Alsatians of whom all but one had been incorporated by force into the German army. Opinion in Alsace was horrified that they should be bought to trial. The residents of Central France were equally horrified that the Alsatians received lighter sentences than their fellow defendants and even more so when parliament, trying to pacify autonomist feelings in Alsace, subsequently amnestied them. Controversy also arose because no senior SS officers were in the dock. Either they had already died, were in hiding or like the ‘Das Reich’ commander Heinz Lammerding were protected by their association with American intelligence agencies.

For further information on this question see Sarah Farmer, Martyred Village: Commemorating the 1944 Massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane,  University of California Press (Berkeley), 1999. 


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Ian Kershaw 

on Hitler’s visit to Paris

Extract from Ian Kershaw, Hitler, 1936-1945: Nemesis, London, Penguin, 2000, pp 299-300. 


Then, on 28 June, before most Parisians were awake, Hitler paid his one and only visit to the occupied French capital. It lasted no more than three hours. And its purpose was cultural, not military. Accompanied by the architects Hermann Giesler and Albert Speer, and his favourite sculptor, Arno Breker, Hitler landed at Le Bourget airport at, for him, the extraordinarily early hour of half-past five in the morning. The whistle-stop sightseeing tour began at L’Opéra. All the lights were ablaze, as if for an evening gala performance, as the three large Mercedes pulled up. A white-haired French guide, deferential but reserved, took the small group through the empty building. Hitler was thrilled by its beauty. He had doubtless been reading up on the descriptions of the opera house during wakeful hours on the previous nights, and delighted in showing off his detailed knowledge. The guide refused the 50-Mark tip that Hitler had his adjutant attempt to proffer. The tourists moved on. They drove past La Madeleine, whose classical formed impressed Hitler, up to the Champs Elysées, stopped at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier below the Arc de Triomphe, viewed the Eiffel Tower, and looked in silence on the tomb of Napoleon in Les Invalides. Hitler admired the dimensions of the Panthéon, but found its interior (as he later recalled) ‘a terrible disappointment’, and seemed indifferent to the medieval wonders of Paris, like the Sainte Chapelle. The tour ended, curiously, at the nineteenth-century testament to Catholic piety, the church of Sacré-Coeur. With a last look over the city from the heights of Montmartre, Hitler was gone. By mid-morning he was back in his field headquarters. Seeing Paris, he told Speer, had been the dream of his life. But to Goebbels, he said he had found a lot of Paris very disappointing. He had considered destroying it. However, he remarked, according to Speer, ‘when we’re finished in Berlin, Paris will only be a shadow. Why should we destroy it?’


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Robert Gildea on 

Franco-German relations under the occupation

Extract from Robert Gildea, Marianne in chains, Basingstoke, Macmillan, 2002, pp 414-416.

The first conclusion is that Franco-German relations under the occupation were not always as brutal or even as one-sided as they have often been portrayed. Recent German research points in the same direction and reinforces the call for a reassessment. The Germans were content to allow the French administration a certain autonomy, to practise indirect rule, so long as the administration delivered public order and resources. Indeed it was felt that these were more likely to be delivered by means of good relations with the French, with their tacit consent, than by means of what was called ‘Polonization’. The French administration, isolated from Vichy, had no alternative but to do business with the German military administration, and like indigenous chiefs under indirect colonial rule, might find their authority thereby reinforced. Despite the hereditary enmity between French and Germans, reinforced by the ideology of Nazism, there was a counter-current of mutual respect based on a common sense of military honour shared by veterans of 1914-18, a common European civilization, and sometimes even a common religion too. These relationships made it possible tom defuse crises that arose when public order was threatened by either side. Prefects and mayors instructed French citizens how unwise it was to persist in graffiti campaigns or to demonstrate too openly. The consequences of deaths on each side were minimised by negotiation, especially when they seemed like accidents. Even when the military commander of Nantes was shot in October 1941, frantic negotiations at all levels saved the lives of a second batch of fifty hostages.

 Ordinary French and Germans also learned to live together. German atrocities feared by the French population in the summer of 1940 never took place: troops arriving in towns and cities declared ‘open’ by their municipalities were more likely to distribute cigarettes and sweets. The billeting of German troops on French families could be very trying , but as we have seen there were cases of disruptive lodgers being moved on after appeal to the Kommandantur,   and relations between German guests and French families were not always as icy as those described in Le silence de la Mer. The Germans requisitioned everything that could be requisitioned at various times, but they also gave lucrative contracts to French firms, did plentiful business with French people on the black market, and employed a vast array of French domestics with whom relations sometimes became more intimate.  


