Tuesday, November 29, 2005


A cautious and defence-minded general, Pétain assumed command of the French army in the wake of the 1917 .He had commanded French forces in 1916, where his rallying cry of 'Ils ne passeront pas' (They shall not pass) had inspired his soldiers to an heroic defence. However, General had taken much of the credit for capturing strategic fortresses such as Douaumont and, in December1916, had been chosen over Pétain to succeed Joffre as commander-in-chief.

When Nivelle's spring 1917 offensive ran into major difficulties, Pétain replaced him as commander-in-chief (15 May). He suppressed mutinies in the French army by executing a few ringleaders, granting some concessions and implementing a more defensive strategy. In the latter stages of the war, Pétain's role was subordinate to that of Allied supreme commander Marshal .

From 1940, Pétain headed France's collaborationist Vichy regime and was implicated in the deportation of French Jews to Nazi death camps. One of the reasons given for his willingness to collaborate with the enemy was a desire to avoid the terrible bloodshed he had witnessed in World War I. He was sentenced to death in August 1944.
However, this sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by General de Gaulle who, as a junior officer, had served under him at Verdun.


Post a Comment

<< Home