Philippe Petain in the 1930s (Library of Congress) In June 1951 President Auriol of France issued a decree permitting Philippe Pétain, now 95 and senile, to be moved for humanitarian reasons from the fortress on the Ile d’Yeu in the Bay of Biscay, where he had been held since 1945, to a house at Port Joinville nearby. At the start of WWI, Pétain was a 58-year-old colonel on the verge of retirement after an undistinguished career. He was, however, opposed to the policy of close Franco-German collaboration advocated by his vice premier Pierre Laval, whom he dismissed in December 1940, replacing him with Admiral François Darlan. Philippe Pétain, in full Henri-Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain, (born April 24, 1856, Cauchy-à-la-Tour, France—died July 23, 1951, Île d’Yeu), French general who was a national hero for his victory at the Battle of Verdun in World War I but was discredited as chief of state of the French government at Vichy in World War II. Bentley B. Gilbert and Paul P. Bernard, "The French Army Mutinies of 1917". He was imprisoned in a fortress on the Île d’Yeu off the Atlantic coast, where he died at the age of 95. Corrections? Pétain already had a ministerial team ready: Laval for Foreign Affairs (this appointment was briefly vetoed by Weygand), Weygand as Minister of Defence, Darlan as Minister for the Navy, and Bouthillier for Finance.[43]. The entire government subsequently moved briefly to Clermont-Ferrand, then to the spa town of Vichy in central France. The republican motto of "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" ("Freedom, equality, brotherhood") was replaced with "Travail, famille, patrie" ("Work, family, fatherland"). Charles de Gaulle. When de Gaulle protested that Pétain himself had been promoted to brigadier-general and division commander at the Battle of the Marne in 1914, he replied that there was "no comparison" with the present situation. After having requested the Swiss ambassador Walter Stucki [fr] to bear witness to the Germans' blackmail, Pétain submitted. The year 1918 saw major German offensives on the Western Front. "The enthusiasm of the country for the Maréchal was tremendous. This was France's highest military position, whose holder was Commander-in-Chief designate in the event of war and who had the right to overrule the Chief of the General Staff (a position held in the 1920s by Petain's protégés Buat and Debeney), and Petain would hold it until 1931. At the end of August 1914 he was quickly promoted to brigadier-general and given command of the 6th Division in time for the First Battle of the Marne; little over a month later, in October 1914, he was promoted yet again and became XXXIII Corps commander. The three Marshals supported this. Pétain had previously expressed interest in being named Minister of Education (as well as of War), a role in which he hoped to combat what he saw as the decay in French moral values. When Germany invaded Russia in June 1941 it caused great excitement among the collaborating political parties and para-military home based formations. At the end of Pétain's trial, he was convicted on all charges. He referred to the danger of military and civil disorder and the possibility of a Communist uprising in Paris. Pétain, however, having been forced to leave France, refused to participate in this government and Fernand de Brinon now headed the "government commission". On 26 October 1931, Pétain was honored with a ticker-tape parade down Manhattan's Canyon of Heroes. However, when Hitler met Pétain at Montoire in October 1940 to discuss the French government's role in the new European Order, the Marshal "listened to Hitler in silence. Born into a family of farmers in northern France, Pétain, after attending the local village school and a religious secondary school, was admitted to Saint-Cyr, France’s principal military academy. Following the liberation of France, on 7 September 1944, Pétain and other members of the French cabinet at Vichy were relocated by the Germans to the Sigmaringen enclave in Germany, where they became a government-in-exile until April 1945. He was later condemned as a traitor for having headed the pro-German Vichy regime after France's defeat in World War II (1939-1945). Pétain had taught the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco "many years ago at France's war college" and was sent to Spain "in the hope he would win his former pupil away from Italian and German influence. At this moment an article appeared in the popular Le Petit Journal newspaper, calling for Pétain as a candidate for a dictatorship. Later in the year, Pétain was stripped of his right of direct appeal to the French government and requested to report to Foch, who increasingly assumed the co-ordination and ultimately the command of the Allied offensives. [27], In November the Doumergue government fell. At that day's cabinet meeting, Pétain strongly supported Weygand’s demand for an armistice and read out a draft proposal to the cabinet where he spoke of. Pétain accepted the government's creation of a collaborationist armed militia (the Milice) under the command of Joseph Darnand, who, along with German forces, led a campaign of repression against the French resistance ("Maquis"). Rather than resigning, he maintained in a letter to the French the fiction that "I am, and remain morally, your leader". At the same time, the draft constitutional proposals were tabled. On the 20th, a delegation from the two chambers came to Pétain to protest at the proposed departure of President Lebrun. [66], On 8 