The Importance Of Empire To Vichy France

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The Importance Of Empire To Vichy France Essay, Research Paper France’s Third Republic had fallen less than a year after the beginning of the Second World War. Much of France itself was occupied by German forces and a quasi-fascist French government was set up at Vichy under World War I hero Marshal Phillipe Petain. Although it was not apparent at the time, an even more dramatic change had been set into motion by these events. The existing system of colonial economic dependence was torn to pieces as French administrations around the world attempted to decide how to deal with the Vichy administration. This was particularly true of the vast French possessions in Africa, as imperial subjects of all races began to question their assigned political and economic identities. The

initial reaction of some administrators was to recognise the Vichy regime, but many others, including Charles de Gaulle, a junior general in French Equatorial Africa, refused to do so. “German newsreels of June 1940 mockingly showed black African troops as prisoners of war. Frances colonial manpower, mustered in 1939 as it had been in 1914, availed little in preventing a stunning defeat which hastily removed France from the ranks of the great powers.” The fall of France, saw her overseas empire becoming ever more significant. Some members of the French empire believed that they could relocate to North Africa and carry on the war from there. However when Georges Mandel, issued a proclamation of government with himself as premier. He was quickly detained and arrested. This

showed what a poor position France was now in. ” The episode a minor one in the war but one symbolic of the new dependence that a shattered France had assumed toward it´s colonial empire.” The Vichy government was formed after the signing of the armistice with the Germans on June 22nd. The Vichy government embarked on a collaboration policy with the Germans. The empire of France gave them some leverage over the Germans. The Germans still occupied two, thirds of France, thus allowing Germany to launch air strikes against Britain. The Free French took refuge in England, they were determined to liberate France from her Nazi occupiers and Collaborators. The Free French consisted of 7000 men, fronted by General Charles de Gaulle. De Gaulle believed the French empire held the key

for Frances liberation and survival. De Gaulle believed that the empire could make France great again. The summer of 1940 was significant to the Free French and the Vichy collaborators. It saw the competing powers fighting over the influence of the French Empire. “Vichy struggled to hold on and as de Gaulle struggled to wrest away. The divide French fought over the French empire.” The first military encounter was a significant one. It occurred at Dakar on September 23rd to 24th 1940. De Gaulle lead a small invasion force assisted by the British and Dutch navy. De Gaulle had already won over most of French equatorial Africa. He sought to persuade most of the French West African federation to join him. De Gaulle looked to take the capital port with ease. However he encountered

resistance, which had been backed up by French Naval units loyal to Vichy. This Anglo-French expedition had to make a hasty retreat to avoid defeat. However this allowed the Vichy government to show the Germans of there allegiance. Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt were disappointed with de Gaulle, later on in the war Churchill and Roosevelt would not tell de Gaulle of their future military plans. This defeat at Dakar only enhanced the deep divisions throughout the French Empire. “All of North Africa and West Africa, as well as Indochina, remained loyal to Vichy, while more outlying and less consequential regions like New Caledonia and Equatorial Africa stood beside the General.” When Petain and his supporters surrendered to Germany, the colonial relationship was