He first rose to prominence as a Harvard University professor and advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. But despite his protestations and unwavering support for Reynaud the French Prime Minister was out-voted in Cabinet and forced to resign. Southern France was to remain nominally independent. In the terrible destruction of what the French soldiers called the “furnace,” he finally succeeded in halting the Germans. It worked and the obdurate Petain, despite his popularity with the army, was forced to step down to be replaced by Ferdinand Foch who became the Commander-in-Chief of all Allied armies on the Western Front. Churchill declared that Petain had been a defeatist in World War One and was still one today. In October Pétain launched an attack on the fortress of La Malmaison in the Chemin des Dames, near where Nivelle’s offensive had failed, and successfully seized this dominating piece of terrain. Spurning the opportunity to take the initiative in the coldest winter for decades the poorly paid French soldiers froze in their trenches with nothing to do. Required fields are marked, The Bloody Arena: A Short History of the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship. ‘Pétain saved my life,’ he began, eager to tell me that for him the armistice of 1940 meant that he was not going to be killed in battle. When the assault was launched on 16 April 1917, the Germans were ready and waiting. As the dust settled in Europe, collaborators were hung, sent running naked down the streets or imprisoned, while the resistance set out to define post-war Europe. Anything he proposed was judged not on its merits but on his politics. Following his return, on 30 October, he broadcast to the Nation informing them of his meeting with Hitler and declaring “I enter today into the way of collaboration,” words that continue to haunt France to this day for they were sincerely meant as the Vichy Regime did nothing to impede the Germans at any point. Promised a great victory that would bring an end to the war once and for all the French troops threw themselves repeatedly at the German trenches. Churchill was able to stiffen his resolve but the situation remained perilous indeed. So when the Germans began rounding up French Jews for transportation to the Concentration Camps in August 1941, French Officials were enthusiastic participants. The Army High Command and Petain in particular, insisted that all was lost. He was a gifted orator and major figure in the American Revolution. Tried for his actions at the end of World War II, Pétain was sentenced to death before his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Q. A 58-year-old colonel at the start of battle in 1914, Pétain earned acclaim for stopping the Germans at the Battle of Verdun and assumed command of the French forces in 1917. Philippe Pétain, in full Henri-Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain, (born April 24, 1856, Cauchy-à-la-Tour, France—died July 23, 1951, Île d’Yeu), French general who was a national hero for his victory at the Battle of Verdun in World War I but was discredited as chief of state of the French government at Vichy in World War II. Liberal values and secularism were disavowed in favour of an authoritarian Catholic social hierarchy. The so-called Phoney War was taking its toll on French morale. His many contributions in World War I remain overshadowed by his actions in World War II. On 11 November 1942, in response to the Allied invasion of North Africa the Germans occupied the whole of France this despite Petain ordering that French forces resist the Allies in all of France’s colonial possessions which they did with vigour before the Commander in North Africa, Admiral Darlan, who was assassinated not long after, ordered that they lay down their arms. His request that he be buried at the site of his greatest triumph Verdun was denied, however. He was a strong proponent of the defensive Maginot Line along France’s north-eastern frontier with Germany, and advocated a neutral and isolationist French foreign policy. At 12:30 am, Pétain made his first broadcast to the French people. The French Army appeared on the point of a collective meltdown and action had to be taken and swiftly. So when the Germans began rounding up French Jews for transportation to the Concentration Camps in August 1941, French Officials were enthusiastic participants. By September 1939, France was once again at war with Germany. Throughout their initial meeting Petain, as was his way, remained largely silent making Hitler ponder on the issue of whether or not he was actually senile, but when he did speak he was to prove himself a tough and wily negotiator. On the day of his 90th birthday he was driven across the border into France. Petain's actions during World War II resulted in a conviction and death sentence for treason, which was commuted to life imprisonment by Charles de Gaulle. Meanwhile, in Paris the Government was undecided what to do as preparations were made to evacuate the city. In 1997, I interviewed a winegrower in his wine cellar near Saumur, on the Loire. The Reader’s Companion to Military History. Those returning from leave often did so drunk, while many others did not return at all. As national security advisor ...read more, William Henry Harrison (1773-1841), America’s ninth president, served just one month in office before dying of pneumonia. His tenure, from March 4, 1841, to April 4, 1841, is the shortest of any U.S. president. The situation soon became desperate and Field-Marshal Haig called for urgent