  This is not to deny the brutality of the occupation or the imbalance of power between French and Germans; rather, these both intensified as the occupation dragged on. The German invasion of the Soviet Union, nullifying the Nazi-Soviet pact, tipped some communists in France into a campaign of assassination directed against members of the Wehrmacht. It caused the Germans to increase their demands for labour to fight a Total war and to seek to eliminate ‘enemies within’ who were seen to be sabotaging their war effort, notably communists and Jews. The Germans gradually concluded that the French authorities were not able to guarantee public order or deliver supplies in the quantities they required. The French authorities were steadily swept aside as indirect rule gave way to direct rule, and the German military was displaced by the secret police. A style of collaboration based on negotiation was replaced by Diktat



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- 22 JUIN 1940 -

M. le Colonel Général Keitel, Chef du Haut Commandement allemand, mandaté par le Führer du Reich allemand et commandant suprême des forces armées allemandes, d'une part, et M. le Général d'Armée Huntziger, M. Léon Noèl, Ambassadeur de France, M. le Vice-Amiral Le Luc, M. le Général de Corps d'Armée Parizot, M. le Général de l'Air Bergeret, Plénipotentiaires du Gouvernement français munis de pouvoirs réguliers, d'autre part, sont convenus de la convention d'armistice suivante:

ART.1. Le Gouvernement français ordonne la cessation des hostilités contre le Reich allemand, sur le territoire français, ainsi que dans les possessions, colonies, protectorats et territoires sous mandat et sur les mers. Il ordonne que les troupes françaises déjà encerclées par les troupes allemandes, déposent immédiatement les armes;

ART 2. En vue de sauvegarder les intérêts du Reich allemand, le territoire français, situé au nord et à l'ouest de la ligne tracée sur la carte ci-annexée sera occupé par les troupes allemandes. Dans la mesure où les régions du territoire occupé ne se trouvent pas encore au pouvoir des troupes allemandes, leur occupation sera effectuée immédiatement après la conclusion de la présente convention;

ART 3. Dans les régions occupées de la France, le Reich allemand exerce tous les droits de la puissance occupante. Le Gouvernement français s'engage à faciliter par tous les moyens les réglementations relatives à l'exercice de ces droits et à la mise en exécution avec le concours de l'Administration française. Le Gouvernement français invitera immédiatement toutes les autorités et tous les services administratifs français du territoire occupé à se conformer aux réglementations des autorités allemandes et à collaborer avec ces dernières d'une manière correcte.
Le Gouvernement allemand a l'intention de réduire au strict minimum l'occupation de la côte occidentale après la cessation des hostilités avec l'Angleterre.
Le Gouvernement français est libre de choisir son siège dans le territoire non occupé, ou bien, s'il le désire, de le transférer même à Paris.
Dans ce dernier cas, le Gouvernement allemand s'engage à apporter toutes facilités nécessaires au Gouvernement et à ses services administratifs centraux, afin qu'ils soient en mesure d'administrer de Paris les territoires occupés et non occupés;

ART. 4. Les forces armées françaises sur terre, sur mer et dans les airs devront être démobilisées et désarmées dans un délai encore à déterminer. Sont exemptes de cette obligation les troupes nécessaires au maintien de l'ordre intérieur. Leurs effectifs et leurs armes seront déterminés par l'Allemagne ou par l'Italie respectivement.
Les forces armées françaises stationnées dans les régions à occuper par l'Allemagne devront être rapidement ramenées sur le territoire non occupé et seront démobilisées. Avant d'être ramenées en territoire non occupé, ces troupes déposeront leurs armes et leur matériel aux endroits où elles se trouvent au moment de l'entrée en vigueur de la présente convention. Elles seront responsables de la remise régulière du matériel et des armes sus-mentionnés aux troupes allemandes;

ART. 5. Comme garantie de la stricte observation des conditions d'armistice il pourra être exigé que toutes les pièces d'artillerie, les chars de combat, les engins anti-chars, les avions militaires, les canons de la D.C.A., les armes d'infanterie, tous les moyens de traction et les munitions des unités de l'armée française engagés contre l'Allemagne et qui se trouvent, au moment de l'entrée en vigueur de la présente convention, sur le territoire qui ne sera pas occupé par l'Allemagne, soient livrés en bon état. La Commission allemande d'armistice décidera de l'étendue de ces livraisons. Il peut être renoncé à la livraison d'avions militaires si tous les avions encore en possession des forces armées françaises sont désarmés et mis en sécurité sous contrôle allemand;

ART. 6. Les armes, munitions et matériel de guerre de toute espèce restant en territoire français non occupé -dans la mesure où ceux-ci n'auront pas été laissés à la disposition du Gouvernement français pour l'armement des unités françaises autorisées- devront être entreposées ou mises en sécurité sous contrôle allemand ou italien respectivement. Le haut commandement allemand se réserve le droit d'ordonner à cet effet toutes les mesures nécessaires pour empêcher l'usage abusif de ce matériel. La fabrication de nouveau matériel de guerre en territoire non occupé devra cesser immédiatement;

