The Vichy collaboration in the deportation and ultimate extermination of Jews was going on long before the German army entered the Free Zone. But in the early days, French Jews tended to be spared. That leniency came to an end in November 1942. Nevertheless many French civilians risked their lives to hide Jewish friends.
Even before the deportations began, Jews in France were forced to wear yellow stars, and were barred from many professions.
In 2009, the Council of State, France's highest court, finally acknowledged the nation's guilt in facilitating the deportations without coercion from the Occupier. President Jacques Chirac had already admitted as much in 1995, saying, "These dark hours forever sully our history and are an insult to our past and our traditions".
This anti-British propaganda poster plays on two wartime incidents in which Britain was perceived to put her own interests ahead of those of France:
1. Mers-el-Kébir was the port in Algeria where the largest squadron of French warships was stationed when France signed the Armistice with Germany in June 1940. Concerned that the French fleet might fall into German hands, Britain issued the following ultimatum:
It is impossible for us, your comrades up to now, to allow your fine ships to fall into the power of the German enemy... the French Fleet now at Mers el Kebir and Oran shall act in accordance with one of the following alternatives;
(a) Sail with us and continue the fight until victory against the Germans.
(b) Sail with reduced crews under our control to a British port...
If you refuse these fair offers, I must with profound regret, require you to sink your ships within 6 hours.
Finally, failing the above, I have the orders from His Majesty's Government to use whatever force may be necessary to prevent your ships from falling into German hands.
No agreement was reached, and on 3 July the Royal Navy opened fire, destroying the French ships and killing 1,297 French sailors.
2. Dunkirk was the northern French port from which the British Expeditionary Force was evacuated by an extraordinary armada of small boats, following the Fall of France. 123,000 French soldiers were evacuated alongside around 200,000 British. Nevertheless, 40,000 men - many of them French - were left behind. Some French therefore viewed the evacuation as a betrayal.
This is a different Nazi poster depicting the same German obsession: a Jewish conspiracy controlling the actions of Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill.
The Milice française (French Militia) was a paramilitary police force set up in January 1943 by Prime Minister Laval to prevent acts of sabotage and terrorism against the Vichy government. By 1944 it had more than 35,000 members.
Effectively the French wing of the Gestapo, the Milice rounded up Jews and tortured and executed members of the resistance.
Miliciens were often more feared than the Gestapo, because they knew the language and land intimately, and so were extremely effective against the Resistance. Consequently, resistance fighters targeted miliciens for assassination.
After the war, miliciens were hunted down. Many were tried and executed. The Statement by Brian Moore tells the story of a Nazi collaborator still on the run. It was made into a movie starring Michael Caine.