French support but Petain refused saying that he would instead withdraw the French Army to defend Paris; but to do so would have created a fatal gap in the Allied lines. Although it was not their intention to do so it appeared the Germans were on the verge of capturing Verdun and achieving a great victory. Petain quickly set about trying to restore morale, he visited every Division in revolt, addressed the soldiers directly avoiding the committees where possible, drank their cheap wine, listened to their complaints and told them that there would be no further meaningless waste of life. Even so, the Vichy Government remained responsible for Civil Administration. Among his innovations, he introduced the “noria” system, which rotated divisions in and out of the trenches without permitting them to become ineffective in combat. His rousing speeches—which included a 1775 speech to the Virginia legislature in which he famously declared, ...read more, Leader of the Whig party and five times an unsuccessful presidential candidate, Henry Clay (1777-1852) played a central role on the stage of national politics for over forty years. He died in prison at IIe d’Yeu on 23 July 1951, aged 95. The country was ill-prepared for another conflict with years of under-funding, social division, and political in-fighting denuding the French Army of its martial spirit. Pétain meeting Hitler in October 1940. July 2016; Authors: ... Pétain as he was portrayed in a similar light to Hitler and Mussolini as being a man who had . Henri-Philippe Pétain (1856-1951) was a World War I French general who was later imprisoned for treason. At midnight on 15 June 1940, Baudouin asked the Spanish Ambassador to submit to Germany a request to cease hostilities at once and for Germany to make known its peace terms. His desire to ...read more, Henry Hudson made his first voyage west from England in 1607, when he was hired to find a shorter route to Asia from Europe through the Arctic Ocean. Tried in France after the war, Pétain was found guilty and condemned to death. This period began on June 26, 1944, with approximately 120,000 people sentenced to various punishments. In the meantime, Petain was recalled from his Ambassadorial post in Spain. Desperate times call for desperate measures and Haig went above Petain’s head to the politicians accusing him of being a defeatist who in a panic was undermining the Allied war effort and making the prospect of a German victory more likely. Three days later, broadcasting from Bordeaux where the French Government had been forced to flee, Petain announced to the French people that he would be seeking armistice terms. Many of these Jews were incarcerated in the most appalling conditions in the Velodrome at Drancy that was used as a transit camp. © 2021 A&E Television Networks, LLC. The “savior of Verdun” cannot escape blame for these actions. The German assault eventually petered out and Foch was to order a series of brilliantly executed counter-attacks, in which Petain played his part, that were to lead to the general advance that would bring the war to its conclusion. The rallying cry of the Revolution, Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite was now replaced with Travail, Familie, Patrie. The misconception that the Vichy Regime was the … He was a quiet child little given to play who grew into a reserved young man most remembered for his sustained periods of silence rather than any more obvious charms. In October 1940, Pétain's collaboration took an overt turn, when a photograph of … France between the wars was hopelessly politically divided and Governments came and went with alarming alacrity, Left and Right clashed on the streets of Paris and other major cities, and there appeared to be no middle-way. Even the usually implacable French Premier Paul Reynaud felt obliged to contact his British counterpart Winston Churchill to tell him that all was lost and France beaten. Gov.- support Petain, deeply rooted anti-Semitism, makes majority of country willing to collaborate w/the Nazis- in hard times look to authoritarian leader for guidance Despite his wish to be buried among the fallen of Verdun, he remains buried on the small island off the coast of Brittany. For a lot of French people at the time Petain was also seen as the person who prevented the destruction of France. Pétain’s job was to get France out of the war and he did. Germany quickly defeated the French in World War 2 because the French had lost so many men from World War 1, and the French could not take on the dominating military power of the Germans. In accordance with the Armistice terms France was divided into three zones, northern and western France including the Atlantic coast was to be occupied by the Germans whilst a small strip of land beside the Alps was allocated to the Italians to placate Mussolini. In December 1940, Pétain dismissed his vice-premier, Pierre Laval, for his policy of close Franco-German collaboration. We will look into it. He held a series of top military posts in subsequent years, becoming chief of state after Germany’s invasion in 1940. Petain, yes, collaborated with the Nazi, and the Vichy Regime did very awful and atrocious things. As France fell before the German attack in May-June 1940 (see World War II), Pétain became premier a week before the capitulation. That he did not want to put the whole hand into it was proved by his dismissal of Laval, guilty of hav-ing pursued a policy of voluntary collaboration with excessive zeal and dangerous concessions. The third phase was the most lenient toward the