June 1951, President Auriol, informed that Pétain had little longer to live, commuted his sentence to confinement in hospital; the news was kept secret until after the elections on 17 June, but by then, Pétain was too ill to be moved to Paris. No reply ever came. Colonel de Villelume subsequently stated before a parliamentary commission of inquiry in 1951 that Reynaud, as Premier of France, said to Pétain on that day that they must seek an armistice. [57] Pétain, instead, held off from major French offensives until the Americans arrived in force on the front lines, which did not happen until the early summer of 1918. While the latter favoured the offensive at all costs, Pétain held that a well-organized defensive was sometimes called for and that before any attack the commander must be sure of the superiority of his fire power. [64], Although Pétain had still been in good health for his age at the time of his imprisonment, by late 1947, his memory lapses were worsening and he was beginning to suffer from incontinence, sometimes soiling himself in front of visitors and sometimes no longer recognising his wife. Pétain ended the war regarded \"without a doubt, the most accomplished defensive tactician of any army\" and \"one of France's greatest military heroes\" and was made a Marshal of France at Metz by President Raymond Poincaré on 8 December 1918. After leading his corps in the spring 1915 Artois Offensive, in July 1915 he was given command of the Second Army, which he led in the Champagne Offensive that autumn. He was also beginning to suffer from heart problems and was no longer able to walk without assistance. After Allied landings in November 1942 in North Africa, Pétain secretly ordered Admiral Darlan, then in Algeria, to merge the French forces in Africa with those of the Allies. This book offers a decent and interesting overview of the life of Henri-Philippe Pétain (1856–1951), Marshal of France. Pétain commanded the Second Army at the start of the Battle of Verdun in February 1916. Hengshan Road, in Shanghai, was "Avenue Pétain" between 1922 and 1943. Pétain was made a marshal of France in November 1918 and was subsequently appointed to the highest military offices (vice president of the Supreme War Council and inspector general of the army). Pétain was born in Cauchy-à-la-Tour (in the Pas-de-Calais département in Northern France) in 1856. Pétain turned a potential disaster for France into what some saw as a victory - at least, it was argued, Verdun did not fall to the Germans. [63] [47] Pétain broadcast again to the French people on that day. [9], Pétain conducted some successful but limited offensives in the latter part of 1917, unlike the British who stalled in an unsuccessful offensive at Passchendaele that autumn. His body was buried in a local cemetery (Cimetière communal de Port-Joinville). His sentence was immediately commuted to solitary confinement for life. Pétain then replied that it would mean the destruction of the country. Von der Goltz, Anna, and Robert Gildea. Pétain then drew a letter of resignation from his pocket, an act which was certain to bring down the government (he had persuaded Weygand to come to Bordeaux by telling him that 16 June would be the decisive day). Yet he balked at resigning, convinced that, if he did, Hitler would place all of France directly under German rule. On the next day, Pétain formally assumed near-absolute powers as "Head of State. His government voted to transform the discredited French Third Republic into the French State, an authoritarian regime that collaborated with the Axis. The next day, they went to Lebrun himself. The poster below is a pep talk of sorts from Petain to the demoralized French youth. [57] "), the other famous quotation often attributed to him – "Ils ne passeront pas!" Churchill returned to France on the 13th for another conference at Tours. "—in this case meaning French field artillery, which fired over 15 million shells on the Germans during the first five months of the battle. [21] Pétain had based his strong support for the Maginot Line on his own experience of the role played by the forts during the Battle of Verdun in 1916. [41] Weygand persuaded him that Reynaud's suggestion would be a shameful surrender. [16], Pétain was appointed Inspector-General of the Army in February 1922, and produced, in concert with the new Chief of the General Staff, General Marie-Eugène Debeney, the new army manual entitled Provisional Instruction on the Tactical Employment of Large Units, which soon became known as 'the Bible'. However, on his birthday almost three weeks later, he was taken to the Swiss border. "[citation needed]. On 29 June, the French Government moved to Clermont-Ferrand where the first discussions of constitutional changes were mooted, with Pierre Laval having personal discussions with President Lebrun, who had, in the event, not departed France. Spears reported that Pétain did not respond immediately but stood there "perfectly erect, with no sign of panic or emotion. He was told, in addition, by Maurice Gamelin, that if the plebiscite in the Territory of the Saar Basin went for Germany it would be a serious military error for the French Army to intervene. In 1938 Pétain encouraged and assisted the writer André Maurois in gaining election to the Académie française – an election which was highly contested, in part due to Maurois' Jewish origin. [67], Pétain died in a private home in Port-Joinville on the Île d'Yeu on 23 July 1951, at the age of 95. "[55], On 11 November 1942, German forces invaded the unoccupied zone