ART. 7. Toutes les fortifications terrestres et côtières avec leurs armes, munitions et équipements, les stocks et installations de tout genre, se trouvant dans les régions à occuper, devront être livrés en bon état. Devront être remis, en outre, les plans de ces fortifications ainsi que les plans de celles déjà prises par les troupes allemandes.
Tous les détails sur les emplacements minés, les barrages de mines terrestres, les fusées à retardement, les barrages chimiques, etc., sont à remettre au Haut Commandement allemand. Ces obstacles devront être enlevés par les forces françaises sur la demande des autorités allemandes;
ART. 8. La flotte de guerre française - à l'exception de la partie qui est laissée à la disposition du Gouvernement français pour la sauvegarde des intérêts français dans son empire colonial -sera rassemblée dans des ports à déterminer et devra être démobilisée et désarmée sous le contrôle de l'Allemagne ou respec-tivement de l'Italie.
La désignation de ces ports sera faite d'après les ports d'attache des navires en temps de paix. Le Gouvernement allemand déclare solennellement au Gouvernement français qu'il n'a pas l'intention d'utiliser pendant la guerre, à ses propres fins, la flotte de guerre française stationnée dans les ports sous contrôle allemand, sauf les unités nécessaires à la surveillance des côtes et au dragage des mines.
Il déclare, en outre, solennellement et formellement, qu'il n'a pas l'intention de formuler de revendications à l'égard de la flotte de guerre française lors de la conclusion de la paix; exception faite de la partie de la flotte de guerre française àdéterminer qui sera affectée à la sauvegarde des intérêts français dans l'empire colonial, toutes les unités de guerre se trouvant en dehors des eaux territoriales françaises devront être rappe-lées en France;

ART. 9. Le Haut Commandement français devra fournir au Haut Commandement allemand les indications précises sur toutes les mines posées par la France, ainsi que tous les barrages de mines dans les ports et en avant des côtes, ainsi que sur les installations militaires de défense et de protection.
Le dragage des barrages de mines devra être effectué par les forces françaises dans la mesure où le Haut Commande-ment allemand décidera;

ART. 10. Le Gouvernement français s'engage à n'entreprendre à l'avenir aucune action hostile contre le Reich allemand avec aucune partie des forces armées qui lui restent, ni d'aucune autre manière.
Le Gouvernement français empêchera également les membres des forces armées françaises de quitter le territoire français et veillera à ce que ni les armes, ni des équipements quelconques, ni navires, avions, etc., ne soient transférés en Angleterre ou à l'étranger.
Le Gouvernement français interdira aux ressortissants français de combattre contre l'Allemagne au service d'Etats avec lesquels l'Allemagne se trouve encore en guerre. Les ressortissants français qui ne se conformeraient pas à cette prescription seront traités par les troupes allemandes comme francs-tireurs;

ART. 11. Jusqu'a nouvel ordre, il sera interdit aux navires de commerce français de tout genre, y compris les bâtiments de cabotage et les bâtiments de ports se trouvant sous le contrôle français de sortir des ports. La reprise du trafic commercial sera subordonnée à l'autorisation préalable du Gouvernement allemand ou du Gouvernement Italien respectivement.
Les navires de commerce français se trouvant en dehors des ports français seront rappelés en France par le Gouvernement français et, si cela n'est pas possible, ils seront dirigés sur des ports neutres. Tous les navires de commerce allemand arraisonnés se trouvant dans les ports français seront rendus en bon état si la demande en est faite.

ART. 12. Une interdiction de décollage à l'égard de tous les avions se trouvant sur le territoire français sera prononcée immédiatement. Tout avion décollant sans autorisation préalable allemande sera considéré par l'aviation militaire allemande comme avion ennemi et sera traité comme tel.
Les aérodromes, les installations terrestres de l'aviation militaire en territoire non occupé seront placés sous contrôle allemand ou italien respectivement.
Il peut être exigé qu'on les rende inutilisables. Le Gouvernement français est tenu de mettre à la disposition des autorités allemandes tous les avions étrangers se trouvant en territoire non occupé ou de les empêcher de poursuivre leur route. Ces avions devront être livrés aux autorités militaires allemandes.

