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Enforced DisarmamentFrom the Napoleonic Campaigns to the Gulf War$
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Philip Towle

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206361

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206361.001.0001

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The Disarmament of Vichy France

The Disarmament of Vichy France

(p.113) 6 The Disarmament of Vichy France
Enforced Disarmament

Philip Towle

Oxford University Press

Forced disarmament has often been a preliminary to the destruction or subjugation of a defeated nation. Had Napoleon Bonaparte not been defeated, the disarmament of Prussia and Austria would have led to the loss of their independence and their incorporation within the French Empire. In the case of Vichy France, the whole process of national destruction and imperial expansion gradually unfolded. After the stunning defeat of the French armies in 1940, most of France was occupied by Germany. The rump of the French state, with its capital at Vichy, maintained a vulnerable and uneasy independence. The new government under Marshal Pétain was allowed to keep only 100,000 men under arms. French officers were relieved that they could keep an army at all, but it suited Adolf Hitler to show leniency because this made it less likely that the French colonies would align themselves with Britain. When the allies overran French North Africa and consequently Hitler decided to strike in November 1942, the Vichy experiment ended.

Keywords:   Vichy France, forced disarmament, Germany, Britain, Adolf Hitler, allies, Marshal Pétain, armies

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