The situation soon became desperate and Field-Marshal Haig called for urgent French support but Petain refused saying that he would instead withdraw the French Army to defend Paris; but to do so would have created a fatal gap in the Allied lines. A 58-year-old colonel at the start of battle in 1914, Pétain earned acclaim for stopping the Germans at the Battle of Verdun and assumed command of the French forces in 1917. Those Civil Servants who were known to harbour Republican sympathies were dismissed from their posts and their replacements made to swear an oath of allegiance to the new regime. The so-called Phoney War was taking its toll on French morale. The ageing and increasingly truculent Marshal of France appeared to agree. Liberal values and secularism were disavowed in favour of an authoritarian Catholic social hierarchy. After Charles de Gaulle commuted the sentence to life imprisonment, he was confined on the [Icirc]le d’Yeu, where he died on July 23, 1951, at the age of ninety-six. Over the next few days the German advance made rapid progress culminating on 25 February with the capture of Fort Douamont, the pivotal fortification of the more than 20 that ringed Verdun and supposedly the most powerful in the world without a shot being fired in its defence. We will look into it. The Reader’s Companion to Military History. Pétain’s job was to get France out of the war and he did. It was not "collaborating." In the meantime, Petain was recalled from his Ambassadorial post in Spain. With the whole of France now occupied any pretence towards independence came to an end. In subsequent months, Pétain revived the French army by meting out a combination of rewards and punishments, including about fifty-five executions (not the hundreds that some critics have alleged). Despite the increasingly frantic efforts to stem the German tide by the end of May 1940, the British Expeditionary Force was being evacuated from the beaches at Dunkirk. As France fell before the German attack in May-June 1940 (see World War II), Pétain became premier a week before the capitulation. Petain quickly set about trying to restore morale, he visited every Division in revolt, addressed the soldiers directly avoiding the committees where possible, drank their cheap wine, listened to their complaints and told them that there would be no further meaningless waste of life. "use strict";(function(){var insertion=document.getElementById("citation-access-date");var date=new Date().toLocaleDateString(undefined,{month:"long",day:"numeric",year:"numeric"});insertion.parentElement.replaceChild(document.createTextNode(date),insertion)})(); FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. Did the regime collaborate with Nazis out of self-preservation, or did it have its own agenda? Spurning the opportunity to take the initiative in the coldest winter for decades the poorly paid French soldiers froze in their trenches with nothing to do. He was to the French people the Saviour of Verdun who had prevented a humiliating and morale sapping defeat but to the French High Command he was an over-cautious and pessimistic man whose constant demands for more men and more munitions were made regardless of events elsewhere on the Western Front. Nonetheless, he slowly restored the French Army’s morale even if he now doubted their ability to fight and certainly to take the offensive. Petain, yes, collaborated with the Nazi, and the Vichy Regime did very awful and atrocious things. It worked and the obdurate Petain, despite his popularity with the army, was forced to step down to be replaced by Ferdinand Foch who became the Commander-in-Chief of all Allied armies on the Western Front. Arrested upon his return he was tried for treason on 25 July 1945. Vichy France (July 1940–September 1944), France under the regime of Marshal Philippe Petain, from France’s defeat by Nazi Germany to its liberation by the Allies in World War II. The Vichy regime was the French government which succeeded the Third Republic from July 1940 to August 1944. Nevertheless, he played an important part in the design and placement of the Maginot line; he himself chose the best sites for its major fortresses. In accordance with the Armistice terms France was divided into three zones, northern and western France including the Atlantic coast was to be occupied by the Germans whilst a small strip of land beside the Alps was allocated to the Italians to placate Mussolini. Indeed, many within the Government were eager to facilitate the Germans in any way they possibly could. Among his innovations, he introduced the “noria” system, which rotated divisions in and out of the trenches without permitting them to become ineffective in combat. When in March 1918, the Germans launched Operation Michael, their big push to win the war, they adopted new tactics that included short but intensive artillery barrages, the extensive use of poison gas, and specially trained storm-troopers some armed with flamethrowers – they quickly broke through the British front-line. A new Cabinet with Pétain as head of government was formed, with Henry du Moulin de Labarthète as the Cabinet Secretary. Tried in France after the war, Pétain was found guilty and condemned to death. Is this what Petain meant by collaboration? He had long blamed the Third Republic for the corruption and moral decay that had blighted French society. The Liberal Republicanism and the socialism it spawned had been responsible for the dilution of the French fighting spirit. 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