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Collaborationism is cooperation with the enemy against one's country in wartime. [1]


Stanley Hoffmann subdivided collaboration onto

According to him, collaborationism can be subdivided onto

the former is a deliberate service to an enemy, whereas the latter is a deliberate advocacy of co-operation with the foreign force which is seen as a champion of some desirable domestic transformations. [2] In contrast, Bertram Gordon used the terms "collaborator" and "collaborationist" for non-ideological and ideological collaborations, respectively. [3]

Poor choices of voluntary collaborators may further undermine the already weak legitimacy of an occupation regime. John Hickman identifies thirteen reasons why occupied populations might hold collaborators in contempt. [4]


The term collaborate dates from 1871, and is a back-formation from collaborator (1802), from the French collaborateur as used during the Napoleonic Wars against smugglers trading with England and assisting in the escape of monarchists, and is itself derived from the Latin collaboratus, past participle of collaborare "work with", from com- "with" + labore "to work". The meaning of "traitorous cooperation with the enemy" [5] dates from 1940, originally in reference to the Vichy Government of Frenchmen who cooperated with the Germans, 1940–44. [6]

World War II

During World War II, collaborators existed in several German-occupied zones.

European countries


In France, a distinction emerged between the collaborateur and the collaborationniste. The latter expression is mainly used to describe individuals enrolled in pseudo-Nazi parties, often based in Paris, who had an overwhelming belief in fascist ideology or were simply anti-communists. [7] Collaborateurs on the other hand, could engage in collaboration for a number of more pragmatic reasons, such as preventing infrastructure damage for use by the occupation forces or personal ambition and greed, and were not necessarily believers in fascism per se. Arch-collaborators like Pierre Laval or René Bousquet are thus distinct from collaborationists. [8] [9]

Recent research by the British historian Simon Kitson has shown that French authorities did not wait until the Liberation to begin pursuing collaborationists. The Vichy government, itself heavily engaged in collaboration, arrested around 2000 individuals on charges of passing information to the Germans. Their reasons for doing so was to centralise collaboration to ensure that the state maintained a monopoly in Franco-German relations and to defend sovereignty so that they could negotiate from a position of strength. It was among the many compromises that the government engaged along the way. [10]

Low Countries

In Belgium, collaborators were organized into the VNV party and the DeVlag movement in Flanders, and into the Rexist movement in Wallonia. [11] There was an active collaboration movement in the Netherlands. [12]


Vidkun Quisling (1887–1945), a major in the Norwegian Army and former minister of defence, served the Nazis as prime minister. He gave his name to the high-profile government collaborator, now known as a Quisling. [13]


After the German invasion of Greece, a Nazi-held government was put in place. All three quisling prime ministers, (Georgios Tsolakoglou, Konstantinos Logothetopoulos and Ioannis Rallis), cooperated with the Axis authorities. Small but active Greek National-Socialist parties, like the Greek National Socialist Party, or openly anti-semitic organisations, like the National Union of Greece, helped German authorities fight the Resistance, and identify and deport Greek Jews.

During the last two years of the occupation, the last quisling prime-minister, Ioannis Rallis, created the Security Battalions which were military corps that collaborated openly with the Germans, and had strong anti-communist ideology. The Security Battalions, along with various far-right and royalist organizations, and parts of the country's police forces of that era, were directly or indirectly responsible for the brutal killing of thousands of Greeks during the occupation. Contrary to what happened to other European countries, the members of these corps were never tried or punished for their crimes, due to the Dekemvriana events that erupted immediately after the liberation, followed by the White Terror and the Greek Civil War, two years later.


Main collaborationist regime in Yugoslavia was the Independent State of Croatia, a puppet-state semi-independent of Nazi Germany. Leon Rupnik (1880–1946) was a Slovene general who collaborated as he took control of the semi-independent region of the Italian-occupied southern Slovenia known as the Province of Ljubljana, which came under German control in 1943. [14] The main collaborationist in East Yugoslavia was the axis-puppet Serbian government of Nedić.


