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The collaborationist Vichy government, headed by Marshal Philippe Petain, 84, a hero of World War I, was established by the French National Assembly in the city of Vichy on this date in 1940, after Nazi Germany had overrun the country. Petain’s strategy was to collaborate with the Germany occupiers in order to maintain French sovereignty and not see his country divided. The Vichy regime, however, had real sovereignty only in the south of France, while the Nazis occupied and more closely supervised the northern zone. More than a million French soldiers were held hostage as forced laborers in Germany to assure French cooperation in the deal. Vichy’s collaboration included rounding up Jews (among other “undesirables”) for shipment to concentration camps, including several in France (Gurs, Camp des Milles, Drancy, and others). Vichy also imitated the racist eugenics policies of the Nazis. Following France’s liberation in the summer of 1944, Petain was imprisoned for the remainder of his life, and Pierre Laval, the prime minister, was executed, as was Joseph Darnand, the fascist head of the French police. Thousands of other collaborators were also killed by partisans and enraged citizens.
“The regional newspaper Nice Matin revealed on February 28, 2007, that in more than 1,000 condominium properties on the Côte d’Azur, rules dating to Vichy were still in force. One of these rules, for example, stated that: ‘The contractors do the following statements: they are of French nationality, are not Jewish, nor married to Jewish in the sense of the laws and ordinances in force’ [under Vichy, NDLR].” — Jewish Virtual Library