ART. 13. Le Gouvernement français s'engage à veiller à ce que, dans le territoire à occuper par les troupes allemandes, toutes les installations, les outils et stocks militaires soient remis intacts aux troupes allemandes. Il devra en outre veiller à ce que les ports, les entreprises industrielles et les chantiers navals restent dans l'état dans lequel ils se trouvent actuellement et à ce qu'ils ne soient endommagés d'aucune façon, ni détruits. Il en est de même pour les moyens et voies de communications de toute nature, notamment en ce qui concerne les voies ferrées, les routes et voies navigables, l'ensemble des réseaux télégraphiques et téléphoniques, ainsi que les installations d'indication de navigabilité et de balisage des côtes. En outre, le Gouvernement français s'engage, sur ordre du Haut Commandement allemand, à procéder à tous les travaux de remise en état nécessaires.
Le Gouvernement français veillera à ce que sur le territoire occupé, soient disponibles le personnel spécialisé nécessaire et la quantité de matériel roulant de chemins de fer et autres moyens de communications correspondant aux conditions normales du temps de paix.

ART. 14. Tous les postes émetteurs de T.S.F. se trouvant en territoire français doivent cesser sur le champ leurs émissions. La reprise des transmissions par T.S.F. dans la partie du territoire non occupée sera soumise à une réglementation spéciale;

ART. 15. Le Gouvernement français s'engage à effectuer le transport en transit des marchandises entre le Reich allemand et l'italie, à travers le territoire non occupé dans la mesure requise par le Gouvernement allemand;

ART. 16. Le Gouvernement français procédera au rapatriement de la population dans les territoires occupés, d'accord avec les services allemands compétents;

ART. 17. Le Gouvernement français s'engage à empêcher tout transfert de valeurs à caractère économique et des stocks du territoire à occuper par les troupes allemandes dans les territoires non occupés ou à l'étranger.
Il ne pourra être disposé de ces valeurs et stocks se trouvant en territoire occupé, qu'en accord avec le Gouvernement du Reich, étant entendu que le Gouvernement allemand tiendra compte de ce qui est nécessaire à la vie des populations des territoires non occupés;

ART. 18. Les frais d'entretien des troupes d'occupation allemande sur le territoire français seront à la charge du Gouvernement français;

ART. 19. Tous les prisonniers de guerre et prisonniers civils allemands, y compris les prévenus et condamnés qui ont été arrêtés et condamnés pour des actes commis en faveur du Reich allemand, doivent être remis sans délai aux troupes allemandes. Le Gouvernement français est tenu de livrer sur demande tous les ressortissants allemands désignés par le Gouvernement du Reich et qui se trouvent en France, de même que dans les possessions françaises, les colonies, les territoires sous protectorat et sous mandat.
Le Gouvernement français s'engage à empêcher le transfert de prisonniers de guerre ou de prisonniers civils allemands de France dans les possessions françaises ou bien à l'étranger.
Pour ce qui concerne les prisonniers déjà transférés hors de France, de même que les prisonniers de guerre allemands malades, inévacuables ou blessés, des listes exactes portant la désignation de l'endroit de leur séjour doivent être présentées. Le Haut Commandement allemand s'occupera des prisonniers de guerre allemands, malades ou blesses;

ART. 20. Les membres des forces armées françaises qui sont pri-sonniers de guerre de l'armée allemande resteront prisonniers de guerre jusqu'à la conclusion de la paix;

ART. 21. Le Gouvernement français est responsable de la mise en sécurité de tous les objets et valeurs dont la remise en bon état ou la tenue à la disposition de l'Allemagne est stipulée dans cette convention ou dont le transfert en dehors de la France est défendu. Le Gouvernement français sera passible de dommages et intérêts pour toutes les destructions, dommages ou détournements contraires à la présente convention;

ART. 22. Une Commission d'armistice allemande, agissant sous les ordres du Haut Commandement allemand, réglera et contrôlera l'exécution de la convention d'armistice.
La Commission d'armistice est, en outre, appelée à assurer la concordance nécessaire de cette convention, avec la convention d'armistice italo-française.
Le Gouvernement français constituera au siège de la Commission d'armistice allemande une délégation chargée de représenter les intérêts français et de recevoir les ordres d'exécution de la Commission allemande d'armistice;

ART. 23. Cette convention entrera en vigueur aussitôt que le Gouvernement français sera également arrivé, avec le Gouvernement italien, à un accord relatif à la cessation des hostilités.
La cessation des hostilités aura lieu à six heures après que le Gouvernement italien aura annoncé au Gouvernement du Reich la conclusion de cet accord.
Le Gouvernement du Reich fera connaître par radio ce moment au Gouvernement français;

ART. 24. La présente convention d'armistice est valable jusqu'à la conclusion du traité de paix. Elle peut être dénoncée à tout moment pour prendre fin immédiatement, par le Gouvernement allemand si le Gouvernement français ne remplit pas les obligations par lui assumées dans la présente convention.
La présente convention d'armistice a été signée le 22 juin 1940, à 18 h 36, heure d'été allemande, dans la forêt de Compiègne.

