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Divided France

In Summer 1940, over the course of six weeks, Germany overran Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France. As part of the armistice agreement France signed with Germany, Germany occupied northern France and all of France’s Atlantic coastline down to the border with Spain. A new French government was established in the town of Vichy, which was in the unoccupied southern part of France. The line of demarcation separated Nazi-occupied Northern and Coastal France from Vichy (or “Free”) Southern France.

While Vichy France was officially neutral, its leaders collaborated closely with the German government, in hopes that appeasing them would allow for more independence. Antisemitic legislation similar to that of the Third Reich was enacted. When the Nazis began rounding up Jews to deport to concentration camps in 1942, roundups were conducted in both Occupied and Vichy France. Cooperation with the Nazis did not offer Vichy France the freedom leaders had hoped for, and by late 1942, the entirety of France was under Nazi occupation.