Vichy and the complexities of collaborating with Fascist Italy: French policy and perceptions between June 1940 and March 1942

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Abstract

This article seeks to explore the complex nature of Vichy France's dealings with Fascist Italy between June 1940 and March 1942. At the heart of the inquiry is a seemingly remarkable volte-face by the two governments. The Italian declaration of war in June 1940 was viewed by many in France as an act of betrayal. By December 1941, however, Vichy and Fascist Italy were engaged in secret military collaboration. The first section focuses upon the period after the outbreak of war, seeking to establish the precise character and parameters of the relationship. The second section examines the reasons for the transformation, analysing Vichy's negotiations with Italy and Germany between May 1941 and March 1942. It suggests that the shift in Vichy's approach was in large part motivated by a belief that the weakness of Italy would compel it to make concessions on a scale that the Nazi government would never even consider. Historians of Vichy have often downplayed the significance of Fascist Italy yet, like Nazi Germany, Italy posed a substantial threat to the integrity and sovereignty of France and its colonial empire. Vichy's policy of collaboration was therefore conceived in trilateral rather than bilateral terms.

LanguageEnglish
Pages317-333
Number of pages17
JournalModern and Contemporary France
Volume21
Issue number3
Early online date11 Feb 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

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Italy
France
declaration of war
outbreak of war
concession
sovereignty
integrity
Fascist Italy
Vichy
historian
Military
threat
Government

Keywords

  • Vichy
  • Italy
  • collaboration
  • Second World War

Cite this

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