(English version of this text)


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- 24 JUIN 1940
ART. 1.    La France cessera les hostilités contre l'Italie dans les territoires français métropolitains, dans l'Afrique française du Nord, dans les colonies, dans les territoires protégés et sous mandat. Elle cessera également les hostilités contre l'Italie par mer et dans les airs.

ART. 2.   Les troupes italiennes se maintiendront, au moment de l'entrée en vigueur de la présente convention d'armistice et
pour toute la durée de celui-ci, sur les lignes qu'elles ont atteintes sur tous les théâtres d'opérations.

ART. 3   Dans le territoire français métropolitain, la zone comprise entre les lignes visées à l'article 2 et une ligne située à 50 kilomètres de celle-ci, à vol d'oiseau, sera démilitarisée pour la durée de l'armistice.
En Tunisie, la zone comprise entre la frontière tuniso-libyenne et la ligne indiquée sur la carte annexée sera démilitarisée pour la durée de l'armistice.
En Algérie, ainsi que dans les territoires de l'Afrique française situés au sud de l'Algérie et confinant à la Libye, une zone comprise entre la frontière libyenne et une ligne parallèle distante de 200 kilomètres sera démilitarisée tant que dureront les hostilités entre l'Italie et l'Empire britannique et pour la durée du présent armistice; le territoire de la colonie de la côte fran-çaise des Somalis sera démilitarisé en entier.
L'Italie aura le droit entier et permanent, pendant la durée de l'armistice, d'utiliser le port et les installations portuaires de Djibouti et la voie ferrée Djibouti-Addis-Abéba, sur le parcours français, pour des transports de quelque nature que ce soit.

ART. 4. - Les zones à démilitariser visées à l'article 3 seront évacuées par les troupes françaises dans les dix jours qui suivront la cessation des hostilités, à l'exception du personnel strictement nécessaire pour la garde et l'entretien des ouvrages de fortification, casernes, magasins et bâtiments militaires et des forces pour le maintien de l'ordre à l'intérieur que la commission d'armistice déterminera dans chaque cas particulier.

ART. 5. - Sous réserve de l'obligation mentionnée à l'article 10 ci-après, toutes les armes mobiles et les munitions correspondantes existant dans les zones à démilitariser du territoire français métropolitain et dans celui contigu à la Libye, autres que celles dont sont dotées les troupes qui évacuent, comme il est dit ci-dessus, les territoires en cause, doivent être évacuées dans un délai de quinze jours. Les armes fixes des ouvrages de fortification et les munitions correspondantes doivent être mises dans le même laps de temps en situation de ne pas pouvoir être utilisées.
Dans le territoire de la Côte française des Somalis, toutes les armes mobiles et les munitions correspondantes autres que celles dont sont dotées les troupes qui évacuent le territoire, seront déposées dans le même délai de quinze jours dans les localités qui seront déterminées par la commission italienne d'armistice visée ci-après.
Pour les armes fixes et les munitions des ouvrages des fortifications existant dans ledit territoire, On appliquera les dispositions fixées pour le territoire français métropolitain et pour celui contigu à la Libye.

ART. 6. - Tant que dureront les hostilités entre l'Italie et l'Empire britannique, les places fortes militaires maritimes et les bases navales de Toulon, Bizerte, Ajaccio et Oran (Mers El-Kébir) seront démilitarisées jusqu'à la cessation des hostilités contre ledit empire.
Cette démilitarisation devra être effectuée dans un délai de quinze jours et devra être telle que ces places fortes et bases soient rendues inutilisables au point de vue de leur capacité offensive, défensive; leur capacité logistique sera, sous le contrôle de la commission italienne d'armistice, limitée aux besoins des bâtiments de guerre français qui, dans les conditions fixées à l'article 12 ci-après, y seront basés.

ART. 7. - Dans les zones, places fortes militaires maritimes et bases navales à démilitariser, les autorités civiles françaises et les forces de police nécessaires au maintien de l'ordre public demeureront naturellement en fonction; y resteront aussi les autorités territoriales et maritimes qui seront déterminées par la commission italienne d'armistice.

ART. 8. - La commission italienne d'armistice visée ci-après déterminera sur la carte les limites exactes des zones, places fortes militaires, maritimes, bases navales à démilitariser et les détails des modalités d'exécution de la démilitarisation. Ladite commission aura le droit entier et permanent de contrôler l'exécution dans les
dites zones, places et bases des mesures fixées par les articles précédents, soit au moyen de délégation permanente sur place.