of Southern France in response to the Allies' Operation Torch landings in North Africa and Admiral François Darlan's agreement to support the Allies. Fearing riots at the announcement of the sentence, de Gaulle ordered that Pétain be immediately transported on the former's private aircraft to Fort du Portalet in the Pyrenees,[62] where he remained from 15 August to 16 November 1945. The Conseil had no option in the straitened circumstances but to agree. In the latter year General Maxime Weygand claimed that "the French Army was no longer a serious fighting force". Britain got us into this position, let us now try to get out of it. By 1932 the economic situation had worsened and Édouard Herriot's government had made "severe cuts in the defence budget... orders for new weapons systems all but dried up". Political unease was sweeping the country, and on 6 February 1934, the Paris police fired on a group of far-right rioters outside the Chamber of Deputies, killing 14 and wounding a further 236. 1914-12-16 French offensive in Artois, Northern France led by Philippe Pétain; 1940-05-31 Winston Churchill flies to Paris to meet with French Marshal Philippe Pétain who announces he is willing to make a separate peace with Germany; 1940-07-11 Marshall Philippe Pétain, French hero of World War I, becomes head of the Vichy collaborationist government of France At the conference Pétain met de Gaulle for the first time in two years. [39], Parliament, both senate and chamber, were also at Bordeaux and immersed themselves in the armistice debate. Though the situation was practically hopeless, he masterfully reorganized both the front and the transport systems, made prudent use of the artillery, and was able to inspire in his troops a heroism that became historic. His views were later proved to be correct during the First World War. The General Staff, now under General Edmond Buat, began to think seriously about a line of forts along the frontier with Germany, and their report was tabled on 22 May 1922. He improved the recruitment programme for specialists, and lengthened the training period by reducing leave entitlements. He died in 1951. Pétain restored some form of pride to an army on the verge of defeat. He held 3400 courts martial; 554 mutineers were sentenced to death but over 90% had their sentences commuted. [63], Over the following years Pétain's lawyers and many foreign governments and dignitaries, including Queen Mary and the Duke of Windsor, appealed to successive French governments for Pétain's release, but given the unstable state of Fourth Republic politics, no government was willing to risk unpopularity by releasing him. As a young second lieutenant in an Alpine regiment, sharing the rough outdoor life of his men, he came to understand the ordinary soldier. Millerand held the presidency in an acting capacity before being fully elected. Pétain admitted Darnand into his government as Secretary of the Maintenance of Public Order (Secrétaire d'État au Maintien de l'Ordre). His journey from military obscurity, to hero of France during World War I, to collaborationist dictator during World War II, led his successor Charles de Gaulle to write that Pétain’s life was "successively banal, then glorious, then deplorable, but never mediocre". [41], On Sunday, 16 June, President Roosevelt's reply to President Lebrun's requests for assistance came with only vague promises and saying that it was impossible for the President to do anything without Congressional approval. A Certain idea of France The life of Charles de Gaulle, Julian Jackson, p. 58. At the opening of the Battle of Verdun in 1916, Pétain is said to have been fetched during the night from a Paris hotel by a staff officer who knew that he could be found with Eugénie Hardon. His important success that year was in getting Daladier's previous proposal to reduce the number of officers repealed. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Philippe-Petain, The History Learning Site - Biography of Marshal Philippe Pétain, Spartacus Educational - Biography of Henri Philippe Petain, Philippe Pétain - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), Philippe Pétain - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). [72], withdrawn following conviction for high treason in 1945. [28] Calls were made to re-locate his remains to the grave prepared for him at Verdun. He and Pétain regarded the military situation as hopeless. Here he met Hermann Göring and the two men reminisced about their experiences in the Great War. Historical Events. In effect, he applied the basic principle that was a mainstay of his teachings at the École de Guerre (War College) before World War I: "le feu tue!" The provisional government, headed by de Gaulle, placed Pétain on trial for treason, which took place from 23 July to 15 August 1945. [citation needed] Summer maneuvers in 1932 and 1933 were cancelled due to lack of funds, and recruitment to the armed forces fell off. Women were said to find his piercing blue eyes especially attractive. Censorship was imposed, and freedom of expression and thought were effectively abolished with the reinstatement of the crime of "felony of opinion.". He did not disguise the fact that he considered the situation catastrophic. I could not detect any sign in him of broken morale, of that mental wringing of hands and incipient hysteria noticeable in others." After his conviction, the court stripped Pétain of all military ranks and honours save for the one distinction of Marshal of France. 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