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French State, Vichy government (1940-1944)

État français, gouvernement de Vichy

Last modified: 2011-11-11 by ivan sache
Keywords: etat francais | vichy | petain (marshal philippe) | francisque | stars: 7 (yellow) | parti populaire francais | gardes francaises | milice francaise |
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[French Flag]

Flag of France - Image by Željko Heimer, 22 September 2001

See also:

État français vs. France libre

État Français (French State) was the legal successor of the Third Republic. After the defeat of the French army in June 1940, the MPs massively (all but 80) voted full powers to Philippe Pétain. The French State was under total German control but attempted to maintain the fiction of an independent state, with a French administration, especially for police and justice.
État français is also called État de Vichy or gouvernement de Vichy, after the spa city of Vichy where the MPs and the government "exiled". Vichy was far enough from the front and had a lot of facilities, therefore Pétain's regime set up there.

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

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

Ivan Sache, 26 June 1998

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

Pierre Gay, 6 May 1999

Vichy France did continue to use the Tricolore flag. But dropped the well known French motto Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. They changed it to Travail, Famille, Patrie (work, family, fatherland).

Roy Stilling & Harald Müller, 9 April 1996

Marshal Pétain's standard

[Petain's standard]

Marshal Pétain's standard - Image by Ivan Sache, 6 May 1999

The standard of Marshal Philippe Pétain (as the head of the French State) was a Tricolore flag, with in the white stripe seven golden stars below a double-headed axe with the blades coloured concentrically (from centre outward) blue, white and red. The axe is a francisque, fallaciously supposed to be the arm of the Franks, the "founders" of an alleged "ethnically pure" French nation. The flag is depicted in Smith [smi75c] and in Flaggenbuch [neu92], which shows the flags of both the 3rd Republic, in the main section, and of the French State, in the correction section. The only change is in the Presidential standard. All other flags, including the national flag and the naval rank ensigns, remained unchanged.

Ivan Sache & Pierre Gay, 6 May 1999

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

François-Jean Blanc, 14 January 1999

Correction #14 (dated April 1942) of Album des Pavillons [f9r23] 1923 presents golden stars, and the Decree of 19 March 1942 says:
la marque du chef de l'État...sept étoiles brodées en or (the personal flag of the head of State [has] seven stars embroidered in gold.)
In 1940, the Standard was possibly not defined when the scout book was printed, or it had changed since.

Armand Noël du Payrat, 14 January 1999

Pennant of État français

The Army Museum in Paris has a pennant (photo) made of a white field bordered blue (top) and red (bottom), the red sustaining the blue; near the hoist the francisque appears with the state motto added, blue? on yellow, "TRAVAIL / FAMILLE / PATRIE".
I suppose this item was used for propaganda purposes.

Jan Mertens, 7 April 2011

Milice Française

The flag of Milice Française (French Militia), a 5000-strong police force acting under the Vichy government and usually called simply Milice, was a square Tricolore flag with a large white circle in the middle, wider than the central stripe, fimbriated black, with a big, black "Γ" (Greek "G" letter) on it, also exceeding the limits of the circle; above the circle was the inscription "MILICE" and below it "FRANCAISE", both in gold lettering; gold fringe.

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

Santiago Dotor, 14 January 1999

Parti Populaire Français

[Parti Populaire Francais]         Gardes Francaises

Flag of Parti Populaire Français (left), and of Gardes Françaises (right) - Images by Jan Oskar Engene, 20 November 1996

Parti Populaire Français (French People's Party) was founded in 1934. According to David Littlejohn's Foreign Legions of the Third Reich,Vol. 1: Norway, Denmark, France [ltj79], the PPF had two emblems. First a red octagon bordered in blue with the party initials (interlaced) in white on the red field. This was used on the party flag, which consisted of a white saltire, upper and lower fields in red, hoist and fly parts in blue, and with the octagon shaped emblem in the intersection of the arms of the saltire.
This emblem was replaced by an emblem consisting of a stylized francisque (sometimes surrounded by a cog wheel). It was used on the flag of the Gardes Françaises (French Guards), the paramilitary wing of the PPF, identical to the party flag except for the emblem in the centre. Both flags had gold fringes.

Jan Oskar Engene, 20 November 1996