Last modified: 2016-02-28 by ivan sache
Keywords: etat francais |
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Flag of État français - Image by Željko Heimer, 22 September 2001
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 was also called, unofficially, État de Vichy or gouvernement de Vichy, the MPs and the government moved from Paris to he spa town of Vichy. Located at a distance from the front and from possible civil unrest, Vichy was a convenient place to establish thenew regime. The empty hotels could easily cater the administration.
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. To clearly distinguish France libre from État français, De Gaulle added a red Cross of Lorraine in the white stripe of the France libre flag.
While continental France was under the German boot, pretending to be independent, parts of the French colonial empire such as French Equatorial Africa, New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon soon rallied de Gaulle. France libre got a territory, which help de Gaulle to claim recognition of the active participation of France to the Allied war effort.
At the end of war, national reconciliation and international recognition of France as a winner was needed to decrease Communist pressure and to prevent occupation or even partition of the country. To achieve these goals, de Gaulle pushed the concept of "illegitimacy" of the Vichy regime. The historical facts were officially re-established only in 1997 by President Chirac, who recognized the responsability of the French government, whatever its official name was, in the events of this period.
IVan Sache & Pierre Gay, 6 May 1999
The Vichy regime 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).
All other flags, the naval rank ensigns included, remained (nominally) unchanged. The only change was in the standard of the head of the state.
Roy Stilling & Harald Müller, 9 April 1996
Flag of the Head of State - Image by Ivan Sache, 6 May 1999
The standard of the head of État français, Marshal Philippe Pétain, was a tricolore flag, whose white stripe was charged with seven golden stars below a double-headed axe with the blades coloured concentrically (from centre outward) blue, white and red (Correction #14 (dated April 1942) of Album des Pavillons 1923 [f9r23], Flaggenbuch [neu92], Smith [smi75c]).
The axe is a francisque, spuriously modelled on the Franks' francisca, the Franks' being considered as the founders of an alleged, ethnically pure, French nation.
Ivan Sache & Pierre Gay, 6 May 1999
The flag is prescribed by the Decree of 19 March 1942, stating that "the personal flag of the Head of State [shall have] seven stars embroidered in gold". A marine scout book published c. 1941, however, shows the flag with blue stars (image), indicating that the flag was possibly not fully yet defined at the time, or had changed since.
Armand Noël du Payrat & Joan-Francés Blanc, 14 January 1999
The Army Museum in Paris has a triangular pennant (photo), probably used for propaganda purposes. The flag is white with a blue border at the top and a red border at the bottom, charged with the axe and a yellow ribbon inscribed with the state motto "TRAVAIL / FAMILLE / PATRIE".
Jan Mertens, 7 April 2011
Flag of the Milice - Image by Marc Pasquin, 20 December 2015
The Milice française (French Militia), generally called simply
Milice, was a paramilitary force created on 30 January 1943 by the
Vichy Regime, with German aid, to help fight the French Resistance.
The Milice's formal leader was Prime Minister Pierre Laval, though its
chief of operations, and actual leader, was Secretary General Joseph
Darnand. It participated in summary executions, assassinations and
helped round up the Jews and résistants in France for deportation. It
was the successor to Joseph Darnand's Service d'ordre légionnaire
The Milice often resorted to torture to extract information or confessions from those they rounded up. They were often considered more dangerous to the French Resistance than the Gestapo and SS since they were Frenchmen who spoke the language, had a full knowledge of the towns and land, and knew people and informers.
The actual strength of the organization is a matter of some debate, but was likely between 25,000-35,000 (including part-time members and non-combatants) by the time of the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. It began melting away rapidly thereafter, however. Following the Liberation of France, those of its members who failed to complete their escape to Germany (where they were impressed into the Charlemagne Division of the Waffen-SS) or elsewhere abroad generally faced either being imprisoned for treason, executed following summary courts-martial, or were simply shot out of hand by vengeful résistants and enraged civilians.
Since the Second World War, the term milice has acquired a derogatory meaning in French.
The flag of Milice Française (photo) is shown by Liliane and Fred Funcken (Arms and Uniforms of World War Two; image), as squarish version of the national flag with the words "Milice Française" in gold around a black stylized greek letter γ (G), the symbol of the milice.
The choice of the letter γ was supposedly due to its association with the zodiacal symbol of Aries (in French, Bélier, "ram") meant to represent strength and renewal. Aries is the first sign after the beginning of spring.
Santiago Dotor, Esteban Rivera & Marc Pasquin, 20 December 2015
Unit pennant of the Milice - Image by Marc Pasquin, 21 December 2015, after a photo
The Franc-garde, the paramilitary arm of the Milice, was organized in main ("hand", 5 men), dizaine (ten, 2 mains), trentaine ("thirty", 3 dizaines), centaine ("hundred", 3 trentaines and a departemental HQ), cohorte ("cohort", 3-4 centaines and a regional HQ), and centre ("center", 4 cohortes).
Marc Pasquin, 21 December 2015
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 (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