ART. 9.   Toutes les forces armées de terre, de mer et de l'air de la France métropolitaine seront démobilisées et désarmées dans un délai à fixer ultérieurement, à l'exception des formations nécessaires au maintien de l'ordre intérieur.
La force et l'armement de ces formations seront déterminés par l'Italie et l'Allemagne.
En ce qui concerne les territoires de l'Afrique du nord française, la Syrie et la côte française des Somalis, la commission italienne d'armistice, en établissant les modalités de démobilisation et de désarmement, prendra en considération l'importance particulière du maintien de l'ordre dans lesdits territoires.

ART. 10. - L'Italie se réserve le droit d'exiger comme garantie de l'exécution de la convention d'armistice la remise en tout ou partie des armes collectives d'infanterie, d'artillerie, autos blindées, chars, véhicules automobiles et hippomobiles et munitions, appartenant aux unités qui ont été engagées ou déployées, de quelque façon que ce soit, contre les forces armées italiennes.
Ces armes et ces matériels devront être remis dans l'état dans lequel ils se trouvaient au moment de l'armistice.

ART. 11. - Les armes, munitions et matériel de guerre, de toute nature, qui demeurent dans les territoires français non occupés, y compris les armes et munitions évacuées des zones, places fortes militaires, maritimes et bases navales à démilitariser, à l'exception de la partie qui sera laissée à la disposition des unités autorisées, seront réunis et placés sous contrôle italien ou allemand.
La fabrication du matériel de guerre de toute nature dans les territoires non occupés doit cesser immédiatement.

ART. 12. - Les unités de la marine de guerre française seront concentrées dans les ports qui seront désignés. Elles seront démobilisées et désarmées sous le contrôle de l'Italie et de l'Allemagne.
Feront exception, les unités dont les gouvernements italien et allemand autoriseraient l'emploi pour la sauvegarde des territoires coloniaux français.
L'emplacement des unités navales en temps de paix sera un élément déterminant pour le choix des ports visés ci-dessus.
Tous les navires de guerre éloignés de la France métropolitaine qui ne seraient pas reconnus nécessaires à la sauvegarde des intérêts coloniaux français seront rappelés dans les ports métropolitains.
Le gouvernement italien déclare qu'il n'a pas l'intention d'employer pendant la présente guerre les unités de la marine de guerre française placées sous son contrôle et que, de même, il n'a pas l'intention d'avancer des prétentions, à la conclusion de la paix, sur la flotte française.
Pendant l'armistice, les navires français nécessaires au dragage des mines, visés à l'article suivant, pourront cependant être demandés.

ART. 13. - Tous les barrages de mines seront notifiés au commandement suprême italien. Les autorités françaises pourvoiront dans un délai de dix jours à faire décharger avec leur personnel toutes les interruptions ferroviaires et routières, les champs de mines et fourneaux de mines en général, préparés dans les zones, places fortes militaires, maritimes et bases navales à démilitariser.

ART. 14. - Le gouvernement français, outre qu'il s'engage à ne pas entreprendre, en quelque lieu que ce soit, une forme quelconque d'hostilités contre l'Italie, s'engage à empêcher les membres de ses forces armées et les citoyens français en général de sortir du territoire national pour participer d'une manière quelconque à des hostilités contre l'Italie.
Les troupes italiennes appliqueront contre ceux qui transgresseraient cette règle et contre les citoyens français précédemment à l'étranger qui entreprendraient collectivement ou individuellement des actes d'hostilités contre l'Italie, le traitement réservé aux combattants hors la loi.

ART. 15. - Le gouvernement français s'engage à empêcher que des unités de guerre, des aéroplanes, des armes, des matériels de guerre et des munitions de quelque nature que ce soit, de propriété française ou existant dans le territoire français ou contrôlés par la France, soient envoyés sur les territoires de l'Empire britannique ou d'autres Etats étrangers.

ART. 16. - Aucun navire marchand de la marine française ne pourra sortir jusqu'à ce que le gouvernement italien ou allemand accorde la reprise partielle ou totale du trafic maritime commercial français.
Les navires marchands français qui ne se trouveraient pas au moment de l'armistice dans les ports français ou placés sous le contrôle français, seront rappelés dans ces ports ou dirigés sur des ports neutres.

ART. 17.- Tous les navires marchands italiens capturés seront immédiatement restitués avec tout le chargement qui était dirigé sur l'italie au moment de leur capture.
Les marchandises non périssables italiennes ou dirigées sur l'Italie, capturées à bord de navires non italiens, devront de même être restituées.

ART. 18. - Il est fait défense immédiate de décoller pour tous les avions qui se trouvent sur le territoire français ou sur les territoires placés sous contrôle français.
Tous les aéroports de toutes installations des territoires susdits seront placés sous contrôle italien ou allemand.
Les avions étrangers qui se trouveraient dans les territoires visés ci-dessus seront remis aux autorités militaires italiennes ou allemandes.

