France during World War II

France was one of the largest military powers to come under occupation as part of the Western Front in World War II. The Western Front was a military theatre of World War II encompassing Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale combat operations.

The first phase saw the capitulation of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France during May and June 1940 after their defeat in the Low Countries and the northern half of France, and continued into an air war between Germany and Britain that climaxed with the Battle of Britain.

After capitulation, France was governed as Vichy France headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain. From 1940 to 1942, while the Vichy regime was the nominal government of all of France except for Alsace-Lorraine, the Germans and Italians militarily occupied northern and south-eastern France. It was not until 1944 when France was liberated with the allied invasion restoring the French Government.


The following are articles about the topic of 'France during World War II:

  • Maginot Line and Alpine Line of fortifications and defences along the borders with Germany and Italy
  • French declaration of war on Germany—17:00 on 3 September 1939
  • Phoney War, or drôle de guerre ("strange war"), the name given to the period of time in Western Europe from September 1939 to April 1940 when, after the blitzkrieg attack on Poland in September 1939, there was almost no fighting, and no bombs were dropped.
  • The Battle of France in May and June 1940, in which the German victory led to the fall of the Third Republic .

Vichy France

Free France

Further reading

  • Kedward, Roderick. "France" in I.C.B. Dear and M.R.D. Foot, eds. The Oxford Companion to World War II (2003) pp 391–408. online at Oxford Reference.
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