|Roger Broders 1926. Dover Press|
Vichy, France became the new French state, with sovereignty in the "free zone," with limited authority in the North. Marshall Petain was appointed Premier of France. He collaborated with the German occupying force in exchange for an agreement not to divide France between the Axis powers.
General Charles de Gaulle, exiled in London, claimed the exiled government to be the legitimate government. This was a terrible period in France's history. You have to remember that at this time, Germany appeared to be the sure victor.
Many historians believe the collaboration with the German occupying forces went further than necessary. In July, 1942, under German orders, the French police began the rounding up of Jews and others to be sent to interment camps, then to Auschwitz. The police arrested 13,152 Jews, including 4,051 children, which the Germans had not asked for. This represented more than one quarter of the 42,000 French Jews sent to concentration camps. There was no effective police resistance. In 1995 President Jacques Chirac officially apologized for the participation of French police.
There were French resistance fighters who tried hard to do whatever they could to fight against the occupiers, and when some were caught, the Vichy government was especially cruel.
After France's liberation in the summer of 1944, most of the Vichy government leaders fled, or were put on trial for treason and thousands were killed by the local Resistance forces without trial. Only four senior Vichy officials were tried for crimes against humanity. There is so much more to the story. Wikipedia has a detailed article.
When I first saw this poster in the collection, the name "Vichy" reminded me of this terrible period in France's history. There are heroes, brave men and women and collaborators. I think we have to be reminded that evil is still with us and we have to be vigilant in protecting our freedoms.