German citizen and non-Nazi Franz Oppenhoff accepted appointment as Mayor of the German city of Aachen in 1944, under authority of the Allied military command. He was assassinated on orders from Heinrich Himmler in 1945. [15]


High-profile German collaborators included Dutch actor Johannes Heesters or English-language radio-personality William Joyce (the most widely known Lord Haw-Haw). [16]

Postwar examples

More recent examples of collaboration, according to some, have included institutions and individuals in Afghanistan who collaborated with the Soviet occupation until 1989 and individuals in Iraq and Afghanistan today who continue to work with American forces. In 2014 during the occupation of Crimea and ongoing War in Donbass, some Ukrainian citizens collaborated with the invading Russian forces.

Israeli–Palestinian conflict

In Palestinian society, collaboration with Israel is viewed as a serious offence and social stain [17] and is sometimes punished (judicially or extrajudicially) by death. [18] In addition, during the period of 2007–2009, around 30 Palestinians have been sentenced to death in court on collaboration-related charges, although the sentences have not been carried out. [17]

In June 2009, Raed Sualha, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy, was brutally tortured and hanged by his family because they suspected him of collaborating with Israel. [18] Authorities of the Palestinian territories launched an investigation into the case and arrested the perpetrators. [19] [20] Police said it was unlikely that such a young boy would have been recruited as an informer. [18]

Other contexts

In some colonial or occupation conflicts, soldiers of native origin were seen as collaborationist. This could be the case of mamluks and janissaries in the Ottoman Empire. In some cases, the meaning was not disrespectful at the beginning, but changed with later use when borrowed: the Ottoman term for the sipahi soldiers became sepoy in British India, which in turn was adapted as cipayo in Spanish or zipaio in Basque with a more overtly pejorative meaning of "mercenary".

See also


  1. "Collaborationism", The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
  2. 1 2 Stanley Hoffmann. Collaborationism in France during World War II. The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 40, No. 3 (Sep., 1968), pp. 375–395
  3. Bertram N. Gordon, Collaborationism in France during the Second World War (Cornell University Press, 1980)
  4. John Hickman. The Occupier's Dilemma: Problem Collaborators. Comparative Strategy, Vol. 36, No. 3 (2017)
  5. collaborate in The Oxford English Dictionary Online (2014)
  6. Webster 1999 , p. 70
  7. George Grossjohann. 2005. Five Years, Four Fronts. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 155
  8. Philippe Burrin, France Under the Germans: Collaboration and Compromise (1998)
  9. Gerhard Hirschfeld and Patrick Marsh, eds. Collaboration in France: Politics and Culture During the Nazi Occupation 1940–1944 (1989)
  10. Kitson 2008 , p. [ page needed ]
  11. Eddy de Bruyne and Marc Rikmenspoel, For Rex and for Belgium (2004)
  12. Gerhard Hirschfeld Nazi Rule and Dutch Collaboration: The Netherlands under German Occupation, 1940–45, Berg Publishers (1992). Transl. by Louise Wilmot
  13. Hans Fredrik Dahl, Quisling: A Study in Treachery (2008)
  14. Stevan K. Pavlowitch, Hitler's new disorder: the Second World War in Yugoslavia (2008) p. 142
  15. Rempel, Gerhard (1989). Hitler's Children: The Hitler Youth and the SS. UNC Press. pp. 244–245. ISBN   0-8078-4299-0.
  16. "Nederlanderse-entertainer-sin-Duitsland". Die Welt (in Dutch). 17 April 2010. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  17. 1 2 "Woman Convicted as Israeli Abettor". June 15, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  18. 1 2 3 "Palestinian boy 'hanged for collaboration'". BBC News. June 12, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  19. Khaled Abu Toameh, Palestinian family kills 15-yr-old son [ permanent dead link ], Jerusalem Post 11-06-2009
  20. Palestinian teen killed by his family, United Press International 12-06-2009