suspected Nazi assistants, and it included the trials of Philippe Pétain, who was charged with treason in 1945, and the French novelist Louis-Ferdinand Céline, who supported the Axis forces and wrote anti-Semitic pamphlets during the war. That same night the absent without leave General Petain was dragged from the bed of his mistress in Paris and ordered to take command at Verdun. Unlike so many of Hitler’s other Quislings, Petain was not a fascist who had a craving for power for its own sake, but he was a bigoted Right-Wing Reactionary, set in his ways, who misguidedly believed that by collaborating with Hitler he could maintain the dignity of France. n the meantime, General Erich von Falkenhayn, Commander-in-Chief of the German Army, had been busy devising a strategy to break the deadlock of the Western Front. In subsequent months, Pétain revived the French army by meting out a combination of rewards and punishments, including about fifty-five executions (not the hundreds that some critics have alleged). Reynaud wanted to continue the fight even if this meant abandoning France altogether and doing so from their colonies overseas. With little prompting from the Germans he had already passed a series of anti-Semitic laws. The Vichy Government also provided the Germans with a steady stream of forced labour, and as many as 50,000 Frenchmen were to join the SS. (The noria system was named after a device used to raise water from a well, which consisted of a revolving chain of buckets that filled at the bottom of the well and emptied at the top.) https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/henri-philippe-petain. He promised that if Pétain would sign the armistice, very soon afterward he would give France a permanent and just peace, that German troops would evacuate France, and in the New Order of Europe Germany would help France become a free and independent partner. Subsequently naming himself the head of state in Vichy France, he headed a curious government that adopted “Work, Family, Country” as its slogan and sought a “National Revival.” In April 1942, at the age of eighty-five, he passed real power to Pierre Laval, who pursued an openly collaborationist policy with the Germans. Disinclined to engage in the high-flown rhetoric of patriotism and sacrifice to exhort every last effort from his troops so favoured by others (for example the phrase ‘They Shall not Pass’ with which he is so closely associated was in fact coined by his successor Robert Nivelle who had no such qualms) he was viewed by those under his command as a soldier’s soldier, someone who cared for his men, shared their hardships, and would not squander their lives. M ost French people ‘did nothing’ because that was the safest course of action. The Liberal Republicanism and the socialism it spawned had been responsible for the dilution of the French fighting spirit. As the war progressed, the Vichy Government sank deeper into collaboration with the German occupiers which finally took control of the totality of metropolitan France. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Absolutely -- but he was not explicitly calling for collaboration at that point. Why Did Macron Say France Should 'Offer Homage' to Nazi Collaborator Petain? Yet in July 1945, he was sentenced to death for betraying the country he had spent his life in the service of, and he would forever become associated with the word – collaborator. He famously married a series of six wives in his search for political alliance, marital bliss and a healthy male heir. Placed upon the Reserve List his retirement proved short-lived and upon the outbreak of war with Germany he was recalled to the colours where following a purge of the higher-echelons of the French Army by its Commander-in-Chief Joseph Joffre the promotion he had so long yearned for at last materialised and by early 1916 he was General of the Second Army stationed near the fortress town of Verdun – he proved to be a competent and respected if cautious and unimaginative commander. By 15 May, the Germans had crossed the River Meuse and the French Army was in full-retreat. After twice being turned back by ice, Hudson embarked on a third voyage–this time on behalf of the Dutch East India Company–in ...read more, Patrick Henry was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and the first governor of Virginia. Others made greater contributions in structuring and preparing French forces for the next war. The grim struggle for Verdun would continue for a further eight months and though Petain’s presence as Commander of the Second Army remained throughout the laurels of final victory would go to General Nivelle but any sense of triumphalism was muted for it had been bought at a terrible cost with due to the rotation system implemented by Petain more the three-quarters of the French Army passing through Verdun some 400,0000 of whom became casualties. Over the next few days the German advance made rapid progress culminating on 25 February with the capture of Fort Douamont, the pivotal fortification of the more than 20 that ringed Verdun and supposedly the most powerful in the world without a shot being fired in its defence. In 1903, he established the Ford Motor Company, and five years later the company ...read more, The West Point-educated Henry Slocum was made a lieutenant colonel in the 27th New York Volunteer Regiment when the Civil War broke out in April 1861. His talents became most apparent when his Second Army played a large role in the September 1915 offensive in Champagne. Though Jews had a better