On 14th June 1940, Paris fell to Germany. The Prime Minister, Paul Reynaud and his deputy, Henri-Phillipe Petain, disagreed over what action to take. Reynaud wanted to move the French government to North Africa while Petain advocated remaining in France. When Reynaud resigned Petain took over and began armistice negotiations with Germany.
The armistice agreement, signed on 22nd June, divided France into two zones – the north and west to be occupied and controlled by Germany and the remaining area to be run by the French government led by Petain from Vichy. Although Vichy France would not be occupied, the Vichy government agreed to collaborate with Germany. It adopted Nazi-Germany’s anti-semitic policies and expelled 75,000+ Jews, suppressed all forms of resistance and imprisoned `enemies of the state’. The French slogan of ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ was replaced by ‘work, family, fatherland’.
On November 8th 1942 the allies launched ‘Operation Torch’, the invasion of North Africa through French controlled Algeria and Morocco. Although French troops stationed in Northern France fought back it was clear that the allies would win through. The Vichy deputy Jean-Francois Darlan, in Casablanca, opened negotiations with the allies for a ceasefire.
Hitler told Petain that French troops in Northern Africa were to resist the allied advance and on 10th November German troops entered Vichy France. When Darlan agreed to a French surrender in North Africa on 11th November, more troops were sent to completely occupy Vichy France.
At the end of the war Petain was charged with treason and sentenced to life imprisonment.