Monday, December 28, 2015

A new window into a painful collaboration

After invading France during World War II on May 10, 1940, Nazi leaders set about controlling its government.

Parts of France were ruled by a Milit√§rbefehlshaber (military commander) and occupied by the German army.  The remainder of France, however, was ruled by a French collaborationist government headed by Marshall Henri Philippe P√©tain, a French hero from World War I.  The capital of that government was the city of Vichy, and consequently the region of France it controlled was called Vichy France.
France during the Second World War
Divided and occupied France.
Many atrocities were committed by the Vichy government, including helping the Nazis deport tens of thousands of Jews to Eastern Europe for their extermination in death camps.

Just yesterday, the French government declared that it would open access to archives containing records of that past.  The national conversation France will have as it confronts evidence of its past association with Hitler's regime can be simulated in our classrooms later this spring.  Show them yesterday's news story and the other articles linked to this blog post.  Ask them to consider these questions: What was the moral thing for ordinary French people to do during Vichy France's rule?  What was the practical thing to do?  What would you have done if you lived in Vichy France during World War II?

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