life in France than they experienced in other Nazi-occupied or Nazi-controlled countries, the Vichy government interned thousands of foreign Jews under primitive conditions, and as many as three thousand Jews may have died in camps under French control. By 1914, Laval had entered politics as an elected extreme left-wing deputy from Aubervilliers. With much of the army in mutiny, Pétain replaced Nivelle in May. But Laval's successors were unacceptable to the Germans and Laval was restored. There was no enthusiasm for the battle to come and the elan of previous years had gone, a defensive mentality now dominated French strategic thinking best emphasised by their misplaced confidence in the Maginot Line – they would simply remain behind their fortifications and wait for the Germans to attack them. Though Pétain later claimed that he had been playing a “double game,” the harshest evidence of his having accepted German influence is his government’s anti-Jewish measures. Instead, he insisted upon being allowed to return to France as a private citizen. Between the wars he was to hold a number of prominent posts including Inspector-General of the Army, Minister of War, and Minister of State. However, Darlan was going to adopt a tactic A. The Right-Wing press agreed and began to openly declare for a dictatorship, and their preferred candidate for the role was, Philippe Petain. In his pursuit of a “National Revival,” Pétain collaborated with the Nazi regime and adopted repressive measures against Jews. Nivelle, however, refused to cancel the offensive or significantly scale it down but with the intensity of the attacks flagging and sometimes not being carried out at all on 9 May having endured 187,000 casualties for very little gain and under intense political pressure he had no choice but to do so. Arrested upon his return he was tried for treason on 25 July 1945. He set about his task with vigour, the series of counter-attacks which had stalled the German advance but achieved little else at very great cost he ordered to cease and the French positions consolidated. He was the heroic defender of Verdun, a recipient of the Legion d’honneur, and a Marshal of France, a man respected by his troops and admired by his countrymen. Nine years later, he was elected mayor of Aubervilliers and did not relinquish that role until shortly before his arrest in 1944 by the Nazis. In January 1943, the Milice, a brutal Right-Wing Militia, was formed under the Command of the fascist Joseph Darnand, whom Petain was to appoint Secretary for the Maintenance of Public Order. He then doubled their rations and granted extended home leave to those who had been the longest on the front-line. Nonetheless, he slowly restored the French Army’s morale even if he now doubted their ability to fight and certainly to take the offensive. He had been senile for a number of years. In February 1916, Pétain became commander of French forces at Verdun. He immediately set about putting France right, as he saw it. On 1 July, the French Government moved to the Spa town of Vichy and nine days later the 84 year old Petain was appointed Head of State with full powers. France pop. In September 1944, following the Allied invasion of Fortress Europe, the entire Vichy Cabinet was removed to Sigmaringen in Germany where they became a Government-in-Exile. Pétain had a significant influence over French forces in the interwar period, but his role has sometimes been exaggerated. General Nivelle was sacked and replaced by the only man the troops might be willing to trust – Philippe Petain. The Camp itself was administered by French Officials and guarded by French soldiers. Vichy France (July 1940–September 1944), France under the regime of Marshal Philippe Petain, from France’s defeat by Nazi Germany to its liberation by the Allies in World War II. Petain's acceptance of the "principle" of collaboration meant that he had put a finger into the machine. Despite his demotion Petain had a good war, and in 1919 he received his Marshal’s baton and such was his apparent popularity that he was persuaded, against his better judgement, to stand for the Presidency of the Third Republic, but he lost heavily. Hindsight is great 75 years after the fact, but in June 1940, there weren’t too many options. of 65 million- Nazis send in 30,000 troops to rule over France, French collaboration needed for Nazis to maintain control over France Peasants fearful of dem. He told the Kaiser he would ‘bleed the French white’ by attacking an iconic symbol of Gallic resistance that for reasons of morale and national prestige they could not permit to fall – the place chosen was Verdun, a fortress town since the time of Louis XIV on the Meuse River in North-East France. Petain did little to rein them in, if indeed he ever wanted to. Delayed by bad weather the assault finally began on 21 February 1916 with a ferocious artillery barrage that not only obliterated the French outer-defences but appears to have caught them totally unawares causing confusion, bewilderment, and no little panic. Petain was later to complain of their excesses but he did nothing to curtail them. He was becoming an irritant to the Government and in 1939 he was appointed Ambassador to Franco’s recently established fascist regime in Spain where it was thought he would receive a more appreciative audience for his views. Laval was born in the Auvergne region of France and never forgot his roots in the working-class region or as mayor of Aubervilliers, a north-eastern Paris suburb. Despite Haig’s protestations however, Petain refused