ART. 19. - Jusqu'au moment où le gouvernement italien ou le gouvernement allemand fixeront d'autres dispositions, seront interdites les transmissions radio en général dans tous les territoires de la France métropolitaine. Les conditions dans lesquelles pourront s'effectuer les communications radio entre la France et l'Afrique française du nord, la Syrie et la Côte des Somalis seront déterminées par la commission italienne de l'armistice.

ART. 20. - Le trafic des marchandises en transit entre l'Allemagne et l'Italie, à travers les territoires français non occupés, sera libre.

ART. 21. - Tous les prisonniers de guerre et civils italiens internés, arrêtés ou condamnés pour des raisons politiques ou de guerre, ou pour des actes quelconques en faveur du gouvernement italien, seront immédiatement libérés et remis aux autorités militaires italiennes.

ART. 22.   Le gouvernement français se porte garant de la bonne conservation de tout ce qu'il doit ou peut devoir remettre en vertu de la présente convention.

ART. 23. - Une commission italienne d'armistice, dépendant du commandement suprême italien, sera chargée de régler et de contrôler, soit directement, soit au moyen de ses organes, l'exécution de la présente convention.
Elle sera également chargée d'harmoniser la présente convention avec celle déjà conclue entre l'Allemagne et la France.

ART. 24. - Au siège de la commission visée à l'article précédent, s'installera une délégation française, chargée de faire connaître les desiderata de son gouvernement relativement à l'exécution de la présente convention, et de transmettre aux autorités compétentes les dispositions de la commission italienne d'armistice.

ART. 25. - La présente convention d'armistice entrera en vigueur au moment de sa signature.
Les hostilités cesseront, sur tous les théâtres d'opérations, six heures après le moment où le gouvernement italien aura communiqué au gouvernement allemand la conclusion du présent accord.
Le gouvernement italien notifiera ce moment au gouvernement français par radio.

ART. 26. - La présente convention d'armistice demeurera en vigueur jusqu'à la conclusion du traité de paix. Elle pourra être dénoncée par l'Italie à tout moment, avec effet immédiat, si le gouvernement français ne remplit pas les obligations assumées.
Les plénipotentiaires soussignés dûment autorisés déclarent approuver les conditions indiquées ci-dessus.

Rome, 24 juin, à 19 h. 15.
Signé: Le maréchal d'Italie, PIETRO BADOGLIO
Le général d'armée, HUNTZIGER.


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Messieurs les Secrétaires Généraux et Préfets.


Je suis vraiment heureux de vous saluer ici comme invités, en présence de mes camarades de la S.S. et de la police et j 'espère que vous allez passer quelques heures en conversation agréable avec eux.


Je profite de l'occasion pour remercier cordialement Messieurs les Secrétaires Généraux HILAIRE et BOUSQUET d'avoir eu l'obligeance de favoriser mon impulsion pour cette entrevue.


Le règlement de questions de police, en particulier la question d'une lutte énergique contre les criminels, a toujours été d'une importance internationale. Vous savez qu'en raison de ce fait, plusieurs nations se sont groupées dans la Internationale Kriminalpolizeiliche Kommission depuis bien des années pour un travail commun. Ces dernières années, cette Commission était sous la présidence du Général HEYDRICH, décédé des suites d'un attentat criminel et qui portait le plus grand intérêt aux tâches de la D.K.P.K. et secondait efficacement le travail par beaucoup d'impulsions personnelles.


Ayant été moi-même un collaborateur et ami intime du Général HEYDRICH, pendant de longues années j'ai décidé de continuer dans mon service actuel ses idées d'une collaboration internationale de la police, qui par suite de la guerre avait dû être interrompue. A ma grande joie, mon intention a trouvé l'approbabtion entière de Monsiuer le Président LAVAL et de Monsieur le Secrétaire. Général BOUSQUET.

Après les quelques entretiens que j'ai eu avec Monsieur le Secrétaire Général BOUSQUET, j'avais le sentiment que sous sa conduite énergique le travail de la police française pourrait encore être sensiblement augmenté. Ayant obtenu sa pleine force de réalisation, la Police française doit sous sa propre responsabilité contribuer à la lutte contre nos ennemis communs communistes, terroristes, saboteurs de concert avec les forces de la S.S. et de la police sous mes Ordres.


J'ai pris la résolution de fixer par écrit les directives générales d'une collaboration, la limitation des tâches respectives, ainsi que les possibilités de mon aide pour la réorganisation de la Police française. Je me réjouis que Monsieur le Secrétaire Général BOUSQUET a approuvé ma décision, de sorte que pour vous, Messieurs les Préfets, et pour vous mes Commandants, les questions d'une collaboration de la police sont nettement réglées.


