Collaboration

Collaboration: to work with or for the enemy , namely the Germans, in the hope of gaining some benefit.

 

State collaboration

The State Collaboration was the collaboration between the Reich and the Vichy government. The principle of State collaboration featured in embryo in the text of the Armistice of 22nd June 1940. However the founding act was the meeting between Hitler and Pétain on 24th October 1940 in the small train station of Montoire-sur-le-Loir, in Loir-et-Cher.

The Vichy government was keen to collaborate with the Reich, because when the Armistice was signed in June of 1940, the French thought that the end of the war was imminent and that the English, on their own, could not face Germany much longer...

This is why the Vichy government agreed to such harsh clauses in the Armistice : 1 700 000 war prisoners were to be detained until the signature of a peace agreement; a line constituting a real inner boundary restricting the transit of people, merchandise and correspondence ; and occupation costs fixed at  400 million francs per day. Furthermore, the Vichy State, by collaborating, hoped to secure a profitable position for France in German post-War Europe. As the war went on, the Vichy government offered military, economic and police cooperation :

 

  • in the military: in 1941, the Vichy government offered the Germans the opportunity to use their military base in Africa;

 

  • on an economical level: in order to fight unemployment, the Vichy government encouraged French manufactures to work for the Germans. Factories such as Renault therefore started to manufacture vehicles for the Germans. The Vichy State also offered the help of French workers on several occasions and in various ways: by implementing the STO (Compulsory Work Service), which consisted in sending French workers to Germany, or through "la Relève" (three workers were sent to Germany in exchange for the liberation of a prisoner);

 

  • in the police : French policemen were put at the disposal of the SS. French policemen were involved in the arrest of Resistants, but also Jews, particularly during the Vel' d'Hiv Rounding on 16th and 17th July 1942.

 

Individual collaboration

On a more individual level, some French people collaborated with the Germans in different ways : 

  • economical collaboration: for example, certain French companies got involved in the building of the Atlantic Wall.

 

  • commercial collaboration: some French people preferred to trade with the Germans rather than with the French. 

 

  • collaboration could also involve providing information and denouncing real or alleged Resistants.

 

Put simply, individual collaboration marked an understanding between some French and Germans. This understanding was often denounced at the Liberation. Women in particular were punished for having had a relationship with a German.

 

With the contribution of Rémy Desquesnes
Historian