to budge. Henri Philippe Petain was born on 24 April 1856, in Cauchy-a-la-Tour in the Pas-de-Calais region of France, the son of a farmer from whom he inherited the traits of caution, stubbornness, and the stoical fatalism common to the French peasant. That at least was the official figure but the truth was it was many, many more. Later, during the mid-1930s, he served as minister of war for a brief period. It was not "collaborating." While working as an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit, Henry Ford (1863-1947) built his first gasoline-powered horseless carriage, the Quadricycle, in the shed behind his home. Indeed, many within the Government were eager to facilitate the Germans in any way they possibly could. The Vichy regime was the French government which succeeded the Third Republic from July 1940 to August 1944. What did Hitler promise Pétain? Despite Pétain’s success and his concern for his soldiers, General Robert Nivelle was chosen to replace General Marshal Joseph Joffre as commander of French forces; he then brought France to the edge of disaster with his ruinous offensive in April 1917. All rights reserved. Also, by the end of WWII Petain was rather old, turning 84 in 1940, further diminishing the need to punish him for collaboration (in this context "punishment" would typically mean execution for a functionary of his calibre). Other French leaders, including Foch, frequently criticized Pétain for his pessimism and caution, but he nevertheless established a particularly strong relationship with the American commander, General John J. Pershing. His portrayal in three of ...read more, King Henry VIII (1491-1547) ruled England for 36 years, presiding over sweeping changes that brought his nation into the Protestant Reformation. The ageing and increasingly truculent Marshal of France appeared to agree. Petain, a stubborn, phlegmatic, essentially humourless, reactionary set in his ways blamed the Third Republic for the moral decay of France and feared a Communist takeover. Indeed, the French SS Charlemagne Division was amongst the last troops defending Hitler’s Bunker in Berlin in April 1945. A 58-year-old colonel at the start of battle in 1914, Pétain … Their time would come he told his men but for now they would hold what they had as he set about reorganising the defence; the one narrow road to Verdun from the town of Bar-le-Duc fifty miles away he kept open and in constant use as troops were rotated in and out of the front line every two weeks as the endless columns of trucks carrying ammunition, supplies, and the wounded to and from Verdun soon earned it the title the Voie Sacree, or Sacred Road. Upon gaining power, Pétain's regime rapidly dismantled liberal institutions and adopted an authoritarian course. Petain established a Fascist-oriented government that became notorious for its collaboration with the Third Reich. Indeed, he was confident to the point of complacency and little effort had been made to keep the location of the intended breakthrough secret or conceal the preparations. The Catholic Church was raised in status and expected to take a more active role in society, all criticism of Nazi Germany was forbidden, and a massive campaign of propaganda was undertaken to persuade people of the benefits of the new/old France. Beginning the war as an obscure fifty-eight-year-old colonel in command of an infantry brigade, he rose quickly in rank, assuming command of the Sixth Division in September 1914, the Thirty-third Corps in October, and the Second Army in June 1915. But on the 12 May, German Mechanised Units struck west through the lightly defended and supposedly impassable Ardennes Forest. Soldiers Committees were formed and representatives elected from among the ranks. Prior to the outbreak of the war France had been a hotbed of fascist propaganda, and Far-Right organisations such as Action Francaise and the Croix de Feu had been prominent, active, and responsible for much of the violence on the streets. On 22 June, France surrendered. He was to the French people the Saviour of Verdun who had prevented a humiliating and morale sapping defeat but to the French High Command he was an over-cautious and pessimistic man whose constant demands for more men and more munitions were made regardless of events elsewhere on the Western Front. The French president himself has advanced the recognition of France’s complicity in the Holocaust – but his desire to honor Petain demonstrates the fragility of that process. Indeed, the willingness of the French High Command to sacrifice the lives of their men in such a manner so soon after the trauma of Verdun astonished them especially when it was clear there would be no breakthrough. Soon, Pétain assumed plenipotentiary powers as Head of State. It was proclaimed by Marshal Philippe Pétain following the military defeat of France and the July 10 vote by the National Assembly to grant extraordinary powers to Pétain, who held the title of President of the Council. He must have known that this would mean his being put on trial for his life but he remained adamant. Your email address will not be published. He also insisted on limited offensives in which massive amounts of artillery prepared the way for the infantry. He demanded he be replaced even vowing to place himself under the direct command of any replacement. German losses were barely any less and attacked on the Somme and by the Russians in the East by the battles conclusion it was not the French Army that was being bled white. 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