Who Speaks for France? Vichy, Free France and the Battle over French Legitimacy: 1940-1942

  • Rachel Chin


In June 1940 the French metropolitan government signed an armistice with Hitler’s Germany, which effectively removed France from the conflict. At the same time, the little known French General Charles de Gaulle was in London establishing himself at the head of the Free French resistance movement. This set the stage for arguments over who represented the French nation and its interests. This article explores how the Vichy government and the Free French movement constructed their respective claims to legitimacy using legal, moral and historical arguments. And it considers how these claims were fought through armed clashes over French colonial territory.