France was the largest military power to come under occupation as part of the Western Front in World War II. The Western Front was a military theatre of World War II encompassing Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale combat operations.
The first phase saw the capitulation of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France during May and June 1940 after their defeat in the Low Countries and the northern half of France, and continued into an air war between Germany and Britain that climaxed with the Battle of Britain.
After capitulation, France was governed as Vichy France headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain. From 1940 to 1942, while the Vichy regime was the nominal government of all of France except for Alsace-Lorraine, the Germans and Italians militarily occupied northern and south-eastern France.
The following are articles about the topic of France during World War II:
Free France and its Free French Forces were the government-in-exile led by Charles de Gaulle during the Second World War and its military forces, that continued to fight against the Axis powers as one of the Allies after the fall of France. Set up in London in June 1940, it organised and supported the Resistance in occupied France.
Joseph Darnand was a soldier in the French and later German militaries, a leader of the Vichy French collaborators with Nazi Germany and a Waffen-SS officer.
From 1939 until 1940, the French Third Republic was at war with Germany. The period from 1940 until 1945 saw competition between Vichy France and the Free French Forces under General Charles de Gaulle for control of the overseas empire. In 1944, after the landings of the Allies in France, they expelled the German Army, putting an end to the Vichy Regime.
The National Front was a World War II French Resistance movement created to unite all of the Resistance Organizations together to fight the Nazi occupation forces and Vichy France under Marshall Petain. Founded in 1941 in Paris by Jacques Duclos, Andre Pican and Pierre Villon, along with their wives all members of the French Communist Party (PCF) they felt that to be a vital force against the Nazis, the collaborationists and the informers that all of the Resistance movements, no matter their party or Religion(Jewish or Catholic) had to band together. Its name was inspired by the Popular Front, a left-wing coalition which governed France from 1936 to 1938. This helped them coordinate attacks all across France, to move weapons, food, false identity papers, information and food, protect and move people who were to be arrested or executed and supply multiple safe houses for the Resistance and for Jews. They also formed fighting units in early 1942 to assassinate German leaders and soldiers among the occupation forces, perform acts of sabotage on railroads and other forms of distribution of people and goods being taken from France to Germany and to help organize sabotage in factories forced to produce armaments and goods for the German military.
The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.
The Provisional Government of the French Republic (PGFR; French: Gouvernement provisoire de la République française was an interim government of Free France between 1944 and 1946 following the liberation of continental France after Operations Overlord and Dragoon, and lasted until the establishment of the French Fourth Republic. Its establishment marked the official restoration and re-establishment of a provisional French Republic, assuring continuity with the defunct French Third Republic.
The Military Administration in France was an interim occupation authority established by Nazi Germany during World War II to administer the occupied zone in areas of northern and western France. This so-called zone occupée was renamed zone nord in November 1942, when the previously unoccupied zone in the south known as zone libre was also occupied and renamed zone sud.
The Service d'ordre légionnaire was a collaborationist militia created by Joseph Darnand, a far right veteran from the First World War. Too radical even for other supporters of the Vichy regime, it was granted its independence in January 1943, after Operation Torch and the German occupation of the South Zone, until then dubbed "Free Zone" and controlled by Vichy. Pierre Laval himself passed the law which accorded the SOL its independence and transformed it into the Milice, which participated in battles alongside the Nazis against the Resistance and committed numerous war crimes against civilians. After the Liberation, some members of the Milice escaped to Germany, where they joined the ranks of the SS. Those who stayed behind in France faced either drumhead courts-martial, generally followed by summary execution, or simple lynching at the hands of résistants and enraged civilians.
The Free French Naval Forces were the naval arm of the Free French Forces during the Second World War. They were commanded by Admiral Émile Muselier.
The Allied leaders of World War II listed below comprise the important political and military figures who fought for or supported the Allies during World War II. Engaged in total war, they had to adapt to new types of modern warfare, on the military, psychological and economic fronts.
The 1st Free French Division was one of the principal units of the Free French Forces (FFL) during World War II, renowned for having fought the Battle of Bir Hakeim.
The French State, popularly known as Vichy France, as led by Marshal Philippe Pétain after the Fall of France in 1940 before Nazi Germany, was quickly recognized by the Allies, as well as by the Soviet Union, until 30 June 1941 and Operation Barbarossa. However France broke with the United Kingdom after the destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir. Canada maintained diplomatic relations until the occupation of Southern France by Germany and Italy in November 1942.
The French Committee of National Liberation was a provisional government of Free France formed by the French generals Henri Giraud and Charles de Gaulle to provide united leadership, organize and coordinate the campaign to liberate France from Nazi Germany during World War II. The committee was formed on 3 June 1943 and after a period of joint leadership, on 9 November it came under the chairmanship of de Gaulle. The committee directly challenged the legitimacy of the Vichy regime and unified all the French forces that fought against the Nazis and collaborators. The committee functioned as a provisional government for Algeria and the liberated parts of the colonial empire. Later it evolved into the Provisional Government of the French Republic, under the premiership of Charles de Gaulle.
Vichy France is the common name of the French State headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II. Evacuated from Paris to Vichy in the unoccupied "Free Zone" in the southern part of metropolitan France which included French Algeria, it remained responsible for the civil administration of France as well as the French colonial empire.
The zone libre was a partition of the French metropolitan territory during World War II, established at the Second Armistice at Compiègne on 22 June 1940. It lay to the south of the demarcation line and was administered by the French government of Marshal Philippe Pétain based in Vichy, in a relatively unrestricted fashion. To the north lay the zone occupée in which the powers of Vichy France were severely limited.
Italian-occupied Corsica refers to the military occupation by the Kingdom of Italy of the island of Corsica during World War II. It lasted from November 1942 to September 1943.
The French Demarcation line was the boundary line marking the division of Metropolitan France into the territory occupied and administered by the German Army in the northern and western part of France and the Zone libre in the south during World War II. It was created by the Armistice of 22 June 1940 after the fall of France in May 1940.
Led first by Philippe Pétain, the Vichy regime that replaced the French Third Republic in 1940 chose the path of collaboration with the Nazi occupiers. This policy included the Bousquet-Oberg accords of July 1942 that formalized the collaboration of the French police with the German police. This collaboration was manifested in particular by anti-Semitic measures taken by the Vichy government, and by its active participation in the genocide.
The Empire Defense Council was the embodiment of Free France which constituted the government from 1940 to 1941. Subsequently, this role was assumed by the French National Committee.
Free French Africa is the political entity which collectively represents the colonial territories of France on African soil which rallied to Free France formed by General de Gaulle during the Second World War in order to continue the struggle against Nazi Germany and the Axis forces.