Pour terminer je constate, que les hommes de la Police française se sont montrés ces derniers temps particulièrement courageux et énergiques dans la lutte contre nos ennemis communs, même au prix du sang. Ce fait me donne l'espoir, que la Police française mettra tout en oeuvre pour éclaircir les graves attentats de ces derniers jours, afin de châtier leurs auteurs. Je souhaiterais, que le travail commun commencé de nos deux polices devienne par la suite la base d'une collaboration pleine de confiance dans l'Europe Nouvelle, dans laquelle le malfaiteur criminel ou politique ne pourra trouble le travail de redressement des peuples.


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Archives Nationales [AN] AJ41/1648/11-07


N° 47989/AE

Le Général de Corps d'Armée BERARD, Président de la Délégation Française auprès de la CAA à M. le Général der Artillerie, VOGL, Président de la CAA

"Incidents, juillet 1941- juin 1944"

Objet- Exécutions de Français sans jugement

Les exécutions d'otages et les exécutions sommaires sans jugement de citoyens français ont pris depuis le mois d'octobre 1943, une ampleur croissante. D'autre part, la liste des personnes qui, au moindre geste de fuite, ont été abattues avec une rigueur impitoyable par les patrouilles et la police allemandes s'allonge tous les jours.

Au total, du 1/10/43 au 1/5/44, plus de 1,200 personnes ont été ainsi victimes des mesures de répression, ce nombre ne comprenait pas, bien entendu, les réfractaires tués en combat, ni les personnes exécutées après jugement.

[...] Un grand nombre des faits signalés se sont passés au cours d'opérations répressives dirigées contre des populations accusées de relations avec le Maquis. Dans ces opérations, jamais n'est intervenu le souci de savoir si les personnes suspectées d'avoir rendu des services aux réfractaires étaient réellement coupables, et encore moins, dans ce cas, celui de discerner si ces personnes avaient agi de leur plein gré ou sous la contrainte. Le nombre des innocents exécutés est ainsi, fatalement, considérable.

[...] En dehors de toute question de droit et d'humanité, ai-je besoin de faire remarquer que de telles pratiques vont à l'encontre du but poursuivi? Frappant des population françaises dont le moral est particulièrement sensible, s'accompagnant d'incendies de fermes et de destructions de mobilier, elles ne peuvent que développer l'esprit de révolte dont les ennemis de l'Allemagne sont, en définitive, les seuls bénéficiaires, et rendre plus difficile l'établissement d'un régime de calme et de paix. [...]


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Thomas Kernan- On the Germans in France

Kernan was an American who was the Director of the French language edition of the Vogue magazine and a representative of Conde Nast publications in Europe. In 1941 he published a book France on Berlin Time recounting what he had seen and experienced in occupied France

Extract from Thomas Kernan, France on Berlin Time, New York, 1941, p 16.


The German soldiers who invaded France- those blond young giants who caused French women on that first morning to say angrily to each other, ‘And they told us that the Germans were starving!’- were simply the vanguard of the real conquerors of France, the experts following in their wake, whose mission is to conquer France economically. During the seven months I observed the occupation at first hand it was again and again called to my attention in a thousand different ways that the economic occupation was not an incident of the military conquest, but a carefully designed plan prepared years in advance. The story used to be told of the German staff officer in 1914 who was notified in the middle of the night that the war had started. Without interrupting his rest he ordered briefly: ‘Second drawer, first folder- there are the orders’. It often seemed to me that the Nazi plan for the economic conquest of France was completed years ago in the same thorough fashion. On May 10, 1940, when the Germans strode across the body of Luxemburg into France, the assigned economic specialists were packing up their grips in Berlin and placing in their briefcases the detailed blueprints of the economic occupation which was to follow. There was nothing to improvise. The very buildings, the different offices they were to occupy in Paris, were probably figured out.


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Links to Germans in France

Otto Abetz


Links to German repression in France: torture

Photo Gallery-Torture chamber in Gestapo headquarters. A French resistance agent, lashed hand and foot to a wooden beam, is seen hanging between two chairs in a German torture chamber. This photograph was taken by a Nazi torturer.


Links to German repression in France: Oradour-sur-Glâne

Visiting Oradour 

Site devoted to Oradour-sur-Glâne

This site describes the background and events leading up to the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane 

French Site devoted to Oradour-sur-Glâne 

Personal site devoted to Oradour 

The «Village Martyr» at Oradour-sur-Glane 

Oradour-sur-Glane: Remember 

comité du souvenir et de l'Association Nationale
des Familles des Martyrs   d'Oradour-sur-Glane

English site called 'Le Village Martyr'

Links to German repression in France: Natzweiler-Struthof


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